The Brass Ring

This year, I took only Frodo to the USDAA Cynosport World Games. Solar is now injury free, but I did not feel ready to step to the line and run free with him at 26″, the height he qualified at. So, I figured that it would be a good opportunity to focus only on Frodo, who, at just over 2 years old, would need a lot of emotional support at his first National event.

Are we going in the same or opposite directions?

Are we going in the same or opposite directions?

I’m still not sure Frodo and I see eye to eye. I’m not sure anybody sees eye to eye with Frodo. He is such a sweet, sensitive soul, and so intelligent and in some ways so capable. In other ways, he is completely confused as to how his actions have anything to do with the consequences they bring, confused and worried about the world around him, the world under his feet.

That easy, instant bond that can come when snuggling a puppy that still has puppy breath – it never happened with Frodo and me. It seems strange to admit it, and I’m sure there are those who will think less of me for doing so, but I do not love him. I’m fond of Frodo. And increasingly, I have respect for Frodo. But I don’t feel particularly motherly for him. I feel a lot of guilt over this – my disappointment in myself for having difficulty being completely invested in little Frodo. But the harder I try to give my heart over to the endeavor, the more complicated things seem to get with Frodo. He seems to do best when I am least emotionally invested in what we are doing at any given moment. If I am going through the motions – going through the motions of being happy, sad, disappointed…without actually FEELING those emotions, he seems at his best. I really have no idea how to have a relationship with a dog that is not fierce, fiery, fabulous. Quiet, elegant, subtle…not sure those are my strong suits…yet.

I like grabbing on to a course and shaking it, like a tug toy, with my canine partner. It’s just who I am. I want the dog to tug with me, out there, on the course, metaphorically speaking. Poor Frodo, he sees that in me, and wants to go hide somewhere safe. And then the cycle continues – I try to reel myself in, and then I’m disappointed that I have to BE that way, and have difficulty then taking genuine pleasure in all the things that Frodo can do very nicely.

First world problems, to be sure.

Somehow, Frodo and I managed to be just one below the cutoff for Steeplechase Finals. A class that *Solar* has trouble getting in to the finals in. And to top THAT off, as luck would have it, Frodo was the last 26″ dog to squeak into the Grand Prix Finals. I walked away from Cynosport with Frodo knowing less about our relationship with one another than I did when we arrived, less about which self I need to present to him, be for him. I walked away feeling disappointed in myself for not being able to be my best me for Frodo.

I still have no idea who the real Frodo is, and I’m not sure he knows who, or WHAT, I am. Instead of being proud that my two year old dog, who is afraid of surfaces, heights, and all manner of unexpected things, who gets beat up by his housemates (although not as much now that he is neutered) made the finals, I walked away with a sense of confusion, bees buzzing in my ears. Who is Frodo? Who am I with Frodo? Who does Frodo need me to be? Being the ringbearer is a hard thing, I suppose. He certainly seems to behave as though he feels he has some heavy burdens to bear. Yeah, he’s just a dog. Get over it, stop anthropomorphizing. It’s a mechanical skill. Just execute it. Don’t overcomplicate it.

Finalists - babes in the woods

Finalists – babes in the woods

Going to Nationals with Frodo was like starting all over again. I’m glad I didn’t take Solar – I need to figure out who I need to be for Frodo to be his best, and certainly the issue is mine and not his. And so, we will try again next month at the US Open. Or rather, **I** will try again next month at the US Open. I was pretty sure what that brass ring was with Solar – I’m not so sure with Frodo, but I’m pretty sure it’s in a direction opposite to any path I’ve taken before.


The REAL brass ring for me, at Cynosport, the trophy I got to bring home, was a houseful of incredible house guests. It was a family reunion of sorts…and we got some not too awkward family photos out of the deal:

Two generations of full siblings. Juno, Solar, Wonder, Special, and Scopey are all full siblings. Chipper, a Solar son, and unnamed puppy, a full sibling.

Some great discussions, and some great times training and running courses, with Lori Michaels and Linda Mecklenburg. I was so happy to be able to feed everybody good oatmeal, give them beds to sleep in, an arena to play in, a UKI trial to compete at…

Back in 2004 when I first visited Linda Mecklenburg in Ohio for a camp, I was blown away by her property. It was clearly for the dogs. I was so proud to be able to bring her to MY property, to share the space – she’s never made a mortgage payment but in a very real way she set me on a path to be able to HAVE this space to share with others.

It felt like the coming around, full circle.

I’m not much for unicorns and rainbows – I’m action oriented, I’m much more pragmatic than warmfuzzy, more science and logic than intuition, but having Linda, and Lori, and Julie D, and Anna H here…it was DEFINITELY magical. The collective agility brainpower here this week was off the charts, for sure.

I’m very happy to say that not only have *I* benefitted from the company I kept this past week, but in the very near future, OTHERS will benefit as well, and I’m looking forward to that – to the business of helping others. Yes, agility is completely unnecessary – it’s not world peace, it’s not curing cancer, it’s a first world activity, that the privileged and elite (that’s you, if you’re an agility enthusiast reading this) in the world have the time and money to be able to afford to participate in. But even so, being good at something, and being able to help others be good at something, it’s fulfilling.