When I started dog agility around 10 years ago now, little did I know the adventures it had in store for me. In particular, the journey that I have been on with my gorgeous and talented collie Ella, who has taken me to places and had me meet people I otherwise would never have met. I’m delighted that my very special girl will be joining Australian handler Maria Thiry at the World Agility Championships in Belgium next weekend, along with Martin’s exceptional collie Spud who will be joining fellow Australian handler Tracey Wansbrough. Maria arrived for her first training session yesterday and Tracey arrives in the UK later on today – our latest adventure has begun!
Maria has posted some pictures on Facebook of Ella that Gordon took of them yesterday at their first training session. I was really nervous leading up to our first meeting, wondering if Ella would be what Maria remembered from when we met back at the World Agility Championships, but I should have remembered my golden rule when I step into a ring with Ella – trust my dog. She was her usual fabulous self, responding to those well-known cues just as she always does. Maria was perhaps even better than I remembered, and her confident, positive handling told Ella straight away that she was with someone who knew exactly what they were doing. Ella will run for anyone, but she doesn’t suffer fools gladly – and will be very verbal about it too! But there was hardly any barking last night, she knew she was in good hands and she responded to Maria like they’d been training regularly for months.
I can’t imagine how scary it must be to travel all that way to compete at a World Championships with someone else’s dog – I know I find it difficult stepping into your average competition ring with a strange dog, let alone the scale of what Maria and her fellow Australians are doing! I love competing with my own dogs, but then I know what went into them right from the start as they have all been loved from puppyhood, so by the time we step into a ring I’m pretty certain of the responses I’m going to see. That relationship is so precious and important to my confidence as a handler, although I’m gaining it with other special dogs that have entered my life as adults. Funnily enough though, Maria commented a couple of times how Ella was responding in a similar way to Kwyk, her dog back home in Australia. So perhaps in a funny way our dogs are with us all the time, and a part of Kwyk will be with Maria as she steps onto the line with my girl. I know whatever happens next week, it’s going to be a very exciting competition 🙂
Today, as I am on pretty much every day, I’m grateful for Ella.