The topic is aging, in case you didn’t guess. I dithered about writing about aging in dogs, but I think that’s a well covered topic so far. I have been very lucky with both my retirees; I got to decide for them, and I got to stick to my rule of “don’t wait until they get injured”. I don’t ever want to run my dogs on pain relief medication, and I never will. I hate to see it in my teammates, and my agility club and my flyball club will not allow dogs to train who are on pain relief medication. If my dog is looking tired or stiff or sore, I don’t run it. If I don’t notice it in my dogs, I trust my teammates – my friends – to tell me. I know they trust me to do the same.
I’ll admit, I did think it would be a little weird for me to talk about handler aging. I’m in my mid-20s; not exactly in the upper age limit for agility handlers (is there one?). Which is cool! I love that agility has such a diverse range of ages, there are very very few sports where teenagers compete directly against people in their eighties, and it could be either one who wins. (It’s also great that men and women compete directly against each other, although the gender split is something else I find fascinating and could talk at length about – but probably another day).
I actually got the inspiration for this post after chatting to some of my agility class last night. We were discussing the idea that you should improve, as a handler and/or trainer, with each dog that you have in agility. Your second dog should do better than your first, your third better than one and two. I really believe this, and so far, I’ve lived up to it. Dylan is a much better agility dog than Kim; he has less purely natural talent, but he is better trained and is more consistent, and he’s achieved roughly the same as Kim in a shorter space of time (achievements being hard to measure directly). I sincerely hope that Rio will be better than Dylan, but we need to both age a little more before I can judge that one.
What was really important about this discussion, was that I was having it with some of my agility class. Hopefully they won’t mind me saying this, but my classes are primarily made up of people who are older than me. I’m grateful that they are willing to learn from a couple of 20+yr old women, because a lot of people simply wouldn’t consider us experienced enough. I know at least some of them are going to kick my ass in the competitive arena. I’m excited that I get to compete against them at all. Just as with our dogs, where there are courses that suit my big leggy BC better, there will be courses which suit me better. I love that agility is so encompassing to all ages, and that as I age, agility will still be a sport I can do.
I have no conclusion. I rarely do on this Action Day Blog Posts, it’s just an excuse for me to ramble about things that are interesting. Thankfully other people do have good conclusions to their articles, which you can read here.