The Riddle of Reflection

The Riddle of Reflection: Why is it that a mirror reverses everything left and right… but not up and down?

I should slow down to reflect from time to time on the question of validation. Validation in dog agility is the psychological pressure against the trainer and handler who will be measured by the dog’s ability in competition. Oh, and measured every time he takes the floor for a turn at the most simple and modest of sequencing drills in classes. Your dog is a direct reflection of your skill as a dog trainer. He is the litmus of your worth. He is your validation. Isn’t that true? Aren’t you the sum total of your dog’s drive and skill in the sport of dog agility?

Ours is a young sport. And yet already most essential riddles are dictates of rote textbook formula.

I don’t actually believe that a person should derive his validation from the performance of his dog in this game.  I do believe that the text book is completely fubar.

Why They Cry

I’m really not ready to say what I want to say here. I would like to elegantly set the world aright with a riposte of wit tinged by subtly sarcastic obviousness. Hell, that’s my idea of compassionate humor. But at the end of the day I just want to scream and curse at the stupidity of our situation.

I’ll tell you why they cry. They come to me as products of stupid one-dimensional training systems that subscribe to this big name or that big name. While the solicitors of this stuff can flesh out the textbook acronyms there is no true understanding and no fathoming of the underlying thought.

I see the student in action with his dog for about two minutes and will deduce matters of obvious importance and interest: The handler has no working or training relationship with his dog; the handler doesn’t know how to direct or communicate with his dog; the handler is unable to motivate or possibly even capture the interest of his dog.

Now, you know if I say any of this stuff or even attempt to put any building blocks into place to accomplish any of these obvious objectives I’ve essentially assaulted the basic validation of that person.

And they are gonna friggin’ cry.

I sincerely submit that I am not without Ruth. However I am a complete realist. The person who cries can do one of two things. They can leave me and remember what a cold and obvious fellow I am (or was). Or they can come back to me and I’ll continue to put those building blocks in place. I will teach them what are dogs and how to play agility.

Oh, the Riddle

Nothing is reversed. What you see is what is there. If there is any confusion it is all in your head.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at

2 Responses to “The Riddle of Reflection”

  1. Karen Sollars Says:

    I believe they cry because they are frustrated because they are unable to do what they know can be done. I must say that I cried some 8ish years ago because I was uncoordinated, new to the sport & totally overwhelmed by trying to remember an exercise let alone proper movement or where my dog might be, and because I was “worried” about what the others were thinking about me.

    However, I believe that this time I laughed because, while I am still mostly uncoordinated, I have learned ways to compensate for this and I no longer worry so much what others think.

    BTW, I am still working on perfecting my Stevie impression!

    • budhouston Says:

      I’m pretty sure that I do one of the best Stevie impressions ever!

      Oh, and I do understand why they cry. But if we were to appreciate what inconsequential meaning the game has, then it would not deserve a cry at all.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: