July Bloom: "Agility Abound"

Canines’ unconditional love for humans, and friends whose dogs compete in agility contests inspired this month’s flash fiction story titled, Agility Abound.

"Agility Abound"

dog doing agility training

“Coming, be right there,” Lorraine shouted over the relentless doorbell ringing. She trudged toward the front door, petting the smallest of her five canine companions.

“May I help you?,” Lorraine said to a white-haired couple squinting in the scorching sun.

“You’re the Agility Abound trainer. We heard you closed up, but we’re desperate,” said the man standing next to a seated woman cocooned in a shawl despite the heat.

“Well, yes, that’s kind of true, working with fewer clients now,” Lorraine said, realizing the man looked familiar, then she remembered. Last spring she’d delivered Agility Abound training to her aunt who lived in a senior mobile home community where everyone knew everybody and everything. This man lived across from her aunt and stepped outside to stare each time she conducted a session to guide the dog on moves and suggest commands her aunt should use.

“I saw what you did with that Retriever at your aunt’s place, the moves, the commands, and all. We think our ‘girl,’ part Australian Shepherd, can learn from you. She’s a quick study, won lots of agility competitions, so an excellent candidate for your Agility Abound training.”

Then he shared that his upcoming knee surgery would prevent him from walking temporarily so he wouldn’t be able to push his wife around. They’d had trouble finding help given costly home health care and far-away family.

Ignoring her brain’s message to say no, Lorraine’s heart spoke ‘yes.’ She understood their position and knew how much her aunt had benefited from having a high-skilled agility dog to expand her mobility and uplift her spirits.

“Sure, I could try it. I see you brought your dog,” Lorraine said, pointing at the Buick with open windows parked near her driveway. Let’s look at what she can do.” The man patted his wife on the shoulder and went to the car. “Time to shine, Winnie,” he said and let her out.

“Upright,” he commanded, and she stood still on hind legs. “Forward,” he commanded, and she stretched her front paws forward as if to hug someone, and walked to Lorraine.

“Winnie’s got great potential,” Lorraine said. “I can teach her how to push your wife’s wheelchair. That will be no problem with her paws and proportions. When your wife issues the right command, Winnie will pause the chair at streetlights and stop signs. Then we’ll teach Winnie how to dash your wife up and down those supermarket aisles like a weave poll genius.”

“Come on in. I have a ramp on the side, wide enough for your wife’s chair. Bring Winnie too.”

Lorraine proposed three visits a week. “Bet I can train her to push you both at the same time after the knee surgery, sir,” she said, “and I promise Winnie will provide Agility Abound anywhere you want to get around after we’re done.”

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