By Mark and Karen Laker
We are off on holiday for two weeks from Friday.
Then sadly Mark’s Dad passed away. Having seen how old age had transformed him so he was no longer able to feed himself, sit up etc. it takes away the edge of grief in that you feel his life was not what he had wanted. With our dogs it is our responsibility to make the decision over quality of life and Mark’s Mum felt it strongly that it seemed unfair for him to continue to deteriorate past the point that a decision would have been made.
A funeral is not great at the best of times but Covid rules made it all more confusing and exhausting. Overall though Mark’s Mum felt his Dad would have felt he’d had a good send off with enough family and friends able to attend, a choir singing his favourite hymns while a CD clip of a brass band he’d enjoyed played.
On the way back from the funeral our van started making strange noises.
One of my customers, Adele had mentioned a few months ago that she’d like to do mixi pairs but needed a small dog partner so I volunteered Pikachu. This gave me the motivation to get her back into agility and enter a show.
With the van not being safe to use and being tired from the funeral the show didn’t look a good prospect.
Adele offered me a lift so at 5:45am we fixed a crate in the back of her car and loaded up with Lucy, Oscar, Pikachu and Chic we set off.
This was my first real show back
It was great to see so many friends, the weather held up, the organisation was good and the courses were fun.
The pairs course worked well for Pikachu but not so well for Lucy. But for our first time competing together it wasn’t a bad performance.
Meanwhile I had felt out of sorts about being in grade two with my young BC. Partly because having had successive dogs winning up to champ for many years now it seems unfair on the grade two dogs to have to compete against experienced handlers and partly because I had not paid attention to this rule when it came out which meant staying in it longer than necessary. I had not appreciated that dogs needed an agility win and for her first season I only competed in jumping classes.
I totally understand that the sport is called agility and so potentially if a dog can not do all the equipment it should not progress but over the years I had enjoyed allowing my dogs to get used to the competition environment without the extra pressure that contact criteria inevitably brings. Chic was no exception. She gained confidence in 2019 resulting in two jumping wins and was going to be ready for agility courses in 2020!
Personally I did not feel joy in going to any ‘covid’ shows so here we were in 2021 still in grade two.
People talk about their old, experienced dogs as being their comfy slippers. Chic is that already or maybe the best fitting running shoes you can get. Either way as soon as I left her on the start line and turned to look at her I felt ready to attack the super course that had been set. It didn’t matter what day it was yet alone what grade – we were there to accomplish our best run. Old habits kicked in, the on/off training didn’t seem problematic and we trusted to what we had done rather than worried about what hadn’t and we went clear.
As it’s a while until our next show it means next time we compete she’ll be in grade three. I can take a few shows to find our feet, work out what we need to get better at and have fun perfecting those skills ready for next year.
I’ve recently reread Write it Down Make it Happen and some strange things have happened that I forgot I’d written down e.g. Chic winning into grade three and getting a red van – but that’s a whole other blog.
Mark and Karen Laker