The past several months I have been reading "Breath" by Willard Bailey. An older book on competition obedience. It is a story format, not a "How to." It really had helped me get through my 20 year fear of going into the obedience ring. This Sunday I will debut. I'm not anxious at all, I'm looking forward to it with excitement. Mickey and I have had some good practices. I'm reading my regulations and reminding myself that this is my debut, not a performance that people paid to come see you. If I mess up, there are no consequences, just learning. If people laugh at me or think I'm terrible, no worries, just keep practicing as I wrote in a previous blog entry. They don't matter, what matters is Mickey.
Mickey and I have been bonding more lately. We have been going out more together, even this morning I took him out to Starbucks with me. As usual,he's flirting with people standing in line with me. Ahhh that's my Mickey! It doesn't matter if we are at a park, him being a service dog or what ever, getting him out is crucial at this point. I think the key to his success in the ring.
Before I go in the ring, I need to do a decompressing time. Let him sniff everything, be a dog, look like he isn't trained, be goofy and the likes. Then, like a play, or a performance and we go into the ring, voila! We are on. He can transform just like that when I work on getting him in the zone. It takes focus on my part. Sometimes when I'm in my class, my energy level is so low I don't work on it, just go through the motions. Our connection is a little less connected. When I feel better and I take conscious effort to connect, Our are locked on to each other like two love birds gazing in each other's eyes. I send off the aura to Mickey of "you are such an awesome dog." I know he feels that peace from me as he stares in my eyes more. Such a love affair. Beginner Novice is a short course. I think this will be a really nice transformation before going into Novice A. Ironically I"m the only one entered in this Beginner Novice A class. Maybe a good thing since this is our first time. I won't have that "competition" tension. Just do your best.
Later in the day I will have rally. It will be a little more relaxed since I can chatter to my boy love talk. Although in Beginner Novice A, I can touch him between exercises and a gentle stroke on the side of his head he just loves. I think we can succeed in both with the two different kinds of reinforcements I can give in the ring. I don't expect to be perfect on the rally course. But watching a lot of videos of Rally Novice A, I'm not all that worried.
I tend to be so fixated in being perfect, a long life problem of mine trying to succeed having a disability. That I have always felt pressured to succeed beyond logic to over come my disability. I've programmed myself this way too much and too often. Very few people understand and if they grew up with a disability, trying to fight for everything to be normal, they would understand. But now is the time to focus on Mickey and I as a team. Not think of proving myself. For 25 years I have wanted to prove myself as a dog handler, which has held me back in many ways So fearful to perform in front of people. now that is all going to change. My perspective is different, my fear is nearly gone and I now get it that it is about giving Mickey an awesome bonding experience. He's a working dog and will work as long as I don't stress out. Stress will ruin this opportunity to succeed. This doesn't mean I'm not going to be nervous. I think being nervous is a good thing, stressing out is not.
More each day I admire Mickey and his capabilities. I"m so blessed with this dog. He impresses people where ever he goes. I have the dog to perform and make me look good, now it is my turn to be right for Mickey so he can perform well. I can't wait for this Sunday.