Monday, August 4, 2008
I learned all I need to know in beginning agility class???
WELL, I couldn't sleep last night and you know how you lie there and ping on some thought?? Well, I kept thinking about what I want out of agility and what I always hope to have in my training and the values I hope that I never stray from, and it occurred to me that the beginning agility class I substitute taught last session has really clarified so many things for me. I had never taught before but when my instructor was going to be gone for most of the summer I deceided to dive in and try my hand at some instructing. I know a lot of the really good agility competitors do not want to mess with beginners, and it does take a lot of patience and some adjustment and sometimes what they are doing doesn't seem like rocket science or mind blowing but.........gosh I have learned so much. For one thing I had really seen the ugly side lately of how some people in agility can treat each other, there are some people out there with such a wonderful nurturing attitude that all help each other out so much, and some strong friendships are formed and then there is the nasty side that some people show when they are competiting. I have seen how ugly people can be to their dogs, the disappointment and the frustration they show to their dogs or just when they do things that are not in the best interests of their dog. ON the other hand I have also seen how intense the bonds can be with some people and their dogs and the lengths some people will go to to make sure their canine buddy is doing ok and I really admire those people. Anyway, so had a few moments of wondering how far I want to get into all of this and knowing I dont want to make some turn along the way and really get to the point of not letting competiting ever turn me into the type of person I do not admire. It hit me though that watching this beginning class for these eight weeks.......gosh, they are what the whole agility thing is all about, it is written on their faces as plain as day, and I can only hope that as time goes on I will always take the time to notice those faces and to reconnect with that wonder that I hope will always be inside me. The thing that is so great about this group of handlers/dogs is that for instance we were doing just a simple oval with five jumps and a tunnel at one end of the oval where they were to send their dogs over a jump and then rear cross the tunnel, pick the dog up on the other side and continue around the oval over the jumps. Simple stuff right??? Well, these people did that and the look on their faces, just the pure joy that they were running a sequence, and their little super star dog was actually doing agility. They were just so proud of themselves, and of their dogs. It took intense concentration for them to remember where they should be and get the foot work right for something that I never think about anymore but for them it was a big deal, and they felt such accomplishment for getting it right, it was all too cool. I remember a particular exercise when I was learning a simple turn away into a tunnel, I could not for the life of me do it, and I tried over and over and finally came back after class to try to get it. LOL, I have since went out and set up that particular sequence because I remember so vividly just not being able to comprehend the set up, and anyway, looking at it now I truly dont know what I could have been confused at, it just is so straightforward to me now. Anyway, after my beginners sequence, none of those people were disappointed at the speed of their dogs or their turns werent tighter or they couldnt send from further away, they were just so proud of their little buddies and they knew even though it didnt seem like rocket science to others that they had come a long way and they were just happy with that at this moment. If I had that class a little while longer I would hope I could help them play with their dogs even a little more and keep that up so they dont lose that excitement and enthusiasm. Teaching the beginners really gave me a lot of confidence because I really "got" how much more I do know now, how far I have come-and that is refreshing because I tend to just be impatient about not being where I eventually want to be, especially lately when it seems I have hit a bit stalled out space in training. That class made me feel so proud of my dog because it really pointed out to me how much my dogs have learned, how many hundreds of little things they have had to pick up, lots of things I dont even think about. ANYWAY, sure a few of those people will go on to end up competiting and a few will just take a few sessions and then life will get in the way, but I do know these people are learning to connect more with their dogs, and are for right now just having a good time, and during that class I think most of those people found our agility classes to be a Happy Place, which is what agility has always been for me, so I feel very successful, and I hope that I always remember the look in those handlers eyes on their first few sequences and remember to stop and feel that for my dogs when I work with them.