Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Keeping Hope Alive

Lovin' this little cartoon, because this is me on the agility field, thinking...WOW! when my dog handling is actually more along the lines of O-K-A-A-A-Y.  But you know what?  No problem!

We each get what we want out of the game.  Headaches and heartaches?  Well, yes.  Those arrive in droves, whether you want them or not.  You can't help but notice that you're not making it all the way through the agility course during your group lessons.  Like...ever (at least not for several weeks).  You can't help but notice how many classes you've entered at trials, compared to how many qualifying runs you've earned (a lot - a little). 

This "comparative pain" is exacerbated if most of the teams in your class are Masters Level and Red Hot.  It's exacerbated if you read a lot of FB posts from dog agility people.  So many handlers boast (understandably) about how quickly their 1.5 year-old pup zipped through the ranks of Starters and Advanced and into MASTERS.  (You virtually "celebrate" with them, while you lean over to pet your 4.5 year-old Starters dog....)  You love keeping up with your FB friends, and you LOVE watching those cool videos, but you have to remember: 

Agility is Not An Easy Game. 

Everyone makes progress at their own pace. 

As long as your dog is having a healthy, happy Good Time...all is well.

So.  Yeah.  Here I am, zooming through my sixties (graying hair, bad knees, tweaky back, tired all the time) and still determined to see the Happiness.  I am not alone.  There are plenty of old-and-olders out there, enjoying the heck out of agility.  We like the thrill of a good run, even if our achievements are comparatively small. 

We can feel it even if we're laying on our backs looking up at a beautiful blue sky, realizing - once again - that being alive and in one piece is a gift from the gods.  (That was me, a couple of weeks ago, after Riff collided hard with the back of my right knee.  Damn! For a split second I thought I could stay upright....   .....   ....but then my old body folded and flipped like a pancake.  Riff was fine, thank heavens!) 

We're all different.  We march through life at different rates, for different reasons.  I don't actually know what other people are going through when they're working with their dogs.  I watch the handlers in my class and at trials...(I love cheering them on because it's fun to clap and yell)....but I don't really know what's happening in their heart of hearts, or what kind of effort it takes for them to be out on the agility field.  Are they fighting the black pit of depression?  Is that creepy Mr. Ego beating them up?  Are they distracted by family issues?  physical pain?  ADHD?  broken bifocals?

Our dogs are all different, too. Training my young dog has been very different from my experience with my older dog.  It has been much more challenging, for many reasons...but I keep at it.  Ever onward!!! Am I suffering from some sort of age-related dementia?  If so, please don't tell me.  Not just yet.  Because whatever it is - wherever this glimmer of dog agility HOPE comes from - I want to hang on to it for as long as I can.  

PS.....A heartfelt THANK YOU!!!! to the group of ladies at the Dixon USDAA trial who cheered loudly when Riff and I got through a qualifying run on a tough Team Jumpers course. Usually after our runs I concentrate on finding Riff's toy quickly, so we can go play tug.  I don't often hear crowd reaction...but I sure heard you!!  What a super-lovely surprise.  (We won third place! After not qualifying in any of the other team classes - although, in Riff's defense, we had some wonderful moments...) 

To the Cheering Ladies: you made my day.  THANK YOU!! 

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