And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6:30-31 (ESV)
Last weekend, we went to a Florida Chessie Fun Day that was exactly what it was advertised as: FUN! Almost thirty Chessies and their owners made their way to a cattle ranch in the center part of the State. There, we were treated to demos in a variety of sports in which Chessies can compete. We saw impressive examples of retrieving overland and in water, tracking, obedience and agility. The dogs that demonstrated their skills obviously have had a lot of training, but you could see their innate abilities as well. We heard stories of Chessie successes and failures. We laughed, and we made new friends. We shared a meal and enjoyed visiting with each other. The best part of the day was getting to try out the activities that we saw demonstrated. Cory did very well and seemed to enjoy each event. Though I messed up on the commands for the overland retrieve, and she refused to get out of the water to bring the dummy duck to me, it is obvious that she is bred to retrieve. It was all I could do to hold her back at the lake’s edge until it was her turn. At one point, I was sure that I was going to skate behind her right down the bank and into the water! She also surprised me with her tracking ability. While we have been doing nosework at school, searching for a scent hidden in boxes and articles is very different than tracing the scent of a person thirty yards through a cow pasture. But, she did it with ease. At the agility station, she raced through a tunnel as though she has been doing it her whole life. Then, made us all laugh when she turned right back around and did it again! I left full of ideas for new training and sports that we could compete in. I could do tracking on Saturdays, nose work and obedience in the evenings, dock diving on Sundays and send her off for field training for a month. Oh, and in between, I could show her in breed shows for her championship. There would not be enough hours in the day to keep up with all the work that she and I could do together. That’s when it dawned on me that I should pick only one, at the most two things and do them well with her. A shotgun approach to dog training would result in a confused dog and an exhausted owner. I needed to decide what was the best thing for Cory and me to do and factor in my knowledge, her abilities, training classes and time. So, after some thought, I have decided to focus on obedience and nosework for now alternating what nights each week I go to dog school so that we limit to one night a week to be out. Someday, I will look for a tracking class, but not now. I will save something for the future. And if I decide to go for her breed championships, I hire someone to show her. I need to focus on doing what is best for me and for Cory. And what is best involves staying rested and enthusiastic. Our pastor has been preaching about margins. Those spaces on the page where nothing is written, where we allow time for rest and for unexpected opportunities for joy and service. Now would be a good time to think about it. But, dock diving does sound like fun!