SUMMARY: Goodbye to some old plastic friends, hello to the newest member.
Way way back in the ages dark, the first couple of years I did agility, my dogs just lay on the grass in an x-pen or in their crates on the grass. After a rainy trial or two, though, and a really dusty crating area after that, I finally saw the value in having one of those plastic rug-mats that everyone seems to have.
I bought the first one that looked vaguely purple.
I sometimes saw people throwing away their decrepit mats, and I vowed that I'd always take good care of mine, fold it carefully, pack it carefully, and it would last forever. Well, that hokey ugly first mat has held up reasonably well for being, now, about 14 years old, but it is in fact disintegrating--little pieces falling off every time I open it; binding coming off and the edge raveling; parts are badly faded so doesn't even pretend to look purple any more; and, let's face it, the pattern is still stupid.
It folded up into a long bundle that was just thin enough to shove between the dog's crate and the side of the van if I worked at it, so it mostly stayed in the car for several years.
But the main reason it didn't die completely a long time ago is because about about a year after buying that mat, I found this one, which is so TOTALLY my colors and my kind of pattern:
Still only 6x8, but this one folded up into this handy-dandy size that sat in the window well next to the dog's crate, so no struggling to get it in place.
I kept using the original one, trying to save the newer one for later, but when I finally got a 10x10 canopy, I started using BOTH mats, overlapping, to try to fill more of the 10x10 area. Eventually I gave up on that idea--too much work, too many edges to trip over, so I've used just the teal/purple one most of the last many years, and it really is disintegrating now, broken along most of its seams and folds and held together by faith.
I knew its time was coming, so a couple of years back, I bought this one. I MEANT to get a full-sized one to match the canopy size, but, once again, this was what was easily available, and although a large purple/white checkerboard wasn't my first choice for a pattern, at least it wasn't butt-ugly and it was genuinely purple, even though it was STILL barely more than 6x8. And, yeh, it was available. BUT about the 3rd or 4th time I used it, the whole edge started to unravel. That was disappointing.
It kept unraveling because I was too lazy to duct-tape it, so after a while I folded it up into its square and left it in the garage and continued using my deteriorating teal/purple one.
Finally, this weekend when packing my dearly beloved teal/purple mat, I ceased to think "the time is coming" and decided "the time is here", so I left it at home and reactivated the purple/white checkerboard, placing the frayed edge under the crates, and decided that eventually, soon, I'd just need to make the effort to really find a mat that fit all my needs.
On Saturday, while killing time between runs (see what happens when I'm not full-time at the score table?) I decided to browse quickly through the vendors, probably not buying anything because, after all, I have everything. And then this caught my eye.
It's really purple, matches my purple/black/teal crates, it has a subtle and not stupid pattern, it's very sturdy--even has grommets along the sides for staking down--and FINALLY it's a full 9x9! So, yep, it's now mine.
It's also HUGE compared to the others. No sticking it alongside the crates; it's going to take up obvious space in MUTT MVR. The price we pay for a well-furnished agility home away from home.
The two oldest ones are now headed for the landfill. I hate tossing things if there's a chance they can be reused or recycled in some way, but I haven't come up with anywhere for them to go, so out they go. So long, and thanks for all the memories.
Haven't decided yet about the purple and white one--might duct-tape that edge after all and use it for indoor trials where a smaller mat is more practical--although that also usually means dust and dirt, and all those large white squares--gah. Can decide later. But for now--my new Mat and I are looking forward to our next trial and his very first use with the Taj MuttHall clan.