After only one month’s preparation, Athena and I will enter the obedience ring once more tomorrow, but this time we’ll be competing in the Intermediate class. We have not mastered all the exercises perfectly. For instance, Athena can reliably clear the high jump at 23″: she must do 36″ tomorrow, and her retrieve is still rough around the edges. However, her work shows remarkable progress.
Two weeks ago she refused the jumps. I had to take her back to the beginner’s stage, letting her jump very low heights, rewarding, and raising the heights very gradually. I also had to change the cue, as I discovered that somehow the old ones got poisoned. The results: she offers me jumps now. Some will say that is not a good thing in a competition dog; however, the fact that she offers the jumps without me cuing her says that she actually likes to jump, and she knows what she’s to do. And, she’s jumping off leash. How could I possibly correct that?
We may not be perfect, and I have no idea how we will do in the ring tomorrow. We may be brilliant, we may stink. Regardless of the outcome, I remind myself that the process, the journey of getting to where we are, is far more important than the product, the first place, or the trophy. While those are nice to have, I am more interested in how my dog learned, and that she had fun learning and performing, and that she will look forward to more training and trials.
That said, I sign off for now as handler and dog must be well rested for the task at hand tomorrow.