My other passion (besides family history) is my nine month old puppy, Ozzie. More specifically training Ozzie and maybe eventually competing with him in an Obedience Trial. So how does this all fit in with blogging and family history and what I plan to accomplish in 2011 you ask? “Good question!” is my response! Here’s my idea; in dog training, just as in family history research there are certain “things” that have to be done, so I’ve chosen to use dog training concepts as the pattern for my 2011 research
One of the first and most important commands the dog must learn is the “Sit-Stay.” Well right away I might have a problem with the “sit-stay” as applied to research since I’m so easily distracted by things of the moment, just as Ozzie gets distracted by a bird flying by or a treat accidently dropped. So the first item on my 2011 will be to “Sit-Stay” at my research project long enough to accomplish my plan for the day. Here’s Ozzie doing a nice sit-stay and being very attentive to his task. Lesson number one: Sit-Stay!
Watch Me! Another element of dog training is to be sure the dog keeps his or her attention on the handler. That’s so the dog will see what the handler wants, and focuses “like a laser beam” on the task at hand. Ozzie has yet to be focused enough, just as I might start looking all over the place for a fact instead of having a specific plan to search for it. Second lesson: Watch Me!
Wait! To complete this element the dog must be able to sit and wait while the handler leaves the room for a time. What? Wait? But I want my family information now, and have little patience to wait for it. This is a lesson I can really learn from: Wait!
Go Out! To do a proper “go out” the dog is told by the handler to go to the opposite end of the obedience ring, turn, sit and look at the handler for the next instruction which will be to pick up a glove from a certain spot or go over a jump, etc. Again, the theme here is to focus and get instruction or information on what to do next: Fourth lesson: Go Out!
Find It! In order to build Ozzie’s drive and excitement level for the next element we sometimes play the “find it” game with him. We hide a toy or maybe even a tasty treat and then command him to “find it.” He gets very excited and will do almost anything to search out that tidbit and succeed at the task… and of course finding a toy or treat is a major reward. Guess you already know that finding that special “tidbit” of information is a reward for the family historian. So go Find It!
Drop! Ozzie is learning to “drop” immediately when I give this command. Sometimes I need to “drop” a specific search and wait until a better time to jump up and finish it. So it’s important to know when to “drop” and when to proceed. The lesson: Drop!
Leave It! Is another important command to be used to quickly stop the dog from doing something he shouldn’t. Chasing the cat, eating something toxic, walking on broken glass and etc… you get the picture for “leave it.” And sometimes I need to quit “chasing” or going into an area that might puncture my research plan, or “swallowing” the wrong information. Knowing when to Leave It” is as important to family history as it is to dog training.
Around! This is a command given to the dog to bring him or her to heel during the competition. He or she goes “around” and sits by the handler’s side. You know, sometimes I need to “go around” and face a different direction in my research. Lesson eight: Around!
And not to be left out is the celebration at the end of a good obedience run. Off to be praised, petted and given a special treat, the dog will be excited to continue his training and desire to compete.
Friends, I could probably go on and on comparing dog training with my family history research project but you get the picture. My “plan” isn’t really a plan, but a learning process, just as Ozzie’s learning comes from some of the steps listed above. So I’m ready to “Go Out,” Sit-Stay,” “Leave it,” and especially “Find it” in 2011 and hope you also have many chances to celebrate with the “Find It” option next year.
Best to you in your 2011 quest!
Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls Washington, December 27, 2010. All rights reserved.
Pictures are the sole property of Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls Washington.