Posted by: jility | December 4, 2013

Chillin be Thrillin

A very wise friend was talking to Sir Cussalot one day about his ring anxiety. Sir C, a man of few words, was listening to our friend with his head, but his heart was closed. Sir Cussalot suffers terribly from ring nerves and stress before a run. Our friend tried to get through to Sir C that his ring nerves were unwarranted because everyone in agility is more concerned with themselves than with him. He also said that being worried that others were watching and judging him was egocentric. He said they had better things to do than make fun of Sir C in the ring (besides, most people would love to be as good a handler as Sir Cussalot, but Sir C thinks he stinks. I wish I stunk as much as he does!).

Anyway, the only time I get nervous in agility is when I am nervous for Sir C. I rarely, if ever, get nervous for myself. I also don’t mind speaking in public or making a fool of myself in front of others. If I smile and laugh, I know others will be more likely to have fun watching me run my dog or listening to me speak than judging me. If I make fun of myself, people are less likely to make fun of me behind my back. They will do it to my face and I don’t mind one bit. Agility is all about having fun and if that is at my expense, so be it.

I rode hunters and jumpers growing up and competed in three day eventing and dressage as well when I was older. You don’t have numbered courses in hunter classes and you have to memorize dressage tests unless you have an annoying reader. I learned to memorize things early on, so remembering courses is not a big deal for me. Normally, I can walk a course once and have it down. Sometimes, however, when a judge does some weird loopy things over and over I might need a few walks. I rarely, if ever, look at a course map, unless somebody asks me to. I just don’t need to.

There was one time on course when I got lost big time. I had a cold and had taken Contact. That stuff throws me for a loop. I was still in Open with my first agility dog. It was a standard course and I could not remember where I was going for the life of me! Finally, after trying like crazy to find numbers, I just threw up my hands and stood in the middle of the ring. The judge asked, “Did you have your coffee this morning?” I replied, “I don’t drink coffee.” She laughed and responded, “Perhaps it is time you started!”

We both laughed and I continued after I finally spotted the next obstacle number.

Ring nerves are not something with which I can identify. I don’t care. I am out there to have fun with my dog. I know people who get nervous at seminars. I really have trouble relating to that! If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need a seminar! I go for the social aspect of it and to learn.

Life sometimes throws us curves to help put things into perspective. This past year has been beyond belief for us. The Universe sent us a puppy with a deformed neck bone, a tumor in Crushie’s shoulder, the loss of our beloved Millie Angel to stomach cancer, bloat and more for poor Isabella, the loss of one of our very dearest human friends of forty years, the loss of our incredible Josephine and for me, so I didn’t feel left out, colon cancer. Somehow, all those things help to put life and agility into perspective. Ring nerves would be welcome over any of the things we have been through this year.

I hear people say they are stressed because their dog hasn’t Qed in weeks, or because they are selling or buying a house, or whatever. I laugh and think I would trade any of the crappy things the Universe has sent us recently, for a year of NQs ANY DAY! There was a time when MACHs, ADCHs or other titles meant a lot to me. Somehow, they don’t really matter much to me anymore. It is now about being alive and having fun with my dog. The rest just happens.

Today, five weeks out from my cancer surgery, I decided to treat myself to a pedicure and manicure. Because of the three large abscesses at my incision site with which I have had to deal for the past few weeks, I have not been able to shave my legs, so I added on a leg wax to my fun day! I have never had any of those things in my life! Can you imagine that? I am 63 years old yetI have never waxed or had a professional manicure or pedicure. It was about time!

Christmas nails

Christmas nails

I chose a Christmas theme and went for bright red polish with green sparkles for my fingernails and gold sparkles for my toenails. Then I asked if they could paint Christmas trees on my big toes and thumbs.

Christmas tree thumbs

Christmas tree thumbs

The entire process took two and half hours! I loved every minute. Sir Cussalot said sarcastically, ”Gee, I wish I could have done that too.” All through the wax, the waxer, a seventy-one year old lovely woman from Vietnam, kept exclaiming in her thick Vietnamese accent as she shook her head, “OH, Mamacita! You have so much hair!” I just smiled. There was a time when that would have embarrassed the heck out of me. I never would have let anyone see me like that! Now? I am happy to be alive and the fact that I have not been able to bend over to shave my legs, is nothing. Hair schmair. Cancer sure changes one’s perspective in life!

Christmas toes

Christmas toes

I would give anything right now to be able to train my dog, let alone have a chance to get ring nerves or ring stress. I so look forward to the day when I can once again run my dog. Next week I start chemotherapy. I will go every other week for six months. I plan to try to train and run my dog during that time, but I will have to see how I feel. I do know I will not feel stress in the ring. I will feel deep gratitude to the Universe that I am still alive and able to run my dog again.

Take a deep breath, let go, SMILE and HAVE FUN! It ain’t life or death. It’s agility. 🙂

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  1. You rock Helen! Get healthy! We need you! -love your perspective-sorry to hear about your health. You’re right-real world problems make agility concerns seem so trite.

  2. Thanks for the words of wisdom, Helen. My TP Piper & I will run in our first real agility trial Friday after training for 4 years. My instructor has not exactly blessed this adventure but I am not getting any younger. At least, I don’t need to run up hill. I plan on having fun. Piper plans on having fun, too.

    • I wish you the best! Where do you train? You will have a blast :).

      • We train here and there with a variety of good local (Colorado) teachers. We attended a wonderful seminar with Webb Anderson last fall. Lori Asbury and Diane DuBose brought him to Colorado. Diane is our regular teacher. I liked Webb’s attitude & his method of preparing to run. Neither he nor his dogs go into the ring cold turkey. I think his prep gets the nerves out of the way. We shall see.

  3. A lovely post, Helen. You certainly put things in the proper perspective.

  4. your fingers and toes look so beautiful! Your post made me cry. Best wishes to you and your family. Take care and thanks for sharing your story with us.

  5. None of my beezwax and very likely already considered, but just in case, a lady once helped me out years ago in a similar situation… With three deep abscesses has your surgeon considered having you use a wound vac? If not, you might want to look into it. If you would like lots of tmi on wound vacs email and I will answer any questions I can. Using them can help wounds heal three or four times faster all while also keeping the wound bed less prone to infections.

  6. Helen,
    Thanks for posting this blog.
    Good luck on your healing journey. May you have many more years of wonderful runs – 12 years ago I had cancer(& hubby had a heart attack) – Every run I compete in I run out of the ring joyously thinking “I’m alive, my husband is alive, my dogs are wonderful”

  7. What a wonderful post, you hit on so many things that I agree with. My life seems difficult, but you certainly put it in perspective of just how much harder it could be. I’ve never really gotten bad ring nerves. I’ve gotten a little to enthused and tried stuff my dog clearly had no idea about, but it was usually hilarious and we laughed about it afterwards.
    I find a lot of horse people have a pretty good perspective on not losing their mind when they do agility (which is funny if you’ve ever had to endure the panic attacks people subject themselves to at a horseshow). But if you can suck it up and aim a one tonne animal at a 1.4m fence and survive, taking your dog around an agility courses just isn’t that scary!

  8. Helen
    I can’t begin to tell you how much you’ve helped me understand this game I so very much love. Every time I do anything agility related I think of you and how I would have never had this much fun without you being so real about what life is really all about!

    I’m praying for the chemo to be quickly effective, so you too can get back to playing the game and having the fun you so deserve!!

    God is blessing, jodi

  9. Rings on your fingers and trees on your toes,
    Heart wrenching tales, and beautiful prose
    Through all the pain your humor prevails,
    ‘Neath all that bling lies a heart of gold!

    I love you, Helen, and the gift of your presence.
    The power of love will see you through to renewed health, vigor, and many agility courses and cusses ahead!!!
    Xoxoxox, Lizzie

    Confucius say,
    NQ is better than 4Q any day!


  10. Sending best thoughts your way Helen. My husbands best friend is dealing with exactly the same thing as you; even the stomach pocket issue. Yep, perspective. Hope the waxing didn’t hurt too much, I’ve never had it done either.

  11. […] Read the full article […]

  12. Helen, you have given a lot to our world. A true inspiration. Sending you all kinds of love and appreciation. You have another big hill to climb and I am behind you all the way!

  13. You have been through so much Helen, just please know you have my prayers coming your way. Much Love Ann

  14. Bless you Helen, you sure put things in perspective!

  15. Nice Helen, very nice post.

  16. All I can say is “thank you Helen” ~~ to me it’s not just about “agility” it’s about life.

  17. You know I still get nervous, not so much for myself, but because I know I have this fabulous dog, and I want everyone to see how fabulous she is, so I need to handle her right!

    And then I worked in an ER and I know just how lucky I am to be out there running…..

    Oh my little Cattle Dog Cedar got slammed I to a tree by Wildman Will and has probably either partially or maybe fully ruptured her CCL. She will have TPLO surgery probably on Tuesday.


    Sent from my iPad


  18. OMG, I love your blogs!! The truth is so much funnier than anything anyone could ever make up!!!! Uh….did the leg wax hurt too much? I live in FL and every day shaving sucks!! 🙂

    • Barely felt it but remember! I am the woman who lay on her back wide awake while the surgeon cut me open to drain the abscess!

  19. Leave it to the grand dam herself to give us a wee bit of perspective on “mental management”…. and look at that….it costs no money! Good to hear you’re out and fussing over yourself!

    • Grand dam or damn grand Jodi?

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