Monday, August 23, 2010

Good Days and Bad Days

Wow....I really got off track with my blog. It has been almost two weeks since I wrote anything. One of the problems with my writing is that I always feel the need to be inspired when I write so as to make sure that my musings appear to be at least somewhat interesting and witty. But I know that I really need to force myself to write even when i do not feel like it.
So I went to Austin for a long weekend. And it was wonderful. We played with dogs, visited friends, made incredible guacamole courtesy (avocados, limes and recipe) of my dear friend Barb from Malibu, went sailing, shopped at thrift stores and the Mexican Market for dog toys and props, taught a seminar to some really fabulous students and had an overall great time.
Came home and went right back to work and it has taken these past ten days to really get back on track. I was exhausted and just could not get caught up on sleep.
But I am back swimming, and heard a rumor that this oppressive heat may start to dissipate tomorrow and plan to start walking as soon as that happens.
Have not lost any more weight, but only gained back three pounds while i was in Austin, so I guess it sure could have been a lot worse. My camera got lost in Austin and then it was found, but the lens was broken so it is officially dead. Thank goodness we still have Kaity's little red camera. We also salvaged the memory card out of the broken camera, so the 200+ photos we took in Austin were not lost either. So all in all it could have been a lot worse.
Parked my truck in the dark Saturday morning at Wal Mart on the way home from work to grocery shop and someone sideswiped it and took out the entire passenger side. Poor Brownie is 15 years old and has 200,000 miles on her so i do not have collision insurance. But at least it is driveable, the passenger door was not affected and it is on the off side so I do not have to look at it. So all in all, could have been a lot worse.
The new Aussie boy has been renamed Spur. His biopsy came back negative and he is an amazing and sweet dog. All in all, could not be much better!
So I drone on. (Re above: hate to be boring and not witty when I write)..........
Next month is one freestyle event that I am judging and competing with Tilly in a Pairs routine, plus it will be Flag Puppy and Spurs debut in the Show and Go offered at the end of each day. The following weekend Tilly and I will be competing in agility.
Still droning.....I am even boring myself at this point.

So....I have begun editing again in my life. Editing my stuff that is. Over the past year we have taken several tubs of clothing, linens and other items to church to donate. Today it was two large tubs of books and kitchen appliances that I never use. It is brutal at times....but I just own too much stuff. I always feel really guilty because at $10 an hour I basically live pay check to paycheck as a single mom so I have never been able to give a tithe to the church. We always bring a small donation, but to give up ten percent would mean that we would not have electricity some months. So I decided to give my stuff to them so that it can be used to help others. I still have too much. There are days that I remember a bit longingly the days when everything fit into my car as I traveled from racetrack to racetrack......but truly, I would not trade my life today for the past in any way. It is hard being a single mom no doubt, but I have become a master at Top Ramon and gourmet Mac and Cheese.

Okay...I am at a loss for something inspiring to talk about....maybe I need to tell a story....hmmmmm let me think about something fun to tell.

I will talk about my dog Jakey. Jakey is a sheltie who is now 13 years old. I got him when he was three years old. He had spent the first couple years of his life tied up behind a mobile home and was finally removed by animal control for barking. From there he went to sheltie rescue and from there he was selected by Dogs For The Deaf as a potential hearing dog. At first Jakey was a wild man. DFD has apartments built above their kennels for training purposes. I was told that Jakey used to race around the apartments like crazy and they were not sure if they could settle him enough for training, but eventually he did start to learn. He was pretty far along in his training when one day out in town he became frightened of the automatic doors going in and out of the stores. They worked with him for awhile, but he did not get any better and it was decided to wash him out of the program and let him be adopted out as a career change dog. He went through a couple of foster homes, but Jakey was not exactly a cuddly sweet boy so nobody wanted to adopt him.
I was asked to foster him when his current foster left to go on vacation. I went and picked him up. At the time I was our regional trainer for Petsmart. I brought him back to work with me and started playing with him. Within a few minutes I called DFD and told them to go ahead and file the adoption papers- Jakey had found his forever home.
Now over the years Jakey earned numerous titles in both agility and freestyle. We called him Jakey the Rocket Dog.....and he was really really fast. He also had a drive in freestyle that was a joy to work with. Once a judge called him a 'once in a lifetime dog' and I do not think that was very far off. But that is not the story that I want to tell.

About three months after I adopted Jakey, DFD hosted our yearly Pet Expo at the fairgrounds. It was a two day event filled with seminars, vendors, exhibitions and games for Southern Oregon pet owners. I went and did demos with Jakey in both obedience and agility. By this time Jakey had become invaluable to me at work. I brought him almost everyday and he had become an amazing dog when it came to showing examples of what a well trained dog could be taught to do. He had simply not made a mistake in the months that I had owned him and I was grateful that I had been allowed to be a part of his life.

But I digress.....this weekend was filled with hundreds of pets and their owners. In the afternoon there were games that were played out in the big covered horse arena (about 200 feet long) and Kaity wanted to take Jakey out and play the games with him. I felt a bit guilty- after all- what dog would have a chance against my magical and perfect sheltie? But Kaity was insistent, so I agreed.

We went out to the ring and the first couple of games were fun. Kaity gave Jakey the cues while I held him and we ribboned in fastest sit and musical chairs. Then came the game we were all waiting for- the Fastest Recall! Who could ever beat Jakey the rocket dog?

The premise of the game was that all of the dogs (about 40 each heat) were held/stayed at one end of the arena while all of the owners went to the other. At a signal from the starter we were all to call our dogs to us and the fastest one to the other end was the winner. A simple, easy game....that had an amazing capacity for disaster when you think about it. 40 strange dogs all racing the length of the arena together? It still amazes me that I was even willing to participate. But my sheltie was having fun, my daughter was imploring and I had enough of an ego that I wanted to show off my brilliant Jakey.

So we lined up all of the dogs. Of the 40 dogs, 39 of them were held by people. I left Jakey on a sit stay and walked with Kaity to the opposite end of the ring. As the announcer started the countdown, someone in the crowd (and there was a BIG crowd) popped a balloon and several dogs were turned loose and began to run to the end of the ring. The announcer shouted that it was a false start and we needed to begin again. And then he said "and folks- just look at that wonderful little sheltie still sitting there'.

Because my beautiful Jakey had never moved even as the dogs around him broke rank. I had continued to hold my hand up in front of me to cue him for his stay, and he had never wavered in his perfect behavior. I remember feeling an actual tightness in my throat as I realized that I had the perfect partner in Jakey. A lovely, intelligent brave little dog who would do anything for me.

Then the announcer called 'go' and I lowered my hand and called Jakey to me along with 39 other handlers. And Jakey shot out of line like a rocket heading straight for me. He was probably 20 feet in front of the closest dogs and the tightness in my throat changed to teary eyes as I watched my loyal and amazing dog heading towards me.

About 50 feet from me I noticed an abrupt shift in Jakey's focus. Without wavering, he changed course like a heat seeking missile. I looked over, and about 20 people away from me a young girl, probably about 10 years old was jumping up and down and screaming for her dog to run faster. I realized that Jakey was heading straight for the screaming child about the same time said screaming child realized that a small and intent sheltie was bearing down on her.

Now to this day I truly believe that had that child just stood there, Jakey would have run to her and showered her with sheltie love. But unfortunately that is not what happened. Said screaming child began to scream louder and to run away from the line up. Jakey, being a herding dog both in breeding and at heart decided to take that moment to reach deep into his ancestry and help to return the errant child to the flock. The faster the child ran, the faster Jakey worked at circling her to bring her back to the line. People were chasing Jakey, the Dogs for the Deaf trainers were attempting to tackle him and the announcer was imploring everyone to stop running so that the situation could be brought under control. Jakey never actually touched the child, but he used every herding technique he could think of to school this child about leaving the safety and order of her flock. Finally one very fast and athletic trainer managed to jump on Jakey and pin him down for a moment so that the child could escape to her family members (who had not helped matter by laughing during the entire display......).

I immediately retrieved my happy and proud dog, trying to cover up the fact that I was wearing a Petsmart Training tee shirt and returned to the main exhibit hall to prepare for my next demonstration of a well trained dog.

To this day, at the grand age of 13, Jakey still keeps an eye out for errant children and always has hope that maybe, just maybe he will be given the chance once more to display his natural ability at controlling any child who might choose to wander from the flock.

Not sure why I decided to share that story........but Jakey is lying on the foot of my bed as I write and I just wanted to talk about him.

So tomorrow I will be back on track completely. Eating healthy, swimming and if it is a bit cooler as predicted starting to walk a few times a week. I am going to try and work some overtime this next month because I told Kaity that I would buy us matching bikes from WalMart and that we could start riding them in the evenings and on weekends. Great thing to do together, good exercise for me, and I can attach a couple of devices onto them to exercise and condition dogs at the same time.........'

So thank you for listening, thank you for not bugging me about not posting sooner, and thank you for your support........

Posting again soon.......

Laura....who is back up to 275 but is back on track again...........

1 comment:

  1. I hope you stop by to visit when you get a chance-I had a diet insight on my blog today. Wow-Flag is losing that baby dog look!