I took Gilda to the building for practice last week and she did fantastic. She did so well that I actually wished someone was watching (and I rarely wish that!). We had a great off-leash Shadow Handling session and a huge improvement on the Jungle Gym Teeter with Gilda getting on willingly from the high end.
On Saturday, we joined a group of 5 other AU members and 8 other AU dogs, on a road trip to Happy Heeling K9 Training Center in Mt. Vernon, OH. Once again, we had lots of winter weather to deal with!
Once there, Gilda started off well. She interacted well with the other dogs and was taking treats during the Teeter noises.
A course was set up and Jessica informed me that Gilda and I would be up first. She recommended that we just do 3 obstacles. This caught me off-guard and was the beginning of the end for Gilda...
She performed her obstacles but her stress showed almost immediately and just compounded. Soon, everything was too much for her: the noise of the building, the other dogs running and barking, and especially the very loud Teeter. Gilda was reduced to quivering with her tail firmly between her legs, unable to even take a treat.
For the first time ever, she seemed relieved to go out to the car and just sit in a crate. It took me awhile to process what I should take away from this episode because I was overwhelmed with emotion and feelings of inadequacy at the time.
She may have eventually fallen apart by day's end regardless as she is a reactive dog but I think the starting point was my nervouseness when I heard that we would be 'performing'. I went along with idea that it would be good for Gilda to experience a new place and it would be good for me to watch my mentors work with their dogs.
Just another reminder of how perceptive our dogs are to the most minute changes in our emotions!
It was a great experience overall and it was so nice to spend time with a group of women who are upbeat, positive dog lovers! It was a fun way to spend a snowy day.
Here is a link to Michelle's (Brutus & Carmen) video of the day: