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.
That’s exactly the way I think! And that’s also why I think that when choosing a dog to do any dog-activity with him you should look for the one whose temperament fits the best with your temperament, and not just for the easier to train or the faster at learning: because a dog that fit you well will be always the way easier to train and to live with than any other super-obedient and super-smart dog but that you can’t feel as your ideal 4-legged friend.
And I also think you should always think on your own on a perfect training way for your own dog, instead than keep trying to fit the dog into a training way that worked for someone other.
However… Did they really tell you that you were rude leaving the ring to take your dogs far from chaos? That’s funny… I thought the main issue in agility world championships were dogs, not public relations!
Wonderful picture of you and La… I want for a dog like her as my next dog, would be perfect with my two not-able-to-stop-for-a-minute mixbred dogs. And I think people do not wonder if you are going to retire her… They wish it, she is too hard to beat!! 🙂
Yes, really… I love your adjust the method to the dog instead of fitting the dog into the method motto! 🙂
Oh, thanks! I have never tought at it as a motto actually, it’s just what Bella, my first dog, has taught me (and keep teaching me every day). She is definetly somebody who discuss without obeying (or at least obey badly showing you how much she hates that 🙂 ) rather than obeying without discussing, but she is the best dog on earth when you get her friendship 🙂
That´s the reason wy Bono and I your students 🙂 !
I think exactly the same! When I took Azja she was so afraid of everything, she was totally scared when I coughed! She was scared of many people. I took her specially for agility so I expected that she will be having high drive, she will be brave etc. I was so sad when she behaved like this. At the same time I both loved her and I didn’t like her because of her fears 🙁 But it was my dog, dog from my dreams – border collie!
Every walk with her was very stressful for me. She was barking on everything!
And now…when she is 1 year old, after two of your classes, Silvia, she is brave enough to do agility with big distractions, brave enough to ignore people and dogs on walks and play with me. Of course she is still afraid of some things, but I protect her from these. Many people say that she is too attached to me. But I don’t care 🙂 I like it 🙂
oh, I forgot to log in. It was me 🙂
She sure looks high drive and brave in your videos now!!! Problems just make us stronger I guess 🙂 Great job with Azja!
The other “anonymous” was me, I also forgot to log in first 🙁 -- what a beautiful and wise article -- a lot of truth there ;Thanks, Silvia -- you are the best!!
Cindy & Cosi
Thank you Silvia! Every time I see someone crossing the finish line craning their necks to see what their time was I just want to throttle them. Does it really matter? Did you feel like you and you team mate were working together in that flow that signifies a good run? Someone will always be there to tell you how fast (or slow) you went, but in those few moments of finishing only you are there for your team mate to let them know that without them this sport would be meaningless.
Silvia, you just said it all. And for the WC I thought the ones who jumped into their teammates’s arms before congratuling their dog were unthankful. Because their teammates didn’t run by their side, they weren’t the ones giving it all during the run. So forget what others think and keep making your dogs happy.
Amen! I run Bostons and while they may never be MACH dogs we have fun and I do what I do for them… who cares if I run ALL the way around a tunnel for my 2 year old puppy who still needs confidence? He is happier cuz he can hear me running and that’s really what matters… At the end of the day we go home and are still family and I love them whether we get a Q every time or not.
I love hearing people be real about embracing what we love most in our furry pals and being creative to work around and within their limitations. Thank you, LA, and BU and the rest of your gang for being who they are!!!
encouraging and enlightening. thanks for sharing silvia!