Embracing Imperfection

One of the things I love the most about this time of year is also the thing I hate the most – there are so many fun activities to enjoy. It’s pretty obvious why I’d love that but I also hate it because I find myself scurrying to fit it all into a very short time period. Halifax is very much a summer city. There are countless festivals for celebrating, beaches for basking, and patios for lounging. And in Nova Scotia summer is very much like my cat showing affection: blink and you’ll miss it. With all the activities I try to cram in, some things are bound to be left out.

Like dog training. Although, if I am completely honest I haven’t been the most hard-working trainer for quite some time.

Do I feel guilty? Astonishingly… No, no I don’t. Shiva hardly seems to be suffering. We are still spending just as much quality time with her as ever; it’s just the substance of this time that has changed.

Should I feel guilty? Some may think so, especially after our unpracticed performance at the last agility fun match. Shiva’s start line needs work and it looks like her contacts have taken a big slide downhill. The thing is, it doesn’t bother me enough to spend hours going through drills. Sure I may step it up a bit before the next one this weekend, but I am not going to go out of my way to strive for perfection. It’s not like that’s really ever been a goal of ours anyway.

Precision isn’t Shiva’s thing. Quite frankly, it’s not mine either. We may never finish a course without a fault. Knocking bars and getting laughs, that’s just how we roll. This thought used to bother me. I used to live in fear of people whispering those fated words behind my back.

“Great dog, too bad about the handler.”

This may change but today all I can do is shrug. All those out there who think only serious competitors need apply can keep their judgments to themselves. When it comes to our agility practice, the only opinion that really matters is Shiva’s. Watching the video of the last match, it doesn’t seem to me she is wishing she had a different teammate.

What do you think?

18 thoughts on “Embracing Imperfection

  1. I love when I can have that kind of attitude and just enjoy whatever I’m doing. Isn’t it great? Even if it’s only for a day it’s worth it. Loved watching that video, you two are too cute! Have a great relaxing day of being you Kristine.

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  2. I’m glad you’re not feeling guilty. Life’s too short to waste on such a useless emotion. Besides, perfection is over-rated. Being secure in your imperfection is a far better goal and much more endearing. Besides, Shiva seems to be having a blast with you. And, if the dog’s happy, we’re all happy!

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  3. That was beautiful! Shiva has such good eye contact with you. She’s filled with exuberance and joy. And she looks like she has springs in her feet when she goes over those high jumps.

    I am so eager to learn more about embracing imperfection. I want to get to the point where I don’t only embrace it but I put my tongue down its throat and have to be dragged off its sated, sweaty body. 🙂

    Oh, and all of us who live in places with short summer can relate. I’m feeling a little resentful that I agreed to see a play with my dad this Sunday afternoon. After all, why waste a sunny day indoors? I hope it rains.

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  4. Hi Kristine, I watched the video and it seems as though you’re both having fun. Isn’t agility really about working with your dog while having fun? Kind of like “sports day” for dogs. But like all things, some people are more intense about their approach to it. So it’s really up to you how you want to approach the whole agility thing – will it be competitive or will it be recreational? For us, it’s always been “recreational” and having fun. Even when my brothers and sister have been in “real” agility matches, the focus has always been to go out and have fun, to have a safe run without injuries, threats, punishment, yelling or anything else, we’re there for the experience and as my mom would say, to just have some fun together. Sound good?

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  5. I agree – perfection is over-rated. Shiva looks like she is having a really fun time and if agility isn’t fun – what’s the point? I am a little jealous that Shiva can jump those hurdles like nobody’s business – poor Blueberry has stubby little legs and bad hips so as much as she enjoys the agility course – the hurdles are not something I force her to do. I think you have a great attitude about just making it fun for her – for no hard training for a while – I think she was still impressive! Go “Team Shiva”!

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  6. I think you have the perfect attitude about this. It’s supposed to be fun, right? And more than that, it’s supposed to be about the relationship with our dog. And it looks like you have that in spades. 🙂 You’ve done such an amazing job with Shiva I can’t think for a moment you would feel guilty about anything. You are a real inspiration to us with Bella.

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  7. I’m a perfectionist. It’s true. It will be a cold day in hell when I escape trying to make everything just so. I hold Elli to the same standards I hold myself, though I usually end up laughing more with her than I do myself.

    Someone commented on a recent post about a bracelet/collar I’d made and was complaining about because it wasn’t perfect. They said: perfection is for machines. I’m paraphrasing this next part, but they said, it’s the inadequacies in handmade things that make them so special.

    I think it can apply to dog training, too. 🙂

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  8. Despite being anal about a lot of things, I am very much a fan of imperfection and assymetry. I’m almost surprised that you’re still training Shiva! We started at about the same time, didn’t we? I haven’t properly trained Georgia in ages. It’s more maintenance stuff and organic learning these days. Her vocabulary is great and I can almost speak to her in full sentences now. She’ll be a Mr Piglet soon lol.

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  9. Howdy Shiva, we think you were fab. So was your mum. We had a laugh too but cause we reckon Stella would be EXACTLY the same as you with Agility. We haven’t tried it yet BUTT we know she would follow your example and just have total fun during the whole thing. Well done to you both. How do you think Rory would go, hehehe. They might need a bigger tunnel thingy! See ya mates. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

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  10. She’s having a Grand Time out there.

    That’s a really nice down on the table, by the way. WHOO! Go Shiva!

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  11. Since we’ve never done agility, you look like you had a perfect performance. You were so in tune with each other and having so much fun. I may get off my duff and get into it.

    But probably not.

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  12. I think it was fantastic! I love how she jumped up on the table and slid to a stop. To be it looks like she is so excited to be out there she just can’t contain herself!

    We all should find something we enjoy that much.

    Nice job!

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  13. I love your attitude about agility. My view of it is that it’s a fun sport to get your dog thinking and get some exercise. Also, it’s time for you and your dog to bond. Every participant doesn’t want to, or shouldn’t have to, train relentlessly for perfection.

    I am also like you, there are so many fun things to do here in the Summer I end up overbooking myself. It’s a double edged sword because I don’t want to miss “having fun” but my stressing myself out sometimes it diminishes the fun.

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  14. That was a great video. I see a lot of improvement in both of you. Besides it is supposed to be fun and a hobby. That is our attitude at least. You both looked like you were having fun.

    Even with hunt tests there are always the people who think that unless the dog is perfect, it doesn’t deserve a pass. They are more than willing to point out your dog’s mistakes while careful to remind you that their dog ran clean. I have to laugh at them. Hobby people. Hobby.

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