Oh, I shall skip the usual spiel about how I am going to start updating this blog regularly. We all know that will never happen. My track record for the 6 or so years that this blog has been in existence shows that. But I am in one of those reflective moods where I felt I would summarise my year, for myself, and try and hold myself accountable for any goals in the year ahead.
Where to begin? Well, it has been another year that I said I would compete every single weekend, made a long list of goals, achieved some, and then proceeded to finish my competing season by August. Standard Abbey! But you know what? Despite all of that, it has been one of our best years competing; less from a results perspective, and more due to the fact that my partnerships with my dogs have blossomed, things have clicked into place, and we have had huge amounts of fun along the way.
Maisie won into grade 6 early in the season. This was my goal for the year and we achieved it fairly easily. She has become more consistent and as a result, we gel far better in the ring these days, with considerably less frustration from either of us. We have trained more regularly and had more input from others. I have stopped trying to run her safely (which it turns out was never that safely at all!) and the change in attitude has brought out new fun! We attack courses now.
As with every year, we have had ups and downs. I have never hidden the behavioural issues that my youngster has. I have constant battles inside my head, trying to figure out what is best for her. About whether I will ever have a solid partnership with her. About whether I will ever truly enjoy running her. About whether she can ever be a truly normal dog that doesn’t just take a huge amount of management. I have seen light at the end of this tunnel this year. We have bad days – days when it feels like we will never make any headway. But we have good days too, days when I see things click into place and her finally becoming more of a normal dog. And the good days far outweigh the bad days, for her incredible temperament with people overshadows her incredibly poor and unpredictable temperament around other dogs. She has come into her own in the ring now too. I still find her rather hellish to queue with, but she is a different dog in the ring and is finally becoming far, far more level-headed and sensible. This is allowing her at last to show me she can manage everything I have taught her away from my field and in other, far more exciting environments. That is exciting.
Inca remains much the same. At nearly 9 years old, she rarely competes these days, however, she managed to gain herself some placings this year at some of the UKA shows we attended. She enjoys her life being naughty, raiding any food supplies she can get her nose into and just generally doing the opposite of what I tell her, all in typical flattie style.
And teaching remains a passion. I teach so many incredible partnerships. Whether those partnerships are just in it for a bit of fun or whether they intend to compete at a serious level, they each bring something to my day that keeps the sport alive for me. Youngsters learning how to interact and train their dogs in a fun and responsible way. They are the future, and so many people lose sight of that. I am blessed to meet so many amazing people, every single day. I am blessed to meet so many incredible dogs, every single day. And I am blessed to be able to try and make a difference in some of these dog’s lives, every single day. No lesson is the same, no dog is the same, and no handler is the same – I am blessed to get paid for something I love.
Reflection over. Here’s to 2019. Another year where I fully intend to throw myself into agility, and having all the fun whilst doing so.