2012 was big for us, very big. Kinda startling to look back and think about all the changes.
Our Household Dynamics Changed
We lost Cole at 16 years old. He was my first dog. Helped me finish college. Introduced me to the world of dog sports and especially agility. I thought losing him would be the hardest thing I had ever done. Making THAT decision was. But as soon as I made it, he showed me that it was the right one, as he never got up again. That last day was special and beautiful in a way that I didn't know was possible. And then to find out that afterwards, he was free once again to follow me everywhere, no longer hindered by a failing body...Cole taught me lessons to the very end.
We also made the decision, after years of discussion, to let Regan live with my parents. I felt like it would be admitting failure, and that I should "never give up" on one of my dogs. Well, the end result couldn't be more different. Regan ADORES my mother. Always has. Where in my house she would keep to herself, often in a room all alone, she stays in the middle of things at their house. She is now "top dog", instead of one of many, often overshadowed by others. She has a buddy, a little cavalier youngster named Lucy. They play and snuggle and banter back and forth. Dad plays frisbee with Regan, and Mom runs her through her repertoire of tricks. She's so funny when we visit. SOOO happy to see me, but anxiously goes to make sure she knows where Mom is. She clearly says "it's great to see you, but please don't take me away." She's got it good and she knows it. :-) I honestly believe in my heart now, that Regan was always Mom's dog, and she was just waiting for her forever home while living with me all of those years.
Smitty had her best year yet! We introduced her new "paw" startline behavior in January to attempt to solve horrible scooting, and I'm pleased to say she has quite the reliable startline these days. We took off to AKC Nationals in Reno, hoping to have a startline stay, and found ourselves the #1 16" dog headed into finals, with 3 clean runs!! Next major event was World Team Tryouts, with again, our best showing to date, placing us on the Short List for making the team. In USDAA, Smitty won 2 Regional Steeplechase Championships, took 2nd in Steeplechase Finals, and took 1st in Team Gamblers. She is becoming quite consistent at trials this day, something I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to say. Above all, she continues to weave herself more and more closely into my heart. We are nearly inseparable these days. She sleeps pressed against my side and watches me every waking moment that I am with her.
Austin continues to defy any age barriers, and competed on a regular basis in both AKC and USDAA. He is one QQ short of his PACH, and he has moved to Veterans in USDAA, where he is LOVING the 16" jump height. He will be 12 this month, which is just so hard for me to believe. He is now on medications for thyroid, heart and incontinence, but he is still quite fit and active, enjoying his regular swims and conditioning workouts to stay in shape. I feel grateful for all of these "extra" runs that we have had to enjoy together, and every time in the ring, we are running for the pure joy of running (and the anticipation of MEATBALLS). :-) I'm pretty certain our runs are very limited, but we are just taking things one trial at a time.
Grit started the year out enrolled in her 1st running contacts class, and was just 9 months old. She started competing at the end of July, and we are having a blast! Grit has an unusual style of learning, and has been a challenge to train, but seeing her potential shine through has made it all worthwhile. She is already showing signs of speed as fast as Smitty and we've come nowhere close to her potential. I feel so fortunate to have such a physically talented young dog. Grit finished the year with her AKC Novice and Open titles in Standard, JWW and FAST, as well as her USDAA Starters titles in Jumpers, Gamblers and Snooker. I really feel like her confidence has started to shine these past couple of months, and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us.
It's possible that I've been through the most change this year of all of us. :-)
I started the Clean Eating Diet at the end of July, stopping all soda, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, and white carbs. The impact on my body has been amazing, and I look forward to continuing to fuel my body with healthy food in 2013.
I continued working out with my personal trainer, experiencing nearly exponential changes in my range of motion, strength, power and speed. I think all of our work together had finally laid enough of a foundation for real changes to happen. I look forward to continue to peel back this onion in 2013!
I made huge progress with my mental game. I learned what goals were best for my runs (first with Smitty and later with Grit), and I learned how to stay true to those goals no matter what the environment or adversity. It seems I rarely experience an "easy, straight forward" competition experience, so mastering a consistent mental program that's independent of my environment has been pivotal in my ability to perform. I LOVE being able to walk to the line with my dog and be excited to run the course as fast as possible with my once in a lifetime dog.
I've also made some adjustments to my handling, with a more aggressive running style that keeps me in front of Smitty about 95% of the time (OMG, did I type that??). I redoubled my efforts to get verbal information out to Smitty as I'm running all out, and the results have been pretty astounding, with Smitty sometimes winning by 3-7 seconds. I think she is overjoyed to actually know where to go these days, and it's amazing how any bar issues have virtually been eliminated just by me telling her sooner where to go next.
We did get a fun new toy this year as well. I finally took the RV plunge, and absolutely love my little RV. Fits me perfectly, gets great gas mileage, and is easy to drive. I really couldn't ask for more!!
So here's to a fabulous 2013! I hope you all have a great year!!
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