Written By Ed Griffin
About every 15 minutes the movie Rudy plays on television. You know the story or as it is told through the movie. An undersized young man, with no athletic ability, marginal grades and living in an Indiana steel town, has the goal of playing football for the University of Notre Dame, the most recognizable college sports program in the land at the time.
In the end, Rudy overcomes a mountain of obstacles to academically get into Notre Dame, make the Irish football team’s practice squad and ultimately play at the end of one game and is carried off the field by his teammates.You can read the non-Hollywood story of Rudy Ruetigger here.
Rudy’s story is a reminder of what you can accomplish if you dedicate yourself to achieving it.
My wife Ellen is crazy about dogs. In fact, while in college, one of her part time jobs was to dress in a costume as “Big Red the Dog”, the mascot of the Agway dog food brand. When we got married 30 years ago, it was understood that there would be a lot of dogs in our future. Although Ellen is the kind of person who appreciates a cute dog, she is more inclined to be active with her dogs and work with them in obedience, agility trials or scent tracking.
We had three Labrador Retrievers over the years, all of which Ellen was able to work with and get performance titles with because of their willingness to please and her hard work.
Ellen’s favorite thing to do out of all of her dog activities was scent tracking. For the unfamiliar, a track layer creates a scented trail through fields and woods and the handler’s job is to follow their dog on a tethered line while it tries to stay on track and find hidden articles along the way, ultimately getting to a final article at the end of the track. The American Kennel Club recognizes a few levels of tracking dogs, which include the title of Tracking Dog, where the dog works a hard course of approximately a quarter mile, through fields and some woods and the prestigious Tracking Dog Excellent title, which covers a half mile of fields, woods, cross tracks (to confuse the dogs) and other challenges.
So when I announced the desire to bring not one but two Bull Terriers into our family, Ellen immediately went to the AKC website and found out that only one bull terrier in AKC history had ever achieved the title of Tracking Dog and none had been awarded the title of Tracking Dog Excellent.
A Bull Terrier has often been described as a three year old in a clown suit. They have quite a sense of humor and like most terriers, a stubborn streak a mile wide. The difference in Bull Terriers is that they usually weigh up to 65 pounds in a very compact package and when they plant their butt on the ground there is not much you can do to get them to move until they are ready.
Like Rudy, Ellen had a big goal, to achieve the Tracking Dog Title with our youngest Bull Terrier Saki and then start the long journey of getting a Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) title where only 17% of all dog breeds who attempt a TDX track pass, let alone with the comedian of dogs.
After a few years of training, many laughs and a few tears, Ellen and Saki were able to become just the second Bull Terrier ever to earn the Tracking Dog Title. And just last week, the dynamic duo passed the very difficult TDX test in Maryland, becoming the first Bull Terrier in American Kennel Club history to do so.
Like Rudy, Ellen has shown that the biggest obstacles many of us face are the limits we place on ourselves. Sometimes it is pretty easy to talk ourselves into not achieving our goals. But if a person can take a dog that acts like a three year old in a clown suit and achieve success, odds are you can reach your goals too.