Friday, June 20, 2014


...seems to be the theme of our summer.

We had two more not-very-successful Rally trials in the past week. Saturday we went to Let's Speak Dog in Nazareth; Wednesday we went to Bella Vista outside Harrisburg. Only the second trial was actually bad, but neither of them left me feeling good afterwards.

We struggle with stress, with anxiety, with disengagement. We struggle with difficult environmental conditions, but we also struggle when the environment is -- or should be -- fine.

I wonder if we've hit a wall, if this is as far as we can go, if I've finally reached the limit of what my fearful dog can do. Is this it?

I can see some small improvements. Unless something pretty dramatic happens, Pongu doesn't break Stays anymore. He doesn't refuse jumps. At Saturday's trial, he knocked a bar and NQ'ed a Level 3 run, but the next two runs when he encountered the same jump, he took it without flinching. A year ago, that knocked bar would have frightened him for weeks (which I know because a knocked bar in class cost us several Qs on jump refusals and runouts in trials days later). This degree of resilience is something he wouldn't have been able to summon then.

But I also see much that isn't improving. I do not have a happy dog in the ring on most runs. Pongu is still worried, still stressed, seldom relaxed. Our scores aren't getting higher. (Actually, when I went back and scrolled through the trial listings, our scores apparently have never gotten higher after, like, last March. What's that about?)

I don't know whether my disappointment is a factor of my increased expectations or whether we really are stalled out. Am I just shifting the goalposts too quickly, or too much? Have we just had a fluke run of bad trials? Or are we genuinely not making any progress here?

I've got no idea. I feel like we're floundering. I hope we're floundering in a generally forward-ish direction, but I have not the foggiest notion whether that is actually true.

1 comment:

  1. Does he like traveling and being at the different venues? Meeting new people and new dogs? Does he like any part of trialing? It would be at this point that I would ask myself what is best for the dog, what am I trying to get out of this and what is he getting out of it? If there are no redeeming points for the dog, then why continue? There is a difference between improvement and enjoyment.

    And on a side note: Wednesday? Who holds a trial on Wednesday? Is it common in your area?