Tank – The Amazing Tank

 

About seven years ago, I was running a lot of agility with one of my best partners, Tank. Now I’ll admit I’m a bit biased, but I could swear to you this dog was a genius. I mean, while I thought Luke was smart, Tank picked up on things even more quickly. You know the kind of dog who makes you look like a better handler than you really are, but don’t ever admit it except privately to close friends. :)

We thought we were doing pretty well and had been curious what a Nationals venue would be like. Tank was just over 3 years old and we qualified for the NADAC Championships. We truly just wanted to attend one to see what it was like. We had no illusions of being really competitive or even doing that well at all. Yet, if we were going to drive 18-20 hours I still wanted to do ok and to give Tank my best effort.

Tiring after driving 15+ hours and now very late at night, I could not find a hotel that would either take dogs, or had vacancies. So, we pulled in a rest area where I fed and walked the boys, then climbed in back with them to get some sleep.

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Probably the most impressive thing I had ever experienced with one of my dogs happened next. Tank, who never sleeps in the car and had to be really tired from the drive thus far, sat up all night “guarding” Wyatt and me. I woke up every couple of hours and there he still was, sitting up scanning the surroundings, staying on “stranger danger” alert… All Night!

We arrived in Gillette, WY the next day and let me tell you, he slept like a puppy that night.

So finally, first day at the trial I think it was Touch ‘N Go and Jumpers. Blown contacts, knocked bars…but mostly Handler issues! We imploded. I called Cathy that night really discouraged. “There are so many good dogs and handlers here; I’m just not sure we belong…. It’s a great experience but no one can see how awesome my Tank is” … Cathy was calm: “You and your dog Tank will be fine” she said.

Next day, more bars, off-course….KaBooom!!

Next night, call home: “Why did we drive so far, spend this money…….” She proceeds to tell me how she woke up that morning while watching the news only to see the camera man in what looked like our front yard… and what looked like the house across the street, only there were fire engines, police cars, ambulances and the top of the neighbor’s house was gone. She looked out the front window and no vehicles or camera men…but the top of the neighbors house *was* gone! She slept right through it all. Very calmly she said, and I’ll never forget, this: “You think you have problems.” I thought: “Good point! Great point in fact!! Life is good here with my dogs and me.”

Day 3 was the first of 6 rounds of Regular. Round 1- First Place, Round 2 – First Place…. I called home that night talking like I had overdosed on caffeine. “I can’t believe it, he was so on”. Day 4 – Tank earned 2 more First Places. I was thinking “Are you kidding me?” Well, ultimately by the end of day 5 he won his level.

The moral here… they have a saying in Texas for the Lottery that goes: “You can’t win if you don’t play”. So play, you never know until you try… and either way, it’s just more fun. Since then he has placed each year in the Top Five and has recently earned his NATCH 8!!!!!!!!

I still occasionally look back on that trip. While I am so proud of Tank for carrying the weight of a 180…ok 190… pound man on his shoulders, I’m even more amazed by the night he sat up all night, as exhausted as he must have been, On guard for me and his brother. I have always looked at him differently since then. With amazement!

PS. The neighbors were fine. The house has long since been repaired. Cathy still sleeps like a rock.

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