But, as usual, I digress.
The other day I was lamenting about all the stupid mistakes I have made in my life. I told Sir Cussalot that nobody on earth has better hindsight than I. Just like my eyes, my hindsight is a perfect 20/20. For 62 years I have blundered along, making choices I thought were the right ones. At least they felt right at the time. Several days, to several years, to several decades later, I usually look back on those decisions with regret. I am sure if I had made the decisions I think I SHOULD have made, there would be reasons to regret those too in hindsight.
I envy people who say, “If I had it to do all over again, I would do it exactly as I did the first time. I wouldn’t change a thing.” I want to bitch slap those happy MUTHA F#@K$R$ with their perfect choices and their perfect lives. If somebody asked me if I would rather be happy or have anything I wanted, anytime I wanted, I would choose happiness without a second thought! Wait, would that be a trick question? Would I regret that choice too? Probably, but at least I would be happy about making the wrong choice!
There I go digressing again.
As a part of the Dog Agility Bloggers group, periodically we are given a theme around which we base our blogs. This time that theme is “If I Knew Then What I Know Now.” I guess that means whatever I write should apply to agility since this is for the Dog Agility Bloggers. I will try to refrain from further digressions.
About the ONLY time I am glad I didn’t know then what I know now, is when it comes to dog agility. If I had known everything I know now when I started agility, I might have given up before I was hooked! When I started in agility, I was as ignorant as ignorant can get! I actually wrote a blog about it a while back, I called, “When I didn’t Know What I Didn’t Know.”
When I started agility, I had never seen fast dogs run in training or in competition. I had never seen it on TV or in person. I thought the way you trained the contacts was to put squeeze cheese all along the planks, kinda like Handsel and Gretel finding their way in the woods (only they used breadcrumbs or white pebbles or some such things).
OH OH, I am beginning to digress again!
ANYway, it wasn’t until I actually began competing at the excellent level that I realized we needed to run faster, harder, cleaner. After a year of leapt contacts, I figured squeeze cheese wasn’t enough. There had to be a better way! (please refer to my blog “When I didn’t Know What I Didn’t Know” so I can refrain from more digression).
When I went out and just had fun, oblivious to the way agility was “supposed” to be done, I had a blast! Agility was fun! Now, sadly, agility is work, disappointments, heartaches and, if things all go as planned, FUN! I think I am back to that wish about happiness or everything I want.
I spend day after day after day trying to perfect my young dog’s contacts, drive and boldness (well, I would settle for her not bolting in terror whilst projectile urinating and air snapping). She had a bitchin teeter! She slid all the way to the end from the pivot point, SLAMMED into her 2o2o position and waited with quivering anticipation to be released. Then, one day, after performing the teeter (her favorite obstacle!) with incredible enthusiasm, it happened. She slipped off the side at the pivot point. She just jumped off really and landed on her feet. After months and months and months of performing the teeter with great gusto and speed, one slip and that was it! She wouldn’t go near the teeter! We had to go back to square one.
In the early days, I would not have been going for a world class teeter. I would have settled for squeeze cheese teeters. Slow and steady, instead of fast and furious; is that so wrong? Back then, BEFORE I knew what I know now, the answer would have been a resounding NO! It wasn’t so wrong. I was ecstatic that my dog would even walk over a teeter let alone run. I had never seen a dog slide a teeter, so that was not in my mind at all when I had a picture of what I wanted my dog’s teeter to look like. Now it is SLIDE BABY SLIDE! Now it is ALL or NOTHING! Now it takes years to perfect my dog’s performance instead of calling it good after a few weeks or even a few days or a few sessions.
Recently, I brought my nine year old MACH 2 standard Poodle, Charisse, out of retirement to run in the novice preferred jumper class. She had been out of agility since I retired her last September. We hadn’t done a lick of training since then (almost 6 months). She was in great shape from running with the other dogs, just no agility training. Watching Sir C run his three dogs, made me yearn for that 25 or 30 second adrenalin rush. Since I didn’t have a dog that could do that, I settled for 18 seconds in novice. 18 seconds would be better than nothing (TWSS)!
We waited all day long for our chance to have fun together again. I walked those 15 obstacles twice and called it good. Unlike the excellent courses that require some thought, the novice course was straightforward and simple, like it should be when one only wants to have fun. Charisse Poodle couldn’t believe she was going to get to run again! She begged every weekend to go to Big Jility, but she had to settle for her Easter Biscuit hunt. Each day of a trial, I snuck out the door of the Global Warmer to go watch Sir C run his dogs, whilst casting a handful of treats on the floor (hence the reason I named the biscuit casting “EASTER BISCUITS!” Easter Biscuits referenced, I promise not to go into digression about how we hunted for hidden candy delights every Easter as a kid…).
Charisse came out of the x-pen bouncing in her normal fashion. She boinged to the warm up jump with great excitement! We settled into our old routine; treats until 2 dogs to go, then tugging. We tugged into the ring; I pried open her mouth and removed the leash; threw it in the direction of the leash runner, far enough away so Charisse wouldn’t go get it to resume our game of tug; Boinged her to the start, asked for a sit and led out. I couldn’t believe I was once again running with my best agility pal. I walked into my release, said, “OK!” Charisse came a runnin. Not as fast as she was in her younger days, but obviously happy to be jumping only 16 inches. We continued on the short course with huge smiles on our faces.
No pressure, no expectations, only pure fun! It was 18 seconds of heaven! For those few seconds, I forgot about all my aches and pains (physical and mental). Nothing hurt, nothing mattered. It was only Charisse Poodle and me; having fun doing what we both love most in this world.
I will continue to run her once in a while in novice preferred jumpers. We won’t be moving up to excellent or even open. We will stay where we can have a blast, even if it is only for a few seconds. We won’t train between trials and we won’t care what happens in the trial. We will just go out there and have fun doing our thing together.
I long for a simpler time in agility. I long for a time when courses were easier, dogs were slower and ignorance was bliss; a time when I didn’t know what I know now.