Friday, May 10, 2013

To Trial or Not To Trial

Sometimes I hear agility folks say, "We do this just for fun."  Or "It's all about having fun."  And I agree!  I've said these things myself. 

How many times has my Goal for the Weekend been:  HAVE FUN!?  Many.  It's a darn good goal.  Something we can reach.  A positive outcome.  Encouraging results. 

Other goals have been:  A solid start-line for at least one class.  A smile.  A wag.  A good weave entry.  No ants in the tent.  Etc. Etc.  These are all terrific goals.

But I must admit that I ask myself from time to time:  Do I really want to keep showing this dog? 

Why do we take our dogs to agility trials?

Everyone (nearly everyone) says IT'S FOR FUN.  A few of us admit we're there because we want to win a title.  We're competitive.  We want to win - and not just a title...we want first place!  (Ohhhhh, yeahhhhh.....) 

I once had a team partner repeatedly insist to me that she was not the least bit competitive.  But then she told me all the titles her dog had, and admitted that she went to an agility trial "at least three weekends every month, all year long."   Now ask that competitive?  Or not? 

I'll be the first to admit that I have a competitive streak about a mile wide.  Yet at the same time, I Don't Care About Titles.  (I just like winning.)  So I can kinda understand why my teammate said she wasn't competitive. 

But I still don't believe her. 

Anyone who (without being asked) rattles off all the titles they've won lately has just a wee bit of the competitor in them, wouldn't you say?  Anyone who goes to trials nearly every weekend of the year is definitely a competitor.  Plain and simple.  They like winning.  They like achieving qualifying runs and titles....if nothing else. 

Are you REALLY running just for fun?  Are you REALLY there because you just want to play with your dog?  I don't think so. 

If you just want to play with your dog, you can go out to the beach and toss toys, or teach him a bunch of really cool tricks.  Your dog will be completely happy, and it's a lot safer. 


Riff and I have not been trialing much in the last couple of years.  There are many reasons for that - chief among them the knee thing, followed by the back injury, and then the broken arm....(and the fact that his start-line was broken for a good long while, then his weave-entry). 

But a lot of people - many competitors, young and old - rise above such paltry physical set-backs.  I mean, I've seen people in wheelchairs showing their dogs on the agility field.  I've seen 90-year-old women tottering about with huge smiles and qualifying runs.  One of my classmates is 76, and she's got a darn-good dog with a string of titles after his name, and no end of enthusiasm.  (Although I did hear her say, the other day, that this 6-year old Aussie is her last agility dog.  NOTE:  She started training him when she was about 70 years old.) 

People say it's good to have a goal - and a championship title is a very defined goal.  A good goal.  It's an achievement that takes a lot of work, a lot of practice, and a measure of luck.  It's totally worth the effort. 

BUT.  Titles and ribbons have lost their shine for me lately.  They seem to represent Fleeting Joy.  Which, if you think about it, is a hella-lot better than No Joy.  BUT. 

What's wrong with me?  I haven't been entering trials.  Because of injuries, I tell myself.  Hmmmm.  Some of it has to do with the pocketbook.  (Yes - definitely and sadly true.)  Some of it has to do else, exactly?  I can't say.  I wish I could.  If this stutter...if these dragging feet....if this whatever this is were identifiable, maybe I could banish it and get back to trialing. 

And while I wonder, and still feel hesitant, I look at my Bay Team Certificates, which have been sitting on my desk for a couple of months.  I was an All-Day Worker for these.  Primarily because I love watching agility...but also because I want to be able to afford trial entries.  I want to show everyone how well my sweet Riff is doing.  He's a good dog! 

And that's ANOTHER REASON!  "Everyone."  All those whacky dog people that I know and love so well.  Where am I going to have a chance to visit them?  An agility trial!


What I need to do now is....I need to fill out these entry forms, put the certificates and forms in an envelope and MAIL THEM IN! 

1 comment:

vici whisner said...

Oh you over achiever you. I go to trials for fun, for friendships, to see people that love the same thing I do, To laugh at myself, to cheer on my buds, and yes, because every once in a while, I actually Q. But mostly I go because Fin LOVES it so.

We may not get that may Q's, but when we do it is such a great feeling. When we don't, I focus on what we did right and work on fixing what I did wrong. And if nothing was right....I try again later. One of the main reasons I do USDAA is you get so many tries at perfection. I'll be there in Petaluma and can't wait to see you and Riff tearing up the course with Joy.

There is a ton of joy in other things. I also enjoy hiking, scent work, just tossing the ball...but I love, love, love the feeling when all goes right and Fin and I become the team we were meant to be...even if that doesn't happen every time.

Love you bunches and hope to see you soon.

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