Agility Passion

That’s a good question… Why do I do agility… I find something so unique and challenging about communicating, working and building trust with a being from another species who has a whole different approach to life, happiness, energy and purpose. Dogs are so much simpler, more honest, straight forward, and direct than we are. They remind me every day of the true values in life and how simple it really can be to be happy. To chose to be happy and grateful for a simple warm meal on a cold day and a cozy bed after a long day of work. To chose not to fall for the many traps in our materialistic world. I work in corporate America at Walmart’s home office and it is truly a great company. However I deal with so many people on a daily basis which includes agendas, egos, bad moods, happy moods, different personalities, working in large groups, etc.
It can be stressful and easy to lose your “north” sometimes. But not with a dog waiting at home… Only humans will follow unstable leaders, dogs won’t. So every day when I come home from work I need to leave any stress, ego, agenda, frustration or whatever behind me and return to a healthy state of energy. I owe this to myself and my dog. And only in that state can I work with her. So I love her to death, she is my reset button every evening and ensures I stay true to myself. That’s one reason I work with my dog. Secondly it is great exercise for her mentally and physically. I owe it to her, I owe spending so much of my free time with her because she so patiently waits day after day for me to come home. Plus she loves it, how could I deny her the joy of agility? We almost never qualify however I get so much joy out of running with her because she has such incredible enthusiasm and passion for running at trials. It is so energizing. Thirdly, it’s just a freaking cool thing to doWe are still in novice (can’t hit a contact to save our life), but I proudly tell everyone at work that we compete at a national level in agility. I think it just sounds so cool and I am so proud to think I even beginning to be somewhat of a decent dog trainer (with more desire to learn than actual talent still probably but who cares right? Haha ). Plus the agility crowd is so fun and welcoming and a total contrast to work… I trade my heels and business skirts for my Salomon trail shoes and sweatpants and hang out with people wearing tie-dye shirts and long pony tails. It’s a welcomed change on the weekends. But I do want to call out one more thing and I think I recently lost sight of this… I got so competitive and wrapped up in getting better at agility that I forgot or almost forgot that my dog is a dog first. I put together this comprehensive training plan around agility only to wake up the other night realizing I had forgotten to take care of her basic needs first… Walks, bike rides, swimming sessions and other fun things she loves to do. After all she is my friend and partner first and agility is just another game, it’s not everything 🙂

I do agility for lots of reasons…but I believe what keeps me addicted are the people that love their dogs as much as I do.  Agility creates a natural affinity group of friends, who are fun, active, and passionate about playing with and living well with their pups.  I have to say that I compete for the adrenaline rush, but that is so short compared to the hours spent with my friends and my dogs.

What is it about agility?  I had to give this some time to think about.
I love my dogs… they make me want to be a better person.   Their reactions and responses to me are both honest and instant. I love training agility.  From the building blocks, on up to sequencing…every aspect.  It is work and relationship building all in one.  And to have a run…clean or not that expresses that joy between us is priceless.  
I do like to see the “whole enchilada”  come together in a trial setting.  I do have a competitive nature. But I do try to remember that this is a life journey with my dog.  And at the end of the day I want to be able to say that I did right by my dogs and we had a great time!  Oh… and tomorrow we have homework to work on….

I just wanted to thank you for this awesome opportunity to join your online classroom! As a totally green handler I’m more of an email list lurker, so I really appreciate the risk free chance to peek behind the scenes and see if this could be something for us some day.

Oh and fwiw, here’s my answer to your question. I do agility because it gives me a runner’s high. Call me crazy, but as frustrating as it can be, when we click, I truly feel psychologically and physically elated. Apparently the endorphin released in a state of euphoria is an opioid and anandamide belongs to the cannabinoids. So there you go, agility is a drug 😉 Greetings from France!


Firstly, thanks so much for the March free course – it is very kind of you. I have been busy with Awesome Paws jumping course but have missed the challenges of your courses!
I also wanted to respond to your question as to why we are passionate about agility. For me, after quite a few years of soul searching and musing on the subject, I can say that it is NOT agility I am passionate about. What I love is the ever so special bond that the training and the competing in agility creates between myself and my dogs. In training, learning to adjust a training session to suit each dog, helps me appreciate the individual in every one of them and to help them deal with the challenges and fears they may have. Also, I feel training ( not only in agility) creates better communication between dog and human, thereby contributing to a closer bond. Competition is when you can demonstrate the partnership between you and your dog – when all goes well, it is like a dance of two closely synced beings. Then, the ribbon/title is superfluous.
In the last 6 months I have somehow (quite without intention) been landed with 2 BCs littermates (currently 14 mths old) and originally I entertained little intentions to train them in agility. They will be my sheep dogs. However I needed to build a relationship with them particularly when one of them had very little confidence and was quite lacking in any inner joy. I started them on shaping tricks and as a naturally progression started training agility…. no great rush to get anywhere but it is such a wonderful way to build one’s relationship with dogs;confidence and empowerment in them.
So there, my two cents worth 🙂 It is definitely my dogs I am passionate about and agility is just one of the ways to relate to them.
Imagine a life without training my dogs – then I will become a mere cook and driver to them!

Thanks for your question about ‘why I do agility‘.  I had started with one soft goal, but recently, another unstated goal was also present.  And the two very different goals were causing conflict. I was unclear where and what I was doing relative to agility.  What a great reminder to me to get clear about my goals.  The simple act of acknowledging both the stated goal and the unstated goal and then figuring out why I do agility – truly getting clear about my goal – – reduced huge amounts of stress.  I am much happier because of it.  My path forward is also clear.  Thanks for the timely question.  

Why do I love agility?  It’s something that I feel, but is hard to put into words.  It includes the thrill of building such intense, detailed communication with another species that my dog and I can run a course together.  Its about the bond I have with my dogs.  I wake up every morning thinking about what I will practice/train that day.  It helps me keep physically and mentally fit.  I love that there is always more to learn and room for improvement.  A great, thrilling run (in competition or in practice) is like a “fix” that I want more of.  I like competing against a reasonably objective standard … vs. competitions with more subjective standards.  I can do it without needing a big, expensive support infrastructure such as you need to compete with horses.  

I was just going over my e-mails before our private and realized I never answered your question. For me I think what I love about agility is
1) The training as it brings out the scientist in me, I get to try different things and see if they work, if not I try something else.  
2) I love competitive sports so I gives me an outlet for that.
3) I love pushing myself and learning something new.
4) I love animals and especially dogs so of course I like doing an activity that includes them and an activity that that they enjoy as well.
If my dog did not enjoy agility, I would probably not be doing it. 
So, there you have it – some great responses to my question, and I *love* reading them. They warm my heart, and make me want to go out and train my dog. I hope they boost you up just the same!