The Success of Unfulfilled Dreams

By: Summer Brons

I originally wrote this post in February of 2011 for a very short-lived personal blog. I often go back and re-read it when I’m feeling mixed up about my choices in life, so I thought I’d share it here now since February has rolled around once again.

“Now that,” I said, motioning to one of the TVs hanging on the wall at a frequented watering hole, shot of Goldschlager in hand, “is the perfect example of a failed dream.”  I downed my shot and set the plastic cup on the bar.  My boyfriend gave me a quizzical look, glanced at the highlight reels of parading dogs from the previous night’s competition and inquired as to how a dog show represents failure.

The last couple of days have given way to the famous Westminster Kennel Club dog show that takes place each February at Madison Square Garden. It’s an intense, glamorous show with a great deal of history and a cult-like following from both fans and competitors on the American Kennel Club show circuit. As with many events, dog shows are best appreciated if you’re able to personally relate. Dog people are, by and large, a quirky bunch; although I suppose you ought to be if you intend to spend the majority of your weekends traveling around multiple states to campaign your dog with the goal of becoming a Westminster hopeful. Several humorous books have been written on the subject, pick one up sometime if you’d ever like a behind-the-scenes look at the world of canine competition.

Bernese Mountain Dog

I used to show dogs back when I was in middle school, thanks to an English teacher who noticed me reading an AKC rulebook in class between assignments and called me up to his desk to tell me all about how he and his wife bred and showed Bernese Mountain Dogs, and would I like to come along to a show with them one day? Yes, in fact, I would like that, and like it I did. I began showing one of their young females, Peggy, in both breed competition and junior handling classes throughout Oregon and Washington. Turns out, I wasn’t too shabby for an awkward seventh-grader and started attending more shows, meeting more people and allowing myself to start dreaming a little bigger.  Beyond youthful visions of one day perhaps earning a living as a professional handler, competing at Westminster was most certainly at the top of my list of goals.

But then, as it often inconveniently seems to, reality stepped up to rain on my parade. Between health problems for my teacher and financial strain for my family, eventually it wasn’t so feasible to fund my dog habit, particularly when I was too young to enter the workforce and bear a bit of the load. The dog shows had to be shelved for a while and suddenly the years began to fly by.  One thing has a funny way of leading to another and, often, that chain does not involve circling back around to revisit glassy-eyed childhood aspirations.

That 12-year-old girl happily prancing around the ring with a big black dog certainly had no idea that 14 years later she’d be standing in a dimly-lit bar across the country, clutching a cup of booze and a pool cue while watching clips of the dog show she once thought she’d make it to.

“That’s terrible.” My boyfriend, Thomas, declares. I agree, on principle of disappointment over lost ambitions, but then I shrug and try to briefly think what I’d be doing with my life now if I had kept showing dogs throughout the years. Would I have ended up in South Carolina? Would I still be in the process of actively pursuing a writing career, something I’ve dreamed of far longer than I ever dreamed of Westminster?  Would I have developed such fierce affection for turkey bacon and rice cakes?

Who knows. Bottom line – I’ll never know what might have become of me in the dog world, but the point is that none of us ever really know what would have happened if we’d made different decisions or followed alternate opportunities. The only thing we have is the reality of where we are now and the open doors before us that we either opt to explore or refuse to walk through. Honestly, I really don’t even miss showing dogs anymore and I haven’t for quite some time. Westminster each year is mostly a distant pang of, “That could have been me once” more so than it is a, “Why, oh why isn’t that me?!” and quite frankly, I think we can all stand to benefit from those types of pangs from time to time. Gentle reminders to stay alert and focused, to remember what our goals are and follow our passions even as they shift with the changing tides of daily life. Thus, is America’s most famous dog show really a “failed” dream of mine?  No, it isn’t.

That being said, here’s my tip for the day: stop wasting energy complaining about the past, use it to make something happen for tomorrow.

For the Love of Buddy – Part 3

By: Shannon Shull

I promise this will be my last blog entry focusing on my crippled dog. But, I absolutely could not resist sharing with you the unique way that my, now Bionic Buddy, sleeps. Ever since he was smacked in the road and brought back to being, thanks to a surgery that placed a metal plate and many screws into his tiny hips, well, I think you’ll see by my pictures that our little Bud has acquired a very different way of sleeping.

Buddy Passed Out in the Kitchen Doorway

Buddy Sound Asleep at my Feet by my Desk on Hardwood Floor

I have to admit that I’ve become quite obsessed with getting pictures of Buddy in his range of unique sleeping positions – it honestly cracks me up and I cannot help but want to take his picture. I mean this dog can be smack dab in the middle of a room on the hardwood floor and be asleep laying flat on his back!  Half the time the dog looks dead when he sleeps!  I’ll come across him in the craziest places, on his back, feet straight up in the air and sound asleep.

We have this kid chair that we’ve had since our days in California – I used to like to sit in it when I was pregnant with my 2nd child so I could be close to the floor to play with my 1st baby, but up just enough so that I could actually stand back up with my big prego belly. Well, as you’ll see by the pictures, our Buddy has now claimed this chair. He will twist himself into this chair and I swear you wonder where his head is – it’s quite entertaining watching him climb into the chair and get himself positioned! And it’s unbelievable that the dog is comfortable and will actually sleep like that for hours.  The family will be hanging out together, I’ll get up in the middle of one of our family shows and someone will say, “What are you doing?!” and you’ll hear the response from one of my children, “Oh Mama’s just taking Buddy’s picture AGAIN.” I seriously can’t help it – I’ll be utterly exhausted and ready for bed but if look over at the kooky dog and he’s in one of his crazy positions, I have to take a picture!

Buddy Sleeping in His Chair - Can You Find His Head?

Buddy says, "Stops Waking Me Up With That Flash!"

I can assure you, our pet is no typical dog – he’s one of the most outstanding, bionic buddies on the face of the planet. Now, if I could only figure out a way to make money off the little rascal! Hmmmm…..

Share stories and pictures with me of your pet doing wacky things! Hey, it may not be an ultra important subject, but I figure if it brings a smile to someone’s face, then it’s worth the time and effort!   Cheers to you all and thanks for reading about my little Buddy. I hope I was able to bring a smile to your face!

Buddy Passed Out Flat on his Back Up Against the Door

Buddy - I Promise He's Not Dead!

For the Love of Buddy – Part 2

By: Shannon Shull

So now that I hopefully have your heart strings in a bit of a tether after my blog entry, “For the Love of Buddy – Part 1”, I’d love to put your heart at ease… My fellow animal lovers and/or sympathetic, supportive blog readers, take note! My little Buddy is A-Ok! After a long, grueling healing process – the dog that could’ve easily been left for doggie heaven is now alive, well and most importantly – healed and immensely loved. This little bugger has taught my little family many a lesson, whether it be to hang in there – the excruciating, healing wait is worth the while, or to lighten up and just enjoy the little things in life. Our little Buddy reminds us to take light, to chill out and enjoy life.

See the proof in my video that our once broken pup is now our “Bionic Buddy” –

“All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.” ~ Samuel Butler

Isn’t that a great quote? If only we could be reminded of that principle more often and actually apply that principle! Those little moments when you run around the house playing fetch, tag and wrestling with a rascal dog are moments in which I’ve learned need to be cherished, because they remind me to take a “daggome” breathe and not take life too seriously. I should really take heed of my own advice here, because I have to admit – especially lately – I have not been very good at taking a moment to chill and enjoy life!  But, you know those folks who take the time to play with or love on an animal and they seem to enjoy the heck out of it? Ever asked them if it was worth the effort? Worth their time? Probably not, because you were possibly too caught up enjoying watching them, watching a human and a pet enjoy the little things in life. Nothing wrong with that – as I’ve said before, if we let them, these little rascals can bring us a whole load of happiness. And this is coming from a human that’s not your average crazed animal lover. But I tell ya what, after experiencing having my own pet be crushed by a car and then saved by the grace of love…well, a certain appreciation happens that’s just well…unavoidable.

There’s a saying that has always rung true in my experience in life. “The purity of a person’s heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals” ~ Anonymous. It isn’t the tell-all of a person’s inner being by any means, but you sure can get an idea of a person by how they treat animals.

It seems I constantly run into folks who are mentioning their dear pets and sharing tales of either their silliness, aggravation or sweet stories of friendship and such.  Pets are a big part of a whole lot of people’s lives. Do any of you happen to have a touching story of pet triumph? A pet that saved yours or someone’s life in some way? A simple story of an animal that made ya smile? I’m eager to hear your special pet tales – come on, do share!

Stay tuned for my next blog that will demonstrate the crazy way my dog now sleeps after having been smacked by a car. You will not want to miss the pictures I will be sharing! And after my next blog, I promise to lay off the pet talk and get back to other super cool, passionate things. Seriously, I promise.