This weekend, we attended our second ever agility show, and what was amazing was that I had two fellow trainers – Gemma and Nic – on hand to talk over my performance. I had a really awesome day out, but as an agility newbie, I still struggle with the “handling” part or our performance. And, of course, any problems we have in training get magnified 10-fold in the ring!
After singing all my praises, and telling me how well I'd done, one of the things Gemma said to me after a run was: “your relationship isn't quite there yet”. Instantly, I was overcome by the crimson-mummy-monster – “how can anyone think I don’t love my dog” – but after a breath, I thought about what this really means.
In my other life, I work as a learning and development consultant; I help organisations give their employees the opportunities they want to grow their skills and experience. One of the resources I use all the time has a simple process for developing individuals and organisations, growing from dependence, through independence to interdependence. The stages themselves are not as important as how you get from one to the other.
Moving from dependence to independence requires personal mastery – mastering yourself (through the help and support of others) to know and do your own job; moving from independence to interdependence requires mutual dependence and trust in each other’s’ abilities. But here’s the thing: without that first step, you can’t ever hope to make the second.
Considering this definition, then, I can see clearly that Jasper and I don’t yet have that “magic relationship”. I can safely say that less than 2 years after stepping into my first foundation agility class the first dog that was mine alone to train, I have not yet mastered my job (flapping arms, panic-stricken charge around the ring, rabbit-in-the-headlights look when I have no idea where the course goes next).
Sound familiar? Well, I'm sure I'm not alone. And I'm also sure I'm not alone in being so hard on myself for not having this mutual trust with my dog … yet! But I hope this picture gives you as much hope as it does me – what I know for sure is that with time and the benefit of the experience of trainers and fellow club members alike, we can all experience that elusive magic run!