Sunday, February 27, 2011

The first trial

After only three private lessons, our trainer suggested that Maggie join in a regular class. In retrospect, it was the perfect idea… Maggie was so hyped by agility, that a bomb could have gone off near her and she still wanted to do a tunnel or jump. So the strangers in the class gave her no stress, she focused on the obstacles alone.
There were other people in our class that had their own issues… a big weimaraner that was more puppy than dog and another rescue, a schnauzer, whose apprehension of strangers was probably worse than Maggie’s. Together we took lessons and they soon talked about competing. I repeated my original idea that we had only done this to improve Maggie’s social skills, we had no intention of competing. In addition to that, Maggie was a tall, stringy border collie with a thin tail… I was not sure that the AKC would even provide us with an ILP. But as the weeks got closer, and my classmates began talking about their first trials, I began to think that perhaps this might be fun. There was a local show that I planned to visit, but something came up and I never made it. I pushed the idea back again. One night after class one of my classmates brought out a camera and a ILP (PAL) application. She said “if you don’t send this in, I’m going to” and that night we took the required photos. I can’t say that I was really all that anxious for the result, because I had not yet become addicted. But a few weeks later, the envelope arrived with her AKC certificate. As it turns out, the next show in town happened to be scheduled on my 50th birthday. We entered.
I doubt that I will ever have a more memorable birthday. Maggie ran great for a Novice A dog, and we took home two 1st place ribbons. But more than that, it turned a corner in Maggie’s mind. There were many strangers there, strange noises and strange smells. At first she retreated into her fear, but when I took her to the practice jump and then onto the start line, she forgot about her fear-it pretty much disappeared into the air.
And from the first run, we were as addicted as any junkie.

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