In the summer of 2016, I attended the Agility Association of Canada’s National Championships in Montreal. I sat in the stands and watched the Steeplechase Finals. The competitors were some of the best in Canada, many of them past World Team members. I sat in awe, watching them lay down amazing run after amazing run.
In the summer of 2017, I attended the UKI Canadian Open in Newmarket. Once again, I got to watch some of the best of the best compete with their dogs on some very challenging courses.
I was not a competitor at either event but merely a spectator, watching these great teams work together. Many of them had an incredible connection and the skills! Omigosh, the skills!
While I admired the top teams, what I admired even more were those competitors for whom perhaps this was their first National level event. Those competitors got out there and rose to the challenge. I could see the joy in their faces as they successfully completed a particularly technical course. And I could feel their sorrow when they didn't.
But here’s the thing. NONE. OF. THEM. FAILED! They showed up to play! And that's exactly what they did. Played, learned, and took the next step on the path to their own greatness.
It’s often difficult to remember that everyone starts at the beginning. Whether in dog sports or in other areas of our lives, we don’t start out having mastered all of the skills that make those who have gone ahead of us great.
When learning to drive a car, we start in the parking lot and work our way up to the highway. Someone who’s been driving a car for 20 years will have more experience and more skill than someone who is just starting out. (I hope!)
When watching those top level athletes in your dog sport of choice, remember that they started at the beginning too. And every time they bring along a new puppy or young dog, it’s also a new beginning for them. Those top level athletes face their own challenges and bumps along the road.
We’re all at different stages in our own training journeys. We'll all face our own ups & downs along the way, wins & losses, happy tears and sad tears.
Enjoy YOUR journey, whether you're at the beginning, middle or end! ❤️