Thursday, March 30, 2017

Enjoying Agility...All Of Us.


There was a recent discussion on the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy Alumni list about a couple of blogs going around (don't have the links...sorry, busy morning! But it mainly centered around sportsmanship, and trial behavior (for humans).

The discussion was excellent, lots of really good points. I ended up responding to this thread. I thought I would post it here. I haven't blogged in a long time, I know that. And I hope to blog more :) So here is my response:

Being that I have to coach people on their behavior now and then on World Teams (Assistant Coach IFCS 2014--Coach WAO Team USA 2015-2017 and I am re upping my contract for the next two years...I think?? ;-) I have maybe a different view of things.

World Team competition is a pressure cooker of expectation…we all have sides that come out when the heat is on. I feel mental management is very crucial to the success of an individual and a team.

Do they have more pressure than a person who just wants to compete on the weekends? I cannot say that. I think we ALL have challenges that trouble us. We all have goals. And we want to meet those goals. So this “us versus them” mentality…I think that creates divides. I do not like separation. I think every time a team steps to the line, they are all facing challenges. Who am I to say that someone’s challenges are BIGGER? I am not.

So here is some food for thought about behavior/sportsmanship/supporting others.

The things I tell people to ask themselves and think about:

If someone came to the trial and knew NOTHING about this sport, would they be ok with your behavior? If there is any doubt in your mind, assume your behavior is inappropriate and stop it.

Does you behavior resemble a toddler age child in ANY WAY other than pure joy and happiness when you exit the ring with your canine teammate? If so, stop it.

If you need to “process” please go somewhere that you can do that freely. AWAY FROM OTHERS. I have no issues with disappointment, but emotions do change those around you. And that includes your teammates/friends/dogs.

TEN MINUTE RULE: After a not so great run, you can go process for 10 minutes…if you need more time, take more time. But do not come back to the group until you are done processing and can emerge. LET IT GO. You have to or it will cause issues in your next runs. Work on getting that processing time down to 10 minutes or less (mental management).

Please PLEASE leave people alone after their runs. Give them time to process, to be with their dog (because what is agility without a dog?) and if they come to YOU and ask YOU…THEN you can talk to them. But unsolicited comments are not needed. Please refrain.

If someone doesn’t follow this rule (usually because they want to try to help a friend)…just nicely explain to them you want to spend time with your dog. I do this a lot and people completely understand. For the "thieves of joy" well...just understand that, their behavior is a reflection of them...not you. Still be kind.

BE KIND. ALWAYS BE KIND. To yourself, to your fellow competitors, to your dog, to the ring crew. BE KIND. You do not know what others are struggling with.

Your dog is the reason you are here competing. NEVER FORGET THIS.

These go for any competitor as far as I am concerned. We all want to have fun. It just requires some changes in behavior for many of us (myself included—I am human too!)

Agility is made of lots of new folks and people that are wanting to have fun. I love that. You should too!!! These people are the next stars! The next supporters of the sport! The next teams for World Teams! It starts with fun. So support each other. Be a community! When it starts becoming “it is all about me”…that is when our agility community suffers.

NOW…for the other part of the discussion…the “at the top folks”.

Here is what I tell my team members: If you are in the spotlight (one of the top folks as many are saying here in this thread) it is YOUR JOB to set an example. EVERYONE is watching you. And the price you pay for being at the top is that you MUST HOLD YOURSELF TO A HIGHER STANDARD. That is reality. You can accept it, or you don’t have to, but negative behavior from a person at the higher level will be scrutinized so much more. ALWAYS SET AN EXAMPLE. That is YOUR job. Not someone else’s.

Now, I will go back to getting ready for my next Fenzi Class AG 120: Agility Basics 2: Handling, click below to check it out!
It is going to be a blast!! FDSA is a really awesome, supportive online dog training school! 


Diana said...


Unknown said...

Thank you for reminding ALL of us about good sportsmanship and KINDNESS. I came into agility in 2005 under the repeated encouragement of a friend. I was given a Staffy at 10 months, and we began trailing in 2006. I feel I am not as competitive as many, but continued on, with only a little instruction and ability to practice. I was in awe of the "true competitors" , such as Denise Kilpatrick and Laurene Galgano, and felt honored to watch them run and to be able to speak with them. I stayed in Agility because of their and many, many other competitors KINDNESS and encouragement. A MACH was an impossibility in my mind. My little Staffy, Gus, was a crowd favorite, and we made many friends because of his 50+ tricks we did at trials, and of his sweet and gentle nature. He wasn't that fast. But he was an honest jumper. I wanted to quit, but people's KINDNESS and encouragement kept me trailing. And then the impossible happened. MACH! Gus took me to Invitationals twice, and Nationals once. People commented on my little guy, smiling and saying they wanted to take him home. Or that he was so cute. We trailed in 15 states. And almost everywhere the majority of people were kind. And good sportsmen. I retired my little dude last year at 12 yrs old, 126 points shy of MACH3. With titles of CD, RE, MXB2,MJB2, MXF, T2B2, THD and RATO. The journey is one of memories of many smiling faces, words of encouragement, and kindnesses to me and my Amazjng Gus . My 10 years of agility with him is summed up in a comment made to me after Gus and I left the ring 2 years ago after a fun run. A woman I barely knew, but saw often at trials, was in the stands above me. As I walked w Gus below her, she said "Gwyn" I looked up, and smiling, she said " when I die, I want to come back as one of your dogs, you're always so kind to them."
Keep doing what you are doing, impress upon the new "true competitors" of kindness, self control, and friendliness toward the little people like me. It has made all the difference in my life, and I wouldn't be alive today without the kind support of my agility family all across these United States.

DocTerv said...

Our dog sports, no matter how earth-shatteringly important they seem to us, are a GAME. No one's bleeding. No one's dying. Take the time to reflect on how lucky we are to get to play these game's with our wonderful dogs and all the friends we make along the way.

Melanie said...

Well said, thank you!