Saturday, January 18, 2014
Perri and I did an Obedience match today. Novice, of course. I thought that I might see some improvement in her heeling. After all, she heeled very nicely at the CDSP trial and has been doing pretty well in class and also the Rally ring.
She was a bit of a disaster. Just before we went in she would not do her "sit pretty" trick, not a good sign. She was stressing. The training center is a bit cramped and noisy, there was a mirror on the wall, a wolfhound in the room. All the normal things that bind Perri's mind up did exactly that today.
The heel free she lagged and did not sit at her halts. The pretty turns that I have been seeing in classes were nonexistent. The figure 8 she goosed the ring steward (sigh.) and lagged, although on the second go around she did a nicer job. The stand for exam I had to re-cue her to stand since she was staring in horror at the steward table ("MY GOD THEY ARE LOOKING AT ME!") but she stayed solid and did not move even a foot. The heel free was better. I got a little more dance and connection from her though I had to clap my hands and encourage her to stay with me. The recall was the only thing that I really liked. She stayed put and when I called her she thundered toward me with enthusiasm and sat squarely at front with a smile on her face. She finished promptly and sat straight at heel with a dual verbal/hand cue. We had two minutes for our ring time so I wanted to retry the Figure 8. I tried it off leash but she went for another steward sniff and was not heeling with me whatsoever so I put it back on. Even then she was a bit of a mess. Her group stays were completely solid. There were several dogs sitting up and breaking during the long down and even then she held her stays. This is definitely Perri's strong area.
I feel very discouraged.
The club people were very kind and welcoming and I would certainly do another match here. I probably will. I feel like Perri has not improved one little ounce since September. I feel like I did not support her out there. I feel like Obedience is so hard and we will never ever "get it".
But then, it was only a match. I am not planning on trialing AKC Novice again anytime soon... I cannot imagine ever being trial ready for AKC Novice and today's experience only solidified that fact in my mind. I will continue to do matches and the odd CDSP trial because it is Good For Us. My discouragement runs deeper, to the point where I want to pull out of Open class and just take a step back. Perri is so behind with the exercises as it is. It would only be right for a dog who needs to become confident picking up balls of paper to take some time to catch up to dogs who will pick up a dumbbell, right? It would only be right for a dog who needs to build confidence doing a plain verbal "down" to catch up to dogs who will happily do a drop on recall, right?
I have continued Open class with Perri to challenge ourselves as a team and to get a foundation hold on the Open exercises, while continuing to work on the Novice exercises (and we do that in class. The class has vastly improved Perri's "non-stress" heeling.) But now I am seriously asking myself if it is time to pull out of class and work on what we have learned at our own pace. Decisions, decisions.