Whining can work wonders

Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2003

My body hurts.

I'd love to be able to say it's from getting older, but the truth is, it's my husband's fault.

Now hear me out, I am partially to blame, too. I can't let him take all the responsibility nor will he. He is simply trying to give me what I want: dog agility equipment.

When Mark decided he wanted to start his own small business, it was because he knew he could build some of the obstacles I was using in my class. Well, that, and he wanted to build himself a fishing boat.

Since it was obvious I was getting hooked on the sport where people frantically try to guide their dogs through an obstacle course, like any decent husband, he knew he could make me happy by filling our backyard with enough equipment to run a full course.

I now understand how addicts feel in needing that next fix. I would have done anything for him to get equipment.

The trouble was, once word got out that Mark was building it, I dropped to the bottom of the list. And I do mean the bottom.

In fact, I have spent two summers going to dog trials where people have approached him with "gotta have it" stories. In the beginning, he would turn to me and give me that smile.

It meant, "Can I sell them the one I made for you?"

After a while, he stopped giving me the smile and just sent the person over to ask me, taking himself out of the transaction all together. How can I look someone in the eye, someone who wants it as bad as I do, and say no? I can't.

So there at the bottom of the list I've stayed.

Jumps are my biggest complaint. I have five made of PVC plastic pipe, while my friends now have the nice steel painted ones in blue, fuchsia and mint green, or the lightweight brushed aluminum ones. All of them are capable of having wings attached for even more training purposes.

But no, I have my lowly PVCs, capable of expanding into, well, nothing actually.


When spring rolled around this year, I was able to set up enough equipment for a small course on which to practice short exercises. But it was never enough.

I wanted more. I needed another fix.

Asking became begging. Begging became pleading. Pleading became whining.

Mark finally reached his breaking point and caved in, I mean, agreed to make me a dogwalk long, narrow planks that top out at 4 feet and an A-frame.

For days he has been welding, grinding, hammering, connecting pieces and putting his blood, sweat and, yes, sometimes tears into what will soon grace our backyard.

I couldn't be happier as I have watched from afar, a safe distance from the noise, the dust and flying debris upstairs on the couch watching TV.

I pretty much had managed to keep my distance from it all until last week.

I had a relatively short list of errands to run, so in my out-and-abouts, Mark asked me to stop and pick up some paint for my new obstacles. It was the least I could do. He even made it simple, a word I adore, by giving me lids off the old cans so I wouldn't have to explain anything to the saleperson. It was all right there in black and white.

I stopped at the store, handed the man the lids and asked if he needed me to stick around. I was quite happy to browse while he did his paint magic.

But, uh-oh, a glitch. The questions started to stream from the man's mouth.

"We don't have this brand. Will another brand work?"

Luckily, I had my cell phone at hand and simply called home.

Hmmm. No answer. I left a message and Mark called back.

By now, though, there were more questions.

"We could use this paint, but the colors won't quite match, is that a problem? Oh, and the primer, does it need to be blah, blah, blah?"

There comes a certain point when people in this general area of expertise begin speaking in tongues to me.

"I'm sorry. I don't understand you. Let me call my husband back."

To make matters worse, our cell-phone connection was hit and miss.

"What? I can't understand you. WHAT? HUH? Do WHAT? DOES HE HAVE WHAT? I SAID HE DOESN'T HAVE WHAT?

Until that very moment, I always had a dislike for people who do that in stores. Now, I am one of them.

I ended up going somewhere else. I had to; my cell phone battery was fading. However, I did gain wisdom from the whole experience. When the need arose at store No. 2 for me to ask Mark questions, I just handed the phone to the salesperson and let them converse in tongues to their hearts' content, while I stood by.

In fact, I stood by for quite some time.

What was meant to be a short round of errands, ended up taking most of the day. I was exhausted and my body was starting to feel the pain from standing. However, it wasn't a total waste. I now know more about paint than I ever dreamed whether I want to or not.

But who's complaining? I am that much closer to having a dogwalk and A-frame in my backyard.

Yes, life is good. And after I fully recover from this adventure, I plan to start asking, begging, pleading and whining for real jumps.

I've got to rest up.

If you need me, I'll be on the couch.

Dori Lynn Anderson is the assistant editor of the Peninsula Clarion.

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