Monday, July 5, 2010

All the Right Reasons

I love divine appointments ; the wonderful people God brings to me in this often tumultuous river of life that give islands of refuge and delight.

As Asherel was walking the course for her last run of the weekend AKC trial, I took Honeybun out to walk and sniff and do whatever business a highly untrained but willing Agility Dog should do. I was in a bit of a daze as the very early morning, and noisy Independence Weekend evenings had taken their toll on my consciousness. We almost bumped into another handler, probably equally dazed, walking his dog.

He asked me what kind of dog Honeybun was.
"She's a Carolina Dog," I explained.
"I don't want to appear stupid," he said, "But what is that?"
"It is not recognized by AKC," I told him, "But it is a breed recognized by the UKC and the American Rare Breed Assoc. (ARBA)."
"Really!" he exclaimed, "My dog is an ARBA breed too!"
I glanced down at his dog, which in my hazy fog of fatigue I had not paid much attention to til then.
It was the sheepdog I wrote about yesterday- the wonderful happy fuzzball that had captured the hearts of the audience as he good-naturedly and slowly trotted around the agility course!
I told the owner how much we enjoyed watching his dog and how I had written about him in my daily blog. He asked me to send him the link and I took his contact information, then had to scurry back inside to hand Honeybun back to Asherel for her class.

When I got home, I sent the man my blog link.
Within minutes I received a reply.
The Polish Sheepdog ( I think that was his rare breed) was 13 years old. He was obviously past his prime for agility contests, and was not likely to win many more awards. But the owner and dog both loved the agility trials, and the people they had met and befriended over the years. He told me many friends had kindly and gently counseled him to retire his sheepdog and get a puppy for agility.... but he just didn't want to deprive his sweet faithful old dog of this pastime that they both so enjoyed. My blog post had come at a hard time for them and been a little bit of encouragement.

I read the letter, and of course cried. How often we hold back words of affirmation, encouragement, or praise that might steady a faltering step? With all the hard core competition and even back biting politics and acrimony that seems to accompany every competitive endeavor, it is so easy to lose sight of what really matters.... friendships, laughter, intrinsic love of the activity. Over the weekend I heard many stories about severed relationships, jealousies, back-biting.... all the ugly things that happen when people gather. To see that lovely dog and his wonderful master do agility together for all the right reasons helped me remember the need to keep it all in perspective.

I have a potholder that I think I got from my mom. I am not quite sure how I got it and it may not have even been from her, but it says, "It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice."
I used to scoff at it, thinking it was just the rallying cry of those incompetents unable to achieve much. I figured it was the sour grapes mantra of people who could never hope to be important. I repent in ashes and dust now for such a despicable attitude, but that is how I felt.

The older I get the more I realize that being important is much easier than being nice.... and how I long for nice! The world clamors after so many things that in the end mean nothing.
So I leave the wonderful agility weekend with a warm and happy oasis in my soul, the memory of a man and his dog who run around a ring and jump for the sheer joy of being together among friends.

Ruth 3: 10-11
10 "The LORD bless you, my daughter," he replied. "This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character.


  1. What seems like a small moment for us can be such a big moment for another person. If only we take more time for small moments!