Advice from an Agility Dog Super Hero
If someone would have told me 10 years ago that my “gotta-live-life-on-the-edge” red Border Collie Buzz would live to be 16 years old, I would have seriously doubted their logic.
I mean, don’t most kamikaze pilots have a shortened life expectancy?
What a blessing Buzz has been. As a youngster Buzz never held back. It was all or nothing, in or out of the agility ring. Truly the mold was broken when Buzz was born September 20th, 1996.
Today we celebrate Buzzy’s 16th birthday, but Buzz is celebrating birthday number 5,840 because he has always lived his life as if “every day was his birthday!”
I wrote about many of the lessons Buzz taught me in my book, “Shaping Success.” Here it is 16 years later and many of the games Buzz and I shared are still being taught, not just here at Say Yes but in dog training schools all over the world. Through Buzzy, I have been given the experience to help dog owners in all walks of life overcome their own frustrations when trying to apply positive dog training to a dog who just doesn’t fit anyone’s description of a model subject.
I think I could write another book about Buzz’s antics after his competition career. Buzz was retired from agility at the age of just 9 years old. His body was broken, but I think it would have been that way even if he had never stepped foot in a ring. He brought many of his injuries on himself, making impetuous decisions that didn’t fair out in his favor. Like the time at Nancy Gyes’ home in San Jose when he jumped a hedge row that covered the edge of a cliff (that I didn’t know was there and Nancy had no way of knowing any sort of dog would think of jumping something when he couldn’t see what was on the other side). Buzz survived without an obvious scratch, but I am sure it was those types of escapades that wore Buzz’s body down rather than any sport activity.
When I sat down trying to think of what I should write today, I decided to let Buzz share with you a list of his top ten things he would want the world to know if he was going to sit at a computer to write (which he wouldn’t as he is much more a “take a dictation, would ya” kind of guy).
Buzz’s Top Ten List of Ways to Live a Full & Happy Life!
- You are never too old to stop what you are doing and drop to the ground to give your back a good rub. They say yoga can extend life, Buzz is testing out the theory in his own way.
- Barking while rolling should never be considered gauche. Never hide your joy; wear it like a badge on your fur so all will know who you are and what you love most of all.
- As you age, if on occasion you accidentally slip and fall, immediately roll over to your back as if you meant to hit the ground for another one of those afore mentioned back rubs. Be the victor of your life, not the victim.
- Anytime you fail at anything in life, just bark. More failing= more barking. Barking tells the world, you don’t give a s@*t, failing just means you are one step closer to getting what you really want. Never give up. Never ever give up; amazing cookies could always be just one more really loud bark away.
- Ripping up mouthfuls of turf from the lawn should be considered a form of fitness. It is a second cousin to loud barking and a great way to relieve anxiety while continuing to stretch your neck and back. (It is something Buzz did at the start line in agility and still does on our daily walks with the dogs.)
- If you accidentally bite someone’s hand as they go to pat your head (because you thought they were handing over a cookie), just keep biting them . . . that way they will think you are just completely batty. All of life’s little slip ups can be overcome with comedic improvisation and a chronic lack of self awareness.
- Swimming is nirvana. Never stop, floatation devices can make you look cool at any age. ‘Nuff said . . . other than the only thing better than swimming is barking while swimming . . . it is all about expressing the joy.
- Your most captive audience can be found on a toilet. The best conversations and ear rubs can be had if you take your naps in a bathroom.
- If you see a set of stairs, take them. It doesn’t matter what your age or how difficult the climb is; you will never know how good the spoils are at the top of the mountain unless you are willing to suck it up and make the climb upwards. (Buzzy climbs the stairs into my office or down to the lower level of the house at least twice a day . . . I think it is his own personal training regime.)
- You can still be cool and have lots of valuable lessons to share at any age. Never stop sharing and don’t ever discount what someone else can contribute to your life just because they may be “old.”
Happy birthday my boy Buzz a.k.a “Cedar High On Emotion,” and he still is just that. I just know there are more birthdays to come.
Today I am grateful for Buzz . . . ‘nuff said. xoxo