Thursday, September 30, 2010

That last run...

A very good friend of mine recently lost her heart dog - suddenly. More than a multiple MACH dog, more than a world-team dog, more than an all-star dog - she was a loving and loved companion - their souls entwined. I think that we all thought that this dog had a lot more runs in front of her - living a life of semi-retirement and perhaps stepping into the role of a canine instructor to a promising junior handler. That's not to be now - and my heart aches for them. Not because of the runs - but because of the loss of a great dog who gave so freely and cosmically had so much more to give.

April 2, 1997 - November 25, 2005
Kasei could have been an amazing performance dog if I 
knew then what I know now...He had his faults - but he was
a good and loyal friend. He's been gone nearly five years 
now, but he is missed every single day.
It's a moment like this where we need to pause and look at the bigger picture - take stock of what really matters and more importantly why we've decided to play this game. We hear the awful news, shed tears and go home to hug our dogs close to us - we tell them we love them - we're grateful that for the moment we weren't the ones who had to say goodbye. We've got to keep a piece of that with us - we're lucky every time we step into the ring (or onto the training floor) with our dogs. A lot of people on this planet don't get to have weekends off,  or time to spend with our doggie friends and the time to spend with our dogs and enjoying the experience...

If we're frustrated or exasperated with our dogs we need to stop and take a step back. Maybe three step backs. And this is the toughest bit for me to get through to my students sometimes, our dogs are trying - but they're going to have good days and bad - good runs and not so good runs - but remember, we never get to choose when we have that last run with our dogs. Never get mad at your dog. It's great to get that super tough weave-pole entry - and we'll keep working to proof the hard stuff - while working to be a better team, but it's so important to cherish the good with the bad as part of the process.

Murphy is retired from competition, he trains some - but for the most part he's a spoiled and lazy "old man" who sometimes doesn't think the rules apply to him. As much as it makes me crazy when he attempts (and succeeds) to counter-surf or steals socks out of the hamper, he's here...he's happy and he's healthy.

Teller is a maniac sometimes (he still can't seem to greet a friend without doing his very best bowling ball impression) - he is unrestrained joy. Teller has more heart than most people I know, he's so in the moment: the joy of the moment, life in the moment. Bad things, unpleasant things are gone as soon as they're over. He doesn't carry baggage or hold a grudge. Teller plays my silly reindeer games because I ask him to - he's honest, he's dependable and when I have my act together he's amazing - in whatever it is I ask of him.

At this moment I realize how lucky I am to have both of them sleeping at my feet right now - Murphy softly snoring and Teller watching Q skulk around the kitchen waiting for his dinner. And I remember how it's very likely that Teller and I have many more competitive runs ahead of us and Murphy has many more counter-surfing sessions ahead of him - it's not about getting to the end. It's about enjoying the moments, enjoying the ride and enjoying the games that we get to play with our dogs. Never - EVER - not for one millisecond take that for granted.

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