Sunday, June 27, 2010

Swimtime and a surprise!

There are few days that rank up there with agility trials, but today was one of them. Maggie has always been a swimmer, but until now, she had to make do with me, doing the dog paddle. This summer, her new best buddy Reba, swims along side her for hours on end. Reba's first time in the water we went slowly so that she wouldn't be afraid, but this little dog had no fear. She took to the water like a duck takes to.... well.... she really likes the water.
She's actually more crazy than Maggie and will hop in for a lap or two when you let them out to potty. She will even hop on the raft and "surf" to the opposite side of the pool.
I am trying to convince myself that riding that raft, with the bumps and twists from the water gives her better balance and muscle strength for agility. I totally made that up, but if the tippy boards help, then this certainly would, wouldn't it?
Anyway, we had a great day in the pool, and I very carefully took my camera into the water to get some shots of their splashing. I managed to get a few good shots without getting too much water on it... I've posted a few of them here.

So, in honor of a glorious day in the pool, I've decided to have a contest. The contest is easy, just send me a comment that would go in Reba's or Maggie's "talk bubble (right now it points to Ree, but I can adjust it to Maggie, or both to fit your entry). Make sure that you put something in your entry to tell me who you are, because next Sunday (July 4) I'll pick the best entry, and send you a $20 gift certificate to Helping Udders, OR, make a donation of $25 to the dog rescue of your choice. I'll put the best comments in the talk bubble and post them here on Monday.
Good luck and Happy Summer!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Agility consumes me

Though we looked forward to the Paducah KY show with much anticipation, it wasn't meant to be. We love the venue at Paducah... great surface, they keep the air conditioning fairly cool, the people are very nice... we even like the hotels! But on Thursday evening shortly before we went to bed, Maggie and one of her agility friends, a big Weim nearly twice her size had a collision and Maggie came up on the losing end. After a quick scream, she tried to scramble to her feet, but she held the right rear leg up close to her body and would not try to put it down. I thought perhaps it was minor and that she would "walk it off" but no doing. The next morning she was still reluctant to put weight on it, and she had a difficult time getting up.
I was terrified that it was an ACL tear, but a local vet examined her and said it was a strain in her hock and would probably heal in a couple days. While I was glad to hear her injury wasn't serious, it was no fun to go back to the show site and pack up all of our stuff, without even getting one run.
On the way home, though, it made me think about how much my life has changed in the past 2 years. Almost all of my free time and most of disposable income goes to agility. Almost all of my friends are from agility, and a day doesn't go by that we don't talk about a show, a practice, or run, or even a specific handling method. It also made me realize how much of my life is dependent on the fragile legs of my partner.
I'm not saying it is a good thing, or a bad thing.... but it does make me think about it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

my new favorite quote

I saw this quote on a T-shirt the other day, and I probably don't have it exactly, but you'll get the point...

The real joy in agility is stepping to the start
With your best friend by your side,
Not in crossing the finish, victorious over others.

I made a point to think of this on every run this weekend and how lucky I am to go to the start line with such a great friend. And I hope I remember this before each run for the rest of our days.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Goodbye sweet boy

A good friend had to make the decision to say goodbye to her best friend this week. Perhaps one of the finest agility dogs that many of us will ever see, one of Dustin's many achievements was representing the US in the World Championship in 2001, shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center. He entered the ring to cheering crowds from every country.
Unfortunately, Dustin had already retired by the time we started agility, so I never got to see him compete, but I've seen video clips, and I've seen him race through tunnels, just for the fun of it, even though he was old enough to be curled up on a crocheted afghan. Despite being very sick from chemo, he would trick us all into bringing him every treat from every store north of the Panama Canal. We were like groupies trying to get the attention of some rock star, opening ziplocs and unwraping packages of buffalo, chicken, liver, heart... you name it. And after we would beg him to eat them, hoping that it would be OUR treat that he would eat, he would turn up his nose and go for the Pupperonis. Bless his heart... I'm still not sure it wasn't an attention-getting game, and he played us all.
He became like a fixture at agility events and you could count on him to swagger through and give you a wag and maybe honor you by napping at your feet. It won't be the same without him.
But if Dustin's life has done nothing else, let it serve as a reminder to us all that some day our teammate will retire from agility and leave us. So the next time they break a stay, leap over a contact, kick up their heels and go for some free-style agility on the course, remember that it is all about spending time together and having fun. That little green ribbon isn't all that valuable in the grand scheme of things, and you won't be able to measure your love for him/her by counting them. Remember that when you are on the course, you are out there to win the ribbon, and your dog is out there to win your love. Show him that he already has.

Goodbye Dustin, thanks for teaching me stuff. I hope that you find the Pupperoni stash.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's swim season

It's that time of year... actually, it is past that time of year, but fortunately, Maggie can't read the calendar. We had to repaint the pool this year and we have been waiting for 5 or 6 sunny days to get it done... and it took until last week to get them. So we are a few weeks behind on pool opening. The hose went in yesterday and the water is still about 4 feet down from the top. But that won't stop Maggie and it only took one word- "okay" and she was in the water. Her "shadow" Reba wasn't quite so sure. But after lifting her down to the shallow end where she could still touch the bottom, she got her fearlessness back and the next time Maggie jumped in, Reba took off after her, swimming like she'd been doing it all her life.
She quickly realized that she liked swimming and she was chasing Maggie all around the pool. She even tried dragging the jolly ball around for a while (which is a lot of work for a beginning swimmer.)
By the time we convinced them it was time to get out and dry off we had realized that we've got a second water crazy dog on our hand. I think we will be struggling all summer to keep them OUT of the pool.