Small Miracles are All Around Us

Walking to training class today, I was thinking to myself about how Darcy was never going to graduate.  And how it’s a huge bummer because she is very good at home.  She listens like… maybe 70% of the time and she’s great at her commands.  But she won’t perform in class and they’re never going to believe me when I tell them she  listens.

However, when we got to class, a miracle happened.  Darcy sat on command.  She listened to her name.  She laid down while I stood up (since clearly we both had to lay down for learning purposes.) She stayed.  She attempted to heel.

Today – my little dog GRADUATED OBEDIENCE 1!!!

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When the instructor made the announcement I said “Stop! Are you serious?!  I never thought we would graduate!”  Demonstrating strong confidence in my dog’s abilities.

Mutual thrill level

Mutual thrill level

As a reward we bought a duck foot treat.  She didn’t put it down the whole walk home.

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Therapy Dog Certification – we’re so close!! Just a lot of more steps to go!

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The Queen of Mediocrity

One of the beauties of not having a job is being available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to tune into breaking news stories and the announcements of jury verdicts.  Ten minutes ago, Ex-Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez was found guilty of 1st-degree murder and unlawful possession of firearms for shooting up a guy he was mad at, execution style, outside of a nightclub in 2013.  Such a verdict results in an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.  My facts may be slightly skewed, but just before the murder happened, 23 year old Aaron Hernandez signed a 7 year, almost $40 million dollar contract to become the future face of the New England Patriots.  You have to be extremely talented to be offered a contract as such from such a prestigious organization.  Extremely talented at a skill that many others do not have.

Pondering the way Aaron Hernandez has thrown his future of success and fame away because it was more important to be a thug got me thinking about my talents.  Or lack there of for that matter.  I am not good at anything.  I always wanted to be the best at something or stand out in some way – but I’m pretty much the mold of average.  So I thought I’d make a list of all the ways in which I am the Queen of Mediocrity…

Darcy: When I was looking to adopt a dog, I searched solely among the handicapped ones.  I wanted to help someone and I wanted a dog that no one else wanted.  Darcy had been thrown away in a dumpster as a baby due to a birth defect which left her without back paws.   She was the ideal candidate – she was small, precious and I was afraid a dog in a wheel chair would struggle with the stairs in my apartment.  I adopted Darcy when she was 7 months old and was prepared to teach her how to walk and live and survive the elements.  I thought it would be us against the rest of man-kind, conquering her handicap as we conquered the world.  And I was wrong.  My foot-less dog is just like every other dog.  She runs and plays and jumps and sits.  No one is going to follow her Instagram to see her acting normal.  She has trouble sometimes and doesn’t really use one leg – but it’s there!  I debate getting it amputated sometimes but I don’t think the conversation with the vet would go over well.  “Will you please remove my dog’s half leg?  I don’t think she needs it and I want to get her more followers on Instagram.” Only the Queen of Mediocrity would adopt a dog who wasn’t handicapped enough…

Academia: I was never bad at school.  I was also never good at school. I was just smack dab in the middle.  This meant that no one was impressed by you but they weren’t worried about you either.  So you just kind of fall into the mode.  In high school you do all the normal classes and get out.  Then they suggest you go to the mediocre colleges in the general area.  So you do.  And while you’re there you have a mediocre college experience – I loved college, don’t get me wrong, but we never had a football team win the SEC Championship, people didn’t envy my relationship with the most amazing co-ed on campus, teachers didn’t pull me out of class to say I think you would be great for this internship or say you’re failing – let’s have an affair and get you back up to a C.  I graduated like everyone else – no extra tassels but on time.  Every so often I think about going back but considering I can’t figure out what I would excel in I don’t see the point.  This even follows me now.  I can read – but not that well.  Math – I can’t really count past ten, but I’m a wizard on a calculator. I can’t really remember things that I did learn.  Science is a blur, history is hard to keep straight, grammar – you can decide for yourself.  Only the Queen of Mediocrity would start a blog but forget the rules of comma placement…

Career: I feel like the people who were straight A students and the people who seem like they were born with half a brain are the ones who are the most successful.  Companies scramble to sign the best students before they’ve finished their junior year.  People who couldn’t pass a class end up as inspirational speakers or the founder of Apple.  All of my post college full time jobs have been mediocre.  I’ve never loved any of them and only moved on when I was too miserable to move.  But now that I’m back in the job hunt I can tell you that no matter what job is posted, you are either over or under qualified for all of them.  Either I have too much experience, not enough experience, too much or too little education.  I want to know how Bill Gates became employed, let alone wealthier than a small continent, without a college degree.  I’m not mad, but I graduated – I did mediocre – and I don’t have a job… Maybe it comes down to what you want to do.  I performed fine at my last job but was bored as hell.  I worked for a boring company with boring people doing boring things making a boring amount of money.  Only the Queen of Mediocrity would choose being bored at home than bored being paid…

Athletics: My brothers are star baseball players.  So much of my childhood revolved around watching my brothers play, going to pitching clinics, tossing baseballs in the driveway.  So obviously I must be athletic, right?  Wrong.  Once, when I played softball in elementary school, they added me as a 10th position in the outfield because they needed me to help with backup (I think it was the other way around) and they told me that they needed me to bat 9th because they needed a strong hitter at the end of the line up.  I can remember standing up there and thinking “four pitches – if she throws four bad pitches I can get on base…”  I also remember I hated running the bases because if someone was behind me I felt like they were chasing me.  I tried field hockey in high school but hated running and didn’t understand the concept of positions.  I actually loved the game itself  but I was terrible.  Wherever the ball went, I went – I would cut off people on my own team to get to the ball.  Did I ever score a goal?  Of course not – but I took the ball away from the girls who could have until I ran out of breath!  Once I went to basketball tryouts and when they asked me to shoot a layup I asked what that meant.  I have the lowest average on my bowling team.  I like to run 5Ks now.  Mainly because they’re for charity so I feel like I’m doing a good thing.  I always finish just under 40 minutes – pretty much right in the middle of all of the other runners.  Only the Queen of Mediocrity would pay for a race she had no intention of winning…

Relationships: I’ve had three boyfriends.  All relationships were pretty normal.  Of course at the time they were the be all end all of my world whether it was a good or bad day.  My high school boyfriend was pretty standard.  Proms, making out in cars, jealous fights, graduation parties, breaking up for college.  There’s a strong chance he’s gay now but that’s another story.  My college boyfriend was really nice.  My family loved him.  I thought he was boring.  We broke up for real life.  My after college boyfriend was awful but he was attractive and fun.  He was the always striving for perfection only to be let down type.  Maybe we didn’t work out because I was mediocre.  I always thought it was his anger/cheating issues, but what do I know.  He has a blog right now too – apparently it’s about walking the Appalachian trail.  We both left our jobs on the same day and started blogs – maybe his is inspirational, but I got to go to Phillies Opening Day and am not writing from a squirrel infested tent and suffering from malaria.  At least that’s what I like to think he’s doing.  Anyway – back on point.  I am attracted to normal guys and then we get into normal relationships and something about the timing has always broken us up.  Only the Queen of Mediocrity would still be single because the nice one who everyone liked was “too boring”…

Sports:  I love baseball and football.  When I couldn’t play anything, I watched.  I’ve been in fantasy football leagues for five years, adding a league on each year.  My calculator says that means I’ve had 15 fantasy football teams.  I have never won.  I’ve gone to the championship a couple of times, but never won.  I am a die hard New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Phillies fan.  I’m fortunate to have seen both of them win championships, but sad to say that they have both embarked upon steady organizational declines ever since.  In fact, the Phillies won the 2008 World Series and the Saints won the 2009 Superbowl.  There is a really good chance that Who Dat and Phillies Nation and I have already peaked. Regardless, I still want to be in the know about current events in the sports world and how they relate to previous seasons, etc… It is something I would say I am passionate about, but even when I think I know more than everyone around me, I’m either confused or some dude knows more.   Only the Queen of Mediocrity would constantly mix up Joe Montana and Dan Marino…

I could continue to list for a long time but it’s starting to sound self deprecating.  Which isn’t the intention at all – I like myself, I’m not bad at everything, but I’m not good at anything either.  I’ve always wanted a tattoo, but am too afraid of the commitment so always go with piercings.  But I don’t want to pierce anything too wild so all said piercings are in my ears.  I’m attractive enough but there are more attractive people.  I’m not fat, but I’m not skinny.  My apartment is big but not nice.  My car is efficient but not luxury.

This takes me back to Aaron Hernandez.  At 23 he was being gainfully rewarded for his abilities.  And then he made some awful decisions.  And thought he was invincible and in fact was just a bad person.  At 25, Aaron Hernandez has been sentenced to life in prison, to be followed by a year for each unlawful firearms charge.  I think it’s sad that he didn’t realize how precious his life was and chose the road he did.  But it also makes me think, maybe being average is the key.  Maybe I don’t have it so bad.  I don’t have $40 million dollars, but I’m not going to spend the rest of my life in prison and I’m happy knowing I am who I am.  Sorry to all of those out there who are good at something or looking for a designation, Queen of Mediocrity has been taken.

Damn the Dog Park

I have a super cute puppy named Darcy.  She is an 11 pound chihuahua/miniature pinscher/dachshund-mix with high anxiety, cat like attributes and no back feet.  I’ll get more into her story in another post – it’s pretty much the longest story I can tell – but this is more about the day in the life of a dog owner.

I always envied those happy-go-lucky people who frolicked around the dog park with their puppies on sunny days.  Throwing sticks and bouncing balls and watching their pets respond so ideally to their commands.  They would fetch their plush toys and run back and sit perfectly waiting patiently for the next game.  Sometimes, dogs will leap and paw and roll around with other dogs in a playful fun fashion.  Their people chat and laugh and exchange hilarious stories about their remarkable pets.  It’s like a productive singles gathering or neighborhood block party.  And I would watch from afar as I circled the block on my daily run (read: weekly stroll) around the neighborhood wishing so badly I had a reason to enter this exclusive clique.

When I got Darcy, I couldn’t wait to go to the dog park.  It took us a little while to get there – she was transitioning from a 14 acre farm in Vermont to Old City Philadelphia and leaving her crate was overwhelming for quite some time.  But once we worked up the nerve to give it a try it was VERY exciting.  I think she even enjoyed it too.  Unfortunately, the experience was not at all what I expected.

It is a rare occasion when a whole pack of dogs is at the dog park.  There may be one or two at a time that just swing by to poop, but this group of forever friends that I had always seen is actually non-existent.  When there are dogs there, they drag their owners towards each other, sometimes growl, sometimes bark, every time sniff each other’s butts, over… and over… and over… Darcy tries to get the small ones to play.  The big ones try to eat her.  Some of the small boy ones try to hump her.  All of the leashes get tangled.  It is a blast.

As for the people – I haven’t met anyone I would actually want to talk to.  I’ve seen two cute guys, but they both have well groomed girl dogs, and are clearly just walking Fluffy to check it off of their honey-do lists.  There are girls who are afraid of the other dogs.  There are hispsters.  There are a lot of lesbians.  There are people who are filled with useless information with which they find imperative to enlighten you.  The worst is when you realize you didn’t bring your cell phone and may have to engage in awkward social interaction.

Two days ago was my one year anniversary with Darcy.  To celebrate, both anniversary and first nice day of the year, my girlfriends and I took our dogs for brunch.  Afterwards, we embarked upon a beautiful, mimosa’ed up walk to the dog park.  Upon arrival, we set our psuedo-children free to to play, while we sat on the surrounding benches and watched like some Upper East Side housewives – giggling about our husband’s Cialis prescriptions and newest Louis Vittons.  Granted, said housewives are married and actually drinking champagne while we guzzle buy-one-get-one bottom shelf double bottles of sparkling wine like we’re reentering prohibition, but it was very similar otherwise.

As a quick aside, for Christmas this year, my mother gave me a Long Champ bag, which I just love.  I’ve wanted one for years and it is the most logical bag/purse/whatever you’d like to call it I’ve ever owned.  It’s amazing.  So, on the morning in question, it was filled with dog treats, a water bowl, a $3 bottle of water which was probably filled from the river, a scarf, two layers of cardigans in case I was hot or cold, my wallet, 16 various flavors of chap-stick, my cell phone, two pairs of sunglasses that I can never find, a bottle opener, a can opener, three cell phone chargers, 11 pens- all the standard brunch necessities.

The over-priced bottle of Schuylkill water was a hit with the kids, err dogs, at the park.  I was like the soccer mom who brought Sunny-Delight instead of orange juice.  Dogs came from near and far across the sod for water.  Did any of them belong to attractive, single, age appropriate, successful men?  Of course not.  But maybe they’ll tell stories about me.

As I relished in my ‘cool mom’ glory, the screams began.  It started with “BUSTER NO!”  Then “OH my gosh WHAT is he doing?!”  and finally “STOP HIM!”  I thought this was all an overreaction to the Yorkie emptying his bowels in the middle of a game of fetch, but then turned to see the real travesty…

Buster was peeing on my Long Champ.

At first I didn’t react.  It looked like he had just spilled the miracle Schuylkill water on the bag, which is fine, since it is so durable yet lightweight and easy to carry.  But no – it was urine.  Nasty, dog that isn’t my dog, urine.  I stood in shock.  Did I run to it?  Did I pee on Buster’s favorite accessory and see how he liked it?  Did I slap his owner and yell “CONTROL YOUR ANIMAL”??

One of my girlfriends had to take her mimosa to another bench because she was so furious.  When Buster’s owner did approach me her exact words were “Oh I am so sorry – I am so embarrassed.”  Then she picked him up and muttered something to him in an Asian tongue that I did not understand, and moved to the other side of the park.  They didn’t leave.  He wasn’t punished.  No one peed on him.  They literally just acted like it never happened.

Listen, whether they’re weird or not – dog people get other dog people. We all have some code – it probably comes along with the ESP through which we think we know what our dogs are saying when they stare at us.  But as a part of that code, you do something when your dog vandalizes someone’s belongings.  I would have yelled at my dog, given the girl my number, offered to dry clean her bag, and taken Darcy home.  But Buster didn’t learn any lessons and I’m home now with a pee-stained bag putting off the cost of dry cleaning.

Take this as a warning – if you go to the Schuylkill dog park, and cross paths with a little black dog named Buster – run.  He will strike again. And I guess don’t put your belongings on the ground surrounded by an over hyped group of wild animals.

The moral of the story is – the dog park is much more glorified than I had realized.  I actually hate it.  It makes Darcy happy, so we deal with it, because when she’s happy I feel happy.  I just continue to keep my eyes peeled for my sexy, successful, volunteer firefighter, dog rescuer man who moves to the neighborhood.  And just maybe, with some patience and effort, after I find him, Darcy won’t be the only one of us getting so lucky at the dog park!