Monday, September 18, 2017

What If: A Life List

Looking Out My Window Darkness and rain. This may be the last week my dogs get walked in the mornings. I don't do dark. Our temp numbers are 66, 66, 60, 64, and 65. My friend from Alaska arrives on Saturday and the temps will go up slightly. I'm glad it won't be too hot when she arrives.
Weekend Review I'm still processing the information I learned at the TedxRichland talks we attended on Saturday. Nine live speakers and several recorded talks in between. The words I heard continually throughout the day were Community, Truth, Justice, Healing. There were some big take-aways, almost too many. Perhaps the words I heard most were what if and we need to.
What I'm Learning I took my youngest dog out to the country yesterday to walk with my friend down to the canal. Remi loves to go in the water. We have been there a couple of times and she likes to wander off into the bushes where I can't see her. We haven't been out there for a year. I'm learning that her training is ingrained nicely. When she got out of sight for longer than I was comfortable, I called her and she would poke her head out and run straight to me. There's nothing a dog owner loves more than a great recall. While we were walking, she would often run up ahead but always came back to check in with me. Love that.
What I'm Creating I have no projects going right now. I feel like right now is the season of transition into fall. It takes me a few days to adjust to it. Yesterday, I took two naps. Seasonal affective disorder is no joke. I've learned to embrace it. It is a part of who I am. Slowing down means I'll sit longer in my comfy chair and read or write.
What I'm Reading I'm starting a new book this morning called A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Someone left it on the kitchen table at work so I snagged it.
What I'm Watching Ozark on Netflix. I'm hooked on it.
What's On My Camera Lots of dog photos. I had two dog sessions last week for my volunteer gig and then I was out yesterday with my camera.
A Quote I Want to Share
From the TED event schedule
Truth is not dead. It is very much alive. Foundational Truths matter now more than ever. Truth is not something you are born with, it is something you choose and create. Truth is not unconditional, unwavering, or absolute. Truth can even evolve, grow, die, and transform, particularly when challenged with new insight. Truth is never afraid of being false.
A Peek Into My Week Tonight I'm meeting at the park with friends from my dog training class for a happy dog reunion. Tomorrow I'm going to stop by and visit a friend whose husband died a couple weeks ago. Work. Dogs. Get ready for a week off.
A Final Thought In the wake of all the political fighting and separation of people because of it, it was refreshing to gather with like-minded people on Saturday at the TEDxRichland talks. This place where we live is full of interesting, kind, progressive people. We're not loud and obnoxious so it's hard to find them. But, they're here. I'm going to pay better attention to that thought and hang on to it.
love, susan

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dogs: Every Day is a Training Day

Seems whenever I go out to do a photo shoot these days, I'm coming home with a lot on my mind. It happened the other night after a great session with a border collie and her mom. Our rescue team got involved because this super nice young woman adopted a 2 year old on the promise of several things which have not turned out exactly how they were presented. Please note: I didn't say the people lied. More on that later. After spending a good 30+ minutes with her and the other ladies from the rescue team, it brought back memories of all three of my own rescues.
It's often a nightmare when a dog goes into a new setting. It has been for all three of mine.  Fights, digging, a torn up lawn, separation anxiety, inability to walk on a leash, won't stay in kennel, etc. And, the worst of all is that they don't play together at all. When I see other dogs being playful I am seriously jealous. I've had to accept that my dogs are not the playing kind. Having said that, they have learned to adjust to the pack but it took a lot of work, some blood on the floor, flying fur, and a ton of training.

Here's the deal:  RESCUED DOGS NEED AN ADJUSTMENT PERIOD. Sorry, I didn't mean to yell just now. I simply cannot emphasize it enough. Nobody tells you this at the shelter or from the ad you saw on Craigslist. Many releasing shelters are just so happy to make a space for the next one that the virtual door almost hits you in the hiney. And, private adopters are usually happy their Fluffy got a new home. Please don't get me wrong. This is not a put down of shelters or people who need to rehome their dogs. Not at all. They are not in the business of training you or your dog. That's up to you.

I've been to a lot of training over the course of 30+ years. You'd think I'd know more but I only know a fraction of what there is to learn about dogs and their behavior. Every time I go out with my dogs to walk or play, I am learning something about them and they about me.  Every day is training day. Let me say that again. EVERY DAY IS A TRAINING DAY.
So, let's say you pick up your rescue. You've been given a list of things this dog will do and won't do. The owner has tried their best to put their dog's best paw forward (and sometimes not). While it's true that some releasing owners may tell lies about their dog's behavior, I'm willing to bet that much of the bad behavior you'll see is a reaction to stress.
Go with me here: Think about what it would be like to board a plane with your favorite people and somewhere mid-flight your people disappear into thin air. You get off that plane in a foreign country by yourself, where you don't speak the language, you don't know the smells, you are not familiar with the customs and culture. NOTHING is familiar to you. Please. Let this sink in for a minute. This is what it's like for your rescued dog.
The best thing I've learned in all my training classes was to give my rescue dog at least 6 months. That trainer said in 6 months I'd have a different dog.  Thank dog she said that to me. It isn't that I would have given up on my K9. What that allowed me to do is stand back and see this dog for the experience she was having. I needed to convey that she was going to be with me forever, no matter what.  And you know what? I needed to know that for myself. I do not give up. I have embraced this idea with each of my three girls.
So, I'd love for you to look at your dog(s) and think about what I've said here. Did they have an adjustment period? Are they different today than they were a day ago, a month ago, a year ago? What have you done to assure them you will never give up on them? Have you given up some of your free time and dollars to train them? Have you talked to other dog people to get ideas and ask for help?

Every day is a training day. Say it with me.
love, susan


Monday, September 11, 2017

Waking a Giant: A Life List

Looking Out My Window It's 6:00am and the sun is barely coming up but the skies are going to be pure blue today and for that I'm sure we are all grateful. I've heard no news on the fires in the gorge as Hurricane Irma has stolen the news. We're going to 90 degrees today. Our numbers this week are 90, 93, 81, 73, and 73. Might have to break out a sweatshirt for my walks this week.
Weekend Review I attended a funeral for my good friend's dad. It was a beautiful service full of people who loved him. I enjoyed hearing about his life and seeing the photos they put together in a video. The man was never without a smile. Yesterday, in a rare move, I stayed home the entire day. I've been doing meal preps on Sundays and really leaning into enjoying that process. I napped and read a little. Enjoyed walks with my dogs.
What I'm Learning Some people are real assholes. I ran into someone over the weekend who we helped rehome two of her dogs. She is getting ready to move and has two remaining dogs. She wanted to know if we could rehome her scraggly old boy and she'll keep the young, cute one. I know I'm not supposed to be judgmental. Sue me. Sometimes I can't hide my disappointment in people. I don't like this character defect I have of judging people. There, I said it. Now, I'll go work through it while I walk my own dogs this morning.
What I'm Creating I'm venturing out a bit in the kitchen with this eating program I'm on. Yesterday I made cowboy caviar and I'm excited to have something a little different in my lunch box this week.
What I'm Reading I just downloaded a new book called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Just one chapter in so I'll get back to you on it next week.
What I'm Watching I'm not watching anything right now. Trying to enjoy the last days of summer outdoors.
What's On My Camera Not much. I'm taking a little break from photography this week although I do have a rescue shoot set for tonight. A young border collie. Squeee!
A Quote I Want to Share Habits aren't destiny. - Charles Duhigg
A Peek Into My Week As I was journaling this morning, I am setting a new goal of getting to work 15 minutes early. I've been arriving later and not feeling good about trying to get a mindset for work at 8:00am sharp. It doesn't work for me. I need to ease into it and get my water glass filled and arrange my desk for a good start every day. Photo shoot tonight, a girlfriend talkfest on Wednesday. Chill week so far.
A Final Thought I was in Whitehorse, Yukon with my dad when the planes hit the towers on this day 16 years ago. We were traveling back to Arizona after spending the summer in Alaska. My mom had died in March and my life was a train wreck. My dad and I were both trying to piece back together some semblance of how life would be going forward. When the planes hit, we were getting ready to leave Whitehorse and I remember stopping at a restaurant on the way out of town. They had the radio turned up for everyone to hear the news. I don't remember ever being so frightened. As we drove closer to the American border, our Canadian friends had placed huge American flags up in their yards and on store fronts. I'll never forget that. I'll also never forget how, as a nation, for awhile we cared about each other like no other time I can remember. Where did that go?
love, susan

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sack of Rocks - One Bad Decision

This was not a good week for a teen who made a bad choice throwing firecrackers into a tinder box forest near Portland, Oregon. A large portion of forest is now on fire and not under control. As you read this, people with asthma are suffering. Animals are perishing. One home has burned and people have been evacuated. We lost the sun over here nearly 200 miles away. It is affecting tens of thousands of lives across Oregon into eastern Washington and beyond.  One bad decision.  Go here for news on it: Oregon Live
Who hasn't made a bad decision before? Rhetorical question, really.

On my walks in the smoky haze this week, I thought of Captain Joseph Hazelwood.  Remember him? The guy who was drunk at the helm while trying to navigate the Exxon Valdez through the straits in Alaska and ended spilling a shit-ton of oil in the sound? Yeah, that guy. That one bad choice changed the lives of thousands of Alaskans, killed a lot of wildlife, changed the land, and left a huge mess for residents to clean up. People whose lives depended on fishing in the area were bankrupted. Who knows how many divorces, suicides, and mental health issues were created from that one bad decision. I lived there. I witnessed much of it firsthand.
I cannot begin to imagine the longstanding repercussions of this disaster. I don't think anyone will know the depth of it for quite awhile. We don't know how long it will be before we see the blue skies or breath fresh air. We don't know what that area of the gorge is going to look like when the smoke clears. We don't know how many people will be displaced because of it. We don't know a lot of things.

What I do know is that a lot of people are perplexed by the one bad decision of this young person whose action has caused a lot of grief. That's a big sack of rocks he'll be carrying for a long time. I think about how that teen must be thinking "if only I had not thrown that firecracker ..." I wonder if he would take back his action? If only.

Have you ever burned down a forest, or spilled a million gallons of oil in the most pristine places? Have you ever made a super bad decision that felt like you had burned down a forest?
love, susan

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor Day 2017: A Life List

As I look out my window it is pitch black. We are losing light faster and faster. I am having to wait until about 6:20am to take dogs for a walk. Soon, they won't get a morning walk at all. I always dread that day. The entire Columbia Gorge is filled with smoke from horrible fires that started by someone with fireworks. They closed a section of the highway completely down.
Weekend Review We didn't do much over the weekend as far as running around goes. I took a nap all 3 days in a row. The hustle of a busy summer finally caught up with me. I had a photo shoot Friday after work. It was my last one for the August project. Yesterday, I met up with a couple to photograph their 3 month old baby girl. We also drove to Walla Walla just to get out of the house. I packed a lunch for myself as hubby had already eaten before we left. We stopped at the Goodwill store and I bought a pair of capris one size smaller as my pants are starting to look baggy. I've lost 23 lbs. since May 1st. I've plateaued. Feeling really great though and happy to have finally found an eating plan that can work for the rest of my days.
What I'm Learning The dog photo project in August taught me a few things about photographing dogs.
  • Dogs really hate the camera. This was a huge "aha" for me. Even my own dogs won't let their ears up when I take their pics.
  • Give it 10 to 15 minutes for dogs who've never met me to sniff me out and figure out if I'm okay. I get down on the ground and their level and let them sniff and lick and bump my face with their noses. Just charging in and taking photos doesn't work. That's going to be super useful information as I continue to photograph dogs for the rescue team. 
  • I've learned that people love their dogs more than anything else and when we're shooting, it's all about the dogs. I've not met a vain dog person yet. Love that.
What I'm Creating I'm still minimizing my household goods and trying to create a better living space. Right now it seems worse than when I started but it is because I'm saving boxes of stuff to put in a charity yard sale that's coming up this month.
What I'm Reading I am re-reading Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free by Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. Now that I've been following her plan for eating since May 1, it is time to go back and look for things I missed the first time I read it.
What I'm Watching I watched two episodes of Ozark on Netflix. We watched a couple of movies over the weekend but can't remember the titles.
What's on My Camera Lots of dogs!
A Quote I Want to Share
NOT MY FOOD Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.
This is a mantra from the BLE program that has served me well.  Donuts on the table at work? Not My Food. 
A Peek Into My Week I have zero plans on my calendar this week. I'm okay with that. My summer has flown by and now it is my time to chill a bit.
A Final Thought A close family friend lost her ex-husband and father of her three beautiful girls to suicide last week. It really took the wind out of me for a bit. I'm sad as hell for his daughters. I've known too many people who have taken their own life. Pain that no one can see eludes a lot of people. Not me. I've never felt suicidal but I can understand how people get there when depression and physical pain is left untreated. I don't want to leave this entry on a sad note. The good news is that one of the best dogs I've ever met got adopted last week by a family with a young teen boy. The photo of their meeting was priceless. I cried when I saw it. I love happy endings, don't you?
love, susan

You Made My Day, Dude!

A couple weeks ago while I was driving back to Portland after spending the night on the Oregon coast, we came up on some road construction ...