21 March, 2008

A day of rainbows...

When I awoke this morning, snow was falling and the roads were icy. The sky was black with clouds. I trooped out the door around the time it stopped snowing, and off to Fidos for my herding lesson with Scott Glen. Diane let me borrow Lucy for my lesson, which was nice. The recent drama surrounding Lucy is the fact she was sent out for training, and while boarding with the trainer she was allowed to become pregnant. She also had 2 teeth kicked out by the trainer's horse. Grrrrr. This is a really frustrating and irritating development, as it means she will be taking time off from trialing, needs someone to whelp her out and care for the pups, the pups will need homes, and not to mention, she is bred by a male we didn't get to choose in advance. So basically what we have on our hands here, friends, is a MESS. Alas, the sire is an excellent sheep dog and the pups should be awesome none the less.

Aside from being in the family way, Lucy was very good for her lesson. She was spot-on with her listening, and made me look like a better handler than I am. She is a special dog and Scott had a few nice things to say about her, which was a pleasant surprise.

As I was driving home, I was passing through Yelm, and saw this:

Yes, that's right - a rainbow over a strip mall. I had not seen a rainbow in a long time, so took out my phone and snapped this photo. I'm sure the person behind me was thrilled that I sat a few seconds too long at the light after it turned green.

So as I kept driving, I was passing through McKenna, and saw this:

Not 1, but 2 rainbows... also over a strip mall. I think the strip mall part is a coincidence because that is where the traffic lights are for me to stop and snap a shot.

10 miles later, driving through Roy - you guessed it:

Another one.

And then, driving through Spanaway:

Lastly, coming through Puyallup on the last leg toward home, the final rainbow appeared. I was pleased to see that my camera-phone-while-driving-70-mph worked out in the end.

So after a few days of drama and anger, it was nice to see even black clouds can bring small pleasures. And with the help of the Motorola Razr, you too can share in my day of rainbows.

14 March, 2008

Last night I had the strangest dream...

And I woke up, thinking "man, last night I had the strangest dream," hearing the words to the intro of "Break My Stride." Now, I am a child of the 80s, and for the most part embrace my nature as a lover of post-disco dance music. However even I was a bit disturbed to wake up with a terrible pop music reference as the soundtrack for a simple 1-sentence thought.

About my dream...

Bruce, myself and the dogs were driving through a strange city on vacation. Apparently we were camping as we had plenty of gear packed into the car. As we were cruising along, the speed limit changed from 55mph to 25mph and a motorcycle cop pulled us over for speeding. So far, this is all quite plausible... hmm?

So once we are pulled over, the cop starts to open the car to search it. Bruce and I both stop him immediately to ask if he has probable cause. His reply, "obviously you're not from around here. we search every car we pull over, but I will need you to unload all this gear first."

So, for some bizarre reason we start unloading the car. It takes hours. The dream started in the morning and by the time we are finished unloading the car night has fallen. Armloads of clothes. Pots and pans. An electric mixer. 5 computers, a large television, a vacuum cleaner, a synthesizer (perhaps the source of the soundtrack?), piles of dog toys, food of all kinds, at least 10 umbrellas, all of which were found to be broken when it started to rain. Our car has turned into the clown car of clutter, no matter how much we unload, there is always more to be taken away.

While we are unloading the car, the cop is playing gin with his other cop-friends in the same parking lot staging nearly tectonic growth of our mountain of belongings. When we finish, he sends Bruce off on some imaginary errand. We then start walking up the road together, my response to his terse command of "Follow me."

After about 10 blocks, we end up at a restaurant called Pan Fish. The sign was a large black oval with a shiny gold-painted flounder sculpted in high relief. (Why did I remember this?) The restaurant is composed almost entirely of stairs. People are sitting on stairs instead of at tables, talking and eating. Everyone's meals are identical, but I don't remember what the meal was. The cop sits down and invites me to sit as well. We have cocktails and watch people singing karaoke on a separate set of stairs. It is not clear what is at the top of all these stairs, they continue upward into darkness sprawling in random, almost clumsily constructed looming blocs.

The cop turns to me and says "I'm really glad I remembered where this place was, I really wanted to bring you here. The food is great." When I asked him why in the world he would take me anywhere, he doesn't reply and simply walks away. We never ate any food.

When I realize my choices are to stay in the bizarre circus-of-stairs-and-fish or follow the only person I know, I follow him again. We walk and walk and walk. Eventually we are walking along a waterfront, watching ships pass by. I'm sure we talk about something but I can't remember what.

The dream ends with us walking back to the location of the car. Bruce is asleep in the passenger seat and all of the cop's friends are still sitting playing gin. Our mountain of belongings somehow eroded to a few handfuls of dust in only a few hours. The cop flashes me a grin and sits down, picking up the hand of cards he had laid away when our walk began. I get into the car with Bruce, turn the key in the ignition... and wake up.

I must admit, the strange dream I would prefer is closer to this:

Truthfully, I love John Denver :) And I've thawed some fish for dinner tonight. Perhaps I will cook it in a Pan.

13 March, 2008

Best Friends Part 1 - Paddy

Part 1 - Miss Paddy

Mostly retired at 10-years-old, but still earning ribbons in Tunnelers and Hoopers is:

Paddy, PD1, PD2, NAC, OAC, NJC, NCC, TN-N, TN-O, TG-N, CGC

Paddy is my first "real" dog. A combination of Australian Cattle Dog and "Handsome Stranger," when Paddy and I met she was 2-days-old and fit in the palm of my hand. Though I didn't know it yet, I became her mother on that fateful day at the animal shelter, and nursed her by hand with a bottle with her littermates. My intent when I brought Paddy home was to foster her and find an appropriate home for her and her siblings. But Paddy was special. Unlike any foster dog before or since, she stole my heart and I was a willing victim. So as Paddy grew to be 2-months-old and I realized I was hers for keeps, I broke my lease, found a house and moved so I could keep my dog. Crazy dog owner historical movement #1.

The first dog I've owned as an adult and given my heart and soul to, we learned a lot together as she had a very challenging adolescence. She has since matured into the best dog I have ever had the pleasure to own. Paddy is my soulmate in the form of a dog. She can gaze into my eyes and know my thoughts, and she always looks after me if I am ill or have a hole in my heart.

If she has the slightest injury or illness, my heart nearly breaks and I can't hold back a tear. She is the most skilled dog I have ever met at engaging shy dogs in play, raising puppies to understand what an adult dog looks, acts, sounds and feels like. Paddy has assisted me in rehabilitating dozens of aggressive dogs owned by my training clients. She has helped small children and adults who are afraid of dogs reconsider their fears and make their first canine friend. Entertaining with tricks and being a calming influence with her gentle nature, she spent many weekends as a therapy dog at the local hospice.

And not to be forgotten, she has the most beautiful velvety-soft ears known to man.

Agility was a brief hobby for us as she sustained an ankle injury at age 4 and had to be retired from jumping. However, we still do the occasional tunnel or hoop class and have a lot of fun together doing it.

After a few trials, we had our first real weekend of success. 6 qualifying rounds!

A proud dog, she always has an air of calm. Her friends know her for her superior sense of judgement in all circumstances. Mind you, while Paddy is often a serious dog, she can also steal a slice from the center of a loaf of bread without disturbing any neighboring slices (we all know the center slice is the BEST one) and will wait all day for a piece of pizza crust.

Of late I've noticed her little brown toes are tipped with silver-gray. Her muzzle hairs are getting lighter, her eyelashes have turned white. I don't know when it happened, but Paddy started getting older. I can hardly stand to think of a time when I might not have my Paddington girl, but the evidence is before my very eyes with every frosted strand of fur, and the tiniest blue glow coming into her eyes. Fortunately, she is the type of lady who no one can guess her age, and everyone assumes she is a perpetual puppy.

Perhaps she is a little spoiled - after all, she slept in the hotel bed after our first ever agility trial. We were both too tired even to eat dinner!

So for everything you have done for me, I thank you, my soulmate. You deserve the very best of anything I can provide. I promise to be ever truthful and straightforward, fair, honest and to love you every day, Paddy.

05 March, 2008

Pretentious? But of course, dahlink!

"Pretension: The downside of being better than everyone else is that people tend to assume you're pretentious."

I ask you, what if incompetence was a fatal disease? Or a punishable offense?

Yes, I know... blah blah brave new world... blah blah.

But what if by age 21 all adults had to demonstrate basic competence in one skillset of their choosing? This could be a profession, vocation or hobby, but it must have been studied to an adequate depth to produce consistent and complete results. How would society differ if this were the case? And if incompetence were found at the time of examination, what consequence would be appropriate?

I suggest this:

- Examiner determines an inadequate competency. Examiner orders 12 months of further study in the chosen area, re-examination to commence at the conclusion of the 12 month study period.

- At the 12 month re-exam, incompetence is demonstrated again. What now? I think exile sounds like a fun choice. Perhaps a large, uninhabited but fully habitable island? Air drops of food and supplies, monthly visits for health. Emergency communication with the outside world only? Re-examination (parole??) every 3 years.

It seems to me that entitlement and a lack of emphasis on personal responsibility deeply afflict young people in our world. I deal with these people as potential employees, students, pet owners, individuals needing help through ARPH, etc. I wonder if something as simple as seeing even one task through to completion with a dire consequence would make a difference in our world?

Comments welcome as always.