Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2013 has come to an end

All in all, this year was brilliant. I got to trial more than I ever had the chance to in previous years. This resulted in me qualifying two of my dogs for the 2014 AKC National Agility Championship which will be happening right here in PA. 

I've been struggling to put my 2013 recap into words. I want to skip ahead to all the good stuff, but sometimes the rough patches are what make the good stuff so good.... so here we go. 

By the end of 2012 I was tired. I had spent way too much time dealing with Medical emergencies that fall. I had been to the ER to get my bite wound from a Rotti treated, Knight was rushed to our vet twice- I was so afraid he was going to lose an eye one visit, and my father spent his fair amount of time in the ER too. 

I didn't trial much. When I did, Knight continued dislike trialing. He'd drag his feet, jumping was hard for him. My 3 year old dog was losing his love for the game right in from of my eyes. To top things off, driving home from work on December 30th, 2012 my Papmobile died. I spent 30 minutes sitting in the freezing cold waiting for someone to pick me up. I was tired, and just ready for things to start looking up again. 

When 2013 began I had a "new" car and was dead serious about qualifying for AKC Nationals. We opened the new year with a fantastic CPE trial and I was feeling good about our full trial schedule. By the end of January I was rushing Lilly to the emergency vet. Weeks of sleepless nights followed. 

She made a full recovery and so did my sanity. Sarah and Jesse were in constant contact with me through her surgery and recovery. Selina helped out in all the quiet ways that she does. She offered to sit with me while I waited for Lilly to come out of the emergency clinic, gave me space, and took care of Lilly's meds when I needed to get away from the house for a little while. They are all wonderful friends and I cannot thank them enough. 

When Lilly jumped back into the agility scene she brought home Doubles both days. Handlers were coming up to me to tell me that "Lilly was like a completely new dog!" Just like that we were half way done our double Q requirements. (For Nationals we needed 4 double Qs, 20 master Qs, and 500 PACH points). I ran her like I trusted her, and she gave it her all. 

We had some brilliant runs. I am so proud of how we looked out there. Mia had some of her best runs, tearing up course times like it was her job. Knight-man was HAPPY again. He was running 4" and rapidly improving with each and every trial. Very quickly he became my anchor. He ended the year with 13 out of the 20 double Qs he needs for his PACH. The dog I watched give up in 2011 was gone. My happy little man was back. 

During the spring semester my grades took a bit of a hit, but my dog career was just starting to take off. Twice a week I got to assist Training classes under my friend and now mentor, Denise. Discussions were started about putting together an agility foundations class. In April I finally put some AKC Breed champion points on both Knight and Mia (this was huge for me). 

May was like a dream. Knight won 2 more points towards his breed champion. Then I got to go to a 5 day seminar called the Dogs of Course "Instructor Training Course". Met a bunch of fabulous trainers, listened to dog lectures all day for 5 days, and made some great new friends. Including a little shelter dog I wanted to take home.... but my mom (wisely) said no. I certainly did not need another dog at the time. 

Right after ICT, literally right after... I drove home from NY one night and left for KY the next morning, I attended the 2013 Papillon Club of America National Specialty with Selina and our whole crew of 5 papillons.  Papillon heaven. Mia placed 3rd in a very competitive open bitch class at our National Specialty, and placed again in a large open bitch class for one of the Regional Specialties. I finally found the confidence I needed for the conformation ring and we were owning it. 

Then came the summer.  I never remember much about the summer. I always work too much. I lose track of days. Everything blends into one long continues blur. This year was a little different though because I had some fantastic co-workers who did a damn good job. While I was still working too much I wasn't plagued by stress dreams of the kennel when I'd go to sleep. 

Once a week the staff would try to get together and do something. Movies, rock climbing, bowling, Hershey Park, even mini golf. It was a wonderful change of pace. If it weren't for Cassie, Selina, Meg, and Tori I would of spent the summer working, eating, and sleeping. It was good to go out and just have some fun every once and a while.

 As the summer came to a close, I got to spend a glorious weekend up in New Hampshire. I wandered some of my favorite mountains with Lilly and Mia by my side. It always feel like I'm at home when I'm out there. I hiked and reveled in the perfect imperfection that the mountains have to offer. I finally had room to breathe. Lots of soul searching was accomplished. 

Right before the new semester started up again I started dating one of my kennel co-workers, Cassie. Certainly not a turn I saw my life taking, but I'm so glad it did. 

The fall had its fair share of ups and downs, but I didn't feel so alone facing them.

Mia hit a rough patch in her agility career, she wasn't the loud ballsy girl I came to love in the ring. Thanks to Lilly and Knight, I was more than prepared to take on her newly acquired ring stress. I'm so thankful for the skills I've obtained from owning "difficult" dogs. We worked through it, and we're starting to find our stride again. 

Cassie joined us at a few trials to support us. A fantastic girl who enjoys my dog habit? How did I get so lucky? 


Lilly and I ended our last trial on rocky ground, but after a few run thrus we're starting to find ourselves again. She likes to keep me humble.

The fall brought on my very first Agility foundations class. I'm so proud of how much I've grown as an instructor. Dogs are my element. I know what I'm talking about and I'm starting to feel at home in front of the class.

2013 was the year of setting the stage for 2014. I wanted to qualify for AKC Nationals and we owned that. We picked up some breed points, I made some new friends, somehow managed to get a girlfriend, and made dean's list for the fall. I walked away from a job that I've had for years, and walked into a job that I hope to have for many years to come.

2013 wasn't easy. It wasn't supposed to be though. That's what makes our accomplishments feel so good. We fell so hard some days, but we managed to bounce back every single time. 2014? Bring it on.