Community (WCRL trial)

I have always felt so fortunate that I am part of the Minnesota Dog Community. I find so much joy in the people I train and trial with. Even when I haven't had a competitive dog pretty much ever.
Waiting between our runs.

Tonight I was so proud of my dog. We were entered in two WCRL runs at Agile Canines with the goal of getting another QQ toward our ARCH (we have 3/5). Well, we didn't do that. But because of the community I have been a part of since I was just a kid, and the philosophies that go along with that, it didn't matter.

Recently Gabby has been diagnosed as being completely blind. And on top of that, my best girl lost the hearing in her right ear. She has had to make a lot of adjustments and adaptations in every day life, not to mention training. We struggled at training a lot when the deafness happened. We had our first real frustrations with each other. And since then, with the help of some very good trainers we also call friends, we have been back to training with a lot more success. She has had to learn a new set of cues and a new way of heeling. I have had to be even more mindful of our surroundings to guide her safely, and I started teaching directional cues. With that, I've had to realize that we may not achieve the title goals I had. My priorities have shifted even more from when we started training, then competing. I have the pleasure of working with a dog who gives me her all, even when I don't reciprocate.

My goal is to qualify (or I simply wouldn't pay to enter trials), but not at the expense of my dog. I want to make sure my dog has the best time, every single time we enter the ring. And well, I want to have a good time with her. I don't like entering and not qualifying. But last night when I realized this course was above our current abilities, I tried to make the best of our ring time together.

If you care to watch the videos, they're below. It shows my dog doing her very, very best. And me trying my best to guide her. We don't get very far following the numbered course our judge created to test the abilities of the Level 1 and 2 dogs. And so we stop. I pet my dog and tell her how wonderful she is. I ask her if she wants to continue working, and she does. So we do. And because this is WCRL, we make up our own course, then exit the ring as a team. Gabby loves to work. She's good at working. I love that we can do this together still, even with our current struggles.

The community I'm lucky to be a part of greeted us as we exited and told me how wonderful she is. How hard she tries. And for that I'm so grateful. I don't necessarily need the recognition and encouragement to make good choices for my dog, but honestly I'd feel a bit lost and likely wouldn't enter more trials if I was approached differently.

I do the very best I can for my dog with the knowledge and training we have. Some days we do just fine. Some days we excel. Some days we struggle. And then there's days like today where we do neither of those things. We didn't have the skills for those courses with the physical changes she's had. And yet, I was so pleased with her effort.

Yesterday I made good choices for the team. Gabby had a fantastic time. And I got to feel the support of a community for making the right choices for my team.

We will continue training and entering trials as long as her body is up to it. Because my dog and I both enjoy it. And because we are so fortunate to compete with a group of people who are so supportive.