Okay, honestly, it feels like way more than a bump. It’s more like a wall that I’ve hit at full speed. Or, better yet, the mother of all potholes with spikes in the bottom. No, really hungry alligators who aren’t even going to spit me back out once they’re done chewing me up. Or this…
Yeah, there we go.
I could pretty much just copy my last post with only a few changes. I’d worked hard between SEMASA’s trial and the Coyote Classic, and felt I made some good progress with Jig. Then I stepped into the arena on Friday morning and it all went to hell in the proverbial hand basket. It never did get much better. I threw away any chance at finishing Jig’s WTCH or even getting close to a qualifying score by sprinting over the handler’s line on numerous occasions to remind Jig that I was, in fact, in the arena with her. And that I might, just might, prefer things done my way as opposed to the rodeo she thought we were attending.
Those who know how Jig can work and weren’t at SEMASA to see that catastrophe were a bit like…
Because, to be honest, it looked (and felt) like I was trialing an untrained dog with zero control as opposed to the advanced dog who knows how to read and handle her stock and can do some pretty nice things.
To say it caught me off-guard would be the understatement of the year, because we’ve been doing really good during training. Yes, I always expect some regression when going to a trial. This, however, was beyond my comprehension. Even after I got up in her grill numerous times, she still didn’t stop pushing. Okay, maybe by the 5th trial she started to tire out and realized I might not be pleased. Maybe. But she was still pushing.
One of the best things about the trials I go to, however, is the people. I had a great support crew on hand, and a couple folks whose opinions and knowledge I value. It kept me from exploding. Or melting down. Both were possibilities and could have easily occurred simultaneously. In fact, I’m pretty sure at one point they did.
Now that I’ve had a couple days to stew mull it over, and I’ve worked Jig again, some of which I videoed, I realize I have to take a fraction of the blame. Yes, only a fraction. As was pointed out to me by a friend who saw the video, my demeanor, tone of voice, and overall attitude are totally different when training vs in the trial arena, and she’s right.
I thought I was over the bulk of my trial nerves. Apparently, I’m not. I use commands I don’t use at home, or overuse commands I use only rarely. Lie Down being chief among them. How many times did I tell Jig to lie down during a trial run???? Every time I panicked. And the way she was pushing, that was quite a bit. I was also loud. Like we-can-hear-you-three-counties-over loud. Something else I have tried, over the years, to not be.
In any case, we have Nationals looming before us and, I admit, I’m slightly terrified. I’m anticipating the train wreck even as I train for success. Or at least a competent showing. At this point, I’d take a bit of calm, quiet control. I’m spending time training us both in that.
I think I need to take my recorded training sessions to Texas and watch them prior to my National’s runs to remind myself that I can be sane, rational, and quiet, and can use minimal commands and that, when I do so, Jig is quiet, calm, and working like I know she can.
If that fails, I’ll have a nice long winter of soul searching. Truthfully, at one point this weekend, I was ready to throw in the towel. Yes, I wallowed in a pit of self pity, doubt, and depression. I told myself I wasn’t a good enough trainer or handler to do a dog like Jig justice. Then I kicked myself in the arse because if I didn’t, I knew my friends would, and they kick harder.
“So you hit a bump in the road,” said one of those friends.
“Feels like more than a bump,” I replied.
“Fine. You fell down and landed on your face. You get back up and you fix it.”
I love my friends. And, all things considered, I still love my dog.
And, for those of you who saw her at her worst, here she is at something other than that.
**Editor’s note: at no point should this be read as or construed as a pity party. My only purpose is to vent, and to share my experiences with those who may have been, or might find themselves, in a similar situation.**