A couple of weeks ago I almost lost Sonic. Like dead lost, as opposed to can't find him lost. He actually was dead but somehow we saved him. Sonic has always been a terrible eater who gutses his food. For that reason I'm always really careful and keep a close eye on what he's doing at meal times. But a couple of weeks ago I dropped the ball and I took my eye off him. That was all it took. Like an unsupervised child and a swimming pool, it happened in seconds. The whole thing is a bit of a blur and I can't even remember what I was doing before it happened. All I know is I looked out the back doors and he had collapsed. I can't explain how it felt seeing Sonic on the ground, his tongue blue, not breathing. I put my hand down his throat to try and grab the obstruction but it was too far down. Colin got behind him and somehow managed to massage this throat to push the bone back up so I could grab it and get it out. Once his airway was clear we launched into CPR. I gave him chest compressions and Colin managed to get some breaths in. I couldn't even tell you how long it took but by some miracle he came back to us. Slowly at first but he started breathing. He's OK, as normal and silly as ever. Situations conspired that night for me to break all the rules I normally stick to with my dogs and I almost paid the price. One thing I do know is that I'm one of the luckiest people around that I still have Sonic with me and a partner who pretty much saved Sonic's life.
Agility Nationals fever has officially hit. It's what most of us are thinking and talking about, particularly as panic sets in about how much work our dogs still need and making sure we don't break them before we get there. Last weekends trial, my last before we leave was not good. I had thought Cassie was going OK. We had been improving. But the trial saw a startling leap backwards and I'm where I started with a dog who won't go over the first obstacle. For someone who has spent the last two years working towards the Nationals it's a hard pill to swallow. It's very difficult not to feel the massive weight of failure. I've taken one of the most talented papillons I've seen in agility and created a dog that won't even go over the first jump. A monumental f**k up of magnificent proportions. What will happen at the Nationals is anyone's guess. I may get one or two runs out of her with it being a strange ground and no history. Until she realises she's not getting rewarded in the ring and then the same pattern will probably follow. I am working madly at doing some equipment at home with her and then running to her treats outside of the agility area. I have to get the rewards away from me so she stops cluing onto the fact that when she's in the ring she's not getting anything. She has a great history of "It's Yer Choice" games so getting her to work around food is the easy bit. It really is very, very hard to fail at something you want so much to succeed in. I know there will be a point where I do get to the other side of this and she is running like she used to. I will no doubt be a vastly better dog trainer and perhaps that is Cassie's gift to me. I have always been a pretty optimistic person by nature. But when you are in the middle of a training issue that may prevent you from competing a week out from a National event it's hard to feel great about it.
I may have inadvertently almost killed Sonic with food recently but on the positive side his back is looking and feeling pretty good. It's amazing how well he does after not doing agility for two months... I imagine running agility at the Nationals is out of the question and just not worth it considering that after one set of weavers he'll probably be sore again but I recon I should be able to at least do the jumping classes. Bearing in mind he has literally done no agility training at all since April so control may be an issue. I'll love running him no matter what the outcome and he'll be a great support for Cassie in a strange environment. It will be a wonderful thing to have a dog who I know will run in the ring for me!