The Art of Losing
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When I was younger, I played football. And I had a coach at that time who taught me a valuable lesson; he said "yes, having fun is all that matters; but losing is no fun at all". That's a philosophy I live by to this day. Yet it seems dog trialing is the exception to this rule. I've had many competitions where I lost terribly, I've won a few as well but I've lost most. What was interesting is that I was far more motivated after a loss then I was after a win. I kind of thought this was a unique character fault of mine until someone messaged me saying the same thing. So why is that? I mean, why is it that we get so motivated up after getting our asses kicked? This is one of the subjects that many people could chime in on, and they would all be right. So keep in mind that this isn't the ultimate word on why losing is so good. Yet I think this is pretty close.
Training and handling stockdogs is the pursuit of perfection. At home it's pretty easy to get a false sense of security about how well you are doing. You may even feel yourself come close to perfection. But when you go to a show you are typically humbled. And more often then not, you are able to see someone who is closer to perfection then you are. Of course you feel jealous, or at the very least, annoyed that you lost but you see that your goals are possible. It show you your weaknesses you see where you need to focus next. Now this only works when you lose fair. The truth is, our sport is judged and even more tragically, judged by humans. That means we get that ever so terrible human error. Most of the time we are judged fair and correct but mistakes do happen. We have to take the good with the bad. Advocate where necessary and swallow your pride when you have to. I don't know anybody that has made it their mission to judge poorly. Regardless of your emotions you absolutely have to conduct yourself with the professionalism that this sport deserves. I have felt cheated before but I also felt gifted. I think most of my luck has been on balance. Truthfully I actually prefer to be robbed then gifted. I rather watch someone I respect beat me fairly then for me to beat them on some gift. I genuinely enjoy watching someone beat me fairly. Watching that person and their dog have none of the weaknesses I have and none of my mistakes in execution. I have the lucky privilege of competing against people that I call friends. People that I look up to both in and out of the stock dog world. They make me strive for better. They're success is my success. We all want to take our dogs as far as possible and sometimes it takes a good loss to get us to that next level.