You’re Not Helping

Today is Dog Agility Blogger Action Day, and the topic is “Success.” Read all the articles on this topic at http://dogagilityblogevents.

Not too long ago, a fellow competitor ran up to me after I had run my youngest Sheltie and said “Wow, that was a great run! She’s so fast!”

I knew she was giving me a compliment, and normally I would say “thank you,” but I just couldn’t this time. I said something along the lines of “yeah, she’s fast–but she wasn’t paying attention to me at ALL!” And in fact we had had more than one off course and a whole lot of crazy. At that moment, I would gladly have traded MY dog for hers, who is slower and needs some cheerleading but is accurate and reliable. By her standards I had some success (fast dog). By mine, not so much (whole lotta crazy).


Yup, whole lotta crazy

This is why I get all crazy when other people try to define success for me.

How often have you heard these Agility mantras?

The Q is not important

The person who says this is almost always someone who Qs a lot (at least by my standards, if not by theirs). In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t live in Yurrip and we do not have a win out system. If we had a win out system, my older Sheltie would have made it to PIII Standard 20 times by now. For a variety of reasons, he almost ALWAYS has a single fault in PII Standard, and almost always wins the class. I don’t even want to know how many times we have NQ’d in Standard–with no one single problem I can train for.

(you know, I just checked. He earned a Q his second time in P2 Standard. We are approaching the 3 year anniversary of that Q)



So you know what? The Q IS important, and I am going to do what I can to get it. When you start telling me all the good things that happened in that run and that the Q is not important? You’re not helping. Which brings us to the second point:

It’s all about having fun with your dog

Once again, the people who say this are often saying it (as if it was a comfort) to people with significantly less success (by their own standards) than they have. I remember a particularly obnoxious incidence of this when a judge with a VERY POPULAR Agility breed said it to a person with a definitely non-traditional breed–likely the ONLY dogs of that breed actually running Agility–who had just gone over time by fractions of a second. It’s condescending. If it was all about having fun, we wouldn’t be entering trials–we’d be playing ball in the back yard. You’re not helping.


I AM the fun!

Half of the definitions of success seem to boil down to those two Agility mantras. And then the people who most champion THOSE definitions of success (for other people) go on to say this:

AKC/CPE/whatever courses are BORING! I want the challenge of UKI/USDAA/whatever courses

Well, you just slagged a whole set of competitors who, for whatever reason, prefer those venues that in your humble opinion present no challenge. SUHWEET!

I’m competitive and like to win, and everyone is being all judgy about it!

Trust me, we know who’s competitive. We can see it in the way you prepare, in the way you run, in the way you stand over the scorekeeper gasping for breath (as a scorekeeper, may I ask that you please don’t do that–back off a little until you have some air). Whether or not you actually come out and SAY you want to get 1st place all the time, we know you do. Most of us are NOT being judgy about it–well, except when you start bemoaning the fact that you got 2nd place in one class when you got 1st in all the others. Then we just think you’re annoying.

AND HERE IS WHERE I DEFINE SUCCESS! You can stop reading right now. My definition of success is not YOUR definition of success:

My goals are different for each dog, but achieving those goals in an individual run is my definition of success. For my oldest Sheltie, I want Qs, as I would really like to get into P3 Standard before he makes it into the double-digits. For my younger Sheltie, I also want Qs–goals are control with her speed, a good start-line stay, and for the mistakes to be mine. For my youngest Agility dog, an Italian Greyhound, right now it IS all about the fun as we gain confidence, learn to be a team, and work on our skills. Eventually my definition of success for her will be different.


You know what ELSE we think is fun? Qs

Hmmm… I just read that over, and that’s freaking boring. Which I suppose is why the vague, grand pronouncements get passed around so much.

Don’t let anyone tell you that their definition of success should be yours as well.


7 Responses to “You’re Not Helping”

  1. You’re Not Helping | Dog Agility Blog Events Says:

    […] Read the full article […]

  2. Vici Whisner Says:

    I also want to Q. But I don’t most times. Not for lack of trying… Good luck this year, I wish for you many Q’s!

  3. Diana Says:

    I wasn’t bored. I think you’re dead on. Thank you for the clarity.

  4. Rhea Says:

    GREAT one, you nailed it! Successfully! Oh…wait…

  5. Mufaasa's Mum Says:

    I kinda love this. I get slagged by my some of my training mates for being too competitive, because my end goal is to actually work up to a point where I can compete on a National team. But I don’t find titles especially exciting, so aside from earning Qs to move up out of starters, Qing for me is really unimportant. I would rather run fast and hard then earn a Q or even a “heart Q” as they are called in my area.
    When I have a run I don’t like a friend will usually say something along the lines of, “at least your dog isn’t doing what my dog is doing.” and all I want to say back is “of course not. They’re not the same dog. That statement would only be meaningful if I was judging my dog against your dog, which would be insane since your dog is a different breed, age, and competing in a completely different division. ”
    And now that I’ve decided to back off with one of my dogs and simply trial for the fun of it and not make any concrete goals for the time being, I’m in trouble for that too.
    Honestly, success for me today is being sure I’m making decisions on what I believe is best for my dogs, not what the common, unasked for consensus is.

  6. Doranna Durgin Says:

    Oh, that wasn’t boring at all. You are so right–we each define our own successes, and dealing with others who are applying their own goals to ours doesn’t t help. Our own goals are layered and varied, and it pretty much depends on the moment, but I’d rather have a “darn, that’s frustrating!” sort of commiseration instead of words that imply I should feel something I don’t.

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