After making the drive and collecting a Salted Caramel Latte from Starbucks we headed to our club, DTCCC, for a double rally trial. Our last of the year! And really, it felt like our best. Ein was absolutely shuddering with joy to get into the ring with me! Our first run his nub was wagging so hard on the way into the ring and we flew through the course with a perfect 210. The tail never stopped! That run earned us our Rally Veterans Championship 3 title, First Place and also the Highest Scoring Veteran in the entire trial. Yeah! The next trial Ein earned another 208 and a first place again and might possibly have been even more overjoyed to get into the ring with me. I wish I had it on video!
I was so grateful that Veterans was first in the second trial, because that left us enough time to return to Flexible Flyers and get Ein massaged and lasered by Next Level Canine Rehab and Fitness. It has been a while since he has had a laser treatment, about 6 weeks, and just this morning I had noticed his left rear leg shaking while he stood still. The news was not very awesome. Ein was extremely tender and guarded in his left groin. As soon as she touched him there, his head whipped up and he tensed. It hurt there. The right side was similar, but definitely not the same level of pain response as he had shown on the left. "Active Rest" and some rimadyl are recommended.
This is all understandable. Ein's rear end is truly a wreck. Lately I had been mentally entertaining some very occasional agility trial runs (like, one per trial a few months apart.) Pursuing an ARCHEX. But after today's assessment, I will be far more conservative with Ein. Nothing is worth taking away his every day life mobility and his soundness to take short walks or gentle hikes with me. So, in Veterans class we will stay. We are both very happy there.
We hit up some more geocaches on the way home. One geocache was out at the bottom of a field and into the woods, about a tenth of a mile. I could not resist bringing Ein with me. I kept him leashed and he looked great on the walk down the hill. I asked him to down-stay while I walked through some rougher footing in the woods to the cache and he was more than happy to comply.
But the walk back up the hill to the car, he looked more labored to me. Or maybe I am just paranoid. But I scooped him up and carried him back up the hill. I breathed in his fur smell, I always said he smells like an eraser. One of those pink erasers. Everybody made fun of me for saying that, but that is what his smell is to me and I love it. I stopped to catch my breath and watched the sunset through the powerline towers and over the countryside and felt the flashback of every mile we ever hiked together. Of my dog eating boulder fields for breakfast and racing ahead of me while I wheezed up a sharp incline. For the first time, I didn't feel sad that I was carrying him and that things weren't what they used to be. I just felt joy to be in this phase of our lives together. We had an absolutely beautiful day with great friends, great scores and a nub-wagging fun time in the ring. What more could we ask for? Life changes and we change with it, and I had this amazing moment of gratitude to have my best red dog with me to enjoy a sunset on a chilly December evening with. In my arms or racing up ahead of me, either way, we were together.
When we got home I added his Highest Scoring Veteran ribbon to my favorites in my living room. I am so proud of our beautiful year together.