11 June 2017


I’d love to wear a rainbow every day
And tell the world that everything’s ok
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
Til things are brighter, I’m the man in black
-Johnny Cash

Arm waving, charismatic charlatans with radiant smiles avow to change lives for the better in a moment, in a breath, in just one second, all you have to do is pay your five thousand bucks upfront. Click the tiniest movement of the foot, of the head, you are looking for the smallest bit to reward. Change can be excruciatingly slow, or it can happen in a blink of an eye, one beat of a heart, one exhale out lungs to nose.

Antarctica is melting as we speak, the penguins are now walking across the dirt. In drive thru coffee window overnight shipping google time, climate change is slow. In penguin time, it’s horrifyingly fast. Ice melts, oceans rise, and the penguins now need flip flops for the sand. Life is weird.

In one blink of an eye a few months back, Banksy crashed through a jump and landed in a pile of head, neck, and scrambling legs. I’d like to say I was the epitome of calm and rational, but the spectacle was too gory, all I could see was ass over tea kettle over ass.

I would like to say I didn’t freak out and drop to my knees, crying out, “Banksybanksybanksyohmygod!” while the judge came scurrying over, clapping her hands to whip me out of my frenzy, with the classic dog trainer make-it-all-better response of, “Yay!” as Banksy scrambled up with a dazed look on her always crazy eyes.

It’s a running dog, jumping over a plastic stick 20” high. How can that be that bad?

It was that bad. Something went wrong, and she smashed right through it and flipped over and splat smacked hard into the dirt.

So this is a thing in agility. Our dogs run and jump and climb, they go really, really fast, and any dog who doesn’t spend it’s life wrapped in bubble wrap and soft blankies on the couch runs the risk of an ouch. We do our best to not make it happen. How to Throw the Ball is a thing. We tug Just Like This, but Not Like That. We try to handle in a timely fashion, we check the approaches on the contacts for danger zones, we crawl through the tunnel to see if there’s any pokies jamming their way through. We inspect the footing, we look for errant chunks of hardware rearing their heads, god forbid anything amiss that could damage delicate dog limbs as they come flying through.

But sometimes, shit happens.

She wasn’t limping, didn’t seem all that freaked out. We even ran one more course afterwards, just to test the waters once more. Onwards and upwards. All her systems were on go, mine were a bit shaky. But we persevered, and went home.

Then the fun started.

The next week, she got scared to jump during class. Popped out of the weaves once while practicing. Cried while tugging in the house. Mom always says, don’t play tug in the house. But not because she thinks it’s going to send a dog running to hide under the desk in tears.

I figured, she had a little ouch somewhere, that really was quite a tumble. Something pulled a bit, maybe something tweaked, maybe her back, maybe her neck. I’ve been there, done that. So we took a little training break, a couple weeks off of agility, no big. Things would be fine. Banksy is a dog who’s agility was unassailable, she was born to run.

Vets. Rest. Walks on leash. This part is boring. It’s a relief, though, that nothing shows up that needs a surgery or a pin. It’s a mystery though that nothing shows up. Medicine for dogs is hard. I didn’t call a psychic. She told her doctor that she wasn’t feeling all that bad.

Dog training is a slow and methodical journey of love. Fifty years ago the summer of love brought on the age of Aquarius. The plan was for moon to be in the 7th house and Jupiter would align with Mars. Peace would guide the planet, and love would steer the stars. So yeah. Not much changed in fifty years, except that tie dye became a wardrobe staple.

Dogs are fast, change is slow.

All those jumps that came before, all those moments that didn’t change. Until that one, one moment, where change was fast. The motivational speaker has spoken, and he’s right! All it takes is a moment.

She thinks that jumping over bars on the ground is fantastic. Her agility looks amazing, until we jump a normal sized jump. And some of the time, a normal size jump is fantastic. Until it isn’t.

Chasing the specter of elusive potential, I am helping Banksy channel her peak performance with my radiant smile. Everything is fine and dandy, then there’s a wrap that dreaded left wrap, and PTSD steps in and her eyes bug out, she stops, and considers the options. Keep going? Maybe! Stop for a moment, then play with a toy? Maybe! Have a break? Maybe!

If there’s a hole in the boat, don’t start rowing. I am chewing gum as fast as I can and plugging up the hole. I toss cookies when she offers to run through jump wings with bars on the ground. At five hundred cookies, I moved onward. More! I reward oodles of multi wraps on very low jumps. Especially those dreaded left wraps. I study every video judiciously, looking for if she does a splat on a left wrap. Why the splat? Why the sadness? Does it hurt her neck? Does it hurt her back? Her brain? Her feelings?

Life can change in a moment. Or not. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

How does an elephant eat you? In general, they’re herbivores, although I read about an instance where an elephant who had had it up to HERE (gesturing above my eyebrows) rampaged through a village and ate several people. Urban legend, or fed up elephant?

Cool points plummeting, we miss you agility.


Terry A said...

AH, Laura. So sorry, the world needs more agility right now. Hope you and Banksy will be back on track soon.

Unknown said...

We miss you too! Are you sure it isn't still an injury? The pain while tugging makes it sound like an injury, not PTSD. It can be very hard to find them. When Porsche first started having back issues, it took months of time plus many different specialists before Wendy Wallace finally figured out the problem. Porsche is good at hiding things, so her only symptom was knocking a few bars each weekend. Maybe Banksy's is to refuse the next jump after he has pain in the prior jump? Hope you figure it out.


team small dog said...

I am not sure it isn't still an injury, but I think it isn't. We haven't gone to loads of doctors. But since it hasn't been coming up anywhere else but agility since her rest, i think it's ptsd. But you're right, I can't be sure. She is doing really good though coming back at lower height jumping right now, so we are slowly moving up a couple inches per week so hoping this does the trick! I do worry that something is a little funny in her back though for sure, if it comes back I will try Wendy Wallace! Thanks Debbie!

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