OK, so I do a blog about my dogs.
Not about my life and some about my dogs - it's ALL about my dogs, and just occasionally and circumstantially a little about me. That alone is probably enough to qualify me as a "dog person," if not "crazy dog person".
Add to that the fact that I have found myself addicted to the strange yet wonderful world of canine performance events. Throughout my life I've enjoyed many forms of competition - I used to figure skate though my grade school years, then got into training and showing horses though high school and college. Then life got a little crazy with graduate school, professional school, and finally a career - many years with no time for anything that resembled a hobby. But still, it was only a matter of time before things settled down a little and I came across something new that fulfilled my competitive streak.
Then along came Brutus.
It all started when I signed up for a puppy class at the local Petsmart. I had a cute - albeit it slightly wild - puppy, and wanted to make sure he was properly socialized and had some basic manners. We luckily happened upon a great trainer who got us started (thanks Julie, we miss you!!). Thanks to her, I learned not only how to teach Brutus how to sit, down, and stay - but also how rewarding it could be to work with my crazy little bulldog. Watching him figure things out was fascinating to me, moreover it fostered a connection with Brute that has far outgrown anything I've never had with any other animal.
I couldn't get enough of working with my Frenchie. After graduating from the "advanced" course at PetSmart and passing our CGC with flying colors, I wanted to take it to the next level. Brutus is the kind of dog that needs a job (despite being a "non-sporting" breed), and I could see how the training helped him grow. I looked for things to teach him, and Brutus seemed to really enjoy learning.
One day I decided to teach Brutus to jump through a hoop (literally). He figured it out instantly, and LOVED to jump. Plus it was a great way to drain some of his boundless enregy. Bulldogs aren't supposed to be good at this sort of thing, but on a whim I signed up for an agility class at a nearby club. Little did I know...
To make what could be a REALLY long story as short as I can - here we are, not quite two years later. We got addicted to agility. Added in a little obedience along the way for good measure. I really enjoy the training, working to teach Brutus new skills to improve his runs, and to better my ability as a handler. I love the challenge of competing of with an "off-breed" dog. The excitement of going to a trial, deciphering & memorizing the course, figuring out how to best run it with my unusual partner. Anyone who has seen our photos or watched our videos can't help but seeing that Brutus loves agility too. I've been delighted to hear several people who have seen some of our recent runs describe them as "joyful".
In short, we have found our niche, and I daresay we aren't too bad at it! Here's a a couple short clips from our most recent trials, in case you haven't yet had a chance to see us run:
Brutus is by no means a "normal" Frenchie. Far from the pudgy couch potato that one might expect a bulldog to be, he's lean & oddly athletic, with energy and drive that only a handful of his breed exhibits. He might have a hard time making a good decision on his own, but put him to work & Brutus is amazing. Being "on the clock" allows him cope with situations that might send him into a frenzy if left to his own devices. I joke (but with a serious undertone) that if anyone else would have taken Brutus home as a pet, he would have ended up in rescue! He can be a handful, gleefully jumping up & down on your last nerve.... but that's just who he is!
We certainly have our own unique (not to mention unorthodox) style, but we're both having a blast, and that's what matters! Brutus has his job, and I have something I enjoy and can excel in. He's My teammate might not be the typical agility competitor, but I can't image running with any other kind of dog!
A friend of my recently shared this little excerpt, and it really struck a chord with me. Maybe you aren't really interested in all the agility, obedience, ect - and goodness knows that I can go on endlessly about it! But if you have a few more minutes to spare, please take the time to read the next few paragraphs, as they so eloquently describe why we do what we do. All the letters that follow Brutus' name might be a formal description of how far we've come, but as you'll see - they are so much more....
What is a Title?
Not just a brag, not just a stepping stone to a higher title, not just an adjunct to competitive scores. A Title is a tribute to the dog that bears it, a way to honor that dog, an ultimate memorial. It will remain in the record and in the memory for about as long as anything in this world can remain. Few humans will do as well or better in that regard, and though the dog himself doesn't know or care that his achievements have been noted, a Title says many things in the world of humans, where such things count.
A Title says your dog was intelligent, and adaptable, and good-natured. It says that your dog loved you enough to do the things that please you, however crazy they may have sometimes seemed. And a Title says that you loved your dog, that you loved to spend time with him because he was a good dog, and that you believed in him enough to give him yet another chance when he failed, and that in the end your faith was justified.
A Title proves that your dog inspired you to have the special relationship enjoyed by so few, that in the world of disposable creatures, this dog with a Title was greatly loved, and loved greatly in return. And when that dear short life is over, the Title remains as a memorial of the finest kind, the best you can give to a deserving friend, volumes of praise in one small set of initials before or after the name.
A Title is nothing less than love and respect, given and received, permanently recorded.
Written by Sandy Mowery, Wisconsin
So there you have it. It's not for everyone, in fact it might seem silly or pointless to some. The blog just adds one more layer to that "permanently recorded" concept - whether it's work or play that we post about. But we love what we do, and can't wait to get back out there and go at it again! See you soon with more updates on what adventures Team Brutus (and soon Team Carmen) embark upon next!!