11 November 2012

Embracing mediocrity - notes from the frozen tundra of Turlock USDAA.

That was what it looked like before we ran the second round of Steeplechase. Let's just say I won no money and probably won't try putting in aggressive front crosses on ice again. Being California, where we do pay dearly for this in the Organic Wheat Grass Property tax, the sun was out by 9am and people were in shorts by lunch. Where salad was offered. Healthy wheat grass tax.

I went to this trial with a much better attitude than last time. I firmly planted into my brain that I need to embrace the fact that our Champion Year is done with. It didn't work. Sometimes, things are dismal failures and life goes on. Not everyone can be a champ. Some of us, we are mediocre, and that is how it goes. Hard work and perseverance pay off. In different ways. You get the trophies and dog agility canonization, I get cold french fries with genetically modified ketchup.

Mediocre is a life pattern for me. I'm ok to pretty good at a lot of things. Generalists don't specialize well. If you're seeking out the best, move on. Seek elsewhere. I'll be over here in the lower middle left hand side of the pack.

Remembering this makes me have a better day. We tried our hardest, and when things didn't go quite right, well, right, we tried. But we're mediocre so, um, SUPER JOB! When you're mediocre, trying hard gets you just about waist high to a champ. So I slouch a little, try to lay low, and life doesn't look as bad as when I was standing on my toes making my neck hurt.

We had some good moments. This is mediocrity code language for when you don't win a lot. Otterpop did win Gambers, and ran fast in her standard runs. She had only 3 runs the whole weekend, and we liked them all, both of us. Gustavo won the first round of Steeplechase, had awesome Jumpers, hit every dogwalk contact, slammed stellar teeter totters, didn't run around any a-frames, and zoomed around as fast as he could go and listen at the same time.

I made some handling errors, costing Otterpop Qs. But I think she's retired! So no big deal. Running retired Otterpop is pretty fun. I'd rather lose a Q executing a fancy, champion style serp and screwing up and sending her in the wrong side of a tunnel than any other way.

The teensiest misstep with Gustavo always costs a Q. Teensy mistake in Grand Prix. But since I don't care about his Q's either way, it's always an experiment. Not caring about Qs is a pretty cool way to do agility, once you're ok with the fact that you are off the champion track. You just sort of float around out there, title-less. He had tremendous trouble with weave poles this weekend, which was surprising and something to work hard on this month. And no tables. The table tap dance of danger came back, and went away when I pulled him off immediately and replaced him there on Sunday. He was very stressed out on Saturday, but the 2 days of trials helps him. Either he settles in by the second day of running, or having a sleepover in a cheap motel inspires him.

We went back to cheap motels this weekend. When you're mediocre, you probably live life on that kind of budget.

The only terrible thing that happened was when the giant freight train drove by the ring during Snooker in his last run of the day on Sunday. It's taken him years to run in that ring spooky, freeway, freight train ring. Turlock was somewhere Ruby could never even run because the roar of those trains flying by made her bolt. The train came by just as he hit his first set of weave poles in what had been, so far, a great opening. Gustavo froze up, and just stood there for a while, watching the train with a terrified look on his face. He's such a little guy and freight trains, so big. I just sat down in the middle of the snooker run next to him for a minute, because I wasn't sure what else to do, while the train kept going and going and going.

I just wanted to keep him company while he panicked. Wouldn't you want somebody to do that with you?

It kept going and going, and I realized, I'm just sitting here in the middle of the dog show ring, so I ran out and he ran with me, and we went to play frisbee a little bit with Otterpop.

Life goes on.


Elf said...

Good call on the snooker/train. Dang trains.

Anonymous said...

I think that was a wonderful and sweet thing to do for G. Just chill, in the frost w/ trains going by. People can WAIT, dang it.

Anonymous said...

to be mediocre is to be so- so, ordinary. i looked it up in a dictionary...
i don't think going out on a course and running your best qualifies you for mediocrity. there is nothing ordinary about doing the best we can with what we have to work with. i hate that "m" word!

we have a trial here in CO that has a train challenge. the rule is that if you hear the train coming, you can wait till it passes to start your run. if it comes in the middle of you run, yell louder.


Cedarfield said...

I applaud your loyalty to your dogs and your perserverance in trying to make them Champions in Agility.
I recently decided to allow my 4 year old Dobe to stop doing agility. She's capable of great things when no one is watching but she doesn't like trials, doesn't like traveling, doesn't like staying in a crate all day and much prefers long naps on the couch interspersed with long hikes in the woods.
It wasn't that hard a decision despite the fact that I now have no dog for agility which has been a huge part of my life for the past 22 years. I had to retire Devon, my 8 year old PRT just after our first trip to the AKC nats in Reno because he has a bad back. He loves doing agility with me and I with him. On course we are like one being where he can read my mind and has saved a run more often than I care to admit.
So, it was hard to realize that we had had our last run together when I didn't even know it. I cried and was depressed for a couple of weeks. Luckily, he isn't dying or sick and we can manage his pain.
Realizing that my Dobe didn't want to be doing agility was hard, too. She has been getting better and better but it's clear to me that her heart isn't in it and I must have a dog that drags me to the startline or I won't ask them to do it.
In the end, I'm happy that they are both happy and healthy and that I am, too.

Sobaka said...

Laura, I love your blog and I've been an avid follower ever since you were featured on Coffee with a Canine. In fact, yours is my favorite blog of any kind in the whole internet. So, no mediocrity there!

After all the planning, strategizing, training, and practicing, the bottom line is that animals are unpredictable. You have done a spectacular job with Gustavo and Otterpop, but in the end the dogs still have their own minds and wills, not to mention the baggage that rescues bring with them. Some breeds are less willful and much more human-focused. I've got one that is stubborn and independent-minded, and I love him for that, but there's no way we could ever do agility. Probably YOU could get him to do agility, even though he is 16 years old and can't see or hear very well. You are so good that you'd be able to teach him to do tunnels and A-frames, and he'd only stop to sniff around a couple of times each course, LOL. And that would be so much more than I've ever been able to achieve.