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Leading by Fergi – Lesson #6

FergiSuccess Even In Less Than Ideal Circumstances

Last month, Fergi and I spent 2 days at one of our favorite outdoor agility shows in Cato, New York, a beautiful rural area in upstate. The conditions of the show were perfect:  warm, sunny days, no rain and very little wind; Fergi was in good physical condition and excited to be at the show; I felt good physically and mentally; my friend, Karen, shared her pop-up tent, which gave us some needed shade from the intense sun. My sister was there as well, and she was a great help in setup, lunch preparations, and moral support.

As Fergi and I readied for our first run of the day, a few things happened that quickly changed these perfect conditions. The first involved my puppy, Halo; it was his first experience at an agility trial, and he was extremely stimulated by the other dogs, the sounds, the people, the food, and all the excitement. He was standing with my sister about 20 feet from the barrier of the ring where Fergi and I were waiting our turn, and he was barking, crying, and whining. Second, the running order of the dogs changed at the last minute, which meant I wasn’t completely prepared when it was time for our turn. Third, it was hot. VERY hot. During the minutes leading up to our run, we were waiting in an enclosed barn with little ventilation, and my body temperature rose quickly. Last, I hadn’t decided on a plan to execute the course. I kept flip-flopping between how I was going to handle the first 3 obstacles, and I just couldn’t decide which would be better for Fergi. Here’s what happened:

I took a deep breath, and just began. Fergi, moving quickly, nailed the first 3 obstacles. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest because of both anxiety and heat. As we approached the weave poles, it hit me – Halo was going crazy! I could hear him barking, crying, and whining. He is surprisingly strong for a 35-pound pup, and I envisioned him breaking free from his leash and running into the ring where Fergi and I were. I thought, this is it. Fergi is going to be completely distracted by Halo, and she’s not going to make this entrance into the weave poles. We’re finished. And as I mentally wrote off this run, she proved me wrong! She executed perfectly, finishing all 12 poles, and we were off to the dog walk as fast as I thought it was over. She had a clean run (which means completing a course with no mistakes) in 44:81 seconds. She qualified and got first place. And this was the last run needed to move her up to the next level of competition.

This experience was a great reminder that we don’t need ideal conditions to truly succeed. I was also reminded that we need to trust our partners, our team, and, most importantly, ourselves – that no matter what, whether we think we can or whether we think we can’t, we’re right! (Thanks, Henry Ford.)

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