17 May 2020

A dog agility fairy tale.

A long time ago, in the faraway past, there was a life that went on outside the Kingdom Known as Dog Agility. My future self didn’t even know about the sparkling Kingdom of shiny blue dogwalks and dogs with flowing manes flying over hurdles. Unknown was the thrill of a raised arm sending a dog speeding away into either the logical or the threadle side of the tunnel or the hardest weave pole entrance in all the land. In my past life, before knowledge of this Kingdom, my dogs just hopped over rakes on top of buckets in the barn aisle without style and grace and ran around on the beach. They rode uncrated in the front seat of my truck and dug holes freely in the back yard with unkept toe nails. This mythical Kingdom wasn’t advertised like the $300 shoes with soft shearling lining that follow my every move, popping up all over my social media at any time of day or night. Because there wasn’t even a feed back then.

Had I had a feed or known about the Kingdom, there would have been no life before agility. I would have been living there all along.

In this past life, in my cottage at the foot of the Kingdom, I drew a lot of pictures. I hung out and rode my bike with my dog. I sang songs to my horses. I wore navy blue slip-on Vans lacking nubby soles or supportive arches. I listened to a lot of music and hung out with friends. Once I sat next to John Doe at a bar in the desert. There was a whole lot more time in my life, used in a somewhat slacker sort of way.

Then dog agility happened. It happened by accident, I let my dog run through a tunnel for the promise of a tiny morsel of cat food. A vision of the Kingdom flashed quickly before my eyes. Without knowing exactly what was happening, I found myself on a Quest to gain access to the Kingdom. You needed a lot of keys to get in, and more and more keys to move closer to the castle.

There was a key for learning how to train the dog.
One for actually training the dog.
More for more training the dog better, including marking behavior and always using a release word.
Then more for practicing every single thing with the dog.
Thinking abut training the dog during all the time not actually training the dog.
Keys were acquired for watching videos about training the dog.
And for taking notes.
And taking my own videos of all my practices.
Acquiring more and more expensive equipment for training the dog that did not fit into a patio sized back yard.
Renting a field to train the dog.
Building and designing courses for training the dog.
Competing with the dog.
Helping put on events to compete with the dog.
Being on a board to help make all the decisions of how to put on these events.
Taking the video of running the dog at events.
Clipping the part of the video where the random person you roped in to take it has their finger over the lens pointing it at the dirt.
Watching the usable portion of the video in slow motion.
Reading every single minute handling error occurring in the video to understand why, why, why the arm doing that.
Uploading the video.
The going to classes with the dog.
Training the dog to do harder things.
Trying to win things with the dog.
Driving far distances for things with the dog.
Flying on airplanes with the dog to try and win things.
Flying on airplanes to acquire a new dog.
Teaching other people how to train their dogs.
Emailing these people constantly, sending them on their own further quests to virally spread the knowledge of the Kingdom.

The more keys you collected, the further and deeper you got sucked into the kingdom. The goal was to hopefully not stay a Serving Wench for too long and become one of the Kings or Queens. Or at least a Princess. Or just get to sit on the Iron Throne for a minute. Or maybe just hang out on the grass next to the moat. Actually, the goal may have been vague. But it was rumored that the deeper into the Kingdom you got, the bigger the pots of gold happiness. Or something.

All the other things outside of the Kingdom kind of, poof. Vanished. Because there wasn’t really time due to the Quest Known as the Gathering of the Keys. Life was pretty much based on scurrying around gathering them up and attaching them to the magic key ring and making sure that there was enough money lining one’s pockets to be able to gather keys. Present self ran around from here to there, day and night, with dogs packed in a car full of tote bags containing toys and poop bags and jackets and stuffed kongs, and rarely sang songs to the horses anymore.

Then one day, somewhere in a far off land, a winged seafood monster bit somebody. Not winged like a french bulldog dressed up in a really cute baby Dracula costume winning the Halloween costume parade at the brewery with her adorable little pink flapping wings. More along the lines of the things that flew around Jurassic Park except way toothier and scalier and totally invisible. This monster’s name was Pandemic, and before anyone could even say, Lungs on Fire, Pandemic flew across the world on her leathery wings and landed on doorsteps in every single country on every single continent. Kind of like Santa, but instead of tossing retail goods down chimneys in the name of Holiday Cheer, she was passing out horrible, deadly germs. Ho, ho, ho.

Pandemic arrived wearing a crown, but I don’t think Pandemic was actually a King or Queen. Just trying to disguise herself as one, as her plan was to infiltrate each and every kingdom in the land.

All the people locked themselves into their castles. If they didn’t have a castle, they were shit out of luck. Doors were sealed closed for so many days that the people lost count. Didn’t matter if you were a queen or a knight or a skateboarder or a tiger, you stayed locked inside, hoping for Pandemic to fly over you.

Loads of people either lost their jobs going into hiding or had to go to work right out in the open where she could get them. My method of hiding from Pandemic worked out just fine, thanks to luck of the draw. My husband got to keep his job, thus the paycheck to pay for the things along with it. He worked at a garbage dump and guess what, there were still massive dumpsters of garbage during Pandemic’s time because everybody was making a lot of snacks and cleaning out their closets. I kept a bits and pieces of jobs, thanks to my beautiful horses and the picture drawing from long ago.

What was curious was the way time started ticking more slowly. I had more time, just like my life before starting on my Quest. Because the Quest was totally put on hold. I could go out in my studio and paint things. I painted a new thing every day just because, why not? I listened to music. My dogs laid around on the deck. Pandemic may have been evil, but she granted me the gift of more time, along with the gift of less money. Sort of like in a different fairy tale where two people are fighting over a goat and the king is all, let’s just saw this goat in half to see who gets to keep it, and either you get a sawed up goat or somebody says, it’s fine. You take it. I’m cool without a job. Who needs actual money? I didn’t really need that goat.

I still wanted to keep my hand on some of those keys that for so long I had strived so hard to gather into my pockets. I liked my keys! But during Pandemic’s reign, they sat on the floor under a pile of pants that no longer fit. I did train the dog, some. She’s fairly trained already and really likes to take naps every day. So not all that much training. My butt got fat and rusty from not running, but my sore foot felt better. Some people were still gathering agility keys but a lot of people kind of gave up. I am really a pretty lazy person so trying to keep up with the keys seemed like a whole lot of work while the present time was moving at the speed of oozing tar.

Pandemic was the truly hard worker, boy oh boy, she was just infecting her way through the world while everybody was hiding from her. If she got you, either you died a gruesome death or you didn’t. She was tricky that way.

The present started to happen every single day, removing the future and fading the memory of the past seemed to be a by-product of Pandemic’s sweep. Part of the lure of the Kingdom known as Dog Agility were it’s glittering promises. Foundation skills build future behavior. Your running dogwalk will have consistent soft turns if you just keep practicing. Your local Q’s can be used at Regionals so you can get the Bye to move straight to the Semi-Finals at the Nationals so you can be crowned a Queen. Did you get the points for Tryouts next month? You are third on the puppy list for the breeding in August. You have a lesson next Tuesday night at 7:30 and you will for each and every week into eternity from now unless it rains.

The power source of the Kingdom was the power of forward impulsion, and when the impulsion motor kicks off, there is an odd groundhog day situation of peeking out, seeing the sun or the rain, and then forgetting what day it is since there’s no glittering tomorrow carrot being dangled from a string over head.

Pandemia’s reign went on and on for a lot of these todays. But even though there were many days of over and over, everybody’s days were on different trips. Not that they weren’t all along, but that sometimes is a forgotten fact. Since everybody was going after all the same keys, you might think their Quests were exactly the same. This is a huge assumption of key gathering, that you and me gather alike. Except look more closely. Some gathered keys into hand woven baskets made of hummingbird wings and mother of pearl, while another just shoved them into oily pockets with gnarled claws. Some wore gloves and masks. Some wore nothing at all. My basket is a green plastic bucket I found in a beach cave! So many different trips that you can’t even imagine, if you just took the time to consider this, not to pigeon hole my trip into yours.

Usually, everybody’s all, well, my trip is totally the best one. I can be like that. I am an astrological Leo, and we believe ourselves to be the cat’s meow and the lion’s roar. Our big mouths can cause us to not so silently judge you. However, my moon sign is in Cancer, which is a crab with pinchers for hands. Talk about humbling. Lacking opposable thumbs can shut you up pretty quick. Since the very best gift bestowed on me by the Kingdom is the gift of mediocrity, I am usually pretty cool with accepting that your Quest is probably better than mine and and I’m ok to sit back and watch every episode from every season of 30 Rock twice while laying on the couch with another cold beer. Or just sit around in the forest adjacent to the castle, counting my lucky stars that at least I’m still alive.

Collaborating with others on different trips while not face to face is hard. Lightweight cotton face masks decorated in cheetah print and ribbon trim are a present bipartisan call to arms. Could the Kingdom open for business exactly like in the past, except for everyone running around as cutely accessorized as possible in their political statement about science? Would Pandemic shut down the Kingdom forever, or was she actually a work of fiction, nothing but an X-file monster brewed in a conspiracy factory? Could the Kingdom exist half opened and half shut, a splash of hand sanitizer all that would be neccessary to keep her suppressed? Could the Kingdom open to only people from within the castle walls with no one traveling across county lines or country borders allowed to cross the moat and enter? Would the use of BBQ tongs to set jump bars at six feet away be enough to reopen it’s shining gates to all? Do we even still need a Kingdom or a Quest?

Right now, we’re all still sitting on the inside of this tale. While we love past, present and future, present is all we got for now. The ending will show itself when it does, but that’s the future which is hard to find at this juncture in my tale. So let’s think of this story currently as a cliff hanger. I guess I messed up when I named it Fairy Tale. But one where you’re pretty darn sure that there’s a happy ending, which means, that you one hundred percent know, THE DOG IS NOT GOING TO DIE. You do that, right? Change the channel if you get even a whiff of that at the start of the movie. And maybe by the time you read this, we hopped off the cliff, and we sailed. The dog didn’t die, Pandemic was trapped by a scientist and held safely captive in a bell jar with a heavy lock and the key thrown into the sea. The Kingdom was reopened and everybody is back at gathering whatever keys it is they want. Except hopefully not the the one that’s supposed to be sitting at the bottom of the ocean. Keep that one there, please.

The happy end, or actually, the cliff hanger, til when the future opens back up.

1 comment:

nope said...

I'm not sure if my desire for keys will return, and I have no idea whether that's good or bad or in between... maybe that's good.
still taking comfort from my don't freak out tees...