Nanci Griffith sings a wonderful cover of Richard and Linda Thompson's "Wall of Death."
On the wall of death
All the world is far from me
On the wall of death
It's the nearest to being free
Let me ride on the wall of death one more time
You can waste your time on the other rides
But this is the nearest to being alive
I envy the even-keeled. I'd like to be able to weather bad news calmly--to hear it, accept it, and then get on with the business of the day. I'd have liked to do just that today, when Arnie and I failed our Therapy Dog evaluation. Don't misunderstand--Arnie performed beautifully for most of the test. The only hard part--the reason we failed--was when we had to approach and pass another dog WITHOUT REACTING.
Here's the thing: Arnie loves other dogs. LOVES THEM. All his life, other dogs have been his buddies, his playmates, his friends, his humpers, his humpees. My boy is a well-behaved beast until he spies another pup; then he completely loses his furry mind.
So, when we approached the other dog (who was completely disinterested in Arnie and me), Arnie ignored my "sit" and my "stay" and my "no," and told me in no uncertain terms (by sta-rain-ing on the end of his leash) that he wanted to say hello to the other animal.
So that was that. And I was sad. I opted to complete the test, even though I knew we wouldn't pass (neutrally meeting another dog is imperative to pass the therapy doggie test). Throughout the remaining steps (which Arnie performed effortlessly), I fought tears and worked hard to ensure that Arnie couldn't sense my sadness--he was having fun and I didn't want to stop his happy tail.
Later--after a good cry and a long talk with Arnie about how this isn't his fault, it's my fault, and I love him whether he ever becomes a therapy puppy or not--my phone rang.
It was the executive director of the therapy animal organization, calling to tell me that the other volunteers in the test room thought the evaluator was overly harsh with Arnie and me. They thought we handled the test well, and that Arnie would make a wonderful therapy animal.
Then she offered Arnie and I a free re-test next month.
So we have some work to do, my puppy and me. We have to visit many dog parks and crowded places, and we have to behave, even in the face of such distractions as baby Heelers (good for rolling), bigdumbLabs (good for humping), Jack Russels (good for chasing), and--the hardest test of all--other Golden Retrievers.
So, ok. It was a rough afternoon. But then it was a better afternoon. And now, Arnie and I are cuddled up against the rapidly cooling weather (just how we like it), grateful for another chance, and exhausted from the Wall of Death.