Okay. It’s been seven days. I think I am emotionally ready to talk about the drama of last weekend. Instead of attempting a long explanation that no one will understand I thought I would draw a couple pictures. Feel free to snicker.
Here’s the scene: Saturday, April 21. Agility class. Final sequence of the day. Shiva at her most thoughtless and me tired from handling her through some tough earlier challenges. My PH is not present, making things even more difficult. At the best of times Shiva requires two people: one to keep her distracted, the other to pay attention to instructions. I had been doing both myself for over an hour. Shiva was ready to climb the walls.
It took us several tries to get the tunnel entrance right. Because she’s Shiva and thus insane, she decided she wanted to enter the tunnel from the other side no matter what I did. Eventually I just gave up, grabbed her collar, and guided her in myself. This action probably riled her up more than necessary.
1. Shiva took the third jump in the wrong direction because I was too slow. Instead of booting it I waited for her to come out of the tunnel, which means I was way too late in getting up ahead. This lateness contributed to:
2. The “ack!” is Shiva stopping herself halfway over the jump because she realized I wasn’t with her. I may have called her name as well, I can’t remember. Regardless, she realized something wasn’t right and tried to correct herself.
Rather than finishing her jump like a normal dog Shiva stopped herself mid-air and twisted around. This twisting while airborne caused her collar to loop over the jump standard. When she landed – dang gravity – her collar remained hooked on the standard. Instead of stopping, Shiva kept running, proceeding to drag the entire jump with her around the room.
Funny? At first. Remember, this is Shiva and this type of thing is par for the course with her. This is the dog who regularly knocks over tire-jumps and takes the teeter backwards. Her agility antics are fairly infamous at this point. If it was any other dog, it would have been a much bigger deal. I distinctly remember rolling my eyes before walking over to help her out.
However, after I took two steps, I discovered the situation wasn’t just Shiva being ridiculous. As she dragged the jump, her collar tightened around her neck. When she stopped running I realized she was having difficulty breathing. This is when things got really awful, really fast.
The rest of it was a blur and I won’t go into too much detail. With the help of the instructor and fellow classmates we were able to get Shiva’s collar off and stop her from choking. I don’t know how long it took but at the time it felt like forever. Panic was definitely in my eyes. I am used to Shiva’s goofiness but I am not used to this level of fear. There was a moment when we made eye contact as Shiva made a gagging kind of sound – a sound I never want to hear again – and I was terrified for her life.
Don’t worry, she’s fine. Better than fine. The very instant she was freed Shiva took advantage of our distraught states to scavenge for treats out of other people’s bags. Food obsessed to the max, she wasn’t about to let a little thing like almost choking to death prevent her from getting to the good stuff.
She’s not even afraid of jumping again. Any other dog would probably hesitate before entering the agility ring once more. Not the Shivster. She not only willingly took the same jump five minutes later, but she ran in Sunday’s fun match with her usual verve. Once it was all over, it was like nothing had happened.
For Shiva, anyway. It’s a whole different story for me.
I am still worried. As I mentioned above, this kind of thing is really nothing new for Shiva. The level of danger, perhaps, but she has almost severely injured herself many times before. Shiva is not only brave, she also has zero sense of self-preservation. Those two characteristics do not go well together. I don’t think she even really feels pain. When she landed on her back after a fall from the dog walk, she jumped right up and ran back on. How long can she go on like this? How much time do we have before she breaks something?
It makes me question our participation in the sport of dog agility. I can only keep her so safe. For the most part, she is out there on her own. I have to trust her to use her brain to prevent her from killing herself. Sadly, I am not sure I can do this. If that’s the case, I worry that by continuing on, I will be playing with fire. Shiva is just a dog. We are responsible for her health and safety. If a bad accident happens out on the course one day, it will be my fault.
I don’t know if I can live with that.