Some of you may know that I am a big dog lover . I also used to compete actively in dog shows with German shepherds , labs and goldens . As career started taking more and more of my time – I gave up on dog shows . I actually don’t care very much about winning a show any more – I don’t miss that thrill anymore . But I terribly miss the fun of training a puppy from scratch and competing and the constant problem solving .
When you compete seriously – you need a puppy or young adult who is suitable for your specific needs and that needs a lot of research to find one. I haven’t been at the big shows or following pedigrees closely for a long time – so I had to make a fresh start . I have several friends who are active in the field and I will get plenty of good advice from them . But for me to follow along their advice intelligently, I need to do some homework first .
So during the vacation period, I decided to start my research. Seeing several people walking their beautiful and well trained dogs in the streets of London and Paris added to my motivation 🙂
First step of any good research is of course to stock up on coffee . And we had just returned from Europe and the Parisian cafes had set a very high bar . Thanks to Amazon prime – it only took a couple of days to get a few different coffee bean packs . For good measure I brought out the old Espresso machines from their boxes so that I have enough options to find the perfect match .
Then I opened up YouTube and started watching clips from the big german Shepherd shows in Germany . About ten videos in – and probably 2 double shot espressos – I realized there is an unaddressed problem . I am in no shape physically to train a dog at the level I need to . I need strength , endurance , flexibility and things of that nature .
Two years ago – I had lost a lot of weight by signing up with a personal trainer and working out at the gym . Well that ended up with muscle tears in both arms and that kept me away from the gym for a year . I still lost some weight but it was negligible . At that pace – I wouldn’t get to the physical state I need to be anytime soon . Darn !
I love outdoors – and I hate doing cardio at the gym with a passion . Thanks to our mild winter in Chandler – I put on tennis shoes , and started walking . About 45 mins later – I couldn’t figure out how much distance I covered or how many calories I burned . This is the curse of being an analytics guy at work – I get this intense urge to measure ! Thankfully there are plenty of apps that can do it all – and I dutifully downloaded the requisite apps and started measuring weight , exercise , food , water etc .
I started at around 2 miles and can now do 5 miles of brisk walk . And in the first week I lost about 3 pounds . I hope I can continue the good habits and get into the right shape by the time I get the pup .
Thanks to the insistence of my teenage daughter who has been using AirPods for a while – I had bought a set for myself too but never used them . It’s one of those things – I always felt like a total idiot talking with Bluetooth headsets and generally have avoided using them . But the daily walks proved to be a turning point – I am now a big fan , using them for work calls as well as music from the phone .
Anyways – back to my research on dogs. So I read through the breed standard again – and surprisingly could more or less recite it verbatim from memory . I started looking at my favorite dogs from 80s and 90s to get my eye tuned to the ideal version . And then I started watching the videos and pictures of the more recent dogs .
I did not like most dogs . I started saying things in my mind like “great head but too long in the body” and “great movement but don’t like the tail set” . Highly frustrating to say the least !
And then came some sad news – my mentor in dog shows passed away and a dear friend from India sent me a message about it . I was so terribly sad and spent a lot of time thinking about the times I have spent with him when I was in college . And then the light bulb went on – I was doing a cardinal sin of evaluation of dogs called “fault judging”. My mentor – Nawab Nazeer – had warned me about it several times .
Purebred dogs have a written standard . Everyone knows the standard is for an ideal dog and no dog is ideal . So the principle of judging is to figure out how close a given dog comes to the ideal . However it is a lot easier for less experienced and lesser skilled people to judge all the faults and compare that way . That’s what fault judging means – and it’s a bad idea . I knew that from before – and yet I was doing it with full enthusiasm . Go figure !
Any way – I have some unlearning and resetting to do before I continue my research to find my puppy . Probably that gives me a bit more time to lose the weight 🙂
Today, I am typing this from the plane to NY – the first business trip of the year . And as I am slowly getting back to the normal work routine, I started thinking about how much fault judging happens in the work place . It’s much more easy for many of us to spot weaknesses and criticize people about it than recognize strengths and give them credit for it .
It’s funny how one thing leads to another when you are powered by great espresso ! For good measure , I just ordered some more espresso beans 🙂