I have been quiet lately, very busy and really no time to be writing blog entries. But something that has been on my mind: the future of our sport (dog agility). This is an important topic <grin>
One thing that I’ve always been somewhat opposed to is prize money. It is fun to earn some cash once in a while, and prize money does tend to add excitement to an event. However, coming from a horse background as a competitor and a veterinarian, I know that prize money changes the nature of the competition, so I am glad it is only offered sporadically. Along those lines, in my opinion it is not in the best interests of dog agility for it to become an Olympic event. That too, I believe, would change the nature of our sport. But those issues aren’t really what is on my mind (although they do indirectly relate…)
One thing that I have always loved about agility is that your teammate is, first and foremost, your beloved companion. You and your dog already share a bond that agility makes even stronger. I think that only those that run in agility can really understand <smile>. Several years ago I ran a BC that did not belong to me. This dog was world class and we were quite competitive. I know that her owner would’ve allowed me to try out for the WT with her, and I’m quite certain she could’ve made it, but I was never inspired to do so. Somehow in my heart I felt that it just would not be the same, for me, to stand on the podium with a dog that I did not share that magic bond with.
Nearly all agility competitors have some special connection with their dogs because they must overcome the challenges and grow as a team together. Coming from a horse background, this is what makes me appreciate dog agility. When I was “in horses”, I was not one of the “lucky” kids whose parents bought them a $50,000 “made” junior hunter. I was the one working to get the most that I could out of a “racetrack reject”, because that’s all I could afford. I think I was as talented as a rider as one of the “lucky” kids, but I rarely won at the big events. However, when I did accomplish my goals, it was so rewarding for me, because I knew what I had invested in the achievement.
So, where is dog agility headed? Obviously it already costs a lot to be competitive, but are we headed in the direction of the horse world where you can ‘buy’ “success”? Personally I enjoyed agility more in the “old days” when “everyone knew your name”, and we were all doing agility with the family dog. Although I do love to try to figure out ways to improve performance, I really am not looking forward to a future of shaved dogs and high-tech Speedo tracksuits. However, I will evolve with the sport if that’s what the future holds <smile> I would just like to see the spirit of development as the team remain intact and that we don’t go the direction of handlers buying “made” competition dogs in order to be “successful”. Handlers that choose that path in my opinion will be doing so solely in the interests of winning, which is not how I define “success”. I hope that being successful in agility continues to be defined by the magical connection and awareness of each other on course that can only be achieved through taking time to grow together as teammates, not by how many ribbons are won. Yes, I enjoy the “thrill of victory” as much as anyone else, but somehow there is no “success” without the road it takes to get there.