I think my most enormous challenge with Perri right now is getting her to be consistently motivated. When Perri is in a "good mood", she is incredible. She is fast, responsive and has beautiful weaves. But I struggle with knowing how to get "that dog" more often than not. I know that Perri prefers louder, busier trials. Multiple rings. It is easier to get that "high" out of Perri in those situations.
I did not even blog about Perri's last two trials. One trial was a USDAA trial. Perri qualified in Jumpers but a dog tugging and growling ringside threw her off and she was fairly slow and unmotivated. Our Standard run began just as a freak rainstorm blew in. There was rain blowing into the building and hammering on the ceiling. Perri seemed to like this fine but had a weave fault and was a few seconds over time as a result. This wasn't surprising to me since the weaves were right next to a huge open door and the rain and wind were blowing in on her.
Two weekends ago Perri played some CPE agility. Her weaves were iffy all weekend and she was very "herky jerky" with her motivation. She would be fast on some spots on course and slow on other parts. This run is from the Saturday morning of that trial. Two runs later Perri got so weird and slow that she stopped in front of jumps and was sluggish going into tunnels. What gives? I worked out of the car so that Perri could be separated from the noise of the trial. She likes that. It was more than a little upsetting to see her become so miserable to do agility - I was actually concerned that she was in pain and injured again.
Needless to say, I left the trial feeling mildly crushed. The day after this trial was my sister's baby shower, which I was hostessing. I had a mind full of the responsibilities of the party, and I really needed to just move on and not dwell. That night my friend texted me about a champion bull rider she had been watching on TV. He was being interviewed and when he was questioned on how he felt about his failure the day before, he said, "I don't remember yesterday."
I tucked that away in my mental inventory. I liked it. And it is something important to consider when it comes to dealing with Perri's weirdness and sensitivity. This is not to say that I don't learn a lot from past experiences, because I do. I learn a lot and I move forward accordingly. But after this particular trial, with Perri behaving as though she hated this miserable activity of agility that I force her into... I needed to just forget about this "bad patch" and move forward into tomorrow.
This is not easy for me. I obsess, I dwell, I ponder. I ask "why, why, why", ,I bang my head against the wall, I'm like a bird flying into a window trying to think and discover. But more and more I am training my mind to let go, open up and let time do it's magic. Incredibly, Perri came around four days later in class. Background: Perri hates training class. If I get one good run out of her, that is a miracle. But for some reason, Molly did not feel like going to agility class and so I took Perri. And she worked solidly until the end of the class - and even better. I got it on video.
Oh, she is still Perri. She still struggled with pushing out to the tunnel after a rear cross (she did it one time, not on video, thank you very much. One time is plenty.) But her attitude was so positive and those weaves. And she weaved like that all night. Multiple reps. But more than that, Perri had fun at class. She had fun doing agility. Wow!
And thankfully, I had not entered Perri in last weekend's trial. It was a weekend just for Molly - and a much needed break for Perri. Perri still came along to the trial, she got to get petted and loved and fed treats - but she did not have to run in the ring.
I know Perri loves to play agility. I just cannot understand why sometimes she is fearless and confident and then other times she is slow and dutiful. I think I just need to work towards more experience as a team, supporting Perri and accept her for who she is, and where she is. Some days are easier than others, but as I have been saying all this time: Perri is so worth it.