As I prepared myself for the seminar and planned which dog to work, I thought about each dog's skill level and how I would work with them in this setting. There are always some pretty terrific handlers at the seminar. Many run through the drills like it is just a walk in the park. they are balanced, smooth and totally in sync with their dog.
My dogs all have different skill levels, speed levels, commitment levels and different motivation or drive. I am glad that I possess the patience and flexibility to transition between the 4 dogs. Sully and I are going to Nationals so we needed time to work and get back as a team. Pippin is just plain fun to work with and every training session we have gets us further down the path of becoming a team. Lainie is smart and loves to please me. She is soft and shy around audiences or judges. I have to be very careful to keep her energy high and not redo too much. Max is a green dog with many skills but I am not always sure of his commitment to obstacles, timing is not down yet. I am supporting lines sometimes too long and sometimes not enough. That is part of the journey and I am very blessed to take this journey with not only one dog but 4.
In the past, when attending a seminar with some important person in agility, I would be nervous about how my dog would perform, how would I perform, the need to impress them, the need to overachieve and all those feelings would be more important than what my dog's capabilities actually were at the time.
Losing Angus last year and Sully's current diagnose of bladder cancer has taught me a valuable lesson. The relationship with me and my dogs is more important to me than any trial, any important agility person, any award or recognition you could ever bestow on us. The dog I have is the dog I have. Each dog is unique in its own way. When my turn is up in a seminar I perform the exercise to the best of our ability handling the way my dog needs me to not to impress anyone. We are who we are, no more no less.
Just stepping to the line with Sully makes me smile inside and out. There is nothing he can do wrong and it is a joy to see him having fun. Pippin is exuberant about life in general. He loves agility and he has a blast doing it. Sure bars come down but he is the most fun I have ever had running a dog. Pippin is living life on the edge!! Little Lainie is my little soft girl. She has amazing skills and can be fast. I never push her to do more than she is mentally capable to do and this has paid off big. she is finally gaining some confidence in herself and enjoying the game in public. Max, oh little bossy baby boy. We have just begun. All the dogs before you have prepared me for this moment. We are taking it slow with you my boy. There is not need to rush through. We have many years together Lord willing and we will cherish all the moments in between because those years are never enough time and we certainly do not want to speed that up one little bit.
So this year for seminar my attitude was very different. I was much more relaxed and patient with my dogs. I worked to our ability and did not compare us with other teams. It doesn't matter where we are in the hierarchy of great teams. All that matters is that we learn, we grow and we love who we are right now this minute, this second, this time.
I am looking forward to going to Nationals with Sully. No pressure, just do what we do best. We will have the time of our lives and cherish the memories. For the memories are forever.