Sunday, 22 September 2013

Our most hectic day

As I've said before.  I tend to be the type of person who doesn't have much to do for the majority of the time.  Then, a day like today happens where I have far too much to do for all of the time.  I'm not complaining because I love to keep myself busy but I think both Caesar and I will sleep very well tonight.

Caesar this morning - oblivious to
how busy his day was about to get!

For weeks I have known about today.  And, the excitement and anxiety have been building up about it too.  Most normal people with normal dogs would think this is ridiculous.  Most normal people turned up at a show this afternoon and were told 'you can try flyball over there,' and thought 'OK great, let's give it a go.' I am not normal.  I have known that this opportunity was coming for over a month.  And, I have been stressing about it for exactly the same amount of time.

"Please pretty please don't let me down!"

 I also know that tomorrow, my little sister, whose feet I would like to glue to the floor is going on another world adventure.  She is the Indiana Jones of the family - language teacher version.  And I guarantee that by the time she is 30, she will have travelled most of the world.  This time, she is only going to Spain.  I say 'only' because her last adventure took her to China for a year and so, by comparison, Spain seems a stones throw away.  We had been invited to lunch to celebrate with her.
"I'll tell Emma I can't make it," I told my mum on receiving the invite.
"You won't." came the answer.  "You've been waiting months to see him try flyball."

My sister and Caesar just before she
embarked on her adventure to China.

So, we arranged lunch and flyball attempt number 1 so that they didn't collide.  We would eat at 12:00 and meet Emma at the dog show at around 3:30 - 4:00.  I set up a little run in the garden at my parents while waiting for lunch.  The course included bricks supporting canes and part of the inside boarding of a transit van to grab the ball from.  The ball was the famous 'Bouncy' who, through treating and fussing, has become a firm favourite among his toys.

A small audience consisting of my mum, my dad and my sister gathered as we ran Caesar over the jump and to the ball.  Caesar got a round of applause as he returned, dropping Bouncy at my feet.  "Again!" my mum called so we did it again.  "One more time!"  Caesar darted too and fro with gusto.  I have to admit I felt fairly proud of him, although that didn't necessarily give me confidence about his ability to run in the presence of other dogs.

I waited nervously for a text message from Emma to come through to my phone.  My stomach churned.  Why do I put myself through these things?  Maybe I should just accept that Caesar is what he is and give up trying to make him something better.  I checked me phone for the hundredth time.  Nothing.

Finally, just before 4:00, my phone buzzed with a message 'Come now x'.  I jumped out of my seat and, with my heart in my throat, made my way to the car, Damien and Caesar by my side.  I arrived at the show to find the car park full.  Already I was starting to panic.  "This looks busy," I said more to myself than Damien.  He nodded in anxious agreement.

To make matters worse, the flyball track was at the other side of the field.  Past the bouncy castles and the stalls with dog treats.  Past the refreshment stand and the main show ring.  And all the way to a place filled with cars, cages and DOGS!  Caesar yowled and howled and barked and cried.  I looked pathetically down at him.  I worry that, when he does this, I look like I don't care, mainly because I just stand there.  The reason for this, however, is that I've quickly learnt that nothing gets him past this aside from walking away.  And, when you're trying to go in one direction (ie. towards the other dogs), walking away just doesn't cut the mustard. So, second only to this is plainly ignoring him.  Although this doesn't work either, at least it doesn't give him attention for doing what he's doing as pretty much every other method does and hasn't worked anyway.

I felt physically sick.  And this feeling was multiplied one hundred times when Emma told me to remove the lead.  "Can't he do it with the lead on?" I asked foolishly.  The answer was a simple head shake.  My hands were shaking so much that I could hardly unclip the lead.  I could feel the energy radiating from Caesar.  He was like a firework waiting to explode.

The first run went well.  He ran to the end, grabbed a treat and Emma caught him.  Then it was time to run back.  This was not as easy.  He ran back, clattered into my legs and kept running.  He did a circle of the constructed ring and then finally returned.  The second time went worse.  This time, he ran to one end, jumped one barrier and then did a kangaroo-hop like jump over the other barrier and began running around all of the cars and dogs.  It took what felt like ages to get him back, even though later others would comment on how good it was that he 'came straight back.'  Although many were shocked to see twenty-three kilograms of Staffie jump a fence and run towards them, I was relieved that he did nothing but run around like a maniac.  Although, when I did get him back, the last thing that I wanted to do was let him go again.

Come back!!! Where are you going?!

By the seventh or eighth time, he was exhausted but at least running in the right direction ninety percent of the time.  My face was burning with the pressure and I could see that I had a small audience.  "Caesar, Caesar, Caesar!" I called in my fakely enthusiastic high-pitched voice.  In actual fact, I wanted to jump over the fence and run off myself.

The hot sun and running around took its toll on Caesar fairly quickly and, although pretty nippy at first, he quickly slowed down after his initial burst of adrenaline.  I decided to quit while we were ahead and make towards the car park.  I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to Emma but I knew she would understand.  I have a nervous disposition and a nerve-shakingly mischievous dog - I need to escape sometimes.