But again, he is happiness.
He presents his belly for a friendly scratch.
If you call him, he will drop his tennis ball,
Look up, and come running,
This muddy friend for life. When you bring your nose
To his nose for something like a kiss,
You can find yourself in his eyes.
– “Nelson, My Dog” by Gary Soto
I want to thank you all for your supportive advice. It wasn’t an easy thing for me to write. Until I started, I didn’t even realize how worried I was about Shiva’s future. The words kind of fell out that way on their own. When I was forced to confront all the close calls we’ve had, I couldn’t help feeling disturbed. If Shiva was human, I am sure she would have been hospitalized several times by now. The jump standard incident was just the last in a long march of frightening moments. When I think on it, that event probably wasn’t even the worst.
What. A. Dog.
After thinking and discussing and crying and more thinking, I’ve decided to keep on keeping on. As many of you said, Shiva loves agility. Loves all sport activities. Though the equipment does add an extra challenge, agility is no more dangerous than disc dog or flyball. She is just as likely to hurt herself playing tug in our living room as she is on the course. She has far too much energy to stop playing games completely. Slow, steady walks around our neighbourhood aren’t enough to keep her from eating our house. It wouldn’t be fair to keep her from having fun due to my personal fears.
Besides, it’s fun for me too. If I quit because I am afraid, I am just reverting to my old “Cautious Kristine” habits. It’s hardly healthy.
This doesn’t mean I am not going to make any changes to our approach. Perhaps the episode with the jump standard happened on the same weekend as the Return of the Zoomies for a reason. Or perhaps not, but it was timely in a sense. I realize I’ve been taking all this a little too seriously. Let no one tell you dog sports aren’t just as competitive as the human variety. If I allow myself, I can get just as caught up as the jocks I mocked in high school. Which is missing the point.
Thus, I think I am going to back off a little on the agility front. We will still attend classes and fun matches but I am not going to make it the centre of our time together. There are multitudes of games we like to play. Each deserves its fair share. Shiva is more than willing to devote just as much energy to catching frisbees as she is crashing through tunnels. The genius of having a high-drive athlete like her is that everything is a blast. Her enthusiasm is as limitless as her energy. Truly, by focusing on only one activity, I have been holding her back.
It’s time to see what other sports we can
conquer assault together.
Okay, that’s the last of the agility drama, I promise. To make up for it, I thought I’d share a video of one of my favourite Youtube stars, TreT. If you haven’t seen this gorgeous Am Staff do his thing, prepare to be gobsmacked. He has gotta be the coolest dog in the world. This guy sure doesn’t let fear stop him from having a good time.
I wonder if Shiva could learn to run on a wall…