Today I have the honour of co-hosting the Follow-Up Friday Bog Hop with Heart Like a Dog. It couldn’t be more timely as there is a post on this blog that is screaming for a sequel. Really, I should have waited until after my vacation last week to write it as I simply did not have the time to respond to all of the comments like I should have. And I should have. Because, wow.
You guys? Seriously? I am so completely humbled and flummoxed and appreciative of how you reached out to me when I needed it the most. There are so many people I need to thank individually. Every single comment meant so much at a time I felt pretty dang low. Even though dog agility is just a goofy little dog sport and my angst over the whole thing was akin to some people’s angst over world hunger, you understood. You didn’t make me feel silly or inadequate. You got it and because of that, I was able to pick myself up and attend the next agility class with quasi-confidence.
Which is pretty big for me. I wear confidence like I wear a silk dress – awkwardly.
I still haven’t made a final decision about my continuance in agility with Shiva. Part of me kind of wishes my PH would just take up the reins with her so I could find another dog who would better mesh with me. I’ll keep working on him but so far, no dice. Given all he has witnessed, I can’t really blame him.
As of today I think I am taking a hiatus on all fun matches, trials, and pressure situations. What I think we need to work on the most is our relationship. I need to learn how to have fun with it again. Coincidentally an agility coach of mine just sent out an email notification of an upcoming connection workshop she will be holding from December to March. Could it be any more appropriate? I haven’t trained with this instructor since last winter but I’ve always had really great results after our sessions. I have hope that with her aid, we may get back on track.
What have we got to lose, really? I mean, it can’t get any worse than what it is now.
Also, I’ve decided to stop rewarding Shiva on her line completely. I’ve also decided to only use food treats instead of a tug toy. Yes, I know. I spent three years trying to get Shiva to tug in class. But from what I have seen, using toys instead of food may have contributed to her regression. Tugging can be over-stimulating for an already too-drivey dog. Treats, on the other hand, instantly snare Shiva’s attention. If she learns that the only way she gets said food is if she stays with me, then we might one day be able to get a semblance of focus on the course. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to do more than take a single step off the start line.
Shiva doesn’t run off out of stress. I’ve never believed that. She isn’t sensitive to my feelings and doesn’t really care if I am upset. In my opinion, based on my experiences with her, Shiva runs off because she is distracted, bored, over-stimulated, or looking for fun. When I am nervous and stressed out, I am not exactly Nova Scotia Good Times. So she goes off in search of her own. Who can blame her? I probably wouldn’t hang out with me either. Until I can learn to laugh while on the course, Shiva isn’t interested in what I have to offer. If I am boring or freaking out over what she deems as nothing, she’ll continue to take off.
I need to learn how to enjoy myself at least half as much as she does.
I’m keeping my expectations low. As in, non-existent. Instead, I am going to spend my time playing with Shiva again. I am going to stop taking it all seriously. I am going to remember why I fell in love with her. And I am not going to enter any matches, fun or otherwise, until I can enter the ring with a genuine smile on my face.
At least, this is how I feel today. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. If there is anything I’ve learned after living with this dog, it’s to keep on my toes. Life with a Shiva is never dull. I need to remember to appreciate that.
A hundred thousand thank yous, again, for every kind word. You each have made such an impact in my life. I am so grateful Shiva led me to this incredible community.