Not sports equipment, didn’t sign the check

They didn’t sign the check.

I often say this when briefing a rally class. Our dogs don’t sign the checks, mine have a check book, but really, they don’t get to pick when and what they enter. I try to do a mix of things. If I put as much effort into one sport as I do into 5 sports 2-5 venues each. we’d be champions. And in rally we are, RAE2, multiple ARCHMX awards. because the dogs like it as do I.

I see so many handlers disappointed because their dog didn’t do x or y. they ran around a jump, they broke a stay, they didn’t retrieve, and that handler is mad at their dog. Head up, these are dogs, sentient beings doing the best they can for us humans. They are not sports equipment.

A broken stay is not the equivalent of a ski binding that got stuck. A run around the jump is not the same as a stovepipe in a pistol. That drop that didn’t happen, not the same as a broken bat.

If we have issues with our dogs, they are training issues, proofing issues, and method issues. I do know of folks that if the dog can’t do it competitively they get another dog. Really? If my dog can’t do it competitively, I work on my method, am I teaching it clearly and well, can someone else give me some insight into what is going on. Does my dog hate this sport?? Well let’s find one he likes or some other activity that is REWARDING TO THE DOG…

And the drilling. some dogs enjoy drilling, the late Kestrel could have been drilled till the cows come home, “you like this, you like this, you like this” on and on she had more persistence than I did…, other dogs , Merlin and Hawke, I did it twice, I did it right, what’s your issue human?? Did I trade them in on a more driven dog. NO I found what worked best for them. Again they are who they are, they are not sports equipment.

I guess at some point we either have to take ego out of the equation… I trained my dog, this test shows what I need to work better, or admit that the dog is an extension of who we are and how we are valued… and I feel sorry for the dogs in that position.

The best thing about my dogs?? They sleep in heel position, every night, dogs on the left.

Bottom line, you the human entered the show, the dog didn’t sign the check, they really aren’t volunteers in this process. They like to work, and/or they love you but they didn’t get up this morning fill in an entry and sign a check.. respect that. I try to.

One Response to this post.

  1. Joanne O’Brien's Gravatar

    Posted by Joanne O'Brien on 05.02.17 at 12:31 am

    Excellent reminder. I also tell people that I realized a long time ago that there may be a physical reason for what the dog didn’t do. Since she was a baby, Crystal would sometimes refuse the weaves or the A-frame. I never blamed or shamed her, I loved and respected her too much. We just went on or left the course, depending on my read of how she felt. I assume the best of her; if she wasn’t up to it, she wasn’t.

    Crystal had an amazing career in agility with many championship titles and awards, and made me so proud. One day, she simply refused to run an indoor course. We went to the vet, and I found out that she had severe arthritis in both front elbows. She was probably born with elbow dysplasia and had run her entire life with some degree of pain. I never knew, but at that moment I was grateful that I had honored those times where she told me she wasn’t up to it that day. And I have never regretted retiring her then, although I still miss running with her. She just turned 13 and is doing fine.

    I took the lesson I learned from her and applied it to my other dogs too. There is a reason for everything. It may or may not be a training issue, if you pay attention to your dog, you’ll know the difference. They are not your equipment, that are your partner, and deserve the respect you would want for yourself.

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