I probably shouldn’t be writing about this right now when it is sitting so heavily on my brain. I didn’t start this blog to have a place to dump my emotional crap. However, I do need to talk about it somewhere. It’s the only way I know to work out my thoughts. Maybe I will hit the publish button and maybe I won’t. But I need to get it out.
This may come across as melodramatic, but I feel as if Shiva and I have taken a massive step back in our training today. So massive that I wonder if I was crazy to ever think we could attain the goals I have set. For awhile, I had thought we were climbing out of the hole. It seemed like we were making so much progress together. Our goals seemed within very close reach. Everyone around us seemed to believe the same.
Now I just don’t know.
Perhaps I am just letting myself get down over nothing. Quite likely I will feel different in a few days. I am not writing about this because I am asking anyone to make me feel better. There is nothing anyone can say that will do that anyway.
In agility class Shiva has an enemy. This enemy is in the form of a very sweet spaniel mix named Mia. The two disliked each other on sight. Actually, that’s not true. Mia disliked Shiva on sight. We have been taking classes with Mia since late November 2009. She was the only other dog in our very first agility class that is still around. Back then both Shiva and Mia were reactive around other dogs. Mia possibly even more so. Both dogs have come a long, long way in the past year and a half. Shiva, obviously, has a sky-rocketing level of confidence that makes her think every dog in the world wants to play with her. Mia, on the other hand, has slowly allowed other dogs to come closer.
But not too close.
When we first started classes, each dog was in a separate corner of the room. It helped to prevent many nasty confrontations. Many. But not all. Shiva and Mia have definitely had their scary moments. Especially when Shiva was off-leash and decided staying with me was boring. I am happy to say, most of them were not caused by my dog. Sometimes Shiva could provoke a snarky reaction just by walking past poor Mia. Regardless, I only mention this strategic positioning to illustrate how far the dogs have come.
Mia and Shiva now sit beside each other along the back wall. Pretty awesome, right? They sit beside each other and haven’t had an altercation for months! Of course, we still never, ever let the two dogs interact. That would just be insane. But the two can hang out now, side-by-side, in relative peace.
Class was going well enough. Shiva was running around like an idiot yet was also managing to do some real work. I was feeling good. The two of us were up working on some threadles (the dog is supposed to take the jump in front of them, then come straight back to the handler, take the next jump, come back, and so on). As I say, things we going well. Then all of a sudden, Shiva decides she is bored and takes off back to where her spot is set up. This isn’t unusual, unfortunately. I call her back and she starts to come but at the last second decides to see what Mia is doing.
I don’t blame Mia for one second. Shiva is pushy. She is fast and completely lacks social skills. Instead of approaching other dogs nicely, she tends to rush at them head-first. It’s annoying, no doubt, and something we are working on. Some dogs don’t care. Unfortunately, Mia really, really doesn’t like wacko dogs.
No one got hurt. There was a lot of noise, some mouthing, but the dogs did eventually break it off themselves. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that big of a deal. The two have fought a lot worse in the past. Less than thirty seconds later we were all able to move on.
Well, most of us were. I have still yet to fully get over it.
The whole short episode was enough to make me question my abilities as a trainer. I know, I know, I know. I shouldn’t let one bad day get me down. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if my dream of competing in a real-live trial is impossible. Not because of Shiva, but because of me. Today, I felt like a failure. For the first time in a little while, I am now wondering if I even know what I am doing. If I am the right person for the job.
As I say, I don’t want to quit. I don’t want to stop going to classes. But perhaps it is time to re-evaluate. Honestly, I just don’t know what I think is best for us anymore. Maybe I just need to sleep on it.