Q is for Quitter

A rare photo of Isis and Leo together

A rare photo of Isis and Leo together

The day we brought Leo home, and his introduction to Isis went very, very badly, my first instinct was to take Leo back. Rob talked me out of it.

In my memoir, I wrote:

Here’s where Rob and I showed our true characters. I am a quitter at heart. Rob is not.

The moment comes after thousands of words describing my efforts to train Isis. My memoir classmates constantly said things to me like, “I can’t believe how devoted you were. You never gave up.”

How to convince them that, no, really, I’m actually a quitter?

I’ve quit lots of things: violin lessons, the first university I went to, gyms, NaNoWriMo 2009. (In my defense, I didn’t quit that novel; I’m still working on it.)

There are plenty of good reasons to quit things. Ask Dave Chappelle. You may remember he walked away from a multimillion-dollar TV deal a number of years ago. In a standup perfomance last year, he talked about the parental speech he gave when his own son wanted to stop going to an after-school program: “Son, sometimes it’s okay to quit.”

Most of the things I’ve quit because they were boring or too hard. I admit it; I don’t like to work very hard. I’ve found that there are certain things I am rather good at. Can’t I just do those things, and not toil away at the other stuff? (Not one of my most admirable qualities, I’m well aware.)

I never quit Isis, that is true. And I never quit trying to get her and Leo to get along. The universe intervened on that one, and not in the way we would have liked.

I have quit dog classes. Never because they were too hard, though. These I quit because they were the wrong class or wrong trainer. (Sometimes also boring.)

I’ve given up on the fantasy that I can train Leo to be bomb-proof on a leash. Sometimes I feel like such a quitter that I think I’ve given up training my dogs altogether. So what that Leo doesn’t sit on cue, or come when I call? It’s too late for him; I’ll get it right with the next one.

Still, I find myself strapping on his ThunderShirt, and taking him to a parking lot to practice not barking at things. And he barks and lunges and embarrasses me, and it’s hard. But then there are the moments that, despite being hard, are also kinda fun. And that’s why I keep doing it.

Q is for Quitter

Q

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This post probably would make more sense if I wrote it before Progress, but I have an alphabet to follow.

8 thoughts on “Q is for Quitter

  1. Great post, Kari. My dog is turns 14 next month and honestly, I never really trained her that well. She learned the basics and does well off-leash, as long as other dogs aren’t around. (She gets excited and wants to go and visit, lol.) I finally decided that that was good enough for me. I keep her on-leash when walking her around town but most of the time I walk her on remote trails and she roams free, which I think is probably the best thing for a dog (imagine being stuck on a leash all the time, kind of depressing, no?). I don’t think everyone needs a perfectly trained dog. I think it depends upon what you want your dog for. Me, I wanted a hiking/running companion, and in this aspect, Beebs excelled. Walking nicely while leashed, not so much. Still, I valued our runs and hikes so, so much (she’s too old now to run with me, bless her heart) that I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
    At the same time, as a runner I certainly don’t appreciate off-leash dogs in populated areas, and I don’t know how many times I’ve been charged and jumped by dogs on busy trails. More often than not, the owner insinuates that it’s my fault, that by merely running past I’ve done something to prompt their dog to jump me.
    So I think it’s a thin line between having a well-trained dog and having a dog trained well enough. Sadly, too many dog owners don’t understand or respect that line.
    Cheers and happy weekend. Beebs sends a hearty woof, woof.

  2. Being a quitter isn’t always bad, but I do try to teach my third graders to try, try, and try again!

  3. I admire the fact that you can admit you are a quitter. You described me when you said you quit things because they are boring or hard, and that you don’t like to work too hard. But I do find, and it’s probably true of you too, that when something is very important, or very enjoyable to me, I stick with it. Just like you do with Leo. Sometimes it is sheer determination and stubbornness that makes me stick with something, but I just don’t like to waste time on things that I don’t enjoy or love. Life is too short, right?

  4. Great post…sometimes we are all quitters but it sounds like you two make a good team being that Rob convinced you to keep trying. Best of luck to you – persistence and repetition has proved to work with our dogs.

  5. I agree with Dave Chappelle – sometimes it is OK to quit. Sometimes the effort to do something isn’t worth the angst and anxiety of finishing just to finish. But that’s as long as we don’t quit everything and do stick with some things that seem too hard. I think as long as we think things through, weigh the pros and cons, and then decide to quit, it’s fine. It just shouldn’t be a knee jerk reaction. And I’m sure Leo appreciates all you’ve done for him.

    Hope you’re having fun with the A to Z challenge,
    Jocelyn

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