Sometimes we don't know that we have been given a gift or what that gift means until long after it has happened.
Last weekend our local kennel club held an obedience/rally only trial. I was on the committee so it was a lot of work getting prepared for the show. I don't really mind, I like obedience trials and although I wasn't entered, I was looking forward to it.
It is funny how things pop into your head at times. I was on my lunch break from ring stewarding and was driving back to the show site. Suddenly I remembered the last time I was in the obedience ring with Maggie. It was just a couple months before she got noticeably sick. She was so happy and cute in the ring - heeling with her cute bounce and tail wagging. She won her class that day - not that I cared, I was just so thrilled to have a happy dog in the ring that day.
It had been the first time in 5 years that Maggie had seen an obedience ring. Her very first time in the ring I was so nervous (it was my first time in the obedience ring too) that she decided something must be terribly wrong and that obedience was a very bad thing. It took a huge break from training and then only training in bits and pieces to make Maggie think that obedience was fun again. Having a sensitive dog means that you need to be careful about your own emotions and that was something that I didn't know the first time I took Maggie in the ring. I should have waited until I was more confident. I will always blame myself for shutting her down for all that time.
As I was driving back to the show site last weekend, I was thinking about all of this, getting very teary that I didn't give Maggie the chance she deserved. Then it struck me. Maggie forgave me. She gave me the biggest gift that day and it was so much more than a blue ribbon. She didn't shut down in the ring and was happy, smiling at me the entire time. She even made the judge smile. That was the biggest gift she could have given me and I wonder if she knew that it would be her last time in the ring, the last time competing with me.
hank You, Maggie.