Friday, March 6, 2009

The old girl

My old girl Soda (Lucratif Barbwire Babe UD ADM JDM SPD ET), affectionately known at home as “Noodle”, turned 12 yesterday. She seems to be enjoying her old age. She’s as deaf as a post and I think her eyesight is a bit dodgy, but nothing appears to worry her too much. She spends most of her time happily living in her own little world. We have an interesting hand waving system developed for communicating with her. Calling her up to the house looks a little like directing a Boeing 747 into a parking bay at the airport. She’s not really interested in going out much anymore. Given a choice between a chewy strip and a car ride the chewy strip will win every time. The only exception to this is a trip with the furry family down to the beach. Without fail when we get about 10 minutes from the beach she starts barking. Being deaf all the telling off in the world from us does nothing to shut her up so we turn the radio up and try to ignore the racket instead.

Soda was an amazing agility dog. She had this ridiculous jumping style where she would launch herself from miles away over a jump that always elicited ooohs and gasps from anyone watching. Together we won over 40 Masters Jumping events including Royal Shows, Western Classics and State Titles. We never did quite as well in agility thanks to my dodgy training of her contacts however we did collect enough wins/places to easily have achieved her Agility Champion title if it had been introduced pre 2006. By 2006 when the Ag CH title was finally created she was already 9 years old and her hearing was well and truly on the way out. The slats coming off the dog walk put paid to any ideas of me continuing agility with her as she no longer had any way of knowing whether she was on a dog walk or a see saw. In the years that Soda ran at the Nationals, if she went clear we never finished lower than fifth place. We qualified for National Agility finals in 2003 and 2004 and made state team selection in 2004 and 2005. I officially retired her in 2006 after winding down her career with some Open Jumping classes. Although her mind was willing I felt that her body was no longer able and her long-term health is more important to me than more agility cards.

She also loved obedience and I was able to take her through to her UD title in 2005. An incredibly clever dog she learnt the UD behaviours easily and never got sick of heelwork. I never had to worry about her lagging, instead I had to work on stopping her from forging ahead of me. My desire to do obedience is fairly poor in comparison to my desire to do agility so I couldn’t get myself motivated enough to bother attempting an Obedience Champion title.

Soda was my superstar. A feisty girl who would shoot another dog at twenty paces just for looking at her in a way she deemed offensive. An “Energiser Bunny” to the core who loved nothing more than to work her heart out for me. I owe all my handling skills to Soda as her speed forced me to run hard to stay with her to get her around the course. If my timing was off she would do about five off course jumps before I’d had time to blink.

So now my beautiful girl, enjoy your continuing retirement and old age with lots of sleeping, eating and being loved for as long as I have the pleasure of you being with me.

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