Tag Archives: dogs

Spring update

Here it is almost spring, so I thought I should do another update.

Work
I’m still in the same job. Without going into a long, complicated story, let’s just say my contract runs through the end of May. I love this job, so I hope, hope, hope that it will be extended beyond that, but it’s no longer about what my department, my director, or even leadership in our division of the company want. Now it’s a edict from the highest leadership in the company to get rid of contractors and trim headcount. Scary!

Still, like I said, I love my job. I started a new project last week, and I’m really excited about it. It will keep me busy through the end of my contract (or through the middle of the summer). I have a new manager, and he’s as awesome as the last two were. I’m still working with wonderful people, and still working from home. What more could I ask for?

Remodel
The remodel of the basement is still on hold. We had one chunk of cash left from last year’s overtime windfall, and we used it to remodel the barn. My husband would have MUCH preferred to finish his office, but I asked him straight out: Can we afford to board the horses indefinitely? The answer was no, so we really, truly HAD to remodel the barn.

(I do feel kind of guilty about it, though, because I got my office AND my barn, and he got nothing. I’ve offered to trade offices with him, so he can have the warm, finished office. So far he hasn’t taken me up on it. He can though, whenever he wants — really.)

The barn looks amazing!! We saved a huge chunk of change by purchasing used stall fronts from a guy on Craigslist. He only had three, but that was fine, because I wanted to turn the  fourth stall into a tack room with a locking door. We just did the bare minimum this go ’round, which means new stall fronts, tack room, water, and electricity. Water and electricity means we don’t have to run hoses and extension cords anymore. Awesome! We’re working on shelving and such for the tack room so we can keep that organized too. We don’t have a garage, so it has to hold not only tack but also tools, garden supplies, and fence supplies.

Tack room and one stall

Tack room and one stall

Horses
Since the barn is (almost) finished, Blue will be coming home on April 1. Sadly, Miss Guin won’t be accompanying him. Her ringbone has progressed, and she isn’t doing well. She’s not at the point where we have to euthanize her, but she likely will be fairly soon. Leslie, the person who is boarding her, is a farrier, and is able to work on her feet in very short sessions — a minute here and there. (She can’t even do a whole foot at one time anymore.) There’s no way I could do that here.

I’m sorry Guin won’t be here, but I’m glad Blue will be. I’ve missed him! Since I don’t like keeping horses by themselves, he needs a buddy. I’m going to foster a horse for Monica. She’s pregnant and due in June, so that will work for both of us. I’m glad I can be of help to her. She has been soooo much help to me in the past years!

Oh, almost forgot — I didn’t keep Charlie after all. Monica had a come-to-Jesus meeting with me about loading up on project horses. She’s right, and Charlie has good prospects. His training is going super well! He’s really anxious to please and just a super, super horse.

In other horse news, I was going to adopt a mustang this spring, but it didn’t work out financially. We have a good list of what needs to be done so we can, though, so we’re going to work on those things a little at a time. We’re going to start with getting the shelter and corral ready.

Todd is going to raise the height of this old shed to 9ft and put a roof on it to make a good-sized 3-sided shed. We’re going to put gravel on the floor for mud control (and fill in some place on the driveway while we’re at it), and we’re going to use those round pen panels to build a temporary corral of the required height. Once the mustang is gentled and able to move into the regular enclosures, we’ll be able to remove the corral, add a front to the shed,  and turn the shed into storage.

Old shed (minus roof) and round pen panels

Old shed (minus roof) and round pen panels

Other random bits
Otherwise, things are going well. My mom was in the hospital for a while in March, but she rebounded and is back to 100%. (Amazing lady! I hope I’m even half as feisty when I’m 80.) My husband is doing fine, and all the dogs are doing fine. Pax is getting steadily older, which makes me sad, but he’s still hanging in there.

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Wrapping up 2012

Wow — it has been a long time since I updated my blog! There has been a good reason for that: I’ve been heads down on a huge project at work. Lots and lots of overtime. But the largest part of it wraps up this weekend (handoff on Monday), and it’s time to do an update. Lots of changes around here.

Critters
All three dogs are doing well. Pax is getting older, which breaks my heart. I can’t stand the thought of losing him — ever. Most of my critter update isn’t dogs, though — it’s horses. Back in August, Mr. Blue came home again. I was inordinately glad to see him! I’d missed him terribly. Our barn is in no shape for horses, so I’m boarding him at Eden Farms where I’m taking riding lessons. Here’s a picture of him at a clinic acting as a demo horse with Monica.

09302012a

 

A couple of months later, Monica posted the picture of a horse in the Enumclaw kill pen. (Translation: a horse who had been purchased by a guy who sells them by the pound to slaughter houses.) We made a deal: I’d buy him and cover his stall, she’d train him, and then we’d sell him in the spring.

Yeah, that selling part? So not happening. This is Charlie, right after he came in:

IMG_0946

Can’t get a good look at him there — sorry. He’s a quarter horse, extremely similar to Blue in size and build. He is an absolute love! He’s doing well in his training, and hopefully will get his first ride soon. Right now I’m intending to keep him. If he ends up being unsuitable for me under saddle, I’ll go ahead with the plan to sell him.

Miss Guin is still down in Olympia, happily retired at my friend Leslie’s place. I get down there once or twice a year, and Leslie gives me updates. I bought her a new purple blanket for Christmas. Hopefully Leslie will send me a photo!

My long-term plans for the horses are up in the air. We were planning to rehab the barn this spring so we could bring everyone home, but my job situation (and our funds) got iffy, so I’m not sure what will happen. More on the job situation further down.

The remodel
We still have no walls in the basement. However we have propane, and the electrical and plumbing have been done, and we’ve got a brand new whole-house generator installed! That was a huge part of the project, and we’re thrilled to have it done. It means that winter can throw its worst at us, and we’ll be fine.

It also means we can have horses at the house again. See, our well is wired into the house. No power = no water. That’s not a huge problem for humans and dogs, but it’s a MAJOR issue with horses. That generator solved the last big horse-owning problem we had.

The next major step in the remodel is to redo the stairs to the basement and finish Jay’s office. Both parts of that are huge, expensive undertakings. Right now those steps are on hold, because of my job.

Work
The major project was a major success. It was, without reservation, my favorite project ever. I’m extremely blessed to have gotten to spend the past six months focused exclusively on it. I’ll be sad to see it end. Technically, though, it isn’t ending. I am.

As kudos to a job well done, my job said, “We love you! Come take a massive pay cut and work for us full time! And if you don’t want to do that, get out!” Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what they said, but it felt like that. I’m a contractor, you see. My division at work has roughly 15 long-time contractors, and our senior manager put together a report showing how she could save the company money by converting all of the contractors to regular employees.

It’s not as bad a deal as I made it sound. They offered straight conversions for most of us, meaning we didn’t have to interview. (I’ve never heard of them doing that before.) And if you factor in the value of their benefits package, the total worth of what they were offering was essentially the same as what I make now for 40 hours a week.

That doesn’t work for me, though. My husband works for the state, so I don’t need their benefits. I need cash. The job would have required me to work in the office three days a week — 50 miles a day on my 13-year-old car, plus two hours a day lost to the commute. I just couldn’t agree to that, so I declined the “offer.”

The theory is that I will stay until they backfill my position. As I understand it, they won’t be interviewing for it until early January, so I’m hoping I can ride this out until the end of January. The *ideal* would be the second week in February, because I’m going out of town then anyway.

All of this caused me a lot of stress. I had been doing really well with my eating and exercising, and all that came to a crashing halt with the news of the re-org. I haven’t gotten back on track yet. I have processed the changes though, and I’m really not upset about them anymore. I wish the situation were different, but it is what it is.

What’s next?
Good question. I have to get another job in my field without question. My mortgage and those hungry horses insist upon it! But I think this is also a call to pursue some things for myself that I’ve put on the back burner.

I’m signed up for a Reiki Level 1 class in January. I’m going to focus on the animal communication again. And probably most importantly, I’m pulling Doubting River out of the drawer. The Universe asked me to write that, but I got too comfortable in my life and put it aside. Now I’m on the edge of being not-so-comfortable. I’m going to get to work before I become decidedly UNcomfortable! There are a few other things I’d like to work on too. (Honestly, if I didn’t have to get a job again, I wouldn’t be bored. Promise!)

December 22 will bring not the end of the world but the beginning of a new cycle. I think it’s a good time for a new cycle for me as well, eh? Reinventing-Melissa, indeed.

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Animal Communication workshop, day 2

Sunday was day 2 of the workshop. This day was tougher for me than day 1, but St. Francis came through again. Thank you, St. Francis!

The first half of the session was spent working with three dogs who were there at the workshop. Aries is a black Lab mix who belongs to the woman who hosted the workshop, Aspen is a golden retriever, and Murphy is a beagle. They were all sweet, delightful dogs.

We did several exercises before we tried direct communication. One was an exercise of awareness. I have trouble extending my awareness to other energies around me. I just don’t feel anything. I had trouble with that exercise, but it turned out that the impressions I got were spot on.

The next exercise was an exercise in imagination. I was excited about this one, because THIS I do well. My imagination is extremely well developed! We were supposed to imagine greeting each dog, imagine them greeting us, and imagine what each likes to do. I loved that exercise, and I felt completely plugged into the dogs, because I’d already met them and gotten a feel for their personalities.

It turned out that I was again pretty much spot on with what I imagined. This made me wonder if maybe all the “imaginary” conversations I have with my beasties on a routine basis is more real communication than I thought.

I went into this workshop expecting animal communication to feel external — to feel like I was hearing or seeing something that very clearly didn’t come from myself. Instead, what I learned is that it feels more like you’re making something up. Only what you make up ends up being correct! The secret is practicing so that your accuracy goes up and TRUSTING that you’re not actually making this up.

That’s tough. The exercise with my partner on day 1 really helped with the trust, because it didn’t feel “external,” but the precise accuracy was immediately confirmed.

After our mid-session break, we worked with photos of animals provided by the workshop participants. I brought pictures of my three dogs, and Guin and Blue, the horses. (Blue isn’t technically mine anymore, but Heidi gave me permission.)

There were two rounds, so each person spoke with two animals. Mary provided a list of 13 questions. After each session, we went around the room and gave the answers we had gotten, and the animals owner told us what we got right and wrong.

In general, concrete facts like color of the food dish was difficult. At the same time, many people were able to provide really detailed descriptions of houses (inside and out). Mary also cautioned that sometimes people would think something was wrong, but then later would realize that it was right after all. We had an example of that with Aspen, the golden retriever. One person asked if she had a red toy — said the red toy was her favorite. Aspen’s owner said she didn’t have a red toy. Later in the workshop, Aspen’s owner casually mentioned that she gave Aspen a stuffed Kong anytime she left. Bingo! The favorite red toy.

The animals I spoke with were Ying Mo, an African Grey parrot, and Whisper, a black cat. I am fairly unfamiliar with both birds and cats. I think, though, that’s a good thing, because I had fewer preconceived notions about them.

I didn’t do well with Ying Mo. I did better with Whisper. The highlight with WHisper was that I saw her crunching bugs. It didn’t really fit any of the questions, so I noted it, but didn’t report it. Whisper’s owner said that her big thing right now was encouraging Whisper to eat all the bugs she found in the house. I showed her the notation I’d made.

That was cool.

The person who read Blue did a phenomenal job. His report back gave several people goose bumps, which I’ve learned is a common sign that a reading is accurate. (This is true both with animal communication and Tarot. Probably with any intuitive reading.) He said that Blue had a message for me: “Thank you for making it possible for me to live the life of my dreams.”

You’re welcome, Blue man.

There were solid things in every reading. Some people had a success rate of probably 80-90%. Those readings were AMAZING. I’m not that good, LOL.

Mary reminded us to focus on what we got right. As she said yesterday, this is like learning a foreign language. After one workshop we’ve just learned a few words. It will take time and practice to become conversational — much less fluent.

Next step for me? Practice. I’m going to try to set aside some time each evening for meditation and practice. I have many animal friends who have shared pics of their pets and who will give me feedback. My goal is to ask just a few questions at a time, and work with the same animals in many different sessions. Hopefully my accuracy will improve over time.

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Animal Communication workshop, day 1

Today I attended the first day of a two-day basic animal communication workshop with Mary J. Getten. So. Much. Fun.

I have always wanted to communicate with animals. Animals are my life, and to communicate with them… well, there is no higher blessing. So through the years I’ve read books, and I’ve practiced now and then, but I’ve had only limited success.

I have always known — and Mary said it’s nearly always true — that I’m a better sender than receiver. Two examples:

  1. Anyone who has every moved a pet to a new house knows how stressed they get. It is, in fact, in credibly common to lose pets during the transition. I read an animal communication book that said to just talk to your animals and tell them very clearly what’s happening, what will happen, why it’s happening, what it means to the dog, etc. So when we moved to Duvall, I did that for Rain (an extremely insecure dog) and Pax. Neither dog showed even minor stress about the move, during or after. They transitioned to the new house as though they’d been visiting here for years.
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  2. I tried an exercise from an animal communication book where you visualize an image and send it to your dog. This was right before we got horses, so I decided to send a picture of a breed of horse I liked. I happened to have a call with an animal communicator the next week, and I asked her if she could ask Pax what image I had been sending him. She said, “A black and white horse with feathers?” I had been sending a picture of a Gypsy Vanner.

I have had only one clear experience as a receiver, however, and that happened just a couple of weeks ago.

Miss Pflouff had been coming inside from the yard soaked in urine. It was like she had lain in a puddle of it… but there were no puddles. Or like she had peed while she was lying down, but she was clean and dry around her own lady bits. She was too tall for the boy dogs to hike their legs and get her back like that. I had no idea how this was happening, but it was happening regularly.

One morning she jumped up on the bed to tell me good morning, and when I leaned over to kiss her head, BAM! An image just appeared in my head. I saw her squatting to pee, and one of the boy dogs lifting his leg to mark her spot — while she was still peeing. I wasn’t thinking of the situation, and I had never even thought of that possibility, but I saw it plain as day.

So I believed it was possible, but I had never been able to open that channel at will.

Today was the first day of the workshop. There are sixteen students, plus Mary. Some are experienced; some are just like me. She explained to us that learning animal communication is like learning a foreign language. You don’t go to a class and come out speaking fluently overnight. You learn a few words. Then you get haltingly conversational. Then a bit better. And only with time, practice, and immersion do you get really fluent.

Today we didn’t practice actual animal communication. We talked about various aspects and did some exercises and meditations to help prepare us.

We did the COOLEST exercise with a partner. We sat face to face and visualized a tube connecting us heart to heart. One of us was the sender and the other the receiver. Mary would say a color — out loud, so we both knew. The sender was supposed to pick a shade of that color, pick an object or objects in that shade, try to imagine how it feels, etc. Then the receiver had to say what he received. Each person was the sender twice and a receiver twice.

My partner and I got all four right!!!!! The colors and our objects were:

  • Pink / Pepto Bismol
  • Orange / Orange juice
  • Yellow / Baby chick
  • Purple / Eggplant

I was a better sender than receiver. I sent pink and yellow. She said both correct answers IMMEDIATELY — no hesitation or working up to it.

I got the right answers for mine, but I kind of worked my way to it.

  • For orange, I said, “Orange Crush, and I see an orange with juice spurting out of it.” But I never actually made the leap to “orange juice.”
  • For purple, I picked up the color Mary was going to say before she said it, and then had to push an image of Barney out of my head. LOL. I knew it didn’t come from my partner. I saw like thick swirls of slick, deep purple oil paint, then it turned into an eggplant. And she was sending eggplant.

Tomorrow morning we work with live animals, and then tomorrow afternoon we work with photos. I’m not taking one of my dogs — there are only going to be a couple there and they needed to be smaller and cat-friendly — but I have photos of both my dogs and horses ready to go.

By the way, when I decided to do this, I prayed for help from St. Francis, Patron Saint of Animals. And he really came through! Thank you, St. Francis!

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Inspiration, part 2

In my last post, I found pictures to represent most of the major characters in my work-in-progress, Doubting River. I saved one important character for his very own post — River, the title character. Before we talk about River, though, I want to talk just a moment about setting.

Doubting River is set in a small, imaginary town in rural Mississippi. This photo is actually startlingly close to how I imagine Marlie’s farm to look.

Now let’s talk about River. River is a curly coated retriever, just like the dog I named for him. I don’t have any pictures of my dog here, though, because I haven’t had him out in the field, and River is most definitely a field retriever. Instead I asked my dog’s breeder to share some of her photos. First, here are some shots of curlies in their natural habitat.

In the book, Charm and Lucas are training River for an AKC retriever field trial. These trials are extremely competitive events open to both professional and amateur trainers. Of the seven eligible retriever breeds, the vast, vast, vast majority of the dogs who run in the trials are Labrador retrievers. In addition to Labs, a small number of golden retrievers and an even smaller number of Chesapeake Bay retrievers compete. The other four breeds are virtually unheard of in the sport, and to my knowledge no breed other than Lab, golden, or Cheesie has even won. That includes curly coated retrievers.

Dawn doesn’t compete in field trials, but she does do hunt tests through various organizations. These photos aren’t, then, exactly representative of what Charm and Lucas will be doing, but I think you’ll get the idea.

See the fake gun in the next picture? That’s common in some venues. In a real hunting situation, the dog’s handler would be shooting the ducks that the dog retrieves. In a hunt test (and field trial), the live flyers are shot by someone in the field so the handler can focus on the dog. The handlers are still required to carry a gun in some venues, however. This picture also has a good full-body shot of a curly. They’re taller and leaner than the other retrievers. My River (the living, breathing one) stands 28″ or 29″ at the shoulder and, at 16 months old, weighs about 90lbs.

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