Giving your attention to one thing usually means withdrawing it, for the moment, from other things. You might need to stop what you are doing. You might have to observe the thing that needs your attention. It could even mean listening very, very carefully. For dogs, it often means all three things at once – dogs are not very good multi-taskers – but the payoff of careful attention can be stunning.
Take this morning, for example. I was in the tub. Sky was waiting for me to toss her little, yellow duck so that she could catch it and toss it back into the water, a favorite game. But there was no duck on the edge of the tub. Still, she wanted to play and I wanted to play with her.
Sky has had mixed success leaving me to find a toy. Sometimes she will search the house and find exactly what I ask for. Other times, she seems confused, not understanding what I want her to do, especially when what I am asking for is not yet part of her vocabulary. Duh. So when I asked her to get the ball that isn’t even really a ball and told her it was on top of her crate, at first she just stared at me. Here were the hard parts. The ball wasn’t a ball you can bounce. It was a braided thing that was once inside the head of a plush animal in lieu of stuffing. Sky knows the word “crate,” but not “on top of.” Had the ball thing been “in” the crate, this would have been a step easier.
In order to help her, or because I couldn’t think of anything else to do, I braided my fingers and told her the “ball” looked like that. Oh, boy. Dumb.
She stopped, looked and listened. Then she left the bathroom and came back with the braided not ball thingee. Paying attention, it’s a skill worth having. So is thinking, but that’s a whole other blog.
Good girl, Sky. Let the game begin.