March 7, 2012

If I knew then what I know now..........and change

Today is an official Agility Blog Day!

There are tons of agility blogs out there on the big wide web. An inspired one of us (Steve @ agility nerd ), last year started an agility blog action day. They discussed the topic of volunteering. Well, now it has been expanded to some general topics with action days for the year. Today is the first of the general topics.

If I knew then what I know now.....

So read on, then head over to Dog Agility Blog Action Event to see what every one has had to say!

If I knew then what I know now.....

In life, I try not to have regrets. Yet retrospection is a necessary skill for learning and goal making. The only if then statement I can think of would be about saving money. It feels to have taken me longer than I would have liked to learn the art of saving. It seems to be the only time that smaller goals will eat away at the bigger goal.

Now for agility. We all "ruin" our Novice A dog. There is no getting around it. We start out just interested in having a good time with our dog. Looks like fun. What can be so hard? Some jumps, tunnels, A-frame easy peasy. Oh, we have to hit that yellow spot? Oh, wait weave poles what are those? You want me to change direction while doing all this? He has to sit and stay there while I go where? Can't we just run a course? No leash in an open field with 100's of other dogs running around "are you crazy?!?!?"

I think if I truly knew then what I know now
I wouldn't have the dogs I have. I would have picked differently, instead of them picking me. I would not have had the journey I did with each of them. I wouldn't be the person I am or the handler or trainer I am today. Boy, does that make me sad. Yes, Gidget was hard. She made me cry, she shut down, I pushed to hard, I knew nothing about foundation skills, positive training, reinforcement, or keeping it fun. I met my trainer because of her. I met other Papillon people because of her. I got Rocket because of her. I learned how to train my first sit, stay, and come with her. I learned early what I wanted in a trainer and what kind of trainer I wanted to be because of her.

Rocket, he allowed me to make tons of mistakes while learning about my body and the information it provides to him. Handling skills, I started to learn with him. He was energetic and eager. He would do two 1 hour back to back classes and ask for more. He forgave my mistakes and kept on trucking. Till we hit excellent. The courses got harder the expectations higher. My frustration and insane competitiveness started to take a toll. He started to stick by my side to diminish the chances of making a mistake (all mine of course). He persevered and we made some amazing milestones. We were slower yet consistent but because of him I was more determined than ever to be better. A better teacher for my dog, a better communicator on course, a better partner. I spent the three years I was off from agility reading and researching. Expanding my learning and scope beyond the people I knew in the North East agility area. I took courses and read about trainers in California, Canada, Europe. I learned about positive training methods and using games to teach recalls. I met amazing people by taking seminars and asking questions determined not to repeat old ways. I even took on and learned about the mental aspects of competition.

Surf brings me full circle. I am back to trying again with Gidget. They are so similar in structure, physical talent, focus, and temperament. I get to try again and this time, I do know now what I didn't know then....

I have changed so so much over the last 11 years of agility. As has agility. When we started, there was a season. You were lucky to find more than one agility show in the area in a month and it usually closed out quickly. There were one ring shows--outside. I got to know all the people in our jump height, not just the dogs name either ;-) I saw the same people standing in line waiting to run in NJ, PA, even Massachusetts. There were no "handling systems," no MACh 10 or 15, I hadn't heard of international competitions yet. Still, I don't 'wish' I knew any of it before its time. Do I wish I was younger and learning all this, maybe. Do I worry that by the time I figure it all out to be a Tori Self or Daisy Peel or Susan Garrett I will be to old and crippled, YES! Still I wouldn't want to change the journey, it is as it should be.


  1. GREAT post, thanks-so awesome you were able to step back and learn and research that is so cool. Kathy with Liz/Breeze/Cricket

  2. Wonderful post, very insightful.

  3. Very nice retrospective on your journey. I feel a lot the same way!