Tuesday, February 18, 2014

First Trial of 2014- Here we Go

I've been having bad dreams. My last trial in November left me a little cracked. We had our lowest Q rate all year and honestly some of the worst runs I'd seen in years. No matter what I told myself in my waking hours, the quiet of the night seemed to bring out the fears I thought I had cast away.

Some dreams left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. Knight would make it to finals, only to get beat in the 4" class by a dog that managed to run 6 YPS, well over Knight's average yardage. Dreams where I'd show up at the trial site and suddenly find myself surrounded by a sea of people with no space to crate my dogs. Silly dreams of silly fears.

Others dreams were about Lilly. Dreams of my beautiful, courageous, rebellious, redhead darting out of the ring and into the parking lot. Dreams where I would scream her name across the vast blackness of the asphalt. Yelling, voice ragged with emotion, for her to wait. Stay. Stop. Anything to get her to stop running away from me.  Ironically, it was the yelling part that always alerted the more rational areas of my mind that it was all just a dream. My inner dog trainer would recognize the faulty reasoning behind screaming for your dog to come back and I'd be jerked back into reality. Wide awake again, mind wild from the real fear the dream managed to dig up. Vivid dreams that stuck around to haunt me again in the daylight.

I was so worried that that's how our story would end. Not with the bang of a PACH. Not the victorious tale of the scared papillon who made her way from Novice A to Nationals, but with a whimper. Just a string of NQs and broken trust.

The first trial after our winter break usually brings an uneasy sleep. I get so paranoid about my alarm not going off that I spend the whole night waking up every hour until the correct time rolls around. Add my nightmares of Nationals into the mix and it was a recipe for disaster.

This year was different though. Cassie came down for the weekend to celebrate the six months we've now spent in a relationship. She listened to my worries about Lilly and pretended not to notice the uninvited tear that slipped down my cheek. She offered some quiet words of comfort and just held me in her arms for a while. It's a crazy how one person can just waltz into your life and become this huge part of it, of you. I slept peacefully through the night in the comfort of her company. Words cannot express how lucky I feel to have her in my life.

When we rolled up to Dream Park I wasn't so afraid. With my girlfriend beside me and two of my best friends bouncing excitedly at the ends of their leads I knew I could do this. This was one of my home fields. These were my people. Agility is my drug and I was itching for my next hit.

Before I knew it, I was back in the swing of things. Checking in, walking courses, exercising dogs. I slipped effortlessly into the rhythm of the trial. No thoughts of past nightmares dared to cross my mind.

Lilly was first up for my crew in Master Standard. There was one millisecond of disconnect when I took off her lead. Her eyes were far away for that fraction of a second, but I called her name softly and she was back. Ears pricked in anticipation, eyes bright. She was ready.

So we ran. It felt good. It felt really, really good.

One tiny mistake for both paps in standard, but blues and Qs in JWW.

I am incredibly proud of how Knight and Lilly ran. Knight didn't miss a beat. He was right there, sharp with his turns and light on his feet.

Lilly listened. There was a moment in jumpers where she saw the exit and thought about leaving. I wasn't afraid. My breath didn't catch at all as I shifted my weight to stop Lilly from taking a back jump in JWW. I had her back with me and we finished strong. Yeah! I got her back and we finished strong. Man, it feels really good to say that out loud.

What a wonderful way to start our spring 2014 trial season. We got this.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

And so, it Begins

 My new rotation of agility foundation classes started on Friday. Just like before any big presentation, sleep was hard to come by Thursday night. I don't know when it happened, but by the time I was loading up the papmobile to go teach all the anxiety was gone. Only a calm confidence remained. I got this.

And I did. I met my two new students and jumped right into teaching. Wonderful dogs and wonderful people. I am so excited for what the next 5 weeks will bring us.

I love this. This teaching thing. I'm so grateful I get the opportunity to do it.