As many of you know I have Search and Rescue dogs that take up what little free time I have. We train probably 45+ weekends a year preparing them for certifications or in the event that we are called upon to find a lost person or aid law enforcement in some way.
Last week we were at Inspiration Hills, IA running certifications all week thru North American Police and Working Dog Association (NAPWDA). Certifications are very stressful and they test the abilities of the dog, the handler, and both of them as a team. I take these very seriously because I don’t like to lose or fail and most of all I don’t want to look stupid or untrained…it’s just who I am and how I’m wired.
Well… I FAILED! Eve my 5 year old American Pit Bull Terrier failed 2 certifications! The first failure was NAPWDA’s Human Remains Detection certification…it’s the hardest National HRD certification in the country that I know of. That being said we had the potential to pass it….but sadly we did not. Eve correctly indicated (showed me) on 10 of 12 sources which I feel is awesome with our limited HRD experience and training. But this is a FAILURE as you are only allowed to miss one (correctly identify 11 or 12).
For me and my “wiring” this was hard to swallow…I don’t like to fail! It is engrained into every fiber I have that I don’t like to lose or fail and it drives me nuts. I pondered over and over what went wrong or what signal or sign she gave me that I missed.
I had to come to terms with it as we had a tracking certification on Thursday that I needed to be ready for. Well that went over like a lead balloon. As soon as I pulled Eve out of the truck I knew it was over. She was mentally and physically run down from testing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I hooked her up anyhow as you never know what you can pull out of you know where sometimes. Ummm….nope notta it was a 100% bust. She didn’t even want to “hook up” to the trail and never gave any signs there was one. She was flat out shot.
So I FAILED again! Darn it! I was considerably upset by this point and no ones praises on how well she did Mon-Wed or good thoughts could change it. I felt like giving up!! I had thoughts of self doubt and wondered what I was even doing training my dogs for all those hours…all volunteer I might add. I had a good old pity party!
Now that I have had a few days to step back and look at the big picture I realized something. Life is not perfect or fair…we can’t always win….get used to it…suck it up and keep going!
Life is all about working towards a goal, more often then not missing it, revamping, and trying again. We can’t just give up!!!
Where would the world be if people gave up all the time because they didn’t reach the goal they set out for? I bet the man on the moon wouldn’t have happened, Columbus might not have set sail, and our Independence wouldn’t have happened.
So I sucked it up and went on to re-certify Emmett in Area Search. He worked his little heart out in the heat and thru exhaustion and massive panting. I missed it, revamped, and tried again and succeeded.
So now it’s time to revamp Eve and my training, retest, and pass that darn thing. This little bump in the road will push me to drive on and achieve what I want…it will NOT break me! I will succeed!
Whatever your goals you will succeed too. It might take a set back, revamp, and retry but you will achieve it if you keep going and get some help from some great people along the way
Eric Peterson, MS, CSCS