When I first got into agility I didn't enter seminars for the longest time. Not until Baxter was running in Masters, so that our being "qualified" to be there wouldn't be questioned. He isn't an "agility breed." I worried that presenters might not spend as much time with us because he isn't borderline out of control, or a herding breed. Or that maybe we'd be written off as "needs to motivate dog more" (aka What are they even doing here?!?!)
|2013-First ATChC with my first agility dog. So qualified to be there.|
|2014-Second ATChC with the Baby Dog - not so little now! Also qualified to be there.|
My dogs are not blindingly fast. They aren't crazy, driven, nearly out of control. They don't inspire a lot of "HOLY THAT DOG IS FAST" and "OMG I WANT A DOG LIKE THAT" in people.
I worry that people will judge my ability as a trainer on the basis of how "awe inspiring" my dogs are. Some in fact, have.
All this runs through my mind when I run my dogs now, in classes or the other weekend at the trial. It shouldn't. It's going to stop. Now.
All that extraneous noise in my head is getting shoved into its own little box of "doesn't matter."
Everyone. I mean everyone, can make a mistake and have a bad or off day. If we do, we do. It's my journey with that particular dog. Unless you live with me and that dog, you can't know what we've gone through to get there.
|Our first Regionals, 2013. 6" Specials Regional Champion|
|Our first Regionals, 2013. 4th Overall in 10" Regulars|
It doesn't make me less qualified to teach.
I know that my dogs understand the handling choices I want to use. I KNOW why I want to use a particular handling move. I understand lines, lead changes, collection, extension and deceleration. I know how and why I want to train something. I can coach friends with the crazy fast dogs and help improve their performance. I can even run their dogs successfully! That isn't the temperament of my own dogs, but I challenge anyone to take a dog with Spencer's issues and be successful with that dog!
So while my dogs are not awe inspiring when we run, we are consistent. Baxter didn't take second overall at Nationals in 2013 by being the second fastest dog in the ring, he did it by being consistent and not making a lot of mistakes.
Spencer didn't beat World Team caliber dogs and place 4th in Standard 1 at that same Nationals in 2013 by being the fastest. He did it by not making any mistakes and running nearly 20 seconds under SCT!
Fast alone doesn't get you anything. Raw talent without training and practicing just gets you a faster train wreck when the wheels do come off. Those fast dogs? Most of them come that way. It's part of their temperament the way scared and sensitive is part of Spencer's. Just a different set of problems.
So if you want to judge, nothing I say will make a difference.
But the proof, well THAT is in the pudding.
Note: Ribbons, titles and placements are not a measure of worth. But they do infer a certain amount of skill in training to attain said ribbons, titles and placements. By no means are they everything, but by the same token, they are something that says I have some skill in training.
|Our very first Nationals. Leduc 2013. Second Place Overall 6" Specials|
|Spencer's first Nationals. Leduc 2013. I entered him in Regionals on a lark, because Baxter was going, never expecting him to qualify for Nationals ...|
|Nationals 2013; Leduc. 2nd Overall, 6" Specials|