The Straw That Broke the Camels Back

This little graphic is a very good representation of me and how it feels to have my battery drained.  I love teaching seminars, going to trials, seeing my friends, laughing, and having a great time. But I pay the price for that with needing alone time. Time to recharge and give my mental space a break. 

For me recharging usually involves being alone and watching some of my favorite tv shows, playing video games (I used to play World of Warcraft a lot for this reason, but not as much anymore) or lately knitting/crocheting and creating content for my Patreon group.

Being alone is usually the key here. Time and space to just let my mind rest and reset.  If I can’t be alone, like if Jimmy is here, I usually go for a drive. Even just a drive to the “big” town which is about 45 mins away helps. I will listen to my music and just drive alone, usually to the pet store or the craft store, get a little something for myself or my dogs and head home. That can definitely help with the recharge. 

So what happens if I don’t? 

Well that is what is currently happening right now. I haven’t had a chance to reset and I feel like I am nearing a breaking point.  

Last week was my virtual seminar, which was fantastic! I loved every minute of it! But during the sessions I am “on” while teaching and in-between I was usually on my computer answering questions from participants.  So my brain was always in this “engaged” mode. 

The same day the seminar ended, my brother and niece came to stay a few days. Which again, Fantastic! I love being around them, hanging out and having a great time. We spent a whole day just playing in the sand dunes and having a great time by the river.  

I knew I was going to be drained after the seminar, and after having a weekend of company, but I wasn’t too worried, I knew I had multiple days of alone time while jimmy worked out in the shop to recharge the next week. 

And then the Wifi went down. 

And yes, I 100% know how that sounds. I sound like a whiney little girl who is upset I can’t use the interwebs.  But what it meant was I couldn’t zone out to my tv shows, and what it also meant was a double in my work load. With no internet I couldn’t do review videos for my Patreon group, which meant writing all the reviews out, not a biggie, but definitely more work. It also meant going to town into a coffee shop to do anything online, which I need to do for my NADAC work as well as my personal training group. So that means crowded place, hard to focus for work, and more drain. 

So as pressure and stress began to build with no outlet I became short tempered, irritable, and just plain whiney. 

I ended up snapping at Jimmy, multiple times. And little things that should have been no issue, became huge issues that I couldn’t even begin to deal with. 

So how does this translate to dogs?  Dogs can experience the exact same thing. With more and more things draining their battery and no recharge, they can act out, be depressed, and snap. 

Wall-E, my whippet mix, is a perfect example of this. He is the friendliest dog I have ever owned, there is not a human or dog that isn’t Wall-E’s best friend. He loves to play and visiting people makes his whole day.  

But for as social as he is, if he doesn’t recharge his battery he becomes “weird” and needy.  Things that don’t bother him do, and he is just “off”. 

He has almost the same recharge needs as me, a quiet place where he can just chill. His main need to recharge is snuggling with either Jimmy or I, and just some down time. 

Now if I were to try and run him when his battery is low?  I get a dog who can’t give me any distance on a sequence, who can’t focus for the weave poles, and is in general just “off”.  

If I feel this happening at a trial, his battery draining, I will try to take him out for a long walk as far away from everything as I can. Or make sure his crate is covered and give him some sort of chewy to focus on.  But most important, I give him the benefit of the doubt during our runs.  If he is not feeling himself, I pick up the slack and help him through.  I also try very hard to let him recharge that night, hopefully a quiet hotel room and snuggles will help. 

Recharging looks different for every dog, for mine its quiet, for yours it might be playing ball, or going for a walk, a chewy, or maybe doing tricks and brain puzzles. 

Find what drains your dog, so you know when it’s happening, and more importantly, find what recharges them. 

Amanda

We will be discussing various methods of decompression and what it can look like in the Fluid Motion Patreon group this month, come join us at www.patreon.com/fluidmotion

Different Connections

A conversation between myself and a student today started with what the definition of “connection” was between a handler and dog. Eventually it moved towards “Heart Dogs” and what that means to the two of us. 

The term Heart Dog is used pretty commonly in the agility world, and I am sure in other sports as well. It is hard to define, and even harder to try and put into words. Heart Dogs are the ones that touch us different, the connection between the handler and heart dog can be on a whole different level. 

So as the conversation grew into heart dogs, what about the dogs who aren’t? 

I have four dogs in my house currently, Nargles, Ally, Trip (he is technically Jimmy’s dog) and Wall-E.  I love each and every one of these dogs, they are an integral part of my life and bring happiness that I can’t put into words. 

Nargles is long retired from her agility career, and she achieved much more than I ever thought possible. She was an amazing distance dog and put her entire soul on the line every time she ran. And I love this little dog more than I can put into words. But is she a heart dog? No. 

Ally is my tough dog, she came into my life to teach me things and to make me a better trainer. Her mission in life is to make me better, and I am, because of her. I love her “take no crap” attitude and the fact she wants to be a lap dog, but doesn’t want anyone to know about it. Is she a heart dog? No. 

And before I get to Wall-E, we have to go into the past and talk about the last heart dog I had. Try. 

Try literally showed up at my doorstep, I wasn’t expecting a puppy and a good friend brought her to me and said “this is a good pup”.  I never looked back from that day forward. From the time she was an 8 week old puppy, something was different with her. We connected in ways that were far different from any previous dog.  Her and I just knew what the other needed. 

Years go by and Try won everything there was to win for a Stakes dog in NADAC. She did things and took me places I had no idea I could reach.  But that dog could have never left Novice and I would have been just as happy. 

Walking into the ring with her was different, it was amazing, it was connection beyond what I could explain to anyone. 

So does that make Ally and Nargles “less”? Or that I don’t love them as much? Absolutely not. 

I connect with them, I ran courses with Nargles where I was sure we missed something because the connection was so amazing that the run just flew by.  

Heart Dogs connect on a different level, I personally don’t think that means that they are more loved, or a better dog. Just different. 

Sometimes I see people struggling, as my student today was. That they may not have that connection that they have heard people talk about with their dogs. Or maybe they had it with a previous dog, but not their current one, so something must be wrong. 

Connection is different for every person and for every dog. I do believe everyone will have a heart dog in their life, and you may have dogs who are not. But that does not mean you are a bad owner or trainer, its just a different connection. 

So this brings me to Wall-E. 

I watched videos of his litter, always drawn to this little pup that had unique and pretty markings.  And then this one video happened, the breeder was letting them hear and see a vacuum cleaner. And all the puppies were checking it out, or staying back. And then there was Wall-E who was just trying to get the breeder to pet him.  

I started watching that little brown puppy more and more, and falling in love with him. When we got there and she said he was the one that was left, it was like a hole in my heart started to repair. 

When I held him that first day, it was different. It was the same feeling I had when I held baby Try.  And again, I have never looked back. 

Everything happens for a reason. My heart had been broken after losing Try, and I lost so much of my passion for agility after her loss and then feeling like I was failing Ally.  I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to have that same passion for agility again. 

Wall-E is my heart dog. Him and I connect on a different level and when we run agility, even though he is still learning, I feel that connection.  

We love every dog in our life, and connect on different levels with each one. 

Cherish, learn, and love every connection you have with each dog, they are all magic.

Ally’s Series – Rebuilding Confidence and Trust

During the month of November I am working on a content creating challenge, so for every day this month there will be a new blog post, video, or podcast! I am very excited to create so much new content for everyone this month! Its going to be great! 

My first day of content creation was yesterday and started with Episode 2 of my podcast, talking about Goals.  You can check it out at this link:  Fluid Motion Podcast – Episode 2 – Goals

The first blog for November is going to be part of a series, and it will be covering how I will be helping to bring back Ally’s confidence and connection with me.  

Connection, Confidence, and Trust between me and my dogs is the foundation to of my training with my dogs. And last year some of that was lost between Ally and I, so my goals over this winter is to try and rebuild it. 

2019 was hard for Ally and I, and I made mistakes that eroded away some of the trust her and I had between us.  When the pandemic hit and forced us to take the rest of the year off, this was not completely a bad thing for her and I.  

I probably would not have taken the time off like I have if it was not forced upon me. With staying at home and no trials, Ally has pretty much just been hanging out all year just being a dog.  I have noticed huge changes to her personality and general attitude, and I credit the months of doing nothing for that. 

I also needed a break, I knew that our relationship was not in a good place, but I was not sure how to even begin to fix it. I had planned on just stopping training her, which I did, and that helped, but I think it helped because it was giving her the break she needed. I needed some down time to give myself time to think, and I also have realized that I need to reorganize and reprioritize my life. 

So how has Ally changed? 

She engages in play now, she wants to run and play with the other dogs, and me. She wants to cuddle and be around me much more than she used to. I took her out last week to play around on a small sequences I had built and much of her frantic, over aroused, and frustrated barks were gone. She will always bark, that is who she is, but I noticed she was much more “at ease” when we were working. 

Same goes for me, I felt less stressed and pressured while training her. The goals I had for her are gone and I didn’t feel them weighing on me anymore. My goals for her were wrong and she desperately tried to tell me that, but I did not listen. 

The year off gave us both time to heal, and figure out what we each needed. And while all this can sound odd when talking about a dog, I have learned so much from her, and I hope I can help others with her lessons. 

The first lesson being that my dog will always choose their path in agility. And the second is that I need to listen. 

In the next part of this series I will talk about some of the non agility things Ally and I are doing to reconnect, and what I am working with her on in agility to build back her confidence. 

This picture is my new goal for Ally, for us to both feel like this again.

What is Patreon?

I have talked a lot about my Patreon page over on my Facebook page and on the Fluid Motion Instagram page, but what is Patreon?

Patreon itself is a website made for creators, they have made the website very easy to upload content, organize threads, and create all on their website. I have supported creators on Patreon for quite some time and in March I started creating a Fluid Motion Patreon page.

The Fluid Motion Patreon page is a monthly subscription with tiers starting at $10. As soon as you subscribe you have access to every post I have ever published since I started the page in March. You also have full access to my 6 week self study classes, Directionals 101 and Consistent Contacts – Foundations.

Along with that you can watch lessons and lectures from the past Virtual Seminars I have done this year, handling analysis videos, lectures and chats, and reviews of students runs as well as my own.

I have grown to really love my Patreon page as I get to work with students not just for a 6 week class, or a weekend seminar, but for months at a time. Over that time I can help with issues they are having and really dive deep into what needs to be done to address the problem.

I also post lots of unedited training sessions with my own dogs (VIP Tier and higher) and get very personal about struggles I am having with my dogs, or agility. My Patreon group has really become a highlight and I love posting and really diving into content that those in the group wanna see.

If you want more information about Patreon you can check out the main page at www.pateon.com/fluidmotion or you can email me and I would be happy to help!

Its All About Variety

Just like us, I feel that dogs can get bored with the same food day in and day out. Along with boredom, feeding the same type of food over and over again, I believe, can also cause issues with our dogs health. 

If I am always feeding my dogs a commercial diet of, Chicken, Sweet Potato, Liver, Eggs, Kale, and Spinach, my dog is missing out on key nutrients that are found in other foods. 

While the above mix in a commercial food could be balanced and they would be “fine” eating this food every day, I feel that my dogs are missing out on nutrients found in a variety of other whole foods. 

For this reason, I like to rotate. I rotate between flavors within brands and I also rotate brands. I like to find 2-3 brands that I like/trust and rotate my dogs between those brands. I have no real system for this. I might feed one brand for a couple months and then switch to another or I may switch brands every month. A lot of how I rotate depends on sales as well.  A few of my favorite brands had a Labor Day sale so, I stocked up! 

I love feeding Grandma Lucys and rotating between their flavors. They have a wide variety of not only proteins I can rotate through, but different carb sources as well. Grandma Lucys is currently my “main” food, meaning I have been feeding just their brand for quite some time and rotating within it. My dogs have been doing extremely well on it, and the picky whippet LOVES their formulas!

I am an ambassador for Grandma Lucys, but I truly love their products and have used them for years with my dogs. (their Artisan formula is what Try needed for her kidney issues later in life, and she loved it!) 

Right now I am rotating between different flavors of Grandma Lucy’s each week because my dogs currently eat about a bag a week. (this can change depending on how much fresh I add to their meals as well)  So, for example, I am feeding their Pureformance Fish right now and next week they will be getting the Macanna Beef.  

I want to be able to rotate between different protein and carb sources for my dogs to not only keep the flavors interesting for them, but to also make sure they are getting all of their nutrients from a wide range of different protein, carb, and veggies sources. 

None of my dogs have any protein or carb intolerances, so, I can rotate between grain and grain-free. I do feed my dogs varieties of food that include grain and they do quite well on it. I used to be very much against using grain in my dogs diet, but when I saw how much my dogs stamina and weight improved when I added some grain, I always use some in their diet now. 

For a while, I will rotate on and off of grain inclusive foods, once again, trying to give my dogs a nice variety and wide rotation of different nutrients.  I do this with my fresh and freeze dried toppers as well. I try to vary food as much as I can when adding fresh and use a wide variety of the following: 

Eggs 

Kefir 

Yogurt 

Cottage Cheese 

Ground meat (Chicken, Beef, Turkey) 

Canned Sardines 

Canned Salmon 

Canned Oysters 

I also rotate with different freeze dried toppers, which are fantastic when traveling!

Grandma Lucys has a fantastic 6 for $60 special going on right now, which includes 6-1lb bags of different protein and carb sources, all for $60!  This is a great deal to try out the different Grandma Lucy flavors and start your dog on a nice rotation diet. 

6 for $60 deal – https://www.grandmalucys.com/products/promo-6-for-60

Wanna try a sample of Grandma Lucys for free? Check out their samples page and use the following code for a free sample!

Samples Page – https://www.grandmalucys.com/products/samples

Free Sample Code – LCFluidMotionAgilitySMP

The Fluid Motion Crew and their Grandma Lucys!

Feed the Dog in Front of You

I love canine nutrition and I have been studying it on my own for the past 15+ years. My passion for nutrition started with my heart dog, Chance, when she was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma and I was told I had maybe a month, if I was lucky.

I spent that day and the entire night researching everything I could about canine cancer, which led a deep dive into canine nutrition. I hired a nutritionist the next day to formulate a cancer diet for her and my passion for helping my dogs through food hasn’t stopped since. Chance lived for four months after her diagnosis. While it was not nearly enough time, I truly believe that her diet and supplements helped her live past the couple weeks that was originally predicted.

From there my interest in canine nutrition only grew. I have fed just about every variety of diet to my dogs throughout the years

  • Kibble
  • Dehydrated
  • Freeze Dried
  • Cooked
  • Cooked and Raw
  • Raw
  • Prey Model Raw
  • BARF
  • And everything in-between

With all the varieties of food I have fed, the most important lesson I have learned is, feed the dog in front of you; do what’s best for you and your dog.

I fed different types of commercial, from kibble to commercial raw and commercial cooked. I have had great experiences with some and terrible experiences with others, kibble and raw alike.

Currently, I feed my dogs a rotation of commercial dehydrated and freeze dried with mostly cooked fresh food added and minimal raw.

I am extremely flexible in what I feed and I judge no one when it comes to what they feed their dogs. I am a firm believer in doing what works best for you and your dog.

Honest Kitchen Base mix with raw chicken hearts, egg, and sardines

Why I don’t feed much raw anymore

I want to make this very, very clear. I am NOT against raw, at all! Unfortunately, though, I have not had the best of luck feeding raw, whether it is DIY (with recipes formulated through a nutritionist or formulated myself) or commercial.

I fed my dogs (at the time, Try, Nargles, and Ally) a full raw diet for about a year or a little more. I started with a meal plan formulated from a canine nutritionist and my dogs did “okay”. They held a good weight and their coats looked fine but they were just, okay. I moved to feeding them a diet I designed and again, just okay. From there, I went to a commercial raw, then to feeding the Honest Kitchen base mix with raw added. For most of the year I dealt with random upset stomachs. Their hair coat would look great, then kind of blah. Also, I didn’t notice it until later, but their stamina was not as good as it should have been.

After a weekend at an agility trial, dealing with Nargles’ HORRIBLE upset stomach that led her to the vet and a month later Try almost dying from salmonella poisoning, I threw in the towel on feeding a raw diet.

I switched my dogs over to a kibble and never looked back. The allergies that I fought with Nargles began to improve (and are almost non-existent now thanks to Herbsmith Allergy supplement). No more upset tummies, random diarrhea, or nausea episodes. By far, the biggest improvement was their stamina while competing; I never realized how tired they were. Also, while they were at a “good” weight, they were always thin and I always felt like I was feeding a truckload just to keep them at that “decent” weight.

When I made the switch to kibble, I decided to always add a variety of fresh foods, such as:

  • Kefir
  • Eggs (raw and cooked)
  • Canned Sardines (and fresh when I could get them)
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cooked Meats (Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fish)
  • Fresh veggies and fruits
Simple Food Project with Goats milk and Raw Egg

I varied between a few different brands of kibble, ultimately, in search of a couple of brands I liked/trusted and switch between then from month to month. (sometimes one brand for a couple months and then switch). I liked my dogs on kibble, they did well, and I was very happy with it.

Then, I went to SuperZoo 2019, a HUGE pet convention with everything under the sun, including lots of different brands and types of dog food. I was able to meet owners of various dog food brands, get to know them, ask questions, and I learned more than I ever thought I would. My biggest take away from the event though, Trust. I wanted to trust the food I gave my dogs and after I met the owner of a kibble I was feeding, I lost that trust, but I gained trust in other brands.

Currently, I am feeding a rotation of Honest Kitchen and Grandma Lucy’s with Simple Food Project as a topper. These are all brands that had already gained my trust from feeding them off and on over the years, either as toppers or while traveling. Meeting the owners of Honest Kitchen, Grandma Lucys, and Simple Food project only solidified that trust and made them a concrete part of my rotation.

I rotate between the brands and their flavors, and I love all three of them equally. I still add fresh toppers to their food, just as I did with kibble. And I have also started in the last month, using Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated toppers and Vital Essentials freeze dried toppers as well.

My dogs still get raw every now and then. I have a great source of chicken and beef hearts here that I add to their food 1-2 times a week, as well as raw eggs. I sometimes buy them ground chicken, turkey, or beef, but I always cook it. Pretty much the only thing I feed raw anymore is eggs, chicken/beef hearts, and some sardines when I can get a hold of them.

It breaks my heart to see posts on social media screaming that raw is the only way to feed, and all dogs should have raw, or that kibble should only be fed, or cooked, etc, etc. Every dog is different and should be fed that way, not every dog will thrive on raw. And not every dog will do well on kibble.

The only thing I will suggest to just about everyone, if you are feeding a commercial diet, add some fresh food, even a small amount. Even just adding an egg every other day will do wonders for your dog!

Cook too much chicken for dinner and have some leftovers? Give it to your dog! (no seasoning)

Grab some yogurt! or canned sardines!

It doesn’t have to be every day, but even just 1-2 times a week is fantastic!

I think rotation and variety is HUGE when feeding your dog (and yourself!) I try to vary what they get quite a bit, not only for their health, but to keep them excited about dinner time!

I am pro what works for you and your dog, raw did not work for me, but what I am currently feeding does. Could that change? Yep. Could my next dog not do well with my current feeding rotation? Yep, it could happen, and if it does, I will feed the dog in front of me.

Honest Kitchen Dehydrated food and Simple Food Project

Making Fermented Cabbage

Below is the general recipe I use for making fermented cabbage for my dogs, I started feeding fermented cabbage earlier this year and I see a HUGE difference when using it with my dogs! 

I started with a general fermentation recipe, and for later batches I added the probiotic and really liked that as well! (Thank you Dr. Karen Becker!) 

1 head of green cabbage 

1 probiotic capsule 

Salt (I like to use Celtic Sea salt) 

Mason jars with a fermenting lid 

Fermenting weights 

Wooden pounder (optional)

  • Chop the cabbage into small pieces, saving a couple of the outside leaves whole, set them aside Try to make them as close to the same size as possible. I like to cut them into about 1″ size pieces, that is the size my dogs like. 
  • Put all of your cabbage into a large bowl, add about 2 tablespoons of salt, this can vary with the amount of cabbage you are using, 2 tablespoons for one cabbage seems to work for me. I also open one probiotic capsule and add it to the bowl. 
  • this is the long and hard part! If you have a pounder you can start pounding the cabbage, if you don’t have a pounder you can mash it with your hands. (this is what I do) I will work the cabbage for about 10-15 mins and then let it rest for about 10 mins, and then mash again for 10-15 mins. I am wanting the cabbage to have enough water worked out that we can use that to fill the jars. 
  • once you have worked the cabbage, it should have shrunk by about half, now we get to fill the jars! 
  • I use Ball mason jars, I like the 32 ounce wide mouth jars. Start filling the jars with your cabbage, gently pressing the cabbage down, we want to work out the air bubbles. 
  • fill the jar until you have about an 1″ – 2″ gap at the top (headspace), as you press the cabbage down, water should be coming up to the top. If you don’t have enough to cover the cabbage, add a little from your bowl. (And if you don’t have enough water in the bowl you can use some tap water, I add a little salt to it if I need to use tap) 
  • Now take your extra cabbage leaf, cut it down so it fits into the jar, you want it to cover your cabbage and hold it under the water. I then put my ferment weight on top. 
  • Now just put your fermenting lid on and you are ready to go! 
  • I have found that about 3 weeks is the perfect ferment for my dogs, they like the taste and it has been pretty consistent for me. if I ferment it too long they aren’t as fond of the taste as it gets a bit sour. 

This is a live video I did on the Fluid Motion Facebook page making a batch of cabbage, I used red cabbage in this video, which I wasn’t fond of, I like green better. 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/fluidmotionagilityandwellness/videos/308044960064903/

Supply Links: 

(The below links are affiliate links and a small amount from purchases made at that link will go to Fluid Motion, all profits go towards the Fluid Motion blog and Youtube series) 

Mason Jars – https://amzn.to/2u8xaq9

Silicone Fermenting Lids – https://amzn.to/358bqan 

Fermenting Weights – https://amzn.to/2QD0oES

Pickle Pounder – https://amzn.to/2tkRzYh

Grey Sea Salt – https://amzn.to/37oxNtK

Probiotic- 

I also found this pretty cool kit that has everything but the jars and salt which is pretty cool – https://amzn.to/36dCmH5 

I stopped training

I have stopped training agility skills with Ally. I don’t practice in the yard, I don’t work her on courses, or sequences. Ally and I haven’t done any real agility training  since probably around March. 

I am going to be very honest in this blog, and it may not sit well with some people, and I understand that. But I also firmly believe that I am not the only dog person who deals with this, and this blog is for you. 

Ally is a difficult dog, I love her to death, at the same time she drives me insane. All you have to do is search back through this blog and my Youtube channel to listen to me talk about how hard she is and my constant struggles with her. 

Her and I are oil and water, and in the early days of our relationship I thought very long and hard about placing her in a herding home, (she loves herding more than just about anything)  a home I approved of never came up, and I am very glad for it. Ally at the Copper Paws Agility Trial

I consulted with many people on what to do with her, from agility trainers to behavior specialists. 

She has big feelings (most people would call her very reactive), she wants to micro manage everything, all the time, to the point that she will almost pass out exhausted, just from being in the house watching the other dogs lay around. 

All her movements are fast, she can never just do something, she has to do it FAST and with full force. She gets frustrated very easy and expresses her frustrations with barking and squealing. 

She is exhausting to live with, and lately I have been putting her in the bedroom so she will just sleep. She will just be awake ALL day just in case someone moves and she works herself into intense panting. 

Training her is also hard, she does everything like a bull in a china shop, full force, ALL THE TIME. And she is frustrated almost immediately, a lot of it due to the fact her and I are oil and water. 

I have done all the positive training techniques, took multiple classes to build on my knowledge of shaping and micro shaping for her. 

But we still end with the same result. 

Ally and I at the Copper Paws Agility Trial Her and I both frustrated. 

I had big goals for her, she is the niece of Try who was the most amazing dog to ever walk to the line with me. And I suppose that is where a lot of our issues started, too many goals, too small of a puppy. 

I realized she was never going to be Try and changed my goals for her, but we still just didn’t click. 

I took her to Starter Stakes at the NADAC Championships in WY in Sept of 2018. We didn’t place, but I was beyond proud of her, she did that distance work like she was born for it. 

She qualified for Silver Stakes (the next level from Starter Stakes) for the NADAC Championships in Ohio for 2019. 

And we crashed and burned. Epic Fail. Epic Embarrassment. 

I couldn’t get her to do a jump 5 feet from me, let alone the Silver Stakes distance of 40-50.  We walked off of two courses, we were frustrated, we cried, it was the worst event of my life. 

I walked into it with a goal of just doing courses and trying to have one clean run, no podium goals, I knew this level would be hard for her. But I had no idea it would be such an epic failure. 

So now it is June. And I am looking at the NADAC Champs in WY (if they are held) and trying to assess what I should do with her and what I should enter her in. 

We can go in Starter Stakes, and that level of distance is her comfort zone. 

So after some months off to lick my wounds after the 2019 Champs, I start training her in January. 

With goals like: 

(these are taken straight out of my training notes) 

“Increase confidence on Switches from a distance” 

“Build send away distance to 20 feet” 

“Build discrimination distance to 20 feet” 

And each training session, while we worked on those things, Ally and I always have tension between us. We are both annoyed with the other, but we love each other. We have a complicated relationship. 

And because of this all my training sessions felt very frustrating, I would work my young dog Wall-E, less and less. Not wanting to carry that emotion over to him. So while trying to fix Ally, Wall-E was not getting the training he deserved. 

So one day, while working on our send away goals, she is barking and annoyed, I am trying to tone her out and setting a target down. 

I look at her, she sits; looks at me, and I just sit on the ground and say:  

“lets be done.” 

And so we stopped training. She has the skills, she knows Starter Stakes level distance, do I wish I could be in Super Stakes again, like I was with Try? Yes. All the time, it is my passion, I love it. But she is not that dog. 

And I am probably not that trainer for her. Do I think she could do Superstakes? Maybe, with someone else. But not with me,  her and I don’t mesh like that. 

All training is doing for the two of us is building frustration. She isn’t learning with me, and that is my fault, I don’t have the skills for a dog like her, or maybe we are just oil and water. 

So here is the “what I learned today” part of this post. 

I know there are people out there like me, people who have dogs like Ally and while they love them and wouldn’t trade them for the world, they are frustrated. 

So I stopped training her in agility. 

She has been learning tricks (her new “flop” is adorable) and we have been working on her disc dog skills. (we can only do rollers, but we are masters at that now) 

So I am not “done” in the sense I don’t do things with her. She is my best hiking dog, and we still train fun tricks, but I don’t want to continue to increase our frustration by training agility skills. 

Ally and I do well in trials together, she hones in more and I think for her trials feel “real” where training is just pointless and annoying.    

While our 2019 Championships was a failure, I was finally able to watch our videos the other day. And she didn’t have the skills for the distance I was asking, I thought the distance that was required was at the top of our limit, but it was not, it was over it. I would have never entered her if I had known that, and I will not forgive myself for a long time for that oversight, as her trainer, and handler, I should have known that. 

So to the person who is reading this, who loves their dog, but is so frustrated. 

Its okay. I wish someone would have told me years ago. Its okay. 

Its okay to be annoyed. 

Its okay to be frustrated. 

Its okay to cry mad tears, sad tears, and frustrated tears. 

What matters is where you go from here.  How do you address it? 

What is the main source of your frustration? Can you avoid it? Work around it? 

I like competing with Ally, now that is not to say that I still don’t get frustrated, I do. But I know its not her fault. If something happens on course it is probably due to my handling that isn’t what she needs, or a skill she doesn’t have. 

I know where her skills are, I know where her confidence is and I make sure I do not ask for more than what she can give me from this point on. 

Does this mean I will never train her again. I don’t know. Maybe the lack of training and the increase of us just playing frisbee together will help us be able to train again. 

But right now, I don’t care, she is seven years old. I want to have fun with my dog. I want to enjoy running agility with her, and I want to be less frustrated. 

So here is to all the people who are afraid to admit their dog frustrates them, annoys them, but you love them more than anything and you just want to have a good time doing a sport you love.

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