Sunday, October 31, 2010

In a Tornado

I almost didn't post this blog, because I really hate showing any sort of vulnerability.  But, in this case I'm finding that being as honest with myself and with the people around me is really helpful.  Anyway...

In my last post I wrote about being in the tornado.  I mentioned it was my biggest fear, and it still is.  So, being in my car in the middle of a tornado was my worst nightmare.  I keep telling myself that the tornado was small (only an F0-F1), and that everyone is OK, but I still find I'm having trouble coping.  The fact of the matter is that for the first time in my life, for a brief moment, I thought I was going to die.  I know that sounds overly dramatic, but it's true.  I remember thinking, "I just wish I could be with Hans and Cody."  I wanted to be inside, in the basement, with the people I love.  If there hadn't been the damage there was, I probably would be just fine, but after seeing everything that happened I realized the severity of the situation.  That's when I started shaking, and apparently the effects are longer-lasting than I'd anticipated.  The past few days, I've hated being apart from Hans and Cody.  When I'm home I just want to snuggle up, and when I'm gone I've taken to taking Cody with me.

To make matters worse, our foster, Tommy, was adopted yesterday.  Tommy was a snuggle bug.  When I was tired, he and Cody would cuddle up and let me rest.  When I was angry or sad, they'd do something silly or playful and make me laugh.  Now he's gone and I feel like a member of the family is missing.  I'm worrying about whether he's ok or not.  Is he stressed?  Does he feel loved?  His new parents seemed wonderful, and I don't doubt that he'll be spoiled, but I still miss him.

So, to some things up, I'm feeling a little raw and exposed.  I'm tired and anxious.  I'm grateful when I have things to do to keep me busy and keep my mind off things, but then those same things that keep me busy also keep me away from home, which is hard.  Each day is better, but then I have moments like this morning where I start crying without any prompting.  It ends as quickly as it starts, but I don't like the fact that it's starting at all.  Oh well.  I suppose I will just have to take it one day at a time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Than Lucky

Yesterday, I faced one of my biggest fears.  A tornado hit our neighborhood.

I'll back up by explaining my fear (as well as a fear can be explained).  Growing up my parents raised me with a healthy respect of tornadoes.  My grandmother was from Oklahoma, and she knew how to tell when a tornado was coming.  I was quickly taught what to do in such an emergency.  However, when I was in kindergarten my teacher tried to teach us about tornadoes.  She read a book to us that explained what a tornado was and how it worked and what one should do in an emergency.  I vaguely recall the book.  What I really remember is the cover of the book.  It was dark green with this monstrous-looking black funnel on it.  If I were to see it today I probably wouldn't think anything of it, but at that time it gave me nightmares.  Thus began my fear.

When I met Hans, one of the things I loved about him was that he was scared of tornadoes too.  His is slightly more understandable considering a tornado destroyed his town, but he wouldn't hesitate to run to the basement, and he certainly wouldn't leave it till last minute.  In fact, when searching for a home, we focused on and eventually chose a house with a basement simply so we'd have a safe spot in case of a tornado.  That's where I was trying to go yesterday.

I was on my way home after running a few errands north of town.  I realized I had left my keys in the house when Hans was home for lunch, but I figured he'd be home in less than 10 minutes so I'd just wait.  I was just pulling up to the house.  It was Hans.  He asked me where I was, and I told him I was by the house and that weather was really bad.  I wanted him to hurry home so we could get downstairs.  I didn't have a chance to get that far, though, because that's when the leaves started swirling.  I couldn't see anything due to all the leaves and I had to stop my car in the middle of the road.  Hans heard something to the effect of, "Geeze, weather is really bad.  Oh gosh, winds are picking up.  Oh S***!  Hans!  There's something...S***....dead silence..." I had accidentally cut the connection. 

When everything cleared there was a tree in the street in front of me and a tree in the street behind me.  I was a little shaken up, and couldn't figure out how to use the phone, but I did push "answer" and reconnected with Hans.  I'm pretty sure I was screaming in his ear (although I can't be certain) and then I broke down crying.  He was home moments later, and he climbed over the tree to get to me (my hero). 

We're all fine.  We didn't even lose power.  The house, on the other hand, is going to need multiple repairs to the roof and porch.  Our fence is down, and yard clean up may take a little while.  Still, though, we're ok.  The dogs and cats are ok.  We're all fine.  That said, I never want to go through that again.

The roof over our porch is a little damage.

There are tiles missing off the side of the dormer

There used to be trellis work here.  We have no idea what happened to it, but we're assuming it's a few blocks away.

Our fence blew down.

You can see daylight through the roof of the attic.

The tree in front of me.

The tree behind me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Woof Wag Walk 2010

This weekend was Woof, Wag, Walk with Hanover Parks and Recreation.  Normally, I only do events with Henrico Humane Society.  They have some of the larger events in the area, they're well priced, and I really have no desire to do more than two events in a year, much less in a month.  However, this time was a little different.  It was brought to my attention that Hanover was looking for a demonstrator for their show.  They needed someone to do an obedience demonstration.  Of course, I jumped at the chance.  It's one thing for me to tell people I can train their dogs.  It's quite another thing for me to show them.  So, I gathered up a few former clients, held a couple of practice sessions (followed by dinner, courtesy of my loving husband), and decided we were ready.

Saturday, we woke up early and headed out to Hanover to set up.

My first demonstration was just showing off my clients.  Six dogs lined up and proceeded to heel (in both walk and jog), weave through cones, sit, stay, down, stay, come, place, and ignore distractions.  I was so proud of everyone.  They all did such a beautiful job!  Unfortunately, I completely forgot to hand my camera off, so I don't have any pictures of them working so hard.  Oh well, maybe next time!

Before the demonstration, my booth was DEAD.  There weren't a lot of people at the event anyway, which was sad, but the people who were there just weren't stopping for a dog trainer.  The crowd was completely different from what I encounter at Henrico, and I almost felt like the in-home was a little too "froo froo" for them.  After the demo, though, things changed.  I couldn't catch a break!  People saw that I helped to create well-behaved dogs, and they wanted in on it.  Since the event was smaller, I was able to spend more one-on-one time with people.  I'm really hoping it turns out well..

At 1:30 I had my second demo.  This one was a stay demonstration followed by a stay competition.  This one was easy, because it was basically what I teach my clients every day, but it became difficult when the batteries in my microphone died.  Luckily I can have a loud voice when I need to.

Cody's posing for the camera.

Hold your stay.  Do not eat food until I release.  Good boy for looking at me.  Free!

Cody was tired, and was super-good at holding a stay while I walked around the ring.

This girl and her dog were the winners.
After my second demo, the event was over, so we packed everything up.  Since we were so close, we took the dogs to Bass Pro Shops (I love that place).  Normally, I just go with Cody and I'm stopped often so people can pet him.  This time, however, we took Cody, Tommy, Kyla, Alex, and CJ.  It was a doggy parade!  We could barely make it in the front door, and what usually takes half an hour took an hour and a half.

Anyway, by the time we left Bass Pro the dogs were pooped!  Cody fell asleep, twitching and all, in less than 5 minutes.  Tommy didn't even hesitate getting back in his crate.  When we got home, Kyla and Alex could have cared less about playing or chasing the cats.  They simply sprawled out on the floor or curled up on the couch and slept. 

All in all, it was a very good day.  I seriously hope I can do it again next year!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My New Shoes

In a previous post, I commented on barefoot running.  I commented how I wasn't so certain about the whole concept of running barefoot, but that I might be willing to give a certain shoe a try.  The shoe was the Vibram FiveFingers, and it's very form fitting and designed to give your foot protection while still allowing you to keep the barefoot feel.  I almost got some last year instead of my sneakers, but I wasn't quite sold on them so I refrained.  Apparently, though, I've been talking about them more than I thought because this year my mom decided to get me some for my birthday.  She surprised me by finding out where they were sold and making me drive to the location.

So, what's the verdict?  I LOVE them.  I want to spend all my time in them.  I think they're fantastic.  I haven't tried running in them yet, because I want my feet to really get used to walking in them first, but honestly they're amazing.  Since I'm terrible at really describing what they're like, I'll take a quote from the Vibram website.

Remember going barefoot as a child? It’s the way you first discovered and conquered your world—without the constraint of shoes. Or the sense of duty you acquired later on.
Now you can experience that same physical and visceral sensation in Vibram FiveFingers—the only footwear to offer the exhilarating joy of going barefoot with the protection and sure-footed grip of a Vibram® sole.
FiveFingers footwear connects you to the earth and your surroundings in a way that is simply not possible in conventional shoes. It puts you in touch with the earth beneath your feet and liberates you to move in a more natural, healthy way. FiveFingers stimulate the muscles in your feet and lower legs to build strength and improve range of motion. Our customers report an increased sense of balance, greater agility, and visibly improved posture.

And then there's this:

The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised.

Many experts believe the shoes we wear not only cast the foot in a protective form, but also weaken our foot and leg muscles, leaving them underdeveloped and more prone to injury. And while there are many occasions where traditional footwear is essential for protection, safety, and security, it is equally important to stimulate and exercise the foot in a more natural state on a regular basis.

There we go!  That pretty much describes it.  I can say that I find those statements to be very true, especially the first one.  I've been wearing my Vibrams to train the dogs, and I am more comfortable than I was in regular shoes.  I wore the Vibrams on Saturday when we went on the hike, and I definitely felt more comfortable jumping across rocks and running with the dogs.

I will tell you that they look a little odd, and you'll hear remarks from everything from "Are those those new running shoes?" to "What on Earth is on your feet?"  Plus, they do take some getting used to.  The first couple of days my pinky toe protested because it didn't like being separated from my other toes.  Then, as I started walking more in them, my feet and legs said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa!  Where's the padding?"  Now, though, I'm extremely comfortable in them.  I can't wait to put them on in the morning, and I often don't want to take them off at night.  That's something I've never felt about a shoe before.  So, if you're considering it, then I recommend them.  If you want to know what on they are, check out Vibram.  Or you can just check out my picture below.

Yes, there are some reflective bits on the shoes.  Yes I love them.  Yes, there was someone else on the trail who had them.  Oh, and yes, I got a little wet when the dogs splashed me.
 Like I said, I love these shoes!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Busy Weekend

Well, this past week was super busy.  As busy as it was, though, it was also really fun.  So, I figured I'd fill you in on all the happenings.  Of course, Wednesday was my birthday, and you already know about that.  Thursday was pretty much just getting back into the groove of things, but Friday's when the fun really began.

Friday started out fairly slow.  I knew I had a lot to do, but I also had a bit of time to do it in.  You see, I had a few former clients come over for a practice session.  This is not something I do regularly, but these clients are helping me at an event next weekend, and we needed the practice.  I thought it would be great practice to have dinner first and work on down-stays and then to do a formal practice.  All the dogs were great, and it was wonderful seeing some of my past clients.
Everyone's just enjoyed a great meal!

This was much harder than anticipated due to the small space.  The dogs did great, but the people had to work on logistics.

Kelsey's holding a wonderful place command.

That's my mom and Alex.  Alex is like a miniature Cody...full of spit and vinegar!

The dinner was wonderful, if I may say so myself.  I did an apple-walnut salad, Hans fixed a baked pasta, and we ended the evening with homemade brownies.  So good!  We'll be having another practice this Friday, and I'm really excited.

Saturday we woke up early for a fun, annual event.  Every year we travel up to the Apple Harvest Festival at Grave's Mountain Lodge.  It started as a birthday celebration for my eleventh birthday, and it's just continued (with an interlude while I was in college).  This year, the weather was beautiful, so we were really excited.  We also went with our friends, Chip and Jean, and their dog, CJ.  Boy was I looking forward to it!  We stopped at a wonderful coffee shop in Louisa, which put us a little later than planned.  This meant it was much more crowded than usual.  We didn't spend long there (maybe an hour), but we did have a lot of fun.
See all the cars in the background?  That's only a small percentage.

Since it was so crowded, we decided to head up to White Oak Canyon Trail to avoid some of the crowds.  I've been on the trail tons of times, but it's been a while since I last visited.  I was excited, but Cody was ecstatic.  We let him and CJ off leash, and they had a blast running back and forth on the trail.  The most exciting part, though, was when we reached water.  Cody loves water, and CJ's a Lab, but we had never seen CJ in the water.  It was really sweet.

The hike was great, and the dogs were exhausted on the ride back. 
Wouldn't you love to hike through that?

Passed out between the seats.
We all slept pretty well that night, and I only hope we can do it again soon.

Sunday would have been pretty non-eventful if it hadn't been for one thing.  We got two more foster dogs.  Lucy and Sprinkles had been staying in a kennel, and they needed to be in a home.  We decided to take them in a while ago, but wanted to wait until after my birthday..  They're much easier than I'd anticipated, which is wonderful.  I've already started working with them and Tommy so they can hopefully find homes faster.  Does anyone want a new dog?

Well, that's my weekend.  I hope this next weekend is just as fun!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

To Share or Not to Share?

Well, first of all, yesterday was my birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!  I am now a quarter of a century old (25 for those of you who are bad at math), which as my mom continues to remind me, makes me an antique (at least if I'm a car).  I have yet to remind her that she's 35 years older than I, so that must make her a relic.  :P  Just kidding, Mom.  You know I love you!

Anyway, while we we were all gathering together last night to go out for a birthday dinner, Hans got a call.  A few weeks ago, one of his friends / coworkers asked if we might rent out a room in our house to his girlfriend...someone we've never met.  I'm not exactly certain of the story, but if I'm not mistaken her roommate moved out and now she can't afford the rent (I could have that completely wrong, but that's the story I remember).  It came up a few weeks ago, but then we thought she had made arrangements with another coworker.  Turns out, that coworker already rented out her room.

So what do you think?  Should we rent out a room?  I've provided a list of pros and cons.

 1) Extra cash.  Money's a little tighter since I left WEE shop, and the extra cash couldn't hurt.  Maybe Hans and I could buy some decorations, or go out to dinner, or just put it into savings.

2) A reason and a person to keep at least 2 rooms a little cleaner.  We wouldn't have to worry about the guest room or the guest bathroom.

3) This one may never happen, but we could become fast friends and how cool would it be to have a buddy who lives with us?  Ok, so this is almost certainly out of the realm of possibility, but I still like to stay positive.

 1) It's another person in our house.  We wouldn't have nearly as much alone time, and we'd have to be a lot more understand of another person's needs.
2) Hans does work with her boyfriend.  What if we hated her?  How would that affect his friendship and working relationship?

3) She'd have to REALLY like dogs and cats.  Allergies aren't really something that would work well for someone coming to live with us.

4) I don't know anything about her?  Is she nice?  Shallow?  Hard working?  Lazy?  Considerate?  Selfish?  I have no idea!

Part of me is really tempted to say yes.  I think back to my college roommate, Jackie, and to how much I loved living with her.  But then, I also think as to how much life has changed in the past three years, and I'm pretty sure we'd end up killing each other now.  Although, I could be wrong.  Jackie and I were really good about communicating, and we're still good friends.  I think we've both just gotten used to having separate living arrangements.

Then, I also wonder how certain things would work out.  Would she get the big room or the small room?  Would we let her decide based on how much rent she wanted to pay?  Would we treat the room as "her room" and let her do whatever in that room (except smoke.  Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the property), or would we set stict ground rules?  How shared things work out?  Who has control over the thermostat?  How would the kitchen arrangement work out?  Would we all share meals, or would we prepare them separately?  If we prepare separately, that's more electricity and more space used in the fridge.  If we share meals, who buys the groceries?

I know, it should not be this complicated, but I'm trying to think of every little thing that could be a potential conflict.  I'd like to bring it up from the get go. 

Hans and I are still talking about it, and I wish we had chatted a bit more before he left for work this morning.  But, now I'm asking your opinion.  What do you think? 

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Turning Point

You know that dog fight I wrote about a few weeks ago?  The one where I nearly broke down?  Well, it seems to have been a turning point for Merlin.

For the days leading up to the fight, Merlin was friendly but was also obviously a bit cranky.  He just seemed like that cranky old man who might snap at any moment.  And snap he did.  Poor Tommy!

Anyway, treating him after the fight was a bit of a stressful situation.  We ended up having to muzzle him and hold him down while we cleaned out his ear.  He growled and fought the muzzle for about a minute, but once he realized that fighting wasn't helping things he calmed down.  I was worried that once we took the muzzle off he'd come back fighting, but I was wrong.  He stayed calm, wagged his tail, and just relaxed a little.

The next day, I was worried about how he might be.  If his ear was sore, would he be weird?  But he wasn't.  He was very happy...very very happy.  He even let me inspect his ear without hesitation.  I keep waiting for him to become cranky again, but it's been two weeks and he seems to be happier than ever.  When I come out to feed him, he gets excited and jumps up and down.  His whole body wiggles as I enter his kennel. 

Normally, I would feed him, leave him alone, and come back after he was done eating to retrieve his bowl and love on him a bit, but today he seemed so happy I decided to spend the time with him.  I fed him, and let him eat in peace, but as he was eating I cleaned his kennel.  He didn't seem to have any problems with my proximity (although to be safe I fed him in a corner of his kennel that would make it easier for him to ignore me).  When he was done, he tore off  through the yard.  Then he ran up to the house, opened the back door (which doesn't latch well) and ran upstairs.  I called to Hans that Merlin was inside, and then I heard Hans laughing as he greeted Merlin.  I called Merlin back, he ran downstairs and out the door.

Merlin stopped just past the door and looked at me as if to say, "Aren't you coming?"  I went outside with him and brought Cody with me.  I cleaned the yard a bit as I watched Merlin and Cody having a great time.

I'm still not letting Tommy and Merlin interact.  Merlin isn't great at play.  He tries, but his body language can sometimes be confusing.  Cody can handle it, but Tommy can't.  Plus, Merlin is more relaxed around Cody anyway, and I'd rather not take that risk with Tommy again.

I know that in the scheme of things, two weeks is nothing.  Merlin could just be happier about the slightly cooler nights.  I'd like to think, however, that Merlin has realized a few things.  1) He's not as tough as he thought he was.  2) Even with as cranky as he can get, we're still going to take care of him.  It's probably just wishful thinking, but I'm going to keep on wishing anyway. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Finally Getting Some Work Done

Let me start off by saying that one job is so much easier than two.  I know that's kind of a, "Well, Duh!" statement, but I couldn't help it.  I'm amazed at how much easier life has been this past week, and it's only Wednesday.

I've spent the past two days practically living in my office getting caught up on all the things that had been put on the back burner.  Of course, I had to leave for appointments, but unless I was with a dog I was working in my office.  There's still more to do!  I don't think I had realized how much stuff wasn't getting done.  Plus, I'm starting a few new projects in the winter (if all goes as planned), so I've really been taking some extra time to work on all that.

I feel like my life has been Go-Go-Go, but at the same time it doesn't seem hassled or stressed.  I look at all I have to get done, and I feel like there is actually some time to do it.  Yes, I wish the days had about an extra 5 hours in them, but my current schedule is working out just fine.  This is not how I felt a week ago, and certainly not how I felt two weeks ago.  Thank goodness life is getting easier!

More On the Best Husband
So, my last post was about how amazing Hans has been.  He still is.  I think I have to write this portion of the post simply because of the amazing dinner he made last night.  His goal is to make two new recipes a week, and last night was one of the new ones.  

We had pan-seared chicken with a mushroom sauce.  Yummm!  He also added in some rice and green beans, but those were simply side dishes.  The main course was amazing.  I never thought he'd make something with mushrooms, but not only did he surprise me by making it, he surprised me by eating 2 of the 3 mushrooms on his plate.

I am seriously loving this whole Hans cooks thing.  We were chatting last night about finances, and Hans mentioned working another show.  We probably would have gone for it, except then we wouldn't be getting these great dinners.  Seriously!  I left the house yesterday at 5:30 and returned at 7:30.  Do you really think I'd then take an hour or two to make such an amazing meal?  Heck no!  I'd probably just eat oatmeal or crackers at every meal.  I like this method much better!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Best Husband

There once was a husband who got in trouble...big trouble.  On a scale of the most important things in life, it really wasn't that big, but his wife was mad.  What did this husband do?  He locked his wife out of the house (inadvertently, in the back yard), and went to work.  How did this happen?  Wife was working on some important articles while she let the dogs play, Husband came home from work for lunch, and when he returned to lunch he locked Wife out.  Why is this such a big deal?  It most definitely wasn't the first time he had locked Wife out, but it was the first time he left the house afterward.  Wife was angry, upset, and (if you live in crazy girl land) was angry that Husband cared so little about Wife that he could possibly forget for even a moment that she was outside and that he shouldn't lock the door.  Wife was very, very upset.

Yes, of course, this story is about Hans and what he did a few weeks ago to upset me so.  I should also note that this was the week before Bark in the Park, and I was trying to get a Fall Newsletter out to all my clients.  Fussing obviously was not a solution to my problem.  I could have yelled a screamed all day, and I would not have felt any better, but more importantly Hans would have locked me out again anyway...proving that yelling did no good.  Don't get me wrong.  I did b**** a bit, but I didn't keep it going all day.  I had to figure out something that would make me feel better, but that wouldn't be ludicrous to ask Hans to do.  And then it dawned on me.  It came on like a flash.  I'd have Hans get the groceries.

You see, I'm generally the one to plan the weekly menu and gather the grocery list.  Lately, though, I haven't had the time or the brain power, so our diet was going kind of crazy, and we constantly had to run back to the store throughout the week to pick up items we had forgotten (like bread).  So, I told Hans that if he planned the menu and got the groceries AND kept it healthy and within budget, that I had no problem cooking or grocery shopping.  His "punishment" was that he had to do this for at least 2 months (which was later changed to 3 months when he locked my mom out of the house).  So far he's been wonderful!

He's fixed absolutely DELICIOUS dinners, he's packed healthy lunches, and he's even made a few breakfasts.  He's taken this menu thing two steps farther than I'd anticipated, and I love it.  We've definitely discovered some meals to add into the weekly rotation, and I am loving coming home to a freshly cooked meal (something better than tacos with just meat and cheese).  I'm also feeling better with all the extra fruits and veggies I'm getting.  Life is good!  So, Hans has most certainly won the Best Husband Award in my book, but, hey, I'm biased.

The Seminar
This weekend, I've been spending time in a seminar with Dr. Ian Dunbar.  Dr. Dunbar was the first person to create puppy training classes at a time when no one thought puppies even could be trained.  He's "kind of a big deal" in the dog training world.

I feel like I'm learning a lot, and I find it all very interesting.  However, I do have a few doubts about some things.  That said, though, I'd really like to incorporate some of his ideas into more of my training (some are already there).  I'd even like to use some of his methods entirely on my dogs.  Heck, it certainly couldn't hurt.  

Anyway, I have one more day left of the seminar.  I'm hoping my brain can retain all this info!  Otherwise, I'll have to follow him around the country until I've gotten it.  Next stop...MINNESOTA!  Ok, not really, but you get the idea.