Willie has just finished the dog walk at our second agility trial. The first event was a debacle, with me all over the place and to excited to focus. Today I am hoping for a good practice run, at least that is what I am telling myself. It’s just practice!
We opened by taking the mini gamble, twice. Now we need to get past the dog walk, through a tire and then on a long series of three jumps, another gamble.
“Careful,” I say as he hits the contact. He hesitates, watches me move toward him, standing at the end of the walk, and then past. When I’m in position I send him through the tire.
“Over, go over,” I add, pointing at the jumps, cueing him as he lands one and prepares to take off for the next.
I’m at the other side of the barn about 40 feet away, standing in front of the teeter, getting ready to bring him to me and send him over it. But he has to make that last jump, and I’m a long way a way.
As he pushes off the ground to sail over that final 22 inch jump he turns to me. He doesn’t jump like most border collies I’ve seen, flat out, legs stretched out, body as lean and straight as possible. He takes the jump more like a poodle, springing over, like he could be posing for a picture in mid air.
In that moment his tail is up, fanning the air behind him, his feet clearing the bar. He’s a picture of grace and beauty. He looks at me, his ears coming together in that odd Willie way, making a point on his head, attention totally focused on me and what I am doing and what I am going to say next.
And then it happens!
We connect. Achieve that plane of understanding where we are one, moving together as a unit. Slowing down time until each millisecond becomes engraved in memory, each detail exquisitely felt. I can see each hair on his body sway, feel the intensity of his eyes, hear the wind moving past his ears.
I don’t hear the judge, see the crowd or think about our score. We have achieved flow, that state of being where everything is right and as it should be. Where the practice, training, reading and exercise have created perfection in motion. We did it. Together.
Everything else is a blur of excitement, and dull in comparison. He flies over the last jump in the gamble with a perfect run, finishing off beautifully to a collective sigh from spectators.
I think about that moment often. Seek it again and again. Pursue it with a passion and intensity bordering on the obsessive. I guess that is where obsession comes from, the pursuit of those perfect moments that transcend normality and give us a taste of what heaven may be like.
Willie, let’s try again!