So today is a Dog Agility Blog Event -- something thought up and put together by Steve over at AgilityNerd. The theme of the day is, "If I knew then what I know now." I have to be honest, I'm really struggling with this topic! I wonder if anyone else is having the same issue?
Who doesn't have things they would have done differently, had they had the knowledge they gleaned through years of trial and error? That's part of life. Very rarely do you come out of the gate perfect at something -- at least I haven't been that fortunate.
Looking back, there are a million things I would have done differently in my life, but then there is very little likelihood I'd be where I am now. Is that a terrible thing, though? I suppose it depends on where the alternate path would have taken me. I think my number one regret is that I didn't go to school when I had the chance (ie: financial help from my parents). I have never been one to embrace change and the thought of leaving everything I knew behind (including my beloved horse) scared the wits out of me.
I was accepted into the vet tech program at a school in Iowa. I backed out in favor of taking the easy path -- staying in a town where I knew everyone and felt comfortable, continuing on my path with the horses, something I thought I would be involved with forever at the time. All these years later I still find myself with a burning desire to work in a vet clinic. And while everyone says, "It's never too late," I know that it's just not in the cards for me right now. So kids, go to school when you're young! lol
If I had a chance to go back to 2008 when I was house shopping, I would do things differently. When I set my mind to something I don't tend to be very patient about waiting for the right outcome. I looked at many different houses and was getting tired of the whole thing and just wanted to be done with the whole ordeal. I do *very much* like my house and my yard is perfect -- but the location is absolutely horrible for my needs.
Why did I buy a house in town?? Why did I buy a house in a neighborhood full of young families? It's like living on a different planet... Why did I buy a house in a city with the most stupid limit laws ever? Why did I buy a house in a city with outrageously ridiculous taxes? If I could do it all over again, I would hold out until I found a place outside of town. This would allow me to do two things that would make me very happy: Obtain a kennel license (if necessary, although most places around here allow 4-5 dogs outside of town) and teach at home without worrying about neighbors turning me in. I love teaching. I miss teaching. I find it very rewarding and hey, it's not like the supplemental income wouldn't come in handy!
So those are my two big life, "If I knew" ramblings. If you are reading this and have yet to make those choices, learn from my mistakes. ;o)
Living in the region where I live, there wouldn't have been much of an opportunity to change my early agility experience. The saddest part is that it isn't any different now and there are STILL absolutely no proper foundation agility classes available in my area. Training classes are still being ran exactly the same way, with dogs on leashes being led over, through and across full sized equipment. This is how I learned agility with Luke, like every other person who lives in this area. Thankfully my present and future dogs will benefit from what I've learned about providing proper foundation training over the years. Looking back, I actually find it remarkable that Luke and I have managed to come as far as we have with the training that's been available to us. I figure my obsessively determined personality is to thank, as well as my years working with the horses that taught me a thing or two about training.
I am ever so thankful for productions such as Clean Run and the numerous training articles and blogs that can be found online. There is so much education out there free for the taking if you are willing to look for it. We owe it to our dogs not to settle for the status quo, especially when the instruction available to you is second-rate. I hate seeing teams struggle with the same issues over and over at trials, yet they continue on the same path and never seek anything different. How is that rewarding to the dog or handler?
My number one goal in this agility journey is that my dogs have fun. If they aren't enjoying themselves, we tend to both be miserable out there. Agility is a game, not an obedience drill. Find the joy, even if it doesn't always lead to Q's.