May 25th, 2014


The End of an Era

Today I moved all my agility equipment off of my field and onto a trailer to move to my house. That probably doesn't sound too momentous but it has been there for 20 years and moving it signals the end of a large part of my life.
Twenty years ago we moved out of a house we bought in 1986 to move into a small bungalow located on the property where my husband's business is located. He wanted to be closer to work and I liked the idea because of the nice big field that was part of the property. I had already been bitten by the agility bug but had almost no equipment of my own and was doing most of my training at a local humane society. I had a few homemade jumps and a set of stick in the ground weave poles, a tunnel from ToysRUs and that was about all. I was looking forward to having more room to practice and making some more jumps, maybe even buying a tunnel.
We had been in our new house 7 days and still had a few more things to bring over from the old house that my niece and her husband were renting from us when we found out that my sister had terminal brain cancer and of course that changed everything in the space of one phone call. Eight short  months later my sister was dead, I had spent weeks helping to move her from Arizona to CT and I had quit my job so I could help take care of her in her last months. I had to move to CT and leave my life behind and when I came back I was at a loss what to do with myself. I didn't want to go back to my old job although I probably could have, To help me deal with the stress of her illness and the grief of her loss and the upheaval in my life, I immersed myself more deeply into agility. It was the only way I could begin to distract myself from what was happening to my family and it brought me a lot of comfort to exhaust my self running sequences with the two of them and then sitting or lying in the field while they lay near me giving me comfort.
Over the next few years more illness and loss occurred and doing agility, traveling to trials, attending seminars and teaching classes helped me to distract myself and give me a way to find some happiness even when things were so bad I sometimes wondered if I was going to survive. No matter how bad things got though I could count on being able to find some enjoyment from training and running my dogs. By this time I had lost my 6 year old Dobe but I had adopted a Border Collie who was challenging and fun to train and run. Jaime and I travelled all over the eastern US pursuing the agility dream and trying to adjust to all the changes in my life.
During that time not only did I acquire some new jumps, I also got my first store bought jumps, real weave poles, three brand new contacts from Action K9 Sports in CA and was hosting seminars by people like Mary Ellen Barry, Ronda Carter, Pati Mah and Jen Pinder. I was teaching almost every night of the week and by the time I got Devon, I had other people also teaching there. But no matter how busy it got, there were always plenty of times when I was out there alone with my dogs and the hawks and the foxes. It was where I spent most of my time when I was home. My house was messy and there were dirty dishes in the sink but my field looked great and was always set up with something to run.
It was this quiet and peace that eventually helped me heal and caused me to resist putting up lights so the field could be used even more. The instructor I had teaching there left to teach elsewhere and my own teaching waned with my interest in filling every moment to keep my thoughts away from painful subjects. I started to appreciate the ability to have it to myself and I was working full time and trialing with two dogs so I needed my evenings to train.
After 13 years I still loved my field but not my tiny bungalow and we moved to a house with 7 acres to mow which made it really hard to keep up with mowing the field. Even though it was only about 5 miles to the new house, my field became more and more neglected and then Devon had to be retired from agility and Zodi also since she couldn't jump due to problems with her toes. Enter Nosework and my poor field became overgrown and the equipment needed serious attention.
For over a year I've been trying to convince Chuck to let me bring my equipment here to the house but he's been reluctant because it's a lot to move in order to do all the mowing necessary in the summer. I finally convinced him by pointing out how little I was using it and how badly it needs repair and painting. So today I packed everything onto a trailer and into a truck and brought it here. Now I can make some progress with Spriggs contact training and even continue teaching a few private lessons. I've also been doing some agility with Devon since not doing agility hasn't seemed to make any difference to his back and since two vets have told me that when I was told by the popular rehab vet I consulted originally to stop doing agility with him that they thought I should allow Devon to decide whether he wants to do it. The first time I took him out there to do a few sequences I couldn't believe how happy he seemed. He made it very clear that he's really been missing the opportunity to do it so I'm going to try doing some trials with him and see how he reacts to the exercise.
But today, packing everything onto the trailer, it hit me how much of my life had been lived on that field. I've shared it with friends and dogs and students that I'll never see again. I've laughed and played and cried out there more times than I can even count. I've walked out there in my nightgown and picked blackberries off the bushes for my morning cereal and shared those berries with dogs who were a huge part of my life and now don't even exist. I shared it with my sister in the last months of her life. My parents watched as I practiced agility with my dogs there probably thinking about how they used to watch me do similar things with our fat old GSP when I was 10 years old. My husband started his business on that property and 20 years later it's grown threefold.

As I was leaving tonight, I thought about all the sunsets I've seen out there and all the times I've been out there at night looking for shooting stars. I thought about the cold winter nights and the hot, muggy ones and all the times I've heard the foxes barking from beyond the cedar trees. Of course I can still go out there any time I want to but in some way I felt I was saying goodbye to it and the part of my life I spent there.