Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh man, that sucked

Long weekend. REALLY long. Thanksgiving was driving 3 hours to CT, dinner there, driving 3 hours home. Ugh. Friday a seminar with Lo Baker. YAY!! One of my favorite trainers!! It was a beginner seminar and I brought Spur. He did AWESOME in the morning. Not super fast, but really awesome contacts, and some other great stuff..........then BAM..........he crashed the double.

O-MY-GOD the world came down upon him. His tailed tucked down, his ears fell, his head hung low.........he melted into a furry mass of worry, worry, worry. Lo is aware this can happen, so she quickly had me do a tunnel and reward. OK, this is all well and good and yes he did that tunnel and got that reward, but that doesn't inflate him again. He deflated and started his paw wringing and I turn into a pile of worried, unthinking mush along with him. We both crumble and melt. We are like a pair of nervous field mice scrambling to escape the sure grip from the circling hawk. It sucks the life out of me and Spur.

It's like my brain goes black. Can that happen? Can you turn your brain a dark color? Maybe not black, there are still some thoughts in there, so maybe a foggy grey? Very foggy.

He seems to recover OK, but just OK. Did a few awesome teeters, where Lo commented on how nice they were. OK, the fog cleared a little. Just a little.

The next day was a USDAA trial. First class........Jumpers. OK, the fog is there and I can't help it. Not his favorite class. Jumps, all jumps. He does just OK. Actually moments of OK, so we are pretty pleased. Each run he does better and his last run was actually pretty OK. No qualifying for him, but moments of pretty OK. I am thinking we are on the road back to inflating and brilliance and color!

The next day was supposed to be Roscoe's Master seminar with Lo. On Friday I told her that and she said she wanted to see Spur back. At least for some of it. I thought and thought, it would have been a BLAST to run Roscoe. But, Roscoe is trained and experienced and Spur needs all the work he can get. I make the decision to bring.........just Spur.

Not sure I have made a worse decision in my life!!!??? I mean, I feel that way now because yesterday was a bad day. I mean, seriously bad. I cried half the way home from the seminar. It was that bad. I felt not only deflated and foggy, but crushed and confused and depressed. That bad, really, THAT bad.

Spur started out OK. I had that flutter of hope. Then, BAM, another burst to our very soft and barely round bubble. I mean this time a TOTAL burst. I stumbled into a jump and knocked it over while he was doing his weaves. He melted into a pile of nervous fur. And at that point I had trouble getting him back. Like a LOT of trouble. He didn't want me to touch him, he didn't want to take a jump, he ran off away from me. It sucked. Seriously sucked. Lo tried to help, tried to get me out of my fog and into SOME sort of positive vibes. Not much worked. We did the best we could to find some glimmer of hope and end on SOMETHING positive each turn. His bubble was burst and there was not much repairing it.

I turned into the handler from hell, reinforcing him when he was slow, or interrupting his speed when it's good, all wrong choices and poor handling and Lo hadn't a clue how to help us other than try some distractions, some restarts, nothing that worked, really. We were spiralling down......... We got the life sucked out of us both yesterday. A big sucking sound around me and Spur...........sqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqquuuuuuuuuuiiiiiiiiiiiii........big SUCKOLA!

I would take him out to potty and he looked lost. The Pin Heads were home, so he didn't even have them to support him when out in the field for potty breaks. I saw that, I saw him seeming lost and worried.

Everyone was so encouraging, but honestly, I think they were just trying to help. I mean, we were a mess. It was not fun at all. I was exhausted, mentally and physically after each turn. I felt beat up and torn apart. I wished I had brough Roscoe.

It was decided I should run another dog in front of him and was offered Ripp, a big strong wicked fast, noisy awesome experienced aussie. I could use Ripp to make Spur jealous. Ripp is a good boy and will work for anyone. Spur watches me work Roscoe and it TOTALLY pumps him up and makes him jealous!! Working Ripp? It WORKED! We got SOME drive, SOME glimmer of hope, my crazy Spur was back!!! He screamed his head off while I worked Rip. Lo just held his leash so he could watch and he screamed and screamed. I then swapped dogs and got a few obstacles out of him! A few. Hey, I took what I could get and we all felt a little better. It wasn't really coaching us in any way, which is ultimately what I need. I need help when I morph into "handler from hell". I need coaching and tips and ideas.

That was pretty much our day, so while we did end up with SOME good stuff, I cried half the way home. I was exhausted. Nothing feels worse than working a dog that looks like he doesn't want to do it and knowing that you turned into HFH for the day (handler from hell). That feels SO bad. I never know what to do with him when he gets into that funk. I don't want to work him if he doesn't want to do it. What sucks so bad is I know he does want to and has had his moments of brilliance!! But, getting through to me and him when we are in that state seems to be an instructors dilemma. We get lost. It's like we are all just lost trying to figure it out.

We may have to take a break. I wish I could have yesterday back. I feel bad I missed that chance to run Roscoe. Roscoe is eleven years old and his time is limited and he would have LOVED that seminar. And I would not have looked like HFH.

I will regroup, make a plan. Perhaps some time off. Work on tricks and small jump skills perhaps. His contacts are as solid as ever, so that is one good thing. He ran his dog walk over a dozen times of the weekend and every single time he hit his contact perfectly. So, there is that. That's pretty big! I even tossed the ball far in advance and he didn't leap. So, there were SOME good things and I will focus and regroup.

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