April 21, 2014 by Julia West
I have a big list of “want to do” home improvement projects. I suspect most homeowners do – replacing flooring, re-do a deck, install a fence. We have things we wish were better, newer, fresher in our lives and homes. My list always seems too long for what our time or finances will allow. So we choose an ambitious project or two each year – often hard to reach, much less exceed. Aaron is better at rolling with the punches while I tend to fixate or stress over the progress we are (or aren’t) making towards our goals. We have to balance saving for our goal against spending time and money on smaller projects and other things we enjoy.
I also struggle with the feeling that we are somehow “behind” where we should be. Judging our proverbial grass against others – people who’ve done more by this age, have more updated houses or better yards. But I know that it isn’t realistic to make comparisons – we don’t know what sacrifices they’ve chosen to make, what debts they are willing to incur. Maybe they are frustrated and struggling to meet goals too.
And so it is with dog training. I know that every team is different, but still catch myself making apples to oranges comparisons. I know that I’ve got to balance the time, money, and resources available in a way that works for me, yet I often feel like I should do more and that I’m running behind.
When I got Delta, my original goal was to have her CD, be trained for Open, and have a good start on Utility foundations by the time she was two years old. She’s a little over two now and we aren’t anywhere near any of that. We’ve been in the ring twice for Beginner Novice (with mixed results), I have only just begun to touch on Open level skills, and I don’t expect to be Novice ring-ready until this Fall, maybe longer. Compared to friends with similar aged dogs, we are “behind.”
It is true I am not as far along in certain training areas as I would like to be. I don’t have access (via either time, money, or availability) to all the training resources I thought I’d have by now. But are we behind? Not really.
I’ve started learning and training in all three phases of IPO, which weren’t part of my original plan. I’ve changed my definitions of things like attention and focus. I’ve also changed my criteria for success – I think Delta is capable of 190s in AKC and I don’t want to enter the ring until I think we have an honest shot at showing her potential. Similarly, I want to go for her BH when I feel we can perform at a high level. I have hopes for when those goals will be met, but I’m not going let the trials dictate our timeline.
While I’m a bit envious of the progress that my friends have made, I have to remember that measuring myself by someone else’s yardstick doesn’t add up.
When it comes to balancing this year’s project against smaller, more immediate expenses, the smaller won this round. My friend and guest blogger, Dawn, offered to let her bunk with me if I bought a plane ticket. I’ll be flying out (dogless) to American Boxer Club Nationals in Indianapolis on May 2nd to enjoy the company of my fellow Boxer people for 4 crazy days. While I’d love to have Delta there with me, I know there will be plenty of Boxers to love on and many fantastic performances to watch.
As another persuasive friend told me before my first ABC in 2009 – this isn’t a dog show, it’s a pilgrimage.