In our Dream-n-Scheme program, one of the early things we do is set goals for our dogs from near-term to lifetime. But what do you do when you have a goal that your dog can’t achieve? Do you throw it out? Can you set it aside?
For the most part, I see this happen for a few reasons. Sometimes a dog gets injured or some other physical problem surfaces and the dog you thought would be your first agility champion just can’t play the game. Like any loss, this is heartwrenching and I personally believe that losing a goal you thought was possible deserves its own grieving process.
Another way a goal sheds away is if the dog just isn’t cut out for the goal. For instance, my girl Indie is a perfectionist and I thought this would make her an awesome obedience dog. The only issue is, she hates it. For real. Every time she walks into an obedience ring she looks abused. Great at home, but dialing the hotline to be saved when it counts. Clearly, this venue does not bring her joy.
I think we have a responsibility to the relationships we want to have with our dogs and figure out a way to get through these moments. Yet for me, it doesn’t mean throwing out the goal forever.
I now have a separate “lifetime” bucket for myself as a handler and have created some other milestone goals as well. This removes the pressure from any one dog who may or may not be suited to my personal goals and allows me to hold them for later.
One of those lifetime goals for me is to have a competitive dog shown at the Westminster KC breed show. My current pack doesn’t have what it takes, but that doesn’t mean I have to let it go forever. One of my personal goals was to become a BMDCA draft judge and I completed those requirements in 2016. Again, nothing to do with the kids snoozing at my feet.
What are the things you want to accomplish as a handler? As a teacher? As a dog person in general? These goals could cut across multiple dogs or have more to do with the human aspects of dog sports ... Create your own goals and record them in your planner, and I’d love it if you shared them with us on Facebook!