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Thread: thoughts on agility

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Grand Rapids MI USA
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    Default thoughts on agility

    [SIZE=2]There is not a day that goes by that Cooper and Nina donít bring a smile to my face,
    and make the day better. I love them both. It has been a blast learning agility with
    Cooper boy. Someday I will get over my shyness and actually enter an event! In the
    Meantime, class and practice have been a blast! It feels like Cooper knows just what I want Him to do even if I give the wrong signals.

    Nina girl is always trying to please, and if I am down, she is right there wanting to snuggle.

    This says a lot!

    Not a Means to an End, THE End
    • by Donna Wasielewski on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 8:34pm

    • > I thought a lot about this going into Nationals, and I guess even before..
      > As agility gets more and more competitive, it is easier and easier to
      > look at dogs as a means to the end goal of winning rather than the end in
      > and of themselves. It is easy to lose sight of just how awesome they are
      > just because they are them because it is so easy to get caught up in the
      > desire to win. It is easy to look at agility as a matter of winning or
      > losing and forget what a treasure it is each time you have the chance to
      > step to the start line or really each time you have the chance to hug them
      > and look into their eyes to see how much they love you. Over the past
      > year, I have been reminded more and more of what a mistake it is to take
      > that for granted. Just ask the family whose dog died on the way to
      > Nationals in 2008, the family whose dog died at the AKC Nationals this
      > year, or the many people who have had dogs get cancer in the prime of
      > their lives over the past few years. I bet, win or lose, they would give
      > anything for just one more chance to step to the line with their dog. I
      > think about that sometimes when I think about Siryn's water intoxication
      > right before Regionals last year and what a huge hole she would have left
      > in my life if she'd died that night after a routine trip to the lake. I
      > think about the fact that Mindy was my first agility dog and, due to her
      > orthopedic problems, I will never have any video of her doing agility to
      > remember the little dog that changed the course of my whole life. Truly,
      > we never know when this time will be the last time so I want to treasure
      > each chance I have to experience time and life with my dogs.
      > I look back on my journey and think how far I've come. When I got Siryn,
      > I was so worried about getting a dog that would be structurally sound and
      > do well in agility that I really didn't bond much with her over that first
      > year "just in case she didn't work out". I look back on that now and it
      > is insane to me. Agility, while very important to me, is still such a
      > small part of our life together. I LOVE that dog and all the fun we have
      > together in life and her doing agility well or not would not change that.
      > She is smart, she makes me laugh with all her silly antics, and she is
      > always thrilled to do anything I want to do like hiking, fetching,
      > kayaking/swimming, learning new tricks, or just laying around watching a
      > movie. She makes me laugh and I LOVE that about her. I got Puppy for
      > agility and she did it for all of two years before I retired her, but I
      > don't even know what my life would be without my constant shadow and heart
      > dog. Agility is NO part of our life together and I will be crushed when
      > something happens to her.
      > Going into AKC Nationals this March, I was so worried about making it into
      > the Finals that I forgot to enjoy the ride with Siryn until the very last
      > run when our chance was gone and the only thing to run for was fun.
      > Running the courses was a means to an end (winning), and not the end.
      > When I started running it like the goal was to just go out there and have
      > a blast pushing as hard as we could for the sheer love of running her, we
      > started doing awesome. At USDAA Nationals this year, I was determined not
      > to do that again. When I printed out my schedule, I put pictures of Siryn
      > all over it doing all the non-agility things that I love about her, like
      > smiling on the hiking trail, sticking her feet out while she's sleeping
      > under the bed, holding the ball with her paws while we are playing fetch,
      > and just generally being the fun-loving, laughable Siryn I love. I wanted
      > to remind myself that our life together was what was important, regardless
      > of how we did at the dog show. It still took some effort to concentrate
      > on that in the Team runs because I really thought we had a shot of making
      > it into Team Finals so honestly, one of our best runs came in Grand Prix
      > semis when I ran it just for the sheer joy of running it not thinking we
      > had a prayer of making it into the Finals. I ran it just for the love of
      > stepping to the line with my amazing agility partner and that was when we
      > did our best and made it to the Finals!
      > Ironically, the same thing happened to me with Top 10 last year. For
      > 2009, I ran Snooker and Jumpers just because I LOVED them. I put
      > everything I had into them just because they were so much fun and I loved
      > the confidence and adrenaline of knowing we were great at those games. I
      > didn't even know about Top 10 or how to keep track of it and we ended up
      > placing #5 and #8 in the country! Someone told me a few months later
      > about it so the next year, I wanted those awards again. I started running
      > the Snooker and Jumpers courses because I wanted to win, not just for the
      > sheer joy of the adrenaline of running them because I loved them. When I
      > started JUST focusing on the Top 10, I lost the joy of each run, and with
      > it, we lost our typically great performances in those classes. I finally
      > realized my mistake, started just going out to run them because I wanted
      > to do awesome because I loved them, not just because I wanted a pin at the
      > end of the year, and wouldn't you know we started doing amazing again.
      > Don't ever get so caught up in the destination that you forget to marvel
      > at the journey!
      > While we were at USDAA Nationals this year, our teammate was feeling
      > pretty stressed about a run. On my way in to watch her, I saw this senior
      > gentleman running the lure coursing alongside his old Papillion so that
      > the dog would make it all the way through. I thought, wow, this is what
      > it's all about. It's all about sharing the journey with your best friend
      > and creating memories and experiences together. His dog wasn't going to
      > have the fastest time but his will be the only run I remember watching
      > because his relationship with his dog was what captured my attention in
      > the long-term. When we can focus on loving the journey, we can truly
      > appreciate these amazing animals for what they bring to our lives, not
      > what they bring to our trophy shelves. I was reminded of this again
      > watching Angie Benacquisto run her amazing dog, Dylan, at Nationals and
      > place while Dylan is currently being treated for cancer. I am sure Angie
      > just felt so much emotion at being able to have that experience with
      > Dylan. I felt that, too. Having the opportunity to run in the Grand Prix
      > Finals with Siryn was such a treasure that I honestly was not the least
      > bit disappointed that we didn't run clean. I was just so thrilled to be
      > able to have that experience with her, an experience that only twenty-four
      > 22" dogs in the world got to have, that I just felt so grateful for the
      > journey. Would I have liked to run clean or even won? Of course! But
      > the fact that those things didn't happen didn't at all diminish the honor
      > I felt at being able to have such a special experience with my first dog
      > to ever go to a Nationals with me. I remembered to treasure the chance to
      > have that experience regardless of the outcome, and for that I am very
      > grateful.
      > I have been mulling over these ideas but finally decided to write them out
      > tonight after watching a beautiful tribute video Tori Self made for a
      > gentleman I didn't even know who just died. This man, Dennis, apparently
      > did agility in a walker and wheelchair in Florida with his amazing Border
      > Collie. You know what? That video and his death are spreading around the
      > agility community like crazy and bringing tears to people's eyes and was
      > it because he did something amazing like win Nationals or be on the World
      > Team? No, it was because he remembered how precious it was just to have
      > the opportunity to step to the line and feel the power of just being able
      > to run your dog even with obstacles the rest of us couldn't even dream of
      > overcoming. What an amazing testament to the power of just loving the
      > chance to run your dog even if winning Nationals is never in your future.
      > I bet those runs on that video will be remembered by many people for a
      > very long time even though his success came in a very different package
      > than what most people typically think of. So inspiring.
      > I know I won't always remember this. There will be times I am very
      > disappointed in a run and forget how lucky I was to even have the chance
      > to run it. There will be times I take time with my dogs for granted. I
      > hope that those times are fewer and further between as I make every effort
      > to focus on the sheer joy they bring to my life. Siryn will be 7 in 3
      > days and as her career starts to get closer its end than its beginning, I
      > hope I remember to be thankful for every chance I get to run a course with
      > this amazing girl who leaves everything she has on the course for the love
      > of me and the game. I hope I remember to appreciate her and everything we
      > have gone through together to get to this moment. She has been my first
      > "big" agility dog, my first Border Collie, my first dog of my own that
      > I've taken to Nationals, my first dog I've run in a Finals (3 times!), my
      > first dog I've taken kayaking, and so much more. I love her, I love all
      > my girls, and I want to always remember how much they have done for me and
      > how special each moment I have with them is. I want to always remember
      > that my dogs are not a means to an end of winning in agility, their
      > presence in my life IS the end. The rest is all just part of the journey
      > to be treasured each step of the way.
      > My girls (Puppy-10, Siryn-7, Mindy-12)
    Chuck, Cooper and Nina
    Shelter dogs aren't broken. They've simply experienced more life than other dogs. If they were human, we would call them wise. They would be the ones with tales to tell and stories to write. Do not pity a shelter dog. Adopt one.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    I'm happy you've found yet another way to enjoy life with your dogs. It's hard to find words to express just what they mean to us, isn't it?

    Have you seen this video? It's of a woman and her chinese crested doing their last run in Dallas, Texas. Tissue alert -- the woman fought a long battle with cancer. After being hospitalized and given three weeks to live, she decided to have one last run with her beloved dog. Watch the video to the end ... I love the slow motion of the pair at the end.
    Last edited by tara; 26th October 2010 at 01:29 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Tipperary Ireland
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    Very inspirational!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    I love that.....I sent it to my agility instructor. She may even know the author as she competes at nationals too. Thanks for posting it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Very beautiful and so true. Enjoy your dog for what ever he does or doesnít do. Doesnít matter how good you are itís the fun you have together that counts.
    Rosie-06/06 - Ebony-01/07 Harley-08/08
    " My sunshine doesn't come from the skies, it comes from the love in my dogs eyes "


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