1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection, esteem, or personal regard.
3. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
4. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
5. a member of the same nation, party, etc, or who promote something (a charity)
6. ( initial capital letter ) a member of the Religious Society of Friends; a Quaker.
7. a person favored for companionship
...but nowhere on this list does it define a Friend as a cherished, valued companion...of another species.
A friend is not limited to being human.
Or perhaps, because they are not human, the pets in our lives outshine the term friend altogether. They become more than our most loyal confidant. More than the everyday joy of having another human to confer with...they offer a silent appraisal of any situation and the absolute freedom of living in the now.
Don't get me wrong...I love the few, true human friends in my life. But there is something altogether that can be said of my canine companion that never ceases to push me through the limits I thought I had and aspire to be more than who I am now.
Today...was a grand day of adventure, and insight.
We went to the Wisconsin K-9 Sports Show (for the first time) and per usual at any event we go to, we entered a competition. Also per usual, hours before we were to actually compete in or time slot, my brain decided to short-circuit and my body decided to deplete any amount of nervous system remaining. I love to teach...but I hate competing. It's hard-wired in me. I am an all-around "I want everyone to win and have fun doing it" kind of girl.
For my students to see me competing is quite important...it shows what my dogs can STILL do...when mom is mal-functioning!
It's quite silly, I know...but all of my trials in the last decade have been such. I still do them, my recovery period is much shorter-lived now-a-days, but it still happens. Life goes on.
But all the while, Guinness is happy as a lark, having fun, and wondering what trial we are going to now since mom is started to act weird again.
But in 5 1/2 years he now knows what to do. Experience teaches him well. We sit on the grass, awaiting our turn, and he flops onto his back next to me, punching me briefly, and then flips back over, shakes it off, and stares, panting. I swear he said "Get a grip!"
Climbing over fluffy white dogs (quite literally), going past yappers, bayers, aggressors and statues, we reach open ground. Just me and him.
Collecting our thoughts, they call us over to discuss the rules of the military=style confidence course.
We have two minutes to complete the course. The points are laid out and options and style are discussed. The closer to military style course, the better the points. Time is then determined of a tie in points is.
Exercise 1) Uniform. I get to put on dog tags and fake ammo belt. Guinness must carry goggles and wear a bandanna.
Exercise 2) Run to a shooting board and fire 3 rounds (nerf darts) at the dog's worst enemies while he maintains a Down-Stay. I chose the squirrel, the mailman, and the bicycle. All three targets hit.
Exercise 3) Human and Dog weaves. Backwards earns more points, dog must front while human weaves backwards. Guinness didn't know what to do, but was having fun watching mom weave for once!
Exercise 4) Mini-wall. Military style requires Stay and Recall over. Executed.
Exercise 5) Sway bridge. Just like UKC Agility. No prob, Bob.
Exercise 6) Tire tunnel. 0.5 point for over, full point for through. Second tire is a bit small and Guinness drags it over, but all three done tunnel-style fast and furious.
Exercise 7) Crawl under barbed(tinsel)-wire. With dog full points. Dog only half points. Pft. Full points, baby! If I go, you go!
Exercise 8) Shoot Dog Through Canon. Okay, canon-looking tunnel going up, and stairs to go down (or jump off of) on other side. Check.
Exercise 9) Sometimes, you gotta get your feet wet. Three mini mud-pools. My shoes are still drying. Smart dog jumps over obstacle to begin with, but full points if we can wade through together, so c'mon back, my dear, and destroy that mani-pedi!
Exercise 10) Go through the jungle mesh...only problem with this one was there wasn't a Helper on the other side to give him a bite!
We completed the course in 1min 44sec and with full military points, earning First Place and an Awesome goodie bag.
See our run at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPRGpnP4Sec
After the fact, I realize just how much fun we had...and watching everyone else run, I once again realize the bond we share is more than just the average one. We trust each other. Regardless of the "weirdness" that we encounter.
Once the course was completed, we had applause, compliments, and an odd sense of camaraderie from the next contestants who wanted to kick our butts. They all failed to do such.
We accepted our First Place over 30+ entrants with dignity and grace...and to more applause.
I had nothing to fear.