Wednesday, December 07, 2016

hay ho hay ho

It's back to play we go ....
the last 11 weeks flew by - I was income earning in multiple ways - which was wonderful but had significant overlap of some time absorbors ... so was pretty much working from 5 am til 10 pm with an hour of commuting and some stuffing my face breaks in there - basic feeding and grooming happened for the animals but that was about it ... cannot wait to get everybody back into working out .. maybe we'll have some nice enough days Big T will join us again!

Last Sunday Sally was invited to go to the premiere of Saving Dinah .... she was so very very good  letting her adoring fans pat her and set her up for photos - a true little star ...

it amuses me the way she can put on whatever hat is needed in a situation ...

such a good good girl, particularly given a total lack of direct attention in the last couple of months

Friday, November 18, 2016

Seasons change ... and so must I

Here comes winter.


Urban winter was often wet, and cold, and miserable.

Rural winter is often beautiful and striking and cold and a little frightening.

In the city we holed up and turned up the heat and ran from covered, heated space to covered heated space.

Here we all bundle up, light a fire earlier and earlier and shovel. A Lot. A Whole Lot.

I used to hate winter pretty passionately. I am not a fan of being cold.
I still don't like being cold but I love warming up. Winter makes me appreciate so much in life.

The early early dark? That's a whole other story!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

did you miss us?

The lovely and infinitely wise blogger entity shut me out of the blog. Yes. Again. Sigh. I'm BAC K though - and that makes me happy!

Probably a good thing I was  locked out as life was a bit crazy with a bunch of online courses, a new rescue, the farm and then a friend recovering from surgery who needed me to fill in for her. FDSA is on break until December first which is lovely and lets me do some other writing. December first is the fourth iteration of what I think of as my most foundation building  course ... All in Your Head.   it's the course that sets the frame work for the toolbox metaphor and it helps people figure out who they are and what tools might be the best for them to test and use. While I originally thought it was for people with ring nerves and stress it turns out it's fairly universally applicable and many people have gotten much more out of it than they, or I, anticipated.

There is also a little course I have running on a different platform as it works for anybody not just dog sports or horse sports people ... I've called it Hitchhiking Your Way to Time Management Success with 42 Tips and even though I'm still getting used to the platform we are having a lot of fun with it. I made it super accessible (that is CHEAP) and then am further slashing the first fifty sign ups because I know I will be tweaking with them .... 

is the link - and the coupon should you be  one of the first fifty people to sign up  is FIRST50 which takes $5 off the price (to bring it to $9) (and yes - there are still coupons available)

I ran a little course to review the toolbox - tons of fun - will certainly offer it again ... and am writing a horse course and a grief and loss course right now. Busy fun days.

Never too busy to love on the dogs mind you - lots of great walks and plays and chores with them as you can see!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Guilt ... in the multi animal house

Some of you have likely realized we live in a pretty full house considering we are merely two human adults.

There are seven dogs vying for training attention at the moment and nine horses hoping for a groom and  work. We'll ignore the parrots, chickens, rabbit and cats who would also welcome more us time I am sure.

Sigh. Time is limited, guilt is high and too often sometimes nobody gets worked, That makes it worse, for them and for me too. So I am strategic. I use planning and scheduling as a tool. I don't let it run me but it is an important step for managing this type of guilt.

Did you know there are types of guilt? There are. An article from 2012 in Psychology Today outlines three types of guilt - guilt for something you did (really when you think about it the likely reason we learn guilt in the first place - to emotionally remind us not to repeat errors!) Apologize and move on. Another type of guilt considered by this article is guilt over something you think you did. Wishing someone ill, then hearing something bad happened would be an example of this. False memories can create this sense of guilt too. So before being overcome with guilt make sure you really have something to feel badly for! Guilt over not doing enough, and guilt over success are other types of guilt we experience.

The type that we need to delve into here though is anticipated guilt, We only have time to work play with one or two animal friends and the guilt over this can stop us doing anything. Rather than enjoying the moment with one we fret over lost time with the others.

Guilt is learned and often has a purpose but not all guilt has a positive reason. Sometimes recognizing that is enough to move forwards. Sometimes it takes more effort.

So understanding guilt as an emotion is important first step but then you need to identify what exactly it is that you feel guilty about. Look for unproductive  guilt as you do this.  I feel faintly guilty every time I play agility with a dog now - but realistically know Brody can't see nearly well enough to be safe. Sigh it sucks but guilt doesn't make it suck less. Share your feelings either by writing them out for you (privately is OK)  or by discussing them with a member of your support network. Build in some reflection time to minimize guilt going forward. Don't be afraid to be proactive.  Brody can't do agility anymore and can't come for long farm walks anymore but I can take him out into our fenced back yard and let him snuffle around for 5 min while I watch him every other day.

Cultivate gratitude for the pressure to do more. I often remind myself how lucky I am to have mature dogs who maintain training without too much work and daily am grateful for the elderly dogs despite the fact I would prefer to be training than home cooking or doing extra cleaning. What can you be appreciative of?

Cut yourself some slack. You are doing the best you can do in the moment. And you know what? Odds are pretty darn good all your animal partners are lucky to have you ... no matter if they get their fair share of you time or not. Nobody but you measures time by a clock. Make it meaningful when you have time and everyone will appreciate it. 

Do something for all - not every day, not even every other day but make sure there is something you do with each animal partner that strengthens your relationship and helps you let go of the guilt.

Here are some ideas:

training in your sport
play training in an alternative sport
snuffle mat 
going for a drive
sharing food
grooming time (not for Brody - hahaha)
anything that appeals from the Fifty Ways to say I love You blog

If you are struggling with this SCHEDULE time - it really won't take long but even saying Thursday is retired horse day made a difference here.

Test it, try it. Ask if you have questions.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Happy Birthday Brody ...

we added another 1825 to the count that totals over 5000 days of living with Brody.

He's very blind, and pretty deaf, and sleeps-a lot.

He's 16 and both fills and breaks my heart daily now.

He still hates being groomed ... and I worry about him hurting himself torquing away from me so his legs are matted and long...sigh

He loves his meals and loves to be with us - it's pretty weird leaving him in the house when we go for walks and to town but it's easier for him. We walk around the  yard together every day and that's often quite the adventure for him - tall plants, hills, rocks all stop him sometimes.

He is game - he is so very game ... He falls down, and up,  the backyard steps (not house stairs he is carried for them now) and shakes it off then comes at them again ... I really should get a clip of him doing the stairs - he is super man about them - bing bang bounce in impressive leaps (unless he crashes). He eats as if every meal might be his last - lying flat on the floor savouring each bite gleefully.

I miss my constant sidekick when I'm outside (and here I'm out or working online or asleep pretty much) but Brody is nearly always asleep at my feet if he can be. I miss my fabulous training buddy - what a  play dog he was.

I am so very glad to have my teacher, my friend, still with me. If ever there was a dog to remind you that they are partners in the journey - that forcing your will on them is not going to be fun - Brody is that dog. That Love the One you Got dog ... he was willing to do so much together that he probably wouldn't have chosen to do (agility, media, humane ed and more) but doing it with respect for him was important.

Regionals, qualifying for Nationals and picking up pretty ribbons every time we went

Happy Birthday dear Brody. I wish you all the good, always.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A peril of social media ....

No not the bullying, or cyberstalking, nor even the never ending parade of food making me hungry ALL. THE. TIME.

It's the grief

the people murdered, robbed, with lives destroyed  in myriad ways

a friend of a friends little cousin is facing some terrible cancer

a horse I was watching hoping she'd be pulled from a kill buyer ended up shipped for meat ... sigh

it's relentless, it's timeless

and then there are the ones who rip a little piece of my heart out

The beautiful Penny, no longer with us. taken by her human Tanya   

My heart was so full of grief on hearing the news about Penny my eyes leaked (the loss was sudden and unexpected and lovely Tanya did everything possible and then a little more). Too recently Holly lost Parker - a duo who inspired me to keep working with Sally  as much as Susan Garrett and Buzz did. Lisa lost Walter a dog dear to my heart. Joanne lost Georgie... the list could go on and on and does.  Social media reminds us of our connections to each other. There is perhaps nothing to both dread, and value, more about it.

Tanya, Holly, Lisa, Andrea, Joanne, Kathryn, Devon, Sheila ... the list is long, and incomplete but  my heart aches every time I type, and say,  the words "so sorry for your loss, you were so very lucky to have loved each other". But repetition makes them true not trite. My eyes have leaked for each loss and I know they will leak more. (rotten allergies!!)  I will not get tired of reminding myself  that the hardest part of love is the inevitable loss that comes with it. The opportunity to connect to people in such trying, impossible times is a gift.  Such is the power of social media.

Penny always reminded me of Sally.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Doing. Is not teaching. It just isn't.


I have a new teaching gig.

Teaching teachers  in an online format. I've taught many teachers over the years but  face to face and either for a very short time (workshops) or over the course of  years (teachers in my schools). This is new. This has me thinking.

Because I can effectively teach, or do whatever,  does not mean I can teach you how to teach. Because I have a national title does not mean I should be teaching a dog sport. If my horse won some blingy fabulous class at some super duper show that does not mean I can teach you to do the same thing. Sigh.

So, without further ado ...

Good teachers are

10. Enthusiastic about the subject matter.  The topic might be teaching scent work, how to post on a horse or mathematical equations.The subject matters not one little tiny bit. The enthusiasm does. The passion does. Passion is infectious.

9. Able to step outside their traditional way of thinking to present an alternative way of accomplishing something. Not everyone learns the same way. The flexibility required to be an excellent teacher is staggering at times. When you are working with a person trying to teach an animal that ability to present an alternative to your normal way of doing things may become very very potent indeed.

8. Teaching all students no matter if they are the smartest. most talented, wealthiest,  or most wonderful person in the room. Appreciating that you can respect someone you may, or may not, like becomes critical to good, joyful teaching.Every student deserves to learn.

7.  Patient ...So so very patient. At least able to realize when they are getting frayed so they can step back and regroup. Yelling and teaching have gone together a very long time. They shouldn't.

6. Setting the bar high,  then a little higher.  I am not talking about unattainable goals. That is demotivating, depressing and even cruel.  Helping students achieve all that they can is a whole other matter and if your students can surpass your highest achievement what a wonderful compliment that is to you!

5.  Always learning. Always and forever. For your students, for yourself and for the love of learning. Michelangelo said it simply "I am still learning". Me  too, and this I hope for you too.

Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.
Read more at:
Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.
Read more at:

4. Allow errors and mistakes. Trite, but true - we learn from mistakes. Teachers and students both have to be allowed and able  to make, identify and work on gaps, holes and down right mistakes.

3.  Knowledgeable ... do I even have to say this? Stay a chapter or two ahead of students. Know where to find answers to questions that you aren't certain of.

2. Positive, and no I don't mean all Pollyanna and sunshine and fake rah rah sis boom bah. I mean helping people build from strengths not tearing them down. Scaffolding works. Identify how to best help students get where they want to go and teach one needed piece at a time. I, personally, love mastery learning - one brick at a time gets built. 

1. Advocates for  students. (Human and animal). : "take a break" "try again" "what can we learn from that".  are what you'll hear good teachers telling students ... or  "The ring needs better light" "Please wait your turn" "please keep your dogs under control when taking breaks".to others

and good teachers are professional ... they don't slag other instructors, whine about students endlessly, sit on their phones during lessons .... you get my drift ...