I love metaphors. It's one of my favourite ways to explain things to people because you can take a concept that might be new or abstract and explain it in a way that makes sense.
I also love metaphors, i think I'll really like this post.
One day this winter when I was out for a snowshoe with our two camp dogs, Jake and JJ (which stands for Jake Jr....our GO-ers helped name him...yes, it's a ridiculous name but it's perfect for him. He is so similar to Jake it’s creepy...) a metaphor came to mind comparing JJ to a child, and I wanted to share it because it directly relates to our philosophies here at GO.
JJ is a lab/shepherd mix, so inherently he has a lot of energy. We love him to pieces because he is great with all of our GO-ers and has a playful personality. He isn't even a year old yet, but he acts as if he has been a camp dog forever….Technically he has been a camp dog forever, just a very short forever :), his forever... Unfortunately there is a place where JJ isn't quite an angel though - when he is in the garage…. He turns into a MONSTER.
Jake and JJ are outdoor dogs with full access to the garage to sleep, eat, and get out of the weather. They always have the option to go outside, but as a rule of thumb they usually don't unless someone is out there with them (like me going for a snowshoe or when we have a group of GO-ers). On the days where they stay in the garage it is always a guessing game what the garage will look like when we walk into it. We have seen everything from brown bedding fluff everywhere to garbage bags being destroyed and strewn all over the place to lobster tails being eaten whole to shoes getting completely chewed up... And most recently he's started to play “hide and seek” with many things like mittens and hats…. Needless to say there is always a mess to clean up, and whoever it is that has to clean it up, is never thrilled with JJ.
I'll have to admit there was about a month where I thought JJ was a terrible dog. He wasn't getting the message to leave things alone, even though we had tried multiple training techniques, he was always getting into something new and wrecking it, and it felt like he was more of a pain to have around than a pleasure.
This is how I was feeling about him the day I went snowshoeing. I was not impressed. But as we were out walking through the woods I would watch JJ. He would take off running, leaping and bounding in front of me, check something out, and then always come back to check in. His tail was constantly wagging and you could tell he was happy. He is amazingly fast and agile and he would demonstrate that as he chased after Jake or leaped over trees to come walk with me. He didn't wreck anything, he was never in the way, he was so entertaining and I really enjoyed his company. I was sitting on a fallen down tree watching him when he came over, tail wagging, tongue out and laid his head right on my lap. We just sat there, totally satisfied to sit in the sun, calm, relaxed and happy. I was no longer annoyed of him.
That's when my mind started comparing JJ to a child.
I have worked in enough schools to know that there are classes filled with JJs. When they are in the "garage" (confined to a seat, room, building) they are a huge pain. They make a mess, they don't listen, they disrupt normal procedures, and they get on the nerves of the people responsible for them. Everyone tries everything to make them listen, to make them a "good" kid, but in that setting they are the furthest thing from it.
I have also been fortunate enough to watch those same kids completely transform once they are outside. Just like JJ they become a joy to be around. Their energy, excitement, adventurous spirit and creativity are no longer a pain to try and contain and control, but instead are set free to be inspired and grow... They love exploring, asking questions and absorb so much when they are outdoors playing with us. It’s amazing to see first hand those energy filled kids, focus and learn.
JJ is not meant for the garage the same way kids (or anyone for that matter) are not meant to be contained all of the time. The "garage" is necessary for certain things, however if JJ spent his whole life in there, he would always be considered a terrible puppy.... Our world is huge and it’s our world, let’s explore it!
It is necessary at some points to be inside, but we are all naturally wired to be outdoors. That's why we love what we do at GO Adventure Co. We get to accompany people as they learn to love playing and moving outdoors... That’s not all they’re learning...they’re learning new skills and teamwork and discovering so much about themselves. And on top of that we are also teaching them things about the environment and the creatures that share the world with us.
We get to encourage them to do things they naturally want to do (like run, jump, climb, hang, be loud, be quiet, be alone, explore, build, etc) in an environment that allows them to do so. And just like I did with JJ, we get to be there as they experience what it feels like to be viewed as a "good dog" instead of getting in trouble for being a bad one…. Smiles, “you rock”s and positive encouragement go a long way in helping those “bad dogs” be good too.
The last piece to this metaphor that I wanted to add was how JJ acts in the garage after he has spent time outside. He is fantastic and he uses it how we hope he would. He eats. He drinks water. He sleeps. Not only does being active outside let him do all the things he loves doing, it also helps him be successful at being in the garage as well…. SO next time the kids are acting like a “bad dog” take them on an adventure outside!