I've been sitting on this post for awhile, partly because I wanted to think about it a bit, and partly because I've been busy.
I want to talk a bit about my favorite run of my entire weekend a couple of weeks ago when we went to Glen Carbon for a 3-day agility trial. It's probably my very first time at a trial where I felt like Zipper and I were totally in sync. He was running hard, I was getting my cues out on time and he was just faultless. Everything felt graceful and coordinated. It was one of those runs you will remember forever.
Later in the weekend, I had another Jumpers run I didn't like as much. I had cut my walk through short because Zip was first on the line, and I didn't feel I really knew the course as well. Zipper likes to be out of his crate a good amount of time before running, and he started out a bit sniffy the first couple of jumps. I got his head up, but felt like the rest of the run was a constant battle of pulling irons out of the fire. He was wanting to stress zoom and I kept getting him back last second.
The first run was an NQ, because it took three tries to get Zipper into the weaves. When I said, after the second run, that I didn't care for it much, I kind of got chastised for being "too hard on myself." "It was a Q! You did a great job!" And indeed it was a Q. But it was not the same as the first run.
The thing is, it's not about the Q. It's about the teamwork and timing and partnership with your dog. I'm as glad as anybody to take the Q and run, but that run is not the one I'll remember. The first run is.
At this same trial, I encountered a friend who has a very stressy young dog that she's having trouble getting to even go around the course. She is incredibly frustrated and thinking about quitting. I feel that if she sticks with it, it will come through for her in the end, but I don't blame her for questioning whether she should go on with a dog who appears to not like it. But the key there is that she says the dog is fast and accurate at home. I hope she does stick with it, and refinds the joy of being in the ring with her dog.
After the trial, I talked to another friend. She told me she has made a big difference with her dog simply by stopping her obsession over the Q. I had told her (in one of my very infrequent moments of brilliance I guess) that it was NOT about the Q. And she had decided to take it to heart. As a result, her dog was running faster and happier at that last trial than I've ever seen him, and she was too.
Yesterday morning, a World Team member lost her dog. The dog simply dropped dead in practice. No warning, no symptoms. Gone in an instant.
So here's the message. It's a simple one, yet so hard for us humans to get through our thick skulls. It's really not about the Q. Ever. It's about being in the moment with your dog and glorying in what you have, when you have it.