At the trial this weekend I was talking to a fellow competitor and she was telling me that she was having a hard time with comparing her two dogs. One dog was in her words “amazing” to work and the other one, less so.
I wanted to write a blog to tell people that THAT IS OK. It’s ok to compare your dogs…. as long as you appreciate them for who they are.
Having a really amazing Nosework dog is like driving a Ferrari. It can be so addictive that handling a “lesser” dog can be frustrating, demoralizing and downright boring! At the same time we have to come to terms that not all of our dogs are Ferraris. Coming to that conclusion will make you take one of two paths: You can either quit handling the less talented dog or you can appreciate the dog for who he is.
So I told this competitor:
Let’s say someone gave you a Ferrari at a young age and that’s all you ever drove. You loved that car dearly, buffing and waxing it whenever you could. Then one day your beloved Ferrari had to go into the shop and your loaner car was a brand spanking new Toyota Camry. That Camry was a good car, but not a Ferrari…. how do you feel? The Camry of course doesn’t shine like your Ferrari but it has good pick up (for a non-sports car) and gets you where you need to go. It just doesn’t have that same “fun factor”. However, that Camry is actually a pretty good car! …. and for those folks who drive the Camry’s smaller cousin, the Toyota Corrolla, that Camry is a darned NICE CAR!
My point is that everything is relational. This is what we do with our dogs. We label them and in the end we can let it impact our relationship with them and it can color our feelings for them…. The problem is, we’re not talking about cars… we are talking about living, emotional creatures who want nothing more than to be the center of our universe.
Once we spend time handling a Ferrari it can also discolor our expectations. We can’t expect our Camrys to come out and win-it-all. Then when they don’t we get disappointed in them…. even when the dog has done his best!
I handled my Camry (one of them) yesterday. Joey didn’t title but he did ok in the end and worked within his limitations of age and natural drive. I admit, I had to work hard to not compare him to Judd or even my puppy, Brava (who is a F-15 Fighter Jet instead of being a Ferrari!). It was hard not to be disappointed…. it was a long drive there and a long day. In the end though I gave myself the same Ferrari-Talk and came out feeling good about the day.
We can choose to let our perceptions of our dogs hurt our relationships or we can choose to appreciate the Camrys out there!