Well that's Olympia for another year, it didn't quite go to plan....in fact there was no plan for what happened!
We had a good run in the morning qualifying us for the evening final - hooray!
After watch the jumping runs at lunch time I went back to the van to exercise Devo have a wee walk around and chill out for a while (we had 6 hours to wait). - Nice!
To my amazement when I opened the van, out staggered what looked like a completely different dog!!! One who was limping, hunched up, ears back and not at all happy - shock horror!
He was perfectly fine when I put him in after his morning run. He'd been cooled down, done his stretches, calmed etc... it was like the van had transformed him into another dog - panic!
My immediate thought was what on earth has happened to my lovely boy, he's broken. Not only was he lame but also doubled up as if in a lot of pain. I then thought he'd eaten something bad
Anyway, to cut a long story a bit shorter, after some gentle walking and moving around Devo started looking a more comfortable; at least not so hunched up. Kate Smith (physiotherapist) came and looked at him and after watching him move and feeling him decided that there was some non-specific lameness going on in his neck/shoulder/back region.
The decision was made, there was no way I was going to run him in one of the biggest competitions of the year unless he was fit and happy to do so. There was to be no celebrations with champagne on ice for me this year... the only ice we saw was the ice pack on his neck!!
So what could have caused this? I may never know. He has never gone lame at a competition before, sure he sees a physio for regular check-ups and has minor tweaks here and there as we all do. However, he is a fit agility dog. We have no video to watch of his run to see what happened, although I strongly suspect he slipped and twisted somewhere on the course.
What do I do next? The immediate focus is on getting Devo fit again, which he is well on the way to. He has seen his regular Physio, had treatment and is now having a few days lead walking and light fitness. He already looks back to his normal self.
What about the course design or equipment? Agility is a sport (although not officially recognised in the UK...yet.) In my book there is an element of risk in any sport, we accept that every time we step in to the agility ring we are exposing ourselves and our dogs to some element of risk. We take steps to minimise the risk by good training, increased fitness levels, teaching our dogs the skills required, constant handling systems etc.. and governing bodies ensure equipment design and the rules of engagement minimises risk too. As in any sport governing bodies continue to monitor and improve this to reduce the risk. Take motor racing for example, consider how safe that sport is now.
So I could point the finger at the course design, the equipment used, the positioning of the equipment etc. etc.. However I had a choice to run the course or not and I chose to.
There has been at least four courses this year (2015) that I have decided not to run because of: poor course design; un-safe ground conditions; unnecessary exposure to risk for my dog. I have a choice.
Ultimately my dogs health and welfare come first. All my dogs have had long healthy agility careers and then gone on to long happy retirements. That's how I want it to continue for them.