Tuesday, April 10, 2012

F***ing Tire Jumps, PE Weekend and School Fees

Okay so at the end of 'two posts ago' I left you with a video of two of my friends's dogs having bad tire crashes.  On top of that I have been bitching and moaning to everyone that will listen, that I HATE the tire jump.  As a judge I will not put the obstacle in unless the collapsible tire jump is available.  As a competitor, I have withdrawn my dogs if I felt the judge REALLY got the angle wrong.  I guess with all this bitching and moaning I was asking the universe to slap fate on me.  This past weekend, Chaos had a bad, bad, bad tire crash... Bad I tell you!  I hope all judges and competitors alike watch this video and THINK twice before using the obstacle:

But miracles prevailed and Chaos is 100% fine, other than a small scrape on his face.  No stiffness or soreness.  He still has all four legs, one neck, one back and one tail, two shoulders and a skull.  How lucky am I?  Having said all of that, I DO train the tire (I have one in my backyard) to try and prevent accidents like this.  I train it regularly.  Now Chaos is an experienced dog, he has jumped a million different tires under varying conditions.  Chaos also makes mistakes sometimes, now if those mistakes lead to refusals, or knocked bars, I can accept that.  But when a mistake (like Mr. Spastic trying bounce that distance), can lead to a broken back, shattered skull, dislocated body, decapitation, maiming, amputation, castration or any other -ation, then I really feel it is NOT on.

Okay that vent out of the way, I can get on to the weekend...

So Thursday we left at 2am (which ofc meant no sleep for me, as that is normally bed time) to travel the 1000km odd to Port Elizabeth.  We arrived early afternoon and I was lucky enough to arrange some training with friends.

I had several goals for the weekend.  I really wanted to put some pressure on myself with Chaos.  The whole mental game and big match temperament thing has never been my strong point and I figured this would be a good test run for the SA Champs in June.  Chaos was working very nicely, except for one super wild round (still think someone fed him rocket fuel and ritalin before that round) and one super knocky round (FOUR bars? Chaos?  REALLY? FOUR BARS?  In ONE round?).  He managed to win 4 Qualifying Certificates (Champ tickets), which is pretty cool and had some other good placings too.  Biggest news of course being that he is now a triple champion in Agility, Jumping and Dog Jumping.  Inevitably I made some handling mistakes and some errors in judgement, but all in all I am happy.  His times were good, his jumping was good and his contacts were mostly good.  Definitely his best result yet for a weekend of shows.  I am hoping to slowly build up to SA Champs.  Due to rain, laziness and being slightly scatter-brained, I ended up not getting too many rounds on video, but here are two of Chaos's QC rounds:

This was (well supposed to be) a school fees trip for Volt.  His first time competing at a really different venue and different equipment and weather and long travel etc.  I just wanted to see how he copes with it.  But as per the usual Volt scoffed in the face of a challenge.  He is determined to prove to me that he can handle anything apparently.  Of course there were some young dog mistakes, like the rounds where Volt could only count to 10 in the weave poles, some missed entries, Volt's FIRST EVER knock in a competition, an overshoot on the A-Frame which was quickly followed by a handstand reverse as only Volt can do it... you know little things like that.  But considering Volt is 19 months old and has been competing less than a month, I think his over-all results were pretty damn good.  He had 6 qualifications in total (4 in Agility and 2 in Jumping), managed to win the Small Dog Over-All (Grade 1 and 2) and even a third in the over all Grade 3 Dog Jumping.  All in all I am, well, very happy.  Volt is now in Grade 2 in both Jumping and Agility and this of course made me realise, that 'OH CRAP, we are not quite ready for the more complicated courses'.  So now I have tons and tons of homework to be done ASAP.  Some of Volt's vids:

All in all it was a good trip.  It was nice to see some good agility friends from all over the country, we had some really good laughs and for once I could sit on my butt at a show and not run around organising it!  Of course I have some general comments, like the lack of refusal calls (apparently it is okay to spin in front of a jump seven times, sometimes it is okay to for your dog to run ALL the way around the jump, oh and also it's fine for dogs to stick there entire head and neck past the jump three times), haha I am not being too serious about this of course.  There were some really nice courses and a couple of really stupid ones.  But such is the life of Agility of course.  One of the nicest things was the good spirit of the Gauteng guys!

Now I am tired, very tired.  I might write about the weekend some more at a later stage, but this will have to do for now.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I am finally ready

To write about Echo.

It has been 3 months and 7 days since he left my life.  I will never completely accept him being gone, but today for the first time I can write this.

Echo was a puppy that became mine because another person cancelled their booking.  Echo was my first pure-bred dog, my first puppy that was planned (well kind of), my first dog destined for agility.  I was barely 13-years old when Echo became part of my life.

This means that Echo went all the way through high school with me, wrote matric with me, went to university with me, moved out of my parental home with me, started my first job with me, met The Nerd with me, got engaged with me, got married with me...

Echo saw my hair every colour under the sun (yes at some stage I WAS blond), he was around for all the piercings and tattoos.  He was around for the break-ups, the make-ups and all the other stupid decisions.  He raised every single puppy and kitten that has entered my home until now.

Echo achieved many things and MANY MANY firsts with me.  My first dog that qualified into top grades, my first dogs that travelled to 'away shows' with me, my first dog to win QC's (champ tickets) with me, my first dog to become a champion.  Echo qualified for the SA Champs in both Dog Jumping and Agility many times.  Echo made multiple provincial teams.  Echo won the over-all prize at the May Extravaganza.  Echo won The Battle of the Giants.  Echo made the World Team and competed at the AWC.

I have so many Echo stories... like his first show (a major one at Rand Agricultural Show) where he was clear and fast until the second last obstacle... just to run off.... right to the top of the grand stand.... to go and beg some treats (biltong) from random strangers.  The time he latched himself onto the arm of a 'traffic light' beggar that dared stick his arm through my open car window.  He once ran into a thorn bush, his one eye completely pierced and he did not moan once.  How he always used to jump in my arms and on more than one occasion completely bowled me over onto my ass.  He was there the time I lost my pants while teaching a beginner agility class.

None of that actually matters.

The lessons Echo taught me.  The dedication, the commitment, the selflessness, the forgiveness, the understanding and the being there, that DOES matter.  Echo gave me every inch of his heart and soul.  Let's make no mistake, Echo was an annoying dog :) A demanding dog.  A quirky dog.  But not only did he touch my life, he touched many other people's lives in a significant way.  He was a character that you could not ignore, a presence that you could not miss.  Echo was the best at just being him... until the day he died.  He did everything I asked of him, but in his special way.

Echo had a good life and he made my life even better.

I hope I never forget the bad or the good I had with Echo.  I hope his lessons stay with me.  I hope his forgiving nature rubbed off on me.  I hope his understanding makes me understand better.  I hope Echo stays with me for the rest of his life.

I am very proud to say that Echo had a good life.

This picture was taken exactly one month before my amazing boy left my life!
I will always love him and I will always miss him, but I wouldn't exchange that for anything.

Enjoy your peace my boy!