Don’t Take Your Guns To Town
I'm a big Johnny Cash fan and one of his better songs is 'Don't take your guns to town.' Which is basically a song about the perils of pride. It should be one of the stock dog theme songs. I've heard people call this sport humbling. And boy is that true. It tries to humble you before you step foot off the proverbial bus. The dogs challenge you every step at the beginning. Then when you think you have them trained finally, they look simply ridiculous at a trial. For most of us our first instinct is to blame the stock, the judge, or the dog. What we rarely do is blame ourselves. Or that's the case for me at least. I do blame myself eventually, normally later that night when I've calmed down enough to be rational. That's when I can truly be honest about my performance and design my game plan going forward. It is almost never comfortable; blaming myself. Then again, swallowing your pride never is. The people who never swallow their pride never last. If they do, they are typically not very popular. With their own dogs as much as their fellow handlers. Dogs hate arrogance. Which brings up a good point. It also goes past the trial circuit. Arrogance I mean. In this case I don't mean the dogs specifically, I will talk about that in a future blog. I'm talking about being accepting of wisdom. For me, I've been very guilty of refusing advice. I always thought that I either knew better or I wanted to show off that I was so natural that I could do it on my own. Both were foolish. I improved dramatically when I was humble enough to ask for help. And I plan on doing so for my whole career. The reality is, I have not come across every problem. No one has. But there are problems that people have seen that I haven't. There are tricks that people have come up with that I haven't. If I had always kept my nose in the air, I would have never learned those tricks. That's true if you're in year one or year 35 of your career. I'm not preaching going to clinics or hiring one on one lessons. I mean those are great options (please contact me for one on ones and clinics availability and pricing). But if you're not going to search out wisdom, don't refuse it when it finds you. That could be advice given by the seasoned pro or the fresh newbie. Some of my best lessons have come from a newbie saying "why don't we do it this way". The fun part of this sport is that there is no such thing as a 100% fool proof way of doing this. Everyone can bring value to you if you let them. The dogs included (actually I plan a whole blog talking about how dogs tell you how to train them so stay tuned for that). I found it and continue to find it the hardest and most rewarding lesson in my dog handling career. The lesson of humility.