Friday, September 3, 2010

Thoughts before a trial

“It is better to do something and fail than to do nothing and succeed.”

Tomorrow Phoenix and I are showing at the Five Seasons cluster at Amana. He needs one leg to finish his CDX and we are going to get that done this weekend.

Several friends and I have been having totally independent conversations this week about being “competitive.” (Funny, how all of a sudden multiple people seem to think about the very same thing.)

Someone once told me they thought I was a very competitive person.

I really don’t see myself that way but I guess it depends on your definition of competitive. When I first got involved in dogs back in my 4-H days, there were some other kids my age who were very competitive. This translated into very poor sportsmanship because if they didn’t win they went off in a snit or said horrible things about the person who placed higher than they did. With that in mind, I never had a very favorable image of people who were regarded as competitive. First impressions and all that.

If you define being competitive as always having to win regardless of what it takes, to be first in every class, High In Trial, High Combined, etc., in order to be happy with the day’s results, then no, I am absolutely not competitive. I have no desire to always have to be #1, to go to Crufts with the USA obedience team or win the National Obedience Invitational. I enjoy training but am simply not interested in doing what it takes to reach that level of achievement and I’m totally comfortable admitting it.

However, if you define it as always wanting to do your best, constantly striving to improve and never being satisfied with the status quo, then yes, I am definitely competitive. I will push myself and my dog to be better than we currently are . . . but not beyond the point where training loses its element of fun because there’s too much pressure to achieve.

Everyone has their own goals. I compete against myself. I measure my success with Phoenix against previous shows and since I see every show as an evaluation of our current level of training, it’s impossible to fail. Even if we fail according to the judge’s score, well, heck, it just means we weren’t on top of our game on that particular day and then I will tweak our training to address whatever problems we might have had.

In order to finish an AKC OTCh., there is always the element of having to “win” in order to get points and the three required first places, so yeah, it is necessary to have a competitive mindset, at least in terms of setting and reaching goals and planning show strategies. But after finishing OTChs. on two wonderful and night-and-day different dogs, I still don’t look at trials from a “Must beat So-And-So or we have failed” standpoint.” Instead, going into the ring I clear my mind of everything except “I will be the very best handler I can be today so my dog and I can give our best performance.” It’s very refreshing NOT to compare yourself to anyone else.

That’s what the Skinny Little Dog and I will be doing this weekend. Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing!


  1. Good luck! I consider someone who always trying their best and trying to get better as "driven". A competitive person is asking you what your times were, how many points you got and trying to "one up you". Thats just my opinion. Diana

  2. GOOD LUCK!!!! Hope you have a fantastic weekend. I think you have a great attitude to go in thinking you want to do your best-after all that is all that is in your control ;-). Have fun!!!!----Kathy with Liz/Breeze/Cricket

  3. Have a great fun time. I agree with you - I compete with myself - try not to get too wound up in stats and how other people are doing ... enough to be supportive but I honestly don't care :)