We got our drive over with on Friday, about 2 and a half hours to the hotel we stayed at...a commute that I made much longer by stopping for bunches of geocaches along the way! Molly did really well with her car anxiety. She did start panting one time, but we stopped for this geocache and she pooped rather quickly and was quiet for the rest of the ride. She continued in that pattern for the entire weekend: good in the car with random panting. I started just pulling over as soon as possible when she panted and she always had to poop, and then would calm down. This certainly has not always been the reason for her car anxiety, but this time around it definitely seemed to be. (she has not had any car anxiety episodes since she went off of prednisone in December, until this trip.)
|Geocache/Poop Stop. She is thrilled.|
We settled into the hotel room and I was more than a little worried about Perri barking. The walls were not thick and we were on the second floor next to a metal stairwell. I found if I left the TV on turned up decently high volume, that Perri could not hear the people talking to each other or walking up the steps. Perri is a bad alert/fear barker, and she gets the otherwise stoic Molly going as well.
|Exhausted from the ride!|
Day one of the trial! I had originally entered Fullhouse-Standard-Standard, but of course added a Snooker and Jumpers entry after the fact.
Fullhouse we made a grand entrance! We walked into the ring and instead of simply walking into the entrance chute Molly misunderstood and tried to leap right over the 2+ foot high ring gating...and of course knocked down an entire section! We had a wild dirt flying 32 point Qualifying round and I heard all sorts of laughter and, "Someone had their caffeine this morning!" Yes, indeed! Jet fueled! I even put the dogwalk in our plan, which I usually never do. She drove out ahead of me and I let her and just said "spot", and she totally stopped at the end and waited for me to catch up. Progress!! That was the first time at a trial ever that I felt Molly understood her job on the dogwalk independent of me.
|Trial grounds. Pretty! I took the girls for a long field walk.|
We continued on to NQ both rounds of Standard. Yes! Both rounds! I was extremely deflated. I was trying my best not to trash talk standard and to trust and believe in my dog and to not stress...doing a pretty okay job of it. That didn't stop her from grabbing a wrong course tunnel on Round 1 and blowing off the Aframe in Round 2! Both rounds contained handling challenges after the Aframe - I realized it before, but this really drove it home. Handling challenges after the A-frame are extremely difficult for us. I still don't trust her running Frame, there is still stress there on both of our ends, and it makes us both get a little high and unfocused and the mistakes happen.
Snooker we had two lovely deep hitting running A-frames and a Q, and Jumpers we had a nice run with a late-timed front cross that gave us a wrong course. (And a video.) I am proud of myself for pushing to do a front cross at a trial without a second thought and I will continue to push myself for earlier timing. I was late in part because I was babying/micromanaging the serpentine handling, also unnecessary!
Sunday I have to admit I was a little bit resigned that our C-ATCH2 was not happening, mentally. I would still not allow verbal trash talking of Standard or doomspeaking! It is hard to resist.
We started with Jackpot and had an absolutely killer run...when all of a sudden Molly completed her teeter and then became completely obsessed with something underneath of it! Sniffing and sniffing and deaf to me! I couldn't believe it, it's been a while since she has lost her focus that badly. I almost worried that she was hurt, it was so bad. We NQd, four seconds over time. When she stopped sniffing she was just as fast and happy as before.
Then there were the Standard rounds! No video of our first run but it went well enough! She did attempt a wrong course tunnel and I called her off of it, a bit frantically. There was another handling challenge after the Aframe, and she came flying down her Frame and ran right for another wrong course tunnel! I called her to me again and we finished out the course nicely. Heart stopping. But Standard Q 9/10.
The next round of Standard we got a weave fault (known as "other fault"), which is permitted in Level 5. Her weaves were pretty nice on Saturday so I was a little bit dismayed that they were not so nice on Sunday. Such is life with Molly. She is also a bit creepy on her dogwalk, she really really cared about doing the right thing on the dogwalk all weekend! Would love for her to be trusted to drive down to her stopped contact but all in good time...
Anyway we did it! And on her victory lap...my favorite part of the entire weekend...we were running around and people were cheering and she got so excited she took a leap in the air and chomped that fluttering ribbon right out of my hand! I dropped it immediately into the dirt because I knew she would start playing tug with it and that would be the end of it!
I felt a lot less stressed out about Standard. A lot less stressed about running for the C-ATCH2. Last April when we went for our first one I was literally dizzy and seeing spots I was so nervous, that was not the case this time! I know it's not the same the second time, but I am also giving myself credit that I have put a lot of mental energy into being more calm and not letting stress get the better of me. I would like to think that some of that is starting to click! We also had Composure in Molly's system for both days of the trial and I really really think that it helped her. I dosed her the night before and the morning of. She is still Molly, but her frustration doesn't spike so high that she can't control herself.
This is gonna be a good year. We are off to a great start. And today is mine and Molly's three year anniversary of agility trialing together. We just keep learning. We've come so far, we still have so far to go. She is so supportive of me and I love her so very much. At least five people approached me at the trial, people who were just meeting Molly and I for the first time and told me, "I love watching your dog run, she looks so happy." What more does a handler need to hear?