I have done AKC Rally alone with Perri but as I scoured my memory, I can't say I have ever attended a WCR trial without Ein being entered. But yesterday was different. Ein is retired. I may have gone to a rally-o trial alone with Perri but that was only because I wasn't interested in any more AKC rally with Ein. He was still actively competing in WCR.
I have only been in dog sports for about 6 years (my first trial was AKC Rally with Ein in October 2012.) Yesterday was the first time that I entered a trial after retiring the dog that I started in that sport with. And World Cynosport was a huge part of Ein's life, his confidence. He earned the Award of Excellence in all three titling levels as well as Veterans class, he earned every championship title possible (ARCH, ARCHX, ARCHEX and ARCHMX) and he was nationally ranked in Veterans Champion and Rally Champion Extraordinaire. It was a big part of our lives. Memories I will treasure forever.
And I enjoyed my day with Perri, I really did. I supported her to my best abilities while we waited for her turns in the ring. I kept her away from trigger/scary dogs. At one point a spitzy type dog was staring at her and I noticed it and moved to an entirely different area. (the old me would have tried to distract her with food. Distance matters far more to Perri. Food does not make her stop being afraid of a trigger.) I rejoiced in myself that I did not resent Perri for needing support. For Not Being Ein. She needed a lot of support in the ring. This trial was at our old training club and for some reason the flooring results in a lot of static for Perri. She got shocked once when I gave her a treat and also when a few different people petted her. By the middle of her Level 2 run she seemed to be looking at the floor ahead of her and would dodge out of the way of random spots of flooring. I can only guess that she was looking for potential shock spots or places she did not want to step on.
I was supportive of Perri outside the ring. And I caught myself turning into Perri and looking at her on the Figure 8 when she lagged a little bit and adjusted quickly, looking ahead and on the floor. It helped a lot. I almost did the Figure 8 the old way and laughed at myself. When I laughed and smiled Perri lit up, trotting next to me and heeling her most flashy to end the course with.
Remember to smile. Remember to breathe.
ARCH QQ #1, 207 (L1) and 206 (L2).
I was chatting with a friend this morning who told me she is thinking of doing more rally-o with one of her dogs in the interest of confidence building. It made me think, Why am I pursuing an ARCH with Perri? I came up with: I want to gain more experience in supporting Perri, I want to learn more about what ringside routines work and I want to build my own confidence in those respects.
It's a whole new journey with a whole new purpose.