I’m not a big Thanksgiving person.  OK, honestly, I hate the holiday.  The food, the insane crowds everywhere, the traffic if you want to go ANYWHERE, the stress–ARGH, can’t stand it.  That said, I’ve been hearing so much complaining about every little thing lately, especially in the agility world, that I thought I’d take a minute to remember the things I’m thankful for.

First, I’m thankful to my family for recognizing the insanity that is my life with dogs.  It is assumed dogs will be coming with me when I visit, that any gifts I actually want will revolve around agility or the dogs, and that it’s much easier to get me to visit if you find an agility trial nearby.  And especially to my husband, who accepts my crazy hobby (mostly) without complaint, lets me travel across the country for competitions, and has even signed on for a trip to Europe to compete there.  I’m grateful we both have jobs that pay for this expensive hobby–for the equipment, the classes, the trials, the gas, the hotels, the gear.  The 50 different leashes that I have to have, and the dozen crates.  Agility is a luxury that I’m happy we’re able to afford.

I’m thankful for all the great friends agility has given me.  Some are close-by, and I see them several times a week.  We encourage each other, we badger each other, we debate handling and course design.  We analyze videos in slow motion, looking for the minutiae that caused that bar to come down.  We stand by a jump arguing the right way to handle a sequence for 30 minutes, then time each dog to find out what is truly fastest.  We celebrate the wins, and lament the losses.  Other friends are farther away.  I may only see them once a month, or even every few months.  But they’re always there at the next show, smiling, asking how it’s been going, and looking to catch up.  And a few I’ve never even met, or only see once a year at the big events.  But they’re always there on Facebook with a comment, or through email, and making me smile.

I’m thankful to all the clubs who put in the effort to hold an agility trial.  Any single failing will result in criticism for months.  It seems now everything is expected to be perfect–the surface must be faultless, the judges giving out Qs like candy, results available instantaneously, equipment has to be exactly what each individual wants  (nevermind that not everyone agrees on what that is).  If one thing goes wrong, you will be reamed in cyberspace.  If everything is perfect, crickets can be heard.  Thank you to the trial secretaries, clubs, and workers, who diligently continue to offer shows so that we agility-addicts can continue to enjoy our hobby.

I’m thankful for the judges, who take time away from showing their own dogs, and from spending time with their own family and friends, to allow us to go out there and compete.  They stand in the middle of the ring, walking the same path, trying to give each team the same individual attention.  Their courses will be criticized, their calls questioned.  At the end of the weekend, they will get on yet another plane, to go home, and get up and go to their “real” job the next day.  It takes a special person to judge, and I’m grateful to those who continue to do it, and strive to do it well.

Last, I’m thankful for my dogs.  They aren’t perfect, but they’ve each taught me so much.  I’m thankful that so far, none of them have had a problem that I can’t fix.  They are getting older, and I know at some point, that will no longer be the case.  Ticket has had two major orthopedic surgeries in her short life, and missed more time then I think Trip has missed in her entire career.  And while it feels awful and unlucky, I’m thankful that at least it’s a fixable problem, and once she recovers, she will be past it and able to resume agility.  And even if she couldn’t, she would still be here and be a part of my life.  I’m thankful we have the technology to put a pacemaker in a dog, so Shiner can hopefully have a few more years with us.  I’m thankful to Mardi, who while loud and compulsive, still has the zeal for life of a puppy, despite the fact that her body is starting to slow down.

I’m thankful I was able to take the time this year to be trained in acupuncture, so I was able to help Trip recover from her neck injury.  I’m also thankful to Trip for reminding me what a privilege it is to step to the line with a partner like that, and how important it is to enjoy every moment of every run, good and bad, because you never know when it will be your last.   And I thank her for reminding me how important it is to LISTEN to your dog, and trust them when they are showing you something is wrong.  Thanks sweet girlie–you’re the best partner I could have ever wished for.

Here’s to many happy runs, and many more things to be thankful for! 🙂

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