I grew up playing competitive team sports. I know what it means to struggle to maintain a good attitude or to let your attitude get the best of you. I know how it feels to have a negative attitude affect your performance--I've been there. I remember being out on the volleyball court in middle school and making a couple bad plays. After that it was so hard to get my head back in the game.
The best thing for me during those times were my teammates. They were encouraging; they patted me on the back, they gave me high fives, they built me up over and over. And I got through it.
As I went through school and graduated from college I got away from organized sports. It was hard to find friends to play with, and even harder to find the time. But I had a dog, and something was missing from my life...then I found agility.
While Bentley has been an amazing partner, he is truly forgiving. When we first started, everything was just for fun. I remember crying the first time we were awarded a Q--previously just finishing a run was exhilarating. My expectations were low, and my attitude was always (well, almost always!) positive because we consistently exceeded my expectations.
Then Lexi came along, and reminded me what true passion and teamwork is about. It's about attitude. It's about building each other up and being encouraging. It's about "high fiving" your teammates to put your head back in the game. It took me a long time to re-learn this lesson. And actually, blogging helped me do that.
I know that Lexi has a tremendous amount of potential, and my emotions became very closely tied to our success. When we did well, I was up! When we did poorly, I was down. I felt like no one understood, and there was no one there to build me up again (whether I was blaming myself or my dog). Someone posted a comment on my blog that I was setting my expectations too high and not being fair to myself or my dog...and it gave me pause. And I realized...all along someone was there. Someone did understand. And someone was trying to help me adjust my attitude just like my teammates in middle school did. It was my partner, it was my dog.
Why was I letting one letter--"Q"--determine my success? Why was I letting a less than perfect run prevent me from being happy? My attitude had to change because it wasn't fair anymore. Lexi kept trying to give me a "high five" and "encourage me" to get my head back in the game, but I wasn't listening. And that wasn't right.
For our next trial, I wrote on my hand "No matter what happens, I'm taking the best dogs home" because I truly believe it. I wouldn't trade them for the best dogs in the sport. They are mine--successes, triumphs and even mistakes. This is a journey that we are taking together. We have a responsibility to each other as teammates to build each other up, even when we're feeling down, and I hope that I never again forget the lessons I learned in middle school sports.
My dog and I, we're in this together, and our bond is a success no matter what the score sheet says--and that's the attitude I'd like to maintain as long as I live.