Get Back to Work! (Written 8/22/20)
Updated: Oct 20
Ever since the Covid-19 situation happened, the dogs and I haven't done much.
For starters, this past spring and most of the summer everything was shut down. No trials, no shows, no practice shows, no training sessions off the property. For another thing, at the same time, I was up to my eyebrows in newborn baby goats and seven does that needed milking twice each day. So I did not have time to work dogs even if there had been anything to work for. And finally, there came the mandatory mask.
However you might feel about the wearing of face coverings, let me just be frank with you. As a visually impaired person who is already compromised in quite a few ways, the addition of a mask does me no favors. When wearing one, my tiny sliver of sight is even further curtailed. My hearing is messed up. I can't smell, breathe, or even speak clearly. Without a mask, I feel slightly challenged. With a mask, I feel truly handicapped.
And when you combine all those factors with attempting to train a dog, the situation really does become a bit of a crisis. Navigating the ring gets complicated. Seeing and hearing my dog and keeping tabs on what the dog is doing is tough. Giving clear and concise verbal commands isn't easy. And remember, too, that obedience dogs are taught to look up in to our faces to take their cues and read our expression.
So even when trials began to open up again, the dogs and I stayed home.
I just wasn't sure what rules applied to what shows, what locations and what clubs. And to be honest, the eligible dogs and I were so far behind on our training program, that I wasn't even sure I cared.
It had even gotten to the point that Meg was virtually retired. Meg is ten and a half years old now. She also has a heart murmur. If you do the math, let's say things cleared up enough for us to begin training again in the spring. By then she would be eleven. Dump another six or eight months on top of that to get her ready for the actual show ring, and she'd be eleven and a half. And at what point do you say that a dog is just too old to jump and retrieve and concentrate like that anymore?
It was turning out to be a heart-breaker. Meg loves to work above anything and everything else in the whole entire world. To take that away from her, when she really wasn't ready to quit yet, all because of a silly mask mandate, plain and simple just didn't seem fair.
Still, when I heard that more and more shows were opening up, and when I found out the Kansas City Dog Training Club was presenting its regular practice obedience fun matches again, I reached out to one of the club members to get some answers.
And this time, it was good news.
Yes, everyone is required to wear a mask while in the club building. However, that rule does not extend to a handler working a dog in the ring. So you step in the ring, the mask comes off, and everything is back to normal.
That was all I needed to hear. I sent in the entry forms, and Brio, Tassie,
and I are signed up for the next match. Besides that, Meg has glibly skipped away from the border collie black hole of retirement. As long as she can, I'm going to let her keep working. No mask for me, no retirement for her. Fresh purpose for both of us. So let's get back to work!