I know this blog is supposed to be for discussion of romance and books, but it is after all, mine, and tonight I’m going to tell about my dog girl, Schara. Those of you who don’t want to read about her that’s fine, but right now I want to talk about her.
Schara and I spent both days this weekend getting up at 0 dark 30 and driving to a local state park to compete in a draft dog test. Draft dog tests have 3 parts: (1) a little obedience routine to prove control, (2) executing a maneuvering course in and around obstacles pulling a cart, (3) doing a freight haul pulling the cart with a load cross-country, over open ground, up and down hill for half a mile. In the Open Division where Schara has been competing, all this has to be done off leash; the freight haul load is the dog’s weight; and because the test is pass/fail, it’s very, very hard. No losing a point here and there and still getting a passing score, no fudging: you have to pass every element of each of the three phases. Passing the test once is difficult. Passing it five times gives your dog a Master Draft Dog title.
Schara’s training is at a level for the obedience and maneuvering if I don’t screw up, I can pretty much count on her to do a great job, and she did. It’s difficult to describe the bond you develop with a dog when you are at the point you walk into a test like that knowing you can count on your dog to do it all and make it look easy. On Saturday Schara passed and on the freight haul took her cart and load up a grassy hill steep enough she was crouching into the pull, belly low, head and neck straight out and close to the ground with the effort. Today she had to go last of 20 entries in the heat of a day that got into the 80’s. The freight haul went through some loose deep sand and over a muddy spot in addition to the required hills up and down. She dug in and went through that course like a young dog. She was 7 in August, considered a veteran age for a large dog like a Rottweiler.
She earned her Master Draft Dog title and retirement from drafting and carting competition. You see dog people sometimes quote a saying that goes something like this: Every time I lose a dog she takes a piece of my heart with her. And every new dog who comes into my life, gives me a piece of her heart. If I live long enough, all the parts of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as dogs are.
Isn’t it too bad we people have to replace our hearts piece by piece to reach the place where dogs start out?