Sunday, March 23, 2014

Soul Work

"Without thought or effort, I could find the cool white space within myself where no ego existed, where I had a goal but also no goals at all, where there was only the dog who accepted my invitation to dance, and the world fell away." 
-Bones Would Rain From the Sky, Suzanne Clothier.

When I read those words in Bones, I was huddled on a foot stool at work during a lull in activity, reading my time away.  My throat choked up and tears flooded my eyes as those words slammed into me.  That is what I want.  That is what it is all about.  I felt like I needed to hide in a bathroom somewhere and sob. (I am a very outwardly stoic, yet inwardly emotional person.)

My attitude towards training has shifted dramatically of late.  With Ein I was so excited by all that my little red dog could do, so excited that we could go to Real Trials and perform!  Earn titles and ribbons!  This was amazing to me and the trials were the absolute most exciting part of what we were doing and learning together.  And I still love trials, if you can't tell.  There is no way I would rather spend my day -  not even hiking.  I love dogs, I love to people watch, and I love taking my dog into the ring.  I love to work agility trials, I love to watch new teams play - and the older seasoned pros turning out a gorgeous performance that I can only dream of, I love the network of friends that I am meeting.  I love this new life, this dog life.

But no longer am I madly grabbing up any opportunity possible to trial.  With all three dogs I raced headlong into trials before any of them were entirely ready. (Though the strength of the bond between Ein and I took us very, very far.)  And I am probably still doing that, especially with Molly's agility trials.  (And mostly because I feel that agility trials are an enormous learning opportunity for both Molly and I - and did I mention that I love trials?)

But I want to do Rally Advanced with Perri - but for now I'm just enjoying training heeling, pivots and all the foundation work and confidence building exercises.  Laughing, smiling, perfecting and enjoying every minute of it.  Rally Advanced is not going anywhere.  Going to class weekly is now our own personal trial.

I have Ein and Perri entered in a WCR trial (RLV and RL1) in April.  I thought so very wistfully of attempting some QQ's with Molly at that trial.  The old thoughts flooded back, "I'm already going to be there!  Just go for it!  She can do it!"
Molly could probably get the QQ's, she could get the points.  But I don't want her to just have her ARCH.  Just having the letters and the ribbons don't mean so much to me anymore.  I want us to have fun earning it.  I want to train her for it, I want to dance with her.  It is a complete disservice to Molly's bold personality and heart to not showcase her best traits at a trial.  And we certainly did not do that at the trial in February.

All of the time at home we are doing mini training sessions, me and all of my dogs.  It is how we play - and they fight over it.  I have to put a gate up to keep the non working dogs separated.  (just today Molly showed me that you can't keep an agility dog behind a stupid gate.  Leap!)

And the world and ego falls away and we dance.  We laugh, our tails wag and we learn together, we belong to each other.  We take our baby steps and we enjoy our journey in that sweet, cool white space.  I love this dog life so very, very much.

Molly's first session on "finding heel".

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