Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Attitudinal Fluff Up

Good boy!
Let's go!

Just saying those words and watching Riff's face light up puts me in a better mood.

ATTITUDE can be tricky when you're competitive.  If you're any kind of perfectionist (yeah?  you?  could that be you?)  it can be really tricky.   Your goal may be to run like the wind through every course, full of confidence and grace.....but reality strikes whenever you watch your runs on video.  You see that you barely kept up with your dog, you look like a goober, and you actually got lost on course...twice. 

Your goal may be to WIN!  But when you don't even Q....  ....  ......   Disappointment and frustration may haunt you.  You may even spend the evening listening to an early Tom Waits CD, thinking about much fun you used to have getting drunk at Red's Recovery Room....

But you don't have to do that!  Here's a little trick:  Find a way to use your dog's FAVORITE words, and watch his face.  You can do it anywhere....in the backyard, in your living room, even sitting slumped in your car.  Find something your dog does well, and praise him for it.  Find something your dog wants to do, and go for it!  Fluff him up.  Watch his face...watch his tail wag...pet him....play tug with him....and I guarantee you'll get in a better mood.  

Well, hell, we ALL have our moments of feeling disappointed or frustrated.   Everyone tells us we need to stay positive in order to excel in our sport of agility - but (shit!) we're not perfect.  THAT'S OKAY!    What's that old saying?  Without the valleys there would be no mountains?  Without the down there is no up?    

Listen - all we can do is the best we can do.  No one can be little Miss Sunshine every minute of every day at a trial.  I think it's totally okay for us to be genuine - to let feelings of disappointment run through us - as long as we can quickly LET IT GO.  We don't want our dogs to suffer from it. 
So just figure out what you need to learn from your run....then try using your dog's favorite words, watch his face, and get yourself in a better mood.  Everyone around you will feel better, too. 

Agility can be a wicked mistress.  It can squish the strongest of egos.  If you focus primarily on the titles and the trophies, you may be eaten alive. 


My dog knows me well, and he knows when I'm feeling happy or sad.   So I say these words to myself.  Learn!  Laugh!  Love!   It helps me keep my heart in the right place.  It helps me stay motivated. 

We can help each other stay fluffed up.  It starts at agility class, and gets carried over into a trial.

Watch each other's runs, and cheer for the good parts!  Laugh at the funny bits!  Clap at the finish!  Watch the slow dogs, the beginner dogs, the fast dogs, and the out-of-control dogs.  They'll all give you something to cheer about.

Maya Angelou said something along the lines of: "People won't remember what you did. People won't remember what you wore, or what you said...but they will remember how you made them feel." 

Try to be understanding if someone gets sad or frustrated.  Let her have a moment to get over it, then help her think about the part that went right.  Did her dog have a dynamite startline-stay before he went off-course?   I'll always remember the day a friend of mine caught up with me after a disastrous run, just to help me celebrate a good startline.  It made all the difference!

If you can figure out how to make somebody smile....go for it. 

PROJECT:  HANDLER MOTIVATION.  Agility will keep us young at heart, if we let it.   

Stay fluffed up!  TRY THIS:  Fluff your dog!  Fluff other handlers! 

PS......It's a Blog Action Day, so lots of folks from around the country are writing about ATTITUDE:  check it out.


KT said...

I love this post. So practical, and you made me feel fluffed up! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

So true...I practiced this weekend, staying positive and finding the positive in every run. I was successful with the exception of one run...1 out of 12 isn't bad.

I love to watch Bling fluff up when I tell him in the morning "lets go to the park". I think he doubles in size with excitement.

Thanks for writing!


Kathy said...

Great post and so well written, I am ready to go fluff up my dog!

Elf said...

Oh, I like the image of fluffing up my attitude! I can SO make a parallel to my pillow, which I always vow that I'm going to fluff up every time I make the bed, but instead over time turns into a flat mat because I don't bother doing so.

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