|Equipment failure SUCKS|
Some of the most painful, funny things that have happened to me were the result of equipment failure (or failure to use equipment properly). When I became involved with Dobes, I knew that I would have to power up and step up my game. My earliest involvement was with Greyhounds (I LOVE Greyhounds!), but even the wildest of my hounds only kinda sorta prepared me for the needs of my Dobers. I worked in a Doberman kennel which is how I became hooked on them. It is also how I started to learn how powerful these guys are. I prepared by buying heavy-duty stainless steel bowls (the standard-weight stainless steel bowls in the kennel had tooth-holes in them) and what I thought was sturdy equipment. Well, it's stuff that would have lasted a long time with a Greyhound. I learned two things fairly quickly: No plastic snap-buckle collars, and if I have a dog on a 50' line for a game of fetch, I probably shouldn't be hanging on to the other end. The former will only leave you with an empty, broken collar, but the latter...well, I've caught air.
If you know me, you know that I am about as aerodynamic as a 5'2" Weeble, and flight isn't a likely or natural state for me. Still, I've been there, and once I got my air back, I laughed until I almost wet myself. It wasn't just the unlikely flight that had me in stitches, or even the fact that other people were there wearing horrified expressions; but the look on Murphy's face that did it. He turned around after catching his toy and saw me sitting on the ground. He cocked his head quizzically, and just let the toy fall out of his mouth; a doggie version of "WTF?" as clearly expressed as though it was spoken aloud. That look, THAT is why I lost it. I could have been all ouchie and 'poor me' (that plus Advil came later) but it was far more fun to try to see the situation from the outside. It was like a cartoon.
My Mom often says she 'lives in cartoon'. Consequently, I often felt like I was raised in one. It has it's drawbacks, believe me, but it definitely helped me to take myself far less seriously. And I learned something valuable from it too: You can take what you do seriously, you can have respect for other people, for yourself and circumstances, but you can do these things without having to take yourself seriously. My Mom wrote her master's thesis on the effects of humor on health. It was a serious piece written on humor! The cool thing is, it showed that folks who can laugh live longer healthier lives. It pays not to be a humorless dolt:-) Which is a good thing, because I screw up a lot.
It's really hard to laugh at somebody who is already laughing at themselves. I love giving people permission to laugh at me when I do something especially dorky. There used to be a fellow who lived in the building next to mine who had a yellow Lab that Murphy just ADORED. I was walking Murphy on a VERY icy morning, completely unprepared for the slippery conditions. Not only was I wearing the wrong shoes, but I thought I was just going out for a moment and had neglected to put Murph's prong collar on. Murphy saw his friend and gave a pull in his direction. Normally, I would have stayed on my feet and the prong would have prevented a strong pull and the whole thing would have been a non-event. Instead, the slight pull was enough to send my feet shooting out from under me, causing me to fall forward on to my stomach, which freaked Murphy out, which caused him to run down the sidewalk, dragging me behind. I had two choices: I could let go, regain a bit of my dignity but risk Murphy heading toward the road, or I could hang on. It's funny, but for some reason that still isn't clear to me, I failed to give Murphy a single one of the many commands he knows that could have prevented my wild ride. My thinking wasn't the most clear in that moment.
I saw the Lab's owner watching helplessly as I slid gradually toward him. From my awkward place on the walk, hanging on tightly to the handle of my leash, I looked up and told him it was perfectly okay to laugh. His relief was palpable as he started to giggle. I laughed so hard that I could barely get myself upright again. Some would say I didn't have the good sense to be embarrassed by any number of things in that scenario. I say that none of us is perfect, that we all screw up sometimes and that it can lead to varying and often hilarious results. Some people won't admit to failure. I'm perfectly happy with knowing that so many of my fails are EPIC:-)