Sunday, July 4, 2010

Starting and ending well

Starting lines are the most hopeful places on earth. At the starting line, everyone is a potential winner, a champion, perfection waiting to unfurl. Some lucky few carry that potential to completion with nary a waver.... and then there are the rest of us.

Our first official AKC Agility trial began yesterday. We had very low expectations and viewed it as an opportunity to learn, be with great people and great dogs, and have fun. Honeybun seemed calm and happy and with 3 or 4 hours of sleep under our belts, we were too tired to be nervous. She actually had a great day, given all the things that could have transpired. With all the dogs and little children squeezing and bumping her, I was counting it a victory that no one was racing to the hospital for stitches from our little Agility Dog. On top of that, she placidly completed one perfect run and not only qualified (which means she met objective standards that put her on track to win a title) but placed third in a height class 4 inches taller than she has jumped before, and pitted her against the Border Collies. She is not close to as fast as a Border Collie, but she rarely knocks over a jump or goes off course... she is moving too slowly for that. So to the slow and obedient, an unexpected and happy reward.

But the crowd pleaser that day was a sheepdog that lumbered around the course, barking happily and occasionally paying attention to his master. Sometimes he would stop and look happily at his master who was pleading with him to "Jump! Jump!"

The dog would stand there and smile at the crowd, and finally trot over the jump. He approached the apparatus called the chute with the same happy-go-lucky attitude. The chute is a small tunnel with a collapsed cylinder of cloth the dog must run through blindly as the material unfurls around him. The sheepdog plodded happily into the chute and the material bulged out around him.... And he stopped. His owner called, pleaded, clapped his hands but the bulge in the chute was still. There was a faint movement that looked like a wagging tail. The judge became worried as it reflects poorly on the AKC if a dog suffocates on the ring. As the judge sprinted over, the bulge slowly moved and emerged, shaking his shaggy head.

The dog didn't win or even come close, but he did win the hearts and laughter of the audience. In my mind, that was the more coveted award.

Job 8:7
Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.

Nothing is impossible with God.

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