Sunday, April 5, 2009

Happy Anniversary Maggie!

This weekend marks our first year competing in agility. Our first show was on April 11, 2008 and it was a trial I will never forget. That weekend we scored three first place finishes in a row, giving Maggie her Novice A Standard title in one weekend. Wow, that would be hard to beat. We stayed in Novice for a while without moving up, just to gain experience, and we struggled a little with the Jumpers courses (okay, I don't know if struggle is accurate, we didn't ALWAYS qualify, I'm not sure that really counts as a struggle.) We moved into Open agility and began to see little gaps in our training and went back to close the gaps. During all this time we continued to watch the Excellent agility ring and dream of a day that we would be there, competing with the "big dogs." We picked out our favorite teams and watched them compete... and when possible, we watched them train. We stood in awe of those teams that worked in perfect synchrony... appearing to read each other's mind. Maggie tugged at the end of her leash to join the fun when the really fast dogs ran and I wondered what it would be like to run a dog like that... finishing entire courses in a mere 25 seconds. And most of all, we watched our friends, who, like us, pretty consistantly Q'd (qualified) and we all slowly climbed our way through the ranks, from Novice to Open to Excellent A to Excellent B. And now, after only one year, we are competing against, and sometimes winning against, the "big dogs." Maggie has become one of the dogs that the Novice students watch and wonder what it would be like to run a dog that finishes a course in 25 seconds. And while we don't always Q, when we do, it is always among the very fastest. The people that we once stood in awe of, and watched from the sidelines, now stand and watch us. When we Q, they cheer for us and when we have a refusal or a knocked bar, their collective groan from the sideline reminds us that we have gained a lot more in the last year than ribbons. We've gained experience, we gained friends, and we've gained respect from a lot of really exceptional handlers. What more could we ask for?

Happy Anniversary Maggie-Mae. I love you.

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