13 September 2016
Bringing Up Banksy :: Part 9 of 9
One of my best agility pals is a super wise professor. He always has the best advice. More than once he's told me, Don't freak out. As advice, it's a little more meta than, say, move the start jump back one meter if she keeps running past the yellow paint on the board or put the cookie on her nose when she starts to go in eye glazing stalky zombie behavior and won't give back the toy. Which are also useful advices, don't get me wrong. But when dealing with a border collie, I frequently have to talk my my mind off the OMG ledge, take a cleansing yoga breath, and re-assess the situation from a thoughtful zen garden mind. As opposed to the black spray paint, sticky floored mosh pit mind where freak outs begin.
Even with all our challenges, with Banksy I have an agility partner who throws one thousand percent of her effort into every single thing we do. That thousand percent goes pretty fast and I have a heck of a time keeping up. There are bountiful opportunities galore for a sloppy trainer to muck up important agility things like running contacts and weave poles and I can show you all of them. But there's something about the adrenalin rush in running with a dog who moves like lightening, and responds to the tiniest twitch of my arm that's hard to explain to anyone that hasn't tried agility. It's partly in the speed, but mostly in the team work. This can render me speechless and awestruck out there, that I have a dog like this of my very own, until Miss Manners comes slamming into me for her toy, all 25lbs of muddy feet and slobbery mouth and teeth.
We ran in a fun match recently. We didn't have the greatest team work, and she hit a lot of bars and missed a bunch of dogwalks. She had a dramatic episode due to the terror of the parking lot, and threw one really epic fit when I let her watch some dogs running in one of the rings. But it was a beautiful sunny day, and we were out there trying our best. One of my friends who was watching us looked so happy when we exited the ring, big wide grin on her face. I was more perplexed than anything, how come I couldn't keep her out of that blue tunnel way over in the corner and what the heck happened to her running dogwalk?
She said to me out of that big smile, "You finally got the dog you needed."
That's what she saw out there. She wasn't talking about that stupid tunnel, the messed up dogwalk contact, my having a hard time keeping up, or figuring out how to walk through the parking lot of horror. She was talking about us two out there, running together like a team. Both of us running as fast as we could go and figuring out the tough spots together. She saw a happy lady and a happy dog, and everybody panting at the end of it all.
Huh. Sound familiar? Maybe that's what You Get The Dog You Need is supposed to mean. Us two freakers got each other. We both have a tendency to go bug eyed when overwhelmed, act first and think later, and an instinctive desire to run when we see police helicopters. Her towards them, me away. Hers with extra added super incredibly fast strides. Because, border collies, grasshopper. They come already knowing how to snatch the pebble from your hand. Keeping it is the secret.
Maybe I'll see you at a dog show someday. We're easy to find. We're the ones hiding behind a trash can before we run, so Banksy doesn't watch the dog running before her. The gate steward's probably yelling out my name because he can't see me waving from back there. Don't freak out. I'll probably be emptying that same garbage later, that's usually my dog show job. People give me a lot of compliments on that, what a great job I do taking out the trash. Whatever. Being good at dumping a load of trash into the dumpster is a long ways from running fast and clean. That's my agility dream, though. The fast and clean, not the garbage. It's just going to take however much time it's going to take. I don't know if we're going to get championdom exactly right, hopefully it's not cancelled out by my usual percentage of exactly wrong, but, hells bells. Tomorrow is another day, we've got smiles so big they're peeling off our lips, and off we go.
by team small dog at 10:01 PM