Saturday, August 20, 2011

One more checkmark on the Bucket List

It has always been a dream of mine to one day perform with my dogs in one of the world famous "Superdog" shows. Having grown up watching them as a child I was always in awe of the amazing canine athletes and as I aged I was even more in awe of the amazing people who handle and train them. Over the years I have kept an ear to the ground waiting to learn how I could get an opportunity to audition and this year everything just seemed to come together. I discovered that a long-time flyball friend of mine got her start in the sport due to Superdogs and was an integral part of their operation. I told her about my life-long admiration of this show and she worked her magic and facilitated an audition during the Saskatoon Exhibition shows this year.

Although we have a number of dogs that would be suitable for the show I chose Kiwi as my partner. Anyone who has met her and fallen, spellbound, for her enchanting ways will understand why. She has a presence, an energy, that far exceeds her athletic abilities and is impossible to ignore. Before the audition she only had the most basic of agility and disc training but her self confidence and trainability made me confident in my decision.

We arrived on the first day, Kiwi excited to be out in such a public venue and me a little nervous as to what was in store. It did not take long however for us to settle in and the familiar faces of my friends Courtney and Sam turned the nerves to excitement as I prepared to fulfill a life-long dream and check one more thing off my "bucket list". The whole week went by too quickly in a blur of people, dogs, new friends and laughter but some highlights stand out above all else:

The first time Kiwi did "Pat and Chat" after the show and I watched over a dozen people swarm around her, hands outstretched and petting every inch of her body. Even I felt a little claustrophobic in that setting but Kiwi, ever the social butterfly, soaked it all up and looked for more. The 8 more sessions of this to follow over the next 3 days did nothing to dissuade her of her notion that all people were put on this earth to love her.

The first time I asked her to run an obstacle course, complete with tunnels (an object she had never seen before) and she executed it with few errors - all of which could have been easily corrected with better handling.

Bringing Brynne on Thursday to expose him to the atmosphere and doing the final Pat and Chat of the day with him. He laid down on the podium and accepted all the attention like he was born into it, even handing out the occasional "kiss" on request to squealing and delighted children.

Stepping out onto the stage for my first show in front of 2500 people with Kiwi, looking out into the crowd and having only a brief moment to reflect before Kiwi hit her tug at full force and brought me back to reality.

Performing in my first Superdog relay event with Tov, my wonder puppy, and having her perform flawlessly - focused and unfazed by the large crowd. Time and time again I marvel at this little dog who was never supposed to be.

Making so many new friends who share similar passions to my own and meeting so many amazing trainers who skills and experience I will be drawing on for years to come.

It was a whirlwind and thoroughly exhausting week but I left on Friday happy and fulfilled and so very very proud of my dogs. I hope that there will be more opportunities in the future for us to perform with this amazing cast of canines and trainers but if "now" is the only time we have we certainly made every moment of it count and I would not trade in a single second.