This blog post is going to be a really personal one for me, and it’s on a topic that I sometimes have trouble talking about because it makes me feel vulnerable, and I’d much rather feel invincible. I know I’m not alone with some of what I’m going to share, though, because so many of you have reached out to me behind the scenes and shared your own dreams. Dreams you’ve held, dreams you’ve been shooting for, dreams you’re maybe thinking about for the future, and…dreams you may have had to put aside for various reasons.
Most of you know me as Daisy Peel, World Team agility handler and trainer, and creator of The DaisyPeel.com Online Classroom, as well as The Agility Challenge. You probably also know that I’m pretty goal oriented. But, it’s even more than that – I’m DREAM oriented. For whatever crazy reason, I’ve had this dream, for nearly 20 years, of being on the AKC World Team, representing the USA abroad at World Championships. That dream wormed its way in to my heart and brain before the calendar even flipped over to the year 2000, and it’s still a big dream for me; one that pushes me to wake up every single morning so that I can work toward it. My entire life has been structured around that crazy dream. Year after year, my training, my competition strategy, my puppy raising, my exercise, my diet – all of it has been structured around that team, and World Championships. It’s one BIG dream, but it represents years and years of working hard to be the best dog owner I can be. The best dog trainer I can be. The best handler I can be. The best ME that I can be.
The thing is, my big dream is no different than anybody else’s. Ok, I guess maybe I’ve gone further down the rabbit hole than many might be interested in, but the things that drive me toward the pursuit of that big dream are no different than anybody else’s reasons. I’m not even sure I can adequately put those reasons in to words, but I know in my heart of hearts that the things that made me feel anxious, the things that made me want to try a little harder, train a little more often, and drive a little farther for a weekend competition before I even got in to the Novice ring in competition for the first time are the same things that have driven any of us who are obsessed with the sport of dog agility to do a little better. To do a little better so we can get closer to that clean run, or that ribbon, or that title. To do a little better so our dogs aren’t as confused, and so that we can experience that momentary thrill of working in complete and utter harmony with an animal of another species that takes so much joy in the endeavor that it’s hard to be believed.
When I discovered dog agility way back in 1998, it was like I’d discovered my life’s purpose. To write those words when it feels like there are so many bigger things going on in the world today is a little odd, but it’s the truth. I had this moment, where I felt like THIS was my raison d’etre, my reason for existing. I didn’t ascribe this to a higher power or anything like that – it just felt right in some indescribable way. And here I am, 20 years later, still dreaming that big dream. Like many of you reading this who have achieved your own agility dream with one dog, I keep having the dream. What if I can do it again? What if I can do it a little bit better? And yes, with all of the much more important things going on in the world, especially this year, 2020, sometimes I look at my dream and wonder if holding on to it makes sense. Maybe it’s better to let it go, to concentrate my efforts and energy on more important things. Certainly there are plenty of things I might choose to focus my energies on instead of dog agility! I just can’t give it up though, the pursuit of that perfection on course for just those few seconds. Those few seconds that represent so much effort, energy, love, attention to detail, planning, strategy, diet, exercise…well, you know, because again – I honestly don’t think it matters whether your dream is to go to a fun match, to get a Novice Title, to get a Championship title like a MACH, or ADCH, or CATCH, to win a National Championship, to make it on a National Team. It’s a dream, and it’s a dream because it calls to us in a particular and important way, and if something is calling to you like that, it’s very difficult to ignore.
In one of my favorite movies, “Buck,” he says the following (have a listen!):
I’m still chasing the dream, to the best of my abilities. How about you?
Let’s hear about YOUR dreams – what are your dreams?
Why do you have those specific dreams?
How did you come to have those dreams?
How long have you had those dreams?
How will you feel when you have accomplished your dreams?
What will happen when you have achieved them?]
What about you? What keeps you going? Let me know!
I turned 60 last month, and due to that, the COVID shitshow, and personal health challenges, I am viewing my agility goals a little differently now — mainly, how can I keep my body healthy to keep doing this for another decade or so. I know I do a good job keeping my dogs fit, and have always worked towards keeping myself fit, but things are changing and my focus has to change too. We all ponder about time ticking away…and we have a special yardstick to measure it in our dogs — they don’t live long lives and agility… Read more »
Love the movie and what “Buck” had to say. My dreams are definitely what keeps me going. It is a little harder to stay focused on them right now though.