Happy New Year! As I start off 2022, I wanted to reflect on 2021 and my agility accomplishments, struggles, and what I want my goals to be in this new year. Since I want to do more blog posts, I thought what a great way to combine the two. As you read this, let me know if any of this resonates with you and what your thoughts are.
This past year has been both frustrating and invigorating. I started off 2021 hoping that my primary competition dog, Cagney, had sufficient rehab of a knee injury that we would be back to full competition after retiring my older border in October of 2020. We got the "all clear" from our rehab vet and signed up for a 1 day USDAA team trial. Cagney was back in class and seemingly healed. After 3 runs I saw a hitch in his step but after his 4th run he was 3 legged again. After some tears, back to the vet we went and got a referral to an Orthopedic Surgeon that does arthroscopic surgery on canines. I called on Wednesday afternoon for an appointment and got one the next morning at 8 am and his was in surgery by 10 am that morning. He had a partial CCL tear that didn't show up in physical examination (by normal testing) or in MRI. By late January, he was on the road to recovery. Three months of daily PT and weekly veterinary rehabilitation appointments, and he was release back to gradual activity. By mid-May he was back to competition and looking good.
Because I am so involved with agility in AZ, I was still at trials almost every weekend so I tried to run my adorable rescue beagle. She is a sweet girl who loves to play in class, but HATES to play in a show. She was getting better by doing FEO in USDAA and we got to running full courses and q'ing by mid summer. The better she did, the higher my expectations and then she crumbled under the pressure of trialing. We are back to square one with her. I also have a 20 mo old McNab that i am training which kept me busy during Cagney's rehab, but she is a story for another blog post.
In addition to Cagney's issue, I was also struggling with chronic Asthma that just seemed to be getting worse. It was previously determined that I had a hiatal hernia that was causing severe GERD which was causing my lungs to be chronically aggravated. I could barely walk across the room let alone run my dogs. After some whining to my doctor, I was referred to a new surgeon who agree to repair it. A previous surgeon said that the hernia was not causing my breathing issues. Again, a story for another time. With a few scheduling delays and pre-ops tests completed, I had robotic surgery to repair an 8 cm hernia and within 2 weeks I was back to competition with Cagney. July is tough time for agility in AZ so I went to visit with a dear friend and run in her club's show in San Diego. She and my spouse were ring side as I came out of the ring with Cagney. I didn't see them and headed back our setup. Normally after a run I would be doubled over gasping for air trying hard not to pass out with them tending to me with oxygen and asthma inhalers. The time i was upright, walking and talking. They were amazed!
Finally I am healthy and Cagney has a sound knee, so we are off to the races. Cagney is a McNab-Border Collie mix, who herds like a McNab. He was constantly coming in front of me and jumping at me; I just couldn't get the information to him. I couldn't get verbal commands out or run because I wasn't able to breath. Now I can do both. We have had a few months of learning how to be a team with this new normal, but things are really starting to come together. Friends can't believe how much we have improved as a team. Qualifying runs are happening again and he has a smile on his face while running that I haven't seen for a while.
So that was 2021! For 2022, I have a few goals for myself and us as a team. First, I need to get into better shape. Cags is a 22.25", high drive dog. He can bounce jump 20 feet so for me being able to run and get him information EARLY is super important. If I can be there for him because my fitness level is higher that is going to help a lot. Second, I have never run a dog this big or fast before so I need to learn how to handle him. My timing with the beagle and my previous (tiny) BC just aren't getting the job done. I know how to do all the "moves", now we need to be able to string them together in fast order so he knows what he needs to do. Third, I need to keep coming away from every run knowing that there was some good stuff we both did and a few things we need to train. It is hard to not to get caught up in the blame game. We are a team and I am the leader of that team. I need to show him what to do and if we aren't successful then I need to train him some more so he gets it next time.
As many people know, just writing down a goal is good, but your goals should be S.M.A.R.T.
Here are each of the goals and the SMART portion of them so I can track my success:
Specific - I will workout 3 days per week. 2 cardio days and 1 yoga/weights day.
Measurable - I should be able to run a 12 min (not fast at all but steady) mile.
Achievable - I thought about 5 days per week but that is a bit much with my schedule. 3 days is a bit better and gives me a rest day because we know i will be trialing every weekend.
Relevant - Keeping up with Cagney is a key factor in our success as a team and this is an important goal for me.
Time-bound - I would like to be able to run a mile in 12 min by June 30th.
Specific - I want to reduce my handling errors from our current level down by 15%.
Measurable - I will begin videoing all my practice and competition runs. I will rewatch them and start identifying where i am making errors that cause refusals or dropped bars.
Achievable - Watching all runs will help me see where I am having problems and how i can fix them. My ultimate goal is to get him qualified for 2022 CynoSports in Scottsdale, AZ.
Relevant - I love running this dog and being successful with him is very important to me.
Time-bound - I will do a full 30 days of measuring our baseline and then in 3 months I want to be down by 15% from the baseline. This means by May 15, I should see the difference.
Specific - I will report 2 good things and one training opportunity for ever competition run.
Measureable - I will track all of this in a spreadsheet so I can see my follow through.
Achievable - This is just a matter of discipline and I will see if i can get people to ask me the goods and training opportunities after my runs.
Relevant - this will keep me focused and see our improvements and finding opportunities for additional growth.
Time-bound - I will do this for the next 6 months.
I hope that you found this post interesting. I am hoping to try to do an agility blog post every other week this year (a 4th resolution?). If you enjoy reading these let me know so I know I am not screaming into the void. Chat soon. Hug your pups!