When real life interrupts your plan (or, Mox we've gotta RUN!)

goals mental skills May 04, 2021

The other weekend I was running agility with Moxie. As the cruelty of the schedule gods would have it, we were in the first and last classes of the day.

Or so I thought.

So there I was hanging out in the parking lot, spread out in my end spot with Indie lounging in the sun, and I just happened to check the Gate App to see how things were progressing. I was beyond shocked to see Moxie was 3 dogs out. In a class I didn’t know I entered.

I absolutely stared at the screen for a sec then stripped out of my puffy coat and hurried Indie back into her crate. I woke up Mox, threw her leash over her head, grabbed a couple of treats, and ran all the way to the gate. No potty stop. Just go!

When I got to the gate area, we were “in the hole.” I didn’t even know the course and the dog in the ring was just practicing weaves (aka, obstacle #2). Thankfully, a friend walked up and I blurted out my status to her; and she told me the course. I watched one dog and stepped to the line.

It was jump-weaves and she didn’t get the entrance, but it was T2B so I redid it. Later on course, we had a bar for an NQ, but that was it. Well, that’s one way to break up the day!!

Why am I telling you all this?


In the seconds I was deciding if I should jolt my relatively inexperienced dog awake and run for the gate, I had to decide what my point was - quickly! I couldn’t expect to Q - that was clearly unfair to the team! So why would I even run so ill-prepared on all fronts?

This is why we practice. This is why I drone on and on about the importance of process goals over outcome goals. We have to practice in the easy times because there will come a moment (hopefully rare!), that you will have to act quickly.

I knew the course would have weaves so that became my process goal since Mox has been having some stage fright in that area. Everything else was gravy.

And yet ... she didn’t get the weaves (on the first try), but I was ecstatic! Why?

  • She showed a lot of composure to (literally) run from the crate to the ring without any warm up, potty break or warning.
  • We ran more connected than I could have expected considering I was focused on learning the course in the moments before we walked in, and was just mindlessly feeding her like a human Pez dispenser.
  • She shouldn’t be seasoned enough to do what she did. Yet, she did well.
  • We got a bonus run!

I know a LOT of people who wouldn’t have gone for it, and depending on the dog, that may be the right call. Frankly, I didn’t know what would happen, but since I had quickly created a process goal, I was open to the possibilities.

Sometimes we’ve got to be willing to go for it, to let go of the picture we planned, and adjust on the fly. If I was focused on Q-ing, it would have been a hot mess or I would have been disappointed. Instead, I set an appropriate goal and though she missed THAT goal, she still exceeded my expectations! AND I now have more faith in my dog. Win! Win! Win!

Aren’t dog sports grand?!

P.S. The photo shows what Mox looked like just before I jolted her awake - Good Girlie!

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