Dog sports offer a diverse range of activities that many enthusiasts actively participate in. These events often require extensive training and preparation spanning years, months, weeks, and countless hours of dedication. For most participants, dog sports are not just about winning; they provide a unique opportunity to spend quality time with their dogs, allowing them to expel energy, exercise, and enjoy themselves.
Personally, my involvement has revolved around the captivating world of disc dogging, particularly freestyle competitions. Various organizations host numerous disc dog competitions, creating a welcoming environment suitable for beginners with no prior experience. Novice, intermediate, and advanced milestones are recognized, both formally and informally. Some participants compete against their own scores, constantly striving for self-improvement.
Throughout my journey, I have had the privilege of training numerous new disc dog teams. I have observed both handlers and their dogs struggle initially. As the saying goes, "Dog training is sloppy until it isn't." I have witnessed exceptional athletes start from scratch and ascend to championship levels. While a select few possess natural talent and exceptional dogs, most of us, including myself, require years of dedicated effort to achieve our goals in the sport.
One individual who deserves recognition is my first disc dog coach, a world champion competitor. Unfortunately, he remains largely unacclaimed despite his instrumental role in mentoring countless new players who have gone on to achieve greatness. These successful players, in turn, have continued the cycle by teaching and inspiring others. My initial coach equipped me with the fundamental knowledge to train others along my own journey. Although he has since retired from the sport and teaching altogether, his influence will forever be cherished.
In recent years, I have had the invaluable opportunity to train with another outstanding coach, a multiple-time world champion in disc dogging. This experience has enhanced my skills and broadened my perspective. Under her guidance, I have further honed my abilities and deepened my understanding of the sport. The significance of a skilled coach cannot be overstated, as they provide invaluable insights and guidance, unlocking the true potential within each team.
In dog sports, the concept of teamwork extends far beyond the partnership between the handler and their dog. It encompasses a collective of individuals who form an invaluable support network throughout the journey. Your team consists of the performer who initially inspired you to delve into the sport, the dedicated volunteers who organize events, the individuals who undertake the planning and scheduling during the off-season, and the unwavering supporters who stand by the sidelines, enduring scorching heat or adverse weather conditions. Your team also includes the individuals who maintain social media pages, gather music, paint the field, and countless others who contribute to the smooth running of events. Together, they create the environment that allows you to shine and pursue your passion wholeheartedly.
Reflecting upon your journey, it becomes evident that your accomplishments were not achieved in isolation. The combined efforts, collaboration, and unwavering support of your team played an equally significant role.
As a competitor in any dog sport, it is crucial to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of your team along the way. They have been instrumental in your growth, offering encouragement, guidance, and a network of like-minded individuals. While you should be immensely proud of the time and commitment you have dedicated to your sport, remember to express gratitude to your team for their unwavering support.
Together, as a united force, your team has shaped and elevated your achievements. Embrace the power of teamwork in dog sports and continue to inspire, uplift, and foster camaraderie within your community.