I had big plans for my dogs and me this summer. I started the summer hyper-focused. I had a training plan in place. I had signed up and paid for classes and private sessions at ThunderHawk, including an advanced obedience class that ends with testing for the Canine Good Citizen Advanced (CGCA) title. I had plans to train on Saturdays with a great group about an hour away from us (Plateau Sport Dogs).

It was going to be an amazing summer! But all of that went sideways on June 7th.

Tank and Copper enjoying their free time

I was bit on my left calf by a brown recluse spider. If you aren’t familiar with the brown recluse, they’re a passive, reclusive, nocturnal spider rarely seen by people. They have very short fangs and can only bite when squished up against your skin, so thankfully bites are rare.

But when they do bite, they can cause a lot of damage. Their venom is more toxic than rattlesnake venom and can cause necrosis. I won’t bore you with all the details about my recovery. (You can read about it here if you’re interested.) Bottom line… It’s been 7 weeks, and I am just now getting to a point where I can walk (almost) normally.

I’ve attended most of my classes but have largely been sitting and not training. I cancelled and rescheduled all of my private sessions and haven’t really been training at home. Copper and I even missed two trials a few weeks ago.

Not the summer I had planned.

But taking a break hasn’t been all bad. When it comes to training, consistency is key, but a break can also lead to renewed energy and focus. Late last week, I was finally able to start adding short training sessions back into my schedule, and my dogs and I are all excited to be back. We’ve missed it and are more dedicated than ever.

Copper getting his CGCA

Copper still managed to pass his CGCA test. (If you zoom in on my left leg, you can see a really big, flesh-colored band-aid.) We have two more trials scheduled for the end of the week that I think we just might make. I’m hopeful that we can at least do well enough to get two legs of our Rally Excellent title.

Tank is a little more out of practice when it comes to performing the actual commands, but the break has really improved his engagement and focus. He’s glad to be back, so I’m confident we can get him back on track quickly.

Our goal for this year was a Rally Intermediate title for Tank and CGCA, Rally Advanced, and Rally Excellent for Copper. I also wanted to get Copper started on scent work training. We have two of the three titles and one scent work session done, so despite the break, I think we’ll still accomplish our goals and more this year.

While consistency is key, sometimes a break can bring you back stronger than ever! Drop a comment and let me know how you’re training goals are going!

Tanya Garrett

Tanya is an avid supporter of dog rescues. She has had adopted dogs her entire adult life and can think of nothing more fulfilling than helping a rescue dog become a good citizen. She competes in AKC Rally Obedience and IWPA Weight Pull with two of her All American Dogs (registered with the AKC Canine Partners Program). She hopes to add AKC Scent Work and Tracking to that list too!

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