Squirrels

[jwplayer player=”2″ mediaid=”2815″]

When I started making this video I was reminded of some fond memories I had spending time with my Grandma. She used to put peanuts out on her apartment balcony (we called it a gallery – I think that’s a Montreal thing) for some of the squirrels that lived in the backyard.

While all the squirrels could partake in the feast, the best nuts were always kept for one particular squirrel. He (she? I couldn’t tell) only had three legs and my Grandma always felt bad for him because he was always the last to arrive. I don’t remember if she had given him a name, but let’s call him Stumpy.

It didn’t take long before you could feed Stumpy right from your hand. As a six year old, I found this pretty cool and one of the (many) highlights when we visited Grandma.

Well, being only six with a younger brother of four, my attention span was short and my brother’s was even shorter. The coolness of hand-feeding a squirrel quickly wore off and we always wanted to play in the backyard. And this is when I learned inviting squirrels to dinner on your back gallery might not be the best idea.

As my brother and I headed out the back door, Grandma would always tell us “Don’t run and make a lot of noise on the gallery. You’ll scare away all the squirrels.” Okay sure, fair enough.

Now on one particular spring afternoon, as we stepped out onto the gallery, being as calm and as quiet as only 6 and 4 year olds can, all the squirrels scattered as usual. That is, all except for ol’ Stumpy.

Stumpy wouldn’t “shoo” or “go away”. To Stumpy, humans were not to be feared. They were where you got the best nuts this side of the maple tree. And hey, two small humans were even better.

So there we stood. Me and my brother (trying to be quiet) and Stumpy the three-legged squirrel. Eye to eye (Stumpy was on the railing). Who would be the first to flinch?

Before I go any farther, let me tell you a little bit about three-legged squirrels. They’ve gone toe-to-toe with death and come out on top, shy only one limb (hey, it’s only a flesh wound). The world owes them some peanuts and they don’t take no for an answer. People say “Don’t mess with Texas but I’d like to amend that. What it should be is “Don’t mess with Texas and three-legged squirrels.”

Okay now back to the gallery.

So there we stood locked in a momentous battle of wills. The staring match of all staring matches. My naïve brown eyes, sweet and pure, and the black, beady little eyes of the bloodthirsty rodent.

I couldn’t stand the pressure.

I blinked.

Stumpy attacked.

He wanted those peanuts… bad!

Now, this could be me (fondly?) reminiscing and remembering what I want to remember or this may have really happened and my brother and I were attacked by a three-legged squirrel. It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is the take home message. Never invite a squirrel to dinner (metaphorically or otherwise) and expect him to leave on his own volition.

So if you happen to run into me one day at an indoor agility trial or a flyball tournament; there might be a chance, just maybe, that you’ll catch me cautiously peeking out the door before I pass through. And now, if you’re lucky enough to see this, you won’t have to ask why.


I’m going to try doing a few more videos. Tell me what you think? Your feedback will let me give you the information you’re looking for. I hope some of you will find it a little funny, if a bit quirky, but most of all, I hope that it helps you improve your mental game.

Leave A Reply (26 comments so far)

The comments are closed.


  1. Sheri
    4 years ago

    Hey John, what a great presentation. So great the way that you used the analogy of the squirrels. I can tell that I have both indoor squirrels and outdoor squirrels in almost everything I do. I tend to beat myself up a lot about those indoor squirrels though – the outdoor ones, you can always lay blame elsewhere. More help with indoor squirrels in everyday life would be appreciated. Speaking in public is not my thing so those darned squirrels tend to rattle around in my belly and my head during those times.

    Thanks again
    Sheri


    • John Cullen
      4 years ago

      Those inside squirrels can sure make a mess of things. However, once they’re identified, you can pick them off one at a time. You just have to be systematic and relentless in your actions. Easy-peasy 😉


  2. Melissa Davis
    4 years ago

    Hi John,
    Great job on the video! Loved it’s analogies and simple message. Keep it up!!!
    Thanks for sharing.


  3. Larry Landsteiner
    4 years ago

    Hi John, I agree, inside squirrels are the worst! You did a great job on your video. Don’t let the outside squirrel (wife) get to you. :o)
    Larry


    • John Cullen
      4 years ago

      Thanks for the support Larry. Kim keeps me honest and I’m better for it (So are you. If only you could see some of the things I was going to put up here before Kim saved me from myself.)


  4. Susan
    4 years ago

    Hi John,

    I liked the video presentation…nice to see you in the inset w/ the slide of info. And how appropriate that an “outside squirrel” would make a random appearance!!

    I agree w/ Sheri, it would be nice to talk more about “indoor squirrels.” My own indoor squirrel is concern about my partner — she’s a recovering shy dog and has a chronic health condition. Even though she is doing remarkably well on all fronts, I find I often worry about her.

    I always thought the “answer” to this problem would come w/ my next agility dog. I dreamed about how I would be so happy stepping to the start line w/ no worries about my healthy partner. And, you guessed it, my new agility puppy has developed a significant health issue, so that “answer” is gone. Now I’m realizing how I’ve been missing the opportunity to resolve this issue w/ my current partner, and I want to get to work on it. Your video is helping me get the ball rolling!

    Thanks,
    Susan


    • John Cullen
      4 years ago

      Thanks for the comments Susan. Inside squirrels are challenges. One of the most difficult things about them is they follow us home. When you work on shooing them away with your older dog, the skills you develop will help with the puppy. Really working on developing positive self-talk can make a big difference when you find yourself constantly worrying.


  5. Jo-Anne Collis
    4 years ago

    Hi, John…….loved your video…very easy to follow….you broke down the problem in a fun way….now problems are easier to pinpoint and deal with ….by doing this with a sense of humour, you took the fear factor out….
    Please make more videos…………..Jo-Anne Tarren and Taggie


    • John Cullen
      4 years ago

      Thanks for the compliments Jo-Anne. I’m hoping I can make you smile when you watch the videos. At least a little bit (even if it’s so bad it’s funny). Having a journal handy at training sessions and competitions makes it so much easier to catch things that usually slip our minds mere minutes after they happen.


  6. Kathy Mocharnuk
    4 years ago

    Thanks so much for the video, i really enjoyed it, love the food for thought, and I think it will be a great help – those indoor squirrels can be soooooo pesky!


    • John Cullen
      4 years ago

      Inside squirrels are tough to shake especially if they’ve been “nesting” for an extended period of time. When I come up against a tough nut to crack, I think of the Survivor TV show motto; Outwit, Outplay, Outlast. Heavy emphasis on the last one.


  7. Michele Fry
    4 years ago

    I’ve learned many things from the course I took from you on improving my mental game, am managing my squirrels much better. Very cute video, easy to remember inside and outside squirrels, nice to know it’s a skill one can cultivate and not be a victim to distractions.


    • John Cullen
      4 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback Michele. I’m glad to hear that you got some good stuff from the course. When you put your mind to it, even the toughest squirrels can get be booted to the curb.


  8. Tee
    4 years ago

    How appropriate that this came in the mail only two days after I went through all sorts of inside squirrels just starting Excellent ! As a novice team, I know I impart many of my inside squirrels forward to the outside, to my partner.
    Thanks so much for this timely message, done simply and presented well I might add.
    I need more tools to help take the pressure off about who is watching and what my instructor is going to think….
    Hope to hear more of these soon !!


    • John Cullen
      4 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback Tee! We value our coach’s opinions so it’s only natural that we want to impress them. Do you feel the same way in training? Visualize running with your coach watching, repeatedly. This will help you get used to performing while being evaluated.


  9. Anji
    4 years ago

    HI John – great video! Love the animations and it was the perfect length. Do you think that “squirrels” can ever be good things – used to motivate and inspire us or are they more the distractions that can get in the way of our goals?


    • John Cullen
      4 years ago

      Appreciate the feedback Anji. I think Lou Holtz said it best, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.” Squirrels are distractions and by their definition prevent you from focussing on what you need to to perform your best. How you respond to the distraction however will ultimately determine your level of performance.

      If you have a well-laid plan to deal with a particular squirrel and you are able to execute it, this can potentially improve your attention and concentration when contrasted with a situation where no squirrels are present. On the flip-side, many athletes purposefully distract themselves to help them deal with anxiety. While we generically call this a distraction, it really is a technique that the athlete purposefully uses to better their performance and isn’t what I would call a squirrel.


  10. Brenda McKague
    4 years ago

    Your video really works for my learning style – it complements your written stuff very well – great work!


    • John Cullen
      4 years ago

      Thanks for the comment Brenda. Hopefully, I can strike the right balance and give some good info to everyone regardless of learning style.


  11. Amie
    4 years ago

    You description of “squirrels” are spot on. Loved your analysis as it applies to agility and will definitely share your video with fellow nut holders.


    • John Cullen
      4 years ago

      Thanks Amie. And thanks for sharing with your friends.


  12. jan wherley
    4 years ago

    No website yet, but soon, as someone who likes to compete because of some sadistic tendencies. I am a mess at competition. Can use all the help I can get. It is all connected to how I practice and the squirrels, for sure. Thanks !!


  13. Merka
    4 years ago

    Loved your video and simple comparison of “squirrel distraction” (thought it was just animals) … understand my distractions better now.


  14. Valerie
    4 years ago

    Hi John, I loved your video. ! Its great to hear I am not alone with all the squirrels I have in my dog training life. Being a cross over trainer I have the expectations of others to excel all the time. These squirrels I can certainly do without. I look forward to other video presentations from you. For me they are more personal and easier to understand than just reading all the time. Keep up the good work. Cheers Val.


  15. Melissa Myers
    4 years ago

    John,
    This piece reminded me so much of how you worked with me on this very thing when I was preparing for my first USDAA regionals. Just being prepared by identifying what those possible “squirrels” could be, developing and strategy and having it on hand when the time came was one of my keys to helping me have the experience at regionals that I was envisioning. Thanks for that, I use this all the time now!

    Melissa

Follow me on Twitter