Wednesday, July 26, 2017

July CPE Agility

Another round of CPE Agility, one day only this time!

Molly got to play in Jumpers, Colors and Standard.   Jumpers was beautiful, the video is of Colors and Standard was going great until she fell off the dog walk.   One minute we were running, the next my dog plopped down on the ground where I very much did not expect her.   I know she came out of a tunnel very fast and I checked her with my outside hand to get her up the dog walk.    I trusted her with that and kept running.   The person doing ring crew near the up ramp said she approached the ramp crooked and lost her footing, tried to recover but when she could not, she jumped off.    I am honestly glad that she made that decision, before completely wiping out and taking a really scary fall.   It still surprised me since Molly has never once even in her craziest of crazy days lost her footing on the dog walk.    It could have just been a fluke, could be related to her age - but the outcome was okay and Molly continues to not show any ill effects so we are just going to move right along.

Ein came along and enjoyed two runs - Jumpers and Jackpot.   The Jumpers video is below - I got myself stuck on the wrong side of the tunnels since I didn't want to rear cross tunnels with him.   Awkward!   We will have to do a little bit of training on rear crossing tunnels.    Jackpot was great, collect points and you had your choice of two distance challenges.   Ein did one that was Jump, Tunnel, Back over the same jump.   He needed some handler motion and a second cue and cheering to get him into the tunnel at a distance but he did it!

Perri was Perri!   I tried very hard to speak only positive words.   Jumpers she was pouncy wild poodle for her first run of the day.   In Colors she was a bit demotivated and her weaves were a mess.   I did the wrong closing sequence on the last three jumps and NQd us.   Snooker was a Q because Snooker is Perri's Game!   (still, not good weaves.)  Standard was good except she absolutely wouldn't weave.   She entered them and then just went into the SpaceZone and then started zooming and barking at me when I asked her to do them.   I broke down and told her "you stink." and we left the ring.   I was still worried about Molly, since her dogwalk fall/jump had happened about 10 dogs ahead of Perri and it eroded my ability to be patient and upbeat with Perri.  I feel ashamed of myself but also, frustrated.    Jackpot was nice and Perri did both distance challenges though there were some moments of stopping and staring.

Sigh.   We did have a very enjoyable evening in agility class tonight with phenomenal powerhouse weaves.  Perri would not weave like that if she was injured.   I remember when she was weaving while injured, she would either walk them or bounce step them.   In class, when she is energized she has a beautiful single striding way of weaving and that is what she did tonight.   It's trial stress, hers and mine.   I know it is difficult for her to focus on the dirt.  I know she was hot.   I know that where trials used to energize her and empower her, there is stress.  These are things I know.   This weekend we will be trialing indoors, in air conditioning and on artificial turf.   Positive words only, and we will see how that goes.

And of course after our trial, there was swimming!

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Power of Words

Yep a second post today.

Some time ago I decided to stop verbally saying I hated Standard, that I sucked at it, you get the idea.

Today I decided the same thing about Perri.   Oh, I don't slander her out of dislike or cruelty.   It's self depreciating humor.   Today some neighbors dropped by for a beer and when I called Perri 'weird', they were...offended.   It took me by surprise because, well, Perri is weird.  And I call her weird every single day.  Because, she. is. weird.  Where does the line between outright negativity and the reality of my dog Perri's limitations lie?   It is feeling very very blurred lately.

No more.   Suppressing those little smart ass quips today made me realize how often I say them.  In my email exchange requesting a drop in class I wanted to mutter, or think to myself, "Yeah.   If she will even work the entire class."   And here's the thing: I have a reason.   I have a long history of Perri not working the entire class.   Of trying my very very best with every awesome high value food and a bag full of her favorite toys.   Of developing my personal play skills better than they have ever been before.   And a history of none of that mattering because when Perri is done working it is lights out, my friends.

But guess what?   Dwelling on it, expecting it to happen, and talking about it is not helping.

On the way out the driveway to class saying good bye to my husband and wanting to respond to his "Have fun!" wishes with the same sentiment. "Yeah, we'll see.   It's Perri.   I'll take what I can get."
I forced myself to say, "We're going to have a great time!"   It was an effort.   I mentally checked and caught myself.

I remember doing that with my Standard phobia/hate.   I remember the words wanting to come out so badly.    Self depreciating humor is how I relieve embarrassment, how I avoid sadness.   Laugh it off, make a joke.  It is a comfort and a friend.   But when you are in a partnership with another living being, things need to be readjusted.   And the words I speak about Perri are in need of a change.

I was "rewarded" by getting to class and finding out we were doing a 12-jump rear cross drill.   If there is any skill that Perri gets demotivated it is one rear cross let, six.   Still I said, "This is a great skill for Perri to work on."   When I wanted to say "I thought we might enjoy class but now she's going to shut down and make me feel sad."

And dammit if that poodle didn't go right out there and do every rear cross like a total boss!  Not only was our attitude excellent, but I could see that the work we've been doing at home on the rear cross has translated to the class environment.   Yea!

The next hurdle was that we were going to run a second sequence.   I usually split our training class, one run for Molly and one for Perri.   Tonight I brought only Perri to class.   The reason I split the class is that Perri often shuts down hard after one run, even if it is lovely and she is feeling happy.   More negative thoughts.  More truthful thoughts.   Where does that line lie?
Oh well, no more talking about it.   When I got Perri out of her crate for the second run she was reserved and seemed to me to be in "that sulky mood".   I wasn't going to accept "that mood", I was thinking positive tonight.   I got her duckie toy out, I asked her for her tricks.   I asked her where "daddy daphnee luna" are?   I teased her with the duckie and finally she cracked.    Her lips snarkled and she bared her teeth and pounced on her toy and I knew I had her.

And even though the sequence was "Jump to weaves" to start and I wanted to groan about how Perri would be demotivated about that, I said nothing and we went in there and we did it.   Perri ran that second course clean and fast and got her duckie subwoofer toy to pounce around with and we had a great night and lived happily ever after.

It's a start.

It won't always be perfect, but maybe it could be.   I'm not going to be the tentative one holding us back with negativity.   I am done with that and we are moving forward.  If a simple thing like holding my words in can help us, that is the least I can do.   It has worked before for Team Molly.

Love, if your wings are broken, borrow mine so yours can open, too.   Cause I'm gonna stand by you.   Even if we're breaking down, we can find a way to break through.   Even if we can't find heaven.  I'll walk through hell with you.   Love you're not alone, cause I'm gonna stand by you.

2nd NADAC Trial...Molly runs outdoors!

Molly and I got to go play some more NADAC agility yesterday.   I had my day free at the last minute and I couldn't think of anything more I wanted to do than to go on an adventure with my girl to a new-to-us trial site and venue.

This time we tried a few more of the games:   Chances, a numbered agility course but with a taped off section that is a distance challenge.   Regular (Like "Standard" - but no teeter.   NADAC does not use the teeter.)  Tunnelers we of course did, and also Jumpers.   Jumpers was as named: only jumps (and a tunnel.)

I had a very interesting experience with Molly yesterday.   The trial was held outdoors but the ring did not have snow fencing, and that was a relief.   It was held on the grounds of an animal rescue, so about a tenth of a mile away was the shelter building and dog runs.   You could not see this from the ring since it was "downhill", and you certainly could not see it from the crate area.   You could hear it though.  The crating area was absolutely lovely, in a fenced in pine grove with a double gate and so much shade that it was truly unnecessary to bring my EZ Up along.   I will know for next time.

Poodle along for emotional support.   And because she hates being left at home for adventures!

What was interesting about my day with Molly was that we basically experienced, in a condensed form, a timeline of all of the environmentally-related behaviors that Molly and I have encountered and conquered over her five years as an agility dog.   This could get a little nerdy and boring but I want to analyze everything pretty closely so I have a record of it for myself.  We got to the trial site and she was amped up immediately despite my attempts to acclimate her slowly.   What works for her usually, even at trial sites that get her the most cranked up ("Dream Park") was rolling off of her without notice.    The only thing I can think of is that I could have done more short acclimation walks and returned her to the car rather than the x-pen in my crating area, but I was parked on a rather busy street and keeping the car unlocked and open was not an ideal option (to put it mildly.)

As it was, we were acclimating and returning to the x-pen, and that was not a retreat for her to soak the information about our acclimation walk.   It was not relaxing.   She was inconsolable in the x-pen, screeching, and all around making me want to rip her lips off!   I should have brought her crate.   It is more familiar in the trial setting than the x-pen, though she has been in the pen many times before (Like, oh.   All last weekend during our camping trip!)   I specifically chose a spot away from the other crates and tents, against the fencing, but it was not enough.

We ran Chances first.   We did well walking up to the ring and even ring side for a little bit.   Molly was doing tricks and taking food (I had switched to very high value food).   About two or three dogs before our turn to go in, I didn't have a dog.   It was like a switch flipped, with no discernible trigger other than likely stress build up.  Displacement sniffing, did not want food.   This is the area that is still confusing for me.   Should I have gotten her away from there, gotten her back under threshold and scratched our run?   Historically, Molly improves a lot after she gets into the ring and has her famous lip-flying, teeth bared zoomies.   I had actually entered Chances specifically for that reason, that Molly often "needs" a run to just blow off stress.  And that was exactly what she did (Because yes.  Of course I went into the ring anyway).   She did the first two obstacles but then took a wrong course tunnel and did some circles - if I could have had a photo of her face as she ran into that tunnel!   Eye whites and teeth and lips flying!   She came back and humored me taking two jumps as directed but then disconnected again and went to the ring crew and then to the side of the ring for some intense stress displacement sniffing.   I called her name cheerily and asked her to do the last hoop, put her leash on and rewarded her back at the x-pen.   I knew she was blowing off steam and frustration because she was overwhelmed, and I knew she was stressed out after relieving that pressure because she really does try to be a Good Dog and five years of team work has told her that I don't particularly care for it when she races about and ignores me.   

Molly was still very amped up back at the x-pen.   I could not leave her without her screaming.   I decided to take her and Perri for a walk through the woods across the street - there was a nature preserve with some geocaches so I decided to walk out to one of them.   I thought that if Molly had some decompression time in the woods to sniff it would help her.

When we returned, Elite Regular was just starting.   I wanted to help out with ring crew but Molly was still screaming if I left the crating area.   I felt frustration of my own start to creep in, because I was trying my best and using all of the tools that Molly has taught me and I was still failing.   I sat down in my chair and just waited.   Molly settled down, fell asleep next to her fan, and I was able to walk away and work the Open class when it came time.   That was that.   And that was the end of it for the day.   She just needed me to sit there and be calm with her for a few minutes and let everything get caught up.

When it was our turn for Regular I picked a spot in the shade under an EZ Up and worked hard with tricks and praise to keep Molly's focus, which she was now offering quite happily.   She held a start line stay.   I did a lead out pivot and I was late with it so she ran around the Aframe I wanted her on and went into a wrong course tunnel instead.   I just wrapped her up onto the Frame and went about our business.   She got stuck with the ring crew, another classic displacement behavior of her's.   That was another timeline moment for us, it used to be an enormous problem!   I got her to re-engage and take the next four obstacles and then, she had to take a jump and turn onto the dog walk.   She took the jump and started towards the ring crew in the chair on that side of the ring.    And then, the most beautiful thing, without my calling her I saw her change direction mid stride and come up that dog walk with me instead.    I was so proud of her and grateful to her.   (Sometimes the human needs the dog to show them "Hey, you have helped me get somewhere after all these years!   And now that my brain can think a bit straighter, I can use what we learned together!)

After the dog walk was jump to weaves, and she ran past them.   I had to think in a split second what to do, what was the right decision?   Let her run past them and end on a good note?   Or ask her to do her most stressful obstacle, after we had just enjoyed a nice success.   We had already NQd so there was no pressure from that.    I chose to ask her to do her weaves.   I stayed up straight, called her into me, let my body language stay loose and playful as I do with Perri.   I asked her "do you see it?" as we learned in our online weave class.   We just had a little conversation together.   She did see them.   She ran right at them and hopped through them fast and happy!   It was a risky choice but it turned out well and I am grateful for that, too!

The rest of the day evened out into what I am used to from Molly.   We came through on the other side.   We had a long break because I did not entered Touch N Go and I certainly did not enter Weavers.   A friend dropped by and we chatted most of that time away, I ate lunch, and then it was time for Tunnelers!   There were zero issues here with engagement and direction following, Molly was thrilled with Tunnelers and we qualified at 5.87YPS and I believe the second fastest dog of all levels.   She unfortunately ripped one end of a tunnel right out of the sand bags and that had to be fixed.   Proud moment!   (I'm sure it took a preliminary beating from some of the Elite dogs.)

Jumpers was last and Molly was as calm as could be while still moving at a nice speed for another Q.   How "boring" are the nice runs, no big long winded paragraphs for me to discuss!

Oh my Molly.   You are not done making me work hard, I guess!   The fire still burns bright inside of this girl!   Next weekend we will return to one of our regular trial sites and perhaps Molly will be back to Miss Consistent....for a little while.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Ein returns to Veterans class!

Ein and I got to return to Cynosport Rally Veterans class today - happy day!   It was so nice to do two Veterans courses and be done, no more Triple Qs!!!  (Can you tell I am happy to be finished with Ein's MX??)

First course for a 210: 

Second course was just as perfect and happy but we lost a point on an out of place finish.   I can still see Ein having some of that generalized ring stress that he had a lot of when we were working on the MX.   I remember the last time that we did a lot of Veterans, that ring stress very nearly disappeared.   I am looking forwards to and hoping for something similar in the future.

Our next trial is with a club that is offering the new Intro course, so I am very excited to see that and learn more about it.    I hope that people enter it!  

Placements in both trials and his Rally Veteran Champ x 4 title!

Friday, June 30, 2017

June CPE Agility Day #2

A bit of a delay getting around to posting our Day 2!  

It was just the same: Ein was a total rockstar, Molly was slowish in the heat but a consistent Q machine and Perri was a squirrel!

We started with Perri-only in Standard.   I don't truly remember too much about the run other than it started with Jump to Weaves and Perri skipped a weave but weaved fast when I allowed that and just let her get back in.   She also did a fast teeter, I remember being happy about that.

Next we did Colors.   Molly was fast and accurate and did a sub-20 seconds run with decent weaving and no bobbles!   Perri ran around a jump, did slow weaves and was 3 seconds overtime (allowable by CPE, thankfully!)

Ein got his chance in Colors Level 1 and was Mr Happy, though at the end I would normally have rear crossed a jump, but didn't want to since I didn't think Ein would carry over the jump (I did not want him to take the bar).   We had a bit of a confusing moment there but we re-collected.   My Ein is a forgiving dude!  Note to self: teach Ein the rear cross.  

Next was Snooker.   I was late getting to the line with Molly and by then she was really rather hot and tired.   She was not running slow but she was definitely slow by her normal Standards.   I let her skip the weaves since they were Number 7 and we already had plenty of points.

Perri got to go next and was pretty good all around but did have one moment of staring and freezing.   I just pushed right through it and let her approach the jump from a different angle and she was back up and running in no time.   She was so happy that I decided to try the weaves at the end of the numbered sequence, and she did three of them like a boss but then just walked out of them.   Well, three is better than none!

Our last run of the day was Jackpot and Molly got to sit that one out.   I entered Ein in it since it was non traditional, and of course Perri since she needs a few more Jackpot legs for her C-ATCH.

Ein went first.   There was a dividing line down the center and there was a tunnel, jump, aframe and tunnel all down the center.   There were two gambles and you could handle one or the other from your side of the line.   Ein of course had no issues and did his gamble, got his points and qualified!

Perri was next and she did a pretty good job of staying happy.   She got plenty of points and then we went for our gamble.   The first three obstacles were great, but after the Aframe it was a push out to the far side of the tunnel.   Perri instead ran behind me and made a beeline for the wrong end of the tunnel that I was not indicating at all.   I said, "Stop!"   She stopped.    She gave me the stink eye.   I told her the correct end...three times.   She was disgusted with this directive.   She finally trotted through that tunnel as slooooooooooooow as possible for a qualifying round, .06 seconds over time.   Thank goodness CPE rounds down.   If you are one full second or more over time in Jackpot, you NQ.   Not Perri's first time doing a run so close to over time it is scary.

So.   I really had a nice weekend and it tickled me pink to have the "whole family" out playing agility together.   Ein ran with some nice speed and drive and was totally enjoying himself in the ring.   He was not sore or limping anymore than usual after the trial (or the two days of swimming that we did.)   Ein never walks like a sound dog, but he walked like "his normal".   Ein makes my heart so big, I am so proud of him.

Molly was not her normal "bat out of hell" self.   I was staring at her left front all weekend and feeling worried.   But she stayed sound and did well in the ring.   Molly has never been a fast dog in the heat, and her speed has diminished this year even before the "foot thing".   I am so grateful that Molly could play in the ring with me.   I have no idea if we are 100% in the clear yet, but this weekend felt like a step in the right direction.

Perri....oh, Perri!   She was her normal hot and cold self.    I just rolled with it and enjoyed what she was giving me.   I did a lot of cheer leading and exercised a lot of patience.   Perri is Perri.   I got to play in the ring with my beautiful, sound dog and that's a whole lot right there.   One of Perri's best friends in the world, another standard poodle, is currently battling a yet to be diagnosed neurological issue.   Weakness, legs giving out or knuckling, and general tension and pain in the spine.   I have a young dog who is sound of body, perhaps a bit quirky of mind, but she's still there playing the game with me and she's still there going on hikes with me.   So, hey.   I'm blessed.   And I'm grateful.   Perri was sent to this earth from her strange little planet to teach me every chapter of the Book of Patience.   I love her and I will persevere with her.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

June CPE Agility Day 1 and Perri Continues to Dock Dive

Today was a long day so I am breaking the weekend down into two posts!

Today felt like an important day for Molly.   I have played CPE with Molly at this training facility for years now and I never felt so nervous as I did today.   If Molly stayed sound, no limping or paw picking up, I knew I would feel hopeful for the continuation of our agility trialing together.   If, after 3 weeks, she experienced lameness again due to an arthritic (and, unfixable) deformity....not so awesome.   

#nailedit!   Molly did great!   Her usual speed was definitely not there, but that has been the case all of this year, especially since all of the testing and surgeries that she endured in the winter.   Molly only had to do two sets of 6 weaves today, and on one set she really powered through them with speed and confidence.   I don't think that Molly would have done that if she was in pain.   Any excuse to not weave at a trial is fine by her: she does not love weaves enough to perform them through pain.   So, clinging to all of that.   Business as usual.   The next video is Molly's Snooker run from today, both girls qualified with this plan but I do not have Perri's run video'd.

The next on the Awesome! List is that Ein came along to play with us today.   Level 1, and he got to play Jumpers and Wildcard.   I feel like he ran faster on his second run!   Ein is such a joy, I absolutely loved playing with him today (and, I need to teach him it's okay to leave my side and take a wing jump!)

Perri had her usual day of ups and downs.   She did not zoom out as she usually does for the first run on the dirt.   She disengaged when I was late cueing her and I don't blame her for that.   We had a hard time getting back in sync but thankfully the rest of the course was as flowy as it gets so we got to have some nice confidence building time together after a rough start.

In Wildcard Perri shut down when I asked her to weave so I let her run past them and we continued the course.  Snooker was a nice run with one moment of shutting down when I confused her with a handling mistake.   We finished with two rounds of Standard.   The first one is the video, and we actually qualified (not even two seconds under SCT, whew.)   The second round I got flustered, lost my spot in the course and NQd us though we continued running for a decent run.

Today made me think about my responses when Perri shuts down.   Our instructor said that when Perri shuts down (in training) that I need to ask her to reengage with me in some simple way (a hand touch, a silly trick.)   I think there is a lot of wisdom in that, especially because it helps me avoid "shutting down" behaviors of my own.  I have a long history of Perri shutting down on me, and it is extremely upsetting and demotivating and honestly: it shuts me down too.   I am simply recognizing and stating this fact right now.   I've known it for quite some time, I don't like it about myself, but it's true.   And I want to improve that.   My focus is so much on avoiding the shut-downs but perhaps if I managed my responses to the shut downs better, that would be a better (and more realistic.) solution for us.   I think I could expand more on my thought process about this but I'm going to leave it for now.

All that heavy thinking aside, after the agility trial we went to a new dock!   Perri needed only one tease-throw with Molly and she was happily jumping off the dock and into the lake for even her regular tennis balls. (instead of Molly's prized orange chuckit balls.)   Success!   I feel very proud of Perri and very excited about possibly trying some dock diving events with Perri.   For now, different docks...dock jumping without the excitement of Molly around...and eventually a higher dock.

There were a lot of people at the lake and none of them minded my crazy gang at all, it was kind of refreshing to not have to keep them clamped down so tightly.   We met a lady and her grandson and he absolutely loved the dogs.   He wanted to know all about them: what sorts of dogs are they, what are their names, is Molly is dumb (hell yes), does  Ein likes to bark (hell yes), why doesn't Ein have a collar on.   He helped me throw the balls for the dogs and even squeezed the water out of them before throwing since I asked him to.   I had to smile at my Perri jumping off the dock for a kid she just met throwing her ball (and then jumping in after her and trying to race her to the ball), when just a few days ago she was too scared to do that.   

A challenging dog can be heart rending, but when they have break is so very sweet.

Friday, June 23, 2017

It Is What It Is

Picking up where I left off....

I failed raw diet.   We did good for about five days.   I was feeling very empowered, with some bumps in the road.   I upgraded to chicken leg quarters because Molly was eating the legs too fast and vomiting due to "gulping" and eating too fast.  (being a good food hound, she was happy to eat the vomited raw meat.    Recycling!)   Ein was struggling with the chicken legs because he has no upper carnassials, so I was toying with getting pre-ground for him.   I ended up getting chicken wings because those are softer bones.

The fifth day we had a rough day.   Since we started the whole thing I was fairly anxious, and literally having trouble sleeping.   It's silly but it was a big change to our routine, I didn't want my dogs to be sick or vomit/diarrhea in the house.   The fifth day Perri had a really bad mucousy poop, and Perri rarely has any GI issues.    Ein struggled even chewing the wing and eventually swallowed it whole which upset me and worried me.   Molly had a vomiting episode even with the large leg quarter.   The thought of going back to kibble was exhilarating and comforting and so I did and I'm happy with that decision.

There will probably be a Raw Food v2.0 in my future but....not for a while.  And that's okay.

I got out of work early yesterday, after a really rough week....and took the dogs to a small river park that has a nice wooden dock.   It is further than our usual swimming spot and the frustration with that is always that if somebody is using the dock, I've driven further and the dogs can't play.   We lucked out and got the dock to ourselves.

Why do I want Perri to dock jump?   Ein never dock jumped and I never cared.   Maybe it's because Perri is a big dog, maybe it is because she is afraid to do it and that makes me dig in and want her to do it more.   Perri has been afraid of a lot in our time together, and the overcoming of those fears has made her into a much more secure dog for it.   As far as I'm concerned, learning how to throw caution to the wind and dive into water off of a dock can only benefit Perri's confidence. (Plus I have to admit I dream of taking her to a dock diving trial, you don't see too many poodles!)

"oh god, please don't try to make me into a fool like this brindle dog!"

Perri jumped off of a dock for the first time in September 2015, the week before her shoulder injury was officially diagnosed.    I did not attempt dock jumping again with her until a few months ago.   No particular reason other than docks aren't easy to come by and I wasn't committed to the task.   My method with Perri is to take her and Molly onto the dock.   I throw the ball in.   Perri wants the ball because I have Molly restrained, and Perri loves getting Molly's ball and teasing her with it.   She is afraid to jump so she does plenty of cowardly clinging on the side of the dock, squealing and barking at the ball.   I let Molly get close to her to build up more excitement and pressure on Perri, and by then Molly is screeching bloody murder at not being allowed to get her ball.   Yesterday, Perri had a brilliant idea!   She would just run off the dock, and run into the water and get the ball.   No jumping needed.   Wrong!   As soon as she made that choice I let go of Molly's collar and of course Molly snagged up the ball.   After two strikes of that, Perri was sufficiently motivated to jump into the water, squealing like a coward the whole way.  

We had a lot of time yesterday to work on this, and Perri eventually got to the point where she was smoothly jumping into the water for a ball throw - some jumps were even without hesitation.   This is very exciting!  

"Sure, use me like a whore....whatever just throw the ball and let go of my collar!"

I am excited to continue generalizing this to different docks with Perri and to not have to rely on teasing her with threat of Molly-will-get-the-ball-so-just-f%$&-jump!  I think tomorrow we will try to get some dock time at a lake that is on our way home from the agility trial we are entered in.  

"Ahhh, I deserve to roll in some dead earthworms for being so brave, right?"

Bolstered by Perri's enjoyment of jump exercises, I finally ordered Susan Salo's jump grid workbook for some more cool training exercises to do with Perri.  (Bonus if she stops jumping with Big Air, "like a poodle.")   Last night I set a grid up in the yard for Perri, thinking that some do-able jump work would be enjoyable and confidence building for her.  We did a minimal amount of reps, I made adjustments to the grid we were using based on Perri's needs, took breaks often - it was a really nice time.   Perri never disengaged, and was always interested in what we were doing and happy to do the work.   That's happy making for me!

This year has been derailed for me quite a few times and has turned out nothing like I expected it would at the end of 2016.   Molly's very existence in my life has been threatened by lymphoma (and reclaimed!) and, secondary to that, our agility journey is a huge question mark.   I began doing agility to help myself with seasonal affective disorder, I used to suffer quite badly from it in the winter time.   Agility was chosen as a means to help myself heal and it still continues to serve that purpose.   It's "just a game" apparently, but for me it has been a therapy, a means for personal growth and bond with my dogs and has led me to meet so many people that I never would have known.   The thought of no longer having agility in my life due to my partner being sick or unsound is devastating to me.   Is agility more important than my dog Molly, is she just a means for me to play this game that I love?   Absolutely not.   Is agility more important than my relationship with Perri and helping her be the best she can be?   I will not allow that.

I love agility so much because of what playing this game did for Molly and I.   It made me fall in love with and respect a dog that I did not really like.   And I have decided that I need to stop deciding where my journey with Perri is supposed to go.   Just like I did with Molly.   I am giving up on the human concept of linear progress with Perri.   Perri started off so promising, then she injured her shoulder.   We rehabbed the shoulder.   It took a while to return to normal function, nearly an entire year.   But she did, she followed the path of linear progress and at the end of last year, she was the best she has ever been.   But this year Perri's progress detoured in the most confusing and upsetting way and I am tired of mourning that and agonizing about it.   I am tired of making Perri a project and trying to brainstorm up Plan A-Z on how to improve her strange little brain.  

Perri is happy when I am happy.   It's simple, stupid.   So I aim to go forth and be happy with the next half of this year.   After all, what choice do I have?   My sister always says, "It is what it is."

It is what it is.   So I'm going to make the most of what I've got.