Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In their own words: Abby and Tsunami

This is part two of our guest blogger series. Today we hear from Abby (and her pug Tsunami) in an essay Abby entitles "Fear Itself":

When I first conceived of the idea of entering The Trial (some time around August), I thought we were almost ready, or surely would be by January. As the time drew near, I felt less and less ready. What is a trial for, friends counseled me, but to see what you’ve got? Thinking about it, I was nervous…I was nervous about getting nervous. That is, I was afraid that I might be SO nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy the trial at all, and perhaps even worse - I might actually feel physically sick.

Erica, our teacher, had asked us about our goals, made us look at them realistically. So I wasn’t expecting much, or maybe I was, just hoping to keep her with me. When we’re not connected, and we had gone through quite a bout with that since August, she tends to wander off sniffing and “cleaning”(looking for and inhaling treats, paper, fluff, hair, small bits of ?, etc. on the floor during which time she appears to be totally deaf). I wasn’t looking forward to a public display of this behavior. I was also hoping to remember the courses - if I get rattled, my brain (which resembles a storm drain more than a sieve) vanishes. I also wasn’t very confident in my ability to figure out the best way to run the courses. Then there was the handling question – Would I be able to give Tsunami clear signals with my body, especially my often flailing arms and hands? (Would I even know what I was doing with my body?) To counteract all this doubt, I actually had read and was practicing the ideas mapped out in Jane Savoie’s book, That Winning Feeling! (positive suggestion and visualization).

When the day came I found was also really excited, after all, wasn’t this what we’d been heading for? And I had friends from class there - Haley with Willow, her young Goldendoodle, and Julie with Duncan, a most enthusiastic, tail-wagging black lab; we’d all started classes together a few months shy of two years ago. I wasn’t nervous until about 15 minutes before our first class was to start, but as soon as we went for the briefing and then began walking the course, I started to relax; now I had something to focus on – learn the course, figure it out, set it in my mind and my body.

When we began to run, I forgot about everything and it was just Tsunami and me feeling the joy of a running together and working at doing our very best. And we did a pretty good job, too; we were connected -a lot of the time - we even had a couple of clean runs, we had a great time, and there was no time to even think about being nervous.

So next time we go to a trial, I’m sure I’ll have a few butterflies, but all I have to do is look down at that spunky little dog with the big heart and remind myself how much fun it is just simply running next to her.

Erica often tells me I need to trust her – she’s so right! I’m awfully impressed with our smart little dog with the big heart.

Oh and by the way - Abby's "a couple of clean runs" was actually 4 Q's - all with first placements....just sayin'.

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