And not the cool kind of roller-coasters, the emotional kind. I haven't blogged for ages, but I had valid reasons this time. A broken heart and feet not touching the ground... but like all non-fairy-tales, I feel I should at least attempt to start at the beginning...
My last post was right before the wheels fell off completely. Roller-coasters have tracks, not wheels, so when the wheels come off, you either grind the rims or get on the tracks... makes for one wild ride. Not a nice one in this case.
We left for Port Elizabeth and I was lucky enough to spend a night on the FARM with Psycho child's breeders, nice long (if COLD) walks and lots of dogs and I got to meet her sire! AND best of all, is I got to put her to sheep! Of course I missed the best moments on video, but regardless it was fun. So now I am trying to convince the Nerd that I want sheep too... apparently he is not falling for my argument that we can sell the lawnmower then, he is concerned the neighbours might get a slight spot upset...
It had been a while coming, but in Port Elizabeth I broke my Sheltie. Yup, broke him. Took one awesome little demon-fast dog and broke it. As the weekend progressed he was walking on courses and shutting down. I hit a flat panic. Absolutely desperate to 'fix' my broken Sheltie, imagining the worst, wrapping him in cotton wool, allowing him to be rather moronic, because I didn't want to break him further. I was in a state and a half.
Meanwhile Chaos seemed to be thriving on the... well on the chaos. He ran like one hell of a superstar awesomeness dog! He hit better form than he ever had. Speed I wasn't prepared for. Response I couldn't keep up with.
On top of that I was doing the results for the entire weekend. (don't worry, I am having about a million t-shirts printed with SUCKER on the front). Very thankful to the only 3 people form the province that actually cared and helped me out by the way (of which two do not even serve on their committee). So ja, I was a bit wrecked at the end of it. While on paper Volt's results looked quite okayish (winning over-all grade 3 small dog and some qc's) I KNEW it was only the ghost of my dog that won that. Chaos was runner up for the Over-All, Over-All dog, one Super Spaz...
When I got back, I had to dive into taking entries and preparing for our own big show weekend (159 dogs entered into over 1200 classes). The two open shows I attended while doing these entries were a lost cause on Volt... well actually more on me, since the worse he performed, the 'worse' I got... wrapping him in more and more cotton wool and hitting new levels of panic, despite specialists, vets, 'other' experts finding nothing wrong with him that was a major cause of concern. Chaos continued to thrive and up his game with every single run.
Then Bumper Weekend was upon us. In between and despite the ice fights, dives into tunnels (by humans not dogs), shirtlessness and other laughter, some of us really did work hard, I promise! Over the four day weekend Chaos was just supremely phenomenal! The best he has ever run, with speeds and times that shocked and awed me... he also became a Contact Agility Grand Champion (pending ratification from KUSA), as well as coming 3rd over-all, despite me judging a show and missing out on 2 rounds (so even only scoring 10/12 rounds) he managed to earn that many points and could have statistically won... luckily it was kept in the family and his uncle took the honours.
At the same rate that Spaz was succeeding, Volt was deteriorating. Deteriorating to the ultimate 'break point' in my books (hmmm and I was so paranoid about breaking him even more I was allowing him to miss 6 poles along his way and self-release contacts and break waits)... by the last round of day 2, Volt actually walked off in the middle of a course to go and pee on a tree. PEE ON A FRIGGIN TREE! This was the big turning point for us. Because at that point I went 'screw you little dude'... you REALLY don't have to do Agility if you don't want to, honestly, if you just want to be a pet, I am cool with that sh!t, but we are going back to living MY life, no more of this cotton wool, panic, stress stuff...
And what would you know, the very next day I started getting my dog back... not all at once of course, but slowly he came back....
So by this point I had shifted my goals drastically. I wanted to make the team with Chaos, perhaps place high in the SA Champs, I knew he could do it. With Volt I wanted 4 x super fast disqualifications. I wanted my 'unbroken' Sheltie back with no pressure and tons of fun. He is so young he has many years to be on the team or do well in the SA Champs. But of course the universe and fate and Murphy and my life doesn't work that way...
Immediately after Bumper Weekend I had to start the final arrangements for the South African Championships (which doubles as our Try-Outs for AWC), so still no touching of the feet to the ground. To just ADD onto that, a few days after Bumper Weekend, Chaos picked up an injury... sigh at 3am in the morning mind you (bizarre I know)... having a tiff with Quake (I ask you in what universe, my dogs NEVER get into it?). I didn't know until the next morning, when Chaos got up on THREE legs... it was vet and physio and chiro and treatments and opinions and absolutely no training or exercise leading up to the finals...
I was so heartbroken that I could not even appreciate how much of my Super Sheltie I was getting back (this was his last round the weekend before the finals):
Chaos was cleared to jump the day before our official practice round at the finals.
Even in the practice I could see he just 'wasn't right' but also nothing terribly wrong. It is like he did not know where his right back leg was and it kind of flapped around without purpose. He couldn't find a place for it while jumping or even running the dog walk. Volt was phenomenal!
My goals were muddled and warped now.
Chaos tried his heart out in round 1, but brought down bar after bar and definitely not running his best. In round 2... towards the end of the course he came of a right hand turn screaming and hanging that back leg. My heart stopped. Picked him up and walked off, as I did not want the next dog in to suffer (having to wait on the start line for ages). I did not know this, but it is clear on the video that a good friend (a few short minutes before having to run her own phenomenal dog), just downing her dog, sprinting and jumping over the fence to assist me. Everyone rushing in to see if my boy was okay. I watched the video once, but my heart stopped AGAIN when I tried that, and since I am not a cat and don't have 9 lives to waste, I don't think I will watch it ever again...
He was checked out by the vet and by this time he was putting more weight on the leg... the only things the vet and physio pick up is a minor muscle strain, but there is definitely a root cause, so we will be off to the specialist next week. Regardless, I had to pull my boy from the finals and probably should not have STARTED finals with him and his last chance to be on Team South Africa was gone just like that. Not that I care about the Agility, I just want to know what is wrong and how I can help him! But please do understand that it rattled ME, it rattled MY handling.
Why might you ask? Chaos is my rock, Chaos WAS 85% of my BMT. Regardless of whether I ran him first or last, my whole mental game was based on the fact that I could do ANYTHING with Chaos and get it right or close to damn-it anyway... Volt's rounds followed naturally after that. Without Chaos I was a slight bit lost. Added to that...
Volt won round 1 and 2 in the SA Champs putting him the lead quite substantially. This is a situation I did NOT want to be in at this stage. All I wanted was an 'unbroken' Sheltie that ran like the wind and eliminated like it too. I did not want ANY pressure (haha, kind of though it would be pretty cool if I could dq 3 rounds and win the last just for funsies)... but life doesn't work that way. Instead we were in the lead until the very end, but ended up third due to a retarded, nervous, silly handler. So my first ever podium at SA Champs was actually an anti-climax and looking back I regret not appreciating it more. I say a huge well done to D and N for their being Reserve and SA Champ respectively!
Important lessons were learnt, good lessons. While I am gutted about Chaos, I think it is good that I am forced to focus on Volt. I will love Chaos to eternity and he will love me. Agility is/was a bonus depending on what time brings.
For now I have a judge's course to present, paperwork to finish, a neglected husband and household to sort out before starting to prepare for the FCI Agility World Championship 2013!
I am very proud of W and Missy B making it against all odds (going in with almost no points) on their first time out, also Chili and H making it for the second year running. A and Bowie and Chinz Pinz for not only a double SA Title but also making the team. I congratulate everyone on Team SA and look forward to the year ahead. I am grateful for my phenomenal dogs.
And here is to really hoping I can get OFF this roller-coaster now.
Spaz, this year is for you my boy! Thank you for everything you have given and looking forward to every minute we still spend together.
And then just for those that are actually coming... the day after the finals we had a show judged by Gawie Faul the FCI AWC judge for 2013 and here is Volt running his courses:
His courses can be found here (and is updated on a regular basis):
A huge thank you to Melissa Wilson for all the photos.
And as a ps. I am still a non-smoker and have been drugless (the 'stop smoking' kind) for 5 weeks.