Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pause Button

I've got more life lessons to write about.....important things that I don't want to forget.  The memories come back to me at the weirdest of times; night, as I lay in bed thinking, or while I am showering, and of course driving....those are the best of thinking and remembering times.

Today, I hit the pause button.  I'm sitting on the couch with my 14 year old Jack Russell Terrier, Ruby.     She was born in front of the fireplace and lived in my son's closet the first few weeks of her life.  Her mama, Summer, tried to move the whole litter under Jake's bed so many times that we compromised. Summer finally gave up the moving of the puppies to settle into the closet and Ruby grew up right next to Jake.  Ruby Tuesday is the "old girl" of my pack.

I homeschooled my son, Jake for three years, third through fifth grade.  One day, early in his homeschooling experience, Jake was watching the Animal Planet and dog agility came on.  Some of the folks were competing with JRTs and we had a JRT...must be fate.  We went on-line, ordered our free Clean Run magazine, found a local WAG competition, attended, was introduced to a trainer...and thus started our journey into the world of agility.

Ruby was a fast learner as well as a fast runner.  In practice, she rocked and Jake loved the training.  It all went to hell at trials though.  Ruby was a mama's girl and the stress of trailing had her leaving the ring to find me.  Many a run, I had to sit in the car and not watch...and many more runs,when I tried to watch, Ruby would sniff me out and leave her boy dog-less in the ring:  Not a good recipe for success.  So Ruby was bequeathed to me the day Jake was given Spark and together Ruby and I joined in the agility fun.

14 1/2 years, time has faded Ruby's red patches and her body is giving her issues.  She leans here against my leg, swaddled in a big downy comforter.  She's been off and on food for the past 9 months; I've been able to nurse her back to eating with rotisserie chicken and peanut butter.  It's been a long four days, she feels miserable and I know.  I'm digging deep to be a promise keeper again.  I cannot imagine my life without this girl, she who sleeps cuddled up against me at night.

There is a lot of change happening in my life right now.  I am getting ready to move...the dream come true sort of move.  I have hoped that my old girls would get a taste of living my dream.  I wrestle with myself...over and over...not wanting to fail Ruby, or Snook for that matter, with extra days of pain on my behalf but not wanting to shorten their lives by one day if it is not time.  How does a one know?  I read about the dogs that get to spend the last days doing what they love before they cross the rainbow bridge.  I know I have taken both my dogs past living those days.....Snook's back end won't allow her to work sheep and her pain won't allow her a truck ride while Ruby won't eat so Dairy Queen is out.  I sit here, hugging her and petting her and whispering my sweet gratitude into her ear.   This little neurotic, separation anxiety filled JRT who wormed her way into my heart, deep into the middle and filling up so much room.  She has loved sick days....any warm body on the couch was her definition of the best of days.  When Jake had knee surgery....she felt bad for him but was so happy for herself.....she has loved each and every couch day with any of her boys.  She has chased my lawn mower with gusto and barked herself horse at me.  She has thieved the garbage can under the sink so many nights that it is tied shut in her honor.  She has welcomed in all of the dogs that have crossed my threshold, tolerated some and embraced others.  I know there are days before Ruby, but I don't remember them as vivid as the days since she came into this little Bat Girl.

Change is coming....some of it so amazing I'm left breathless but I tread slowly hitting the pause button for just a few more days with one of my best friends.

Seize the day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Even More - 5

Life lesson five could be the title to a song...oh wait, it is!


It is that age-old habit of wishing for a different dog; a better and more talented dog.  This lesson holds hands with lesson three of "looking in the mirror" because I can't separate the two.  But then all these lessons seemed to be knitted together in a way that, removing one chink, the whole masterpiece unravels.

I've been reading books about "mindful living" these days......working at living in the moment of right now and being whole-heartedly and whole-mindedly right in this very moment.  On the one hand, it is wrestling the biggest dragon, taming my mind to be calm and not race around to what I've done and what needs doing.  On the other hand, it is as easy as jumping off a cliff and relaxing into what is.  Back in the day of training up my Snook, she would have benefitted from some of this mindful living.  It would have allowed me to see her for what she was instead of what I thought I desperately wanted her to be.

I think back to that one clinic where the sheep were running hard into a draw.  I kept opening Snook up on her flank, in my mind, thinking the sheep might slow down and Snook could catch them.  Snook never did and I was pretty bummed at her.  A very good friend came over and talked to me....we talked about the sheep and the draw and why the sheep were running into the draw.  It really did not have anything to do with Snook and opening her up allowed the sheep to really run uninhibited by no contact from my dog.  Truth be told, I could not hear my good and honest friend that day at the clinic.  Pride and Ego have stumbled me on my path many a time.  Today, I can look back at this mind video and see so much of the good in my dog.  There are days when Snook's whole-hearted commitment to me amazes me.  She was trying so hard to do all that I wanted her to do.....every dog since reaps the reward of this lesson learned years later while Snook lays at my feet while I type our story.

Today I am thankful I started my journey with this red-headed rescue dog.  Had I started with a naturally talented winner, I might not be who am I today. Who am I kidding?  I would be ego filled, boastful maniac if I had started with a "WINNER".  I do know that I have to die to "I wish I had THAT dog" syndrome that comes into my mind at trials and clinics on occasion.  I believe it is human nature to think that something else, outside of myself, will bring me happiness....or that something I have now "makes" me unhappy.  I see it lived out every day:  a different spouse, a different job, more property, better sheep, weighing less, running a 10 minute mile; this list of "I would be happy if only" could go on and on and on.   With this, I am not saying change is not is just that the inside needs to be healthy for any change to be functional.  Okay, that is pretty philosophical and deep for a blog but it's where I am at.

Patrick Shannahan once told me that "not every dog comes into your life to make you a winner, but every dog comes into your life to teach you something."  I am sure I have paraphrased the heck out of this quote but I believe the sentiment remains.  I lift my eyes from the lap top screen and look at my pack, each of them sleeping and waiting on me to see what adventures we will have today.  I know some of the life-learning gifts they have given me and I know there are learning gifts yet to unwrap.  I also know that in these last days of Snook, she continues to teach me about the nuances of growing old and unconditional love, being brave and a promise keeper.

I hear stories told of the dogs that might not be as talented as another dog, but they win big trials because of the partnership with their handler.  That is what I am longing for....the relationship built on time, miles, trust, belief, work, and appreciation for the lessons to becoming more of me.  This also brings me back to myself. I see pictures of those runners that run 6 minute miles and long for that in myself.  There is no way I will be that girl...ever.  No matter, I am still a runner.   In all things: my dogs, my body, my relationships, my journey......Love The One You're With!

Seize the day.