Monthly Archives: February 2009

Really? Give me a break!

My good friend Murphy has been visiting again. Monday and Tuesday I was in Edmonton for work . . . my car was parked at the airport, and despite the frigid temps (hello, Mother Nature? Warm up could happen any day now) it started fine and was running fine when I got home. Wednesday morning (think -42 Celsius with windchill), my dad borrowed the car to drive my mother to the airport. No issues. He then took the car to work . . . which I don’t have a problem with. We share cars all the time.

Somewhere between our house and his work (you could practically spit on one location from the other, they’re that close!), the power steering fluid mysteriously drained (or something – I’m no mechanic, so this is a guess). Now turning the car is like cranking weights . . . it takes all of your muscle power and then some. The timing is nothing short of magnificent, since I’m off to a dog show out of town today. Perfect!

The car is booked in at the dealership on Monday (good thing it’s not a real emergency!) and I’m taking the only fully-functioning vehicle from the household. Pray to the gods (especially Murphy!) that my trip goes well and without incident.

Totally awesome gift!

So, on Friday when I got home, there was a card from Canada Post letting me know that I had a parcel waiting to be picked up. I hadn’t ordered anything (for a change!), so I was kind of confused. On Saturday when I picked it up, I saw a good friend’s address and really couldn’t figure out what she’d sent me. Well, it was a belated birthday gift – from several of my good friends (and the kitties too 🙂 ). And it is freaking awesome! What a fabulous, cool, thoughtful gift!

Thank you to the people that got this for me – you know who you are, and I can’t tell you how much this made my day. I love you all SO MUCH!

Motivation?

So, the new year is about 7 weeks old now, and most of us are slowly getting away from meeting our New Year’s resolutions. Well, technically I didn’t make a measureable resolution, I just said I wanted to be healthier, but implied in that that I would be eating better and exercising some. I started out well, using the Wii Fit at least 3-4 times a week, and making a conscious effort to eat better. I’m still paying attention to what I eat (although I do have slip-ups from time to time), but have almost completely fallen off the exercise bandwagon.

I’m working full time, so my day is full. I’m tired when I get home, and don’t want to work out. I know in my heart of hearts that if I’d just get off my butt and do something, I’d start feeling better, but I can’t seem to make that leap. On one Cocker Spaniel forum that I belong to we have sort of a Biggest Loser thing going, but we’re all facing the same challenge as far as getting moving.

What do you use for motivation? Do you have any hints for me? And please, don’t suggest I get up earlier in the morning – 5:45am really is the earliest I can wake up and actually be human.

My dogs

I have been watching a reactive dog seminar on DVD (Control Unleashed – both the book and the DVDs are excellent, by the way) and the presenter (Leslie McDevitt) mentioned that when you’re at a class and feeling frustrated with your dog, get them to relax on their mat, do some bodywork (TTouch, light massage, etc) and think about some things about your dog that make you laugh. Then, think about a time that your dog made you proud. Think about the thing(s) that make your dog special to you. Think about the first time you met your dog.

Call me sappy and sentimental (guilty of both charges!), but just thinking of these things made me misty-eyed. I still remember the first time I saw each of my dogs – and in each case it was pictures prior to meeting the dogs. I can think of something each dog does that makes me laugh, and just going through my memories is enough to bring a smile to my face. But I think the biggest (read: most emotional) thing is thinking of what each dog has done to make me proud. I can’t even really limit it to one incident per dog – some of the episodes are big deals, and some are minor things . . . but they’ve all made me proud somehow.

If you have pets, and you’re feeling particularly frustrated (like when your cat shreds your curtains or your dog refuses to listen), follow Leslie’s advice. It will bring your blood pressure down and help you feel even more connected with your furry friend. Enjoy!

The Journey

The Journey
~ by Crystal Ward Kent

When you bring a pet into your life, you begin a journey — a journey that will bring you more love and devotion than you have ever known, yet also test your strength and courage. If you allow, the journey will teach you many things,about life, about yourself, and most of all, about love. You will come away changed forever, for one soul cannot touch another without leaving its mark.

Along the way, you will learn much about savoring life’s simple pleasures — jumping in leaves, snoozing in the sun, the joys of puddles, and even the satisfaction of a good scratch behind the ears.

If you spend much time outside, you will be taught how to truly experience every element, for no rock, leaf, or log will go unexamined, no rustling bush will be overlooked, and even the very air will be inhaled, pondered, and noted as being full of valuable information. Your pace may be slower — except when heading home to the food dish — but you will become a better naturalist,having been taught by an expert in the field.

Too many times we hike on automatic pilot, our goal being to complete the trail rather than enjoy the journey. We miss the details — the colorful mushrooms on the rotting log, the honeycomb in the old maple snag, the hawk feather caught on a twig. Once we walk as a dog does, we discover a whole new world. We stop; we browse the landscape, we kick over leaves, peek in tree holes, look up, down, all around. And we learn what any dog knows: that nature has created a marvelously complex world that is full of surprises,that each cycle of the seasons bring ever changing wonders, each day an essence all its own.

Even from indoors you will find yourself more attuned to the world around you. You will find yourself watching summer insects collecting on a screen. (How bizarre they are! How many kinds there are!), or noting the flick and dance flash of fireflies through the dark. You will stop to observe the swirling of windblown leaves, or sniff the air after a rain. It does not matter that there isno objective in this; the point is in the doing, in not letting life’s mostimportant details slip by.

You will find yourself doing silly things that your pet-less friends might not understand: spending thirty minutes in the grocery aisle looking for the cat food brand your feline must have, buying dog birthday treats, or driving around the block an extra time because your pet enjoys the ride. You will roll in the snow, wrestle with chewie toys, bounce little rubber balls till your eyes cross, and even run around the house trailing your bathrobe tie — with a cat in hot pursuit — all in the name of love.

Your house will become muddier and hairier. You will wear less dark clothingand buy more lint rollers. You may find dog biscuits in your pocket or purse,and feel the need to explain that an old plastic shopping bag adorns yourliving room rug because your cat loves the crinkly sound. You will learn the true measure of love — the steadfast, undying kind that says, “It doesn’t matter where we are or what we do, or how life treats us as long as we are together.” Respect this always. It is the most precious gift any living soul can give another. You will not find it often among the human race.

And you will learn humility. The look in my dog’s eyes often made me feel ashamed. Such joy and love at my presence. She saw not some flawed human who could be cross and stubborn, moody or rude, but only her wonderful companion. Or maybe she saw those things and dismissed them as mere human foibles, not worth considering, and so chose to love me anyway.

If you pay attention and learn well, when the journey is done, you will be notjust a better person, but the person your pet always knew you to be — the onethey were proud to call beloved friend.

I must caution you that this journey is not without pain. Like all paths of true love, the pain is part of loving. For as surely as the sun sets, one day your dear animal companion will follow a trail you cannot yet go down.

And you will have to find the strength and love to let them go. A pet’s time on earth is far too short — especially for those that love them. We borrow them,really, just for a while, and during these brief years they are generous enoughto give us all their love, every inch of their spirit and heart, until one day thereis nothing left.

The cat that only yesterday was a kitten is all too soon old and frail and sleeping in the sun. The young pup of boundless energy wakes up stiff and lame, the muzzle now gray. Deep down we somehow always knew that this journey would end. We knew that if we gave our hearts they would be broken.

But give them we must for it is all they ask in return. When the time comes and the road curves ahead to a place we cannot see, we give one final gift and let them run on ahead — young and whole once more. “God speed, good friend,” we say, until our journey comes full circle and our paths cross again.

My 10 Favourite Things!

I was tagged in a note by a friend (hi Brenda!) to make a list of my current 10 favourite things. As Brenda said in her post (http://bhuronlighthouse.blogspot.com) this list is subject to change at a moment’s notice.

1. Broadway Musicals (my current favourite is Wicked, but it changes from time to time)

2. American Cocker Spaniels, especially the three that live with me (although some days I would pay somebody to take them, today I love them)

3. NCIS – it’s must-see TV for me!

4. Patricia McConnell PhD – canine behaviorist (http://www.patriciamcconnell.com)

5. Sunny days

6. Getting personal mail (not bills or junk mail, but cards, parcels, etc)

7. Reading – a day without reading is an incomplete day for me. Whether it’s a magazine, non-fiction or fiction (or almost any other medium), I feel compelled to read.

8. My Blackberry Pearl – a little piece of technology that I’m fairly certain I couldn’t live without!

9. A freshly washed car, inside and out.

10. A nice, cold can of Diet Coke.

For those of you reading this, I challenge you to list your 10 favourite things! Consider yourself tagged!

No news

So, a good friend of mine posted on her blog not too long ago about what to post when nothing is new. I read her post and sympathized. But not as much as I sympathize now! I just updated my blog a couple of days ago, and since then, nothing much has happened.

My life is pretty busy these days. I’m teaching two Rally Obedience classes and a Canine Good Neighbour class, as well as taking an agility class with Grace. So I’m at the training centre almost as much as I’m at home these days. I love teaching classes, and I enjoy doing agility with Grace, but some nights I just want a break.

Work is always busy. Not flat out busy, but steady busy. We’re moving from one audit to another, trying to get our work done efficiently.

And at home, things keep marching on too. Little things need doing all the time, and every now and then we like to have some “free” time too.

And that’s it, in a nutshell. My life as I’m living it . . . exciting or what?

Westminster Dog Show

Well, I just finished watching the 133rd Westminster Kennel Club dog show on Animal Planet Canada. What an awesome, awesome finish! The Best in Show winner was Ch Clussex Three D Grinchy Glee – a 10 year old male named Stump. He kept up with the big, young dogs and never put a foot wrong. Without doing any research, I would bet that he’s one of the oldest dogs to win Best in Show. I am thrilled!

I just love watching Westminster – the glory and glamour of it make me fall in love with dog shows all over again. Although I’ve never had to dress formally and show a dog in front of cameras, there’s something appealing about the idea.

This year I wasn’t 100% thrilled with the woman chosen to do the colour commentary, although she did seem to be enjoying the show. I would rather have seen somebody with slightly more dog show knowledge, because I think it could have generated some great conversation with David Frei. She wasn’t terrible, though. And at least she had fun and showed interest in the dogs.

If you get the chance, I recommend watching at least a little bit. Preferably the Sporting Group (okay, I’m just slightly biased) . . . but all of it is breathtaking!

A Non-Recommendation

Or should that be an un-recommendation? I’m not sure. Either way, this is a review of something that I bought that I thought would be great, and it has not turned out to be that great after all.

I work as an Auditor, and am supposed to portray a professional image. Some days I do a better job of that than on other days . . . but on the days that I want to look somewhat professional, I wear a button-down shirt with khaki pants. I have two wrinkle-free shirts from Lands’ End that are just awesome. They come out of the dryer looking like they’ve been pressed. Before Christmas, I saw an ad from Mark’s Work Wearhouse for their Denver Hayes wrinkle-free shirts, and since I liked the colours and patterns available, I bought two.

It was a disappointing purchase. The shirts are very thin, so when I wear the solid pink one, people can see the pattern on my bra underneath (which doesn’t look too professional, IMHO). They come out of the dryer still wrinkly, and they get very linty for some reason.

So, if you’re in the market for wrinkle-free shirts, avoid Mark’s Work Wearhouse and head to Lands’ End. I know from past experience that Eddie Bauer wrinkle-free shirts are good too.

Information Literacy

Today I took an “Information Literacy” course through work (1/2 day). Okay, I’m sure you’re asking me what the heck Information Literacy is (well, except for Weeza, who should know). Basically, it’s learning how to find what you’re looking for online, through the use of search engines and search strategies. I learned some very interesting facts . . .

I always thought that Google was the search engine to use. Turns out that they just have really fabulous marketing strategies, and so they have good market penetration. Everybody knows and uses Google. Despite this, they only cover roughly 10% of the content of the internet. There are other engines that are more thorough.

Metacrawlers, such as Momma (http://www.momma.com) and Dogpile (http://www.dogpile.com) actually search several engines at once, so they tend to return more results. I like dogpile . . . for obvious reasons 😉

There are some search engines, such as Northern Light (http://www.nlsearch.com) that are topic-specific. Northern Light is geared towards business documents (contracts, HR stuff, etc). Google Finance is fairly self-explanatory too.

There are some old standbys . . . Yahoo, MSN, Windows Live and AltaVista. There are some cool newcomers too. I bet if you put “search engine” into Google, you’d find some of them.

Anyhow, it was a very useful session, and I learned a lot.