At first glance, my dog and I are complete opposites. She enters a room and wants to be seen by everyone, whereas I enter the room and give my best effort to remain unnoticed. She wants to be as loud as possible at all times – for any reason from excitement to fear – and I am usually described as “the quiet one” in groups. She automatically assumes anything new is exciting and dives right in while I observe new activities from the sidelines before joining in. But, once you plunge underneath the surface we share many more similarities than differences. And it makes us the perfect pair. She was my “heart dog” the minute she came home and I am beyond #CrazyLucky to share the journey with her. She knows how I am feeling many days before I do. And she always seems to know exactly what I need. She has taught me how to find courage in the moments it disappears and she reminds me every day how many things there are in life to smile about.
We can both be described as “detail oriented” (or “control freaks” if you so choose) – neither one of us goes along very easily with change – while we both have an over-the-top excitement for adventures. Nothing makes us happier than a day at the beach, a hike through the forest, early morning snuggles or stepping up to the start line on the weekends. We both have a bad habit of staying focused on anticipating what’s going to happen next and it would be hard for us to say if we like food or adventuring more. We each have an independent streak with a strong sense of stubbornness (although we prefer “persistent”). We can both be awkward around people we don’t know. We are highly protective of each other and are rarely more than a few feet apart; walking side by side (although we might very well be looking in different directions). Our love for playing agility together might seem extreme // weekends spent camping out of a minivan, waiting hours to run a course for less than a minute, going home exhausted but always with big smiles; ribbons or no ribbons. No place feels more like home than the moments we are running together; working through the course one obstacle at a time, connected and confident in the lessons we have taught each other.
She is an Australian Shepherd named Boo (short for Bugatti – because she only likes to go through life on one speed: fast) // my teammate in the agility ring as well as outside the agility ring. And together we have learned more lessons, taken more adventures and discovered more magic than I could have ever dreamed. And I hope our ventures are far from over. She has taught me more about diving into life and finding courage than anybody else. Over the last seven years our adventures have included an assortment of hiking trips, beach days, lazy afternoons on the lake, road trips, minivan camping and countless weekends spent waiting for our next turn to step up to the start line at agility trials. Above all, just happy to be trekking through this wild ride called life together – one day at a time.
Agility took a special place in my life from the first time I was introduced to the sport. There is something about the speed combined with precision while navigating a never ending series of puzzles that I love; always giving you an opportunity to push yourself to be the best you can be while also being a cheerleader for all the other teams that step up to the start line. And Boo loves it, too; mostly because she gets to run fast and bark as loud as she wants to. And there are treats involved. (She would probably like to mention that she does not love the parts that require stopping and waiting.) But I think she also likes the challenge of the puzzles. Our adventures in agility – from training in the backyard to walking in the ring at our first national competition – have taught us some of the most important life lessons.
Agility has taught me to handle things one obstacle at a time. You can’t rush to the next obstacle in life without first working through the obstacle in front of you. (But don’t linger too long or you miss the opportunity to handle what’s headed your way. And before you can blink your dog is three obstacles ahead of you; barking because you haven’t given any instructions on what to do next). Agility has taught me that communication requires constant awareness; and it’s one of the most important skills we can learn. Connection is as much about listening and being responsive as it is about talking. It has taught me that it really isn’t all about the end goal – there is a lot of magic to be found in the journey. Sure, stepping up to the start line at nationals and feeling the rush of leaving it all on the field is incredible. But so are the moments along the way; from working through training issues to developing mental management techniques, there are many puzzle pieces to be found throughout the journey. Taking risks, trying new things and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone makes the magic even bigger. Some of my favorite runs are not the ones where everything went as planned; but the runs that pushed me to think on my toes and hold on by the skin of my teeth. Those are the moments that make me smile the biggest; the ones where Boo and I both gave it 110%, found the courage to try new things and figured it out one stride at a time. And the same can be said for the adventures we take in life. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath, take the risk and step outside of your comfort zone. Even if you aren’t sure exactly how to execute; because in the end you’ll never know if you don’t try.
Agility has taught me the value of having teammates you can trust. Having a tribe you can depend on, and who in turn can depend on you, is some of the best stuff this life has to offer. And, perhaps most importantly, agility has taught me to celebrate the good. This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn; so difficult that I have it as one of our mottos on the back of my agility chair. As someone who has a hard time sinking into the present (instead thinking about the future or dwelling in the past) stopping to celebrate is not my first instinct. But, I’m slowly learning that no matter how small, the good is always worth stopping to celebrate. There will always be enough time to work through the challenges later, but sinking into the moment and celebrating the good reminds us that there is always something to smile about and there will always be enough love to celebrate all of the good we can find. #DontForgetToBringConfetti
Over and out,