Clean Run - June 2012 - (Page 5)

Editorializing… The Other Bank Account By Tina Eastman My first agility dog was perfect. He was my heart dog, my forever dog. He was also the first dog I had ever owned. He never made a mistake, he hardly ever dropped a bar, seldom took an off-course, and rarely missed a contact. He rewarded me with many clean runs, many championships, and many indelible memories. My second agility dog was going to be just the same, another Q’ing machine, providing me with the thrill of the chase for another championship. But it didn’t happen like that. My second agility dog taught me about the other “bank account.” I was used to scrimping and saving money in my oldfashioned savings account in order to have enough money to pay my entry fees, gas to make it to shows hours away, hotel rooms, and post-trial dinners at restaurants with good friends. That account barely stayed in the black, going to shows was just so much fun! But I didn’t know then that our dogs come with their own bank account: the fun account. As I jollied my second dog through the levels up into Excellent/Masters something alarming happened. My account ran low on fun. This equally important bank account had been neglected in my hurry to earn yet another double-Q. Agility is addictive for the human on so many levels, it’s the connection with the dog; the fun of puzzling out how to run the course; and the companionship and camaraderie with the other handlers. Most of us are very supportive and we applaud a good run, and cheer for our co-competitors accomplishments. Even the primary colors of the equipment send a thrill of excitement as you pull up to a trial site. Our dogs can feel our excitement and they seem eager to share the fun with us. So I was convinced my girl was having as much fun as I was. I had taught her to do all the different pieces of equipment. I had taught her to read a front cross, a rear cross, a push, and a pull; she even could handle an occasional blind cross. I had paid my dues, now it was time for her to reward me with Qs. Oh, how little I knew, clueless me! What I didn’t realize was, for each time I played with my dog—whether it be a walk in the woods or a game of tug or kick the bottle—I was paying into the fun account. And depending on the dog, different activities paid higher or lower interest. How I deposited the fun also made a difference. Slowly, far too slowly for her, I came to the gut-wrenching, guilt-ridden, miserable conclusion that as I was travelling from trial to trial, often many weekends in a row, I was making too many withdrawals and too few deposits into her fun account. And, from her point of view, they weren’t very substantial deposits either. Her fun account ran dry. She no longer had any fun left to use in the agility ring. I went home and asked her for forgiveness as I tried to figure out what had happened. Eventually I came up with a savings plan, and I opened the JCS account for her. I decided once we entered the ring again I wanted to see just three things: joy, confidence, and speed. I learned that an off-course was a major deposit! Enough confidence to shoot off and grab an obstacle; enough speed to get away from me; and enough joy to want to do it. Good girl! A big deposit of pure JCS. My new account started paying dividends and slowly we built the fun back up, and going to a trial actually became a place not just to make withdrawals, but to make fun deposits too. My third agility dog is still young; he is now starting his second year going to doggie Disneyworld. He is also different from my first two dogs. He lives to play agility. He loves to play the game. He rushes me to the ring, he begs me to buy a Fast Pass so we can play now. At home, he is the same: Can we go out and play, pleeeeaaaase! I have already learned he needs a different denomination deposited in his account. And I better not forget it. For he also (in spite of his drive and endless enthusiasm) has a need to build up his fun account. I just need to learn what currency he prefers to be paid in, and how to diversify his account, so that it is balanced for his needs. I need to invest for him. It’s easy to get carried away on the flow of endorphins as I play the game with my dogs. But now that I understand the value of a well-stocked fun account, I make sure I step back and go over my dogs’ fun portfolio regularly. And I make sure to keep the deposits coming in faster than the withdrawals. I also take time to let the account rest sometimes, to let the fun interest grow. Just think: with that lottery win I often dream of, I could have plenty of cash to pay for entries, but with a depleted fun account it really wouldn’t do me any good. Tina Eastman 5 Tina and her husband live on the South Carolina coast with their two Shelties: MACH5 Chanel and 3-year-old Fiji. At the 2012 Eastern Regional Incredible Dog Challenge, Fiji won the agility class. Tina started in agility about 10 years ago with her “heart-and-forever dog” Guinness. The pair earned 11 MACHs, a Performance Dog Championship, and made the AKC Nationals finals twice. She misses him every day, but is grateful for the magical world of agility he opened up for her. June 12 | Clean Run

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - June 2012

Clean Run - June 2012
Editorializing: The Other Bank Account
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility
Backyard Dogs
Awesome Paws Drills: Skills Checklist, Part 3
On the Road Again: Safety Measures for Driving with Your Dog
Challenges for Rising Stars
Proofing Your Dog’s Weave Pole Performance
Knowledge Equals Speed! Positive Training Routines
Analyze This!
Perfecting Nutrition for Performance Dogs
Why Dogs Sniff and What to Do About It
Building Blocks: Building Skills Around the Tunnel
From Hoof to Woof: What Riders Can Teach Handlers
New & Common Therapies for Treating Injuries in the Canine Athlete
Agility Mind Gym: Visualization
Control Unleashed Solutions and Answers: Shy & Overwhelmed

Clean Run - June 2012