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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Human success from a dog's point of view!

Today is the Dog Agility Blog Action Day focusing on 'Success,' and we are participating!

We haven't participated recently, because Mum became a little ambivalent about agility for a while.

Why the ambivalence? Mum had a goal and we weren't achieving it; at least it was taking a long, long while.

That goal was getting that last SuperQ for our ADCH. She really wanted it and we were coming in 2nd place a lot and in our class where we often had to win with combined heights.

It started Mum thinking about that goal, was it worth it to keep going?

She's not one to give up on a goal that she's set for herself. Needless to say she went through a lot of introspection.

We will never forget the one question our trainer asked us when we attended our first private agility class back in Indiana. She asked, 'what are your goals?' At that time Mum was just starting agility, with me, her first dog ever her entire life, and had absolutely no clue about what the possibilities were. Do you know what she said? She said, 'to go as far as YoYo takes us.' What she meant was, she was in it for me, for us, to have fun, to be together, to give me a job (I needed one, busy pup I was) and to do things together that we enjoyed, and then go as far as that will take us, whatever it turns out to be.

I think for a human it's important to have goals. It makes you get up in the morning, grab that cup of coffee and dig in to the tasks at hand to reach your goals. Mum being a marketing consultant and talking with her clients every day, throughout the day, she stresses the need for them to have goals. She believes that it's the only way to achieve the success they are seeking.

One thing I've learned over the years is that humans that have goals have more direction. They go through ups and downs as they process through those goals, and once they reach those goals are pretty doggone fun to be around. They get excited, they celebrate their successful reach of that goal, and often times dogs get the benefit of that celebration with a nice hike, a fun play time, a long walk, treats and more! We get to celebrate right along with our humans and I like that.

So back to the ADCH goal. It was nearing one year entering Snooker in any USDAA trial within driving distance from the time I got my second SQ. And it was one year between my first one and my second. Mum was getting tired, a bit frustrated at herself, worried that maybe I should retire (which I did a couple times within those three years). She asked herself a lot of questions. Was I still having fun? Did I feel OK after years of injuries taking their toll? Was she having fun?

She would go through these ups and downs just like any normal human being would. But Mum is a hopeful sort. She's a never-give-upper. It's one of the many things I love about her. She may get down, but she always bounces back, and quickly I may add. And when she's ready to let go of the down...her attitude changes, she's more fun, and that makes me more eager, ready, willing and able to be right there with her in whatever comes next.

And I? During our adventure to reach our goal, I had good runs and not so good runs. Good days and bad days of running. Being nearly 10 years old it was to be expected. But what she saw in me was my ability to try, to always be willing to give it another go, always do my very best, and many times more than not feeling great and ready to run my heart out!

So we persevered.

Then the day came. It was a good day, we both felt great. Mum was just happy to be running me and I with her. The stars aligned with a combination of me feeling great, Mum eager to run with me, a Snooker course that fit us like glue, and lots of Snooker experience gained over the years. At first we didn't think we got it, but it was such a super fun, fast, 'we were in total sync' kind of run that we didn't even care. Mum knew right then and there that the goal was in reach. So we took a fun celebratory walk around the grounds.

What happened next? We found out we got that last SQ with that very run. And I had gotten the most points of all the dogs in the championship level. Oh the sweet smell of success! The goal had been reached more successfully than we had ever imagined.

We have relished that moment for months, we still are and believe we will for a lifetime. It was one of those runs you will never, ever forget.

Now that I'm in PIII in USDAA, we are experiencing much of the success I had in championship level when I was younger. It's fun to get blue ribbons again, it's fun to go 5 for 5 for the weekend (I don't run a lot of runs in a day anymore). The only goal Mum has for us now is to run for however long I am able and want to, and to have a lot of fun doing it. And we are, we are loving my 'retirement' phase.

Goals change over time, some are reached and some are modified. There are different goals for different people. Some folks want to have fun and bond more with their dog, some want to win gold at a world championship (and everything in between). We think all of those goals are great!

While these other folks may have different goals and other measures of success, their goals don't matter to us. We celebrate with them through their challenges, struggles and ultimate successes as they work toward and reach their goals, and support them when they need to modify and rethink them.

Whatever your goal and your measure of success is yours, and yours alone. It doesn't matter what other people think, say or do...your goal, whatever it may be with your dog, belongs to you. You are the one that knows your dog, you are the one that knows what you want and can potentially achieve, you are the one that processes through your goal to achieve the success you desire. It's yours and no one else's.

We are so glad that we hung in there to reach our goal, because the successful completion of that goal will stay with us for a lifetime. It's one of those big wow moments of our life together.

So, we say go for it! Whatever your goal and ultimate success may be, I'm certain that your dog will be right there beside you ready, willing, eager and able; through the ups and through the downs. And the best part is that you get to celebrate your successes together, remember and cherish them forever.

For those of you who are visiting my blog for the first time, I'm Johann, the dog, a 10-year-old rescue and accomplished agility dog. My Mum, Leslie May, is my agility handler and trainer, pet business marketing consultant, co-host of my other blog Raise A Green Dog, best friend, constant companion, and has my heart through and through.


  1. Huge congrats on your ADCH. Performance is the new championship. Hope you have many, many, more runs.

  2. As someone who has struggled with the SQ in USDAA (we have none), I really appreciated this post and this perspective. For more reasons than just the SQ, it's been a year since we have played USDAA, but I've been starting to feel like trying again. Thanks for your message of "never give up." I especially enjoyed following the link to the story of your ADCH. What fun, and congratulations!

  3. Great post! As Stewie as gotten older our goals have changed also to having more run and being able to compete as long as possible.


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