Originally, I had thought we were only entered in one, and I had planned to scratch from that one, because Pongu's nowhere near being ready to do a match in obedience, not even in Beginner Novice. I didn't have a plan for what we'd do in the ring and I didn't have any expectation of even minimal success, so I figured there was no point in going.
But then!, our super awesome instructor talked me into it. Just go into the ring and play, she suggested; don't worry about doing obedience behaviors. (Well, her actual wording may have been something rather more along the lines of "I **FORBID** you to do any obedience behaviors"... and by "more along the lines" I might possibly mean "just exactly that," but hey, let's not nitpick here.)
So off we trundled to a new obedience club that we'd never previously visited, and into the ring we went.
Here's that, in all its four-and-a-half minutes of glory. I don't expect anyone to actually watch it, except maybe me in a few years' time.
I was really happy with this. Yes, Pongu's wobbly, and yes, he gets distracted, and yes, I should have stopped at the three-and-a-half minute mark when he starts fading during that short stretch of heeling. I made several mistakes during this match.
But my dog stayed with me, he mostly stayed engaged, he was willing to play (for a certain value of "play" -- a lot of that is stress jumping as much as it is legitimate engagement). For his first time going into a new venue with zero prep, and being asked to do something that's moderately strange for him (Pongu is not accustomed to just going into a ring and playing with me), that is a good performance for us right now.
So on Sunday we went out to K9Jym to do the same thing again. And this time, even though Pongu was only a little wobblier than he'd been on Saturday, and his engagement wasn't all that much worse, I felt really sad after we left the facility, whereas I'd been full of renewed optimism the day before.
Part of it was that this was a familiar venue to him, and in the past he's done okay there, so I was really expecting him to be a little better, rather than a little worse.
Part of it was that we warmed up outside a ring where a former NOI competitor was doing awesome Utility work with her blazing fast, accurate border collie, which is sort of like trying on swimsuits in the stall next to Kate Upton's. Not really a formula for improved self-esteem.
Whatever the cause, I left feeling pretty lousy, even though the tape doesn't look that bad to watch.
The rest of that day, I moped around obsessing about how we were never going to do competition obedience and what was even the point of training and why was I putting myself or my fearful dog through any of this, bla bla fourth verse same as the first, etc.
And then this morning I saw that the agility intro class I wanted to take in July wasn't filling -- in fact, as of right now, there are only two students enrolled, so if more people don't sign up then the class will likely be canceled -- and thought "welp, so much for switching to a totally new sport, I guess."
And then tonight Pongu and I had a good training session outside.
So I don't know what to think. Currently my plan is that I'm going to take the rest of the year and just play around and train these exercises and try to get Pongu really happy about doing them, and I'm not going to worry about trialing or doing matches or any of the other stuff.
It is strictly going to be about the journey, taking small steps each week, and I refuse to raise my eyes to the prospect of titling down the road.
Let's see how far we can get doing that.