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


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