Some of you will remember Kristi Oikawa (and her dogs, Lou, Rex, Wick, and Bar) from earlier posts and some of you will not know her. She was one of only a very few Asian-American handlers on the trial field, not only running at the USBCHA Open level but also very credibly in agility with the same dogs (which is a feat). This is a great photo of Kristi from the Bluegrass. I will so miss her in the White House next year and for years to come. And so I add my thoughts of her here with shock at her passing and affection at having had known her bright and blazing personality.
In the interests of full disclosure, while I've been acquainted with Kristi through the wonders of the internet for some years now (first through these Border Collie boards and then FB), it wasn't really a friendship at all - I lusted after the wonderful meals she posted eating (all while staying lean and fit); I envied her being an Open handler and an accomplished agility competitor; and I just knew "of" her through the internet. But, finally, when we got into a bit of a disagreement over something trivial, we "unfriended".
Then, a few years ago, she came East to the Bluegrass, all the way from British Columbia, and I met her in person, and she was warm and friendly (and, of course, sparkly). But I stayed aloof. We were two very different people with very different interests, and only a common interest in "the dogs".
Last year, I saw her name on the roster to help me in the White House, and I groaned inside. Nothing wrong with her but a lot wrong with my attitude, for sure. And then I surprised myself by having an utterly delightful time working with her. She was amazing, quite brilliant, and a huge help. But more than that, she was friendly, funny, capable, competent, respectful, and just plain enjoyable to be around.
This year, when I saw her name on the roster to help me in the White House, I was overjoyed (see, I can learn and improve my attitude) and could hardly wait. We spent a number of hours working together and, when it was all said and done, she gave me a big, warm, genuine hug that I appreciated more than she could ever know, and said that she looked forward to working with me again next year. That, sadly, won't happen, but the memories of her helpfulness, her wonderful sense of humor, her bright mind, her glittering sparkliness, and that lovely hug, will live with me each and every time I think of her.