It’s all about the teamwork
In one of the recent interviews, I was asked what is more important: how good the dog is or how good the handler is. And well, I'm afraid it's not as easy as that. You can take a World Champion dog and have it run with a World Champion handler - and it might be a disaster.
It's all about the teamwork. I'm far from a perfect handler and my dogs are far from perfect too - but we make a great team. We understand each other weaknesses, can think outside the box and adjust. La might completely lack any self-control and many handlers would probably spend those 10 years of her fighting with it - while we rather spent time having fun and winning World Championships 🙂 I knew she will never hold stopped contacts - so I thought of my running contacts method, just for her, my crazy little La. And Bu might have tons of fears and many people would still try to make her overcome her fears - while I simply decided to work around it and give her enough confidence and trust in me that she can run despite all her fears.
Yeah, neither La or Bu fit into the classical description of a good agility dog. But their imperfections make them special, teach me a ton and make us a great team.
photo by Valerie Teppe
I'm definitely guilty of getting Bu with expectations: I expected from a BC to have a drive and love to play. She had neither of the two and it sure affected our relationship at first. But that taught me to forget about the expectations, accept the challenge and enjoy the journey. She might not be a dog I expected to get - but she is so much more! If I tried to make a perfect agility dog out of her, I would never learn that. So forget about a perfect agility dog - just make sure you make a perfect team with your dog. - Your dog who should first and foremost be your best friend. - And should always come first, before any result.
So for all, thinking I'm rude to leave the ring immediately after my runs on WC, not watching other team members run: I'm sorry, but my dogs are more important to me as watching others and I will always make sure to do what's best for them. From the same reason, I will probably rudely ignore you if you try to talk to me when I have Bu out. I just have to do what is best for my dogs, I owe that to them.
And for all, asking if I'm retiring La now after the great showing on WC: I don't really care about retiring with glory. La will run just as long as she loves to and I think it's good for her well being and even if she is slow and old then - she will always be simply the best for me.
I could not say it better then you just did !
Wow Silvia. That was beautifully written. I have three shelties. One is easy to run, one very timid and one crazy fast one. Every run I have with my dogs is a joy and I do celebrate their differences. Qualifying scores are just iciing on the cake.
Yeap, it would sure be boring if they were all the same! Every new problem is just another challenge and just another bonding opportunity!
I’m from the US and attend Worlds this year as a supporter. I loved your fast beautiful runs; but what most stood out for me was your before run and after run behavior.
It was obvious that you had a relationship with your dogs due to your activity. Pre-run was filled with one on one tricks and eye focused games; post-run was about play and comfort of your dogs in an a 6000+ human filled, bell ringing, noise packed arena. It was obvious to anyone, that you were providing comfort in a situation that was uncomfortable to the dog.
You put your dog’s comfort, and your relationship with your dog first!
In the stands I applauded you for your focus on the important. I left the event stating that your powerful relationship and willingness to put the comfort of your dog first is exactly a model I wish to follow.
Thanks for today’s post!
Thanks 🙂 I was sad to hear some people thought it’s rude to do that… But I really think it was polite to my dogs, so if I need to choose…
Brings tears to my eyes because that sure hits home to me and my Spur. Everyone thought he would never make an agility dog, he was far too nervous and worried. He and I have sure struggled and still do at times, but he just keeps getting better and better and he sure teaches me a lot. Your example has sure helped us! One of my favorite moments at Nationals was after a run when Spur played with another dog in a huge field on the far side of the facility. He doesn’t play well sometimes and it was so nice to see him relaxing after holding it together for his run. 😀
You are an inspiration, that’s for sure. Such a well written post, thank you!!!!
I saw far too many people run their dogs and then march them back to their crates so they could go watch others run.
You sure did a wonderful job with Spur! It is so rewarding to see them able to copy with environments like that!
What a wonderful post!!!
Nice and true words!
Thank you for sharing your insights, what a lovely post.
And because of that kind of words i think that you are a GREAT handler! 🙂
It’s allways so nice to see you running with all of them, La, Le Bu and Bi!
Beautifully said! It was amazing to watch you work with your dogs in person this year at the world championships. Congratulations on a great showing and lots of fun with your best friends.
Thanks -- and congratulations to you too, GREAT runs!!!