Susan Lindstedt frequently has some of the best blunt quotations concerning dog trialing, livestock work and people in general. She has a way of summing the situation up in terms that capture the less pretty side of trialing; the shittier grittier stages of dog handling and becoming a handler. One of my favorites she delivered to another good friend of mine who, after a particularly shitty run last year was considering pulling her dog from the rest of the trial.
"Bullshit!" Susan said, "You need to get your butt out there and suck like the rest of us!"
I've probably posted that before because I like it so much. Now it really resounds. I'm going to make myself a t-shirt because I'm too big of a coward to get it tattooed on my ass where it belongs.
This last weekend Pat and I were entered in our first of the Summer Series of Suck, appropriately enough – Wessel's Dirt Blowing. We entered in ProNovice, where his talent and experience as Dianne's retired open dog lands us.
There is no Shriner's Trial, or we would have started there.
Wessel's is our second field trial, I think, and it went definitely WORSE than our first, so …we're SEEMINGLY going backwards. I'm not sure what our next stage might be, unless it involves me bursting into flames from the friction of my shrill whistling and then extinguishing myself with my own emotional body fluids while Pat humps the legs of the innocent.
We'll see. Yes we will. Because I TRUST what Susan says is true even if it is painful to KNOW.
I don't care how many times you hear someone tell you that in the beginning everyone sucked (except Derek Fisher, apparently. He never sucked. He actually went STRAIGHT from the birth canal to the post and, though his whistles were not PERFECT at first…his run was; as was his hair and little outfit. It's all in his baby book. Or so I imagine.) how bad and wrong things go for EVERYONE (who isn't Derek) starting out, the individual mortification of a really bad run feels uniquely your own. It feels pretty simply your experience; your precedent setting ghastly handling, when its you standing up there, alone, sucking like you ALMOST have to MEAN it to be that bad.
You are the Nails on the Chalkboard of Trialing.
Everyone is averting their eyes as you whistle or scream seconds or minutes too late….insistently shrewishly WRONG…until finally you just stand there and watch in horror as the sheep have missed, at top speed, every obstacle and now its just closer and easier to exhaust them because then you can start drinking.
Everyone is relieved, though no one will make eye contact.
Except P*trick, who does the one perfect thing: Walks over to exhaust and hands you a beer. A few words, a shrug….a 16 ounce Chelada,
"It wasn't THAT bad. He listened to you."
P*trick is the Anti-Susan. Softer gentler side, find the positive. They are both right, both necessary, and both offer words to cling to.
The beer was a really nice touch.