I was nervous to do it, but I finally signed Perri up for some Obedience matches. Time to get back in the saddle!
The last match that we went to had promise, but went downhill fast because I did Too Much. I was not going to let that happen this time. That match really shook my confidence. This time around, I made a plan, and stuck with that plan. I was still nervous before leaving for the match and upon arriving at K9Jym. I had a funny idea when I was sitting by Perri's soft crate waiting for our turn: take your shoes off! I did. I always feel more happy and relaxed barefoot, so why not? As silly as that is, it really really helped! Whatever it takes, right?
My plan was to work on ring entrances. We enter the ring, I throw Perri's toy and have a party. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Mix some work in. Exit ring. Enter ring, do the heel on lead. Party party party. Do the Figure 8, one loop only. Major party! Stand for Exam if there is time.
We did it. We did all of that, and I did not deviate! And she was gorgeous. I was absolutely buzzing! with joy. I channeled my instructor's voice in my head: "Watch where you are going!" and I did it. It is so hard for me to not look at Perri, but it is detrimental for us. We did an entire heel on lead pattern without any praise from me, without any treats...just a poodle hopped up on her fleece bunny fur toy (I had it tucked under my right armpit while we heeled.) The Figure 8 I felt her start to lag on the outside turn, just a little bit, and I started to look at her and shoulder into her. That was a split second. I thought "No. Not going to wilt!", squared myself up, looked ahead and walked the outside turn and she flew around it with me and came into a straight sit at the halt. PARTY!!!!!!! No ring steward butts were sniffed, she was too happy heeling with me!
Something unexpected happened before any of the heeling work though. On our second or third time exiting the ring, a golden retriever in the adjacent ring was working on his go outs. He was frustration barking. Just as Perri and I walked out of the ring, right in her face was the edge of that gate...that golden charged the gate looking for his target and absolutely shrieked and hit the side of the gate. Perri was rattled. I waited a second and she amazingly reoriented to me and we went back into the ring and had a party. I was floored that she was willing to play with her toy again! We exited and re-entered the ring and this time she was bouncing beside me with her eyes lit up. She knew that getting in that ring was pretty cool! And with that we began working on heel work.
I needed this. Oh, I need this so badly. By the way, group stays were solid as a rock. As always.
We left the Jym, I got some candy to enjoy, and we went to Peace Valley Park for a few miles of hiking and geocaching. Swimming for Perri and just generally relaxing and feeling like we were on top of the world. This was truly our best match ever, for so many reasons. I am proud of myself for finally understanding what Perri (and I!) need to feel confident and good in the ring. We have another match, different location, in two weeks. I am looking forwards to it. I feel like I made All The Right Decisions today, and I feel like Perri and I both felt great working with each other. Two good matches, in two different sports, all in one weekend. Can't ask for more!