Sunday morning we woke up and I got the course maps. Snooker was first, and there was literally NO flowing course to be made. I took Jonah out for a walk while I was pondering a plan. Jonah made the decision for me. We were no where near the agility, just walking around the campground. He was happy and jogging around, sniffing and having a good time. Then, though, I started towards a trash can that was in the direction of the rings. He stopped. Then he started walking with me, tail down and ears back. I threw out the poop in a different trash can and tried going that way again. Same reaction. I got it, Jonah. This is supposed to be fun, but clearly it isn't. Ok, we're done. Forget the fact that Standard and Colors look like awesome courses and we "need" those Qs. If you're not having fun, we don't need to do this. I scratched from Sunday's runs.
It was hot, but I don't think that was really the crux of the problem. He played in the kiddie pools before and after his runs and got good and wet.
He's been slightly off for a while. He prefers his left lead, and sometimes he cross canters for a step or two. He runs around the yard like crazy, though, so I don't know how much it can be bothering him. I took him to the chiropractor on Wednesday. I'm not sure if it made much difference.
I think the whole 6 ring environment was just stressful. A lot of people and dogs were not respectful of his space (I wanted to kill one guy. He was walking 5 shelties. I had Jonah up near a fence playing with him before we went in the ring, the fence protecting 180 degrees of unwanted distraction. Then the shelties see Jonah and start barking at him. The guy proceeds to walk towards us, I guess thinking the shelties wanted to play. Jonah did not want to play. He was in total meltdown mode, unable to escape because of the fence. Poor guy).
I am disappointed. We'd been looking forward to nationals for a long time, and I'd been working all the agility aspects to the point where I'm quite pleased with how he's running. We even have a brand spanking new, beautiful running dogwalk. But when he's not himself in the ring, we can't show off our abilities. Most of all, though, I'm really upset that I pushed him to the point that he looked that miserable walking towards an agility ring!
It's like when we went hiking in the white mountains. Jonah followed us up steeper terrain than he was comfortable with, and he slipped and fell. He'll do things he doesn't want to do just because he loves us and wants to please. But that's not what agility is about. It's about fun. If he's not having fun, he's never going to run well.
Also I have this pressure because so many people didn't get picked in the random draw. Other people could have done a lot better than we did. I do know, though, that he runs well most of the time, and those other dogs could have been stressed, too. We had as much of a right to be picked in the draw as anyone, and I'm sure we stil did better than a bunch of people, too. Plus, lots of people didn't come to the trial on Friday at all, and that was their plan all along.
I think we're going to take a break from trialing for a little while. I want to work more on his reactivity, thinking that having all the other dogs around is stressful for him. I'm looking at a Control Unleashed class, but they don't have any that work at times I can do for a little while. We might start in late July. Jonah loves agility, but I don't know how much he loves trials. I love trials, but that's not enough. I also love weekends with my husband, so maybe it's time for agility to be a once-a-week class for a while. That will be fun. For both of us. And that's what matters--us having fun together.
In other news, the puppy was fantastic all weekend. She got hot in the sun, but otherwise she was picture perfect. Slept 7+ hours every night in the tent, met tons of people and tons of dogs, watched agility, practiced tricks, and didn't get bothered at all by all the sights and sounds of the most stressful trial I've ever been to. If you didn't see the video I posted earlier, here it is again. I think I watched it about 10 times in a row when I got home. It put my nationals woes in perspective. This is what it's all about :)