Last year, I interviewed the director of canine resources from Guide Dogs for the Blind. As you may know, they breed their own service dogs. I shared a little background on Lilly with her, and in support, she basically said that there are some dogs who come out of the package and you can do nothing wrong. With others, she admitted, you can do nothing right. Since I often wonder what exactly I did to mess Lilly up, this perspective provided some comfort.
What if, Lilly simply is what she is. What if, the teeter incident, the motivation waning, the outright fear, have nothing to do with my green mistakes and have everything to do with her body chemistry, her brain development, her rough start in life.
Then, again, I’m sure there are countless green mistakes that may have taken root and ruined everything.
Perhaps I needed a tougher dog as my first performance dog. One that could weather my mistakes. Maybe a big-boned, not-so-bright dog would have been a better choice than my fine, tiny, smart, high-strung girl.
But, as I’ve said before, I did not set out to get an agility dog. I adopted a dog, who needed agility.
Lilly and I began training for the sport when she was about 15 months old in summer 2005 because I didn’t know better than to wait. The plan was to begin trialing this summer. Unlike others we started out with, who have been competing for a year already, I had no desire to rush Lilly into the ring.
And, yet, I still had my eye on summer 2007. Almost two years of training seemed just right for a couple of girls like us who didn’t know what the heck we were doing.
Maybe that’s why this so-far-lovely summer feels off. I had big plans, and they’ve been torn asunder.