So we had another big day today. Liz went to her first class. She has done some small sequences in our Acton class, but that is a place she is VERY familiar with, she runs for a half hour before her private in the yard, she does her private and then she has done class. She is familiar with that yard and those dogs, so I am always happy when she can focus there but this was a yard where she worked yesterday but four dogs she did not know, and there was no time to let her run around the yard before the class. It was windy, which always makes the dogs a bit spacey. So her first classmates were a little Papillion, a Cavalier, a Border Collie, and an Aussie. She did fantastic even though I was having trouble with my timing and had to retry things a few times, but she only ran off once, and that was to the water, and when I called she spun around and came right back. You would never know she had a problem. We were able to stay for the WHOLE class, and those classes are long-I was totally going to leave the minute we were losing her, but I didn't feel like we were anywhere near to losing her until the last few minutes.
Weird thing is that I feel totally comfortable running her in class. I wasn't at all worried about her running off and I have a three year history of her taking off, but it is like that never happened. I know my confidence has a lot to do with her staying with me, but has she changed and because I can feel that change it lets me relax with her? Have I changed and that leaves her free to do her job without the stress I put on her? Maybe a combo of both of us hitting a really good place with each other at the same time. I know in the past I always get comments from my instructors about how tense I get when I am working with her. I just never would have believed I could let go of all the worries so easily. I never envisioned a day where I could walk out in a new situation and just be comfortable and totally trust her, but gosh it is not hard to trust her right now at all. I just feel so in sync with her right now and like we have such a good partnership and it is so wonderful!!! I never knew if we would get there but almost 3 years of work where I did not know if it would ever really come together is just all paying off. How SWEET it is.
So one of my HUGE goals for Liz was just what we were able to do today. Now I guess we take it on the road and try her in some other yards, on other equipment, maybe some more classes, maybe her CGC, then maybe some fun matches, who knows, the sky might be the limit, ;-). I keep trying to keep in mind that I am sure we will have some back slides and progress does not go in a straight line, but I am going to enjoy our victory today, and I will worry about back sliding tomorrow!