"Pain is temporary, it may last for a minute, or an hour or a day or even a year. But eventually it will subside and something else will take it's place. If you quit however, it will last forever".
It's almost here. Nationals are in four days, we fly out early tomorrow morning. I think everyone I have spoken to feels under prepared. To add some extra tension to the build up Veto ended up with a canine tooth hole in his side (courtesy of Fizz) so he had to have a couple of stitches putting him out of action for ten days. Not real helpful considering how little time we had in the first place! We definitely could have used more time but I'm OK with where we are at considering and it's probably further along than I thought we would be.
Getting Ve back into the ring has been a very slow journey. I entered the Albany trial back in February not really knowing if he'd be ready or not. My goal was to create as much as space as I could and see if he could play. As it happened, over the two days I think I got maybe two seconds of play on the last day. The constant environmental changes was just too much for him. Every time I thought he was about to engage a new dog would appear and he had to look. So I withdrew from all his runs. There was a part of me that felt like the weekend was bit fat waste of time because we couldn't compete but the sensible part of my brain knew that just getting through a weekend with no blow ups and lots of good experiences was only going to help us move forward.
|The crew at Albany|
Next up was the Dobe Club trial two weeks later. I kind of decided that no matter what I had to run him in something. Otherwise the Nationals was truly going to become a non event. His first class was a Not for Competition run in Novice Jumping. He wasn't particularly happy outside of the ring. He was definitely bothered by the proximity of other dogs. So I gave him as much distance as I could and made sure he was safe both in the ring and going in and out. He ended up doing OK, I handled him averagely but we got through it. Later in the evening we ran in Novice Agility and I was super surprised that he almost went clear, just missing a jump that I didn't push him enough to. Again he was worried outside the ring but I made sure he had heaps of space and we got in and out without incident. He was pretty steady and reserved in the ring but I was happy that he had a good experience.
Our last trial before Nationals was a couple of weeks ago. I was judging so I only entered him in Novice Agility. Fortunately our class was first up so I could run it before judging my classes. The entry was only small so not as many dogs as normal which was a bonus. I felt like he was the best he has been so far outside the ring while we waited our turn. I'm sure it had something to do with the less dogs around but either way I don't care as long as he has a good experience. The best news is that he actually went clear. He wasn't anywhere near his fastest but he was with me, didn't seem worried and ran really nicely. In saying that he was still overall first out of eight dogs that went clear. Running contacts probably helped... It was such a relief and well needed confidence boost before Nationals. So for now my goal is to keep building his confidence in the ring so it becomes a safe place.
Cassie has been training pretty well. Her skills are far from perfect but we've made reasonable progress from where we were. I pretty much just focus on making things happy for her with lots of reinforcement. We use loads of nose touches and "woofs" to make sure she is consenting and happy to work. My plan is to treat the Nationals in exactly the same way as we did last time. If she wants to run we will, if she doesn't then we won't. No expectations and no pressure. I'll do my best to keep her away from big groups of dogs and people before we go in the ring as that seems to make her uncomfortable.
So here we are, everything is pretty much organized, packed and ready to go. I'm going to first and foremost go over and enjoy it. I don't care about winning anything or trying to be competitive. I just want my dogs to enjoy themselves and for me to enjoy the atmosphere and watching some amazing dogs in action.
|Riot 2013. Photo's courtesy of Robyn Evans|