A year ago this month Carmen was diagnosed with PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy). Over the summer we had a very difficult time trialing outdoors due to bright sunlight washing things out for Carmen.
My girlie who was so confident began having moments of confusion on course. I changed the way I trial; entering her only in classes that might be in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun wasn't as bright and made the decision to trial her primarily indoors (which meant no more NADAC for us - we have only one indoor NADAC trial up this way). I also left the course frequently when she had trouble seeing and scratched from plenty of classes.
Recently I have begun to notice her having some depth perception problems inside - this made me aware that our trialing days were even more shortly numbered than I thought. Last night she stayed at my house because we were trialing today. She was very stressed out and I realized it is because her vision is failing and she doesn't know my house as well as her own.
I went to the trial this morning with the knowledge that after this trial Carmie will trial two more times in NADAC and I will retire her. It is possible I will do some indoor CPE trials if the lighting is really good, but I am not sure.
Today the weather cooperated with us - there were plenty of clouds (but it was not overcast/gray) and the sun was not too bright. Carmie was entered in Jumpers, Regular, and Tunnelers. She Q'd in all three - well under course time and finished her Superior Novice Jumpers title and her Superior Novice Tunnelers title.
I really feel like today was a gift. I knew when Carmen was diagnosed with PRA that the amount of time we had left to play was uncertain. It took me a really long time to get my head around it. Today was a perfect day in that Carmen could see and was the confident dog that has been a joy to work with. This summer, even in the moments when she was having trouble seeing, she tried SO hard to work with me. She is a dog with so much heart and I really appreciate not only having the time to play together that we did, but especially this day. Everything clicked for us and it was like having Carmie back, pre-PRA.
She is such a good girl and I love her so dearly. Each dog has an important lesson to teach us. I think Carmie having PRA was an important lesson for me - there are some things that must be accepted. I tend to always do-do-do and try to problem solve; I don't really take no for an answer. Well, PRA doesn't care. Its course cannot be changed, perhaps slowed, but that's about it. In addition, Carmen doesn't care that she has PRA. Due to the gradual progression of the disease she has and will continue to acclimate to her vision loss quite well. However, I need to understand and accept Carmen's limits.
I wish I could have had the lesson taught in a different manner, but that wasn't to be the case.
I will treasure this day with Carmie forever. The next two trials might be great or they might be busts, but it doesn't matter because we had today and it was wonderful.
5 days ago