Now I have never been too good with the mental game although I have been getting slightly better (due to very hard damn work, I might add) over the last year. Stress affects people differently. Me? I used to get all 'bedonnerd' (which I will very 'modestly' translate to grumpy) with everyone around me. Like the worst pms you have ever seen. And I would get super clingy with my dogs and 'over-cuddle' them into the ground before a round. This of course leads to Chaos's WTF? face, while he thinks my feet belong to him and will lie on them whenever he has a chance, he does NOT like the whole cuddle thing. This would also put Chaos in panicky 'I have to do something RIGHT NOW mode', which often saw him shooting off in one direction taking whatever was in his path. I have worked hard on those issues and I think I now appear pretty normal when I am under Agility stress. Chaos now definitely appears 100% normal under stress.
Which should be normal. I believe that as dogs mature and gain experience they learn better to deal with YOUR stress as well. The first time you place a dog at the start line under serious pressure, they are confused and struggle dealing with your change in attitude/voice pitch/jerky arms etc. This is just another experience they need to get used to. Well that is for those of us that actually DO get nervous I guess.
This year my plan was a bit different from previous years. In the past it always use to be (uses zombie voice) *must get points*. This year I just wanted to step on the line and continue Chaos's streak of nice rounds, responsiveness and well... fun. Undeniably I was still a bit more nervous than normal, which can be witnessed in my two stupid handling mistakes that cost me some points. Shame poor Spaz dog, such a shame that he has to compensate for me the whole time. But by the second round we had settled and he had a pretty nice round. So we actually managed to get some points. If I get more points on Sunday I do, if I don't, so be it. I want my nice rounds rather. Video will only follow next week, as one of the other provinces still have to run Trial 1.
*All pictures courtesy of Melissa Wilson of K9 Action Shots (http://www.facebook.com/pages/K9-action-shots/128027793894798?sk=photos)