By Jennifer Holmseth
A world of “Easy Mac”, all nighters (studying), order-out pizza and the “Freshman Fifteen” – images that still put past graduates into shell shock, were what I was told made up the life of a first year college student. As I left my happy home and all that I had ever known – my family, friends, and animals – I would see and encounter many new ideas and thoughts, but what I had learned from my early life, my values and faith, would be with me through it all.
I left my home and family, encouraged by the inexperience of youth, that all would be the same when I returned. A new beginning, my life at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, reminded me of a quote from my favorite book, Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein, that goes, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” College, in many ways, had “swept” me off to a new world. From the moment I arrived at school, I found it amazing; I loved everything about it, the classes, the people, and the experiences. Ultimate Frisbee and Water Polo kept me in pretty good shape (and mostly away from the “Freshman Fifteen”), while working with groups such as Amnesty International helped open my eyes to much of the sufferings occurring in our world today.
I realized I had come to a new path in my life’s journey. Not only was I now living a life of independence, I was also living without my two best friends Leia and Rev.
MACH Legacy Princess Leia CD, age ten and My-T-Hi Revelation, age three, had been my life prior to leaving for St. Ben’s. If the school had not had a strict no-animals rule they would have been up there with me in a second; instead, they were staying at home with my parents and our four other dogs. Both Shetland Sheepdogs had been showing Agility and Obedience with me since they were young and this new separation was hard on all of us. My first born, Leia, had just received her Masters Agility Championship the April before (2006) and had previously gone to the last two AKC Eukanuba Agility Nationals in Tampa, Florida. Our first achievement together in AKC was getting our CD, but the lure of Agility was too tempting and soon we became strictly Agility competitors. We were not just partners in Agility, but best friends with a love that went far deeper than just “dog and man.” Unfortunately, this last fall, Leia passed away from a brain tumor that was inoperable. This was one of the most difficult times I have ever experienced, mostly because I had been away at college leading up to her death and was only there to hold her as we said our good-byes. Although she is no longer with me here on earth, I know I will see her once again. “Your lost friends are not dead, but gone before, advanced a stage or two upon that road which you must travel in the steps they trod.” (Aristophanes)
My younger sheltie Rev and I were just beginning to form a strong bond both on the field and off. We had just moved into Excellent B Jumpers and were almost done with Excellent A Standard when I left for school.
This past year, showing in Agility has been less frequent than I would have liked. There are only about two shows yearly near when I am living and the regular shows are down in the cities an hour and half away. Also, moving on without Leia has been harder than I would have ever thought possible. My sheltie Rev was unable to show this last spring for a very good reason, she was pregnant. My breeder and I have a co-ownership with my sheltie Rev, and the agreement was that when I went to school, Rev would be bred. This was Rev’s first breeding and she had three beautiful pups.
My upcoming summer is going to be full of working Rev into a healthy shape and hopefully start showing her again throughout the year. I will be giving agility lessons to fifteen or twenty kids in my county as a 4-H volunteer. I also plan on working with my dad, who has just started his first agility dog, and getting him prepared, as he says, for the World Team.