Sunday, January 4, 2009

Random Training Thoughts

Over the years, I've had more than one person question my sanity when it comes to training (and trialing) my wild spotty dogs. And after a trial like yesterday, I sometimes question it too. :)

I guess it all comes down to the fact that I absolutely love the sport. And I love my dogs...and I love training. To me, it isn't all about the "Q's" or the ribbons or the titles. It's all about the challenge of training and more importantly, having a great time with your best furry friends.

When I first started training Indy there were several people who basically told me that she would likely never be successful in agility. She was too soft...too fearful. But somehow we've managed to work through most of her fears and today we're competing at NADAC's Elite level, even with limited trialing. I even think a NATCH or two is definitely possibility at some point. But to me, the most important thing is that *she* loves agility and *she* loves competing. Even though she doesn't always follow my plan, I have to admit that I love to watch her have fun on a course. To think that at one point she used to shake uncontrollably with fear - to see her now running with speed and confidence is more of an accomplishment than any title we could ever earn.

I feel the same way when it comes to Peyton. So what if his first trial experience was one big wild zoomie...does it make him a bad dog or me a bad trainer? Some might think so, but when I look at how far he's come...I'm quite proud. And when I watch his videos, they don't make me mad - they make me laugh. I can't help but to love his energy and hopefully one day it will all come together and he'll tear up the agility course *and* get a Q. But for now, I'm happy to play at home and in class with the hopes that one of these days he might just manage to successfully train *me*. :)

Sure, I could probably take some people's advice and be "harder" on my dogs, and maybe Peyton would pay attention a little more, and perhaps Indy would be less likely to come up with her own plans when running, but I guarantee that they would lose some, if not all, of the enthusiasm that they have for the game. And while a little more control would be nice, I would rather have a dog that is flying around the course with a great big smile than a dog that is creeping along because they are stressed or afraid of making a mistake. That might not be the fastest way to a title, but in my opinion it's a lot more fun.

I have to admit, I find it a little sad when I see people who are obsessed when it comes to winning or qualifying or putting various titles on their dogs. Does this mean that I'm not competitive - I don't think so. I like to win as much as anyone...but not at the expense of my dogs. Our time with them is much too short and when that time is over, I hope it will be our wild and crazy ride that I'll remember most...not the titles we earned, or the Q's we missed.


Anonymous said...

I love your puppy blogs and videos! You are the coolest. I admire you so much. :-)

Matria said...

Beautifully written and I happen to completely agree!

Anonymous said...

Couldnt have said it better myself!
Don't compromise anything.

3 little words