Conquer the Challenge
The Human Half of the Agility Team
By Angelica Steinker, M.Ed., C.D.B.C, CAP2
edited by Kimberly “Kim” Archer, CPDT-KA, CTDI
Agility is about a dog and a human navigating a course. We spend hours preparing the dog for competition, but little to no focus is on the human part of the team. Our dogs are massaged, fed ideal foods, given chiropractic adjustments; all while we ignore and neglect the human part of the team. This column will focus on the challenges that many of us humans face while trying to be the best agility team, and more importantly on the journeys to overcome those challenges.
Human challenges are limitless: physical challenges, financial challenges, mental challenges, and every imaginable combination. The few lucky handlers who are physically and financially fit can indulge in almost limitless agility successes, however, the rest and majority of agility competitors have very different goals. We long for that feeling of connection with our dogs, that last leg to finish off a title that may be meaningless to all but a few. Facing budget constraints, many of us painstakingly pick a few trials to enter. Most of us are not competing to beat others or to gain a spot on the world team, but rather we compete against ourselves. Wanting to perfect, in our own way, our goals that may not draw attention or fame but mean the world to us.
Some examples of goals may be: a trainer who has conquered extensive training issues with a dog that was deemed untrainable, dangerous, and recommended for euthanasia. Or a trainer who despite physical challenges kept competing for years, never even realizing the extent of their physical problems because they instead focused on the sheer joy of being with and communicating with their dog. This column is about these trainers: their stories, and how they conquered their challenges. This column is about us: the majority of agility trainers, the ones who pay the top handlers for seminars, books, and pay the majority of the entry fees. These trainers are the heart of agility. What is your challenge? Starting now, you can overcome it.