Friday, May 20, 2011

End of the World??

Here it is, Friday night on May 20th....There are people who are sure that tonight is our last night in our world as we know it. You may have heard that there is a Christian group who believes that tomorrow night at 6 pm the rapture will occur and nothing will ever be the same.

Now I happen to be a full fledged, Jesus loving God worshipping Christian. I know in my heart and soul that God exists and that He created all that there is. I believe that he is responsible for our dreams and our accomplishments and that we will all be together again in eternity as He has promised.

But do I believe that tomorrow night will actually be the beginning of the end times? I have no idea. I do believe that all of this has been planned and is unfolding exactly as God has planned for us and perhaps tomorrow we will get to go home....... and perhaps tomorrow I will just be getting ready for bed.

But if nothing else, it has made me think about what I am grateful for in this world today. And the list is very...very...long. There are things that have made me angry and sad and at times very helpless...and yes, a little hopeless. But there is no doubt that the good has vastly outweighed the bad, and that I am grateful for so many things.

And what better time than tonight to write at least a few of them down.....

1) I am most grateful in this world for the gift of my amazing daughter Kaity. When I think about the fact that I have been entrusted with this child it causes me to wonder what I did that was so right to have earned this incredible gift from God.
When Kaity was three days old and had been diagnosed with multiple birth defects that affected both the possible short term outlook at living another day and also the long term outlook of what we ususally view as a normal life, the doctors asked me if I had any questions for them.

I asked just one.....WHY?

I did not drink or do drugs or even color my hair during my pregnancy. I went to bed and stayed there upon doctor's orders in my fourth month of pregnancy. I ate a perfect diet and I took all of my prenatal vitamins. And yet here I was with a child that needed open heart surgery (a couple of times) right off the bat, had no thyroid gland and was most likely going to be severely mentally disabled...and that was IF she lived beyond a few days of life. A team of doctors from UC Davis in California told me that they did not have an answer for me except to say that 'these things happen without explanation'.

But then, after most everyone had left the room, one young pediatrician stayed behind to talk to me. He said that he had an idea as to why this had happened. Anxious to hear any reason that I could use to make sense of the past 24 hours I was ready to listen.

And what he said was very simple. He said that he believed that Kaity was meant to be here in this world at that particular time. And that God had given her to me because he knew that I would take good care of her.

And that was all I needed to hear. I understood completely. And I have never questioned my gift of her again.

But as an aside......I think that God gave her to me because he knew we would take care of each other.

So...most important...I am grateful for Kaity.

Next up....my friends....my dog friends, horse friends, work friends, racetrack friends, high school friends, facebook friends, agility friends, freestyle friends and all the others. I have been blessed in my life with amazing friends. And I have to say a big fat thank you to facebook for allowing me to be back in touch with many of those friends that I had lost touch with.

My friends have sat with me while I cried, laughed with me in joy, celebrated my successes, comisserated my failures, picked me up when I was down and brought me back to earth when I was flying too high.

Thank you to all of my friends.

In particular I am grateful to my best friends in the world- my oldest and closest friend Lisa who has been there for me since the fourth grade. She is more of a sister than someone who shared my bloodlines. I will never be able to thank her enough for all that she has done for me.

And Shari- my dearest dog friend that I could ever imagine having. We share a soul in many ways and I am grateful beyond words that I was judging in Tulsa three years ago when we met. She makes me laugh and she inspires me to be better and better in both my real world and my dog world. I love her dearly.

And my dear friend Pam. Pammy and I were inseparable for many years. I could never describe what a close friendship we had with each other. God took Pam from us at way to young of an age after a brave and courageous fight with cancer and I miss her every single day. It has been several years since she left us and still not a day goes by that I do not think about her and wish I could talk to her.

Anybody in this world would be lucky beyond words to have had even one friend as good as any of these wonderful women and I have been blessed to have all three in my life.

There are dozens of other people I could mention that have also been important, invaluable and blessed to have been a part of my life, but these three women- sisters to me- have meant more to me than I could ever put into words.

I have also been blessed with really good horses.

Among them Moose, my youth horse, show horse, pony horse and companion. He will never be able to be replaced. He was there in my teenage years and was still there two decades later. He taught me how to win and only sometimes how to lose. He never let me down and he spoiled me for all others that came after him.

There was Flash, my outriding horse who gave me thrills and chills and some amazing catches. I can still feel him lower himself further towards the ground and several times come from behind to catch a racehorse that was trying to outrun us. He never missed a horse and an amazing year was made even better by riding him.

And Splash who carried many children and amateur adults that I taught to their first blue ribbon. She was an angel horse who lived for 32 years and never once made even one tiny mistake. I still have our dressage medal that she won when judge Hilda Gurney called us an 'elegant pair'. And then she turned around and a few days later paced a six year old around the ring in a walk trot class. A true gift mare that I was graced to own.

There are dozens others that I could list- but also especially special was Cyrena. Cyrena was a little Arabian mare who was in her late twenties when I bought her as a school horse. She was a cranky little thing but would really work if a youth rider truly worked at it. But her claim to saintness was the fact that she also packed Kaity around while I taught classes. No matter what Kaity did....drop the reins, turn around in the saddle, kick her, wave her arms, yell for my attention, Cyrena never broke out of her steady walk. When Kaity led her around and stopped right in front of her to look at something, Cyrena froze in place until Kaity started moving again. She was the perfect horse and a perfect babysitter. Thank You God for giving us Cyrena. We were blessed to have her until she was 35 years old and there will never be another like her.

So I have expressed gratitude for my daughter, my friends and my horses. But the list would not even start to be complete without my dogs.

My dogs. Such a simple phrase. I am a mother, a horse women and a friend.
But somewhere along the way I also became a dog person.

I had always had dogs. I grew up with two or three dogs always in the family and I adored them. My dog in my teenage years and on through my twenties was the amazing Henry Gondorff. Henry did dozens of tricks, traveled on the racetrack and was my constant companion. At the racetracks where she was not allowed I always snuck her in (in some very creative ways) and we never got caught. She was my confidant and my shoulder to cry on. I loved her more than anything....but I was not a 'dog person' yet.

That came many years later. Somewhere along the way I became a true dog person.
A dog person is someone who knows that the very core of their existence comes from their dogs. They know that their very soul is made up of part human, but mostly dog.
That if you were to look into our hearts, life and breath that we were mostly dog.
A dog person knows that they truly could not live in a world that did not have dogs.
A dog person thinks in terms of dog.
And a dog person knows that you would never question the existence of God....because who else could give us such a gift as the gift of the dog?

I wish that I had owned Henry when I was a real dog person. What things we could have accomplished!
But, a few of my amazing dogs that I am grateful for since becoming a real dog person are-

Jakey who taught me patience in learning to train. Jake was a hard headed, enthusiastic, athletic, brilliant and talented performer. The great Canadian freestyler Ray Underwood told me that Jake was a once in a lifetime dog the first time he saw us perform. Many years later I know this to be true. Whie Jakey was as quick to put his teeth on me as work for me, he and I earned titles as long as my arm in agility and freestyle. He taught me how to train. And he taught me how to compete. And now, at the age of 14 he has lost his hearing and much of his sight. He has also become my shadow around the house and perhaps his greatest gift is that now he shows me each day that he loves me. He wants to be as close to me as possible and what used to be aloofness has been replaced by snuggling. As I write this he has maneuvered himself under my head as a pillow. I love him more today than when we were in the competition ring together.

There is also Joey. I adopted Joey at a pet fair on a Saturday. Took him home with me that night and brought him back the next day and did demos with him. On that Monday I had him neutered and on Tuesday got a call from a theater looking for a dog to play Sandy in Annie. For the next six months I lived a fairytale 7 shows a week as Joey's owner and trainer. I will never forget that magical time in the theater and Joey made it all possible. These days Joey still loves to perform, but most of all just loves to be my dog.

TillyBelle came to me when she was about a year and a half old. Completely unsocialized up to that point she was scared, high strung and difficult to live with. I had retired Jake due to his soundness problems a year earlier and was waiting for the right dog to come along. Tilly was just supposed to be an 'interim' dog. Something to train until I found my perfect partner. But somewhere along the way, after three years of training and being together through some very difficult issues, I realized that I had already found my perfect match. She is a brave girl. I know how scared she still is- but her trust and love for me overcomes her fear and she has taken me places that I never would have thought possible. God gave me a very special gift that I cherish. Tilly lives deep within and surrounding my very soul and she is my heart dog.

So there you have it.....one cherished daughter, three great friends, four amazing horses and three gifted dogs.

I remember that I was once told that you got one good dog, one good horse and one great love.

How blessed have I been? Beyond words.

Will the world end tomorrow night?

That is something that none of us can know with any degree of certainty.

But I can tell you one thing...... I have had more than my share of gifts for an entire lifetime.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday Night

Child is asleep, dogs are asleep, horses are grazing......finally it is peaceful. Tomorrow we will be demoing and I finished cutting music a couple of hours ago. I tend to like to do demos a bit 'on the fly' without a great deal of planning when it comes to choreography. More fun for the dogs and more fun for me...
Tilly and Flaggy will be going with us to dance.
A few updates on how they are doing. At our event in March I chose to not compete with Flag. I decided he needed more seasoning and training before I shoved him out in the ring....but I did dance with him at the benefit banquet. He was very good and I enjoyed him but was very glad that I had waited to compete with him. A few weeks later I did compete with him in Denver and he won his HTM class the first day with a qualifying score and was second the next day without qualifying but I knew that he still needs a lot of training before i want to go back into the ring with him. he is just too nice of a pup to rush.

Tilly has really started to come into her own while competing. At our event she won her division each day and was high scoring herding dog and high scoring artistic dog each day. Best of all she really has started enjoying being in the ring competing. It has been a long road- but I am am relieved that all of the positive training that she has received has finally started to really pay off. Next month we travel to Tulsa try and finish her first Championship- a pairs routine in which we get to be pirates....

Tango has just been allowed to be a puppy. Playing and running wild, he is confident, brave and afraid of nothing. What an amazing performance dog he will be!

We are starting to do a lot more demos now. It was time to cut back a bit on competing and focus on giving back to the community and various non profit groups. We have several lined up over the next few weeks.

In July I will be traveling to South Africa to judge their Championships. It would be fun to really explore and sight see while I am there- but I really did not want to be away from home for too long and my job requires me back as soon as possible- so I will spend about 24 hours getting there, stay for about a week and then head home, traveling another 24 hours to get back.

So once again, when asked about how I am doing, I focus on how the animals around me are doing. It makes sense I guess....they give me strength and purpose. But one of these days I am going to have to dig even deeper...

???????????

The last time that I posted it was snowing. The last time I posted I was just starting my new job. The last time that I posted we were looking forward to our big March event. The last time I posted I was still making excuses about taking care of my own health concerns.

Well now we have had 90+ degree days. I am still working at my new (and my old) job. We had our March event and it was a roaring success- and we are now planning next year's event. And of course I am still ignoring my own health issues.

It is Saturday afternoon. I was exhausted after a week of working at my regular day job and then spending two nights mare staring at my night job. Mare staring is self explanatory- I literally stare at a mare or mares all night because they are getting ready to foal. I take this part of my job very seriously. I watch very expensive mares that are carrying very expensive babies inside of them. Mares can be very sneaky- they will foal after you have been watching them for 11 hours when you leave to use the restroom for a moment.

In the many years that I have been working I have yet to miss a baby. I set up my chair outside their stalls and I read to them, play quiet music, feed them treats and make friends with my mares. So most of them are pretty happy to let me be there while they are foaling.

But I digress....

So I spent today cleaning the sun porch. One thing I cleaned off of the sun porch was our pony (Woody) who likes to come inside and eat cat food crunchies. The dogs used to bark at Woody- now they ignore him. But the cats do not like Woody eating their food and the sun porch is really small so Woody had to go while I was cleaning.

Woody came to us about three years ago. I had rescued Gussy, my old white gelding and he was being treated terribly by my horses. I thought Gus could use a friend and someone told me about Woody. I was told that he was a 19 year old mini horse gelding. But when we got out there to pick him up I saw right away that he was still a stallion. The lady giving him up said that if I did not take him she would send him down to Lion Country to be used for food. So Woody ended up coming home with me.

Too old to geld safely, he was good with Gussy, but Gus still likes being with the other horses in the pasture. And while I could turn everyone- including Woody- out together, Woody decided that he loved my mare Splash and went crazy when anyone else got near 'his' mare. And he would just run himself into a terrible state when they were out together. So now he and Splash live together in the front pasture and it is a great deal more peaceful around here.

But even this is digressing. Cleaning the sun porch, editing music for a demo tomorrow and taking a short nap helped get me over having worked two 30 hour shifts this week (day to night to day). Tomorrow we (me, TillyB and Flaggy) will be demoing at an event here in Edmond that raises money for hurt and injured animals.

So the big question- when will I start to address my health? When will I feel it is time to start taking care of myself as well as I enjoy taking care of others? When will I feel I am worthy of living my life to the fullest?

Who knows......

But if I can just keep writing maybe I will figure it out.