Monday, September 20, 2010

State of the Schnauzer

This is going to be long, and emotional, and full of my flavor of crazy.

It's really demotivating to go to shows and trials full of stable, normal dogs.

It's extra demotivating when you decide it will be a good, low-key situation to bring your dog so he can experience a trial environment and in contrast to every other normal dog is a shrieking reactive mess that can't see another dog pooping fifty feet away without getting set off.

I just get so frustrated. Indoors he's practically attached to me, right now he's sprawled across me from knees to shoulders, and if I say his name he's right there looking up at me with utter adoration. But, get his nose past a doorway and he's just gone. The lights are on but there's nobody home.

It's so hard because there is nothing I want more than to run agility. I've been madly in love with this sport since I was eight and it's a huge part of why I got a dog in the first place. I'm not content with just a pet. I want to compete. I want to win. I want to train the nitty gritty technical skills that lead to HIT, Nationals, FCI World Agility Championship winning runs. I love dog training, it's the most fascinating thing I've ever done and I absolutely want to train dogs professionally some day, but I feel like such a sham when I can't get my dog to LOOK at me. And I hear stories about how other people took their messes-of-dogs and turned them around and are doing the things I want to be doing and I think why am I not there? No one knows dog training theory better than me. My mechanical skills are decent, but I could shape anything. I get dog training. I have a very high level of general competence; there isn't much I'm not sufficient at without much practice. I want so bad to be good at this. But my dog won't look at me.

And so, I want a puppy. I feel like if I can just read enough and think enough and watch enough, I can get a perfect puppy and do everything perfect and never hit any snags ever. And I know that's not how it works but if I just try harder I can make reality work as well as it does in my head. And then I get this paralyzing fear that if I mess up I'll end up feeling about that puppy the same way I do about Gatsby.

I like him the most when he's sleeping. When he's not trying to scratch through the screen door because the wind deigned to move a leaf, not when I'm picking him up because carrying him is better than making a scene that everyone thinks involves my dog trying to kill another dog with excitement, not even when we have an actual good day in class and he walks on a leash like normal dogs do. Just when his little warm body is curled up against mine and we aren't doing anything.


  1. Oh, I'm so sorry. It's so hard to have a reactive dog, and I agree: you read all the success stories, and wonder, "What am I doing wrong?" I wish I knew. I feel like I'm a decent-to-good trainer, and yet... I still have a nutcase of a dog sometimes.

  2. Sorry you're going through a rough time. I know you and Gatsby can go far together, just remember how much you love that damn dog. We always get the dog that we need.