Monday, August 18, 2014

Patience or lack thereof

In most things in life I am not a patient person.  I do not like to wait.  If I have a question I want answers now.  If I want to eat something I do, which totally explains my weight issues doesn’t it?  If I have applied for a job or ordered something quite frankly I want it now.  In most parts of my life this holds true.  But when it comes to the dogs, I have learned some patience.  And I have failed some patience.
I love to compete with my dogs.  I enjoy having goals and working toward those goals.  But I have learned that while it may be fun to go out and try things without much preparation not every dog can handle that.  I was spoiled with Magic. He is a once in a lifetime dog and has pretty much all along done anything I asked of him, no matter how unprepared he was.  And really do a pretty fair job of it. 
But I learned along the way that in all cases that might not have been the best approach.  Sure we were relatively successful but how much more could we have done with more preparation.  I learned this fairly early on when he told me in no uncertain terms he did not enjoy competing in obedience.  Since he can’t tell me I can only guess that came about because I pushed him.  But he made it clear to me the day he refused to heel and laid and watched the entire heeling pattern.
So with my next dog, Grace, I didn’t push.  I figured we had time, time to perfect the skills, time to become a better team.  We didn’t have that time.
Now I have other dogs I am working with, and trying to figure out what is that correct balance.   And part of making those decisions is the fact that quite frankly I am terrified of losing another dog early as I did Grace.  How to balance the enjoyment of being with the dogs, competing, because I do love that part of the game, with the thought of being truly ready.   Is anyone ever ready?  How do you decide.  I know my dogs could care less if they ever competed. That part is for me and I know that.  Now that Magic is retired though, I can tell that he misses it. He may not have understood it all as competing, but he certainly understood the being with me and getting to play those games that he loved like barn hunt and agility. 
How do you decide when is the right time? How do you decide when it’s OK to go out and enjoy the ride, failures and all, rather than stay home searching for perfection?    For now,  I know my younger dogs are not yet ready for every challenge out there, but I think with a couple we are almost there-almost at the point where it’s time to start facing those new challenges.  And I am impatient to start.

Monday, August 11, 2014

On to a new chapter

I have been bad about blogging this year.  I admit it.  It was a rough beginning to the year and quite frankly, writing about it made it too real-too final, so I have been avoiding the blog.  But avoidance doesn't change things, does it?

At the end of least year, Magic came off the agility course limping.  I gave him a few months off, visited his care team and he seemed recovered.  But I think in my heart I knew, the first trial we went to this year, before he ever ran I was in tears, pretty certain that this was his last trial. And yes in his second run of the day he came off the aframe with a cry of pain.  I was heartbroken to be honest.  I adore this dog, and I knew his agility career was at an end. 

We had worked hard last year to qualify for the CPE Nationals, I had hoped to be able to finish his CATCH.  I had goals. I have always known that in the right hands this little dog would have been a superstar, but he was saddled with me as his partner and we muddled through.  We went back into recovery and therapy mode and he did improve.

I made the decision that we would go to CPE Nationals, but that this was our retirement. Magic would get to run, but no standard, and that I would make decisions on what games to play based on the courses where we could limit those down contacts.  We had a great time, he played 4 of the 6 games qualifying in all 4.  We did not run at all on Saturday as it was pouring rain, the fields were mud and I wasn't willing to risk injury.

It was a good end to his agility career.  I was sad, and I miss taking my boy out bar hopping on the weekends, but it was the right decision.  Magic and I will still be out and about, we will just be trying new things together.  Heck just this last weekend he passed the ATTS temperament test.