I got a call from Jasmine's agent last week that she is being considered for a commercial! :)
Her role would be to jump into a pile of leaves, then to jump up as a lady threw leaves in the air.
As simple as this sounds, this is not one of Jasmine's natural behaviors because we don't have many leaves around here!!
So I had to go searching for a pile of leaves to train with! One of my friends named Petal suggested we create a really long targeting stick to teach Jaz to jump into the leaves.
So invested $1.09 and bought a 9 foot long pvc pipe, and put a tennis ball on the end of it.
Through clicker training, Jaz had learned to touch the ball with her nose to get a treat. I started it on the ground, and eventually raised up higher and higher. This was a good way to teach it, and Jaz has a good vertical jump now. And if she gets selected for the commercial, I feel confident she will be able to do this behavior (with the help of our really long stick!)
I had a moment of introspection today though- as we were practicing. I raised the tennis ball really high, and asked her to "touch it"... just like I normally did. Jaz (who is a realist)... went under the ball, circled around it, sat down and started whining! It was pretty obvious she thought that tennis ball was too high to reach. (and it was.) She wasn't even willing to try and jump to reach it. So I had to lower to ball in order to encourage her to jump up to reach it, then I raised it up, and would click & treat for the jump instead of for touching the tennis ball. So we've transitioned to that.
But it made me think about life. How sometimes we're not even willing to try for something- because it seems too hard and an impossible goal to reach. And the task is too daunting. But in reality, sometimes it's just the act of moving towards our goal which is the success. (Like in Jasmine's case... I know the ball is too high... but I just am looking to get the 'jumping' behavior.) So maybe even though we didn't succeed at our original goal (touching the tennis ball), our efforts were all that were needed. And we were successful, even though we didn't reach the goal we had pictured in our mind. Does that make sense? It makes sense in my head. But trying to put it into coherent sentences is tricky sometimes!
I guess the point of the story is that as long as you are trying, you are succeeding.