If you follow me on social media you will know that last Tuesday Flash achieved his last win meaning he is now GRADE 7 🥳🥳.
Now I’ve had time to reflect a little I thought I’d share my feelings after realising the similarities of how I felt on Tuesday night.
Over the years I’ve had MANY people tell me that my spaniels and I wouldn’t achieve much both when I started and whilst I’ve been competing (some of these people are still in the lower grades, so it doesnt take a genius to work out what’s going on 😜) but I’m not bitter, I am thankful as it just drove me that little bit harder to prove them wrong! 😉🤪
Getting a spaniel in intermediate height into G7 isn’t easy, we need to be consistent in our skills and rely on all those fast collies going wrong! That’s why I have no desires to take Flash’s agility career any further, there is no point! It is unreleaistic to run him in Champ classes and have any chance of progression. Not many collies at that level will be going wrong! It will ruin the dynamic of how we run and put too much pressure on us to ‘perform’
I’m not blinkered when it comes to the reality of what Flash is, don’t get me wrong, he is a flippin good dog, he will do anything I ask him to, not because I’ve asked him to but because he genuinely wants to please me. We have a fantastic bond and I trust him completely. However I’m not disillusioned when it comes to his structure and physical abilities compared to that of a collie. He simply isn’t built like them! I can’t change that with any amount of training and nor would I want to! If I wanted a collie I would have purchased a collie!
2 pictures EXACTLY the same feeling… 2 rosettes I often questioned if I’d ever get, not because I doubted my dogs, I have never questioned their ability but there have been MANY times I felt like giving everything up!
Agility is/ can be a lonely game, self employment is lonely without the right people around you! And in all honesty it has taken a long time to find those right people! I’ve had several low moments over the past few years where I’ve often questioned what I’m doing and why! I’ve thought about closing the business several times when the pressure of everything has just got too much.
I’m not ashamed to say I’ve had to seek help to cope with stress, loneliness and the pressures of everything this industry brings. Helping others with problems on a daily basis, although I love my job, it brings it’s own stress and being self employed you never switch off!
I’ve had to learn to seperate my emotions more and run the business as a business! I’ve had to be strict with switching off and I’ve had to structure in time for my family, own dogs and the things that recharge my battery.
The journey to Grade 7 hasn’t been easy, I’ve worked hard! Really hard! People see the rosettes I post but I don’t think they truly understand what goes on to get them. I’ve not had lucky wins, I’ve had to work darn hard!
Learning to understand dogs in general, my dogs, dog behaviour and everything inbetween! SO many courses, seminars etc etc. The learning continues still, I’m constantly learning! I have to tweak things on an almost daily basis with my dogs training plans, and I rarely train them on kit – it is all the other bits that get you the success!
It’s made me both a better owner and a better trainer both for my dogs and for those I teach.
The 1st ever clear round many years ago (Milo) and winning into Grade 7 (Flash) I was sat on the same sofa and it dawned on me I felt exactly the same!! The achievements miles apart but exactly the same feeling!
Do you know what feeling it was?
Not one of elation or happiness, it was sheer relief! Relief I’d done it, that I was now ‘entitled’ to train other people! That now people could stop making comments because I’d achieved what they said I wouldn’t. On the journey home I cried several times!
If you have read my book you will know how hard I worked for Milo’s first clear round! And he is now chasing his own last win to G7! That is some achievement in itself!
What came inbetween?
In all honesty…
A LOT OF LIFE LESSONS
A LOT OF EDUCATION AND LEARNING
A LOT OF TRAINING (and not in the ways you may think)
A LOT OF LOVE FOR MY DOGS AND THE PATIENCE TO DO WHATS BEST FOR THEM IN THAT MOMENT – this is the key part, in that moment. Dogs are not robots and you have to help them when they need it, if you look after their emotions they will repay you ten fold!!
A LOT OF MONEY ON TRAINERS, VENUES, THROWN RUNS, TRAVEL ETC ETC
A LOT OF TEARS (GOOD AND BAD)
A LOT OF MEMORIES AND A LOT OF ROSETTES
It doesn’t matter what your goals are, it really is about the journey and what you learn along the way…
Everything happens for a reason and it happens exactly when it is meant to! Life brings you lots of lessons exactly when you need them!
Someone once told me that you can’t be a trainer unless you were G7, no one will take you seriously as a trainer etc etc… well I hope now they are happy that I got there 🤷♀️🤔🤣 and I hope they are still watching my page to see all the huge successes my students are having previous to my last win!!
Although I’m so happy we achieved Grade 7 I’m sad and a little annoyed that I let the words of a few people put so much pressure on myself, that I probably didn’t enjoy the journey as much as I should of! Don’t get me wrong I never put pressure on my dogs, and we have had a lot of fun along the way but I am exactly the same trainer I was before the last win on Tuesday! My advice hasn’t changed!
I think alot of people confuse my quietness with lack of knowledge, it’s not that! It’s the fact I don’t like conflict (does anyone?!) and when I’m met with conflict or personalities who are louder than my own I default to silence. If you ask me for advice and genuinely want to listen, I’d gladly give you any help that you need!
It is a shame people put so much on a label! My dogs have brought home many rosettes because I understand their individual needs and I’m grown up enough to put their needs before my own! If they are struggling with a run, I throw it, make it fun for them and try again! Pressure and dogs doesn’t go well!
Dogs will work with you not for you! Respect their needs, these needs change from moment to moment and you need to respect that and look after them.
So for Flash and agility I’m not sure what comes next, we have a few shows with entries paid for and I will see what happens, if I feel at any moment he isn’t enjoying it we will stop competing and enjoy whatever it is he wants to do next.
I now get to share my experiences and education with my students, to ensure they all continue to achieve whatever goal they desire, by learning to understand their individual dogs and doing what’s best for them – the dogs will then repay them with achieving their HUMAN goals 😉💕.