Fear of failure: fear that I will not be able to finish Kaffee’s OTCH; fear that I will communicate my fear to Kaffee; fear that Kaffee will not do his GO OUTS correctly and fail his Utility; fear of what people will say if I cannot get his last 3 points; fear of disappointing others in me; fear of disappointing my self once again… What if I can’t finish Kaffee ???? So many fears going into our obedience show season.
3 OTCH points… it should be so easy … Kaffee has continued to earn those points throughout his showing days… But Kaffee is almost 10 and he clearly has problems with his GO OUTS putting him out of his wins. AND he must get a first place in our small classes (10 or below) to get the needed points. So I am allowing my fear to take over once again; but there is no good escape this time… and I must change this if I am going to finish Kaffee.
How interesting that Susan Garrett just put out an e-book this week for her online Handling 360 group of which I am apart called, “Without Pressure We Get No Diamonds.” This got my attention. She was speaking to me in all she wrote. Could it be that I was not alone in allowing my fear and self-doubt to keep me from being successful in my dog sport goals.
In this interesting writing Susan talks about how fear prevents so many of us from achieving our goals or what we want. Our self doubts allow fear to take over our handling or showing of our dogs and prevent us from trusting all the training, and hard work we have put in working with our dogs. Fear and focusing on the outcome make it difficult to achieve our goals and desires.
I realized after reading this that fear and self-doubt lay behind my decision over a year ago to not finish Kaffee’s OTCH; he needed 18 more points and we had not shown in obedience for over a year due to his iliopsosas injury. But then my young Border Collie Myst was being trained in obedience through Utility and would be ready to start showing soon. I needed to get back in the ring to keep up my showing skills so that when Myst was ready I would be ready also.
I entered a show last June to get back into the ring and Kaffee won a High in Trial (HIT) and High Combined (HC) and earned OTCH points. Kaffee enjoys his work with me and seemed so happy to be back showing again. He was smiling and jumping and I had to work hard to keep him from barking with excitement.
We worked all summer on improving his GO OUTS using Laura Romanik’s “GO BOP.” I went back and read her notes from her seminar in Phoenix a few years ago and ended up doing a few online lessons with Laura for both dogs. We worked very hard this summer, hauling our obedience equipment to new and unfamiliar places and helping both Kaffee and Myst to better understand the default for a GO OUT is to go and touch the stantion and be able to do this from 50 feet and in new places… the FIRST TIME.
This was the proof that Myst had to be able to perform before I taught her to do a pre-barrier sit so we worked a great deal on this for 3 months and then she GOT IT!
Kaffee also seemed to improve with his understanding of the GO OUT and in his first trial in the fall in New Mexico he did well even competing against a very experienced professional handler with 2 OTCH dogs. Kaffee earned more OTCH points, a HIT and HC.
At the next show in Nevada he continued to be consistent in both Open and Utility and got more OTCH points, a HIT and HC BUT.. I was very disappointed that in the last Utility class that he showed last in, and all the other competitors failed their Utility run, Kaffee also failed.. The last 4 OTCH points would have easily been his if he had continued his consistent performance with mid 90 scores in Utility. Huge disappointment.
We had 4 more OTCH points to go and went to a show near Las Vegas thinking we would be able to finish his points there. Unfortunately I had not remembered that this show has different ring gates and the blue stantion that we used for our GO OUT training had been replaced at this show with metal standions that could not be seen as well and rebar stakes that added confusion for him. Kaffee only got one OTCH point for a second in Utility. The show numbers were very low so his win and lovely score in Open did not give him points. Again, Huge Disappointment.
I write this account of Kaffee’s most recent obedience shows and my disappointments at “all most getting those points” to share my excuse for my fear and doing my usual to avoid my fear of failure. I have stopped showing Kaffee in obedience over the last few years saying he was too old; had had an injury; was now doing agility with Myst… so many excuses all to walk away from the possibility of not being successful. But now we are there and I must face it. I can’t think of a way to escape this time.
I remember listening to one of Susan Garrrett’s audios of a coaching call when she discussed how before she shows even when the stakes are high, she never focuses on the outcome (what you want right now) but rather takes the time before she goes into to ring to mentally prepare by being thankful and just working as a team with her dog… doing the best they can do together. And for her this moving from “what I want” to “what I have and being thankful” is part of her success.
What is interesting is that I have done this same thing when I have gotten to shows and I think there is no way Kaffee can win and get points since there are dogs and handlers there that can score higher than Kaffee in Utility. So my focus has been on being thankful to have Kaffee and being able to show with him on such a beautiful day where this is not about world peace… but having fun and connecting with my special Kaffee.
My focus was then on doing the very best we could do, knowing that we have trained, are as ready as we can be and we will just go in and have fun. Each exercise is a separate time for me to connect with him and build his trust and joy in doing the work… nothing more… AND guess what.. this has worked so beautifully. He has had some of his best and highest scored runs in classes where this has been my mental preparation. In New Mexico a few months ago he earned a 199, his highest score ever, in his Open class… and it was not a give away easy scores judge.
So now I must put aside my self doubts, fear, and anxiety and let it be a reminder to me that my mental preparation needs to be to focus on how well prepared we are; to forget the outcome and just go into the ring and have fun. I will support Kaffee with my positive focused energy and make this the best experience possible for us both. We will walk into the ring with CONFIDENCE and POSITIVE EXPECTANCY. WE CAN DO THIS.. we have done this before!
I have to think that we have been brought to this final challenge for a reason…. I need to learn from this about how my fears and self doubts limit me and my possibilities or I will face these same issues with Myst. How I escape from successes in my life. Nothing in life is a coincidence and Kaffee’s journey to his last 3 points forces me to no longer walk away from the challenge.
I mantra must now be , “without pressure, we get no diamonds.”