FOUR DAYS OFF! Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Friday as a furlough day, a day that is required off because they already docked your pay for it. Saturday and Sunday because my student help came back so I didn’t have to water, and Monday because of Labor day.
Whoohoo! Let’s do agility! Dogs and humans, flying with grace over green grass under blue skies, surrounded by a medieval tent city. The human in perfect sync with their canine partner as they guide them through a complex winding course filled with jumps, tunnels, A-frames, dog walks, and weave-pole.
That’s the theory, anyways. Then there are the klutzes who take wonderful dogs and confuse the hell out of them. I, the human half of the team, get to walk the twisty courses with sharp turns, planning my strategy to quickly get my dog through the mine field.
For me, it isn’t a brightly colored playground of dog toys. For me, it’s a mine field, where a wrong turn will get me raped by weave-poles, crash a jump into splinters, or trip over and wipe out my dog. The best I can do is stay out of my dogs way, try to remember where to go, and not kill either of us.
The first course I managed to remember and Cera soared over, around, and through our path. Then, weaves. I felt her perfect rhythm suddenly lose a beat, then she missed a pole. A blade of grass? A butterfly? A ghost? Something caused her to lift her head and forget where she was…
End of the run. Another run, this time I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and while I actually remembered the course, we were so over the time allotted we might have been on a slow boat to China. It would have been faster.
The last game is a make it yourself course. Obstacles are worth a certain amount of points, and you design your route through the course to pick up as many points as you can, plus gamble you can send your dog away from you and to more obstacles. Cera proves she is more than just a pretty face and does rather well. Of course, we’re at a lower level in this game than the earlier day’s options.
Now, to be somewhat fair to myself, in addition to being born without grace or agility, I recently discovered my allergies are growing at an alarming rate. I have to take eyedrops in order to see and now I need an inhaler to even run. The inhaler itself is an interesting contraption, an expensive clear tube of plastic with the pressurized not as expensive medicine (Albuterol) stuck into a slot at the end. The idea is to inhale like it’s a cigarette. Eh, guess all those years of smoking came in handy, I know how to do that.
Guess I should have read all the side affects before I did all sorts of dizzying spins called front crosses in order to get in the proper position to guide my dog. Good crosses, Mud, but in the wrong place. Oh. Caution, may cause dizziness. Is that why I came out disoriented? At least I could breath.
And my emotional state may have been a bit off. I’d brought the last puppy, the pick, out to the trials for socializing. Instead of only getting out and meeting and greeting new dogs and people, she found her own people and dogs. I placed her, reluctantly, with the perfect home. The husband is an experienced springer hunter, the wife does agility and obedience light. The black tri I’d wanted since 1972 is now living on 30+ acres with 3 other dogs, and horse. This weekend she’s up north at their cabin.
Okay, bitch bitch bitch, whine whine whine. I totally demotivated Cera with my poor handling skills, yelling her name and sending her like an out of control pin ball all over the course. She gave up, put her nose to the ground and wandered the course. Weaves? You do it.
Last draw. I know I was the one to write the check, but she usually at least pretends to be interested and having fun. Since we already blew the run when she ran past the weave-poles, I decided to see if I could remember the labyrinthine course. I took off as fast as I could, doing pretend blind crosses (dog behind you while you take your eyes off them to switch them from your left to your right just by dropping a shoulder and swapping guiding hands). I flew like the wind, graceful as a ballet dancer. I wasn’t dizzy using this form of cross and didn’t miss an obstacle. I WAS missing the dog.
I could see from the corner of my eye the what-the-fuck looks on both my dog and the judge as I glided through the field. Cera wasn’t sure what to do, but toward the end, she managed to catch up with me and do a few of the jumps. The judge waited until the end before she blew her elimination whistle. What could she do? I wasn’t training in the ring. I just completed my run. Dog was with me when we entered the ring. Dog was with me when we left. So what if the dog wasn’t with me on the course? Nothing in the rules, but it must have been the first time anyone ever ran a dog agility course at a trial sans dog.
I felt great. Didn’t get lost or disoriented. I was breathing well, the drugs kicked in when I took it outside the ring. And my friends, who know I have a problem with memory, cheered me, yelling YAY Mud.
Cera still was puzzled, but I felt so good I fed her the rest of the 1 lb of hotdogs although she had ignored me on the course. I ate lunch before I packed it in to go home. I’d had a little problem with my new GPS system that morning, getting a touch lost because it calls the turns before you make them. A little too early…so I had to back track a bit.
Going home, all set to follow the pink line, I took off. Guess I missed the road, because the pink line disappeared. There wasn’t any replacement, and the machine male voice was silent. I made a series of turns and still, no pink line. The machine glared at me, the male voice telling me if I was going to ignore his instructions, he was going to remain silent. And I bet smell the grass. They’re all in cahoots.