During the past few weekends of agility trials, I had the opportunity - completely by accident - to squeeze in a little fun, specifically for Indie.
The first time it just so happened there was dock-diving in the adjacent parking lot during a 3-day agility trial. While Indie does NOT enjoy jumping off docks or boats, she does love to swim so I used two "Try-it" turns to let her retrieve her bumper off of the ramp. Even while waiting and watching the other dogs run and jump off the dock with a splash, Indie was anxious to climb the stairs to her turn. On the second day, she was even more insistent (and less patient!) as we just walked over to get our name on the board. The girl loves her water!
The next time was this past weekend when we were able to stay with dear friends with a huge, grassy, fenced backyard where all three of my "kids" could run, play, roll, and flop. All three were in heaven and I felt equal parts joy at watching them and sadness in that they don't have this opportunity at home. They played for hours, past the point of exhaustion.
What's interesting - yet not surprising - is how much better Indie ran agility those weekends. Like all of us, our dogs do their best work when they are their happiest. Sure, she loves agility, but it still is work to some extent with all of its rules and boundaries. In contrast, swimming or rolling in something stinky is all JOY!
These examples each served as a reminder to make sure that I am less concerned with my dogs getting tired or hurt and more concerned with how much fun they are having in life. Not to mention, in both cases, I was smiling ear-to-ear just watching Indie have fun!
JOY! is not complicated, but it can be something we have to think about when we look at our upcoming calendars which are filled with day jobs, dog classes, chores, and commitments. Suddenly we - and our dogs - are over-scheduled and there isn't room to do what they want to do.
Last summer I did a 4.5-month adventure across the country and I had a blast! But in looking back I realize there were fewer hikes or trips to the water than there should have been. I was having fun, but were they?
As summer (finally!) rolls in, be sure you are leaving room for JOY! As a matter of fact, I CHALLENGE you to take a look at June, July, and August and commit to a LEAST one weekend a month where you are doing something your dogs will think is their idea of fun. I promise you it will pay off in the ring and in your relationship almost immediately!
Special thanks to my clients and friends who share their stories and allow me to help when I can. My secret sauce in my performance coaching is there is a bunch of life coaching that comes forward too. Because what happens outside the ring impacts our performance when we step to the line. I continue to be flattered to go on these journeys with my warrior clients!