Sunday, September 5, 2010

Finishing Well

The day did not begin auspiciously. (for those of you studying for the SAT, I have pasted a free vocabulary lesson below:)
promising success; propitious; opportune; favorable: an auspicious occasion.
favored by fortune; prosperous; fortunate.
     The first class of the day for Asherel and Honeybun was called  "Fast". In this class the dog does indeed need to be fast, but must also successfully complete enough obstacles/jumps to earn a minimum number of points to qualify. Additionally, the dog must get a "bonus" section, which is set apart with an orange taped line. The handler cannot step over the line, or dire consequences ensue. For starters, the dog will not get the bonus points, but I think other horrible consequences rebound upon the offending team as well, such as death threats from the AKC. I am not sure about this, but I do know that agility people take their sport very seriously.
     Anyway, Asherel was fast. So fast in fact, that Honeybun was left in her dust, and wondering just where she was supposed to go. She missed the entrance to the tunnel completely because she was trying desperately to stay up with Asherel who was sprinting like a bat who has just sniffed its own guano.  They did not qualify in that event, didn't even come close, and our dear mentor Polly told Asherel she was too fast. Way too fast. Slow down, she advised, so your dog can keep up.  So taking no chances for the next class, Polly walked the course with Asherel. If everyone had a Polly in their pocket, life would be a cakewalk. Polly is enormously talented in her own right at agility, but beyond that, she is a very gifted teacher. For example, to show Asherel how to run the course for her next class, Polly became a dog. Polly is a very lovely woman, but she became a dog, moaning to Asherel that she was "too fast" as dog Polly tried to keep up.  Asherel who does not chuckle easily, was chuckling. And she almost qualified in the next class- making just one mistake- dropping the last jump.
     Then our favorite dog, Kaz, the 13 year old Polish Sheepdog that lumbers over each jump barking and dumping most of them, happily plodded to the finish, where he was awarded a jump pole, signed by dozens of admiring fans. This was to be his last agility trial, and crowds of people who love Kaz, and especially love his kind and gentle owners, wanted to present him with a special award. He deserved that award, the one all of us should covet- the nice and honorable and kind companion and owner award.
     As if the day could not become more lovely, Asherel ran her last class, the dreaded Novice Standard. She has come close, but never qualified in that class. Arvo came to watch for the first time, and Honeybun adores Arvo. We were concerned that when she caught sight of him, she would leave the course entirely. However, despite some minor mistakes, she ran the course cleanly, qualified and won her class height in her division.
Kaz is retiring in his happy barking blaze of glory, and Asherel is just catching the whiff of what it means to be an agility handler. Ascending and descending... all part of the rhythm and glory of life.
     It was not an auspicious beginning, but it was an auspicious ending. And ending well is really what matters.
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Deuteronomy 8:16 (New International Version) 

16 He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you.


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