We tested a bit closer to home, but at a training center that Perri has not historically liked very much. For reasons I do not know, she gets stressed at this place. It was actually an obedience match at this location that made me decide to take a vacation from Obedience until further notice with Perri. But! Nosework is a different set of mental tools, the place is as close as an ORT gets so we gave it a try. Our good friend Mary came along to watch Perri work, and I knew that would help Perri to feel extra happy.
We tested Anise first and she made quick work of it. I love at :06 you can see an extra head flick when she leaves the hot box to go sniff other boxes. She knew it was there, but wanted to continue sniffing and checking. But she returns to it before double checking them all. Yay!
We had about an hour of time before the Clove tests would start, so we went out for some lunch and then a quick hike at a local Open Space preserve. Ein was a stowaway in the car (never leaving the car at the test area of course!) so it was good to let him get out and stretch his legs a bit.
After that our friend Mary had to leave. I was interested to see Perri's attitude without her! Perri loves the moral support of friends, and if not friends...she will seek out others to pet her. Being petted makes her relax. Unfortunately the layout at this ORT was hard to keep dogs from seeing each other. Perri saw a mastiff waiting for her turn to go in and I could see she was worried about that dog. Then directly across from the area that we were waiting was the "reactive dog" parking area, and a very reactive shepherd mix was staring at Perri. This really unsettled her and she got a bit lost in staring back until I mouth clicked and gave her some meatball, and we were thankfully able to go to the primary waiting area (next dog up.) There was something clattering on the roof. It was there the first time we tested, but Perri bounced back from it. This time, I could see unease setting in.
We went into the testing area. Perri went out down the first line of boxes pretty strong, then checked them all and then looked at me. That broke my heart a little bit but I told her "find it" again and she went up to the hot box and indicated and we passed!
And I'm so happy that we passed. And I'm so sad, over and over again, so sad that Perri is continually torn away from performing at her full potential. I have to let it go. I think what drives me is that I idealize that some day, Perri will be able to work at her full potential - the dog I know she is. I get bits and pieces of that dog and it gives me so much hope. But I have to accept that that could never happen. How do you keep driving forward? Perri just turned five and half the time I still do not know what kind of dog I'm going to have. That's very challenging. But that is reality.
Perri passed both tests. What I should be happy about is that Perri overcame fear of two large dogs and clattering on the roof and still dug her heels in and passed that second test. I'm proud of Perri for that, and I'm proud of myself for knowing that I should be proud.
And it was also information. In NACSW you can put a red bandana on your dog to signal that your dog needs extra space. I have decided for Perri's NW1 trial at the end of the month, I will make her a red bandana dog. I can see that she needs that extra space.