While at the trial this weekend, I was talking to a friend, and in the context of the conversation, I was talking about the long, step by step process that I had to take Dean through to help him move from being afraid to be in the building during Agility class, after hearing someone scream at her own dog right next to him, to being super excited to go in there and run. That process first required him learning to go into the building during class and play. For an entire session that was all we did during our turn! Once he had that down, I was able to ask him to perform one piece of equipment in between long tug games. Eventually, he could do short sequences, and much, much later, whole courses. Throughout that time, he went from being worried, to being less worried, to relaxing and enjoying himself. It took time. It took work. We got there.
Dean wasn't really the subject at hand, but as I talked about him, a light bulb suddenly went on in my head and I knew exactly why I am so upset about the fact that Dean may be finished with Agility forever. All of a sudden I just knew.
It is very, very difficult to leave Agility behind with him because he and I both had to work so hard to be able to enjoy it together. And I'm talking about Agility class here - trials are something altogether different. We put in the work - days and weeks and months and years. And he was enjoying it. He loved going into the building, playing, doing his run, and then heading to the car to relax with his music! That attitude didn't come easily. We both had to work for it. We both had to experience the setbacks and the difficulties and we were both reaping the fruit of all of that work. We got to the point where it was something we could enjoy doing together - even if I did have to go out of my way to make certain conditions just right for him. I was able to do that. We were at a good place.
It is difficult to let that go.
I am very glad to be exploring Rally FrEe with Dean. And I really, really, really want to get into more dancing with him. While not really so much of a performer, Dean is a beautiful dancer, and I would love to create a few really good videos of his dancing. We could do some really nice work for the Challenge, and I believe that time has come.
But something is missing without Agility in our lives, and now I know what that is.
We have a few options here. First, I have even more motivation now to find out what is going on with Dean's hip/leg. Maybe this is something that can be fixed, and we will be able to get back to running. I don't care if we need to drop his jump height to 16 or even 12, if he can run comfortably and safely. Of course, if he can't, we won't.
If Dean can run Agility again, I am going to do some NADAC with him. I have always meant to, and he really deserves that chance. Maybe we will only go for a few more Novice titles, but I would like to try for a few. I'd love to take him down to Periland to run NADAC. We could hang out in the building (because NADAC is teeterless!), run a few courses, and then he could swim.
But if not, that's OK. If he and I are done with Agility, then it is time to focus our energies on other things. Level 3 Rally, Rally FrEe, Cyber Rally, and/or Freestyle. There is plenty to do. And all of the work that Dean and I did to get him to where he could enjoy Agility can be used in those venues. That's the thing I have to keep in mind. All of the enthusiasm and confidence that Dean has gained makes it possible for him to more than just Agility. He wouldn't have earned his ARCH and loved every minute of it were it not for all of the work we did in Agility class.
Really, Dean doesn't care what we are doing. I think he might actually like the Rally type sports better than Agility. I know that when it comes to trialing that is absolutely the case.
I learned with Speedy years ago that sometimes you have to change directions. You might not always end up where you wanted to go originally, but sometimes the final destination is even better. Of course, I still don't know if this is really the end of the line for Dean's Agility - it might not be. But if it is, we are going to find the right direction. Dean and I still have a lot to explore together. No matter where this road takes us, I will love getting there with him.