a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Here Is What Happened

Friday, December 16, 2011

Here Is What Happened

SUMMARY: When I behaved badly last weekend.
It was a stressful weekend, mostly by stress placed on myself. Lots of things going wrong that I didn't always understand why, or did understand why and it frustrated me. Probably nothing really unusual, but, for whatever reason, it FELT worse than usual.

Plus odd things from Tika: On 2 or 3 occasions, she stopped dead in the course and stared at me--yes, after she ended up somewhere I hadn't expected, but her usual reaction is to bounce in, yapping, and grab my feet. Stopped. Dead. Staring. Spooky staring, like nothing behind her eyes. She started up again each time just fine and kept going, but still, just odd.

In Sunday's Standard, Tika knocked a bar and then wouldn't go down on the table. Ever. She's been getting slower and more reluctant, but this is the first time that she just kept looking at me, finally sat, but no down action at all, so finally we left the course. Worrisome. Training issue or something else?

Plus by the time we got to Sunday's Pairs Relay in the afternoon, we had no Qs on either dog all day, adding to my frustration.

So--Pairs. With Tika, I meant to do a cross after the teeter before the last 3 jumps but forgot. Still, I thought I could fix it with a rear cross. However, she got ahead of me. I have learned through the years that "Come!" doesn't work, but yelling "Tika!" does work. So I yelled Tika! TIKA! TIIKKKAAA!!! as loud as I could, but she kept going going going into an off-course tunnel. I couldn't believe it! And my frustration got the better of me; I wasn't thinking at that point, just reacting, and I hurled the baton to the ground.

This is a tremendous Bozo No-No. This is an agility temper tantrum. While my partner was standing there waiting to run.

But first I had to get my dog back, and--another weird thing: She came out of the tunnel facing the judge, came to a complete stop, and just stood there staring at the judge. Staring. Still. No noise, no movement. Ears all straight up towards the judge, not the tiniest twitch. With me calling her name over and over and coming up behind her, nothing. Really spooky. (Even the judge thought it was very weird, she said later.) And at that point I lost it, like, something is wrong with my dog and I don't know what and I need to get out of here.

So I grabbed her, rushed out of the ring--oh, completely forgetting that I had a partner standing there waiting--and left the building.

All completely inexcusable. I feel terrible about both the baton hurl and leaving my partner standing there. Had I thought clearly for even a few seconds, I could easily have said something right then, but nope, I was mentally and physically gone.

You ever do something where you feel like your reputation is ruined for life? Even with apologies afterwards, this was all so public and so out of line for anything anyone ever does in agility. It's the black mark that will never go away. Dang.

I did apologize, but I hate having even done something that I have to apologize for.

And, of course, Tika seems completely fine... except for Monday night, once, when she stopped in the kitchen and stared at me--that ears-up, no motion, no reaction, like nothing is behind the eyes. Until I did or said something in a worried way, and bing! she was Tika again.
I don't get it. Losing her vision more? Her hearing? Something going on in her brain? Me overly stressed and she's reacting to it? She has fallen down the last couple of stairs coming downstairs in the morning a couple of times recently when I didn't turn on the light, but out in the field, she chases the frisbee full speed and still catches it; in the house, still reacts to the slightest crinkle of a snack bag from all the way upstairs.

Life with dogs is sometimes just complicated.


  1. Life itself is sometimes just so complicated ...

    hang in there - I'm sorry you and Tika got so lost in Pairs - a stressful place to be lost for sure

  2. Sounds like you had a tremendous amount of stress going on and our dogs are nothing if not good at reading our emotions. Don't worry about losing it in public, we've all been there even if we've tried to hide it,it's been visible and we always feel like pure crap for awhile. No one who knows you suspects for a moment that you're not a good sport or you don't love your dogs.

  3. The whole thing sounds awful and I would be worried about my dog too. Keep watching Tika as something is going on. Talk to a vet and do a physical. Almost sounds like mini-strokes but she seems to bounce back quickly. Forgive yourself - everyone else already has. Best to you and Merle girls.. Hope you can relax over the holidays.


  4. Don't worry about it. Nobody is bothered by the baton thing except you. Make sure Tika is good, and go find the fun in Agility again. Never easy to run a dog that you have doubts about what is going on physically or mentally. Creates an edge and then when the human part makes a mistake, screws everything up. Breath, enjoy the holidays, we are back at it end of January! :)

  5. Thanks, everyone. It wasn't really a call for sympathy--I said that I'd had a meltdown at an agility trial and after I thought about it, I thought I ought to explain myself.

  6. Does sound like something is not right with Tika...I wondered at small seizures too...that vacant look, then she's back. She's such a good dog, so fun, it's hard to think about what might be wrong. Give her a hug for me, ok? I'm really glad I got to walk with all of you in October! I hope there's nothing at all going on with her and she's just exercising her right to stop and stare! :)

  7. Everybody's entitled to a bad day and the good thing about dog agility is that most people are middle aged with iffy memories so it's a long shot anybody even remembered the incident by the time they hit the parking lot.

    Hope Tika's o.k., give her a skritch for me.

  8. Thanks for the laugh. Tika seems to be fine in normal everyday life. It's agility where odd things happen. Which is to be expected, because that's pushing the envelope in so many ways.