NOTE: This post is LOOOOONG. Multiple pages. Feeling brave? Read on. You can move through the pages using the links at the bottom.
I just got back a couple of days ago from an amazing trip to Ireland to teach. How fortunate am I that I get to do such a thing? That I can pay my bills in this fashion? That I can travel, do something I am absolutely passionate about, see the world, watch people and dogs learn…and THEY pay ME? I’ll get back to Ireland, I promise. I will set foot on Irish soil again, and also, I’ll tie it back in at the end below 🙂
How fortunate am I that I have enjoyed agility success with not one, not two, not three, but FOUR dogs? How fortunate am I that that success has gained me some degree of notoriety, which in turn helps me connect with a wider audience than I ever imagined possible? That notoriety has led to me having experiences, travels, and further successes that I never dreamed possible.
When I started agility, back in 1998, notoriety was not my goal. I hesitate to use the word “fame” because, let’s face it, it’s “just agility”, and thinking of one’s self as famous just seems arrogant and narcissistic. “Famous” is something reserved for rock stars, philanthropists, authors, etc. Right? But, fame is easier to type than notoriety, and frankly, given the definition of fame, it IS appropriate.
When I started agility, I had a very strong sense of purpose. I wanted to do THIS, and I wanted to be AMAZING at it. I wanted to be the BEST – or at least the best I could possibly be. I was more motivated by this sense of purpose than I’d ever been by anything before. Junior High band – clarinet? Played because my Aunt had done so. March band in high school? A thing you did if you played an instrument. University? A thing that you DID, to be more educated, a better earner than the previous generation. My first major – Civil Engineering. Chosen because my grandfather majored in it. I switched to chemistry, exerting a small bit of my own interest in the process. Chemistry was more fun. Teaching – something I felt was “right”. It felt good, and it still DOES. I love teaching. I absolutely love it. In Ireland, my last day teaching was foundation, and there were nearly 40 people in attendance, and I was presenting in front of all of them. It was amazing. I could do that in front of thousands. I’d be nervous, but I would absolutely love the vibe there. Giving out knowledge, watching it be received, being questioned on it, that back and forth…God I absolutely loved it. I was so amped up at the end of that day, more than any other day. The hosts asked if I was tired…NOPE. Such a high, teaching.
But anyway, agility. Dog agility. THAT spoke to me like nothing else. From deep within. I’d had other hobbies, and they lasted maybe six months, tops.
So, off I went. Following my bliss. And, being a somewhat outspoken person comfortable in front of a crowd, and somewhat vocal on the internet (groups, lists, social media, etc.), in addition to achieving a bit of success with respect to ribbons, and finalist placements, etc., I put myself in a position to be known and/or talked about by many people.
I didn’t give much thought to this, didn’t pay much attention to it. I was too busy following my bliss. Too busy figuring out just how to overcome the personal challenges dog agility presented me with, how to overcome the training and handling challenges, too busy having my version of fun.