About mid-June, a wonderful friend forwarded the standings for the 2018 AKC Agility Invitational in Orlando and Indie was still sitting in the Top 5 for "regular" Berners.
I was floored as Indie really only ran at 24" a handful of times during this qualifying period. Besides taking some time off, there was this whole bloat and recovery debacle, plus she had to heal a minor injury, a likely result of bringing her back too soon to run on cement (go figure!).
This is MUCH different than the previous year where we were going strong right up through the qualifying period just hoping to stay ahead of some other great dogs especially since we took time off for puppies. Our community lost two dogs in the top 5 (regular dogs) last year after the close of entries - a heartbreaking reminder that everything can change in an instant. When Indie bloated I truly entertained the thought that some sick "curse" had befallen the invitational dogs. The memory still aches for all impacted.
Once Indie ran her last run at Westminster, I promised her she didn't have to jump 24" again and she could run "preferred" as long as she loved the game. After all, she had a MACH, went to the Invitational and ran at Westminster - more than I ever dreamed - and this was just in the agility ring.
My ego was planning outfits
Yet when my friend shared the standings in June, my ego came roaring forward with pom-poms and noise-makers! On the one hand, I believe that if you have the chance to do something, you should go for it because you might not get the chance again. On the other hand, I promised her.
Could I get her conditioned to jump 24" again? Absolutely. She's running well and in great shape, especially for 7.5 Berner-years-old. I LOVE going to the Invitational - it's fun to attend, to run, to cheer on friends and to shop (ha)! It's a great event! And I didn't think Indie would get to go once. let alone twice! Oh, and Moxie qualified for the Obedience Classic. My ego says, "WHEEEEEEEE!!!"
But I promised her. I promised her that from Westminster on, agility was all for fun and she didn't have to put 95# over 24" jumps. I promised her fewer trials, no more seminars, and more joy.
As Indie is now fully recovered from her bloat surgery, her conditioning is back and her times have improved. At the time of this writing, she is halfway to her PACH and the AKC Agility Nationals is a mathematical possibility - again, all "gravy" as it were.
Don't put Baby on the sidelines
We don't have these dogs long enough - regardless of your breed - and how we as competitors choose to spend our time with them is complicated and messy at times. Indie loves the game, has a ridiculous, yet low-key, work ethic and still paws passionately at her crate if I take one of the other dogs out to work. I know she is not ready for the sidelines.
Meanwhile, I am a competitive person who loves me some animal-partner sports. I've been working alongside a horse or a dog since I was five and I love walking into the ring with my four-legged partners. I work to achieve, and qualifying for "things" is well, fun! So getting the parchment in the mail this week with our names on it fills me with pride and motivation. Love it. Crave it.
In the end, as a competitor and lover of the game, I WANT to go to the Invitational. But I made a promise, and I intend to keep it (though it's kinda going to kill me a little - ha).
Special thanks to my clients and friends who share their stories and allow me to help when I can. My secret sauce in my performance coaching is there is a bunch of life coaching that comes forward too. Because what happens outside the ring impacts our performance when we step to the line. I continue to be flattered to go on these journeys with my warrior clients!