The only constant is change.

Sometimes I want to cut off all of my hair. Mainly, my hair can be a defining feature for me. One day, maybe, I’ll do it. Not today, but one day.

I went to my first two Gator football games. Yeah. Football games are AWESOME. But I am a competitive spirit. It was never not going to be wonderful. Despite the great atmosphere, sea of orange and blue, beautiful sky… I did a horrible job of recording the events by photograph. That’s okay, next time. Too busy learning all of the cheers on the spot. Two bits, four bits…

It’s my fourth year at UF, but not my fourth fall, only my second. I was here freshman year, too, but didn’t have friends, didn’t have football tickets, and didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to be doing. Not necessarily a unique experience, except I adapted a bit differently. I watched the world championships that fall of 2010 and shifted my attention to trying to make the FCI World Team. School and figuring out life was intimidating — here, let me just jump into this other uber-intimidating activity that is disguised by familiarity.

Fast forward: for five years we’ve gone hard. Small speckles; that Rev has heart and gives her all to our game. She had never, ever been injured, but about ten weeks back we broke that streak (not doing agility, why of course). While a minor injury, it got me thinking hard about what I ask her to do week in and week out. Our training over these last several years has actually been pretty limited anyway. Except when we gear up for the big stuff; gets a bit heavy then.

Five years of intense agility… with breaks, sure, but so rarely a true break. I should know, the mental roughly parallels the physical, and rarely did I take my mind off the gas. Beginning to think this is something we overlook too easily.

But quick, rewind: freshman year, Rev and I immersed ourselves in training. I bumped up her jump height, hello international coursework, picked up our Tryouts Q’s and went from there. Rev actually won the AKC National that spring at 26″, a huge shock, and we were later selected to compete in France. That was our “warm up” try for the team. I wasn’t going to be serious about making it until 2012. But as with most plans made, the universe often has her own design in mind.

We made the 2012 team, too.

We went to Crufts, we attended two more AKC National Championships, competed at the European Open this summer. We traveled. I began teaching. This world that first drew me in with only a touch of familiarity soon became my home.

Competing at this year’s Cynosport Games is another post I will write, soon. Power Paws Camp is another post, too. But briefly, I am so grateful to have had Advanced Canine Rehab working on Rev in Tennessee, and for their help back in August. All weekend I was given the okay to run her, and that little dog shocked me over, and over, and over. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, all that heart…

Rev, my little Change the World dog. She did, she changed my world. She shifted everything. Then flipped it upside down and shifted it again. And she hasn’t stopped yet; I’m not sure she ever will.

So several weeks ago I found myself in this interesting situation of not yet being qualified for the 2014 AKC Nationals. This, with a dog who craved good healing energy from me, not stressy panic. I know myself, I knew had I just waited, played it by ear, I’d have run her for those scores. I’d have run her if she was good enough to play. And that isn’t fair.

The 2014 Nationals requirements are sort of another post entirely, though I will say that I’m not thrilled. We showed plenty this year; I spend over $1000 in show entries every year… and I’m sorry, that IS ridiculous. Rev’s Q rate was the highest it has ever been at 75%. Still not qualified.

I did want to touch on that. I do think the requirements for Nationals are unfair. I do think they need to change in order to reflect skill; not time, not money spent. But. My faith is in the universe and my faith is in my dog. I do not think Rev’s injury was an accident, and I do not think my choice to forego qualifying for the National was an accident — we’ve been here before, no coincidences. She knows what she’s doing.

Tailgating at the games, cheering on my college football team, laughing hysterically with friends, bowling, random excursions around campus, and oh so much more… everything that had been building up for weeks and weeks of love and magic, hit me suddenly back in September. And for a brief, brief moment I thought I regretted it, the last three years. I thought I wanted something else. I thought the universe had made a mistake.

Hah, she snickered a bit. I just know it.

Growth. This piece could spit out so many words, but growth sums it up perfectly. I was eighteen! I pondered the calendar with sublime curiosity. Yet the deepest passes of my mind could not have mustered up these brilliant chapters.

2014, I am switching it up, I am doing something different. We, Rev and I, are doing something different. I have moved a few things around. No AKC Nationals. And we go from there.

Pixie cut.


  1. Liz Barshack says

    Great post as usual, Tori! :) We’ve skipped many a National even with being qualified. The world will keep on spinning…

    I hope little Rev heals quickly and is back to 100% soon.

    Liz, Ruby, River and Strut

  2. Rosie says

    You give me chills. Every time. Love and hugs! (I just chopped all my hair off too.. in preparation for the 2015 qualifying season) :)

  3. Jodi Altman says

    The world is huge. There is so much that can feed your soul. Your writing and photos are immensely rich and give generously in so many directions. Keep those outstretched arms of yours reaching….

  4. Curtis says

    We will miss you and Rev at Nationals. The requirements stink and I agree, have little to do with skill. But they decided to make AWC WTT easy for all – don’t get it.
    …wanna run Winston at Nationals?


    • Tori Self says

      haha no, no I would never want to get between the chemistry you two have. And I am very, very much looking forward to this break. Tryouts are up in the air for us. I was originally contemplating an entire year off, but my roommate is trying to convince me otherwise. One day at a time. :)


    I love reading your posts and hearing your heart….it beats so cleary with Rev’s and makes us all remember the ONE thing…..

  6. Heidi Randall says

    We will miss you at NAC, but I know you will keep on throwing the ball no matter what path you find yourself on… I just hope you still aren’t using any doors ;)

  7. says

    Even though it breaks my heart that I finally get to attend my first Nationals and you won’t be there!!! I feel the peace and need in your tone for this break. All our love and healing thoughts to you and Rev. Ha what is it with fall and the need to cut hair off? My appointment is next week lol.

  8. says

    I think I held my breath through that entire post. Your talent in writing always puts me to awe. I love your thoughts on nationals, promotion of skill versus time (and money) spent trialing. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just different. Experience new things, keep rocking :)

  9. Aleks says

    You sound so happy! Don’t worry about missing out on early years of college. Even if you did do the more “traditional” things, it wouldn’t be like it is now. College only comes into it’s prime in your last year or two. Enjoy your year and “real” life will let you know when it needs you back!

  10. Marie-Pier says

    Tori, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now… And the only thing I have to say is: You are truly inspiring. Thank you for always finding the right words and way to say stuff. I’m pretty sure life has even more amazing plans than Nationals for you two. Hugs to little Miss Revie, keep being the amazing team you two are, it is, once again, truly inspiring !

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