Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wisdom in brief...

I'm on-call this week, which among other things generally means that I'm awake more of the dark hours than I am asleep. Some of it is the actual pager - but a lot of it is that I'm just not falling back asleep all that quickly...it doesn't help when I don't really have time to go back to sleep (beep-beep 12am, beep-beep 1:05am, beep-beep 2am, beep-beep 3:15am, beep-beep 4:30am....you get the idea). Just as I'm finally starting to drift off to sleep again after one page the pager goes off again.

Anyhow - and sometimes this is an unwanted side-effect - is that I have a lot of time to let my mind run, to plan sequences for my training or upcoming classes, to worry about all of the balls that I have up in the air at any given moment, to fantasize about winning the lottery and building an agility mecca in Vermont and {grin} lots of opportunity to think about future blog posts.

When Teller made his agility trial debut in novice not so long ago, I went in with all the advantages of a "B" handler. As a B handler I was actually cognizant enough to listen to the novice class judges' briefing, that is of course when I made it to the ring in time for the briefing. Anyhow, sometimes in briefings judges present unique perspectives of wisdom that are too good not to retain and share - truly important lessons from their years of experience in the sport. There are a few that stick out in my mind - and I'll leave the remarks as anonymous for now.

"Each level of agility serves a purpose. In Novice you need to demonstrate that you've taught your dog to do all of the equipment and to do so safely. In Open, the courses ask you to demonstrate that you and your dog can work as a team. In Excellent, you demonstrate that you can put 'it all' together with speed and precision".
It's true isn't it? As the level of course complexity increases so does the need for dog and handler to work as a team to get around the course. You cannot qualify in excellent if your dog does not turn when you ask him to turn and to focus on finishing the weaves not on the ring crew person sitting next to pole seven. If you can combine obstacle skills and teamwork at the novice level you're going to have a much easier time when you get into open. This is one of the reasons that I don't train for novice - train for excellent - that's where you're headed.

"You wrote the check for the entry fees this weekend - you're here because you've put in time and expense to train him for today - but he's here mostly because you put him in the car this morning."
Dogs have bad days, we have bad days. Dogs make mistakes - we make mistakes (Doh!) - but keep it in perspective. We're going to have amazing trial weekends where we're on FIRE and we're also going to have weekends where we can't Q to save our skin. Perspective is so important. Plus (and yes it's cheesy) it wouldn't be so much fun if we could beat every single course right? It's about the challenge of solving a new puzzle.

"Make each run count - you never, ever, ever know when that last run is going to come and there will be no more opportunities for a do-over"  
This one broke my heart. The judge who was briefing (I think it was an Excellent JWW class) had just lost a dog - suddenly and tragically - a couple of days before the trial. Her perspective was raw - she wasn't going to get another run with her dog. The same dog that had just finished another MACH a few weeks before. You never ever know what is to come. Our dogs live in the now, we should spend more time savoring NOW and less time hoping for LATER.

1 comment:

Kristine said...

If there is one thing my dog has taught me, it is that all that matters is the NOW. Not tomorrow or next week, but now. She lives so much for the moment and has helped me to do the same.

I love this wisdom and thank you for sharing it.