I probably alluded to this in previous posts, but today, it really hit me.
The truth of the matter is that agility sucked the life right out of me this year.
I wound up attending a lot less trials than I originally anticipated -- a couple canceled by the host clubs, a few scratched off the calendar due to Marge's injury, and others doomed from the reality of my ever-shrinking checking account. But, despite the fact that we didn't trial nearly every weekend as I had planned, it felt like agility was always on my mind. When does the next trial open? Where's my entry confirmation? What hotel are we staying at? What time are my runs? Where are Nationals going to be? Am I going to have enough points for Nationals?
Nationals, Nationals, Nationals. That's all this year became to me. A race to the top... or to the bottom, depending on how you look at it.
Suffice it to say, my thinking has changed quite drastically. It is quite clear that we are not going to AKC Nationals and quite frankly, I'm happy about it. I've stopped entering trials just for the sake of padding my calendar.. because as I was nonchalantly filling every weekend with agility, I was shutting other people and things out.
I'm over it.
As of right now, I'm entered in a grand total of three days of agility with Marge for the rest of 2013. That may go up by a day or two after I enter another trial or two. But that's it. As much as I enjoy agility trials, spending all eight weekend days of a month in a park (or planning to do so) means not getting to keep up friendships (and many of my friends live far away, so the opportunity to see them is not always there), not getting to horseback ride (because I can't really ride during the week with my school schedule the way it is), and not having adequate time for my relationship and my family.
It also means having to scrounge for money for things that probably matter a lot more, since, let's face it, I work one day a week at a not-so-high paying job and have a little extra cash from my newspaper route.
I had fallen in to a holding pattern -- every weekend was meant to be spent doing agility. It cannot be that way. Especially when it was being done for all of the wrong reasons.
I'm in no rush to go back to agility, honestly. I don't yearn for it right now, after almost a month of my dog not running, as I thought I would. In fact, I'm thinking more about other things - like going hiking with Marge. And taking a vacation.. finally getting my ass on an airplane.
I'm not giving up agility. Not even close. But, I am scaling back. Trialing less seems like the way to go for a while. It'll help Marge's body catch back up, help my wallet catch up, and help ME see that there are other things in my life that need my attention.
For those that do have the time, money, and correct attitude (and the correct DOG) for heavy trialing: that's fine. Nothing wrong with that. This post isn't supposed to be about how heavy trialing is a bad thing. It isn't. I've just discovered (the hard way) that I am not in that position at this point in time. And that's OK.
And that doesn't mean Marge is, in any way, shape or form going to be robbed of having fun. No. I want to start to do other things with her in addition to agility. Like taking lots more walks. Going on hikes. Maybe have her accompany me on an overnight non-agility trip somewhere. Maybe dabble in other dog sport activities, too. To be perfectly honest, she doesn't seem to be too terribly bothered by not running agility. Even if I stopped agility altogether (which I'm not), she wouldn't be the kind of dog that'd be really upset about it.
For me, the phrase "I can't, I have a dog show" isn't how it has to be all of the time. There can be balance between in my life. And here's to finding that balance.