Sunday, October 23, 2011

Temptation and Obsession

When we began agility, it was just a fun hobby to take up one night a week at our local training facility. As I've mentioned before, we had no plans to compete. However, times changed and we did, and I have to say it has been a lot a fun. Not only the agility, but the really nice people that we meet at agility events. And while most of my family would already say that I'm obsessed by agility, I don't mind taking a few weeks off here and there to relax at home, clean the agility junk out of my car, etc. After 2 or 3 weekends off, though, I get anxious to get back to it. We normally take off from Thanksgiving until mid February... mostly because there are no shows locally, and it is a worry to travel during the dead of winter, often driving back in the dark on Sunday night.

But something happened this week that might change my opinion and tempt me to enter some of those Dec and Jan trials.

On the AKC website, you can see the top 5 agility dogs of any breed for free, or download the top 25, 50, or 100. About a year ago, we downloaded the top 100 and in July of this year, a friend downloaded the top 50, and we didn't make either list. I wasn't terribly surprised, because there is really tough competition in Border Collies. While Maggie is fast, we regularly compete against two or three who are even faster, so when they "Q" they normally capture the "multiplier" points- extra points given for 1st and 2nd place finishes. However, these "multiplier" points stopped earlier in the year, but I didn't think about how dramatically this would affect the rankings. Early this week I checked the AKC website to see if our good friends Kathy and Johnnie were in the top 5 Border Collies for next year's Invitational (2012). Johnnie is freakishly fast and they are a great team. They have been invited to the 2011 Invitational, so I expected to see them at or near the top-so I only pulled the "free" top 5.

However, I was STUNNED at what I saw.

My own little (Tulla) Maggie was in the top 5. At first, I thought this meant that she was in 5th place, until someone pointed out that they are alphabetical, and that you have to pay to see the actual rankings. I quickly coughed up the $4 to find out that Maggie is actually in 3rd place.

While this has clearly left me ecstatic, it has also created a dilemma. I don't think I can hold onto this while taking off two months during the winter. It has created a monster in me... how far do I want to drive in January? How much snow will there be in Chicago in Feb? Ahhhhh!!! The temptation to chase this, is killing me.....

Sunday, October 9, 2011


We just returned from an Agility trial in Peoria, Illinois. First, I have to say a little about their trials. They are a small club and hold their trials at their own property. The standard and fast courses are run on a long and narrow area next to the building, and the jumpers course is behind the buiding and on a little bit of a hill. Everyone always complains a little about the hill, but really it isn't too bad. Of course, I have a dog that does not require me to run to every jump, so maybe I would feel differently if I had to actually "run." Anyway, the people are always so warm and welcoming, and there is no reason to hurry. It was a very relaxing weekend- especially when the weather is as nice as it is this weekend. It was so very different from the 660 dog trials where everyone and all the dogs are stressed and in a hurry.
Anyway, several people asked me about Sarah's dog Reba. They would ask, "is she a rescue?" and then something like "I can see that she's part border collie, but what else do you think she is?" The funny thing is that Maggie's heritage is pretty much unknown, but Reba has a long (and distinguished) pedigree. Yet people always question her breed, just because of her color.
That's one of the things I like most about this breed; what makes them alike isn't their coat, their ears, or their color. What makes a border collie a border collie, is that working/herding ability, not their appearance-making for some pretty stark variety in appearance. Putting Maggie and Reba next to one another really makes this point... I'm not sure I know of any other breed that has this much variety.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Six more months 'til spring

This happens to us every year... August is hot and we say "let's leave the pool open later" even though almost everyone in the midwest closes on Labor Day. So we postpone winterizing our pool and, like the weather looks at the calendar, there is a cold snap and it is much too cold for the next few weeks. We shake our heads and say "yep, summer is over" and we set aside a Sunday afternoon to drain the filter, put antifreeze in the lines, and put the cover on the pool. Before we do, we let the dogs in for one last swim- because they will jump in no matter how cold it is.

Then, a few days or a week later it is back to 80 degree days. This weekend we expect highs in the mid-80s with full sun. And a pool that is covered with a tarp. If I were not leaving town for an agility show, that tarp would be coming off, I'll tell you that!

Meanwhile, I have a countdown clock in my head, counting the days/weeks/months until we can open the pool again. Maybe we should move further south....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy beginnings

This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing a rescue placed in his forever home. A few weeks ago, we got a photo from a shelter of a red and white border collie that had been relinquished by his owner at 9 months old (too hyper- a border collie puppy- really?) A few days later I picked him up from the shelter in the middle of nowhere. The volume of barking was indescribable, and I can't even begin to guess how many dogs were on the other side of the wall. The red and white boy was led out on a rope and he stood still and silent as other dogs charged at their crates, snapping his direction. Clearly he had shelter shock, but you could see that his eyes were still lively. His coat was dry and dirty, and his skin sprinkled with fleas and flea dirt. He cautiously loaded into my car and I delivered him to meet with his guardian angel.. his new foster mother. Two short weeks later I saw him again as he was delivered to his forever home, to a family that I know will give him the love and attention (and training) that he needs. In that two short weeks, his foster family had already removed some of the fear, as well as all of the dirt and smell, and gave him a new beginning.
Today Gibbs is playing with his new family, eating a healthy balanced diet, learning to walk on a leash and to come for a treat. He will probably get brushed, and petted, and talked to in soft and gentle words. He will probably play with a toy that was bought for him.
This warms my heart and makes my life full.