06 June 2012
The thing about Attitudes.
It is not very easy to hurt my feelings these days. I have a very thick, leathery exterior from years of working outdoors, exposed to the elements. My feelings live deep underneath many rough layers, and if you are lucky enough to somehow have penetrated that hide, the kind of hide that most hand lotions don't even work on no matter what Gwyneth Paltrow suggests in her kind vegan voice and that is probably due for some work by Hollywood's least shaky handed plastic surgeon if I wasn't freaked out by doctors and scars, then you are probably someone I respect very much.
When I started out doing agility, I was a tongue tied, stumbling, flopping fish out of water. I couldn't even begin wrap my brain around the footwear issue. I parked in the wrong spot and couldn't figure out rear cross. I was the only one who couldn't do the gamble and didn't have room to set up practice weave poles at home. My dog would charge after motorcycles and skateboarders and pretty much anyone or anything that was moving fast. I followed instructions with the same mental acuity of a drug addled hamster and I didn't want to wear one of those little pouches that clips on to your waistband for easy access to dog treats because it made my ass look big.
Basically, I was not someone that anyone would think of as Promising Future Agility Star Who Should Be Encouraged.
I didn't fit in, and I wasn't any good. This was a whole wide new world and I felt like I had just fallen into some kind of rabbit hole where everyone had pants with zip off legs and a mini van filled up with complicated arrangements of cages for dogs.
I don't even know why I stuck with it. This is something that baffles me to this day. I guess there were a lot of reasons. I wanted to get good at something. I wanted my life to go somewhere different. My dog went all cuckoo for it. Fast running. It was a bubble out of ordinariness. Pig headedness. Control issues. A suppressed desire to wear polar fleece clothing.
My skin wasn't quite so thick back then. It was easy for anyone to give me one of those looks where you're all, Crap I Just Did Something Horribly Wrong But I'm Not Even Sure What it Is Because I am in This Rabbit Hole Where Everyone Has Really Bad Hair. You know those looks. Withering. Quizzical. Judgmental. Accusatory.
I got those looks. People give 'em with a roll of the eyeball. I probably still get them but the thick skin thing makes me teflon immune. People can say shit they sometimes wish they didn't. Me included. I can be a real asshole. Sometimes my mouth opens and things fall out that I'm not proud of. Splat. Out it comes. But this happens less. And less. When you're trying to learn how to do something, an ear full of asshole isn't helpful. Or those backhanded, sideways, sidewinders of passive aggressiveness, that sidle out of some people's mouths real smooth. I try to stay teflon immune to shitty words, and try hard to never let them pass through my brain and out my mouth and into someone else's head.
It's easy to be nice to dogs, harder to be nice to people. I look for people who can do both and go stand near them. Not like a lurpy creeper, but because I found my people. The way good people treat their dogs at agility, hell, maybe how we should treat everybody. Except for picking up their poop in plastic bags. Or screaming, "LIE DOWN!"
If you can be compassionate to dogs, I bet you can be compassionate to people too.
A lot of good people along the way said a kind word or helped me learn to be a better dog trainer and a better handler. Maybe they just gave me a smile and kept their mouth shut at the right time. They've shown me you can be a hardcore competitor and have excellent sportsmanship and just be a cool person all at the same time. Some of them have helped me over and over again and become good friends. Boy am I lucky to have them in my life. I may still be tongue tied, stumbling, and flopping but I am less a fish out of water these days. I don't have a mini van or wear spandex yoga pants with a tie dye dog shirt, but I do have lots of sneakers with sturdy treads and shorts with many, many pockets. I still am not a Promising Future Agility Star Who Should Be Encouraged, except I get a lot of encouragement because I hang out with a good set of people and their good dogs.
It's all in the attitudes. Mine and yours. Life is too short to be an asshole or to let one under your skin.
Many blog posts today by all kinds of dog agility bloggers with all kinds of attitudes in honor of dog agility blog action day. Read 'em here.
by team small dog at 5:26 AM