A lot of people in dog agility claim to love their dogs more than they love the game. They say they’d love their dog minus the titles, awards, and finals runs. I believe most of them when they say this, but they’re lucky this conviction may never be tested in the way it is has been tested for some of my students.
When I first talked to Heidi about her border collie, Prime, neither of us knew how much work we had to do. But the more we talked the more we uncovered, and the more Prime showed us. We started with his home life, and are working through his agility-specific behavioral concerns. The suggestions I make and the plans I write for my teams are often time-consuming and downright boring; but they prove that slow and steady really does win the race, if you can only convince yourself not to skip ahead. Heidi’s dedicated work on Prime’s teeter issue (he’d violently attack it, often bloodying himself in the process) is a perfect example, and his start line worries are no different. The good news is he has a partner who is willing to show up and do this work; even when those around her can’t see how what she is doing even relates to the task at hand.
So, what does it mean, to say you love your dog more than the sport? I’d say it means putting aside your aspirations for as long as it takes to help your dog. If you want to see what that looks like, check out the wonderful video Heidi made for her boy. They are so lucky to have each other, and I am fortunate to call them both friends.