Dragons and Dog Shows

This weekend has been the hottest so far in London so we decide an outdoor programme is required. We decide to stick with our plan to go Dragon Boating on Saturday. I feel we are somewhat extreme as the first time we went it was snowing and someone was taken off the boat with hypothermia and had to go in an ambulance. On Saturday it is boiling hot even before we start. I feel lazy and let other people get the boat out and then we’re in it and away we go. Ciara, our captain, works us very hard and we’re paddling away, doing exercises to improve our twist, working our legs and bottoms and making sure our start positions are right. Out on the water is slightly cooler with a bit of a breeze but every University rowing team also seems to be out there, sweating it out, most of them impossibly slim and tanned. After an hour, I am done. The boat goes into the pontoon and people swap sides and places in the boat. I say I will sit the next session out but Ciara asks if I want to sit in the back of the boat and just have a ride which sounds lovely so I accept. It’s great to sit back and watch people work and the planes taking off and landing at City Airport which is right beside the dock. Raging Dragons are also out on the water so it is decided we will race at the end. We are given a head start which is just as well as they are fast and pretty good but we paddle for our lives and I think we come in together. It’s fun, whatever. Walking away, my legs feel wobbly and I am tired but in a good way. Once we get home, we eat and sit down and an incredible feeling of calm and peace flows over me. I am in bed by 9pm.

Sunday morning dawns glorious again and we go to the South Bucks Pony Club dog show. The dog show is run by Greyhound Gap, a fabulous organisation who re-home greyhounds, lurchers and the like. There are so many dogs like Dog there, we are very happy. They have organised several competitions so we enter him for the Most Appealing Eyes, Handsomest Dog and Best Rescue. At the last moment we enter him in a lure race. They have a lure which is powered around the field for the dogs to chase. Although it is very hot, from a field away, Dog can see it and his attention is all on it. We go over and take him into the field. It is explained that the lure will go round once to excite Dog and then we can let him go and he will go like hell for leather around the field after it. Dog looks excited. The lure goes round once. He is let off the lead and immediately goes into clown routine, ambling around and saying hello to people and taking no interest in the lure whatsoever. It is very funny. In fact, it’s funny watching all the dogs whether they chase or not. They try to cut corners or else show no interest. It is very hot so we forgive Dog’s shortcomings in this department and realise again that this must be why he was dumped. He was bred by travellers for hare coursing, we think, and he shows not much interest for chasing rabbits although he has caught a couple. Now squirrels…that’s another matter.
After the shame of the lure, we go to the arena. Well, I say arena but it’s an area of the field roped off with a plastic gazebo to help give the dogs some shade. Dog enters his first class – Most Appealing Eyes – and gives the judge his best winsome look. We are delighted when he comes away with First place. Alas, it’s all downhill from there. Having won a first, Dog can’t be bothered to play the game and be the Handsomest Dog or Best Rescue although he scrapes Sixth place in the latter.

We wander off to find some food while the last classes are being judged and arrive back in time to see the penultimate class – Dog that looks most like its owner. There are only 2 entrants and we wish we had entered. Never have 2 people looked less like their dog but we know we would have been placed and then it would have been official. We have to be back for Best in Show which is very amusing. Dog has decided his best position is horizontal and he flops on the grass and can’t be bothered to show his best side. In 30 degrees, I don’t really blame him. He is not placed and so we wander off, proud of his small achievement and watch the show jumping for a while. Small children are racing round on ponies with such confidence and self assurance it takes my breath away. After a while we decide to leave and head home while there is still some afternoon to be snoozed away.

The weekend has been brilliant. I am tired but in a good way and hope for another good night’s sleep. I left my compression sleeve off today in a gesture of defiance (breast care nurse is still ignoring my request to see the lymphoedema nurse) and the heat has made my hand and arm swell so an evening of sitting quietly on the sofa watching a film is in order. This is probably the most active weekend I have had since my diagnosis. Maybe I am on the road to recovery after all.

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