Finding my voice

I haven’t been writing a blog for the last several months because I haven’t been able to figure out how to put my thoughts into words….I give a lot of credit to those of you who find your words so easily!

Competing for The CKC Agility Team Canada at the European Open with my dog Cash was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I will never forget that first run – sitting him at the start line, leading out in that arena….it was truly like time stood still for me.  It was just me, and Cash, and the thought that ‘this was it’. This was the moment I have been working towards, and I was blown away by how lucky I was to be sharing it with such an incredible dog.

Teamcanada

It is funny to me, the question I got asked most when I returned was “how did you place?” and “Did you win?” – mostly from people not involved in agility of course…because those that do know the sport know how competitive it is, and that just being there is an accomplishment in of itself.  I responded to those people that I was happy with how I did, that no we didn’t win…and I told them that I really hope to be lucky enough to go back and try again!

It was so inspiring just being there and able to see run after run of incredible teams, giving it everything they have to win.  I remember while watching finals one of the handlers had given so much of herself that she went down as she crossed the finish line just like you sometimes see Olympic athletes do at the end of a race.  Did she win? I don’t think she made the podium, maybe she did…maybe she didn’t – I can’t be sure. But what I realized in that moment is that it really isn’t the results that matter.  Sure, we all want to win…to do agility at high levels in this sport I think requires a pretty competitive personality but at the end of the day what truly matters is trying your very best, running like you really mean it, and leaving it all out there in that arena.

I know that Cash and I have a lot of homework to do in order to even have a chance at a podium finish, but I also know that if it never happens, I am going to enjoy every second of the journey, and never forget how I felt in that moment.

~ Karen

In the beginning…

Sitting here in my living room binging on German beer, and Mad Men I find myself reflecting on what has brought me to this moment. I am less than 24 hours away from getting on a plane with my handsome boy in order to represent Team Canada at the FCI European Open. Since finding out I made the team I have gone through an enormous range of emotions, from screaming with joy at the top of my lungs to sobbing with my head in my lap.  Sometimes I STILL think that I am dreaming. The one thing I know for sure? I really do want this.

I have been battling the inner voice that says we can’t, the one that argues we aren’t ready – and I think I have finally shut it down. Maybe we aren’t ready, maybe we will be eliminated from every single run over there… but I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter. With the help our coach, and some very good friends I have realized that this is the beginning of my journey, and these are my 10,000 hours. I am so blessed to have this wonderful dog, and I know that we have to start somewhere. I am beyond ecstatic that *somewhere* is on such an exciting stage, at a wonderful venue, with some amazing competitors and in the company of friends.

Today, in this moment, I am proud of how far this wonderful dog and I have come – and truly excited about the future. Thank you to everyone who has helped us along our way, and believed that we can. And thank you Julie for trusting me with this handsome boy.

Could he be any cuter?

Could he be any cuter?

~ Karen

Am I dreaming?

It has been eleven days since I found out that I do in fact get to represent TEAM CANADA at this years European Open!! I am beyond excited & deeply honoured that Cash and I are representing our beautiful country at such an awesome event.

I got the news while I was a passenger (thank God) in Mom’s car heading to work – I am fairly certain I caused some permanent damage to her hearing and may have affected the shocks in her car. I screamed & bounced and carried on for at least an hour.  There were also some very loud voicemail messages left for friends – NONE of which seemed able to answer their phones!!

After the excitement *started* to settle I got down to business to book my flight overseas & found out we were going to get to go a little bit early and stay a little bit late… That’s okay though! Cash and I are going to make a little European vacation out of it.  I immediately googled “Things to do Alone with Your Dog in Munich”. I’m not sure I’d recommend that search.  LOL.

55 Sleeps until the competition begins!!! AND…less than 7 weeks until we leave. I feel a little bit overwhelmed with all of the things I need to get done between now and then but am thankful for the support of all my friends and family. You know who you are 🙂

~ Karen

Dog is Good

I saw these words written on a sweatshirt at a trial I was at recently, and loved it.  The company is “Dog is Good” – http://www.dogisgood.com – anyway, I thought I would share one of my favourite pictures of my Red Dog Miss Maya with these words.

Dog truly is good, great, and absolutely everything.

So lucky to have them in my life.

~ Karen

Baby Alberta

Cash was bred for a second time to a beautiful bitch named “Grand Oakes Capture the Moment” aka Leica – she produced 7 healthy puppies AND I was lucky enough to be there for the birth of most of them.  It was so incredible to be involved, and bear witness to something so  magical.

I knew that I could not take one of these puppies for myself, as I have my hands quite full with two young dogs under a year of age…but the Universe smiled on me and let me spend 48 hours with one of the boys.  We picked him up from Julie’s house on the way home from the USDAA Chicago Regional, and kept him with us in our home as one of the gang for a couple of days before he got on a plane with my husband to head to the Wild West.

I could not believe how much he reminded me of his father at the same age, and how quickly I fell madly in love with him. He is one special little puppy, with the most incredible eyes, and sweetest personality.

Having him for the short time that we did was a blessing – watching him get on that airplane with Bryan was SO hard! However, I know that he has a very good home in Alberta &  I am so excited to see all of the amazing things he and his litter mates will achieve 🙂

~ Karen

Animal Communication & Energy Work

A very good friend of mine has recently launched a website for the amazing work she does as an animal communicator & energy worker.  Sue has had a profound impact on my life in the time that I have known her, and has made such a difference in how I work with the dogs! We would not be where we are without all of her help.

Check out her website here: http://www.animalandpetways.ca/

Sue is also on twitter – you can follow her there too 🙂 https://twitter.com/AnimalPetways

~ Karen

Trying Out, Journeying Forward & Daring to Dream

Cash & I have been on quite a journey the last few weeks – and honestly if I think about it, for his entire life! That dog has taught me so much, and pushed me to dream and believe that IT IS possible!

We participated in the CKC Agility Team Tryout at the end of March, and had an amazing weekend on some very challenging, fun & FAST courses designed by Zeljko Gora from Croatia.  We had two clean runs, placing 6th & 10th – and the other four had some faults. My favourite run of the weekend actually is one that we ended up off course at the end, and of course it was totally my fault! I will post some video when I get my butt into gear and do some editing…!

I was hopeful that we would do well enough to be offered a spot for the European Open in July in Germany this year – we ended up being named the first alternate.  It is a little bit hard to be that close, and not quite get it – but I know that with time, we will…and I really do believe that things happen the way they do for a reason.

So here’s to journeying forward, daring to dream…and all that the future will bring us.

~ Karen

The Countdown Continues!

Guess what?? ONLY 10 more sleeps until the hubby & I and the furry gang pile into the Airstream and hit the road for the U.S. Open in Fletcher, North Carolina!! I am really looking forward to competing with both of my dogs in such a big setting, and spending some quality time with my husband.  We are taking a week or so of vacation after the trial, and doing a bit of a road trip through the Great Smokey Mountains.

This weekend has been an awesome time at home – albeit a bit snowy (Oh, Canada!). So nice to spend sometime at home, getting things accomplished and of course working the dogs! Today it warmed up enough that I was able to run barefoot outdoors with Cash…probably the last time for that this year!  We worked on short jumping sequences with extension, as well as collection – he is doing so well.

One of my goals for this fall/winter is to focus on trick training with all of the dogs as well – it is so important to keep them mentally stimulated, especially if they can’t get outside quite as much because of the weather! I will try and remember to take some video of us working on our tricks one of these days and post it.  It always amazes me how quickly they learn!

Alright! I’m going to put down the laptop & curl up with the dogs – thanks for stopping by! Until next time!

– Karen, Maya, Cash & Keys

Back in the Agility Saddle!

Yesterday Cash & I were finally able to make it back to his regular agility classes – he had been off from agility completely for four weeks because of an injury to his dewclaw in early September. He and I are SO used to our daily rhythm of training, it was quite a challenge for both of us to figure out how to operate with agility completely out of the picture! Trick training, and lots of swimming & hiking to keep his conditioning up was what got us through!

Our first trial back was the UKI Fall Cup held at Royackers Kennels – it was the first trial I have entered where he is jumping at his International height, and could earn points towards making it on the World Team! We had some brilliant moments, but for most of the runs felt a little bit out of sync with one little mistake here or there! Our best run was a speedstakes course, we placed 2nd by only 0.2s! Pretty good for only having recently moved up to 26″!

Maya did great at Fall Cup as well – she won the overall Games Champion for 20″ jump height – I was super proud of her performance! Wished I had entered her in more runs!!

Anyway – our time off was a reminder to cherish every single moment…and made me even more incredibly thankful for my wonderful furry companions. I really cannot imagine life without them.

We have a few weeks of good weather (hopefully!!) and class with Kayl before the U.S. Open in Fletcher, North Carolina…another important trial! I can’t wait to see how we do in a competition so large – but most of all, I can’t wait to take a road trip with these guys & enjoy the journey!!

Until next time!

– Karen