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!
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.
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!
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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