|Joy in the Steps
By Katherine Peed
When I think of what showing dogs did for me as a person, I can't point out a single aspect of my life that was untouched. Showing dogs was everything to me. It defined the person I was and it has helped shape me into the person I am today. I remember when I was competing in Novice A obedience with my first dog Jazzy, I would get so frustrated with myself, Jazzy, and our performance. I didn't understand why we couldn't do the exercises like we practiced. I didn't understand why we weren't perfect. My mom decided it was time for a talk after only our second run. She told me that not only did Jazzy and I do great, but even if we didn't I needed to just let it go. She told me Jazzy was doing everything she knew how and she was doing the best she could. That was all I could ask for. I finally learned how to give Jazzy a break and enjoy every moment we had to shine. Even if it wasn't perfect, it was the best we could do at that moment in time.
Later, when I began showing my Golden Retriever, Wink, in junior showmanship and breed competition, I became frustrated again. Wink had loads and loads of energy all the time, and yet when we stepped into the ring it was as if he had been hit with a tranquilizer dart and I was dragging my pot of gold instead of showing him off. It seemed he wasn't trying at all, much less doing his best. I soon realized, though,Wink loved to play and have fun. The problem was not with him; the problem was with me. I was taking every ounce of fun away from him the moment we walked into the ring. In order to show Wink to his best, I needed to start having fun with him. Sure, I had a few embarrassing moments, but for the first time I was actually having fun in the ring too.
The reason I wanted to share these two stories is because they show two important lessons that I still have to remind myself of today. The first is that no matter how hard I work, and no matter how hard I try, I'm never going to be perfect. I can only do my best in each moment of every day. The only failure would be not accepting my best. The second is that there is no point in working for my goals and striving to touch my dreams if I don't enjoy what I'm doing. There has to be joy in the steps in order to find peace in the journey. As so many things in my life are changing, I am very thankful I can look back and see that showing dogs has always been a constant source of joy in my life. Dogs were my childhood; they are my passion, and they will always be the reason I decided to become a vet.
Katherine Peed is a recipient of the AKC Junior Showmanship Scholarship.