Thursday, January 29, 2015

Know Your Limitations

Know Your Limitations

One of Life’s lessons that isn’t always enjoyable is to not have expectations beyond your abilities.  The very act of admitting you can’t accomplish something can be very irritating.  I often tell my three sons that wisdom comes with age because it’s built on life’s experiences.  They always look at me and just smile.

When I was a teenager I had a horse and loved to ride whenever possible.  Riding in all kinds of weather either alone or with friends was great stuff.  Since the horse was pretty much bomb-proof we went everywhere.  It was cool to do an over the rump flying mount and the thought of injury never occurred to me.  With experience comes wisdom and limitations that go with aging.  Today my present horse and I have a much more limited agenda.

As a judge it’s been my pleasure to officiate at shows all over our country as well as Brazil and Canada.  There have been some scary plane rides and interesting trips to the airport to judge or speak at symposiums.  Here in Michigan, which can feel like the North Pole, winter travel can be a challenge for anyone.  As much as I enjoy judging Collies and knowing that most specialties take place in the winter, it’s still something I will no longer attempt.  Some younger braver judges will have to pick up the slack.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s when I was involved in breeding and showing the kennel housed 10-12 dogs plus puppies.  The grown dogs were thoroughly groomed each week generally all in one day.  There’s no way yours truly could accomplish that today.  My limitations have diminished and I hope I’m wise enough to know it.

During that part of my career in Collies I had a reputation as a superior groomer.  An old friend in Cincinnati, Lyman Wine, once wrote he wished he could “groom a Collie like George Horn, show a Collie like John Buddie, and judge a Collie like Gus Sigritz.”  I told Lyman that I though I showed a Collie as well as John, but wouldn’t challenge Gus as a judge!

Once at the Central Jersey Specialty held with Trenton K.C. I ended up with seven Collies to groom and show.  Some were dogs which were owned by others, but which I unwisely agreed to help out because they were my breeding.  Even back in those days of my youth it was a nightmare!  Specialty shows were my preferred arena for showing because of two reasons.  The judges were generally more knowledgeable  and the competition was top drawer.  You don’t learn to breed, train, or groom better by competing against wimps.  After that my preferred limit at shows was three dogs – a class dog, class bitch, and a special was ideal.  By carefully selecting the classes you had time in between to work on the others. Of course, if you took winners there was need for a friend to help with the overflow.

Having a litter (I seldom had more than one at a time) was a time consuming task.  Once the whelping room was ready the bitch required observing and temperature taking to guess when she would whelp.  The bitch needed to be introduced to the whelping area at least a week before due date, earlier if at all possible.  Though my preference was not to interfere unless needed it was still necessary to observe the whelping just in case.  At times it was whelp the litter, shower, shave and go to work.  Guess who couldn’t do that anymore??

There are folks who breed good Collies, but don’t have the time and/or skills to groom and train them well.  This is not, by the way, a grievous sin, but a fact of life.  Even though my preference was to show my own dogs it does not mean those who don’t are considered sub standard by this dinosaur.  Asking for assistance is much preferable to doing a lousy job just because you’re too stubborn to admit your limitations.  This is why we have handlers, isn’t it?

Life is full of decisions and many involve an honest appraisal of your own abilities.  Though we discuss things relevant to the dog game it certainly goes far beyond that sport.  Perhaps while we are appraising our ability to accomplish goals in dogs it would be apropos to remember it is just a sport.  It’s very easy to get so caught up in something (dogs are just one example) that we make it a matter of life and death.  Keeping things in perspective are one more of life’s lessons we all need to remember.

Setting goals is always a good idea.  Knowing what it takes to accomplish those goals is likewise very important.  You need to accept help if you need it or perhaps it’s necessary to modify your goals.  Just don’t forget to honestly appraise your abilities and be honest in knowing your limitations.

Think about it!

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