This is my bit for the quarterly Dog Agility Bloggers Action Day.
When I first read the topic was “aging” I had many thoughts on what I could write on. The early age at which dogs are started in agility. The age of which many dogs are still run in agility, too many well past their prime, let alone comfort levels. I could go on a defensive tear in regards to the topic that seems to be big online right now–all the “young” and athletic handlers that are getting away without training their dogs on these “newfangled international” courses…. But I’ll leave all of those alone.
Instead I want to confess something. Not about my age–which hopefully remains a mystery thanks to my semi-athletic build and very greying hair!–but about what I’ve always believed and recently have come to change my understanding of.
I’ve always thought other people knew the secrets to life, including those who were older than me. Most everyone else had it more together, had it more figured out. That their feelings didn’t get as hurt as they were wiser and more experienced. That somehow as life goes on things just get better and you get tougher and well, you just “get it”. And by default, that means I myself am less emotionally confident or stable or experienced.
In some ways that “theory” still remains intact, but I have had quite a few experiences recently with many agility friends that has made me realize that we are all the same “amount of human.” People who have been doing this much longer than me, who I look up to, still get their feeling hurt by others. They still have dogs that can be very, very difficult. There is no magic bullet, via experience or anything else, that just makes the ride smoother. Its always going to be a challenge, regardless of how long you do this. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Agility is a crazy metaphor for the rest of life, and I am so fortunate to have stumbled upon it. The people I have met and the experiences I have had, and will have, will continue to shape me and frame a lot else of what goes on in my life. Even if it is “just agility”, we have no choice but to learn how to survive criticism and failure, how to deal with a situation you cannot fix or control, test our work ethic and dedication, how to befriend someone you just met seconds ago, how to be a good winner and a better loser.
This constant path of discovery, reinvention, testing and failing, patience and perseverance must keep us young somehow.
All of my best agility friends, both younger and older than me have helped me learn these lessons. Age does bring wisdom, but it does not reduce the humanness of us all. We are all in this together and our attitudes and passion for the sport are what define us, not a numerical label.
There are quite a few ladies out there I know, competing well into their 70’s and beyond. Two of them I had the privilege of sitting by at the Regional this last weekend. As they buzzed about with their multiple dogs flitting from ring to ring, I could only think that I want to be like them, many decades from now. Fit, and passionate and totally inspiring. Agility keeps us young. Keep on keepin’ on.