Well, I’ve missed the DABAD (Dog Agility Blog Action Day!) call for posts about success, but I’ve decided to muse on the subject anyways. Success and the NEED for it has always been a struggle within me. Let’s go on a journey through my psyche, shall we?
I want to be the best. I’ve always been competitive with my school grades, school selection and majors. (What do you mean I can’t have 4 majors and still graduate in 4 years?? Because you tell me I can’t do it, I will! I shall prove you wrong because I can!) Alas, my 4 majors turned into 2 majors and 2 minors, but I still got out in 4 years. Haha!
I’m competitive at things I know I can be good at. Very competitive, and external successes are very appealing for those things. Things I can’t be good at, I’m the most Type B person you’ll ever meet. Volleyball? Basketball? Just not my thing as a person who’s 5’1″! Playing tennis? Riding horses? Dog agility? Game on.
I started by saying that I struggle with success. Things I’ve been good at, I can’t take lightly. When I graduated college, I wanted to get back into horseback riding. I tried, but after riding so, so competitively for so long, I couldn’t find the joy in NOT horse showing and not winning. So I quit. It was better for my person to not pursue the old passion rather than to do it “half arse”.
Enter dog agility, stage right!
I wanted to be the best at agility. And I had very high hopes until recently of Agility Invitationals and PDCHs and the lot. I took classes, I practiced, and I set goals. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? It had worked for the first 23 years of my life! Riley was great at home, running enthusiastically and proficient on all the obstacles. Game on time!
When we debuted, she won every class! Woo! Then it crashed and burned. She ran in circles for NINE months. Literally, circles. Then she decided not to weave. Then she got those back and wouldn’t hit her contacts at trials. But if I pulled her off and tried to maintain criteria, she’d revert back to running in circles. I was lead to believe that, because we weren’t Qualifying, we we’re not successful.
Yikes. Not successful? But success is all I’ve cared about! So, fun runs, USDAA and many other things were introduced. In USDAA, there were class options! You won’t weave? Fine! We’ll do classes where we can exclude them because we had nothing to celebrate in AKC, but this is new venue at least we got something to celebrate. Slowly, we started making progress, but every day brings new challenges, always making us re-evaluate what success is for little Riley Taylor.
Currently, we’re not even trialing. It was too difficult to set our own successes and feel good about them around other people that have wildly more success than us. Yes, that might seem shallow or petty or annoying, but that is what WE need to feel good about ourselves. Trials were becoming frustrating– a waste of time and money– and we weren’t in the right mindset. I got frustrated with Riley, Riley wasn’t having fun. Lose, lose. We play in the yard, and she’s managed to weasel her way onto my bed at night while UNO sleeps in his kennel like a good boy (success for the Terrier!).
If I compared UNO to Riley’s success standards, he is wildly, leaps-n-bound more “successful” than Riley already. He learns things quickly, is very focused and has really developed a passion for the game that Riley never developed. So, success with Baby UNO is quite different. And it changes every week. Last week, it was successfully learning independent back-sides with a verbal cue. Check! This week, it’s collection :)
I will say, though, that UNO has been quite challenging in the success department with his teeter. At the ripe age of about 8 months, he was playing after Riley’s ring rental, and ran up the teeter. He fell off of it, and so began the incredible journey towards conquering his newly developed paralyzing teeter fear. Even the wobble board was too much. In fact, I had to go out and buy a flat 2×2 and it took a MONTH for him to even stand on it.
After months and months of positive reinforcement and confidence building, we have FINALLY gotten a teeter performance. 18″ tall within lots and lots of confidence! SUCCESS!! We might never get to competition height (24″), but I DON’T CARE. My puppy has trust in me that I wouldn’t put him in a horrible situation and that’s the BEST kind of success :)
Success is not static, it is very nimble and ever-changing. Success is internal, not outward. (Validation from others does not equal success.) Do not let folks define success for you. Success does not mean Qs or ribbons or fancy titles or national finals. Enjoy where you’re at. (Hiking is good! As is Chuck It throwing and frisbee!) And, finally, sometimes success is doing nothing too. And maybe, just maybe, “success” should be eliminated from our vocabulary (whoa!).
Also, future blog posts need pictures :P