Some time ago I decided to stop verbally saying I hated Standard, that I sucked at it, you get the idea.
Today I decided the same thing about Perri. Oh, I don't slander her out of dislike or cruelty. It's self depreciating humor. Today some neighbors dropped by for a beer and when I called Perri 'weird', they were...offended. It took me by surprise because, well, Perri is weird. And I call her weird every single day. Because, she. is. weird. Where does the line between outright negativity and the reality of my dog Perri's limitations lie? It is feeling very very blurred lately.
No more. Suppressing those little smart ass quips today made me realize how often I say them. In my email exchange requesting a drop in class I wanted to mutter, or think to myself, "Yeah. If she will even work the entire class." And here's the thing: I have a reason. I have a long history of Perri not working the entire class. Of trying my very very best with every awesome high value food and a bag full of her favorite toys. Of developing my personal play skills better than they have ever been before. And a history of none of that mattering because when Perri is done working it is lights out, my friends.
But guess what? Dwelling on it, expecting it to happen, and talking about it is not helping.
On the way out the driveway to class saying good bye to my husband and wanting to respond to his "Have fun!" wishes with the same sentiment. "Yeah, we'll see. It's Perri. I'll take what I can get."
I forced myself to say, "We're going to have a great time!" It was an effort. I mentally checked and caught myself.
I remember doing that with my Standard phobia/hate. I remember the words wanting to come out so badly. Self depreciating humor is how I relieve embarrassment, how I avoid sadness. Laugh it off, make a joke. It is a comfort and a friend. But when you are in a partnership with another living being, things need to be readjusted. And the words I speak about Perri are in need of a change.
I was "rewarded" by getting to class and finding out we were doing a 12-jump rear cross drill. If there is any skill that Perri gets demotivated it is one rear cross let alone....like, six. Still I said, "This is a great skill for Perri to work on." When I wanted to say "I thought we might enjoy class but now she's going to shut down and make me feel sad."
And dammit if that poodle didn't go right out there and do every rear cross like a total boss! Not only was our attitude excellent, but I could see that the work we've been doing at home on the rear cross has translated to the class environment. Yea!
The next hurdle was that we were going to run a second sequence. I usually split our training class, one run for Molly and one for Perri. Tonight I brought only Perri to class. The reason I split the class is that Perri often shuts down hard after one run, even if it is lovely and she is feeling happy. More negative thoughts. More truthful thoughts. Where does that line lie?
Oh well, no more talking about it. When I got Perri out of her crate for the second run she was reserved and seemed to me to be in "that sulky mood". I wasn't going to accept "that mood", I was thinking positive tonight. I got her duckie toy out, I asked her for her tricks. I asked her where "daddy daphnee luna" are? I teased her with the duckie and finally she cracked. Her lips snarkled and she bared her teeth and pounced on her toy and I knew I had her.
And even though the sequence was "Jump to weaves" to start and I wanted to groan about how Perri would be demotivated about that, I said nothing and we went in there and we did it. Perri ran that second course clean and fast and got her duckie subwoofer toy to pounce around with and we had a great night and lived happily ever after.
It's a start.
It won't always be perfect, but maybe it could be. I'm not going to be the tentative one holding us back with negativity. I am done with that and we are moving forward. If a simple thing like holding my words in can help us, that is the least I can do. It has worked before for Team Molly.
Love, if your wings are broken, borrow mine so yours can open, too. Cause I'm gonna stand by you. Even if we're breaking down, we can find a way to break through. Even if we can't find heaven. I'll walk through hell with you. Love you're not alone, cause I'm gonna stand by you.