Thursday, August 15, 2013

Journey of The Damn Q :-)


Driving to the Missouri regional gives a person a lot of time to think. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but it just is :-) Forgive my reflective nature...we shall return back to my weird sense of humor and cussing shortly :-)
I'm amazed sometimes how much this sport has changed for me...all the different journeys its taken me on, the people, and most importantly, the dogs.

My one regret is, I wish I was where I am now, in my thoughts and mentality, when I first started with Ace. It was always about the Q with him...poor guy. He took my nerves with stride for the most part, even though I'll admit I wouldn't have wanted to be a teammate with me!!! 

It wasn't about the training then...it was about the results. Did that paper say Q or not? If it was an NQ...it was worthless to me. How I wish I could turn the clock back and give my boy the credit he deserves. He was an amazing dog...the best first dog a person could ever have. Actually...nix that, I'd take another like him in a heartbeat.

My want for the almighty Q really held me back...from a much more full relationship with Ace...from more success...from more moments of greatness that aren't measured by a damn Q. It's a journey we all have to take...and each at their own pace...but Gosh what I would give to have all the realizations with Ace.

Then came along Miss Zip...for a very long time I was happy with each run not being a hot mess! She was a tough dog....and I'm grateful for that resilience as I STILL, into my second dog was more worried about results...that damn Q. Teamwork started happening....and I learned about TRUST from her...that I had to trust her or things just weren't going to happen. This same time I was herding with her, which showed me just how amazing my dog was....Trust was KEY. Without it I had nothing. Maybe I was getting this stuff kinda figured out?? ;-)

I had more lessons to learn...but my attitude towards the damn Q was...softening...if that makes sense.

During this time...and probably to make me REALLY appreciate Zip, Klink came into my life. A totally different beast...over the top, and not nearly as biddable...or so I thought (because I had all the answers right???)...

WRONG, we butted heads, or so I thought...she got labeled, bar knocker, barker, bad dog...trust??? PLEASE...I needed another lesson...

It happened...while running Zip (and having a particularly tough weekend running Klink) Zip was running a gorgeous jumpers run...and then she knocked a bar (odd) and then another....odd....and then CRASHED a triple....BAD. We got done with the run (triple was the last jump) and she was dragging her rear left leg...within a few hours she wasn't hardly using her back legs...luckily for her, we were able to get her to an amazing chiropractic vet named Dr. Heather. At that moment...who gave a crap about that damn Q.

It was just about my dog...

I remember that next run with Klink...I sat her and kissed the top of her head. I instantly felt the tension leave her body...and it dawned on me. She was trying, so hard. Trying so much she messed up...I ran her, we had one bar down, it was my fault. That was one of the most remembered NQ's ever.

And the journey continued...the trust happened...I started to enjoy all the runs with "my girls"...Zip recovered from what was a disk issue. Life went on...and we all blossomed. And the damn Q's came. I was more relaxed, what happened, happened. ADCH's happened...just as a second thought in a way.

Fate, God, the Universe, whatever it was, decided I needed to learn another lesson...thus came Gator. He was a quirky boy growing up...and I was his rock. I wasn't used to a dog that cared so much. Little successes, smallest change, slightest try became my motto....and "let's wait and see"...I was a quicker learner at this point. I was figuring out that my dogs were here to teach me things. Gator is my most trusted dog...he loves me and even though we sometimes have disagreements...we are a team. He's like my right arm...I can always count on him. My trusted boy :-)

With Gator getting his ADCH at just under 2.5 years old....I thought I had this agility stuff FINALLY FIGURED OUT!!!!! FINALLY!!!!! I WAS THERE! Years passed, Klink and Gator were my consistent, fast dogs. Life was good!!!!!

And then came Lynn....and running contacts...and I realized.

I didn't know SH*T...

The Universe had yet another lesson to teach me...did I REALLY give up my want of that damn Q? Lynn was here to put that to the test. And test it she did. She was late maturing (my first!) and I didn't see it. Now it's soooo obvious!!!!! How did I miss it??!?! Well, I did. Maturity and confidence were key. Thus the journey began...completely running my dog to maximize her confidence, sending her off course on purpose, doing things FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF OUR RELATIONSHIP. It was no longer about ME...it became US. Those moments changed me...


FOREVER....

It's always about US...

Did people make comments? Most DEFINETLY...think I was an idiot/insane? I'm sure....but for the first time I JUST DIDN'T CARE. I really didn't :-) It was a wonderful feeling...it made me a better trainer, handler, partner.

I really watch my dogs now...I try my hardest to see what they're doing, and WHY. I tightly guard anything that could damage that connection we have. Do I ever fall short? OF COURSE....I'm human. We all do. But I forgive myself...

I hike more, and train less...

I spend more time "just being" with my dogs...

The damn Q has a place...it shows that we beat the course....that WE BEAT THE COURSE...TOGETHER. It's needed for Nationals etc....

But is it a mark of my connection with my dogs? No

It's a letter...which cannot and will not define the relationship.

I know this now....it's taken a long time, and I'm so grateful for the dogs, the people, the challenges. I look at a potential puppy and think to myself "what will this dog teach me?" Where as I used to think "I hope this dog makes a great agility dog!"...

Every dog is a promise of an amazing relationship...one that is far too short, but rich with love and unlimited rewards. That connection that is truly unconditional. Nothing like it in the world.

It has nothing to do with the damn Q. The look in my dogs eyes as I step to the line. That pure, amazing, intense joy they emit. I'll try to never lose sight of that.

I'm going to the regional this weekend just to enjoy those moments. Sadly I won't be running Klink, or Zip...but they will get to watch runs with me, play with toys and see people they adore :-) And I'm grateful for that! To Gator and Lynn? I love you both endlessly...forgive me if I mess up, lets have some fun :-)

If we allow it, dogs are a part of our souls...my soul is very full :-)

Love, 
Your humbled, amazed and "honored to be running with you" handler :-)


5 comments:

furricane said...

I totally understand, im there sometimes and stuck on the damn q others, lost my 6 yr. old first agility dog last year and realized how hard on him I was when it came to the q, trying to do better with no. 2 and 3.

Mara said...

"Every dog is a promise of an amazing relationship...one that is far too short, but rich with love and unlimited rewards. That connection that is truly unconditional. Nothing like it in the world."

Love. This!!

Taryn said...

WOW! What a great post! And it sure is hard to get past that damn Q, I struggle with that so much! It's a constant battle for me. I always feel so bad for Jimmy, he got stuck with such a wonky handler!

Amanda Winmark said...

I like your blog and loved it on blogionaire.com

Lori Kline said...

What an open, honest and heart-felt letter. Being vulnerable is such a difficult lesson to learn. You captured it beautifully. Enjoy your Regionals together and all your happy runs. You are an amazing handler and I've never seen you run. How could you not be? Your priorities are aligned perfectly. Thank you for caring enough to share. :)