Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Agility, Part 2"

Some months ago I wrote about wanting to start Agility training with my dog. It seemed like a good way to be active, to channel a little of Reggie's natural exuberance in a positive way, and to help us bond.

Well, we started a "fundamentals of Agility" class in June, and of course Reggie does love it. He loves the jumps and the tunnels and the running the course. He loves the attention, and he especially loves the training treats. What he doesn't seem to love is the practice.

It turns out that Agility is like every other skill in life: it takes practice. It takes patience and determination. It takes persistence and attention to detail, going over one jump at a time, learning one command at a time. For Reggie - and I admit, for me - this is the real challenge of Agility. It seems so much more fun when you go and watch a competition. It seems so effortless and is such pure joy to watch dogs and trainers run through a course together as if they are one. Or as if they had not spent hours, days, months (even years) practicing.

Of course there are thousands of pithy little sayings I could post here...
"practice makes perfect"
"nothing that is worth doing is easy"
"an hour of practice is worth five hours of foot dragging"

But my favorite "practical" saying is this one, from Martha Graham - dancer, choreographer, and wise woman:
"Practice means to perform, over and over again, in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired. We learn by practice. Whether that means we learn to dance by practicing dancing, or we learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. One becomes in some arena, an athlete of God."

So the sun is shining, the breeze is gently blowing, and the puppy is whining at my feet. It must be time to practice.

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