Cedarfield's Chronicle

Live and Learn and Live Some More

Is It That Time Again Already??
Well, hello there. I can't even remember the last time I came here and can't believe how busy you've all been since I last checked on you. For those of you having challenges, heartaches, headaches, etc, I hope you find comfort and health and hope. I wish I could wave a wand and clear away all the bad stuff leaving only the good.

I'm here at the beach for our annual Christmas Escape. I can't remember exactly when we started coming here to our friend's beachfront duplex three hours from our house but I think it was the year after my mother died having lost my father almost exactly a year before that. Once both my parent were gone we found ourselves free to stay in NC for the holidays instead of making the 13 hour trip to CT and the peace of this place healed me and continues to be something I look forward to all year.

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I came down a few days ahead of my husband so I could have a little time to myself with just the dogs. This time of year only a few of the houses on the island are inhabited so I'm almost entirely alone, especially at night. I love it. I walk on the beach and let the dogs run and I take pictures with my iPhone and eat very simply. It's a gift I give myself, this time to just be. It's how I would always choose to end one year and begin the next.

I do have a goal for this time though. I need to finish up my video submission of my teaching for my CNWI (certified nosework instructor) status. I have done everything else required but being so feeble when it comes to selecting and editing video, I've put it off so long that I really have to get it done now or get an extension.

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A few days ago as I was driving around town doing some errands I was struck, as I often am, by the feeling that  I can't believe how lucky I am, how happy I am now compared to just a few years ago when I was still living a life that really wasn't fulfilling or fun. I knew that my job was a huge source of unhappiness for me but didn't feel I could leave it since I had already put in so many years toward my retirement and would not have been able to have health insurance (until the Affordable Care Act passed which was still very uncertain at the time) if I quit to become self employed. I would also have lost my pension which is miniscule but still nice to have.

But it's more than just not being trapped in a full time, windowless prison that's different now. I'm a different person because I get to decide how to spend my day and because I get to spend it with my dogs. Sometimes it's very stressful and not much fun but at least I can always say to myself that I made the decision to be doing what I was doing. It's been 2 years and 8 months since I retired and things have never been better. My teaching program is gaining students steadily and looks to continue in that direction. I have several very good petsitting, dog walking, boarding and training clients that keep me regularly employed and I'm finally making enough money to be able to afford appropriate vet care for my dogs which was the most stressful part of not having enough money.

Recently I was able to have Devon's spine, hips and elbows radiographed only to find that they see no signs of the lumbo-sacral disease he was diagnosed with when he was young (by a well regarded rehab vet). There were also no signs of arthritis or any kind of abnormality which was the reason I retired him from agility in 2012 (on the advice of another re-hab vet). So, since he's loving doing agility so much and since he's only 4 QQs away from a MACH, I've decided to keep running him until he either shows me some sign of discomfort or until I get sick of going to trials, whichever comes first.

Spriggs is still learning contacts because I'm so lazy and can't seem to be bothered to teach them but she's recently been exhibiting signs of maturity in her handling class that are pretty amazing to see. She's still too apt to rise to the bait if another dog starts something with her so I don't know when her agility debut will happen but I'm not in a hurry. We're having a lot of fun in class and seminars and I find attending agility trials tedious except when it's our turn to run.

Nosework trials, on the other hand, are fun and addicting and Zodi and I very nearly achieved her NW3 title back in October. It's Devon's turn to try NW3 next month and I can't wait to see how it goes. And recently I got to see many of my students achieve their first Nosework titles when I helped to host the first nosework trial in NC. What a thrill! Most Nosework trials in this area require a drive of at least 3-6 hours and many of my students' dogs are not great travellers due to reactivity/fear issues so this trial was their chance to test the training they've been doing with me for over 2 years and they were thrilled to see how well their dogs searched. We had to go out to dinner together to celebrate afterward which was every bit as much fun as titling myself.

My health is still good and I'm still working out three times a week with a trainer. Working out so regularly has made a tremendous difference to my state of mind as much as to my body. I have far less anxiety which used to require medication and I'm able to run better and farther than I could 5-10 years ago. I certainly have my aches and pains but so far nothing requiring surgery so I count myself extremely fortunate.

Even if you pressed me for one, I couldn't come up with a genuine problem or reason to grieve and it may be wrong of me but I can't help but feel that I'm finally--for the first time in my life--in a sweet spot that will have to end someday but hopefully not soon.

I hope every one of you who may be reading this will have a happy holiday and also find that sweet spot this year.

The End of an Era
Today I moved all my agility equipment off of my field and onto a trailer to move to my house. That probably doesn't sound too momentous but it has been there for 20 years and moving it signals the end of a large part of my life.
Twenty years ago we moved out of a house we bought in 1986 to move into a small bungalow located on the property where my husband's business is located. He wanted to be closer to work and I liked the idea because of the nice big field that was part of the property. I had already been bitten by the agility bug but had almost no equipment of my own and was doing most of my training at a local humane society. I had a few homemade jumps and a set of stick in the ground weave poles, a tunnel from ToysRUs and that was about all. I was looking forward to having more room to practice and making some more jumps, maybe even buying a tunnel.
We had been in our new house 7 days and still had a few more things to bring over from the old house that my niece and her husband were renting from us when we found out that my sister had terminal brain cancer and of course that changed everything in the space of one phone call. Eight short  months later my sister was dead, I had spent weeks helping to move her from Arizona to CT and I had quit my job so I could help take care of her in her last months. I had to move to CT and leave my life behind and when I came back I was at a loss what to do with myself. I didn't want to go back to my old job although I probably could have, To help me deal with the stress of her illness and the grief of her loss and the upheaval in my life, I immersed myself more deeply into agility. It was the only way I could begin to distract myself from what was happening to my family and it brought me a lot of comfort to exhaust my self running sequences with the two of them and then sitting or lying in the field while they lay near me giving me comfort.
Over the next few years more illness and loss occurred and doing agility, traveling to trials, attending seminars and teaching classes helped me to distract myself and give me a way to find some happiness even when things were so bad I sometimes wondered if I was going to survive. No matter how bad things got though I could count on being able to find some enjoyment from training and running my dogs. By this time I had lost my 6 year old Dobe but I had adopted a Border Collie who was challenging and fun to train and run. Jaime and I travelled all over the eastern US pursuing the agility dream and trying to adjust to all the changes in my life.
During that time not only did I acquire some new jumps, I also got my first store bought jumps, real weave poles, three brand new contacts from Action K9 Sports in CA and was hosting seminars by people like Mary Ellen Barry, Ronda Carter, Pati Mah and Jen Pinder. I was teaching almost every night of the week and by the time I got Devon, I had other people also teaching there. But no matter how busy it got, there were always plenty of times when I was out there alone with my dogs and the hawks and the foxes. It was where I spent most of my time when I was home. My house was messy and there were dirty dishes in the sink but my field looked great and was always set up with something to run.
It was this quiet and peace that eventually helped me heal and caused me to resist putting up lights so the field could be used even more. The instructor I had teaching there left to teach elsewhere and my own teaching waned with my interest in filling every moment to keep my thoughts away from painful subjects. I started to appreciate the ability to have it to myself and I was working full time and trialing with two dogs so I needed my evenings to train.
After 13 years I still loved my field but not my tiny bungalow and we moved to a house with 7 acres to mow which made it really hard to keep up with mowing the field. Even though it was only about 5 miles to the new house, my field became more and more neglected and then Devon had to be retired from agility and Zodi also since she couldn't jump due to problems with her toes. Enter Nosework and my poor field became overgrown and the equipment needed serious attention.
For over a year I've been trying to convince Chuck to let me bring my equipment here to the house but he's been reluctant because it's a lot to move in order to do all the mowing necessary in the summer. I finally convinced him by pointing out how little I was using it and how badly it needs repair and painting. So today I packed everything onto a trailer and into a truck and brought it here. Now I can make some progress with Spriggs contact training and even continue teaching a few private lessons. I've also been doing some agility with Devon since not doing agility hasn't seemed to make any difference to his back and since two vets have told me that when I was told by the popular rehab vet I consulted originally to stop doing agility with him that they thought I should allow Devon to decide whether he wants to do it. The first time I took him out there to do a few sequences I couldn't believe how happy he seemed. He made it very clear that he's really been missing the opportunity to do it so I'm going to try doing some trials with him and see how he reacts to the exercise.
But today, packing everything onto the trailer, it hit me how much of my life had been lived on that field. I've shared it with friends and dogs and students that I'll never see again. I've laughed and played and cried out there more times than I can even count. I've walked out there in my nightgown and picked blackberries off the bushes for my morning cereal and shared those berries with dogs who were a huge part of my life and now don't even exist. I shared it with my sister in the last months of her life. My parents watched as I practiced agility with my dogs there probably thinking about how they used to watch me do similar things with our fat old GSP when I was 10 years old. My husband started his business on that property and 20 years later it's grown threefold.

As I was leaving tonight, I thought about all the sunsets I've seen out there and all the times I've been out there at night looking for shooting stars. I thought about the cold winter nights and the hot, muggy ones and all the times I've heard the foxes barking from beyond the cedar trees. Of course I can still go out there any time I want to but in some way I felt I was saying goodbye to it and the part of my life I spent there.

Whole Lotta Nosework Goin' On
I've been so busy lately but it's all fun stuff so I'm not complaining.

So, let's see, I think in my last entry I was busy teaching Nosework and that part hasn't changed. I've actually done a couple of out of town workshops, about 2 hours from here. I taught two 3 hour workshops with a total of about 16 dogs and a couple of auditors. It was a mixture of people with Conformation and Performance dogs and people whose pets had done some classes here or there and a couple whose dogs had never been out of the house (!) Not at all hard to switch gears between dogs, that's easy, but how to deal with the lady who brought her dog in to search wearing an electric collar and the guy whose pistol fell out of his pocket when he bent over to pick up some dropped treats. Here I am asking people during introductions if their dogs will have any problem with me taking away a box full of treats while they're eating and meanwhile one of the dogs is on medication for a couple of bites to house guests. Clearly I need to provide a questionnaire for the organizers before accepting their registrations. That's OK, I learn a lot from these workshops and they keep me on my toes. Here's a pic I took of the Terriers during our lunch break.


I've got a couple more workshops scheduled down there already because they liked it so much and a woman with a fantastic BC who is taking private lessons. I have another couple of workshops to teach at the end of this month but I think they'll be a lot more staid than these were.

I've also been to three Nosework trials, two with Devon and one with Zodibear. We are  now at the NW2 level which is more complex in a lot of ways and really messes with your head. the first one was with Devon and I was so nervous that I called Alert before he indicated to me that he'd found the hide, the second one was with Zodi and she did a fantastic job and found every hide and got her title. What a great dog. The third time was Devon's turn again (I can't trial with Zodi at NW2 again since she has her title now) and we got 6 out of 8 hides. I still haven't totally figured out what happened with that one. He seemed to be crittering part of the time which freaked me out and caused me to not handle very well. We're entered in one more trial in a couple of weeks and hopefully that will be the charmed third time for us. Here's a picture of him during the container search alerting on a "hot" suitcase.


 I don't have one of Zodi at her trial yet because the photographer is taking a long time to post them. I hope she comes through with them soon.

The day after tomorrow it's time for Nosework camp in Georgia again. This is something I look forward to all year. I get to work my dog and watch lots of other dogs search for 3 and half days. I'm taking Zodi again this year instead of Devon but I'll take him to the one I'm going to in September. Zodi doesn't really like to travel but I'm hoping she'll become more comfortable with it the more we do it. This year I'm sharing a cabin with three other people I know, including my niece and her dog. Can't wait!

ZodisnapCan't remember if I've ever posted this one before. I put 2 ginger snaps on the counter and then took the box back to the pantry. When I returned there was only one ginger snap on the counter. Magic? Black hole?
ZodifaceinkitchenAnother of my favorites. She's such a sweetheart.  Also, just passed her Nosework 2 title on her first try. Only 1 of 5 titles awarded that day (out of 39 dogs). She also got her NW1 title in one try on a day when only 7 titles were awarded. She's so awesome. And so cuddly.
zodidevonxcountyjumpTaken on a cross country field walks on New Year's Day.
Julie1971Just for fun a picture of me from 1973 or 4. Don't you love the glasses?
DevonvehNW2Pikchur of me and Devon at his first NW2 trial in January. This is during the vehicle search.
devonheaddownbasketThis is the basket I keep on top of Zodi's huge crate. I heard a noise from the other room and crept in to see this. He was after a food dispensing toy with one old dried out piece of kibble in it. He's a great Nosework dog, too.
icestorm2014Here is a picture taken the mooring of our recent ice storm. We lost many trees and had no poster for over 8 hours. When we lose power we have no water since we're on a well, we have no heat, we can't even flush the toilets. We'll be cleaning up for weeks.
julieandspriggsSpriggs has become such a little cuddle bunny. She'll come up and ask to get on my lap and just sit like this so I can kiss and cuddle her. What a sweetie.

spriggsanddevoncuddleWhen it's cold outside even Devon will cuddle.
spriggsandchickensSpriggs practicing her stay. Took her to her first agility seminar and she was very good. Especially considering all the dog were working at the same time.
allthreeonlogi love these guys so much.

My Quarterly Journal Entry
It seems all I have time to do anymore. Even with all the snow and ice keeping us inside so much this winter, I still don't seem to be able to sit down and write an entry.
Let's see, what has happened since Christmas?
OK, January found me offering two new NW classes. One was at a dog training facility about 30 miles away. It's great having the opportunity to teach here--it lets me offer NW classes to people who probably wouldn't drive as far as my building. Now that the session is almost over, they want to continue the class into a new session. Nice small group class of people who are really interested in it so it's really fun to teach.
And I offered a class for the local no kill shelter and their volunteers. I wanted to give their core group of volunteers the skills to do basic box work with the shelter dogs since some of them have been there for years and really need more enrichment. I got to meet most of the dogs they have for adoption and was really puzzled about the dogs they have. They don't accept dogs from the public, I don't really know where they get their dogs but several of them are too reactive to be handled by anyone other than the volunteers who have had lots of training. This represented about 30% of their dogs. Two are hound mixes who are sweet but I can't imagine anyone adopting such over-the-top middle aged dogs. Anyway, it was fun and different because I had the volunteers doing most of the handling and training. I hope they continue doing it, these dogs really need it.
Also started a new class at my own building with some nice dogs and people. I have to say that teaching NW is a lot of fun. I do most of the work in the early classes while the owners watch and try to learn about search behavior and how odor behaves. The teachers are really the dogs and I'm kind of an interpreter. The dogs get to do what they do best and naturally and we learn from them. It's a whole different slant on dog training that at first may look like the dogs just running around looking for food but gradually turns into a dog and handler team working together with almost telepathic communication in a dance that's mostly led by the dog.
One of the many wonderful things about NW is that it's non-competitive. Every dog is just as capable as every other dog of using their nose to find things so no dog fails and neither do the handlers. No one is the star pupil, no one dog always finds the hide fastest, everyone succeeds at every hide. I hear the students conversing with each other about how one dog will use the vertical surfaces nearest the hide to find the source and another dog was using a channel between the wall and floor and how interesting it is that there all different. So they all "own" every dog in class and there's sincere appreciation for each dog and his unique search style.
I've also booked two out of state NW workshops. Since there aren't many of us instructors around and not many seminars either, it makes sense to bring the instructor to the club. They do this with riding instructors all the time. I'm excited that NW is expanding in the southeast. Right now we have few trials less than a day's drive away and most people are used to having a local agility trial every weekend of the year and they don't remember when agility was the same way.
In addition to the teaching, I'm also doing some petsitting and dog walking and some behavior consults. I also board the occasional dog and give private agility and NW lessons so I'm able to afford to go to more seminars. I've been to a couple in the last two months and even one agility seminar with Spriggs. It was a baby dog seminar but we did some handling stuff I've never even tried before and she was great. We had about 5 or 6 dogs out on the floor working at the same time and she only left me once because someone started squeaking a toy nearby. I still haven't taught her contacts or finished her weaves or really taught her NW so I really need to get going this spring. I haven't been able to take a class with her so she's had almost no exposure to working in public. I wish I could take a class but I teach almost every night already and frankly, most of them are more expensive than they should be in my opinion. How much do you pay for a 6 week session with a 60 minute handling class of 6-8 dogs? These classes are mostly held outside under lights and often have to be re-scheduled due to rain, heat, etc.
And of course, I'm still doing my regular workouts with my trainer, traveling a lot on weekends to trials, seminars or for fun and trying to find time to train my own dogs.
I just realized the other day that it's been almost 2 years since I retired from my career as a clinical laboratorian. It went by so fast I can hardly believe it. I really love my life now. I'm so much happier and more fulfilled and my dogs are so spoiled since I'm with them all the time now. Sometimes as I'm driving through town in the middle of the day, I drive by where I used to work and I think I should really stop in and say hello but I literally can't make myself do it. I was so unhappy there for the last few years that although I'd like to see my former co-workers (well, most of them), I just can't bear the idea of walking through that door. I clearly remember how hard it was to return to work after spending the lunch hour with my dogs out in the sunshine. I know Obamacare is a sore subject with many people but for me it would have meant being able to leave a career I hated and not waste so many years in a place I never belonged. I actually rarely think about those years anymore but when I do it's with immense gratitude for my escape.
I guess that brings me more or less up to date. I have several NW trials coming up in the next month or so and so do my students. I also have NW camp to look forward to in April and September. Life is good!

I know it's trite but I just can't believe how fast this year went by. I can easily recall last year sitting on the beach with my sister and her wife. We were burning a couple of fake logs and sitting underneath a beautiful full moon listening to the waves crash and talking about out hopes for 2013. I remember very clearly saying that I wanted to spend the year moving toward something. It was very important to me that I not think about things I wanted to "give up" or stop doing. I really wanted it to be a year about moving forward. And--hot damn--it's been just that.
All year I've been moving toward growing my teaching business and adding other services like dog walking and pet sitting. I've been constantly striving toward learning as much as I can about scent work/nosework/scent theory. I've seen the results in my own dogs' performance and in my students' dogs who have started competing and doing well. I've done stuff well outside my comfort zone and haven't died. Maybe it didn't always work out as well as I wanted but at least I stayed open to the opportunities.
I've been learning new stuff--Obedience--from a friend and putting myself in a position of being a total beginner (since training Obedience via clicker alone is all new to me). I'm not sure where it's going to take me--if I'll ever actually compete--but it's good for me as a teacher to put myself in the position of feeling awkward and klutzy as I'm learning so that I can be more empathetic toward students who feel that way, too.
Then there's the biggest change: my movement toward being healthier. Back in  the summer I started working out with a trainer and eating better and at this point I've lost 20 pounds and gained a lot of fitness and strength. Not only do I look and feel better, my back rarely troubles me anymore, I'm much less anxious and I find myself feeling much better about myself.
Looking to the future I want to keep the focus on my health and happiness, continue wrking out and increasing my fitness until I can run again


I want to continue training Spriggs for agility and see where that takes us. I don't know if I'll every want to or be able to compete again but I miss running agility with my dogs. This is the first time since 1991 that agility hasn't been my major interest. I spend so much time and money on agility, had lots of fun but also had lots of angst about it that I don't know if I can ever go back to that again. Nosework just doesn't have the same focus on competition, it's more about developing skill and teamwork--at least among the people I listen to and learn from.
I also want to figure out what I want to do for my 60th birthday which is this year. I have a couple of ideas one of which is to rent an RV and take all the dogs with us up to Upper Michigan. Hubby's family is from up there and it's nice and cool up there in the summer. I would love to see some of the beautiful National Lakeshores up there and it's so uncrowded that the dogs could run around off leash. The other idea is to finally visit Scotland but I missed my dogs so much last summer when we went to Greece that I'm afraid it would ruin the trip for me.
But truth be told, all I really want is for everyone I love to stay happy and healthy. That will be enough. Everything else is gravy.

Feeling very merry and bright as I'm at the beach with Zodi, Devon and Spriggs (hubby is bringing Jaime and Alex when he comes down in a few days) and the weather is perfectly awesomely wonderful. The air is cool, the sun is warm and the sky is blue. And there are very few people around which is my idea of bliss.
I think this is the 12th year we've come to the beach for x-mas. I think the first year was a year after my  mother died and 2 years after my father died and they both died in January so the previous several Christmases had been pretty awful and had required us to drive from NC to CT and back again in bad weather. So that first Christmas here was a way to escape the pressure and painful memories of the previous several years. Well, it really did the trick in a big way. We were able to bring our dogs and just relax with them and read and walk on the beach. I think I got through about a book a day that year.
We experienced so much peace and healing from that time that we've been coming back ever since and now I start looking forward to it right after we leave. Maybe that means I should live down here--or at least come down more than once a year. The thing is, I like the beach best when no one else is here so that leaves out about 10 months out of the year.
Anyway, I've been here a little more than a day and have already done 5 beach walks. Each one is a little slower and they will continue to get slower until I actually sit down in the shelter of a sand dune and just stare at stuff. The dogs are so relaxed right now that they're all just sprawled across the furniture asleep.
Here are a few pics from our first day.


Everyone have a happy holiday and if you don't feel happy, drink until you do!

My apologies to Live Journal for thinking it was their problem that I couldn't post photos the other day. Turns out the pics weren't in jpeg format so they wouldn't load/open/whatever.

Here they are:

Beautiful Fall weather


Pretty Spriggs in fall leaves.




Squirrel dogs!


Little Cowgirl


I was in the kitchen and had taken out two gingersnaps to snack on. I turned away for a minute and when I looked back I saw only one gingersnap. Where could it have gone?


Still besties.


Poor Devon will put up with anything for a cookie.


And in honor of Throwback Thursday:

Me and hubby with his Great Aunts in 1975. I still have several pieces of the furniture in this picture. I love that the t hints I have in my house have significance and aren't just random pieces bought in a store.

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And me with Jemma, my first Dobe adopted from the shelter. She was my first performance dog and we competed in Obedience and Tracking and did literally hundreds of hours of nursing home visits. Such a sweetie pie and loved to work.


Another Post?!
I feel the need to post rather than just lurk and comment on others' posts. Seems rude somehow.

Nothing much is new though. I'm getting ready to go to VA next weekend to compete in a Nosework trial with Devon and this will be our first time competing at the NW2 level. I don't think we're quite ready for this but Nosework trials are few and far between so I thought it would be a good chance to learn more about this level. Nosework is different because there aren't many options to learn from experienced handlers in this area. The closest people I could take lessons from are at least 3-4 hours away so this trial will hopefully give me a chance to learn a bit about what we need to work on.

And last weekend Devon and Spriggs got to do Earthdog. Devon got a Masters leg and Spriggs got her IQ (Intro to Quarry) certificate and a Junior Earthdog leg which is her very first qualifying leg in anything. They both had a wonderful time and it's a no brainer for the handler so I like doing this twice a year.

I'm also trying to get Zodibear ready to compete in Obedience. I've been trading lessons with Hannah Branigan and Zodi really enjoys doing Obedience. It's no wonder the way Hannah teaches it (she's teaching an on-line course for Denise Fenzi, too). It's all clicker tricks and all new from when I used to do Obedience.

I haven't made much progress with teaching Spriggs agility though. I need to bring some equipment to my house because I just don't have the time to drive to the field to train every day. I like to go out and just train for 15 or 20 minutes/day but right now all I have is a few jumps and my 2 x 2s. Spriggs is doing Nosework now but that doesn't really get her trained in all the practical stuff like oh, coming when she's called. She does great in the yard, etc, but show her a distraction like another dog or a person and she loses her little mind. I haven't been able to take any classes with her the way I have with my other dogs because there's nothing (good) offered during the day and I'm usually teaching in the evening. At least she's small so even when she's being a pill, it's easy to just pick her up :-)

We're having a beautiful Fall and every day I feel so lucky that I get to be outside and with my dogs every day all day. I get to make my own schedule and even though being self employed can be really stressful, I couldn't ever go back to a regular job where I had to leave my dogs for hours every day and be inside when the weather is so gorgeous. That ability to decide to go for a hike or to train my dogs when it suits me is so important to me that the lack of funds to do much is worth it. And I feel like I've learned a lot in 19 months, too. I've travelled, I've tried new things and we've added two dogs to our family. I just get more and more comfortable with this lifestyle all the time.

Note: I was going to add all kinds of cute doggie pics but LJ won't upload any of them. No idea why. I'll try again some other time.

Still Here
It's been quite awhile since I posted here. I find it really hard to find the time anymore for more than a quick post to Facebook so even though I can think of at least 20 other things I should be doing, I'm going to try to get this written before I have to fly off again.

I'm so glad Fall is finally here. It was a long, wet, humid summer which was made even worse by the trillions of mosquitos that would swarm me every time I was outside for more than 30 seconds. They're still around because it hasn't actually gotten cold enough to kill them yet but the numbers are reduced enough that I can sit outside without scratching all my skin off.

I'm thrilled to report that all of us are healthy and doing well. Even Jaime is still chugging along getting deafer but seemingly pretty happy. He is still running across the yard with the others after squirrels and enjoying his bully sticks and rolling in the dead leaves that are starting to cover the lawn. He must be 16.5 years old or older by now and the last check-up he had he passed with flying colors. I am a little afraid he will outlive us all.


I am also pretty healthy nowadays, down about 15 pounds from working out with a personal trainer 3 times a week for the last couple of months. I asked for this for my birthday and my husband agreed to pay for it because there's no way I could afford it. But now, after seeing how much better I feel and how much better I'm moving, I think I would give up a lot to find a way to keep paying my trainer. There's no way I would ever work this hard unless someone else was telling me to do it.

Little Spriggans is still mostly heathen since I don't have the money or time to take dog training classes so she trains in isolation and when she sees other dogs it blows her little mind. I've taken her to a couple of short courses at the local humane society but I'm pretty lax when it comes to training manners on my own.
I have been following along with Silvia Foundations class. I can't afford to send in video for feedback but really, there are so many other people sending in vids that I feel my questions are pretty well covered.
Spriggs did have quite a bit of fun at the Earthdog practice day last weekend, though. She's entered in her first trial in a couple of weeks. I was going to wait as I did with Devon until I had more verbal control over her but she's not as confident as I would like and I was hoping a little bit of ratting would make her a little braver. She's also learning Nosework so she stays busy enough. One day I may even try to do Obedience with her.

Spriggsanddevonat door


I have truly given up the idea of doing any agility with Zodi now. A couple of her toes are always ouchy and she's getting more, not less distractible. It's even making it's way into Nosework and I think is a direct result of her lifestyle which encourages her to scan and protect our 4 acre yard. So I'm trying to counteract it with my training--making Nosework easier, finds shorter and more rewarding and hoping that gets her back on the right track.
Zodi is also focusing on getting ready to show in the Obedience ring. I have a friend who teaches for Denise Fenzi and is a clicker trainer who does very well in the Obedience ring who is giving us lessons in exchange for agility and nosework lessons for her dogs. Zodi loves this type of training and I'm enjoying learning something new.


Little Dev-dev has had to step up to the plate in Nosework since Zodi has had some distraction issues. I have entered him in a NW2 trial next month which I know we're not ready for but it's one of the few ways available to me to learn about NW2 which is a whole lot harder than NW1. He's not really a candidate for Obedinece because he likes to bark when he works but I might do Rally with him. He also does Earthdog and is finally getting a chance to do Masters level at the next trial. We had a practice run last weekend and he would have passed even though he only gets to practice twice a year for a few minutes. I look at it as just a fun day out for the dogs and I since we don't travel for these trials.


Devon is also the one who helps me with Nosework workshops and classes as a demo dog. Zodi could do it but she hates to be in the car or crated with a bunch of strange dogs for hours on end--and who can blame her? So Devon comes along and often Spriggs as well so at least she knows how to travel if nothing else.

My Nosework teaching gigs have slowly increased and I'm going further and further afield to teach them but they in no way pay enough for me to live on so I'm now doing dog walking and pet-sitting, too. It means never having a day off but at least it's bringing in some much needed funds and getting me even more exercise which is helping with the fitness goals.

Well, that's all the time I have. Got to go walk some dogs for money!


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