Today felt like an important day for Molly. I have played CPE with Molly at this training facility for years now and I never felt so nervous as I did today. If Molly stayed sound, no limping or paw picking up, I knew I would feel hopeful for the continuation of our agility trialing together. If, after 3 weeks, she experienced lameness again due to an arthritic (and, unfixable) deformity....not so awesome.
#nailedit! Molly did great! Her usual speed was definitely not there, but that has been the case all of this year, especially since all of the testing and surgeries that she endured in the winter. Molly only had to do two sets of 6 weaves today, and on one set she really powered through them with speed and confidence. I don't think that Molly would have done that if she was in pain. Any excuse to not weave at a trial is fine by her: she does not love weaves enough to perform them through pain. So, clinging to all of that. Business as usual. The next video is Molly's Snooker run from today, both girls qualified with this plan but I do not have Perri's run video'd.
The next on the Awesome! List is that Ein came along to play with us today. Level 1, and he got to play Jumpers and Wildcard. I feel like he ran faster on his second run! Ein is such a joy, I absolutely loved playing with him today (and, I need to teach him it's okay to leave my side and take a wing jump!)
Perri had her usual day of ups and downs. She did not zoom out as she usually does for the first run on the dirt. She disengaged when I was late cueing her and I don't blame her for that. We had a hard time getting back in sync but thankfully the rest of the course was as flowy as it gets so we got to have some nice confidence building time together after a rough start.
In Wildcard Perri shut down when I asked her to weave so I let her run past them and we continued the course. Snooker was a nice run with one moment of shutting down when I confused her with a handling mistake. We finished with two rounds of Standard. The first one is the video, and we actually qualified (not even two seconds under SCT, whew.) The second round I got flustered, lost my spot in the course and NQd us though we continued running for a decent run.
Today made me think about my responses when Perri shuts down. Our instructor said that when Perri shuts down (in training) that I need to ask her to reengage with me in some simple way (a hand touch, a silly trick.) I think there is a lot of wisdom in that, especially because it helps me avoid "shutting down" behaviors of my own. I have a long history of Perri shutting down on me, and it is extremely upsetting and demotivating and honestly: it shuts me down too. I am simply recognizing and stating this fact right now. I've known it for quite some time, I don't like it about myself, but it's true. And I want to improve that. My focus is so much on avoiding the shut-downs but perhaps if I managed my responses to the shut downs better, that would be a better (and more realistic.) solution for us. I think I could expand more on my thought process about this but I'm going to leave it for now.
All that heavy thinking aside, after the agility trial we went to a new dock! Perri needed only one tease-throw with Molly and she was happily jumping off the dock and into the lake for even her regular tennis balls. (instead of Molly's prized orange chuckit balls.) Success! I feel very proud of Perri and very excited about possibly trying some dock diving events with Perri. For now, different docks...dock jumping without the excitement of Molly around...and eventually a higher dock.
There were a lot of people at the lake and none of them minded my crazy gang at all, it was kind of refreshing to not have to keep them clamped down so tightly. We met a lady and her grandson and he absolutely loved the dogs. He wanted to know all about them: what sorts of dogs are they, what are their names, is Molly is dumb (hell yes), does Ein likes to bark (hell yes), why doesn't Ein have a collar on. He helped me throw the balls for the dogs and even squeezed the water out of them before throwing since I asked him to. I had to smile at my Perri jumping off the dock for a kid she just met throwing her ball (and then jumping in after her and trying to race her to the ball), when just a few days ago she was too scared to do that.
A challenging dog can be heart rending, but when they have break throughs...it is so very sweet.