I despise sports, for the most part. I don’t understand people running around tossing inanimate objects at each other, ready to face a ball in the head. Soccer was a sport I played before, but I stopped that a long time ago after my unlucky streaks lead to a ball hitting my stomach every game.
I also used to run track, but running in a circle didn’t do anything for me either. Instead, I chose a sport that few people seem to know about. Last year I talked about it, and several people gave me confused expressions and wondered what in the world I was talking about. That shocked me, I figured people had at least seen it on TV, but perhaps the dogs don’t get the same kudos they used to.
Agility. If you haven’t played it, you’d never know how much there is to running it. Some people, who have only seen it, still don’t know the work that goes into it. Some people disregard it as a sport, when in reality it takes a lot more training and team commitment than most people could imagine. It’s also more exciting than the same ritual tossing a ball and throwing it in a goal. It doesn’t even involve a ball, thankfully for me.
Instead it involves my clumsy self running a course with my dog. A lot of people wouldn’t appreciate a coat of drool on their pants at the end of the day, but I have learned to. Of course, if you choose to play it you don’t have to go for the drool variety of dog, I just happened to fall in love with that type.
My dog, a liver and white English springer spaniel, has too much intelligence to run laps in the yard and chase after a ball. He’s too smart for his own good sometimes, so without agility I wouldn’t know where to fuel his personality type.
I had never had much experience with the world of dog sports until Tucker entered my life. Now, Tucker is one of the more interesting dogs to watch run because of how animated he is. He runs with his heavy ears catching the wind, and his eyes intently focusing on me. Every leap is more than just jumping – it’s an act of freedom. Every tunnel he flies through isn’t just an obstacle, it’s a game. We take the sport in a fun way, which is what counts.
This sport has been fun for the both of us, and it connects owner and dog like no other event. Literally so, it does this. While I may not get hit in the head with a ball, I have to worry about a dog smashing into me.
Yes, I was hit in the head with a dog. Thank you, Tucker, for your ability to make me feel slightly hypocritical, since there is no sport that involves me being injury free.
Our last agility trial, after months of training him to do his teeter without bailing on me, he decided to fail another obstacle. The dog walk allows him to be higher than me, and it’s a simple, straight walk. However, it’s not that simple for eager, hyperactive Tucker. Normally I would say I love his size, because he’s right in the middle. However, I wished at this moment that he was a Chihuahua, something I could throw my arms around and catch.
Instead, he bailed at the top of the dog walk, while I was running alongside him as usual and whapped me in the face. Instead of a ball moving at fast speeds into my face, I had a dog landing on me. I still find it less painful; I had to get my head back into the game fast to keep up with him, because he wasn’t going to let that stop him. There are no time outs in agility. If you get injured, you have to hobble along until you cross the finish line. After all, I wouldn’t shame my dog over a simple injury by walking off the course.
It doesn’t stop at that. I trip quite often, or pull something in my leg while trying to keep up with his speed. I love it though, despite injury, I can handle this kind of injury. After all, instead of a disapproving coach staring at me while I lie on the ground, I have my ‘ready to drool on you’ dog standing above me with his tail shaking his body, and his expression wondering what I’m doing lying around on the ground when there are jumps to glide over, A-frames to climb, tunnels to crawl through and dog walks to injure his helpless owner on.
Yes, I love agility. To all those people who don’t know what it is, I feel sorrow. To all those people who don’t think it’s truly a sport – try it.
– Samantha St.Clair