Voices of the Clarion: Dog’s life a better choice

Housework, vacation make for a questionable combination

Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2005

I’ve had some days off this year, but they’ve always revolved around dog events.

If you aren’t familiar with what there is of my life outside of work, I can tell you in one word: dogs.

I have spent the last six years becoming an agilityaholic, meaning I ate, slept, dreamt, walked, talked and obsessed about anything at all that had to do with dog agility. Agility is where a handler, sometimes known as “me,” tries to direct their dog around an obstacle course without causing the dog too much embarrassment.

It got to the point where if my vacations didn’t involve going to Anchorage, Fairbanks, Wasilla, Palmer or Chugiak, I was shoving my poor dog in a crate and on a plane to Washington, Oregon or California.

One would think that after six years I would get better at handling the stress that comes with performance events. The truth is, I haven’t — not totally, anyway.

It used to be I got butterflies a month before, then a week and then days. I finally have it down to just freaking out right before I run.

Amazingly, my dog has adjusted to this ritual. Well, sort of. Bailey has a nervous twitch and is doomed to taking acidreducing medicine every day, but I doubt that it has anything to do with agility.

Somehow I have managed to thrive on the hectic pace of training, freaking out and competing.

But things changed this year.

With more responsibility at work has come less time for training, and less time training has made me quite entertaining at the competitions.

“Whoa! What the heck was that maneuver?”

“I don’t know, but I think her dog just gave her the paw.”

Unfortunately, all of the stress I normally feel before a run has doubled, because I now worry about getting lost or falling down because I’m out of shape.

A few weeks ago, my husband, Mark, and I decided we needed a break. We already had requested time off from work to go to a competition, but we decided not to go. Instead we would stay home and act like a “normal” couple and tinker around the house.

The idea appealed to us immensely.

As the long weekend drew near, Mark and I began a list of things we wanted to do

For me there was just one goal: I wanted to get reacquainted with the house — also known as “cleaning.”

But then something happened to alter our plans. We decided to look for a new car.

To make a very long story short, we spent 2 1/2 of our five days off together “looking.” Ask me just about anything about minivans right now, and I probably can answer your question. I had no idea how many makes there are and the differences between them. Now I have a pretty good idea.

The plan-altering event was successful, though, and we managed to downsize from our Suburban, hoping to stuff four golden retrievers into the van and still have room for us.

With 2 1/2 days left, I still was eager to work on the house and feel “normal.”

Then it happened.

It started as a slight twinge in the back of my throat. Ironically, it started as soon as we bought the van.

Mentally, I tried to deny what inevitably would be the doom of my vacation: I got sick.

On the bright side, I got more time off work than I anticipated. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really a vacation, and although I got reacquainted with the house, it didn’t get cleaned.

As the final dog competitions of the year rise on the horizon, I find I’m now actually looking forward to the stress, and I’ve even worked with my dogs a couple of times.

Perhaps vacations are overrated. I believe “normal” is just a word on my computer screen that has no meaning, and I am convinced that this word, for me, means my life would be better off if I just let it go to the dogs.

Besides, now I have proof that even thinking about housework can make you sick.

See, Mark. I told you.

Dori Lynn Anderson is the managing editor for the Clarion.

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