Waiting for the first notes to be struck at the St. Louis Symphony’s (2016 season’s inaugural) concert, my friend Sally turned around and said to me “You know, the best thing about [competition] obedience is that you can make out of it what you want.” I nodded my head and then sat back to enjoy an evening of interesting and provocative music.
Sally’s comment returned to me time and time again as I trained and competed with beardie Smokes through November. I thought about all the folks that I have met along the obedience way: high powered competitors to complete novices. I thought about the pervasive angst at trials about the demise of the sport. I thought about those folks who had gone out of their way to make me feel incompetent. I also thought about my own embarrassingly snarky remarks about some competitors. Eek!
A new year is on the horizon and I can do better. I am going to embrace good sportsmanship. If and when my “team” does well in a particular class, I am NOT going to tell folks that we “hardly trained.” When other teams do well, I will congratulate them. When someone feels like throwing in the towel because she had a bad day, I will do what I can to point out that she really had a pretty good day (most people don’t even have the courage to enter their dogs in an obedience trial).
As Sally pointed out, folks have different goals when it comes to competition obedience. Some want that all-elusive CD while others want that all-elusive 200. And then there are the many goals in between (i.e. the dog executing every automatic sit during the heeling exercise). I remember being thrilled when my bull terrier earned her CD out of the Novice A class. Our training for the title had been filled with many frustrations and setbacks. That CD was a huge accomplishment appreciated by very few (my husband and myself).
As I get older (now 63) I need to pursue my obedience junkie passion and help folks along the obedience junkie way. Time is growing short. My 2017 New Year’s Resolution is two-fold: 1) Promote the sport of competition obedience with good humor and good sportsmanship; and 2) Don’t let the obedience gremlins get me down.
To an eventful and fruitful 2017!
See you at the trials!
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