Boxers are the best at it! Thats what I am saying! Boxers are the ones we hear said " He hit me with a lucky punch"  I think second is Footballs players ; they said " the other team just made more plays than us." Neither of these folks said they lost or were beaten, They are saying that they did their best.

I am talking about " PMA"  For many years I fished tournaments in the East Texas area. In my boat I had an old coffee can with duct tape around it; in big bold letters I wrote "PMA"  Many of my fishing buddies wondered why I had a silly old can in my boat ;'even laughing at me. But that 'can' made me fish harder and even bear down at times when fishing was tough or cold or just plain bad.

The subject that I am discussing is  "Positive Mental Attitude".  How many times have you gone to a dog event with the 'hope' that your dogs do well. In my backyard I take a positive attitude with me ;about the  new things to learn. I try so hard to be up beat , excited and willing to change to acheve the goals for that day. If I dont get my dog to do the game plan  I dont get mad or angry. I feel that I learned a lesson while trying to teach. I got some thing Positive from our failure to reach our goals for that day.

More times than I can count I have heard people said " I hope my dogs does well today." I leave home sometimes at 3 a m heading for the agility event excited to see how well my dogs are going to do that  day.  Linda Kipp Wallace once told me ' Why would I drive 750 miles stay in a hotel, buy food, and drive 750 miles back home and  'hope' my dogs will do well."  She told me this at a seminar years ago and I still remember her words the mornings that I leave the house a 3 a m. for an agility event. I leave with a positive attitude of knowing that I have trained, and know that we will do great at the agility event.

I have in recent years adopted a new way to look at my runs in agility. Lucille my rescue border collie, has made me work harder, longer and be much wiser about agility . I describe her as ' living on the edge, out of control, over the top, and just plan crazy about agility."  In our first few years I looked at the problems we had in the agility ring. I was so discouraged at our preformances at times, She would miss contacts and the week before we had proofed our contacts.  I just could not see the good for all the bad things we were doing.

I had forgotten my can of "PMA" I had forgotten about  the 19  things we did prefect and thought only about the one bar dropped or one missed contact. I got my wake up call in Mckinney Texas. I lined up Lucille for our Jumpers with Weaves that day; I took my lead out, I called to Lucille. She dropped the first bar on the first jump, My mind went into training mood. We moved around the course not missing another article. I used our distance skills to stand in one spot in the middle of the ring to direct Lucille over the entire course; I sent her into the weaves in the cornor of the horse barn, She weaved away from me while I stool there just watching. I brought her back around a jump and sent her to the last jump. Our time was just awsome. BUT I was focused on that one dang bar that Lucille had dropped.

As I placed the leash on Lucilles neck I failed to congratulate her for working so hard. A lady approached us from the stands; She said " I was told to watch you because you use so much distance work with your dog, what you just did was truly amazing". I thanked her for her comments. As I worked my way back to our crate area  I had 5 more people stop us an comment about how amazing that  run and distance work was. By the time I had reached our crate area  I began to review in my mind what we had just done.

My conclusion was I had lost my can on PMA. I was worried more about the one small error than thinking about the wonderful over all preformance that Lucille had given me.. That day I devised a way to make everyone of Lucilles  agility runs a positive event. I now use percents when someone asks about our agility runs. I say things like " that was a 99 % run  for  Lucille" or " Man we did a 90 % run there" Always talking about the percent that we did well  never talking about the other.

I do know it is an honor to be able to play this silly game called agility with Lucille.  I know that I do cherish each day, each  moment, and  every second with Lucille. She has brought in to my life more joy ,fun, and made me a better trainer. I have learned so much from Lucille; but most of all I learned to have that once lost 'Positive Mental Attitude" again.

And to show how far we have come with a Positive Mental Attitude On 9-19-10 Lucille earned her Agility Dog Championship (ADCH) from USDAA.

Find your 'can' ; use it  in training, work, family, or business. A good can of "PMA" is hard to beat....in life or sports.

bill mcfarlin

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Positively Expert: Bill McFarlin

Bill and his dog Star are the National Spokesman for the American Brittany Rescue, and were contestants on the CBS reality show "Greatest American Dog." Bill has been training dogs for over 20 years, and enjoys teaching his dogs sports like agility, herding, and frisbee. He and his wife are active volunteers in the dog rescue community.


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