Copper and Chaos

Agility adventures

No flying pigs here..

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.

Sorry, pretty lady..

Sorry, pretty lady..

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.


Sorry Penn.


8 comments on “No flying pigs here..

  1. Kristie
    March 2, 2015

    I’m really sorry you are feeling this way. I have a pretty good idea of how you feel, though I am fortunate to have never been quite there. Running an off breed is hard and frustrating, and it may not be the right fit for some dogs. But I do hope that you will continue training Penny “just for fun”, and that may take the stress off enough that, maybe, one day you’ll feel you can try again. And even if you never try to trial again, at least you guys can have some fun just running together in familiar places. :)

    • yv0nnej
      March 2, 2015

      Thanks ..and yes, you know the struggles as well! You have done amazing with Kili :) For right now, I’m not sure where we are. I’m too competitive to do it ‘just for fun’ with no end game. As time goes on, I may change my mind however!

  2. Your Momma!
    March 2, 2015

    Maybe dogs are like kids…. Parents often dream dreams for their child, and low and behold the child decides on something different…… It is ok that agility is not for Penny she is a fabulous dog and hiking, runs and snuggling will be perfect for you both!

    • yv0nnej
      March 2, 2015

      XO! You are so right, momma. She is most certainly a fabulous dog! I love her to the moon and back ..even if I want to strangle her occasionally ;)

  3. edanskin
    March 2, 2015

    I am so sorry you feel like you’ve failed, not just Penny but yourself. I have great admiration for all you have done to strengthen the bond you have with the red dog, the work and effort and devotion you have given to this agility goal is to be commended, and not morned. The bond you have developed through all these trials and tribulations is to be celebrated. Most people would have given up within the first year, and believe me there were true moments of sunshine through all that frustration fog! So Penny doesn’t want to do agility, not all dogs do, just like not all dogs enjoy off leash dog parks even though the owners think they should. Time to sit back and decide a new goal for you and the lovely Penny…she is a bird dog after all…maybe something more in line with her genetic makeup would be a more rewarding venture?….I still expect to see you soon on the agility field…

    • yv0nnej
      March 2, 2015

      Thanks so much! Those were the sweetest words I’ve read all week. If nothing else, I’ll be back in a few years with future puppy! And yes, perhaps Penn& I will become hunting stars! Or maybe she’ll get a modelling contract ..dream big, right ;)

  4. Lisa
    March 3, 2015

    De-lurking momentarily… (originally found your blog a while ago, while googling Jess Martin seminars) I wish I could offer that one magical piece of advice but alas…. Just wanted to say that I went through a very similar experience in agility with my scent hound, so I completely understand where you’re coming from, the feelings of frustration/sadness/loss. I also wish I had a happy ending to share but no, I retired her from agility trials several years ago because it just never got better despite the very occasional great run where she stayed engaged the whole time, enough to keep me hooked to try again and again until I had finally had enough. She has never looked back since :-) She did however excel in flyball where her job was the exact same thing every single time, and she thrived in that context. Rally obedience was also fun, at least in Novice/Advanced CARO where I could reward her with food in the competition ring, woot! Anyway, total respect to you and Penny and all you have been through and tried. And you never know what other adventures are out there waiting for you both! Best wishes…. back to lurking now.

  5. Em
    March 5, 2015

    Oh this is so hard. And trust me as someone with a ‘temperamental herder’ who isn’t consistently motivated, the breed group is no guarantee either.
    But one thing is to not let all the guilt be on you. I know there’s so much ‘it’s all the trainers fault’ but our dogs aren’t robots. They’re personalities and that might be stubborn or disinterested in what you have to say, or needing to be involved in things all the time, or on the flip-side, mind blowingly addicted to work (sometimes to a fault!!) but so much of that is WHO THEY ARE too. And maybe, despite what everyone says, even the best trainers would find that difficult. I know 2 great trainers who imported a BC from the U.S. and he never trailed cos he didn’t like it and didn’t run fast. Sometimes it’s the dog, too.

Thoughts here!

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This entry was posted on March 2, 2015 by in Agility, Penny.
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