Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Sad Week in The Bay Team

SUMMARY: Our club lost three dogs last week.

Sometimes it's hard having so many friends with dogs. And in particular, dogs who were The Firsts, who started their human teammates in agility and, thereby, changed agility, changed their lives, and changed mine, too.
ADCH LAA-Platinum O-NATCH Mick, 1991-2007. If it hadn't been for Mick, Jim would never have started into agility, met his wife, moved to California, become a full-time agility trainer and USDAA board member. Jim has been one of my instructors since April, 1995. Mick was the first ever to earn agility Championships in two organizations. National Champion in both USDAA and NADAC. First dog to earn the LAA-Platinum. In all four Top Ten categories for seven years straight. But more than that, Jim adored him, and the feeling was mutual. (photo by ELF)
ADCH-silver ATCH-OP MACH NATCH Chase CL4 (and some golds and plantinums), 1997-2007. A rescue dog for Erika, Chase led the whole family into agility, where they have excelled and judged and become part of the country-wide community. Erika and I often work score table together and talk about photography--many of the photos you see on my blog came from a camera that I got from her. Chase loved doing agility and loved to yell about it on course. USDAA Top Ten dog and national finalist, the tumors just discovered in his lungs couldn't keep him from competing in Scottsdale a month ago, but a bad reaction to chemo took him too soon. (photo by Sarah H)
MACH2 Aira, 1998-2007. Came with Silvina from Argentina, and they reflected each others' personalities--bright, kind, energetic. Brought the whole family into an agility video business. Represented Argentina at the FCI World Championships. Loved chasing bubbles. I was lucky enough to do a photo shoot with Aira a year ago for a project for which Silvina got no payment but gladly took an hour out of her day to help me. A fast-acting cancer took Aira too soon. (photo by ELF)


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Thursday, March 01, 2007


For at least two millennia before the advent of the modern highway sign, civilizations posted stones at various intervals along roads both ancient and new, each stone showing how far you had come and how far you had left to go. In general, reaching a milestone meant both that you had completed a sizeable leg of your journey and that you were, indeed, upon the right path. However, there were also zero milestones--those that marked the beginning of your journey, from which all distances were measured--or, if you were traveling towards the zero stone, it marked the end of your travels.

Today, we use the phrase milestone less often to refer to actual physical distances and more often to represent a key item in a project or a noteworthy event--minor or major--in our lives. Each represents a place in the forward hurtle of time when we can pause for a moment, resting in the shade from the heat of our lives burning like candles behind us, take a drink, and reflect on where we are, whence we have come, and what lies before us.

Life milestones don't often come in spurts; they are usually spaced with months or even years between them. Major life milestones can be so stressful on our system, whether sad or glad, that many coming together at once can break down our mental and physical defenses. Even lesser ones, stacked, give the sensation of a major moment.

I ramble slightly, but towards a point: I am overwhelmed by milestones, dotting my mind with their varying significances. On January 28, Boost achieved her first-ever agility title. The following week, she and I celebrated our shared birthday, mine proving that yes, indeed, I am indeed still in my 50s and have not moved back to my 30s, and I made the final payment to the breeder for my little girl, making her all mine beyond any doubt. The following weekend, Tika earned her ADCH with a Snooker Super-Q, both things that I had been aching for for a very long time. Later that week, a good friend encountered a terrible setback that affected me and others around us, ending a long-standing relationship, and I felt in the middle of it although there was little enough that I could do. A few days later, Tika's birthday, her sixth, which says that she's got only another year before--by some definitions--she's a "veteran" dog. Last weekend, Jake competed in his first trial in 6 months (I had forgotten it had been so long--but with my knee, I had cancelled out of or not entered the intervening CPE trials) and earned two qualifying scores out of two runs, even placing against a large group of younger dogs, proving that 15-year-olds still have it. And then, that same agility weekend, out of the dismaying blue, he suffered severe seizures in the night and his journey came to its end.

I had already been awaiting with dull anticipation the fourth anniversary of Remington's death, following severe seizures in the night of an agility trial weekend--four years ago March 8.

Please, whatever gods you may be, let me sit and rest and recover from this blur of milestones.


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