Molly and I did great at the trial this weekend, on paper. Some people that had not seen her run since the springtime saw her on Friday evening and remarked on how much improved she was, and it made me so proud of her. But as the weekend wore on, Molly showed less and less of that "shot out of a cannon" balls to the wall speed and joy that I find so charming and yet so difficult to control (both physically and mentally). There were no jump run outs or weird J-hook turns off of her line. There were no zoomies. There were no blown contacts. No leaving the ring. Those things that make me groan in agony, I missed those things.
Why? Was she simply tired? Was she cold? (it was cold. The building was heated but Molly was shivering despite this, she had to wear her coat when not running.) Was her neck bothering her again? Is she in pain and hiding it from me? Did the gun shots that gun-shy Molly and I heard off in the woods surrounding the trial site unsettle her? Is she simply improving and learning to watch me? Where is her speed? Is all of that jet fueled insanity simply a product of trial stress and now that she knows the routine...she can just chill out?
Or. Have I crushed her spirit? Is she shy because of all of my handler errors and "MOLLLEEEEE!!" shrieks to pull her off of crazy lines that she has invented or my screw ups sent her on? Is she completely afraid of failure because of my micromanaging of contacts because I don't want her to blow them and NQ us? She starts a creep at the down end of the dog walk, she stops at the top of the Aframe. She slows to a walk and doesn't want to run until I give her a "good girl!". And this morning I was brooding and stressing over my coffee that I have ruined and stolen her joy of this sport. And I would rather NQ every run forever more than do that to her.
I came back down to earth though. I watched some old runs. This is not the first weekend that Molly has come to a crawl on an agility course, not the first time she has stopped on the top of the Aframe. In fact, these are things that she has done off and on over the last few months. Still, I would like these things to stop happening. That is a goal of mine, as much as I want to see good weave entries, I want to learn to handle Molly when she is moving quickly. I don't think that that will happen until we both learn each other and agility a whole lot more. It will take time.
In his briefing this weekend, the judge reminded us that every morning when he looks in the mirror he sees 99% of his dog's problems, and that we should remember that when we are running our dogs. I could not agree more in the case of Molly and I. I am so embarrassed by my handling sometimes that it hurts. I wish I could be better, think faster, be faster on on my feet. I wish that I would run a course the same way that I planned on running it instead of making weird mistakes in the heat of the moment. I wish I did not confuse my dog. I wish I wish I wish. Being a good handler in any dog sport comes with time, and I know that. In the interim, I feel like I am letting Molly down and destroying her self esteem.
I need to start trusting Molly. We have an AKC Standard and Jumpers With Weaves run this coming Sunday. I have decided that on that Standard run, I am absolutely not going to care if we NQ. (I mean it!) I am going to try to pretend that we are in training. It doesn't matter. What's the hurry to get into Open? There is NO HURRY. I am going to let her run those contacts, I am not going to halt up and beg her to wait. If she gets her weave entry I am going to run alongside of her instead of pacing in a poor imitation of a natural stride while staring at her. I am going to smile. I am going to try to use my body instead of my words. It's time to stop being so darn scared of what Molly might do. She cares, she wants to do right. She has earned my trust. We have the basic act down now. It's time to learn to work independent of one another, time to trust one another, time to take some risks. We will never know if we don't try. And of course, I am going to try my best to get the fantastic result of my new carefree attitude on video.
And as a follow up to that word vomit, these are some photos from Molly's November CPE trial by Foggy Top Photography.
|Two crazy girls just trying to have fun with one another|