An Agility Top 10 List


Charles Gibson

10 July 2001

The BCCA 2000 National Specialty marked a 6 year anniversary of my agility career shared with Mikie. In looking back, I wondered, "What draws me, and what keeps me in agility?" The entire experience of being able to grow in an activity that both Mikie and I thoroughly enjoy is the answer. The following "top 10 list" allows a deeper look into the recesses of this experience.

1. The essence of a personal best:

I am very competitive! Yet, I avoid competing against my fellow competitors. In my earliest agility experience, I made a commitment to a personal decision: This competitiveness would be channeled by focusing on competing with myself. Aiming to improve my handling each and every time we stepped into the ring became priority No.1. Such improvement was often elusive and met with either frustrating, hilarious, or mediocre results. But, whether or not we beat so-in-so, or placed, was always second to doing my best. Personally, that's aplenty on my plate.

2. Discovering the essence of true teamwork:

Agility is, after all, a team effort. Here's my favorite analogy: The handler is the captain of his ship (dog) and, as such, he carries the full responsibility to see his ship make a successful voyage; his ship will run aground if his commands are unclear; the ship will be aimlessly adrift if the captain doesn't study the the maps; the voyage will be in peril if the captain doesn't know how to navigate (handle) his ship. The most exciting journey awaits the captain who sets sail confidently prepared, not, mind you, three sheets to the wind.

3. Time stands still:

For just a brief fleeting moment that we're out running a course, I am secured in the freedom of escaping troubles and worries, and I've aplenty of those.

4. A sublime bonding:

Agility is, for me, the unequaled opportunity to be emotionally and spiritually connected to a Beardie who is my picture of eagerness, joy, and grace.

5. The challenge of change:

Each course presents a new crop of possibilities and variations. As such, they require new perspectives and adaptability, all to help keep the brain rust at bay.

6. The commonality of community:

As a group of like-minded people, we participate in a shared time and space experience unique to any other.

7. A rollercoaster of emotional diversity:

Countless variations on the theme of anxiety, frustration, joy, excitement, disappointment, panic, hopefulness, confusion, all are telling adjectives of the agility experience.

8. Learning the essence of forgiveness:

When a penalty is incurred whilst running a course, the real fault usually lies with the two-legged team member. Yet, I cannot begin to count the times, after I have made a unclear signal or just plain mishandled, that my dog wagged his tail at me.

9. A defining moment of our limitations:

While it's important to know one's strengths, the agility experience helps me to acknowledge and accept my limitations.

10. Agility helps sharpen my perspective of why I do agility in the first place:

See Nos 1 thru 9!


-charles gibson and Mikie

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