Kids Can Learn a Lot From a Dog

We often share stories with kids of people who have overcome great odds in order to become successful. The examples are many but I recently got to thinking what could kids learn from a dog that overcame great odds?

In 2014 I attended the US Disc Dog National World Cup Competition in Cartersville, Georgia.  This is a fascinating organization that provides opportunities for all breeds of dogs to compete in a free style throw/catch/throw format.  Many countries were represented at the competition including Canada, Japan, China, & Czechoslovakia.  I was mesmerized by the energy and skill of these dogs.  I can only imagine the training and dedication that it takes on the part of the owners to develop the dogs into top notch competitors.

Roxy the RoxStar

Wonder why I was there? Here’s the back story: While attending an author event, I met an aspiring author, Trish Greenlee who wanted to publish a book about her dog, Roxy, a rescue dog that her husband  trained to compete in disc dog events.  Roxy the RoxStar is a rags to riches story of a dog no one wanted, who became a winner. This competition was Roxy’s last performance as she would be retiring  and resting on her laurels which included the following:

  •  In 2009 she won 1st place in Division II Freestyle.
  • In 2010 she won 2nd place in the US Finals, and then 4th place in the World Finals.  She has qualified to compete in the World Finals event every year since 2009.  All of this is pretty incredible when you realize that she had a Titanium knee replacement in 2012.  Jac took her out of “Freestyle” competition at that time, and only competes with her in “Toss and Fetch” now.
  • In that weekend’s events, Roxy won 7th place out of a field of 80 dogs competing in the “Toss and Fetch” competition World Finals.


Three Rock Star Skills

It occurred to me as I watched these amazing talented dogs compete, that there are a number of lessons that we could teach kids who also have great challenges to overcome. Here are Three Rock Star Skills needed to move into the World Cup Winning Circle in life:

  • Rock Stars are Focused-The focus that each dog had for their trainer was the most obvious attribute.  They enter a field where there are hundreds of distractions all around:  other dogs, people talking and clapping, an announcer on a microphone, the smells of food, the wind blowing just to name a few, but the dog’s eyes remain glued to the trainer.  While they may pace and circle around in barely restrained excitement, their eyes are focused and ready for the first command.
    • What about you?  Are you focused on your goals?  Do you tune out the many distractions all around you?
  • Rock Stars are Persistent-The winning dogs persisted throughout the whole routine no matter how many mistakes they made.  Certainly not every dog caught every disc thrown to them.  Some missed several in a row but not one laid down and gave up.  They gave every throw, every trick 100% of their effort and if they missed, there was not a moment’s hesitation before they took off in pursuit of the next throw.
    • What about you?  If you miss the mark, if you fail at a goal, do you collapse in a heap or do you gather up your energy and keep moving forward?
  • Rock Stars Celebrate-The finish of each performance often ended with a leap of the dog into the trainer’s arms, hugs, kisses and a proud salute as they acknowledged the accolades of the audience.
    • What about you?  Are acknowledging your wins and accomplishments?  Are you taking the time to hear the cheers of the crowd?


Winning at Life

The dogs in the competition came in all shapes and sizes.  There were dogs that may have had an advantage due to their breeding.  There were dogs that were large and could leap high in the air.  There were dogs that had long legs and could run fast.  But there were also winning dogs, like Roxy who overcame obstacles and through focus and persistence accomplished more than could be expected.  It’s all up to you how you play the cards that you were dealt in life.  No matter your circumstances, you can achieve your dream.  Just look at what Roxy accomplished and be inspired.

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