I have been neglecting lately and I am sad about that - I like to keep record of each trial. If for no other reason, for my own personal sake of looking back on struggles and victories.
Today Molly and I had a small victory in the grand scheme of all agility, but it was a huge one for us. We had a perfect Q rate in our day of CPE Agility. 5 runs. 5 Qs. We have never accomplished this before. Molly and I are closing up our third year of agility trials together. Oh, what a journey it has been. I embrace our NQs, I celebrate the good in them. There is so much good. There are consistent teams who achieve a perfect day/weekend frequently - we are not that team. And that's okay!
But today, we were. Today was a two-Standard day. At the beginning of this year I made it my mission to stop dreading Standard. I have conquered that demon. I don't get anxious about Standard anymore, "It's just another agility course." Molly and I have worked out her issues on the contacts and I am so proud of her. To achieve a perfect day on a day with two Standards...wow.
Our final demon is weave poles. I am trying so hard to be a good handler on weave poles and truly, we are getting there. I wrote in a previous post that I am expecting Molly to be successful in the weaves, not to fail. Today's two Standard courses had weave poles split into 6 - that meant two entries per Standard course. Molly and I did nicely on three of those entries, but on one I struggled. In the course, we did a set of weaves, to a tunnel, and back to the weaves. Since Molly needs no urging to get into a tunnel, I was standing at the weave entrance when she came back out. Standing there and I turned into her motion - crowding and babying her entry. She deflated and trotted past the entry. She said, "Please. Don't do that, okay?" I was doing good all day, and I made a mistake. I am allowed to make mistakes.
In our Colors run I trusted her and kept some distance from the poles (a more difficult entry.) No problem at all. A 17 second run. It was good to see that I had not set back our progress!
Another game changer for Molly and I has been "fancy moves". I saw somewhere one time, and I forget where, that they aren't "fancy moves" if they are simply the most effective handling for your dog/the course. The "reverse spin" is a necessity for Molly. I reverse spin all of the time now. I remember my first, terrified time attempting this at a trial. I spun when Molly landed (ha), uselessly. I persisted with getting my timing correctly, and when we started with a new instructor, she watched Molly and I run one course and said, "Are you familiar with the reverse spin?" "yes, but I am not very good at it." She said, "With this dog, you need to do a reverse spin every time you could imagine yourself calling Molly! Molly! Molly!" That hit home - I've been calling "Molly Molly Molly!" for Molly's entire career. I think of those words often in my course walk throughs. The reverse spin is as common place for us now as a front cross or a rear cross. It's just that simple. Whoever discovered the reverse spin must have had a dog like Molly.
But the point is - growth. We are growing together as a team. I so miss AKC Trials. There is a weekday trial in two weeks that I was painfully tempted to enter. I ultimately forced myself to maintain self control and wait, just another month or two, wait til the weave poles get solid. Until I am not questioning if she will get her entries and stay committed. We are getting close. Our connection is deepening with every new obstacle that we conquer together. I am forever grateful to this dog who never gives me any slack, who always pushes me to be better, to learn more, to think harder, to be better.