On Saturday, I gave up. I did what everyone eventually told me would happen. I would lose my motivation to keep working with an off breed. I was adamant it would never happen. My Vizsla was special and awesome and we would get there! When she was one, people told me she would mature at around 18 months. At that time, I got told two years before a brain appeared. Now, she’ll be three in July and it feels like we have not made any progress. If anything, lately feels like we have been stepping backward in time. I don’t even think it is so much about growing a brain as learning to destress.
My optimism and faith is totally gone and no one is more crushed than me. I am so done. I had posted we were going to a new barn to have some agility fun. We went, she was totally focused while warming up& I thought maybe we would have a good morning. Nope. Walked towards the first jump and I could literally feel her stressing and disconnecting from me. I don’t know what else to do. I instantly went back to the old standby emotion- frustration.
Leash came off. She ran away. I caught her and I was pissed. I cannot remember the last time I was so angry. She had a few runs that were okay but she pretty consistently disconnected at some point during a run. I hate that. I know it means she isn’t really with me and it makes me unreasonably frustrated. So, I left the barn debating what to do with her. My end result was to shelf my dreams of competitions.
I am sitting here feeling like a total failure. I let down everyone who believed we could do it, I let down my dog and I let down myself. As of right now, I cannot see Penn& I ever returning to agility. She is too inconsistent. She is fantastic in places she is familiar with. She is horrid in new places most times. With the occasional moment of brilliance. The uncertainty of which dog I will have is too aggravating for me. I do not like feeling completely out of control. My frustration level is instantly off the charts when a situation like Saturday happens. It leaves me feeling defeated.
I took the focus course and focus games course through Fenzi. I felt like I had an idea for how to deal with Penn’s random spurts of unfocused zooming. Turns out, she just hasn’t really been in a place where she’s gotten to that point of disconnection in awhile. Nothing helped. We were back to zero recall in the ring. Zero ability to actively listen to me. Zero ability to do anything other than stress. I know for sure that a better trainer could get a better result. It is less about Penny and more about me.
Sadly, for Penn, she is stuck with me. And struggling through agility without seeing any progress is not helping our relationship at all. Saturday felt like someone took the last almost 18 months of progress we had made and destroyed it so we were back at that first Jess Martin seminar. It sucked. I was instantly back to feeling resentment at my dog for not being a herder because why was the not even two year old herder able to focus better than my almost three year old Vizsla?!
The drive home was eye opening in that I could realize all my old emotions were back and so the solution was simple. I have tried all the suggestions, I have waited her out, I have played games, I spent the last 12 months making agility fun. I cannot seem to pinpoint what causes stressed Penn& even though I can now instantly recognize it, I still cannot snap her out of it or stop it from happening.
So, with that, we are done. We will spend the summer going for runs, hiking and snuggling in the sunshine.. and I am hopeful that at some point, it will be okay with me. It will be okay that I gave up. I am not okay with it right now but I am out of ideas. I see no bright future in agility for Penn and, despite all our previous struggles, this is the first time I have genuinely felt this way. Here’s to all the good dogs who just do not have trainers who can make them shine like they should.