What a fulfilling day! It’s been a long time since I’ve packed the van up ready for a one-day agility show, and I’d forgotten how much I love the early start! ;-) My three girls had no such qualms, and were keen to get into their coats ready for the van – needless to say in early January, the weather required their fleeces & waterproofs for warmth. After collecting our friends Helen Sharp & Hattie, off we headed to UK Agility South West show, at Cannington College near Bridgwater.
Today was special as the show was the debut for a couple of the dogs I teach, but was also an opportunity for those who have been honing their competition skills, to put them to the test. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to get across just how proud I was of everyone today, but here goes…
I managed to watch nearly everyone run at least one round, some more than once, and was able to observe how you all conducted yourselves both around the showground and in the competition ring. I was so pleased with everything I saw. The dogs’ I teach were lucky to have handlers who watched them closely to keep them safe and well, who had made provision for the cold weather in the form of coats/ blankets & hot water bottles, and happy tails told me the rewards on offer were thoughtfully chosen and well-used. These handlers were stepping onto start lines with happy and confident agility partners, many of whom rewarded their handler’s positive training with clear rounds. There were many magical moments that I was delighted to celebrate with you and your wonderful dogs. But regardless of the result, what I was most proud of was how you handled yourselves in the face of the inevitable mistakes the pressure of competition can induce. If you were disappointed with yourselves or your dogs it certainly wasn’t evident from how you loved up your dogs on the finish lines. All I saw was joy and pride in your precious dogs, and I hope I made it clear that I felt exactly the same about you both too.
If I am able to teach anything in my dog training and agility classes, then it would be to value your relationship with your dog over any activity you choose to participate in together. It’s not always easy to take the feedback our dog’s give us under the spotlight of competition – that our training wasn’t quite clear enough, or proofed enough, that we weren’t able to make our dog feel safe, or that our signals weren’t what we thought they were. I loved the fact that you always gave your dog’s the benefit of the doubt, and set your goals according to your dog’s needs rather than your own. You treated your dogs with such love and respect, I was proud to tell people that I have the privilege of training you.
As I sit typing, Ella has asked to come up into my lap for cuddles and is now curled up there – my serious, workaholic collie girl ;-) Jade has also been trying to get into my lap since I collapsed in the armchair, but I’ve resisted whilst trying to get my thoughts onto paper so she’s positioned herself on the sofa alongside me as close as she can get. Meanwhile Diva has persuaded Martin to snuggle her under the fleece blanket, just her sheltie nose peeping out. There are many reasons I have to be pleased with them today at the agility show, but they’re currently reminding me the real reasons for why they’re so important to me :-)
I try to remember to ask my classes to tell me one thing they’re proud of about their dogs at the end of each lesson. I know they’d find it difficult to narrow it down to just one today, because there were so many great things their dogs accomplished. That’s what I call a good day :-)
Today I’m grateful for the great company and conversation at the first agility show of 2013. Looking forward to many more, hopefully with more sunshine like we had today! :-)