I wrote Gel’s homeopath this morning telling her that I thought Gel could use another dose of his homeopathic remedy, Rhus Toxicodendron (“Rhus Tox”). In thinking about how he worked during some of his runs this weekend, he was stiff and unwilling to move to where I needed him to. Yes, some of this is due to training, but it’s also the old “cognitive dissonance” raising its head. “Cognitive dissonance is often associated with the tendency for people to resist information that they don’t want to think about, because if they did it would create cognitive dissonance, and perhaps require them to act in ways that depart from their comfortable habits.” (Wikipedia)
Gel will bring sheep to my feet, there is no question about that, but bringing them in a line that I ask for, through panels, etc. is often not part of his idea of fetching sheep. That he was able to pull them off the exhaust gate (without running them into the gate or fence) and then out from in between cars and bring them to my feet, without making a mess, is an indication of that. Many dogs, put in the same position, would grip. Not Gel.
So, not only did this trial show me where our holes in training were, it also showed me that it’s time to repeat Gel’s remedy. Sure, I can drive the training into him and force him to do exactly what I want him to do, when I want him to do, but I’d much prefer to use the gentle push of homeopathy to make Gel more comfortable doing something that he feels is not right due to his particular set of mental symptoms.
I imagine there are people reading this thinking to themselves, this is stupid, Gel does what he does because he is not a very good stock dog. Well, that may very well be true, but I’m using all the tools available to me, including homeopathy, to help Gel become the best he can be. We may surprise you all one day. It may take us ten years, hopefully Gel will still be able to do trials when he’s 14, but we will succeed on this venture.