Unhappy news today. My hopes of doing practice shows with my dogs, which had skyrocketed a few weeks ago, were shattered.
Just this past week, the Greater Kansas City Dog Training Club, the group which holds most of the practice shows in this area, voted on a rule mandating the wearing of masks in the practice ring.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is simply not an option for me.
Wearing a mask outside the ring is hard enough, resulting in what essentially translates to a second handicap. But wearing one while attempting to train, work, and communicate with a dog, as well as other people, while in the ring is nearly impossible.
So that's it. At least for a very long time. Obviously we will continue to train here at home, and we'll probably skip over to Camo Cross and practice there every so often. But there will be no practice shows for us, which means no real shows for us, for what could turn out to be an extended period.
It also means retirement for my wonderful workaholic girl, Meg. Because she is already ten-and-a-half years old with a confirmed heart murmur, it's unrealistic to plan on showing her again after yet another delay.
This COVID crisis drags on with no end in sight. By the time it is finally resolved, Meg could be as old as eleven or twelve, much too old to put her back in the utility ring.
In many ways, I feel that I have failed with Meg. She is one of the best, if not the best, working dogs I have ever been privileged to partner with. And now it's over. I know that if she been paired with a sighted and more experienced handler, Meg would have excelled in obedience, agility, tracking, and pretty much any other doggy sport you can think of. I am the one who has held her back. And now it's over.
So the best I can do for her is to give her the long walks she loves and continue to love her myself, perhaps not as a competition dog, but as who she really is a smart, dutiful, loyal, and friendly companion who has taught me an awful lot.
I can also use her as an inspiration. Never again will I waste another dog the way I feel I have wasted Meg. I have lots of dogs with lots of potential, and I'm not going to shirk bringing it out. So the game plan is to use this at-home time to train and to train good. Brio is still working, the only one of my older dogs who is. But the younger crowd -- Cinder, Tassie, Banner, and Butterscotch -- have a wide-open world before them. They are all well-started and they're all gonna be good. So let's make it happen, kids!