Molly and I had an awful day of showing agility yesterday. I'm not really even sure what happened. I felt on top of the world last weekend, and very connected with her. This weekend I just feel bewildered and knocked down.
We went to a venue where Molly has been before, and done very well. But from the start, everything was different. I left at the last second so we got there right on time. That meant we had to park really far away, and for the first time in my entire trialing experience, there was absolutely no room for me to crate inside the building. Now, in my car there is a big crate, which Molly and Perri ride in together, and there is a little crate for Ein. I did not want Molly to have to be smooshed in with Perri all day long, so I pulled the little crate out and set it outside and then I set up her soft crate in the car, put her into it and went to the general briefing.
I was chatting with a friend as the general briefing started when I saw a man standing in the very crowded crating area with a cute looking brindle pitbull. With an orange harness on. That was very very happy to see me. There aren't a lot of feelings that can compare to seeing your dog in a place you most certainly did not leave her. I don't even remember what that guy looked like, but I was so grateful that Molly stayed out of trouble. It turns out that I left one of the zipper doors unzipped on her soft crate (so hard to remember to zip all those zippers!) , so at least I don't have a dog who likes to rip open her soft crate.
We started with Jackpot. I did not have much hope. There were two gambles: the Aframe gamble (worth 20 points) and the Weave gamble (worth 25 points.) Or you could do the lettered serpentine for 15 points. Asking Molly to do a distance Aframe or Distance weaves first run of the day? Kiss that Q goodbye.
And, we did. I did the two tunnels on the right, repeated the far tunnel, fumbled getting her into the Aframe send (blown contact, surprise!) and then made an attempt to do the weave send. HA! By now we were running very short on time and she was getting squirrely on me. I tried the serpentine but she was scattered from the stress of me being confusing and all of our fumbling earlier and she was avoiding it. I just went to the table with her. 22 points and no gamble completed.
Next was Standard. Blown dogwalk contact and over the third jump to see the ring crew but quickly backjumped back to me. So, major fault and off course. The rest of the course was okay. She ran to me instead of starting the serpentine but did it very nicely once I got her started. She again tried to ring crew visit after the tunnel. The rest was fine - hey she did her Aframe and weaves that time around.
So at this point in the day the weather was going bad. Rumbly looking clouds, off an on rain, and terrible humidity. It was a rotten day to be crating in the car. I had hung a tarp over the car and had all the windows and doors open to keep the dogs cool but it started raining so hard I had to rush to get everything inside. Random thunder rumbles were in the distance. There was a pretty big break in between our classes while Standard 3,2,1 ran and Wildcard 1,2. I worked all of those classes and kept coming out to the car to check on the dogs and adjust window openings, etc as the weather allowed.
Wildcard was a mess from the beginning. I really want to blame thunderstorm stress for this, and I think that that would be accurate. She was a mess. None of that locked on focus and teamwork from last Sunday. None. I led out and changed direction into the weaves (I did that very same thing at the AKC trial last Friday and she did great with it.) Yesterday she released and sat down and started scratching. Stood up, weaved two poles and sat down scratching again. Very stressed. She did the poles and the next jump but ran out the jump after that. I got her to do everything , 6-8 but then she took an off course jump (4b). I wish I had that on video. I got her back on her line and she finished nicely but the off course NQd us. And what did it matter, it was a horrible run anyway.
Snooker was no better. She did the lead out good and changed direction but ran the jump out and was just trotting and unfocused. I got her to go over it and into the tunnel and we struggled over our last color. 2-4 was awkward and the buzzer went off.
We haven't NQ'd every single class in one day in a CPE Trial since last March. I felt completely incompetent. That's a familiar feeling for me when it comes to agility, but it's getting harder and harder to accept it. Especially since we are in these higher levels. Shouldn't we start to know what we are doing?
Molly is entered in an outdoor agility trial this coming Friday. All Open. Ask me how confident I feel about going to that one? Not very.
Well, wound-lickers, think about this. The fact that your dog did not qualify but did manage to complete the teeter at a trial, or maybe just didn't run out of the ring, might be as big or a bigger achievement than winning the class for another dog. That’s not a feel-good bit of fiction, it’s a fact, and you have to own it."
But what if you get to celebrate an achievement one week, or a series of them. You get to take a step forward. You get to feel the high of you and your teammate locking into each other and growing together... Only to once again, once. again. take three steps back? This image is very inspirational to me. It truly is. But sometimes, despite how far we have come together, I desire some consistency. It seems to exist. I know of teams with this elusive quality and I wont' lie: I'm jealous of that.
I am trying so hard not to feel rotten and taken under by yesterday. We were completely out of our element. Molly does well when she has her safe spot, her crate, away from all the chaos. She has done awesome with being taken from the crate to the ring, or near as fast as we can make that transition happen. That was not possible yesterday. I was so far away I had no idea when our turn would be coming up, so I had to have her ringside. For a long time. And it was as crowded as a Walmart on a Saturday afternoon. Heck, I was feeling claustrophobic. Thankfully she was not having a bad reactivity day. And there was also the heat and thunderstorms to think about. We did not have a full out thunderstorm, but we had dark dark skies. Thunder rumbles. Heavy heavy rain. Molly was acting unnaturally stressed out on the last two runs especially. And she is definitely afraid of storms.
Who knows. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day. Welcome to being the underdog again. Did I really think that I could escape that label for too long?
But... Maybe it was all atmosphere. Maybe.