A Poem, Angst, and the Coolest Dog in the World

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…

17 thoughts on “A Poem, Angst, and the Coolest Dog in the World

  1. Sorry I am a little behind on all this.. But I think you made the right decision. One thing you have to keep in mind is shiva is kinda built to jump, much like Luna they are both light on their feet so at least when stuff like this happens you don’t have to worry as much as some of the heavier dogs. I am sure there are all kinds of accidents that have happened but when compared with how many times there have NOT been accidents I think it still heavily outweighs the risk.

    What about some other outlets for her like tracking or nose games? Those may be a bit less athletically challenging but they would totally challenge her brain as you progressed and got more complicated. Soon as we wrap up bird work with Luna I plan to do more of said outlets myself. I bet with all her drive she would be a great at scent detection.

    That is pretty amazing what that staffy can do, I personally would be really worried about all that jumping up on and off things though with how heavy built he is. But hey to each their own. I have always thought of skyjoring with Luna but lack the snow… and skiies…

    Way to keep on!


  2. I’ve never had a dog like Shiva so I can’t be too much help in giving advice. But I really think you and Shiva can work it all out together since there is so much love between the two of you. Thank you for sharing stories of your growth together. She is having such a great influence on your life.


  3. I’m glad to hear that you and Shiva will stay busy! I think it will make both of you happy in the long run. I’m pretty sure she would be very unhappy to be on the sidelines!


  4. In this poem you will the love he has for the dog.. I am just hoping every person is like this to their dogs..


  5. Yay!! I’m sure you and Shiva will find lots of fun stuff to do together (including agility!) You have every right to be shaken up by the events of last weekend, but you and Shiva are a great team – you shall overcome!! Loved the video – thanks for sharing!!


  6. Glad you’re going to keep doing agility but not stress out about competing. It is the year of zoomery after all!
    Thanks for posting the link to the TreT videos, he’s amazing and gorgeous (even without his poor ears). You could totally train Shiva to run on a wall!


  7. I missed your post yesterday so I just went back and read it. I’m sorry that happened and you have ever reason to have been afraid, and every reason to feel cautious. Fortunately, Shiva seems to make it clear that she’s the athlete you describe her as. I suppose thinking of her as an athlete is one way to help you feel better about things. They excel physically, they are ready and willing anxiously, and sometimes they get injuries, but great athletes do it because they love it. You are doing something very brave—feeling a little bit afraid (“what if it happens again?”) but doing it anyway. I think because Shiva loves it.


  8. I’m so glad you have figured out what you want to do, and you have a plan in place. Backing off a little and trying to make sure you keep it fun is never a bad idea. There is no law that you have to actually compete to have fun and participate in a dog sport!

    Oh, and that poem was adorable, thanks for sharing it!


  9. Pingback: In Which We Experience Fear | Life by Pets

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