Seeking, Influence

Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.
~ W. Clement Stone

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, or if you know me in person, you likely know that I am always seeking. For more information, for better ways to do things, for those people and sources who can give me more than what I already know.

For much of my (relatively short) agility career, I have struggled with finding a “fit” in the mentor department. As a much younger person, I had grown up riding horses, constantly monitored and taught by those “in charge” of things and thought this whole dog agility thing couldn’t be too vastly different. But, it didn’t take me long to figure out it was. Way different. I learned, and I looked, and I had to move about quite a bit to find the right match for where I was especially in the beginning. I wouldn’t settle with what I had, and I finally did find someone who helped me through that initial phase. But, the nature of a phase is that it ends. And so, on I went looking for more.

Part of me wonders if its the ingrained American “consumer” DNA in me—always thinking the grass must be greener… But, I’d like to hope its more than that. At this point in time, I’ve found my grass, and its very green, and I’m very content to stay here for a while.

As I’ve hoofed it down this experimental path that is agility, I’ve met a lot of people. Some for just a moment, and some for a lot longer. But, innately, I can’t hang around those I dont get the “good” from for long. Sometimes there are temptations or wrong turns taken, but those who really have something to offer, they shine through. And they give and give, with honesty and earnestness. And it doesnt mean this is the end of the road, but that I can pause, and appreciate, and most importantly, finally choose who I will take from and hopefully give back, in some way, too.

I seem to be semi-suddenly surrounded by really truly talented and lovely teachers and friends. People who I look up to and who inspire me. Some are well-known, some not-so-much, but through the power of trying to stay positive and willing the good things to happen, I have been fortunate to have many talented influencers at my disposal.

While I continue to practice all things agility, I am taking two classes right now that fall outside what many people would consider traditional agility-related instruction. One is the ongoing Motivation and Engagement series taught by Kellie Ford, an extremely talented understudy of Denise Fenzi down here in San Diego, and the other is Daisy Peel’s online Clear Mind class. I practice no actual agility in either class, yet both have informed and influenced the way I look at nearly every aspect of my training and competition practices in a new light. And, they both have provided me a huge wealth of information to share with my current and future students.

And, in addition, I have found great people whom I can count on to just enjoy their company. They may or may not be on world teams or be the winners of their classes, but they are good people and good to their dogs and that’s what matters most. I am lucky to have found them, but I also believe its because I would not settle for anything less.

My overall point is to encourage anyone who reads this to continue to look for what you know is out there. Focusing on the positives and surrounding yourself with people and situations that allow you to grow can change things, quickly and dramatically. There is no reason to feel trapped, except for the reasons you tell yourself. There may be unexpected gems in “non-agility” options, don’t be afraid to look under rocks. If you believe there is better for you out there, then go get it. It’s out there, waiting.

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And in the spirit of focusing on the good, here is our highlight reel we were asked to make for our Clear Mind class. I was worried I wouldnt have enough footage I was proud of, but this worked out pretty darn well.

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Travel Log, Beasts in the House

We made it back from our uber-driving marathon intact. I without a doubt bit off more than I should have in the mileage department, but we bucked up and made it all the way up to almost the top of Oregon and back. And even squeezed in a quick visit to Big Sur on the way back down.

My biggest concern about the trip was Phin’s attitude and ability to be in the car for that long. And I honestly did a poor job of really considering how much car time there would be. It was a LOT. Too much. But, he handled it really well for the most part—he didnt have any meltdowns until Thursday evening when we were crawling South along Hwy 1 to Big Sur and we’d been in the car for 8 hours or so. Fortunately I had a game plan and as soon as I located the beach that allowed dogs we were out there dusting the asphalt cobwebs off with digging, swimming and ball chasing. Overall he was a total trooper. We camped 3 of the 4 nights (only meant it to be 2 but my hotel in Salem was dodgy enough and I wanted to get a jump on driving so we hightailed it out early). He was perfect in the camp situations, and great in the motel too. I was extremely glad I had him with me at the motel, otherwise I probably wouldnt have stayed there at all. When we got to Daisy’s on Tuesday evening after too many hours of travel, he popped out of the car and within minutes was in the arena raring to go for his turn. He saw the agility equipment and was ready to work. He just continues to amaze me.

insert crappy iPhone photos here;

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He did get tired quicker at Daisy’s than I expected, but considering he’d been atrophying in the car prior and the arena footing, he had good reason. He performed really well on her dirt; the traction was noticeably different (in a good way), but she’s still working out the kinks and I guess it takes dogs some time to get used to it. It was fun just to be at her place, we got our first crack at a viaduct jump which was fun, and everything is so new and matchy! Plus her place is gorgeous, it was nice just to be in that environment out in the fresh air.

The little time we did have with Daisy was very productive, as I expected it would be. I get more concise, condensed info from her, in a way that I understand, than I ever have from anyone in the agility realm. She answers my questions directly and pretty much every time I work with her I walk away feeling like I’ve had an epiphany. I’ll spare the details but I feel really ready to get back to practice and class and push myself to see what I can improve upon. Its a good feeling. Its nice to get your confidence built up in a very honest but motivating manner. I’ve said this before, but I’ll reiterate again, that while I may not be getting the quantity of instruction that I used to, the quality is exponentially higher and I get enough to chew on to tide me over in-between visits.

I feel like its been forever since we’ve trialed, we have one in a few weekends, then a few more in June. I am really looking forward to them, but I better get in some practice sessions the next week or two so I don’t set us up for disappointment.

On the Beast front we have a “guest”—if you could call him that–this week. A 10 month old Malinois puppy I already knew from my past work. He’s a handful to say the least, but after four days with us I’ve finally worn him out and he is for the first time crashed out on the kitchen floor of his own accord. Thank god. He is the ultimate example of Denise Fenzi’s “Ferrari” analogy. Mom means well but is out-manned in the drive and energy level departments. I don’t know what the long-term outcome is going to be with their relationship, but, in the meantime I am doing my best to make both dog and mom able to cohabit. He is a lot to manage, and he makes me even more grateful for my well-behaved dogs. They also have been surprisingly tolerant of him crashing our party, but I think we all will be glad to see him go home at the end of the week!

Thankful for the opportunity I had to make the trip and the people I have been fortunate enough to work with and learn from. And, as always, blessed to have such great dogs contributing to my life.