Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why we do what we do

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!!


Barbara said...

Oh, that picture of him flying is precious! I think it's wonderful the time you devote to Brutus and the sport.

Two French Bulldogs said...

Oh Brutus and Carmen (& now momma) we love visiting your blog. All mom does is ooh Ooooo, oh look...we had a neighbor in here looking!! Nutty. We are right here. But no, she is drooling over you two. Okay we have to admit, we are very proud of you Mr. Brutus. You perform like a natural. Mom tried Lily at agility but she shook and threw up, BOL. So heres to ya!! We are proud to be your friends across the miles.
Benny & Lily

houndstooth said...

I am not big into agility, but I still understand where you're coming from after finding our own niche! I think it's a fun and comfortable feeling, really. Brutus seems to be made for big things, and there's nothing wrong with that!

Unknown said...

I am glad you are a crazy dog person too, just like so many of us are! :p

And I am sure Brutus is glad you are a crazy dog person that participates in performance events!

You guys really do great out there and have fun with it to boot! :-)

Dog Foster Mom said...

Wow I am so impressed with the video of you and Brutus on the agility course. I tried agility with my foster dog Ziggy, and he did really well, but I quickly learned how challenging it can be for both the dog AND handler. We might try another beginner class in the spring - you inspire me. :-)

Oreo said...

We love to visit and watch too. Brutus is too cute whether he is running or jumping, you are quite the guy Brutus!! Looks like Carmen is following in your paw-steps!!


Molly the Airedale said...

We are so very proud of you, Brutus! You are an amazing little guy!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

Rocky Creek Scotties and Rocky Creek Ramblings said...

Our first thought was "where does time go - have we known you for 2 years?" - and yes we have - soon we will both reach our two year blogiversary.

We so commend the work you do on this. Our Mom could sure take some lessons from your Mom.

Lilly, Piper, Carrleigh and Ruairi

Frankie Furter and Ernie said...

I have loved getting to know Brutus and Mason and now Carmen. I just hope that they aren't too busy being agility stars to... enter the FUN in Mango Minster 2011
which will be starting sooooooon. I'm thinkin the OHIO crew can TAKE DOWN the competition. If you join in there should be four groups of us... GO BUCKEYES... and this time that does not mean OSU. hehehe

Anonymous said...

YEESH! My mom actually got leaky reading this. As for me, I think the thing I luv most abouts your bloggie is the luv and trust that you and Brutus have for each other. And you share it with the whole wide world through agilities. And that's just a super marvelous, special thing.

My mom and me don't know if I'll ever get to compete in an actual contest cuz new places kinda freak me out. But we luv going to training classes and learning new stuffs and talking to each other in our very own language that only the two of us know.

Oh and I was happy to see your Buckeyes win!

Wiggles & Wags,

Brutus, Ellie, Pippa and Otto said...

We just love visiting your blog. Those pics of Brutus doing his agility are just priceless. You can just see the smile on his face and the concentration in his eyes :)

People think our mom is crazy when she tells them that we have a blog, but she says she wouldn't have it any other way! Hard to believe we haven't been blogging for two years but we have made so many furiends by blogging!!

Pugs & Kisses,

Yoda, Brutus & Ellie

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ said...

It is so obvious that you and Brutus ARE a team - and that you both love what you do. And of course, we love watching you do it.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

Lucy-Fur, as typed by Dr. Liz said...

We all think it's awesome what you and Brutus and Carmen do! And we definitely understand the competition thing (ski racing, car racing, cycling, etc., etc.)! We can't wait to read more of the exploits of the amazingly athletic 'bowling balls'! :-)

-Fiona and Family

PoochesForPeace said...

Thanks for sharing <3
It's great to have this world wide community of dog-lovers permanently recorded in blogworld as well!

Golden Samantha said...

Brutus - you are amazing! We had no idea that you had such the jones for agility! I, Sammie, am working towards my Open obedience title and have one leg - we hope to finish up the CDX by late Spring! It is fun and there's no doubt that doing things with one's dog that makes them think a bit, no matter what it is, leads to a great bond! Awesome!
Hugs xoxo
Sammie and Avalon

Kathie R said...

Michelle, I love reading your blog! I also compete with an 'off-breed' dog in obedience, so I really enjoy reading about your training and trials - and can relate to "What is a Title."

Anonymous said...

Team Brutus, thanks for the motivation to give agility a try! You guys are great!

Wags and woofs,
Bella the Boxer

Baby Rocket Dog and Hootie said...

We are SOoooo glad that you have a permanent record for Brutus, Carmen and you Michelle! Everytime we watch one of Brutus' videos we are thrilled and filled with joy too. Sheer joy! Thanks for sharing his adventures with us.
Smooches from pooches,
BabyRocketDog & Hootie (& Cassie)

Bunta the Frenchie said...

OMD! You are such a great Frenchie, Brutus!