Not one of our better days, alas.
We drove up to Andover on Sunday to catch the second half of the Products4Pets/Golden Rule weekend trial. It was a very cold day -- I overheard one of the other competitors saying it was somewhere between 7 and 10 degrees, and that sounded about right to me -- and although I ran the car between every run to warm it back up again, it got chilly again almost as soon as I turned off the engine.
Because Pongu has to be "crated" in the car (he really just sits in the backseat, but whatever), that meant the poor little guy spent a fair amount of time shivering when he wasn't working. And once he got inside the facility, it was a big scary scarefest of heaters and ceiling vents. There was one particular fan or vent that blew hot air directly onto the spot where the next dog in line was supposed to wait to enter the ring, and Pongu did not like that.
He tried. I cannot fault him for trying. Little scaredy dog did his level best to work through his fear and distraction, but at several points, his phobias got the better of him and he'd wander away from heeling to check out a particularly suspicious decoration or stare at a person at ringside.
And I made a bunch of mistakes of my own: starting one of the 270s in the wrong direction, letting the leash get tangled around Pongu's legs during one of our L1 runs, generally doofing up the place right and left.
Soooo... we both have a lot of things to work on.
Initially I was feeling pretty discouraged about that run -- a lot of thoughts along the lines of "have we made no progress these last few months?!" -- but the next afternoon, I got a wonderful surprise: unbeknownst to me, one of the other competitors had been practicing with her camera exposure during one of our runs, and after she got home and was going through her pictures, she realized that she knew us from a dog forum.
So she inboxed me the pictures and wow! I was just so delighted to see Pongu's attentiveness and effort in these shots.
Sadly the rest of our runs didn't really look like that. We did pick up one QQQ toward ARCHMX, but only one (lost the other on a broken Stay in Level 3 -- it was the longest-distance Stay I've ever seen, with the dog positioned in one corner of the venue and the recall sign clear across the room in the opposite corner -- which I knew was too far for Pongu to hold, and indeed so it was).
But I'm happy to have those moments in time so wonderfully, and unexpectedly, preserved. I often tell people who are just starting out with their dogs that if you can get focus for 3 seconds, you can eventually get it for 30 seconds, and then for 3 minutes.
Right now we're somewhere between 30 seconds and 3 minutes. But we can get there. Eventually. Someday.