Trash Panda Update

I keep trying to start a blog post on Chispa – and I keep not being able to write anything. I don't really want to write about our difficulties, because in her mind, there is no difficulty worth spending any time on. She's still a happy-go-lucky puppy, although sometimes she is sad, but mostly, it's when I'm staring at her intently, wondering if I'm imagining lameness or if it's actually there. As you might guess, although she's had a few sore moments since her elbow arthroscopy ~9 weeks ago, it's mostly imagined. She wonders why I'm staring at her, why I'm treading as though on eggshells. Come play, she says!

And so, we have been playing. Knowing full well that this vessel will break, that really, at some point in the future, this vessel is already broken, I try my very hardest to treasure each and every moment with my little vessel of light and laughter. I make plans – fun matches, classes, Novice JWW. We train. We play. We hike. We swim.

Years ago, when I was training Solar, I was pretty motivated to be the best trainer I could possibly be. He motivated me, spurred me on – and my attendance at Bob Bailey's Chicken Camps was fresh on my mind. Every moment spent training together, I was on my best behavior. No repetition or attempt was wasted. I beat myself up for clicking at the wrong time with a behavior, or for missing something due to not paying attention. As a result, Solar and I accomplished some pretty amazing things, and enjoyed a lot of really special connected time together, in and out of the ring.

Cheeseburger (Trash Panda, Chispa, Cheepy, Cheeseburger, Rocket Raccoon) provides a somewhat different, but more important incentive to me to always be on my game. No jumping effort should be in vain. No training session should be attempted if I am not 100% in it, 100% aware and connected, all. the. time. With Solar, I was excited, I wanted to learn, I wanted to WIN, storm the world with my amazing Heart Dog.

Fast forward ten years – with Chispa…my challenges are numerous, but all within ME. She is good clay – she has the spark inside her. I can see it. I can feel it. It's there. I'm afraid to want to win with her, I'm afraid to even want to play with her. She's so special to me that I don't even want to share her anymore in a blog post, as though sharing my experiences with her will somehow diminish how much of Chispa I have for myself. With Solar, there really was no penalty for failure – we might not have been as successful a team if I wasn't motivated to be my best self as much of the time as possible, but even so, there was plenty of room for improvement on my part.

With Chispa, the penalties seem more severe. What if I ask her to do something, and she is willing, as always, and she gets hurt? Yes, this is possible with any dog, any time. But now it is on my mind constantly.

I probably will ease back in to writing about Chispa – I know there are people who are interested. I know that there will be people who have amazing puppies with similar issues, and it will be good for them to see a happier story, although who knows if this story will have a happy ending. She will likely leave this world before I do, and even though that's a long time off, probably, it makes me sad right now – and that's no way to spend my time around such a bright little creature. But, writing is therapeutic, and so here I am.

Thanks to those who wrote me privately over the past several weeks – your urging me to write is why this blog post exists, and why any future ones will exist 🙂