I am sharing below a link from a blog by Denise Fenzi that I believe to be a great truth in this age of ubiquitous dog sports. It is something I have thought about for the past few years, and Denise says it better than I ever could! But I would still like to share my thoughts here, and the link to Denise’s blog is below that:)
After years of trialing off and on, I realized at some point that I had gradually left the dog show scene behind. Although I had my share of successes that I will remember fondly, at some point I came to realize the competition ring with all of the human trappings was just not important to me-and certainly not to my dogs. My true joy and reward comes from simply living with my dogs day to day, teaching them, watching them learn, and learning even more from them in return. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to be challenged as a trainer and to realize my dogs’ potential in certain areas. But for me it’s all about the process. And without those years of showing and competing, I may not have come to appreciate that as I do now. I certainly would not be the same trainer that I am now-training for the ring is a great learning experience! But dogs don’t “need” competitions or titles or ribbons- that’s strictly a human creation, of course. In fact many dogs (likely more than not) find the show environment stressful rather than enjoyable. So I had to ask myself, do I really want to spend the bulk of my training time preparing my dogs to cope with the whole trial scenario? My answer was no, life is too short. I want to see happy dogs enjoying learning with me, period. No pressure, no hard expectations, just learning and enjoying the whole process.
Because of that truth, my priorities in training for sports these days is simple. A mutually enriched life, training for fun and entertainment on our own terms. Fully enjoying the process. Seeing dogs truly happy in that, makes me happy. To this end I find great satisfaction through continuing education in all formats, and any titling we might do is by video- which in 2019 we have an abundance of options these days-tricks, treibball, parkour, obedience, just to name a few. These are great options for providing a structure for the training high level skills minus the excesses of trialing.
And just for fun the other day I videoed my whippet, Flash, doing a lightning fast recall from out of sight in a 20+ acre field. I get as much satisfaction from that as anything else we might do, (I even posted it on facebook as a “brag”:) That’s the kind of stuff that makes me feel great about our training and relationship. And these days my dog related social life is mostly through classes and informal get togethers with other dog friends, minus the intensity of the trial environment. I enjoy life with my dogs more than ever, and I rest easy knowing that my dogs do too.
Happy training and happy living with your dogs, however that works for you:)