Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How Far We've Come!!

I was thinking the other day - I forget about what, exactly - but within that train of thought I figured out how long Tessa and I have been competing in live events together.

Six months.

It doesn't seem possible.

On Sunday at the competition, I was eagerly anticipating going into the ring with her.  I knew that she knew her moves, and could give a solid performance.

That makes me think back to that day, back at the very end of December, when we were driving to our fist live competition - the New Year's NADAC trial.  It was only six months ago, but it feels like about two years ago!  I remember being so nervous, wondering if I was moving this along too fast.  Wondering if she was going to be able to handle the environment, if she was going to be able to function.

I was downright shocked at how well she did, and how comfortable she was!

And how I felt on our way to our first Freestyle competition, again, not knowing if she was really ready, although by then I knew that she would most likely do fine in the environment.

And she did her best and then some!

The thing that rattled me so much was the feeling that I really didn't know what to expect from her in a competition setting.  Speedy and I started trialing in 2005, and I know what to expect from him in the ring - the good, the bad, the ugly, and the stunning!  I pretty much know what to expect from Dean - brilliance or brain freeze!!  And Maddie was like an old shoe.  As long as she was in the mood to run, I knew I could depend on her to be solid and consistent.  And if she wasn't, I knew that pretty much right up front!

Tessa was such an unknown.

The Agility was probably harder because I was missing Maddie every time Tessa and I trialed.  It wasn't until this last one, right here at our home training facility, where Maddie and I had never trialed together, that she and I moved beyond that and finally found our chemistry as a team.

Freestyle has been easier because Speedy is still with me, and dancing.  Rally, too, because Dean is still at it.

I am getting to the point where I know what to expect from Tessa.  Not every detail - of course, that is always a surprise.  But I know she is going to be attentive.  I know she is going to try her hardest to do what I ask.  I know she just may be a little creative!!  I know that tail will be waggling!  I know that if something spooks her, she can recover.  And I know that if a mistake is made, it is probably my mistake!!

And, when I think about it, the fact that this has happened in six months is extraordinary.  And I'm not tooting my own horn here - I'm tooting Tessa's!!  I'm the same handler who slams into brick walls with Dean on a regular basis.  Tessa can do things after less than two years of training that Dean can't do after almost six!  And I don't say that to put Dean down - a lot of his difficulty stems from an anxiety disorder that neither of us chose.  Dean and I make the best of it, and I am very, very proud of him.

But it does make me appreciate Tessa.

If she doesn't go into the higher levels and succeed, it will only be because I didn't do the work.  I don't know if I'm equal to that challenge, but we're going to try!!  I guess if Tessa can survive life on her own for 3+ months, learn to trust again, learn to find joy in life again, and, after all that, put her heart and soul into learning, performing, and running, I can acquire some discipline and do the training!! 

I couldn't ask for a better training partner!

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