Monday, November 29, 2010

Rage Fits.

"What a good dog that is!" I seem to hear this a lot when it comes to Darci. Yes, Darci is an awesome dog, but there is another side to her that most people don't seem to realize.

Darci, to put it simply, is not an easy dog to live with. She has to have several jobs to do on a daily basis just to keep her in a tolerable state. For example, she gets all of the food bowls when it's time for the dogs to eat, she takes empty bottles to the recycling bin, gets the mail, helps me with laundry and picks up her toys every day. This combined with atleast an hour or so of training each day is usually enough to keep her in a relatively dormant and happy state.

I try to keep her in this peaceful state as much as possible. Darci is naturally a very happy dog, so it isn't very difficult.

Unless something sets her off.

The one thing Darci hates more than anything else on the planet is when my parents dogs start barking. I haven't figured it out completely, but I think it is because she cannot make them stop and she knows their barking drives me nuts.

Yes, I understand dogs bark, but my parents have Welsh Corgis who think that barking is an essential part of survival and if they don't meet a certain quota of barking each day, they might explode.

If I am home during one of these outbursts, I can usually control Darci's reaction by reminding her to chew on her Kong and to get a grip. It is when I'm not home that the problem occurs.

If the other dogs start barking when I'm not home, it sends Darci into what I refer to as a rage fit. She will begin making high pitched screaming noises and drooling. This is followed almost immediately by the destruction of the first thing(s) she can get her jaws on. This includes, but is not limited to shoes, pants, jackets, pillows, dog beds, ceramic dog bowls, wire dog crates, even the comforter off of my bed. She will destroy whatever it is that she has locked in on.

There is no stopping her. She has become a whirling dervish of destruction.

Before you ask, crating her doesn't work. She will literally pull apart the crate from the inside. I have resided myself to either being home or taking Darci with me when I know the other dogs are going to start barking incessantly and hoping that perhaps one day she will grow out of it. Unlikely.

Friday, November 19, 2010

It makes sense to go to California.

I don't talk about the Invitational much, so here you go. This is what it means to me.

To most people, this piece of paper probably doesn't mean anything. It is obvious that it is some sort of accomplishment, but no one ever thinks about what it truely represents.

For me, this piece of 5x8 card stock represents a large part of my life. It represents hundreds of hours of training, traveling and competing. Most importantly, it represents the outstanding team that my dog and I have become.

A little bit of background on Darci. (CH Bilgay's Rock the Casbah CD RE MX MXJ MXF, as the certificate refers to her.) Darci is three and a half years old. From the moment I met her, which was about 30 minutes after she was born, I had this feeling that there was something special about her. I went to visit her almost every single day from the time she was born until the day she came home with me.

I think I should mention that the breeders tried to talk me into another puppy. "She is too small.", they said. "She won't carry enough coat for the show ring.", they said. "To hell with it.", is what I said. At four weeks old, Darci would stare me right in the eye and play tug with me. Almost as if she was challenging me. Asking me "Are you sure you can handle this?" Yes, I was sure.

Darci came into my life at a point where I needed her the most. I won't get into the details, but I truely believe she understands just how important to me she really is. I have never had a bond with a dog they way I do with her.

My escape from reality when Darci was a puppy was to go out and train. All the time. She loved it. Every single moment of it, she would never get bored or tired. True to Darci form, at nine months and two days old, the smallest puppy without enough coat finished her breed championship. With three majors, two best of breeds and a pull in the group ring, no less. Every time I showed her in the breed ring, it always felt like she was showing me. Saying to all the other dogs "Look at MY mom! I bet you wish your mom was this great." We adore each other.

After we had gotten that confirmation stuff behind us, Darci and I tackled obedience. It is still an ongoing process, but at a year and a half old, she had already earned her RN, RA, RE and CD titles. (She is working on Open and Utility now.)

So at twenty months old, I entered Darci in her first agility trial. It was clear to me the first time I stepped into the ring with her that our journey together in the world of agility would be very different from any other that I had taken before.

At two and a half years old, Darci broke into the top 5 for Belgian Tervurens in agility. She moved up to #3 before she even had her Master Standard title. I am still amazed that, at three years old, she ended up as #1 for the Invitational season by over 300 points. Needless to say, the day that certificate came in the mail, I went out and bought a frame and hung that sucker on the wall.

It has been a road of ups and downs that led us to this point. (Including Darci having a severe seizure in May, where for a brief moment, I thought I might lose her. To this day, we still do not know the cause.) I am so grateful for the opportunity to go and compete at this huge event, I really and truely am. Most of all, though, I am grateful for the opportunity to go and play my favorite game with my dog and let others know just how special I really think she is.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How to train your Waffle.

Every Thursday my alarm clock goes off at 6:45 a.m. To me, this is basically a crime against nature. Especially considering I have no real concept of time any more and sleep at weird hours. I am blasted awake to the sounds of "The Good Life" by Weezer and as soon as I reach for my glasses, all I can think about is hitting snooze.

However, I do not have that option. Once those first few notes start blarring, the dogs are awake and ready to face the new day. As I stumble through the house looking for a clean pair of socks, they all bounce around me happily, mocking me with their never ending supply of energy.

Once I have become slightly more coherent, I put Darci in the car and we head for the training field. It is our Thursday ritual. Opressive heat, freezing cold, it doesn't matter. This is mommy and me time for the Waffle.

Don't get me wrong, I practice almost every day, just not first thing in the morning.

Darci is brilliant. I don't think I've mentioned that yet, but she is. I have never known a Terv quite like her. She never wants to quit and always gives me 110%...x2....+1. This morning was a particularly good session for us.

For some reason she seems to like our morning training sessions better than any others. Perhaps it is because it's just her and I. Perhaps it is because she hasn't expended much energy being a whirling dervish of destruction yet. Who knows. All I know is that I am constantly amazed by what I am able to teach this dog of mine. She has helped me grow so much as a trainer. (Darci is the first dog I have ever trained on my own with no classes. With the exception of two private lessons with Stuart.)

So here's to you, Thursday morning 7:30 a.m. training. Thank you for making bonding time with my dog as awesome as possible... And to the good people of Starbucks who make sure I am fully awake by the time I get to the field and that Darci has had her morning biscuit.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dog Days Are Over

"Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father. Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers. Leave all your love and your longing behind. You can't carry it with you if you want to survive."

That is my thought for the day. It is a line from the song Dog Days Are Over by Florence and the Machine. Check it out. It's good stuff.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

To-Do List.

Every week on Monday morning, I sit down at the kitchen counter and make a To-Do list for the week. I always foolishly think this will help me get things done. I don't know why I think that. I fail at it every single week.

Here is the progression of a normal week for me.

Monday morning I wake up feeling like I'm ready to take on the world. I get out my notepad and pen, sit down at the kitchen counter with my lean pocket and cherry coke zero and make a list of all the things I need to accomplish that week.

These things usually range from cleaning the bathroom, grooming the dogs, cleaning out my car, finding a job and so on.

Driven by my Monday morning motivation, I start to tackle the fairly basic tasks on the list. This Monday, for example, two of the top things on my list were 'go to the bank' and 'bake muffins'. You better believe those were some sweet muffins I made, but not as sweet as the overwhelming sense of accomplishment I got out of crossing it off my list.

Feeling proud of myself for completing three or four of my list items, I happily bounce out the door around 8:00 p.m. to go bowling. It is a Monday night ritual. They also have $1.25 games on Mondays. After bowling, my friends and I proceed to one of our favorite bars to sing karaoke until it is technically Tuesday. I get home, go to bed and sleep like a champ.

Then I wake up the next day. Well, ok, technically it is the same day as when I went to bed. Either way, I wake up substantially later than I did on Monday morning and I am usually rendered useless to the world until sometime that afternoon. I stumble around the house, thinking of what I should be doing. I then decide that I will sit down in front of my computer for just a few minutes while I still try to become a functioning member of society.

Bad idea.

The next thing I know, it is 5:00 p.m. and I have to go teach my agility classes. By the time I get home, I am completely exhausted and usually end up veggitating infront of my computer until I pass out.

Now it is Wednesday morning. I feel aweful for doing NOTHING on Tuesday. Ok, I taught for 3 hours and made some money. Big deal. Teaching wasn't on my list. I don't get to cross that one off. This is when I start to feel like the week is running out and I will never achieve my goal of marking off everything on the list. I try to rush through things all half assed and then don't even mark them off because deep down I can hear myself saying "you know that is bullshit."

By the time Thursday arrives, I have given up completely. I revert to going out in the yard and playing with my dogs until it is time for me to go teach.

When I wake up on Friday, I tell myself, "Next week. I'll get it done next week." It is a vicious cycle.

I think perhaps I should start making the list shorter. I think if I could, just once, mark everything off of my list, that it would give me the boost of confidence I need to continue to be responsible. Maybe.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why I fail at relationships; a comprehensive equation.

The Beginning of the End

So I finally broke down and created a blog. I have been playing with the idea for a while, actually. I have several great ideas for posts, shitty drawings to go with them, the whole nine yards. This biggest problem I have faced, however, is a topic for the very first post.

Do I just jump in with some random story about a recent life event? Do I make some grand effort to introduce myself and make myself appear super interesting? So many options, such a small attention span...

I have decided to give you a vague overview of myself and what to expect from my blog.

Hi, I'm Lauren. I have these dogs, they're pretty rad. I have some friends, they're not too bad either. I like dinosaurs and robots and loud music.

There you go. Any questions? As for future posts, I really do have some good stories, I promise...