Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Downward dogdom

After a long struggle to make it work, I've had to yield to the realities of our/my home life, work schedule, and training limitations. I couldn't make it work with Shrike at home. He's utterly sweet, but utterly jacked, and I wasn't able to sufficiently shape his drives to manage him at home (or on the field). We moved past the long period when he was a source of domestic contention, and the solution worked relatively well: he was kenneled outside or inside when I wasn't home; kids/Annie would interact minimally with him, letting him in/out, feeding him, small social interactions. But he's so strong and wild that they were (rightly) uncomfortable with him, and, because I wasn't home to handle him when I wasn't home, there was no way to truly solidify their hierarchy when I wasn't there.

Even when I'm home, he would get so twitchy that simple living time was futile. When we go to the park to play & train, most every day I'd sustain some form of minor, albeit painful, injury: bruised knees and ribs, torn fingers, smashed jaw. He is as loving a Mal as I've seen, and doesn't blow me off out of spite or headstrongness: he simply blows a mental gasket. It certainly hasn't helped to be able to train only intermittently, so that when we do get out w/ other people, his enthusiasm runneth FAR over.

I am so grateful for all of Michael's help, encouragement, wisdom, support, friendship. It pains me deeply to give up, yet I look at Shrike and know that he'll NEVER be a dog to hang out around the house with us, that the kids will NEVER be able to walk him or play with him w/o legit fear of getting hurt... Too, I then worry that he might get a hair across his ass one day when I'm on shift, and the consequences for the family who don't know how to read him would be unbearable for me.

Michael will be training him now, and likely solving many of the problems that I was unable to. It feels like failure to me, but I've tried to be realistic about my training abilities as well as my work/life/family situation. It hurts, and frustrates, but that's life. I really hope to see Michael and Shrike competing... He's been a crowd favorite EVERY time we stepped on the field.

Too, my threshold for the assholes, nutjobs, monomaniacal freaks, deluded halfwits, and emotional basket cases who comprise the thick, doughy middle of dogsports is far surpassed. I hate spending time with people who don't listen, who are paranoid and deluded, mean-spirited and petty (we get oodles of that at work). People who don't actually understand what it takes to train their dogs, from the dog's perspective, the trainer's, the decoy's, yet who badmouth others and gripe about everyone else's shortcomings and blame everyone but themselves. People who will never set foot on a trial field but kill the air of cyberspace with inane, poisonous rantings and interweb conspiracies. Good people, too, who love their dogs too much to see the dogs will never make it--that's so much time, energy, emotion, and money squandered, in minor-scale egocentric obsession.

I came back to decoying after breaking my leg. The ankle remains gimpy but I've done all right. I'm not young and the wear-tear on the body add up. To be really good requires dedication, hours of training, skill, and time. My ego and spirit like doing it, but when I'm getting beat up, or traveling far, and the dogs, the trainers, the judges, are trapped in their own basement of delusion and control, and undermining the better-nature of the sport, it's not worth it. Younger guys are motivated to do it. My shoulder injury last fall hasn't healed well enough to be free of worry, and that's a large factor against competing: don't do it if you're worried about what might happen. That's how injuries happen, too.

I love and am deeply grateful for all the people I've met, especially the small rare band of good people with clear minds and generous hearts. I've enjoyed time across the country with a range of good people putting forth big efforts to make something happen. That is great. I've learned a great deal. In many respects, dog training eased me through some hard straits of marriage (which is likely the opposite for most couples...) These things have been instrumental for me in the past seven years.

I can walk away from the bullshit and the nonsense and the crazed control freaks who threaten to ruin the dogsports with their ceaseless raving misconception that they are alpha-omega of the sport, even if their training sucks and their lack of generosity when it matters eclipses all their hard work and genuine dedication. I can walk away from the fucktards who don't know or do shit but blather on the internet, though their toxic spew is a real-life hazard for other people. I can gladly dismiss the shitty bitter folks. Fuck 'em.

My problem was, I just want a dog to do stuff with. Shrike is an awesome dog but too drivey for me to handle. Keeping him as a pet dog would have driven him/us mad. I want the girls to grow up with a dog they can help train, hang out with (w/o fear of getting obliterated every time they pet him), walk, do all that stuff. I was making a stretch to do it w/ a Mal, and I learned so very much through my time w/ Shrike.

Someone was needling me recently about spending so much time cycling rather than training. At least when I'm a sucky biker, I'm out there amid other sucky bikers who're working our collective sucky asses off to achieve something. There will be no internet sniping from the safety of your slovenly suburban compound: show up, ride your bike, (have fun), and shut the fuck up. I wish I could spend more time training dogs with good friends, but Oakland, Menomonie, Appleton, Boston, White Rock are far, far away.

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