I am on a mission. I have the audacity to think that it is possible and I want to invite you to join me.
Many of you have told me how you’ve been talked down to, put off, slated and sometimes even abused at shows. And many of you have been driven by others’ attitudes to where you wonder whether you should continue training or competing.
‘Is it worth being made to feel like a crap handler every week?’
‘The negativity round the rings is crazy- we’re supposed to be having fun’
‘This is what I do to let off steam from work, but it’s intimidating having that group hovering round the rings waiting for us to go wrong…’
There are so many amazing people who compete with their dogs, and I get the privilege to work and chat with many of you. And I actually believe that together, we can change the atmosphere around the rings. It seems that the atmosphere around the rings at competitions has been allowed on occasions to get negative and it seems that there is a belief *amongst some* that in order to do well, they need to tear others down. Some get so obsessed with how well their dog is running round a field and jumping over sticks that they lose their better self and take it out on others – or even their dogs- when things go wrong.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!
Some of the most successful people I know in multiple sports, including at world champion level, are the nicest people you could meet. Absolutely they want to win, but not at the expense of sacrificing their character. They are able to enjoy others’ brilliance and use it to inspire them, rather than feeling the need to tear it down. TOGETHER we can promote that atmosphere in our dog sports.
And before any of you tell me ‘it’s just humans and it happens everywhere’, yes, kind of, you’re right. But I have noticed a particular theme arising and it doesn’t have to be that way. Part of it is people ‘catching’ the behaviours that have been allowed to go on and not aiming higher because they don’t know any better, but sometimes we just aren’t nice to each other. Just because something is common does not make it right, nor preferable. And I have the nerve to believe that since so many people are unhappy with inconsiderate people, with being treated poorly or with handlers berating their dogs for their mistakes, well then we have a movement in the making. A group of people who believe that we can do better, and that actually, it will benefit everyone- not least our dogs.
‘A rising tide lifts all boats‘
I actually think that as we build a more positive and healthy environment around the rings, we will see increased excellence within it. I also think that as we promote what is best in humans – as well as dogs! – we will in turn impact those who don’t compete, but who we may come across during the rest of the week.
I realise that for some of you, this is WAY out there in left-field. Some of you will think I’ve lost the plot, but some of you will catch a glimpse of the dream.
…Some of you have already experienced how fun it can be when people are rooting FOR each other and embracing competition as a way to improve themselves…
…some of you already know what it’s like to have a great trainer who pushes you but also inspires you…
…some of you have already freed yourself from toxic environments and are seeing how much happier your dogs are, now you’re not stressed to the hilt…
This is possible, and I have the audacity to believe – to KNOW – with every fibre of my being, that we can make dog sports highly competitive, but also an amazing environment where competitors can be celebrated and supported, and where those who want to tear others down find themselves challenged to behave better or move on.
If you want to be part of this, it can be as simple as being intentional and giving a genuine compliment to someone at a show- maybe someone you’ve never spoken to before, whether a complete novice or a ‘big name’. If you need help, get daily motivation and encouragement on Facebook or check out an online class.
For dogs’ sake, let’s make our sports the awesome, positive environments they could be, because make no mistake, they are hurt by the negativity too.
This week, I challenge all of us to bring our best self to training and competition and to rise above behaviours that should’ve been left in the school yard!
Comment below and let me know what you think- are you up for joining me on this??