Friday, May 14, 2010

DON'T YOU DARE STEAL MY JOY - by Connie Cleveland

I was unsettled this morning. I knew the World Agility Championship is on and it is happening in the UK. I was hoping to go and support Team GB, especially those very clever shelties that got select to represent GB. Unfortunately I cannot find anyone who willingly (or trusty enough) to look after my dogs, so I got to stay at home. I am hopeful that someone like Agility Vision will do a live streaming video so I can watch from home but I was very disappointed that I cannot find anyone who is doing that!

I was browsing for more information about the World Agility Championship and read a post in the Agility Forum posted by Tim Dyer. This is such a beautiful article and meaningful so I thought I will cross post here and share:

by Connie Cleveland

On the occasion of my tenth anniversary, my husband asked me how I wanted to celebrate. I asked that we take a very dear friend, my adopted grandmother and one of the greatest of all the great southern ladies, out to dinner with us.

At dinner, my husband, Brian, presented me with a diamond ring. It was gorgeous and I was speechless, but even as I thanked him, I worried about the expense and extravagance of such a gift. As if he knew that the next line belonged to my grandmother, my husband excused himself from the table.

He was barely out of sight when she reached across the table and grabbed me by the shoulder, "I know what you're thinking, I know you think he couldn't afford it and it's too extravagant. I don't care if he had to put a second mortgage on the house to buy it, don't you steal his joy! It's beautiful. Accept it as the token of his love that it is and say nothing about how he shouldn't have bought it for you." Then she repeated, "Don't you dare steal his joy!"

That was the end of the conversation. She sat back in her seat, smiled at my returning husband, and we had a lovely dinner. I took her advice and put my reservations out of my mind. The ring has never come off my finger, but most importantly, I learned a wonderfully important lesson, never to steal another man's joy.

Are you a joy stealer?

"You know if my dog hadn't gone down on the sit, I would have won the class", said, unfeelingly, to the winner.
"I sure didn't think your dog worked that high a score."
"I can't believe you placed, I thought Jane Oneup and her dog would beat you."
"I thought I had that class won! My dog had a great performance, " said to the winner.
"Isn't that judge an idiot? I can't believe the dogs he put up!" said to the winner.
"Boy, aren't you glad Mrs Winallthetime wasn't here today or you might not have won."
"You passed that Master test because the water blind was so easy."
"That was the stupidest set of water marks I've ever seen. No trial should end that easily," said to the winner.

Do you discourage or encourage fellow competitors? Do you tell them their goals are too lofty and their dreams too big? Are you trying to be helpful or trying to keep them from accomplishing something that you never had the ability or perseverance to do yourself? It is equally as harmful to steal joy by destroying the dream.

"No Basset Hounds get UD's," said to the owner of the Bassett in Utility class.
"I've never seen a Rottweiler that could do fronts and finishes", said to the owner of the Rottweiler practicing fronts and finishes.
"Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a UD and a Master Hunter? Do you know how few people have ever done it?" said to the first time dog owner setting out to do both.

When FC AFC OTCH Law Abiding Ezra had both his field championships and 65 OTCH points including all the necessary first places, someone had the guts to come up to me, his owner, trainer and handler and say, "No dog will ever be a field champion and an obedience champion." My jaw drops when I think about it. Isn't it unfortunate that I remember this attempt at stealing my joy much more than I remember all the cards and letters and congratulations I received when those last 35 points were earned?

If you are willing to destroy someone's dream, perhaps you don't realize that it is the JOY of pursuing the dream that keeps the dreamer motivated, not just reaching the accomplishment.

My husband and I travel and compete together. I remember an event, early in our relationship when I watched his Doberman fail articles. "Darn it, " I said, as he came out of the ring," she didn't even try to find the right one!" "Oh", he replied, "but, weren't her heeling and signals wonderful?"

Unknowingly, I had almost stolen his joy. He was celebrating the improvement on the exercise that had been giving him trouble, and I was focused on the failure. Since that experience, Brian and I have learned that the best response to a questionable performance, "What did you think?" That way, if the handler is excited about some aspect of the performance, you can share that excitement. If the handler is disappointed in another aspect, you can share the disappointment. You are safely removed from being a joy stealer.

I hope you have a lot of dreams and goals for your dogs in (the coming year). Undoubtedly there will be moments of disappointment as you venture through the landmines of injury, failures and other setbacks. Remember that the joy of the journey is worth the difficulties along the way and don't let anyone steal that joy. Guard it well and at he end of the road you can own it and revel in it with all the other memories of the trip.

I'm going to add a few more that I have heard:

"If my dog hadn't knocked that bar, you would never have gotten 2nd place and gotten enough points for your MACH" said to a girl who had just found out that her 2nd place had netted her enough points to finish out her MACH with her heart dog.

A girl waiting in line for her National Championship Finalist shirt mentioned she was nervous to be showing in the finals. Another competitor replied "Why? It's just Preferred."

"What was your dog's time? My dog slaughtered your dog's time." Said after the slower dog qualified and the faster dog did not because he knocked bars and/or went off course.

So, stop and think. . .is your joy dependent on stealing someone else's? None of us is going to get rich at this sport. We do it to have fun with our dogs and our friends. So, it is the journey that counts. Let's hope we can all respect and enjoy each other's journey.

After reading this, I have learned to ENJOY every single run with my dogs, whether it is a good one or a bad one.


Ricky the Sheltie said...

Thanks for posting that article - really makes you think - and we try to enjoy all of our runs no matter what too (and I think we manage to)! Sorry you couldn't go to the world championship! If we lived near you, we would've stayed with your shelties!

Diana said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing it. Diana

Diana said...

Try the USDAA web site for live stream video of world championship.

I hope that is right. Diana

Remington said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing! Have a fun weekend!

Nat said...

Thanks for sharing, that was a great read! I really don't like hearing people say things that take the joy of the moment away from someone else. We should always try to revel in others' accomplishments. Sometimes it's not the easiest thing to do, but we should try! :)

Vonnie said...

Yes, if only more handlers thought about what they said before they say it!

I am very supportive of others who we compete with. Always go up and congratulate (if I know them)if they are placed above us or we are not!

One thing I HATE is people who grab their dog when they finish after a bad run or it goes wrong and lift it abruptly out the ring!Just rememeber its always the handler people! Dogs are too clever!


Sara said...

Luckily most of the people we compete with are very positive. I can't imagine them saying those horrible things!

Aren't we all there to have fun with our dogs?

Priscilla said...

Thanks for sharing the article. It's great!

Anonymous said...

Great post-food for thought there!I think if you can't say anything nice its always best to say nothing.Always remember that the dog you may be rubbishing is someone's much loved pride and joy!I've had a few deflating comments lately about my dog being slow but hey,I'm enjoying running her(and just spending time with her) so what does it matter?
Helen,Jarna,Luna,Eko x