As many of you should know, I am a coward. There is a big agility training weekend coming up with a member of the Canadian world team, and I am waffling. My dog trainer has made it clear she thinks I need to participate in some of the “world class” fun runs on Sunday but the idea terrifies me. There are solid reasons for my reluctance beyond simple fear. Although that is enough of an excuse for me.
The last time we went to this facility in December, it was too much for Shiva. It was a new environment with some new dogs and people. The instructor had set up an extremely difficult gamblers-type sequence that even the more experienced handlers struggled with. Shiva and I went first. I don’t think I need to elaborate here too much, let’s just say it didn’t go well. She was overwhelmed. I was nervous. We hadn’t had any time to calm ourselves down yet. Once I finally got her back on the leash, I looked at my practically husband and said, “that was predictable.” Unfortunately, this attitude set the tone for the rest of the day. I am happy to report that by the end, Shiva did run a short sequence with great success and no running off but it took over four hours for us to get to that point.
Are we going to have to have a four-hour-long pre-trial routine? Maybe.
Anyway, as I contemplate this upcoming super-weekend, I worry. Shiva and I have improved so much during our weekly classes. She is a lot more focussed and seems to care a lot more about what I want her to do. Instead of just doing whatever obstacles she feels like doing. I am scared to mess that up. I am also scared that Shiva and I will never be able to leave the comfort of our usual training centre. Perhaps this is how it will always be. In order to ever feel ready for a real trial, I know we need to get out in new environments – even if we fail miserably. Each new environment is one tiny step forward. Each new distraction, each new experience, is so important. If Shiva is ever going to learn how to relax in new spaces, attending events like these is vital. On the other hand, I worry that if we do fail, we won’t come away with more confidence, but less. It’s hard not to feel discouraged when Shiva relapses back into her zooming-self, as if she’s never done this before.
I guess the big question is this. Does it take more courage to push yourself even if you know you will probably fail, or does it take more courage to disregard pressure and move at a slower speed?
If it was just myself, I know the first choice would be smartest, but when it comes to my dog, I am a lot more hesitant to push. However, I wonder if Shiva was ready to move forward a long time ago and is just waiting for me to catch up.
Any advice? Has anyone been in a similar situation? Do I just need to suck it up and see what happens? Thanks in advance for any encouragement and/or butt-kicks.
Before I forget, I also want to thank Road Dog Tales for the yummy and special dog cookies. They arrived in the mail a few days ago and I have done my best to prevent Shiva from devouring them all. They smell so delicious, I have thought of sneaking one myself. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!