Saturday, October 15, 2011

Que Sera, Sera

I heard people grumbling as the first few dogs came off the course. The several inch layer of sand that had been unexpectedly covered over the hard pack dirt might have been fine for horses- but the agility handlers and their dogs were straining to run. Most of the dogs were disqualified or dropping bars on jumps they rarely miss. Asherel and Honeybun rocketed off the start line, exuberant and excited, and then it was clear that Asherel could hardly move. Honeybun was leaping and running, but leaving poor Asherel in the dust. Somehow they finished the course admirably, but Asherel was breathless and distraught, "I can't run in that!"
"Well, you did a very good job considering, and since you can't change it, just enjoy the next runs for what they are. Don't worry about doing well, just have fun and learn new things."

It was not the fault of  my dog club, who was sponsoring the event. They had rented the facility  with the nice hard pack dirt surface long ago, and were informed the night before the trial that the expected hard pack surface was now sand covered. The participants had long ago sent the checks, made hotel reservations, and packed their dogs for the trial. There was no way my club could change plans now. They hoped the surface wouldn't be as bad as it seemed likely to be.

The grumbling escalated. Several handlers told the organizers they were going home. I was in charge of finding workers for the first two classes. Since I looked official, with clip board and microphone in hand, I was a target for some of the frustration.
"I just wasted $400 on this weekend," said one upset lady, "They can just have my entry fee, but I am going home. I can't risk my knees or my dogs, running on this surface."
I glanced at my unfilled worker clipboard, "Oh...would you want to work the next class then? We need a ring crew..."
The woman glared at me and shook her head, storming off.
"Is that a 'no' then?" I called after her.

Finally, the judges and organizers called a powwow. There was a plot of grass outside the sand covered arena. If they used just one ring instead of two, meaning the show would take twice as long, they could move all the equipment to the grass. Everyone there had to unanimously agree to this change, or they would just slog along with the dangerous and impossible sand surface. There was one dissenter, and the whole new scheme was almost tabled, but then the dissenter was dipped in boiling tar, and surprisingly changed her mind. The entire mob of dog handlers now moved together to take down the temporary fence encircling the sand ring, and erect it around the grass ring. The heavy equipment was moved piece by piece, with the hundred or so participants each swarming about with agility jumps, tunnels, chutes, tables, A-frames, teeters, and numbered cones in hand, like army ants. Within less than an hour, the show continued on the grass field.

Many people still went home.  They didn't want to have to wait several hours (for some) between their classes. We ourselves had two to three hours between each of our three classes, but it was a beautiful, warm sunny day. There was some consternation that the show might not end til after dark, and Asherel might miss the party she was so anxious to attend with fellow homeschoolers that night. Still, it was hard to not be cheery in 70 degree sunshine, under blue skies in the middle of a quiet peaceful country. The show was at an animal farm, and I took a break and walked for an hour, looping along paths with zebra, ostriches, camels, potbellied pigs, guinea hens, turkeys, emus, and horses. The rest of the time, I worked all the classes except the ones Asherel was running in. Shockingly, Honeybun did not seem interested in all the animals, and was wonderfully focused on Asherel. She missed her first attempt at the Weaves in the Open Standard class, but then nailed it on the second try. That was the only mistake she made and in Open level, one mistake at the weaves is allowed. We suspected she had Qualified. (Qualifying means the dog performed with no more than two mistakes in the open class, and within the time limit, without knocking down any jumps. When a dog qualifies enough times at each level, he moves to the next higher level.) The crowd that remained was remarkably happy, and enjoying the slow pace of the one ring agility trial. It had all seemed so awful at first, with so many unhappy people and that impossible situation. Now, we all had sunburnt noses, and were sitting in our chairs on the grassy field, basking in the sun and watching each dog as it ran the course, cheering in unison when it finished. No one was grumbling anymore, and despite the long day, it had all gone smoothly. I think, it was even nicer out there rather than in the covered arena anyway,  there on the sunny field, with the exotic animals dotting the adjacent pastures. Not only had the mutiny been quelled, but the mutineers were all smiling.

And then, the last class of the day, as the handlers were walking the course, they all broke out spontaneously into song.
"Que sera, sera," they sang, "Whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see, Que Sera, Sera! What will be, will be."

I had been in the bathroom at the time, but I heard the voices swell together, and I laughed. How wonderfully these fine people had tackled adversity, and made the best of a disappointing situation. I love that song and it reminded me of a favorite prayer: "God grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen."

Then, I checked Asherel's score on the computer at the judges' table- she had indeed Qualified...and won first place.

 Isaiah 29:24:
Those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who
grumble will accept instruction.

Joshua 1: 16,17
...“Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 ...Only may the LORD your God be with you....

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