YoBaCaRy

Fact v. Vision in My Head

Subtitled:

I Am So NOT Killing it.

or

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

So, I locked my keys in my Jeep today.

It was the first time in 18 years that I’ve locked myself out of my vehicle. Until the moment I realized I had locked my keys inside, I was totally awesome today. Until I wasn’t.

This seems to have been the theme of my week.*

This will not be a post about JaYoBaCa. Today, they played mere background roles. They’d like you all to know that their roles should’ve been much, much larger.

The day started off with me deciding to be sly and dressing in running tights, a skimpy tee-shirt and a fashionable pullover. I looked totally athletic, totally pulled together and totally like the poster child for the snotty little city I live in.

People, this is real. I live it everyday: Activewear

It really doesn’t matter the specifics of the city, although I truly feel my particular town is fast approaching – if it hasn’t already surpassed, the ultimate snot factor. As in a house that costs below $500,000 in this town is a complete shack. And I’m not kidding. My own house is barely above the shack factor, but that’s because no one’s peeked inside and seen how dirty it is because I never have time to vacuum and clean anymore.

We’ll call this magical place The Eastside. This is fact because this town is positioned east of Seattle, WA and east of Lake Washington.

Because I get to drive around a lot these days, visiting various neighborhoods and occasionally stopping for coffee at the official coffee place of The Eastside- Starbucks, I frequently witness the various prototypes that reside here. The most common daytime prototype is The Eastside Blonde.

The Eastside Blonde is typically wearing athletic wear, these days usually the running tights that are so popular, is blonde and is wearing her hair either in a sleek ponytail or perfectly coiffed, cut and colored. The highlights are perfection. I know this is a fact because I’m friendly with a few of the colorists/stylists that do those foils. The Eastside Blonde is often tall and leggy, with perfectly perky boobs, but can be shorter and sometimes a bit plumper. She is always not sweaty. That’s right. Despite the uniform of gymnasts, long-distance runners and hot yoga aficionados everywhere, The Eastside Blonde is never sweaty. Even after completing her hot yoga class located conveniently within the same shopping plaza as the Safeway and Trader Joe’s. Sometimes she sports a slightly rosy glow, but she is always decidedly unsweaty. She also usually carries a paper cup emblazoned with the Starbucks insignia as she rushes by, sometimes kids in tow, often laden down with a recyclable shopping bag and she carries out her daily routine and is incredibly busy. So busy.

So, being the sardonic bitch that I am, I occasionally like to think I’m being exceptionally funny and clever and dress in the uniform of those I most like to make fun of.

One time, while attending a dinner event at the local country club, back when I was married to someone that cared about being part of the local country club, I wore a stunning 1950s-style dress that had little martini glasses printed all over it. I accessorized with charming kitten heels and pulled my hair back with a perky barrette with a bow on it. I proceeded to act like a Stepford Wife the entire evening.

No one got it.

Still, I’ve never let one disappointing experience prevent me from continuing onward.

That is how, today, I found myself in printed running tights, a skimpy white tee-shirt and a fashionable pullover. I didn’t match per se, but I was very coordinated in a fashionable sense. I know this because at one time in my life I actually cared about such things. It helps that although I am not tall and leggy, my thighs don’t touch when I walk. This is not because I have the apparently coveted “thigh gap” – because I don’t. This is because I’m walking somewhere around at least 25-30 miles a week  walking dogs.

I’m also sort of blondish right now. This is because I’m trying to convince myself to just let my hair go gray and face the fact that I’m no longer a brunette with wide blue eyes, but am likely a white-headed older lady with blue eyes that don’t take crap from anybody.

I feel that I started off the day fitting in well with The Eastside, even though I do get sweaty. I even planned on a trip to Starbucks for the favored fall drink, a PSL. (And if you don’t know what that is, then clearly you’ve been living under a rock that has been untouched by the aroma and flavor of pumpkin spice for the last few years.)

Things probably took a turn for the worse when I opted to go to a small, local and specialty coffee  shop that serves far superior coffee. Actually, I intended to get a matcha green tea latte, my latest obsession. Instead, I ended up getting a 16-oz triple Hawaiian Silk (because homey decided if I have to say “grande” ever again I might have to choke on my own vomit).

This decision was made after I’d already done half of my dog walks for the day. I continued on to my last client of the day.

I suppose I should not admit to having some favorite clients, but I do. This particular guy is a bit older, but still very spry, and a little bit sad and lonely because his person works super long hours at a big techie-type company based here that pretty much dominates the world. Also, it is owned by the richest person in the world. I should add his person isn’t all that crazy about the long hours either, but at least he had the good sense to hire me.

Since this guy, we’ll call him J-Dog, was my last client and because he’s super sweet and I enjoy his company, I figured I’d walk him a little bit beyond the allotted 30 minutes. Still, I’d been super efficient all day and figured I’d have time to get back home and play a bit with my own dogs before heading out again to take care of a late day scheduled visit.

At the end of the walk, I played a bit with J-Dog in his owner’s apartment. Sadly, I then had to take my leave.

This is when I realized I had no car keys. Panic ensued. I checked and re-checked my dog walking fanny pack (yes, I wear one and that is an entire other blog post), I checked the lone tiny pocket within the waistband of my sleek and spiffy running tights. Nope. Occupied only by my very uncool and old-fashioned flip phone. I peered helplessly inside the windows of my Jeep. No keys to be seen, anywhere. I dimly recalled that I threw them down in the driver’s seat as I was pulling my fashionable, and yet slightly too warm, pullover over my head. I surmised that the missing keys were lying underneath the abandoned pullover that had been thrown in the driver’s seat.

Luckily, I am a member of AAA. Luckily, I had my uncool flip phone with me.

I informed the kindly woman who answered my call and immediately asked if I was in a safe place (AAA is so caring and thoughtful) that I was in a safe place but that I did not have my AAA member number because of it being locked inside, along with my keys. We were able to resolve the matter of me being a member though thanks to modern technology, and the fact that I gave her my name and address and she verified I’m in their system.

Then she asked for the address of my location.

Um….

I was in the parking lot of a giant apartment complex that is labyrinthine. I also don’t memorize client addresses.

Just then though, I noticed some maintenance workers in a nearby apartment. I asked them for the address of the apartment location. No surprise, they didn’t know it either. However, one of the guys did locate it on the back of a shipping box he was unpacking and gave it to me to relay to AAA.

I was told the AAA contractor would be there lo later than 4:45 pm. It was presently 2:45 pm.

This was when I realized I had only a skimpy white tee-shirt over running tights.

The back-up plan was to utilize my client’s apartment for the wait, but that felt improper and invasive.

Therefore, I decided it was appropriate to engage in a little bit of exercise, to not only warm me up a bit, but to help pass the time.

I utilized my client’s door step as a bench and proceeded to perform a few push-ups, several forward lunges and some back lunges.

If one is going to wear activewear, they really should be prepared to be active. I figured this was a good opportunity. I confess I stopped a few times and tried to act all casual when a couple of kids coming home from school walked by. Also, when the mailman appeared to be watching me.

Thankfully, the AAA contractor arrived within the hour.

This was all very good, but now I had no time to play with my dogs and I was also starving. I popped into the nearby toney organic food store near the apartment complex on my way out and purchased very expensive organic black plums, a container of probably organic garbanzo bean salad mixed up with some ancient grain that is super-good-for-you-and-full-of-antioxidants-but-you-can’t-spell-it. Also, I purchased water in super pretty plastic bottles. It was all far too pricey. Except surprisingly for the pretty water. Actually it was cheaper than most bottled water. I’m sure it is also organic.

When I arrived home, I ate half of the magical garbanzo bean salad, figured someone as active as I have been should imbibe in something healthy and nutritious. But I was still hungry, probably because I gulped it down in five minutes.

So, I then had the rest of Jasmine’s 13th birthday celebration tiramisu cake. I would’ve had some ice cream too, but I finished that off the other night.

I realized as soon as I had the creamy delicious and sugary goodness – watched carefully I might add by four pairs of intensely staring eyes imploring me to share – that it was a mistake.

I’m quite positive that most wearers of activewear do not stand around in their kitchen gulping down a healthy slice of tiramisu cake. It just seemed like a good idea when I was doing it.

On my way to my last client of the day, I felt the garbanzo healthy goodness and the tiramisu naughtiness hit my stomach. Usually this causes a crash in energy level for me and I want to nap.

Unfortunately, I’d agreed to walk an energetic dog for an hour.

As things so often happen though, it turns out eating that tiramisu was a good thing and I benefited from the sugar load.

As I walked outside with my Australian Shepherd charge, I felt a surge in energy kindly provided by umpteen calories of sugar.

Now, I’ll add that this is the kind of dog I normally love to walk. Energetic, quick-paced, wants to take numerous pee breaks and sniff things, but super quick about it. Not much lingering with this guy. Some of my clients could probably literally sniff one spot for 10 minutes. But at the end of a busy day, never mind the end of a busy week, a dog like this can be just plain taxing. Not tonight.

I walk fairly fast as it is, especially for someone that is not long-legged, but tonight, I might have entered speed walking territory. Let’s just say my energetic Aussie was not quite so prance-y when we ended our multi-mile walk this evening.

I also might have possibly burned off the tiramisu caloric intake.

But now my ass hurts from those lunges I did earlier today.

 

*Also noteworthy this week, was an encounter with local landscaping maintenance men.

Because all the fancy and pretty houses and neighborhoods need to continue looking fancy and pretty, The Eastside employs a lot of gardeners and landscapers. Earlier this week, I was walking another favorite dog and a crew of landscapers started whistling at her. I think she’s kind of adorable and I figured they thought she was too.

Because she is extremely reactive and can be very vocal, she carries a tennis ball in her mouth on our walks. It’s an arrangement she actually decided upon, but that I’ve encouraged. It’s interpreted by those that know nothing about her and her intense fears as being cute and silly. I figured the gardening guys thought so too, and smiled at them as I walked by.

Yet the whistles continued, as did some chatter is Spanish.

It then dawned on me that maybe they weren’t whistling at the dog.

 

 

Rehab

Rehab. Much as that word just makes me want to channel my inner Amy Winehouse and start singing, rehab is a good thing and this is about Camm.

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“Human Mom said I gotta go to Rehab/ I said, why so slow, slow, slow/ Yes, I am black / And when I come back, you’ll know, know, know…”

I have been finding Camm’s rehab a bit frustrating in all honesty. The frustration stems from the fact that I am getting zero to nothing for information.

My regular veterinarian’s office simply said take it slow for a week or so, on-leash walks, then she should be good and bring her back if she was continuing to limp. Granted, the practice sees pet dogs and has no experience with dogs that work or do sports. I highly doubt based upon what I’ve seen that the practice really sees dogs that are all that active.

I received a recommendation from a person whose opinion and experience I trust very much – Mr. Bob with the Magic Hands (or so think Brady and Youke) about taking Camm for underwater treadmill work-outs. Immediately upon her release from the splint/bandage apparatus, I made an appointment with a local clinic that states they do rehabilitation for pets with injuries. The practice even claims to specialize in animal sports medicine.

If the extremely elderly, infirm and/or overweight dogs I’ve seen coming and going do any sports then I must be considered an Olympic medalist, and I’m not.

Still, I took Youke to this clinic several years ago when he suffered from some still-to-date undiagnosed injury that was most likely in my opinion an iliopsoas strain. Four months of natural  herbs, acupuncture and Vitamin B shots and no diagnosis. But since he’d rested all that time, spending months sleeping on my bed, he turned into a flabby, sad dog, concerned that he’d never play Ball again in his entire life. I decided life was too short for a young active dog to be sad and not enjoying life, so we quit with all the smelly natural supplements, said we’d rested enough and started hiking, chasing balls uphill, and eventually started back at agility.

But I’m not a vet, nor am I a dogs sports medicine expert.

Yet I sometimes find myself playing that role when I cannot get answers.

I knew better than to just release Camm and hope for the best. Even if she never does agility again, I want a dog that enjoys hiking with me and is able to clock in some miles. And here’s the thing, if she’s agile enough to go hiking, then wouldn’t she be agile enough to play agility?

In addition to the underwater treadmill, I opted to try laser treatments as well. I’ve never done them. The jury is still out as far as I’m concerned.

I saw an immediate impact from the underwater treadmill after the first time.

In Camm’s case, because she was already so incredibly fit, and surprisingly didn’t lose as much muscle mass in her rear leg as one would’ve though after 12 weeks (ahem …!), regaining muscle in the rear has not been my major concern. I’m very good at helping my dogs to become fit and muscular. Perhaps a little too good, according to Mr. Bob.

My main concern has been her actual foot.

The muscles in the foot atrophied incredibly and her ability to flex the foot and move it properly – like a fit athletic dog in the prime of her life – was severely compromised. That is to be expected since it was immobilized for 12 weeks.

The underwater treadmill has allowed her to start gaining back the flexion in her left rear foot. Until she started getting that back, the movement of the foot itself, and the ability to build muscle again in the foot itself, was compromised.

But Mr. Bob also warned me that the underwater treadmill, if continued for long, can also build muscle very quickly and too much in the rear end, something I don’t want.

I know these things, but I cannot seem to get a straight answer about next steps and what I can be doing from the so-called experts.

Initially I was told rehab would be months and I shouldn’t even expect to bring her back to agility until the spring, if ever. In fact, I was warned to only walk her, slowly, on leash .. for weeks apparently, and to continue the underwater treadmill and laser therapy, at oodles of dollars.

I cornered the rehab vet last week and asked again about next steps. I also discovered that the x-rays I’d had my regular vet send over had never even been looked at. Uh-oh. There also seemed to be confusion among the staff as to whether Camm had surgery or exactly what the nature of her injury was. More uh-oh.

Last week I was told that Camm is looking good and that I should consider ending the underwater treadmill exercise (good, because the package of 10 I purchased ends this week) and that she could probably be doing “regular” stuff soon.

Huh? What happened to next spring and maybe never?

Therefore, Camm is now on my rehab plan.

My rehab plan doesn’t involve inflatable balls to balance on or pills or regimented exercises. My rehab plan entails fields, trails in the woods, hills to climb, lots of interesting things to sniff, fallen trees to jump over and to play king of the mountain on, sometimes a harness to pull against, sometimes a breeze to run into, puddles to walk in, jump in and splash through, and definitely a Ball to chase.

We started my rehab plan late last week with a walk in the woods. This week we’ve already taken two walks in the woods, a romp in a couple of fields, a couple of on-leash walks through local parks on a harness to encourage pulling, and we played Ball a few times. And we did find a few puddles to soak her foot in. Actually it was more like a full body mud treatment, but whatever works, right?

I even took Camm over a jump in the backyard late one day this week, had her do a couple of jump-wraps  and had her do the weave poles once. I never practice agility stuff with my dogs on agility stuff, but that was for me to see if she’d be broken after I did that. She wasn’t.

Camm was a very sweet, and patient, patient for the past three and half months, but the joy on her face I see again when out walking through the woods and being able to play with her sister and brothers is not something I see when she’s doing underwater treadmill or laser therapy.

I think she’s gonna like rehab.

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Chinchilla, Please!

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“Mom, I want this thing.”

“Hey, please can have a chinchilla?”

“Don’t bother me now. I’m talking to my new friend. Chinchilla.”

“Don’t make me leave yet! Not done staring at chinchilla!”

“For birthday, no pork chops. Chinchilla, please!”

Brady made the acquaintance of a chinchilla this summer and has been intrigued ever since.

Actually, make that obsessed.

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But in a sort of okay way. I actually don’t think he intends to hurt it.

Nonetheless, this chinchilla creature – I call him Chin (I actually have no idea if it’s a him or a her, but in my head it’s a him) must be studied intently. Very intently. Also very closely. Preferably from about an inch away, although even closer would be nice.

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Surprisingly, Chin is not very offended by Brady’s interest. He usually comes out of his little house and hangs out with Brady. I’m guessing that in some inter-species way, Brady is communicating that he really doesn’t want to eat Chin. He just wants to be close friends. Very, very close friends.

Chin doesn’t want to be close friends with Youke. Youke also likes to stare intently at Chin. This has proven a little bit difficult though because mostly Brady won’t move out of the way to allow Youke a better look. Since Brady is the bigger dog, and the more growly dog, Youke relinquishes the staring to Brady. Unless Brady doesn’t accompany me to Chin’s residence, which also happens to be the residence of two favorite characters, “Jack Lemmon” and “Walter Matthau.”(For more on this, read Sexy Senior.) Then Youke feels free to do a lot of staring at Chin.

However, Youke’s intent is clearly not quite so benign. I’m fairly certain that Youke would like to bite Chin. It’s pretty hard to make friends when you bite them first.

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The funny thing is that Chin seems nearly as fascinated with Brady as Brady is with him. I’ve caught them more than once nearly nose to nose, mesmerized by each other’s presence.

Brady’s newfound desire to be friends with a chinchilla reminds me of when he first came to live with me and his feelings about cats.

When I adopted Brady, I had two cats. Spencer, my elderly male orange cat, and Satan- or Satie-Cat as she’s more commonly called these days since as she’s aged her satanic tendencies have diminished.

Spencer preferred dogs over other cats. This was because he was tormented by the two female cats I had at the time when he fell from out of the sky and to my feet. Okay, really he fell as a kitten from out of tree, knocked the wind out of himself and I picked him up and brought him into my house to revive him. He never left. Remarkably, dogs liked Spencer as much as Spencer liked dogs. He was adored by my first dog I had as an adult and converted my husky mix that thought cats were horrendous and were solely good for chasing to worshiping the ground he walked on. As the years went on,  Sylvie the dog and Spencer the cat would actually play with each other. Spencer did much the same for Jasmine. Jasmine was actually a bit afraid of cats when she came to live with me, but Spencer taught her that some cats are wonderful. And Spencer was there as Youke grew up. I caught them many times playing on the bed and then falling asleep cuddled up against each other. Sadly, Satan had nearly the opposite effect and she is the reason why Jasmine and Youke no longer want to have anything to do with cats.

When I adopted Brady, it was highly suggested that he not live with cats as he seemed a bit too interested in them. That’s code for, will chase down a cat and hurt or possibly kill it. However, since I have a good track record for taking the message of Rodney King to the next level among four-legged critters, I decided that he could eventually learn to live with a cat.

Indeed, it started on day one when Spencer greeted Brady at the top of the stairs and did not run away. In fact, he rubbed up against Brady’s face. Brady was confused. What sort of chicanery was this?

As evil as Satan used to be, she always started off by being deceptively nice and friendly. This further confused Brady. Whereas Spencer would rarely take a swing at a dog, Satan though nothing of it when Brady got too pushy. Hence, Brady learned R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

For the first few months Brady was with me, he though the cats should be not only closely watched – as in with his eyes crossed and his nose being tickled by their fur – but they should also be herded. Spencer wasn’t troubled by this at all as at the time he was pretty elderly and didn’t really move much. Satan was another matter. With time, and many, many helpful suggestions from me and even more helpful messages from Satan that involved unsheathed claws, Brady learned that while incredibly hypnotic, cats were often not very nice or very, very boring. Cats sleep a lot.

Spencer died about a year after I got Brady. Satie-Cat still likes to rub herself against the dogs, but only Brady and Camm. She knows Jasmine and Youke dislike her for her prior mean unpredictability.  Youke dislikes her so much that he gets this odd little twitch in his lip if she tries to be friendly with him.

Nowadays, Brady still occasionally has to watch Satie-Cat very closely, usually sitting on the couch with his nose a centimeter from her curled, sleeping body, his eyes boring into her and willing her to open her eyes. He also sometimes still follows her from room to room and even will cut around the kitchen to head her off from the living room where she likes to perch on the back of the couch. Then he’ll helpfully suggest she go a different route. This would be useful if she was a sheep. The cat’s savior is usually her bestie – Camm. Camm adores Satie-Cat and Camm will tell Brady off when she thinks he’s being too obsessive. Then she’s gently place Satie’s head in her own mouth. While this looks frightening to the uninitiated, I’ve actually seen Satie solicit this behavior.  Satie tolerates this well, even the pawing, although I’ve suggested on many occasions that she doesn’t have to and have also helpfully suggested to Camm that this is inappropriate. Oddly, Satie just goes right back up to Camm for more.

Perhaps when Brady first met Chin he though Chin was a cat? Upon closer inspection, and whiff, he likely realized that this was far from true, but he also knows now that Chin isn’t a bunny either. Chin does sort of resemble a cuter looking rat. Chin is clearly some sort of exotic creature – perhaps half cat, half bunny – that Brady is convinced he should have in his life.

So much so, that I seriously have wondered where a chinchilla would live in my house.

Is it wrong to get a chinchilla for your dog?

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“Here to see my friend. Open the door NOW!”

The Roommate, and Other Special Things

I’ve recently said some unkind things about Brady. More specifically, I’ve used a quite a few expletives.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t love him. It just means that I see him for the dog that he is and am honest about it. And you’ll never catch me calling him, or any of the other dogs, my fuzzy-wuzzy little fur-babies. Because they’re not. They’re dogs. Wonderful alien beings that seem to feel and know more about humans than humans know, but that have their own personalities and quirks, which sometimes means they are assholes and sometimes means they are the most incredible living beings on earth.

Last week was not kind. But the weekend was sort of magical.

I won’t go into the details of what made last week not so great, except to say that Wednesday Jasmine did a lot of puking and Thursday Brady did a lot of pooping.

Being the kind and considerate dog that she is generally, Jasmine cleaned up most of the messes herself. In fact, I didn’t even know she was puking that much until I went to bed and found the wet spots in the carpet upstairs. However, I stepped merely in a wet spot, not a puke mess. The one puke I actually saw in action, I caught her in time to rush her outside to do it.

Brady was another story. I came home Thursday to a mess on the carpet downstairs. Naturally I accused Jasmine. I later realized it was probably Brady, but since he’s never soiled inside, he was the last of the four I would’ve considered. Given that it was an unkind week, I was tired and grumpy, and became livid when I came home to that mess. Even Camm had to give up trying to console me.

Camm would make a great therapy dog – for me. Whenever I get upset – in an extremely sad or mad way – she does her best to calm me down. Often this works, but there are days, like last Thursday, when I’m so far over the edge, that even she knows it’s best to keep her distance.

Long story short, Brady had an extremely upset tummy. Unfortunately, the combination of explosive diarrhea and gorgeous fluffy pantaloons is not good. I lost count of how many times I popped him in the bathtub to wash him off after Bath #3.

Brady does not enjoy being bathed and is typically not too cooperative. By the end of the evening – somewhere around 11 pm, he was actually hopping into the tub himself and resignedly let me soap up his butt and rinse down his feathery tail and rear end.

He was literally squeaky clean. I probably should’ve used conditioner too.

Therefore, after a long evening, a long workday and a long evening drive, I was exhausted when I arrived at the hotel last Friday night for an agility weekend.

The dogs were also a little stressed from my unpleasant mood of the prior few days.

But they were in for a huge surprise.

A friend had offered to share her room with me and the dogs for the weekend. And because she was the judge for the agility trial, she was without her own dogs, therefore, no worries about rooming with my four dogs.

My friend knows my dogs well and they adore her, but there is a difference between a few hikes, some petting at a trial and actually rooming with JaYoBaCa for the weekend. I was a little apprehensive. I wasn’t worried about Brady’s exploding butt as I was pretty sure he’d literally pooped himself out. I was worried about how crazy and obnoxious they’d all be.

Turns out that having Auntie P. as your roommate is THE. BEST. THING. EVER.

All fours dogs were extremely excited and happy that Auntie P. was actually staying in the room with them and conveniently SLEEPING IN THE OTHER BED. There was much hopping up and down on beds, hugging of Auntie P. and licking of Auntie P.

There was also initially some confusion. To sleep with Human Mom as usual or to sleep with Auntie P.? Since this was so unclear for a while, there was a great deal of hopping from one bed to the other. And since they are athletic dogs, this was easily accomplished by merely jumping from bed to bed.

Eventually, and much, much later that night, Youke, Camm and Jasmine decided the usual sleeping arrangements would suffice and slept with me.

Brady did snuggle with his beloved Auntie P. for a while, but eventually, he too chose his typical sleeping place somewhere on the floor.

The best part was the mornings. The dogs were clearly delighted that Auntie P. was still there each morning and chose to snuggle into bed with her while I took a pair of them outside and then rotated the other pair outside.

I was a little worried since Auntie P. was the judge for our trial and Youke and Brady were running this weekend.

I need not have been concerned. Apparently, both boys have a very strong work ethic. In one gobsmacking moment that occurred during the trial, I walked past Auntie P. with Brady on the leash beside me. I expected him to drag me over to her as he tried to wriggle his way between her legs like he ordinarily does when he sees her at agility trials. Nope. She even walked up to us and petted him, but he gave her a cursory glance and barely paid her any attention.

“Sorry, Auntie. Can’t say hi right now. I’m busy doing ‘gility stuff.”

It was almost like he knew she was the judge.

Neither he nor Youke ever glanced at her during their runs in the ring that I ever saw. I guess there’s something to be said about the work ethic and intensity of a border collie.

Still, I’m glad Camm wasn’t running this past weekend. Of all the dogs, I think she was the one most beside herself with Auntie P.’s presence as our roommate. Every time my back was turned, and even when it was not, there she was making goo-goo eyes at Auntie.

I think Brady’s newly cleansed and super fluffy butt might have had the incidental impact of cleansing his attitude of late.

Brady and I worked as a team this weekend. Let me restate that. Brady and I were a dream team this weekend.

Brady and I ran in 12 runs and earned 10 #1s. Granted, there are not a lot of dogs that run in his particular division and this was not a huge trial, but his times were often the fastest in the entire class or within the top three fastest times. And we ran clean in 10 of those runs. Again, we just couldn’t get those Chances qualifying scores. His awesome performance earned him Elite Large Dog- Second Place in the Columbia Cup in last weekend’s NADAC agility trial. He also won me a fabulous tee-shirt that brags that we ran clean in all four Regular runs.

More than the accomplishment though, was the flow and fun of our runs. We synched as a team and it felt marvelous.

Youke and I also had a successful weekend. I made some silly handler errors with Youke, which he obligingly followed. My incredibly bad habit of peeling off too early and not holding support haunts me with Youke. He is so pressure sensitive and the instant pressure is released, he peels off with me. Still, he was super happy to play and the pictures from the trial all show his crazy train face, which is the look he gets when he thinks something is super fun and awesome.

Jasmine and Camm got to walk the fairgrounds and do some exploring. Not so notable for Jasmine, but very much so for Camm as she’s walking for the most part without a limp at all now.

In fact, this evening she got to do something she hasn’t done for a couple of months. She got to come on a walk with her brothers and sister through the woods.

Life is pretty good.

Some pictures from the weekend. All agility photos taken by Joe Camp. Candids are by me.

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Intensity

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Power

 

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About to blow the contact ….

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And contact blown!

 

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Is this right?

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Got it!

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Making dirt fly.

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Wheee!

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Wahoo!

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Woosh!

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JaYoBaCa

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Brady and his pretty ribbon

Nailed

Be careful who or what you name your dog for. Case in point:

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots

Oct 5, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) on the field before the start of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve made no secret of Brady’s hot-headedness nor his lack of patience for dumb handler moves. Brady deserves full credit for the fact that I’ve become a better handler. Sadly for him, and painfully for me, I’m still a work in progress.

Today, we came to the conclusion of a new world record.

A world record in my world and a world record since playing agility with Brady.

I’ve gone nearly the entire summer without being nipped.

That ended today.

At least it was during a private session with our Relationship Counselor.

Whoa! Did The Relationship Counselor know this happened? How good is The Relationship Counselor if she can’t save one of her disciples from being domestically abused?

First of all, it happened in an instant. Literally. Secondly, a tug toy had just been in play and how was either I or The Relationship Counselor to know if it was an accident, or not? Except the tug toy was on the ground at my feet and the nip was directed at my shin, several inches to the diagonal above the tug toy.

I’ll admit, I was confused and at a bit of a loss. I told The Relationship Counselor so and opted to err on the side of forgiveness. It must’ve been a mistake!

But it wasn’t. Oh no siree. It was very deliberate. It just took my much slower human brain much longer to process exactly what happened.

I was working on building more distance skills with Brady and Youke today. Because Youke is pretty much The Best Dog of All Time, it was a super fun session and he worked his little heart, and brain, out.

Brady actually has some very solid foundation skills in this respect and the session was also very good.

However, it drives him bonkers when I walk while he is performing weaves. It is a great source of angst. The Relationship Counselor has made me see it is not so much the walk as it is the slowing down or speeding up that drives him berserk. If I maintain a steady pace, whether a run, skip or walk, he’s fine.

In today’s session, I started out at a walk as he entered the weaves, and was practically crawling as he neared the end. This caused him to creep forward through the last four weaves, head down, staring at me.

I made the mistake of laughing. I did not pay attention to the very large “fuck you” that followed the stare.

The Relationship Counselor proceeded to show me a better way to handle the sequence. Although I now realize he was silently swearing at me as she was helping me, I wasn’t paying attention at the time. I went to gather Brady up to re-work the sequence and he hit me in the shin. With his teeth.

“Did he just bite you?!” exclaimed The Counselor.

“I’m not sure,” I answered truthfully. “I think he was going for the toy,” I said, even then, I was doubtful. “I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

I then worked the sequence with him. Perfectly I might add and with emphasis and firm intent. The emphasis and firm intent was because as I was taking him through the short sequence, I was becoming extremely pissed off. Motherfucker hurt!

The Relationship Session aka agility lesson ended on this good note. Brady was quite pleased with himself and pranced back to the kennel to wait to be leashed up. As The Relationship Counselor and I talked a few minutes about a few minor details, I started feeling something trickling down my leg.

I knew I had not peed my pants as 1) I went just after I arrived for the lesson, 2) I am not yet wearing Depends and have no bladder leakage issues, and 3) I had not just splashed in some water.

I decided not to call attention to what I knew was going on as 1) The Relationship Counselor is very squeamish, and 2) I did not want to be responsible for her passing out, especially as another student had just arrived on scene. Also, as discovered from a past incident, The Relationship Counselor stocks only tiny inadequate band aids.

However, as I bent down to clip on Brady’s leash I took a quick glance and saw bright red blood running profusely down my leg and pooling into my bright blue sneaker.

Yay. Another Curt Schilling  Moment, courtesy of Brady. Not the first. And unfortunately, probably not the last.

I wiped up the blood as best as I could when I got up to my vehicle and proceeded to still take the boys swimming as planned. I contemplated washing the wound out in the water at the lake, but we were in a sort of swampy area and there were small children on the fishing dock. No need to scare the children with my gaping wound.

When I got home, Jasmine and Camm greeted me and immediately issued their concerns. Both followed me into the bathroom as I cleaned up the dried and caked blood and washed out the bite, applied antiseptic solution and placed a large square bandage over it.. I could barely move in fact as both of my nurses were gravely concerned. Even Youke, stayed at the periphery.

You know who wasn’t concerned and instead was downstairs rearranging pillows on the loveseat as he bounced around with a toy in his mouth?

Brady only realized something was wrong when he went to give me his after-dinner hump.

“Hey there! You know you have some blood on you? Did you get hurt mom?”

Fuckhead.

Good thing I adore him.

Brady is handsome

 

 

 

Normal Will Never Happen

I had a major epiphany this evening, August 24, at approximately 7:01 pm. This major breakthrough occurred just after I’d left a rambling, rather frantic message for a friend about when and where to meet her tomorrow morning for the completion of a good deed that I myself sucked myself into.

I will never have a normal life.

It’s taken me 35 years to realize this. (I’m not counting the first 18 years of my life because really, does anyone 18 or under even want or know what normal is?)

The impetus for this deep realization is that I’m up to my eyeballs in a number of things right now. Those things include being a small business owner and dealing with an ever-growing client base (that really is a good thing, but lately many ups and downs), my decision to volunteer as a trial secretary for an upcoming agility show (I knew that one was going to lead to stress, I just didn’t think I’d be dealing with other stressful things at the same time), my ever-present willingness to jump in and help and try to do good deeds (even if it means that much more work for me), the fact that I have four dogs – one of which is a month shy of 13 years old and is driving me freakin’ batty because we haven’t gone out to do anything in like four days and last, but far from least, Camm’s rehab.

Say what??!!

Yes, it’s true, Clunky Foot Camm is no more.

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Can I get a Hallelujah?!!

Now she’s Shriveley Foot Camm. Okay, shriveley isn’t really a word, but it should be.

 

We’re saving the clunk though as a memento of the past 12 weeks.

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It smells stinky. Am I ‘sposed to chew it?!

On Monday, Camm had her second set of x-rays taken to determine the progress of her broken metatarsal bone healing. (The first set taken at eight weeks showed the bone had not healed completely, meaning Camm got to spend some extra special longer bonding time with her splint/bandage apparatus.)

 

I had an inkling that the news was good when I could hear the vet tech bringing a dog back into the waiting room area and that dog was not making a clunking sound as she walked.

Sadly however, we must now work on ridding ourselves of the shriveled-up, tiny and inadequate foot.

Camm’s rear foot is a very, very sad dangling thing at present. It’s shriveled, it’s punctuated by some very sore pink spots and it’s bent into the same position it has been in for the past 12 weeks. The sight of it makes my want to cry, it’s so pathetic.

Today, we had our first appointment with an underwater treadmill.

The side benefit to weeks of seeing the vet twice a week for bandage checks is that Camm now loves the vet office. To her credit as a charmer and as a well-behaved dog, she has publicly been named as a favorite by many of the staff there. (Sorry Brady. I think the Sexy Vet Office Lady Friends are appreciative that Camm doesn’t feel the need to poke her nose in their privates. Every. Single. Time.)

Today Camm went to a new vet office. She was nonplussed by this.

As chilled out as she was, she was still prepared to get a bit snarky when the vet started handling the tiny dangly body part that used to be a perfectly functioning rear paw, but was taken aback when he informed her he would snark back. Therefore she decided that she’d let me hold her collar while he rubbed and manipulated her sore little pink foot.

Then, much to Camm’s amazement, she was hustled, at least with me by her side, to another room that had a cat wandering about inside. But before she could find out that the cat wasn’t kind to dogs (I was told this, she quickly forgot about the cat as a result of the next series of events), she was hustled into a large box with clear glass sides. Confusing to say the least, but all handled in stride.

And then the box started filling with water.

Holy mother of gods! Camm stared at the rising water, then looked at me. To her credit though, she wasn’t frightened. Camm had a plan. Swim to safety.

Poor Camm who hasn’t gotten to go swimming all summer was suddenly swimming for her life in a glass box and the water was rising fast.

And then the floor moved.

Holy motherfucking hell!

Camm thrashed about looking for a way to swim out of the glass box.

The vet and therapist dryly observed she was swimming and not walking on the underwater treadmill as was the proper protocol.

Well, duh! Did anyone explain to Camm the proper protocol? Did anyone explain there was an alternative to swimming in a box of water?

Thus, the water level dropped.

Ah! Camm instantly understood. She started to walk as best as she could on the moving floor despite the high water. And despite a sore foot that hasn’t been used in 12 weeks and she didn’t think she’d ever get to use again.

And then the moving floor began moving faster.

What the hell? Can’t a border collie girl get a break?!

It was an exhausting 30 minutes.

Still, as far as Camm was concerned 1) she did get to finally have a swim, 2) shriveley foot isn’t as stinky now, 3) the new vet place gives out really good treats, 4) she made some new people friends, and 5) she finally got out of the house and DID something today!

Surprisingly, shriveley foot isn’t looking quite as pathetic already and Camm is very fluffy.

Now, we get to do that twice a week for at least the next month.

Good thing I got another new client today.

Sorry, Youke. Won’t be any time for any naps in the next several weeks.

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I’d rather take a nap than be normal.

 

 

Weekend in Pictures

Or at least less words.

Friday. Hot. Planned hike with friends. Stupid Friday traffic. Friends had to turn around. Went hiking anyway. Very hot. Still had fun. Excellent day.

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Brady like to live a bit on the edge

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Most of the hike was under the trees. Unless you were Youke. Then you were on the trees. Trees make legs looks even longer.

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On top of the world! Here’s the funny thing. We hiked to the top, I posed the dogs for a picture, the dogs said a friendly hello to the only other people up there (and asked if they’d already had lunch), and then we turned right around and went back down. Brady was not interested in lingering for the sights. Youke was a little, but only because he knows we usually have snacks when we get to the top.

Saturday. White chocolate mocha with three shots. Me time. Pedicure. Green sparkly toes now. Read a book on my deck in my bathing suit. Too hot to move much. Forced dogs to nap.

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It’s important to hydrate when it’s this hot out. Light, entertaining summer read. Can’t really see my new sparkly dark green toes.

Sunday. Agility. Extremely sunny. Not quite as hot, but still hot. Ran dogs barefoot as no time to put on shoes. Youke not feeling the agility thing due to hot. Brady crushes Elite Chances. Who is this amazing dog? Youke continues to not feel the agility thing due to very hot despite dip in the stock tank. Also probably due to hours between runs. Brady not feeling like doing contacts and opts for very deliberate amazing super flying leap from the a-frame. Right in front of the judge. Looks at judge to make sure she noticed how incredible he is. She comments. He is sure it is in approval and chooses not to listen to my comment. Leaves ring with prance in step and tail flagging in the air with misbegotten pride. Tunnelers is a bit of a disaster due to Youke not feeling it due to hot and Brady being sure I was sending him to THAT tunnel. Maybe I did. I was hot.

Boring day for Jasmine and Camm, but at least got to visit.

Now we are done with weekend.

Let Me Tell You Where We’re Going

This is a story about a dog. Not just any dog. This is a story about a Border Collie.

49549634-HME_5576 Photo taken by Heidi Erland

Okay, it’s true. I have a bit of a prejudice. But I’m here to tell you, those stories you hear are true. Border Collies are scary smart.

But first, a bit leading up to the episode of brilliance.

I spent an impromptu weekend playing some CPE agility this past weekend. Impromptu because I was originally only entered for a few runs with Brady on Saturday. I’d entered the trial months ago with Brady and Camm, but only entered Brady in a few runs and had intended to spend the weekend running mainly Camm. Then she got broke.

I had withdrawn Camm, but never got a refund. I figured I’d get it this weekend. So I headed up north a little ways to play with Brady in three runs on Saturday.

It’s been six weeks since I’ve done an agility trial with any of my dogs – and since I was occupied as a trial chair at the last event and my head wasn’t in the game, it’s really been more like eight weeks. Plus, we’ve not done that much practice since one instructor has been out of town and I’ve skipped several lessons with another instructor due to Camm’s vet appointments – scheduled and otherwise.

I was less than enthused to head out on Saturday for the trial and almost bagged. I didn’t feel even the tiniest twinge of excitement or anticipation. Truthfully, it felt like a chore to be headed to the trial.

As a result, I got there late and missed the walk-through for the first course I had scheduled with Brady. But I watched a little bit and picked up a course map and saw how the course worked, therefore selecting my handling plan in my head. Plus, I really didn’t care. I just figured we’d be rusty. We had a couple of off courses, but Brady didn’t really know that and the errors were mine from being unable to walk and take note of certain spacing issues.

Here’s the thing. Brady was so happy and excited to be at the start line and doing AGILITY! It was infectious. We then had two really stellar runs later in the day that magically followed the exact vision I had when walking the courses and making handling decisions. It appeared our mojo was back and it felt mah-val-ous.

Never thought I’d see the day when I’d come home feeling all good and relaxed because I just spent a day doing agility with Brady.

Because I had such a fantastic time with Brady and with friends, plus a couple of friends were debuting their newest up and coming agility dogs and I wanted to see that and support them, I asked if my credit from Camm could just be used for day-of entries on Sunday with Brady and Youke. Thus, I took the entire gang up with me on Sunday.

Camm and Jasmine came to support and cheer-lead the boys. In Camm’s case, I think she was convinced that she was finally going to get to do something. Sadly, I had to inform her she was there to socialize a bit and to hang out in a crate most of the day. Disappointing for her, but at least she got to see a lot of human friends.

Jasmine decided her contribution was to bark, a lot. Highly annoying. However, as she seems to be losing some of her hearing, almost impossible to get her to shut up, which could lead to me losing some of my own hearing.

Both Youke and Brady were excellent. Youke was perfect for the day, qualifying in all four of his runs. He started off a bit ditzy on his Standard run, but regained his focus about a third of the way through the course, ended up with both a clean run and decent time. He did both distance challenges in CPE’s version of Gamblers, although only one was needed and made Snooker feel and look incredibly easy – including a threadle. This is interesting, because I don’t recall ever actively teaching him a threadle, but he’s great at them. Our judge threw down a gauntlet at us as we were on the start line for Jumpers, challenging us to beat a speedy dog that had run a bit previously. I knew we wouldn’t beat that time, but a challenge is a challenge – right? – so I pushed Youke a bit and we nailed a lovely smooth and speedy run.

Brady was not perfect, but only because he got snookered by the threadle in Snooker. Despite that, our connection all weekend was perfect. I think he very much enjoyed having me all to himself on Saturday as the other dogs didn’t come, plus he got to spend it doing something he really likes.

Brady&TugPhoto by Nina Sage

 

Which leads me to my story.

BradyScan

Photo by Heidi Erland and cropped by me

I noticed a long time ago that Brady scans the arena and the equipment when he sits at the start line. When I first started doing agility with him, he was scanning the arena for the environment and mainly for the location of other dogs. As I worked with him on his reactivity and his environmental sensitivity, as well as on playing the game of agility, gradually, the game became more important. Nowadays, he’s completely into the game.

On days when the run order is tall to small, and he’s the first dog on the line, we’re both a little bit more relaxed. In fact, often times we need to wait for the ring crew to get set up. This is when he has the most time to scan the ring and scan the equipment.

I mentioned this to one of my instructors a while ago and she agreed that there are many dogs that scan the ring and thinks that many of them make decisions about the course right then and there. In the case of Brady and Youke, if it’s a NADAC course set up with a contact/tunnel discrimination right at the start, I’ll whisper in their ears at the start line which one it is that we’re taking. Unless my body language is saying otherwise – which happens sometimes, they usually take what I directed.

On Sunday, I entered the ring with Brady for the Jumpers course as he was the first dog to run the course. But we had to wait for the ring crew to get into their respective seats. It took a while. We didn’t set up at the start line as they clearly weren’t ready for us, instead hanging out closer to the entry gate.

I crouched down as I usually do to softly pet Brady a bit before our run. I noticed he was intently focused on the course. I watched his eyes as he carefully noted the placement of the obstacles. This isn’t really new and I often “tease” him a bit and tell him we’re going to start “in front of that jump and then take that tunnel.” However, this time, we had to wait for a fair bit and I decided to tell him exactly how the course went.

“Hey Bug. Let me tell you where we’re going,” I said softly. His ears flicked a bit. “We’re going to start with that tunnel,” I pointed to a tunnel slightly to our left. “Then we’re going to take that jump, then that jump, another jump, to that tunnel.”

His eyes followed my pointing finger.

“Then that jump, to that jump, that jump, this jump. Then, you have to pay close attention to me, to that tunnel, But you have to pay attention cuz it’ll be a little bit tricky.” I was telling him about a not so obvious tunnel entry.

His ears flicked forward and he glanced at me quickly.

“Back to those two jumps,” I continued pointing along the course, taking him one obstacle after the either.

Then I pointed to the straight line of four jumps – deceivingly set up to the human eye as a not straight line.

“And that part is ‘GO’,” I said, pointing to the straight line to the finish.

His eyes followed my finger and his ears flicked forward as he turned his head slightly to the right to see. He glanced slightly at me again. “Got it,” he communicated.

Finally the judge and ring crew were ready. We stepped forward to the start line. Brady’s eyes were focused forward, then he looked at me.”Ready,” he said.

The run was amazing.

I’m not saying that my handling didn’t help, because it did and it was spot on, even if if I do say so myself. However, Brady quickly glanced at me at the slightly tricky entry into the third tunnel that I’d warned him about.

“This is the part you were talking about, right?”

“Yes!”

The run was a piece of cake after that. Often times Brady struggles with a straight line “go on” of several obstacles in a trial setting. Not this time. I told him “Go” and watched as his right ear twitched back a little bit with the cue and his gaze stayed forward and he sailed without even glancing back at me over the straight line of jumps.

It was magical. Best run of the weekend.

So, I feel like I cheated a bit by telling him the course ahead of time. Granted, it was only some 30 seconds before we ran it, but it did feel like we had a bit of an advantage. My apologies to my fellow competitors.

Still, it was clear that Brady appreciated knowing a little bit ahead of time where we were going.

49549631-HME_5574Photo by Heidi Erland

None of these photos are from this past weekend unfortunately as there was no photographer at the trial. However, they all are of Brady and me!

Adulting. Or Not

I see I have neglected to blog anything for nearly a month. I could offer many excuses, but being an adult is not really one of them.

My ancient dryer broke this week. Because I’m paranoid about running appliances when I’m not at home, I was luckily in the house when this dramatic event took place. Dramatic due to the screeching metal-on-metal sound it made as it was attempting to perform what was no doubt its last job.

So I need a new dryer now. As luck would have it, I really had no plans this weekend. Sears isn’t that far away.

Laundry

Yeah. This is a picture of me not adulting.

I decided purchasing a new dryer this weekend seemed too overwhelming and instead I hung out all my laundry today. I even purchased another $9.99 rack to assist with the job.

Okay, well, I am sort of adulting during the weekdays. I am finding I definitely enjoy being my own boss. The lack of a safety net at times is sometimes scary, but as I’m not prone to being terribly adult, I try not to think of that too often. Being as it’s scary and all. Yet, it’s also rather exhilarating. I’m one of those sorts that find the thrill of the unknown basically pretty fun. Scary, immature perhaps, but fun.

I did adult a little bit, and gained some new business as a result. I’m thinking I should be adulting more come early fall. But only after August is over because summer.

One thing I’m not doing much of, in addition to being much of an adult, is agility.

Camm being broken took the wind right out of my sails.

That sounds like I am sad and disappointed. I was a tiny bit the week she broke her foot, but I was also planning on an agility break with the boys anyway. Originally, I was just going to play with her all summer. But she got broken and was ordered to be basically inactive for eight weeks.

How’s that going you ask?

Camm & Me at Lake

Surprisingly well actually.

This photo was taken by a friend and was one of three occasions in the past nearly eight weeks where Camm left the insane asylum that also serves as her home.

I’m extremely lucky in that all of my border collies understand the concept of being chill and seem to have some innate sense that healing is taking place and being dull and boring is good for them. Notice I said border collies. Lord forbid if Jasmine ever needs some extended downtime.

It does make me very sad though when Camm gives the other three dogs a very thorough once-over when we return from a hike and then leans in to me and offers hugs and kisses. I try to assure her that soon enough she’ll be running and playing and going on all the fun adventures too.

This week will be eight weeks since the break and I’m hoping the x-rays will be positive and we can start rehab work.

In the meantime, the break from agility has been downright wonderful. To make the break even more complete, my relationship counselor has been traveling to exotic locales and offering her sage advice to others. This has allowed me to spend time and bond with Brady and Youke on a more organic level. We’re still doing once weekly agility classes, at least when not interrupted by Camm’s vet appointments, but oddly, I’m feeling zero compulsion to really do agility. Conversely, this has resulted in what dawned on me a few weeks ago as the first major breakthrough in training I’ve seen for a while.

I’ve fretted for some time about the exceedingly slow pace at which I accumulate Chances qualifications with my boys, despite having the apparent skill set. Yet in the last few weeks, I’m seeing the boys do some very cool stuff distance-wise that makes me so happy. This translates to me having more confidence in what I’m signaling, which in turn translates to them having more confidence in me as a handler. And if one or the other of us fucks up, who cares? It’s just training – basically play – and I can’t take it that seriously. Plus, the most marvelous thing of all is that I feel no real desire to trial and see if the skills translate into a trial setting.

I was actually super happy that I gained a new client this month who required service over the weekend, thus preventing me from possibly arising at o’dark thirty to trek up north for a few hours and enter a trial. Yeah, we went on a hike instead.

Hiking. Back to basics with Jasmine, Youke and Brady and back to old haunts that I haven’t taken them to for the past couple of years. Also, back to late day, almost evening, hikes.

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Last night I took Jasmine, Youke and Brady up a trail that was gloriously free of other hikers. It was the second hike this week for the three of them. That’s down from three hikes the prior week.

We haven’t really done anything epic this summer as my work schedule revolves around morning and midday hours, thus limiting our jaunts to late afternoon if I’m feeling energetic, or evening if I’m not.

Of course, I should be doing grown-up things, like grocery shopping, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, doing paperwork, maybe even updating my blog.

Eh. So overrated.

I was so happy the other day when I discovered a bag of tortilla chips in the garage. They weren’t even that stale and made a great dinner with leftover salsa from something I can’t remember but at least wasn’t moldy.

Even getting my oil changed seems like  huge commitment of time these days. Time that I could be spending with my dogs out on a trail somewhere. or time I could be planted on my couch or in a chair on my deck, reading.

I did at least use one of my agility free weekends to vacuum my house and tidy up a bit. Two weeks ago.

I find it very hard to adult when I’m not working. Woods and books are just too appealing.

Brady Time

Brady may valley

“Mom got her lazy ass out of bed early and it wasn’t even an agility day!”

Got up early this morning to go have breakfast at the Senior Center with my clients, “Jack Lemmon” and “Walter Matthau” and decided to take Brady with me. I figured Brady might not be as overwhelmed with the attention from the old guys if it was just him and I was right. He still didn’t appreciate their curiosity and vast admiration of 1) his incredible peeing skills, 2) his fluffy pantaloons, and 3) his athletic ease of movement, but he was tolerant. There was a fair amount of coming to tuck his head between my legs, which is apparently to my dogs a safe place.

All my dogs seek out safety between my legs at times and when there’s some disagreement or someone doesn’t like what someone else did or said, then they seek solace with their heads tucked in tight between my legs. I’ve learned that a  little bit of a leg squeeze is also comforting at times like this, as is a gentle murmuring of comfort and understanding about the wrongs in life. It reminds me of when my youngest brother, Saul, was little and he’d literally hide underneath my mom’s skirts or hide behind her legs.

I get it. Sometimes it’s just hard to deal.

But Brady’s morning turned around because I then took him for a hike.

That was the plan all along. It’s been a while since it was just me and Brady doing something together and exploring the woods is one of Brady’s most favorite things in life.

But I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go until I got to where I was.

I decided to hike this trail that I’d gone on partially with a friend early in the week. I was curious about where it went and we didn’t get too far the other day. The area is one also, that despite its close proximity to me, I haven’t actually hiked that much – at least from this particular trailhead.

Therefore, feeling adventurous, and with no pressing time constraints, I decided it was Brady Time.

And so we wandered. First, I explored some smaller “interpretive” trails just off the parking lot merely out of curiosity. Then off we went on the actual hike. Now, having made a last minute decision – I’d been contemplating three different spots for Brady Time and ultimately chose the closer one – I wasn’t clear on distance, elevation, trail conditions, or trail features. Kids, don’t do this at home. One should always be well prepared when dealing with nature. Me though? I just figured we’d wander until we were tired.

It was peaceful and, despite being the Saturday of a long holiday weekend, the trail was nearly devoid of other people. We did encounter two separate men walking their dogs, but both were quiet and seemingly also in for the solitude and peace of the woods. This is what happens when you get your ass out of bed early. Hardly anyone else hiking except for old guys.

Although I didn’t know it, the hike was six miles. Plus we added on a bit with the exploration of the lower side trails. Despite not knowing the distance at the time, my legs are a fairly good judge of distance and I figured we’d done between five to six miles when we returned to the car.

The fantastic thing about a meandering, woodsy hike like this is the incredible peace one feels when done. And I wasn’t the only one. Brady hopped into his crate in the back of The Living Room on Wheels and plopped down, face relaxed and happy. As we drove out of the parking lot, my body felt flooded with relaxation chemicals and a sense of peace and well-being.

I stopped for a coffee at a local stand on the way toward home and sat enveloped in the comfort of The LRoW. Even the line for gas at Costco couldn’t ruin the complete sense of peace and relaxation I felt.

Brady is now curled up in is dog bed, also relaxed and peaceful. I can’t imagine all the things he’s remembering about what he sniffed, the squirrels he saw, the sounds he heard and I hope, the peace he felt having me solely to himself for a while today.

Camm dirty laundry

“Mama, you took your pants to interesting places! I smell woods!”

Of course we did have to deal with the other dogs when we got home. Camm, who really hasn’t gone much of anywhere since she broke her foot, was entranced by the smells on my pants. It makes me sad that she had to console herself by laying next to the laundry basket and stuffing her nose into my pants leg. However, soon enough it’ll be Cammi Time again.