I think I am pretty stubborn when it comes to certain things. Apparently, one of them is trying to prove that Penny& I do have the skills to make a successful agility team. We spent the last two days at my parents house, chasing waves& collecting sea glass. Soaking up the last moments of the summer& genuinely missing being so close to the water. I would say the last two days were the best two days of summer so far, just for the happiness in them! Penny always has the best time when we go to my parents house.. and who could blame her?! There is an ocean to swim in, birds to chase& a giant backyard for endless games of fetch.
Look at that view. The only way it would be better would be if we didn’t have such miserable winters.. but for now, I’m content to linger in the moments of sunshine, warmth& salty air! We are more than halfway through our focus course& I’m still loving the tools& skills it is giving me. I have very few moments of frustration with red girl these days. That alone makes it so worth it. This coming Saturday, Penn& I are hoping to find more success. There doesn’t necessarily need to be any qualifying runs but a little less stress& more focus would be really lovely! I think we are well on our way. In the near future, I want to just be able to pick a trial, attend it& have fun without wondering if my stressy dog hates me for making her run the courses. There have been times, several times, that I have wanted to just throw my hands up& be done. Just quit. Right there, on the spot. I think there may have even been times I’ve said I’m done out loud.
And trust me, I really meant it in the moment. Thankfully, once I cooled down& realized that we could work out a plan to start getting some better results, I became more logical. I will never say that all these training problems have been an awesome experience because, let’s be real. who wants to struggle? Not me. And boy did Penn& I struggle. I am 100% positive that our struggles are definitely NOT over but I feel much more confident that I have the skill set to work with Penn through her issues now rather than throw my hands up& cry. I think the saying that you get the dog you need not the one you want is definitely worthwhile repeating over& over when you’re struggling. In so many ways, Penn is perfect for me. We have the best time just lazing around in the mornings, watching Netflix in the evenings& skipping along the beach in the setting sun. My constant frustration has been her focus but.. I am just too stubborn to give up. No matter how many times I felt like it in the moment, I knew giving up on agility meant admitting I wasn’t good enough to do it. I wasn’t willing to do that. Penn deserves someone who is willing to fight to let her shine. She is a fantastic dog who so deserves to shine! So we struggled. Until I found some ways to struggle less. After a summer of taking a total break from trialing& dealing with the frustration from trial failures, I am feeling confident that, while I may not be entirely there yet, I am becoming the kind of handler who can help make Penny shine. My lack of frustration is reflecting on Penn. She’s disconnecting less. When she does disconnect, she’s willing to reconnect& continue working with me.
When we train now, it is about 70% focus work& excitement building& 30% agility. Penn has increased speed, more confidence to commit to jumps& less anxiety about making mistakes. I have increased trust, more confidence to train in new places& less frustration! I think the summer off from actively going to trials is probably the best decision that I’ve made for both of us. So, is anyone else out there out there ever thought maybe they should just give up on something but being stubborn made you stick to your guns? I am hoping this pays off ..and doesn’t just lead to many more years of frustrations ;)