I teach a wide variety of people. Some who are doing agility to give their dog something extra to do other than the daily walk, through to others who love going away to competitions every weekend throughout the summer.
Most of the agility competitors I know started 'just for fun'. And the fun just kept growing - as did the size of their vehicle and number of dogs they owned ;)
I think most of them would remember their first competition. I know I do. I was ridiculously nervous, and whilst I managed to get around the course without any faults, I was eliminated as my dog was eating a treat as we entered the ring. Oops! Haven't done that again since though!
I've always enjoyed being part of a team. I played hockey back in the day, and have always enjoyed the thrill of competing.
Back then, I was just competing for myself. I loved the training, being part of a club, all the learning that I took part in. However, more recently I realise there are other reasons for why it's important for me to step up to the line.
I'm the proud mum of two young boys. And as they grow up, I know they're looking at me as their first female role model.
When I push myself to train, even when I don't feel like it or I don't feel at my best - I show them that it's important to work hard if you want to succeed at something.
"Dreams Don't Work Unless You Do"
When I finish a run and I reward my dog, regardless of how the run went - I show them how to be a good teammate.
When I cheer and clap my fellow competitors at presentations - I show them how to be a good competitor, and how supporting another's success won't ever dampen my own.
When I win a trophy and shake the judge's hand and say thank you, alongside complimenting the other dogs who ran - I demonstrate what it is to be humble and gracious in victory.
There are people in my life I simply wouldn't have known were it not for my dogs. People who have made an important and valuable contribution that I wouldn't want to be without.
Sport, any sport, holds many life lessons for us and our children. And all of us set an example to the young eyes who watch us when we enter an agility ring, run out on a football pitch or hit a tennis ball over a net.
If you're feeling nervous about competing for the first time, then please try not to be. Because what you gain from putting yourself out there, will be more than what you lose if you don't try in the first place.
And more than that, you don't know who you might be inspiring whilst you're doing it. So don't let the fear of failure hold you back, focus on all the good that playing the game does for you and the people watching you.
Today I'm grateful for the people and dogs who inspire me to learn more, compete better, and work hard to help others.