Sunday, November 14, 2010


Competition-focused action movies are often romanticized. The basic screenplay might go something like this:

- Introduction of the main character.

- A conflict brings in the arch nemesis, showing you the challenge that can't be ignored.

- There is then the scramble to find the best reluctant/retired/injured/old master trainer and persuade him to help.

- Training begins.

- An unforeseen obstacle causes them to fail in training and give up.

- They then drag themselves out of the muddy pit they've wallowed in, regroup and take everything more seriously, with incredible intensity, usually in an unrealistic amount of time. This is where you see training in horrible conditions, working through pain, with dramatic music in the background. Everything is in fast-forward.

- The main event starts off well but then things become really challenging. They fall down, break a bone, nearly die! But does that stop them? Almost. But their training kicks into gear and they tear their eyes from the light to fight. And win!!! They accept their trophy broken but victorious.

- The end.

There are no award-winning screenplays or fast-forward buttons in Schutzhund. No shortcuts. No adrenaline pumping, inspirational soundtrack pushing your every step. Real life isn't romantic. Schutzhund takes a lot of forethought and dedication as training a dog to a SchH3 takes years. It can often be incredibly boring... Driving long hours to your club. Watching a track age. Waiting for your minutes on the field with the decoy. There are times you stand in the pouring rain or bone-chilling winter winds for hours. You will get filthy. A hand will be at the wrong place at the wrong time and end up bloody. Your dog will get injured. You will eventually get knocked off your feet and land hard.

If you don't enjoy the journey you won't last in the sport of Schutzhund. Each time I declare I'm quitting Kevin just laughs, he knows me too well. You see, I'm always quitting, but more importantly I'm never serious about it. Well, RARELY serious about it, and then it's not for long.

Schutzhund has shown me how a sun rises on the horizon and filters through rising mist. I've smiled at killdeer providing cross tracks right in front of a dog's nose. Enjoyed being alone in a field, quiet but for the frozen grass crunching underfoot with my breath crystallizing before my eyes.

Because of Schutzhund I've traveled nearly every road in Southern Ontario. Friendships have flourished where neither age nor profession matter – we are all equal on the training field.

The satisfaction is great when I can walk 33 feet behind my dog as he pinpoints with his nose exactly where someone walked over an hour beforehand. When I can complete an entire obedience pattern confident my dog is happily in position by my side. When I hear the loud thunk of him hitting the sleeve with a powerful, full grip and see him take the decoy down.

Turns out Schutzhund might be romantic after all. And very worth it. And so I continue striving towards my goals, one training day at a time.

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Jenn @ Youknow...that Blog? said...

You, my dear, are a poet. This was a gorgeous piece. Is there a magazine on Schutzhund? If there is, submit this to it! I mean it!

You're awesome. See you soon!

Kane Augustus said...


I agree with Jenn: very well-written.

When I was reading the opening 1/2 of your post, I couldn't help wondering if this article was borne of a recent screening of the new "Karate Kid".

In any case, it seems like Schutzhund is really only for the most dedicated of dog-affectionados. You, I'm sure, being chief among them.

I still remember Scampers...


Lena said...

2 weeks before my first Schutzhund trial, I log on and read this post! I love the poetic language!
We coined a saying at our club: "Schutzhund - we do it for the recognition, not the money!"
Hopefully you can see the sarcasm in that, because there certainly is no money involved (other than what I spend on lines, leashes, collars, tugs, balls, treats and gas) and the only recognition you get is from your team-mates, your dog and of course - that what's counts the most - from yourself.
I definitely think you should submit this post to Schutzhund USA magazine! :-)
Off to practice.....

K9-CRAZY said...

Thanks guys!
Kane, Scamp is still kicking. Well, to be more accurate he spends more time sleeping than kicking. I'll write a post on him soon.