Category Archives: stories

You can have what it is you want…

Let’s face it, training during summer in Florida is a bummer! I find myself procrastinating and getting distracted with ten other things before I make myself go out and do something with my dogs.
But to keep my agility dogs in shape and ready to bounce back into trial mode when the fall trialing season starts, I REALLY need to train through summer. Because performing well at trials is important for me, I try to push myself by thinking how I feel when my dogs perform below par because I have the seemingly perfect excuse: “I is so hot!”
I play this quote in my head, over and over again: “You can have what it is you want or you can have your excuses for not having it.” Very powerful…still so hot out there.

Ok, Lilianne you need a plan. We will train a minimum of 3 times per week, very specific exercises, each practice short and sweet (and hot). We just need to practice the weave poles, not even all 12 poles just correct weave entry. How hard is that? just 2 poles, I will send each dog 3 times. I will do a couple of simple one-jump exercises (Linda Mecklenberg’s jumping system is my favorite); that will keep the muscles they need for jumping in shape. Amelia and Oliver need to work on their running contacts. I am experimenting with this new (for me) method and it looks like they are fast learners but you need to get out an do it!

Today I made it! After putting it off for a couple of hours, my guilt level rose to the max as I had left Holly, Amelia and Oliver in their crates in the garage after giving them their breakfast and promised them that after tending to just one urgent stuff, today we would train!

So armed with some super high value treats (tripe and meatballs) which I think is the doggie equivalent to a Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (which is my idea of a high value treat if I was to work in this heat), we trained, the dogs had a great time, were really eager to work for the super yummy treats and I am sure I sweated at least one pound off. Maybe I should get a scale and weigh myself after each session, that might keep me motivated!

We did it!

We did it! Sabrina and I finally got our long awaited CATCH (CPE Agility Trial Championship).

For those of you who are not that familiar with the Agility jargon, a CATCH involves getting at least 94 qualifying runs in at least 3 different levels (ascending in difficulty) in 7 different classes. When you get your CATCH, you are awarded a humongous rosette and a bar. Yes a PVC bar just like the ones that are used on the jumps. You run a victory lap around the ring holding your bar and afterwards all your friends sign it. I know, it sounds silly but it is a huge thrill!

Since Sabrina celebrated her 10th Birthday last September, she was experiencing the normal slowing down and “creaky” joints; so for the past year we had been doing limited showing just competing in one or two classes instead of the usual five per day that are the norm at CPE agility trials (CPE stands for Canine Performance Events, one of several organizations that offers agility trials).

As would be expected, the closer we came to earning our title, the more elusive it became! I lost track of how many “almost perfect” runs we had where one little mistake, usually my fault, would cost us the coveted “Q” as we call a Qualifying run. I must admit that some days I just wanted to throw my arms up in desperation and quit. To add on to the stress, Sabrina started being lame on and off because of a cronic injury that I think is related to her jumping a gate to get to the store and steal samples of dog food. Typical Sabrina…We keep several different samples in baskets under a table and she just picks the Pheasant and Brown Rice! So now we are adding quiropractic adjustments, accupunture, Chinese herbs, massage, supplements, icing, you name it we have tried it!

Now for Sabrina, it was a different story. She could not care less how many “Q’s” we were missing or if we got that big rossette or not. I don’t think she even cared if she had pain or not. After watching me run with the other dogs and loudly voicing her objections, she was so happy to be let our of her crate… it was finally HER turn. Probably the fondest memory that I have of competing with her is how many times people I don’t even knew came up to me and said: “She looks SO HAPPY running out there with you.”

So when the thrill of the win is over and the photo and rosette have faded, my heart will still be joyful for the happy runs we had together. Sabrina, you are the BEST!

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Amelia’s Paw



I observe Amelia’s paw as she tries to climb all over me while I try, unsuccessfully, to take a power nap. I cannot but stand in awe at its perfection: round, pitch black, all the shinny little hairs arranged in orderly lines, covering it like a bonbon covered in melted chocolate. How can this little paw harbor so much strength? Even her nails are shiny, hopefully a consequence of her Raw Diet and the Salmon supplement she gets everyday in her food. I am proud of the good job I have done about keeping them short. I am now a little nail obsessed since my vet told me how important nails are in sending signals to the brain for balance, proper body posture and prevent injuries –very important for my agility hopeful.

Then I look to my right, where Sabrina who just turned 10 years old, is huddled up to me. She sneaks up on to the supposedly forbidden couch when I take power naps. She is sound asleep, doing a much better job of ignoring Amelia than I am. For an instant I am saddened by her paws, also round, shinny and beautiful and now sprinkled with lots of white hair, getting creaky and a little painful with every year that goes by. I quickly force the thought out of my head, as I know she can hear me. Focus on the good times, I order my brain. It is the natural law of life, maybe a glimpse of my own aging. How many times have I wished, for a slimmer body, faster legs and less pain in my feet. I wish I had started running in Agility when I was younger. Maybe I am the one who is jealous of those perfect puppy feet?

But the passing of time makes us who we are today, hopefully wiser. So for right now I will look back at our journey with my dearest Sabrina, slowing down but still looking at earning the coveted Agility Trial Champion title, we are just 2 qualifying runs away. She has taught me most of what I know in Agility and thanks to her, the ones that I have trained after her have had the privilege of not having to endure my training mistakes. Thank you Sabrina. We hug each other tighter.

And that persistent little paw that won’t let me nap is a glimpse of the new exciting journey that lies ahead. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

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