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Friday, July 27, 2012

Dog Class & the Great Melt-Down

Dog classes tend to bring out the worst in me! Guilt, tension, performance anxiety, guilt. Did I mention the guilt. But they DO matter! They are important! These latest ones are NOT my first rodeo, by any stretch of the imagination.

Let me back up a bit here.

Ladies, did you ever have one of those days where you are little "weepy?' (I'd like to assume that men have days like these, but they suck it up better than I certainly do.) Those lovely days where it seems like your hormones are in wacko, weep-er-ella mode. Because let's face it, ladies, we ALWAYS blame our emotions on hormones these days. (Insert winking emoticon here.)

Seeing as I am spayed and beyond the PMS years, I supposed I could blame my emotional state on Menopause. The Change as it is euphemistically known is not for sissies. "Yeah, I'm changing all right," you growl, "My bullshit-o-meter is in the red! How's THAT for change, m----r-f-----r!"

It has also made me at times emotionally fragile, insecure and very depressed. This charming trifecta seems to leave my poor Spousal Unit somewhat befuddled or saying stuff like, "YOU'RE depressed? Look at ME! Now I'VE got reasons to be depressed!" My darling Marine sometimes acts as though emotions are the "Hoo-rah" equivalent of struggling up a hill with a 60 pound pack on your back in the pouring rain. "My feet hurt worse than yours and my pack is heavier."

"It's not the Who Feels Sh*ttier Competition!" And then the guilt sinks in. I feel bad that I feel bad.

One of the "good" things I guess (the jury is still out on that one) is I'm writing more. My typing hasn't improved. I'm still a bit grammar-challenged at times. I write in short spurts; I don't think there's a novel lurking way down inside of me. I have cousins who do that sort of thing. and

I tend to think in moments in time, not sweeping vistas covering days, weeks, years. I've been published in print which is very exciting! I tend to think sentimentally. I am very sentimental. I get weepy at movies, TV shows, reading stories, blogs etc. I got a little teary seeing the squished, cartoon-flat squirrel on my bike ride Tuesday. I'm a softy with a fairly good front.

But I digress as usual.

This past Monday was one of Those Days. I woke up emotionally charged. I was nervous about Elke taking her Canine Good Citizen test that night. For reasons I don't understand I started blogging about Jesse, Winger and how they conspired to bring Artie into our lives. Maybe because I need to pick a birthday for Artie and I think he was born soon after Jesse died.
It's fictional, of course, but I do wonder if there might be a spattering of inspired Truth somewhere in there. After hours of emotional writing, I had whipped myself in a bawling mess of tightly strung Me!

We get to class at L'Chaim Canine ( and by now I'm a semi-controlled mess. I'm nervous and my Spousal Unit is patiently forbearing. Elke and Artie know where we were going and started whining in the car. All I can think is Artie might very well pass but Elke is going to have a really hard time. She is anxious already! What a great combo we four are.

Guess what? The test isn't until NEXT week! Well, shoot, I've lathered myself into a frenzy for nothing. I feel the adrenaline beginning to drain out of me as we walk into the class room. There is a new person there, a nice fellow. Artie does bark, but he's giving wiggling happy signals. Elke on the other hand, goes into total freak mode. She is in the corner of the room, growling and shrieking! Poor Clark, our other doggy classmate, a lovely Bull Mastiff has this "What the....who the....huh the....Duh?" expression on his big black mug. The guy, who is really nice, must wonder what in the world he's gotten himself into now. I'm sure being a friend of Jen's he's used to Doggy Nutsville. Artie is starting to get upset because Elke is upset. I'm starting to gt upset and pissed that Artie is turning into a little jerk and I'm starting to yell at him, a big no-no in Positive Training. The whole thing is turning into a Mulligan Stew of semi-pandemonium. I am devastated!

Mary Ann, an instructor-in-training takes me outside. "Let's work Artie on his meet-and-greets," she says cheerfully. That goes fairly well but I am starting to get really anxious and teary eyed. I'm trying to suck it up and I just can't. Suddenly visions of struggling dog classes at the Humane Society dance in my head. I abysmally failed those dogs, which is why I don't go any more. The dogs I got never seemed to like me at all or they were indifferent to me. Wow, that's was a real ego buster. I can't even help a shelter dog. I really do suck.

I can't seem to take the pressure and now performance anxiety has kicked into high gear. I'm a sucky dog owner, a sucky dog volunteer. Who am I kidding? What was I thinking?

Now the guilt hammers in. I've made my husband take me to these damn classes and it's all for naught. He's pissed at me because he doesn't want to be there and I can't blame him. I'm interfering with his biking. I hate not being able to drive. I hate missing out on stuff I want to do because I don't drive. The whole thing sucks! This all happens in a matter of seconds, as I'm hearing a muted Elke voice from the inside of the training room, shrilly barking.

My little girl dog, what IS wrong with her? What did we do to her? My sweet little dog is being an absolute a**hole! Her head is so far up her butt, it's never coming out. I crack, physically and emotionally. My body folds to the ground and I start crying. Artie is confused.

Thank heavens for Mary Ann and then Kelsey, another instructor. Between the two of them, they managed to get me calmed down. They both seemed to understand that I needed a back pat, must be the dog training thing! The guilt was still there. It's there now, at this moment. Between Jen, Mary Ann and Kelsey, we did finish class. I felt bad for Clark and his owner. I'm sure she couldn't wait to get the heck out of Dodge!

I get that dog classes are a process. I vaguely recall this from the dim days of classes with Pat Piazza almost 2 decades ago. I need to recollect that Hart, my first cattledog, failed beginners twice. I am not a "natural" trainer. Clicking and treating is a co-ordination thing that I have yet to master. I'm still on the fence as to its efficacy. I believe that my Spousal Unit also doesn't see it as "All Positive" either. It does go against Marine Corps Policy.

But I do believe that dog classes are very important and these "Positive" folks are the best in town. You expect your kids to get an education so they go to school and graduate. Why not your dogs? I tend to think of my Dogs Past in their older years, when they were really good, well-behaved dogs. Jesse Ann passed her CGC test easily, even putting up with a very rude Golden who got in her face. True was a breeze too, but he had been a big time show dog. I forget that Winger was terrified of men when we got him but he did pass his test in Canada. But all that was at least 11 and more years ago.

I guess I have to view next week's class, which is when they're actually giving the test, as a training exercise. It's all training. It's continuing education. I wish I could get over all the guilt.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Mia! I wish I was closer so I could help. :( I know sometimes it's rough but remember, we've all been there. I remember those days of Greyson being so flipped out by all the stimuli of being in a room with 8 other dogs that all he did was backflips at the end of his leash. Remember, dear, breath!