Last weekend, we joined my parents for regional dog agility trials. One of their neighbors had a dog that was competing. We had seen trials on ESPN in December and marveled over how much work it takes from both the dogs and trainers. To see it live without commentary was also phenomenal. There was the astronomically high energy of the border collies and shelties. There was the beagle that howled in celebration when he completed certain elements. Then there were all the different ways that the trainer and dog communicated. Some dogs barked in response to or I think to egg on the trainer at each element. Some would turn their head (while jumping no less) to see where the trainer was pointing for direction to the next element. My favorite were the trainers who were basically in the center of the field yelling commands like "right or left". There are days I don't even get that right!
The other part they don't show on TV are the "not-so-excellent" divisions that are in training. There was the poodle that decided if she could make a new friend with one of the judges rather than completing the course. Oh and the black lab that decided the different scents were too enticing and not only refused to stay on course, he ran over to the next course to check things out there. I still giggle over the hyper border collies that would act before they completely understood the command and run through a tunnel two or three times. They just want to please!
I admire the dedication and patience of these people and these dogs, but what it reminds me most is that working successfully within a team requires spending time and learning how to communicate with each other. With that - amazing things can be accomplished!