Jumping for Joy!


Franki Burns – 7 November 2020

I have yet to see a human demonstrate the same unadulterated joy as my own and other peoples’ dogs running around jumping an agility course!

I started doing agility with my toy poodle Franki about 4 years ago when she was 2 years old.  I have and have had other poodles – Jonty who will shortly be turning 11 years old, and Dani who passed away in 2013.  I had considered doing agility with both of them but my circumstances were just not right for it… until along came Franki.  And wow, what an absolute joy it has certainly been, for both of us!

I spend almost all of my working hours focusing on issues surrounding mental health / illness particularly in the workplace and don’t get me wrong, I love my job.  However, when it comes to sheer relaxation and unwinding I find my time with dogs to be the answer.  My family and friends have all heard me say that for an hour a week I forget about anything (or everything!) that is bothering me as I watch my beloved Franki run and jump with absolute joy around the course.

And now, 4 years down the line, I have progressed from student to teacher and have 2 classes running on Saturday mornings between 08h00 and 10h00.  During these 2 hours all I think about are the dogs and the joy they are having. I know this from the looks on their faces – apart from when anatomy doesn’t allow, they are smiling!  And their handlers too – all the worries of the week, the job, the boss, the family, the bills, the virus – all are forgotten during their hour of agility.  And I swear, I have a smile on my face for the full 2 hours as well! I know this because, not only are my feet a bit sore at the end of classes, but my face is too!  We are not trying to get Crufts or anything like that, and most of my clients don’t even compete locally… it’s all just for the fun and joy of it.

So, on 7 November 2020 we had a photographer come to our classes. We wanted to share some of this joy with our families, friends and anyone really who is interested.  The pictures that follow, and the one above, were all taken by Lauren Courtenay, who takes similar photographs for her horse-riding clients.  She is also an exceptional wildlife photographer!

I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I didn’t work anymore, and during the first few months of Covid earlier this year, I had a real opportunity to think about this (as with many, my business kind of dried up during the lockdown, giving me a lot of free time to play with).  I realized that – as long as I have my health – there are 3 things I would like to have in my life: dogs, wildlife and my bicycle (of course, family and good friends are a given, but these are not hobbies, so to speak.)

These 3 things keep me sane when times are tough and they never fail to make me happy.  I am not ready to stop working yet… as I have said, I really do love my job and believe I still have a lot more to offer, but I feel confident that when it is no longer part of my life, if I have these 3 things, I will have enough to keep me going.

With that in mind, my question for you today is, what makes you jump for joy?

Take care folks.


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