Perri has had a tough year in agility but a very encouraging year in Rally Obedience. I waited three years to enter Level 2 and Perri's confidence and enthusiasm was well worth the wait. I have always loved attending AKC Rally-o trials in December at this trial site - historically Perri had her AKC Rally Novice and Advanced debuts (and first two legs) here. It was a fitting place to try Rally Excellent after a two year hiatus from AKC Rally.
Perri was not confident in the ring. She was worried but working hard to stay with me. The run felt awful to me, especially as I had been hoping for some of the sassy rally poodle from earlier this year. It turns out that Perri scored in the high 80s, she was the only Excellent A dog to qualify. Only one Excellent B dog qualified as well, leaving Perri one of two dogs who qualified. Cool? Mostly I felt sad that Perri was worried. But grateful to her and proud of her for trying hard.
Fast forward to the next weekend .... CPE agility. We played on a Friday night that I braved a "one inch snowstorm" to get to. Perri qualified in Fullhouse. She had one staring fit in Snooker, long enough to NQ us. Saturday we took a break and Molly played USDAA (two lovely powerful runs, a hearbreaker Standard run with an Aframe fault keeping us from a Q.).
Sunday I entered Perri in Jumpers and Wildcard, two classes she "needs" towards her C-ATCH/CT-ATCH whatever I choose to pursue. She stressed in Jumpers. Not badly. Not earth shattering. But it shattered my heart. I walked the course for her Wildcard run and then promptly walked over and scratched her name from the run order. I am done with this. I am done trying to make my poor dog play this game that she has become too stressed to play. I don't know what happened. I don't know why, when or how it happened. But I have nothing left right now for Perri and Agility. It's not fair to either of us.
Why have I continued on this long? Because I remember Perri loving this game. I have watched videos of her running fast with her tail fluttering. I remember her proud and huffing after a good run and walking with pride back to her crate. This video from last winter made me cry. We had worked so hard to come back from her shoulder injury and she was finally strong and confident and even sassy in the ring. It is one of her last phenomenal runs, right before, for no reason that I can figure out, she came undone. I had lyme and anaplasmosis tests run, thyroid tests run, a full check over for physical issues. There is nothing, no explanation. Right when Molly got sick, Perri fell apart and I cannot put us back together. We took two months off, it was not long enough. I feel very lost right now. I do not want to give up on my dog but I also want to respect her. What a hard line to draw. Nothing is forever but we must retreat further than ever for now.