About a year or so ago, I wondered what one does when one loses passion for one’s passion. I had been actively involved in dog agility for the better part of 10 years, spending time, money and effort training my own dogs, traveling to competitions and teaching others. And while competing with my dogs was still fun, agility wasn’t something I particularly wanted to spend all my time or even most of my time doing any longer.
There were several reasons for my seeming loss of passion. First, my eldest dog Tasha was 10 and nearing retirement. While she certainly did not lack any enthusiasm, her rear end was getting weaker and she suffered from arthritis in her hips from a lifetime of running, jumping and not being the type of dog who naturally takes care of her body. Her age allowed her to jump 12 inches in her division and I thoroughly enjoyed still teaming up with her for a few runs each weekend but I could sense the end of her career looming large. She and my other two dogs have had astonishingly successful careers, are champions several times over. They and I have nothing left to prove to anyone.
Another important reason for my loss of passion for the sport of agility had to do with the politics and junior high school cliques that permeate the sport of agility. Most people claim that they just want to spend the weekend playing with their dogs and hanging out with like-minded dog folks. However, there is a pervasive lack of camaraderie within the community, especially between clubs and often within individual clubs. Decisions are made for monetary reasons and friendships are sacrificed to justify making money. Many new people to the sport as well as not so new to the sport are ostracized for a variety of reasons and often quit agility because the social aspect of the sport, or lack thereof, is demotivating and painful. I realize that it is human nature to be exclusionary and that we must work hard to be inclusionary. And I believe that cliques and junior high school behavior permeate many hobbies and avocations. But I haven’t been in junior high school for a very long time and spending several weekends a month in a similar environment isn’t my idea of productive fun.
At that time, I mentioned my loss of passion for my agility passion to my veterinarian who himself was undergoing a similar loss of passion for his passion: aerobatics. He said he’d be interested to watch my loss of passion develop to see if we both traveled the same path. The difference as I saw it, however, was that he didn’t teach aerobatics while I owned a business centered on teaching and coaching agility. It seemed incumbent to me to continue competing for my students’ sake. I enjoy watching them compete, coaching them and celebrating their successes with them. The joy on their faces and in their dog’s eyes is infectious.
Four months ago, circumstances conspired to abruptly end my participation in agility: my dogs and I are retired and I’m not teaching. I miss my students and their wonderful dogs and they are kind enough to miss me. Agility taught me a lot of things about dogs and dog training, how to be a team mate with another species and a coach to two species, that winning doesn’t mean taking first place but rather doing better than you’ve ever done before and lastly, that having fun is the most important thing in life. I’ve met some wonderful people and dogs and shared a bond with my own dogs that many people only superficially experience. But I do not miss agility, my dogs don’t miss agility and I am healthier and happier not being in a negative environment weekend after weekend. I hadn’t realized how depressed I was until I was no longer doing what I didn’t want to be doing in the first place.
So what does one do when one loses passion for one’s passion? Easy. Find another passion! There are so many other things in life to explore and I’m excited to be learning new skills, meeting new people and searching for a new passion. If I’m lucky, I’ll find several passions and several new friends and my life will be richer for it.