I have a second blog that I use to share my training and life adventures with my dogs, LaMesa and Dally, over at Agility on Stumps. And as part of that, I am a member of a group that likes to focus on different topics related to dog agility and share personal stories. This topic was on Success.
Ironically this came right before Dally and I are close to finishing her second agility championship (aka “PACH2”) this weekend (at least we hope). Dally has always been “Dependable Dally” but LaMesa has been a definite trial.
So does the number of MACH/PACH or championships determine the amount of success you have as a dog handler, owner, trainer, competitor? Or is it the little things?
The competitive side of me would say it’s the championships/titles. Those are how you show your accomplishments–those numerous letters preceding and proceeding your dog’s name. In the horse show world, we judge the buckles you wear, the award chairs you sit in, etc.
Training LaMesa has totally opened my eyes, though. Dally was “easy” in comparison to starting and training LaMesa–Dally is consistent. After I dropped her down to Preferred, things came so much easier because she no longer struggled to make time nor be constantly injured trying to jump 8″. It took us a while, but we got that first QQ and then things just started rolling.
LaMesa is another story, though. I believe she has so much raw talent, and so much heart, that is can be a handicap. I know she can be so good, and that affects my mindset because I get competitive and know she’s fast. So I push her…and we fail…or I perceive it as a fail.
I’ve learned to take the little things as a success. LaMesa used to struggle so much with weaves at trials. If we can nail the weave poles from any entrance on a course, I’m excited. If we can run an entire course without her knocking bars, that’s a win. Have we QQd? Nope. Right now we average 1 Q out of 4 runs in a weekend. But that Q is always a big deal.
I see so much potential in her that I want us to be successful, but I have learned not to push it. I’ve been identifying where we need to focus and I am learning how to run her versus Dally, which is a big success for me. I’ve learned “She is not Dally” and that’s OK. She’s fun to run (so is Dally, don’t get me wrong). She makes you think. You have to be solid in your game plan from the very beginning or she can catch you on your heels.
But all that makes me a better handler, which, in turn, will make her a better agility dog. This will also help me with future dogs, horses, and handling people. That, in itself, is success.
So my mindset has changed…a little. I’m still competitive, but I’ve been checking myself and my ego at the door when we walk in and I look for the positives in our runs, and not always just at the negatives. I just want LaMesa to continue to enjoy running with me and doing agility. The QQs will come.
THAT IS SUCCESS.
Your turn: How do you measure success in whatever you do?