That's a toughie for me and Mum. Why? Because I wouldn't change a single thing of my life in agility with my Mum. She and I have really loved learning this fun sport at the same time.
Neither Mum or I knew anything about agility when we started. Mum didn't even know anything about dogs when she adopted me, since I was her first dog ever her entire life.
We had lots to learn. Early on, all Mum knew was that I was a wild, busy, and very energetic dog, and I needed a job. We were fortunate enough to find a job for me early in my life, a fun one at that! One that we both enjoy and one we enjoy doing together - dog agility.
Over the years we've received a whole lot of training, advice and suggestions through many trainers and other competitors. We take it all in and enjoy learning new things.
But the thing we realized pretty quickly (and this is where the 'if I knew then what I know now' comes in for us) is that we needed and wanted to make sure that the advice, guidance, and training that we received fit with us, was right for me, and for me and Mum as a team.
That's the most important thing for us that we learned and began applying early on, and the thing that we've continued to apply throughout our agility 'career.' Not every system, new 'in' thing, or the latest training tactic works for us; and may not be right for us as a team. Yet, on the other paw, the latest out of style or 'taboo' training or handling move may just be the very thing that works well for us!
Here's a perfect example and right about the time that the 'if I knew then, what I know now' light bulb went off for us:
Back in 2006 when I was just starting in advanced jumpers in USDAA and had only been training for about 10 months, Mum led out at the start and thought she allowed enough room to get that much needed front cross in before the tunnel.
But I took off like a little bat out of 'you know where', and there was no way Mum was going to get in a front cross. So what did she do? Yep, she blind crossed. And then she did another one later in the run (and probably could have done one more before the second tunnel). Worked great for us! And I totally knew what Mum was trying to tell me.
Here's that little run from way back in 2006:
We were so new to agility that we didn't even know that what Mum did was a 'blind cross', she had never heard of one, and she had never seen one. She was just running the line and helping to give me clear direction on where to go next. Instinct kicked in.
We learned after our run that blind crosses were the biggest 'no-no' in agility in our area at that time. People where running up to us and telling us 'you shouldn't do that'! We thought...really? Why not?
Now it seems that blind crosses are back in style! Well, whadda ya know?
So if 'I knew way back then in our very early days what I knew not long after, and now know and believe' is that we always gotta do what's right for us as a team, no matter what system is in style, no matter what people say, no matter what.
We know more about our relationship, our competition history, our training, what works for us and what doesn't, more than anyone could possibly know.
We love learning new things, training with different trainers, taking advice from them and friends, trying new things, assessing them with our goals and our relationship, and applying what works for us. But in the end it's about us and it always will be.
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