“Be good!”

 

My Grandpa Smith was a character! A buffalo rancher who lived literally in the middle of nowhere, carried his water, burned his heat, butchered his food. This tall, tough cowboy would not dare show his love in any girl sense of the word, but when it was time to say good-bye until another weekend visit, he would choke a bit and say in his gruff, Sasquatch voice “BE GOOD!”. Gawd how I miss that man!

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Georgia Peaches; “Sweet and Juicy Georgia Peaches”. No, I’m not talking fruit, I’m talking about a pretty little red poodle born as Princess Peach to Polar Lane Poodles out of Saskatchewan. She was just over a year old and as a mature puppy, I felt that I could get a good sense of who she was from the breeder. I wanted a confident, socially mature female. The breeder told me that Peaches was a “beautiful loving girl, who loves to play and run around, but also loves to snuggle in for kisses and hugs.” Sounds like my perfect pup!! When questioned again about her personality (just for my own reassurance) the breeder went into more details. “She doesn’t show any sign of shyness unless it is a bunch of kids coming at her at once.”  “She is very outgoing and friendly.  Gets along well with the other dogs

Although I had dealt with “responsible breeders” in the past, this was the first time I planned to purchase my “perfect puppy”. There were a few red flags for me, Polar Lane did all their own vaccinations. In BC you would not be considered “responsible” if you did this, but this breeder was in Saskatchewan. She did not do genetic testing on her breeding pairs but seemed to know all about the breed and could give many references from many healthy puppy families. How many puppies I wondered. She had no questions for me…none. I wanted a registered poodle. In typical human fashion, “I want what I want” and I quickly explained away the red flags. This was, after all, a professional, responsible breeder, registered with the CKC.

Georgia arrived home in March 2017, and we quickly found out that shy was an understatement. She ran from our approach, would bite if she felt trapped, refused to eat around other dogs, wanted nothing to do with us, the dogs or our house. As difficult as it was for me, I gave her space. All I wanted to do was gather her into my arms and snuggle and kiss her the way the breeder had led me to envision. As the weeks become months she started very slowly to open up, first to the cats, then to Claire, then to Jason. It wasn’t until late fall/early winter that she started to gingerly climb into my lap. I was determined to gain her trust! As long as I ignored her, she sat quietly, soaking up my happy thoughts directed her way but ever vigilant that I might move or try to catch her. I think often about her 2 days travel to get from Polar Lane to Bakers Acres. I feel strongly that any trauma suffered as a result of this journey would have quickly been forgotten with the sedative she was given to make travel easier and my appropriate training to help her overcome her fears. I know that her fear was deeply rooted at a young and impressionable age.

She’s been with us over a year and to this day you can still see how her first year in the “loving arms of a responsible breeder” corrupted who she could have been. She doesn’t like hugs, she still needs the freedom to flee at a moment’s notice. She feels trapped under the covers, no matter how cold the weather is. She submits to the other dogs at meal time to a fault, but cannot be separated from them or the stress of seclusion will ruin her appetite. She arrived in Burns Lake at a full-grown 10lbs with a ziplock bag of Pedigree as the breeders food choice. With careful management she is currently a very healthy 16lbs on a raw, home cooked and high protein diet.

Besides her residual underlying issues my Sweet Georgia Peach a.k.a. Sweet Georgia Brown is a happy girl who loves to torment the sheep by bouncing back and forth and chittering like an angry squirrel until they finally give in and chase her. Her strange sleeping poses have earned her the nickname Pretzel. She is the first to get out of bed, rush down the hallway, grab something she is not supposed to have, before booking it out the doggie door to store her new treasure in a deserted corner of the yard. Georgia loves Bakers Acres pens. The feel of the plastic splitting under her teeth with a satisfying crunch that magically exposes a tiny metal tip that bleeds! Like a Georgia version of Ferrero Rocher exposing the decadent hazelnut center that reminds you of Christmas! In her excitement for a new day she returns to bed to tease “Gramma” Danika who refuses to move so much as an eyelash in response to her wake up call. Georgia taps her front feet in unison 6 inches from Danika and gives a low “erf” from her throat every time her feet land in the soft sheets. As if to accentuate the warning that she could pounce at any second. After failing to rouse Danika, Georgia will try her luck with Claire, who responds with a yawn, a roll on her back an all-consuming face rub for her sleepy eyes into the deepest part of the comforter. Finally Jason makes his way to the kitchen where Gerogia follows at his heels waiting for her special part of the lunch he will so carefully make for the long day journey ahead of him. Her impatience is shown by jumping at his hand, trying to get his attention. Once her tummy is full of naughty treats she sneaks back to bed, curls up in a tight unarousable hedgehog pose as close to my back as she can and pretends to be a rock. At this point there is no moving her. When it’s time to wake me up, her routine starts all over again.

Charlie is another story that begins before Georgia. My intention to “rescue” was waning with my inner desire to have a puppy for Jason. Jason’s birthday present of a tan-colored cockapoo puppy failed miserably as my Henry attached himself to me like a spiral nail in a new 2×4. I decided to respond to a Vancouver ad for cocker spaniel puppies. All he had left were black and white. The chocolate ones had all been spoken for. I thanked him for his time and told him I would wait for the right pup. He counter-offered with the father of the puppies…Charlie. He was being forced to rehome his breeding pair as his wife had passed away and he could no longer look after them. To our utter surprise Charlie arrived on a flight from Vancouver with minimal planning. He hopped out of the airline approved kennel, gave a big stretch and sniffed around the lawn at the airport. This well-rounded pup was happy to follow Jason and I as he lept in the truck and we headed home to meet Henry.

Charlie has amazing recall, a naughty streak when he chases crows he can never catch, he sits at your feet and watches in perfect understanding as you talk to him and he carries everything around in his smug lips to prove he’s the man…but he never chews anything! He licks his lips when he thinks he’s in trouble, sleeps with his tongue hanging out, will look at you admiringly if you scratch his belly. The nickname Char was quickly adapted to Jar Jar Binks or Binky for short. He loves his kids and is calm and patient when they need it, and silly when they need entertaining. He protects them, watches over them, kisses them and claims everyone and everything as HIS.

In tracking down his vaccination records I was lead to his original breeders based out of Sherwood Park Alberta, Kim & Katherine Jensen. I was surprised to see that she had an advertised litter of pure bred, registered puppies from Charlie’s parents. After talking to her, she tracked down Charlie in her files and the information on the same family in Vancouver that I had adopted him from. I was excited to follow Charlie’s lines back to Specialty Kennels where I found pictures of his champion grandparents. I was hooked! I wanted a registered pup! I ignored the red flags that is “responsible breeder” would not only sell an unregistered pup, but did not care that he could have ended up in a shelter only days after his litter of pups had been sold. I also ignored the fact that I could not find a website or even a mention of her breeding practises on the internet. In talking to this “responsible breeder” she promised to look into getting Charlie registered. Her excuse for not registering in the first place was that she sold that litter for almost nothing. No contract, no conditions, no support, no contact.

It was around this time that the CKC dog show competed in Burns Lake. I was fortunate to meet a champion breeder/groomer of cocker spaniels. I learned about the breed, grooming, training, showing, winning and why someone could want to be a part of such an amazing display of showmanship. I also learned another hard lesson about bullying that strengthened my resolve to celebrate who I wanted to be. It’s easy to stand up for yourself when you know who you are. Who did I want to be?

When you try to define “responsible” breeding some of the requirements include: Being “involved in the showing of pure bred dogs.” and “(Responsible breeders) do not sell pups as a for-profit business. Indeed, many reputable breeders lose money,” http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_breedersandpetshops.php  This years dog show in Burns Lake was another amazing display of showmanship, fantastic purebred dogs and…money.

Katherine Jensen at this point was difficult to get a hold of. So I contacted Ethel Jorgensen of Specialty Kennels out of Wildwood, Alberta. She instantly knew who Charlie’s parents were, who his breeders were and she was pleasant, sympathetic and helpful with my quest for knowledge. She went further to send me copies of pedigrees for both Charlie’s parents that she had on file so I could further research his lines. When Katherine Jensen finally did answer the phone, she told me that Specialty Kennels had counselled her on our unique situation and recommended that she ignored me so as not to get in trouble with the CKC. She then opened up to me, as if I had asked, to tell me that Ethel & Jens Jorgensen were not good people and were not “above-board” in selling her Charlie’s parents. This “responsible” breeder then called me a bully and told me never to call her again. So…I contacted CKC. CKC is, after all, the end all-be all, of responsible breeding. They hold their members to strict rules and regulations. Turns out Katherine Jensen was not registered with the CKC when she had Charlie’s litter. As a current member in good standing with the CKC, Katherine Jensen was untouchable and CKC basically told me to pound sand. So much for “Responsible”.

The opposite end of the spectrum is the ever-present puppy mill. The definition in this small town is Karin Adams. Her greatest achievement is being able to pull into your drive way to steal your animals while you are washing dishes in your kitchen. Your trusting horses and dogs never to be seen again. In 2015 Karin and her daughter Catherine were handed 20-year bans on owning animals and ordered to pay nearly $5,500 in restitution (Wow! $5,500! That’s about 2 pups worth! OUCH!) to the SPCA to offset care costs. Karin Adams was also sentenced to 15 days in jail and two years’ probation, while her daughter was given six months’ conditional house arrest and three years’ probation. These two women are known to have public, written complaints against them dating back to 2007 using aliases. To this very day Karin Adams is selling dogs and destroying families visions while she rakes in the cash with her razor-sharp pitch fork. The fascinating thing about this case…I challenge you to find a recent picture of her anywhere on the global internet. We have, and continue to support, protect and enable these women to play their deadly games. After all…when we buy from puppy mills we are rescuing! (Caution: that last sentence is highly suggestible and darkly sarcastic. Parental guidance recommended.) My next question…why have we not publicly created a resource where potential puppy buyers can go to see pictures of puppy mill operators, convicted animal abusers and lists of their aliases. Another warning…if you can’t find them on the internet…they are hiding something!

For puppy mills, I simply have no words.

In the middle of the rainbow sits back yard breeders. Yup…I don’t know the definition of that one either. I envision tiny cage upon tiny wire cage of filthy, sick and diseased animals stuffed into a dilapidated barn, awaiting the sweet release of death like a holocaust child being lead to the “shower”. These are the pet store puppies that look so cute in the windows but have never felt cool spring grass on their baby paws.

What is very clear to me is that we as a society are responsible for enabling, supporting and creating a market that is corrupt. The corruption starts and ends with our choices. Not the choices of the CKC or SPCA or the “Responsible” breeders or Karin Adams. Our choice to “want what we want”, ignore the red flags, label ourselves to bully others, ignore each other to keep ourselves in “good standing”, to say anything for the almighty dollar at the expense of those pure souls who cannot speak for themselves. Those pure, honest and open souls that depend on us to be….good. Just. Be. Good.

Details

Yesterday was another busy day of finding and celebrating that one quiet moment. Heidi was in the grooming room and as I try to explain in words the things I’ve learned simply by doing, I feel like a fumbling fool. The best thing about Heidi…she learns just like me! She can already see how the tiny changes in the angle of the blade changes the length of the hair, without words.

I had a moment after grooming, while Jason took the kids to bomb around the gravel pit on their dirt bikes, for a refocus on the details of the spring that is quickly passing me by. The cherry flowers are in perfect bloom and the honey bees in the apple trees are begging to be captured by my sophisticated Samsung camera phone.

It took a quiet mind and a moment of freedom to remember what’s real and important is “all in the details”. I collapsed after my photo frenzy that followed the buzzing of the bees laden with nectar, in a shock of pain…the kind that can only catch up on you when your attitude is in control. My “can do” attitude gave way to my “grumpy” attitude while I impatiently awaited bedtime and the promise of oblivion.

My Grumpy attitude got me out of bed in the morning, to rain. More rain! I tried to quiet my mind and channel my quiet moment from yesterday but “Grumpy” couldn’t see past the unfinished, empty garden beds and the fact that it is already June 3rd. In a physical Hulk Hogan effort my attitude ripped up the intention of my garden, again. “Maybe next year” has taken on a whole new meaning. As my intention flutters down around me like snow in a snow globe full of breath-taking water, I see the horses running though the field in their efforts to release pent-up energy. Sigh.

I refocus and spend my morning pounding on the keyboard while I watch Full Force Nature on Netflix. Jason doesn’t like my dark entertainment choices…he’d rather watch war movies or some sappy, happy ending love story. His dual personality choices clearly conflict with my Walking Dead, The Conjuring and Sleepy Hollow preferences. I love the zombies, headless demons and invisible apparitions! Full Force Nature at 8am on a Sunday morning puts the pain in my back, and my grumpy attitude into perspective. Reality is much easier to swallow while I’m watching a tornado or a decomposed, blue and bloated zombie being pulled out of a well, suddenly forgetting his bottom half in the drinking water of the last surviving members of earth.

I remind myself to be thankful for the “details”. The perfectly positioned fly on the delicately crinkled edge of a new daffodil. The blue sky perfectly framed in a circle of branches covered in knuckles and moss leading to white apple buds rimmed in pink and cupped in crisp new green leaves. The ultimate in dual personality, perfect and imperfect. Sun rays that peek out and around the clouds that direct a trail of ants up the cherry tree to help open the tightly curled leaves and expose the anther of the flowers. A broken stem bent and the damaged edges turning brown to protect the wound that lies close to the blade edge, wrapping around the spring flower like a sentry defending its queen.

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”    William Morris

 

 

Cocoon

I love spring. Amid the mucky, soupy, flooded fields, I love to hear the rushing of our seasonal creek and watch the small pond behind the barn fill to capacity with dark muddy water. It seemed to take forever for the last snow at the bottom of the huge snow piles to melt away. It has only been in the last few weeks when I have been able to remove the leaves that covered my perennial flowers for insulation from this winters cold. My daffodils have sprung up quickly and are starting to flower among the weeds, willows, rose bushes and puddles. With the recent cold, rainy weather they seem to have cocooned back into their shells and I see a decrease in their “spring”.

I can only watch from the window of my cocoon as I have fractured the fourth section of my sacrum and I am slowly and painfully working on the second week of my six-week recovery. I’ve traditionally suffered from back pain that I blame on my attitude of “watch me!” “I can do it!”. This broken sacrum was no different. In my frustration of not having things done in my time lines…I was carrying a sandbag to increase my pond depth and slipped on a pallet covered with this winters slimy decomposing hay hidden under the top layer of fresh dry hay. I am fortunate that the corner of the pallet I fell on did not have a nail sticking out of it.

Jason’s indifference to my peril and frustration at my stupidity was another tough life lesson. A lesson I can’t seem to hold on to except in the emergency waiting room.  Jason’s stoic attitude was exactly what this loch of clumsy needed and we whipped through the afternoon smoothly proving I just need my “Rock”, some T3’s and a good sleep.

Spring is a busy time on the farm. In starting my digital adventure this year…it has gone to the wayside, toppled over by the prospect of new blood….Mahahaha!! There was a few amazing people who thought maybe this job was for them. After the realization that playing with fun, pretty dogs was not the job, but instead immersing oneself in the things they leave behind, they quickly fell into the abyss of town life. A young farm girl stepped up with a shine that I hadn’t seen in a while. Heidi showed up to her first day on the job in work clothes, rubber boots and a sparkle! She entertains us with witty stories, a classic second voice teasing and the courage to take life in stride, moment to moment. Heidi loves to greet people at the gate with just the right amount of sweetness that has clients instantly at ease. I know that I will lose her to college when she has saved up enough to go, but until then I see smooth sailing for this business, and for my back.

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With Diane and Heidi on the job I am able to concentrate on getting better so I can get back to my horse lessons, which this uninvited interruption has devastated me more than my inability to move. Today I will focus on protecting my body like a cocoon against my attitude. While I say this I try not to think of the 1985 movie Cocoon. The idea that swimming in a pond inhabited by aliens will give seniors a new lease on life and a new “I can do it!” attitude rings frighteningly true. I have no intentions to swim in my muddy pond and I must also get rid of the attitude that comes along with it! Besides the fact that no one says cocoon anymore…the correct word is chrysalis. I will continue to use cocoon because I simply cannot spell chrysalis. Who thought of this anyway?? Cocoon, cocoon, cocoon, cocoon! Ha!

 

Inspiration

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In the depths of a long weekend, stuck smack dab in the middle of a spring break holiday, time feels like an old well with stone stairs that run along the edge, spiralling down to the waters edge. The fear of heights catches my breath in my chest and I emotionally ignore it to put one foot in front of the other. One courageous step down gets me closer to my goal of retrieving life sustaining water. I ignore the smell of the thick green moss, the larger than life spiders that scurry away from the corner of my vision….another step down. I man handle the thoughts of the cold dark water at the bottom of the steps, what would happen if I fell in, and I put them away to ponder later (in true Scarlett fashion). Another step down. The darkness closes around my head and I focus on my task…just one more step. The water ripples sending slivers of light everywhere with the promise of redemption and life. I sweep my bucket along the surface of the water causing the walls to ignite with life…like a fireworks celebration conquering the darkness and inspiring me to keep moving. I ignore the frigid water dripping from my hands down my arm and I swiftly, carefully ascend the stairs into the warm sun where I can breathe and feel whole again.

Like the spiders seeking dark spots to hide, I am not the sort of person who shines. I am not here to inspire. That was a hard lesson for me, and I will not go back there. The buzz words become overwhelming to a point where they mean nothing and simply create an infinite loop that spins your head into a twist and you end up wondering why you wasted your time listening. We all know time is precious.

Going about my regular chores last week, I had 3 children, 4 employees and a full kennel to wrap my mind around. I started the week with a staff breakfast from A&W…team building as the buzz word goes. Hiding away from the blowing snow in our small greeting room we lined the walls to organise our day and enjoy our greasy sausage and eggers. It felt like I was a part of something…until everyone looked at me to lead them in different directions. A quick outline of where we all fit and we were off and running! It was my job to keep everyone focused and put out fires so we could all work as efficiently as possible. Yup…I became the “gopher”. Don’t you love buzz words!!??

I felt I may have had a chance to inspire my teenager who quickly disappeared into his room like the spider I am. So much for inspiring! Quickly reminding myself that my mislead ideals of inspiration were no match for the Xbox, I went into parenting mode. I gave him a quick run down of his chores and consequences of not doing them. His glazed eyes, full belly and warm room were no challenge to my rules! Even without internet access he was not budging and with the solid knowledge that I had more to deal with than him, he settled back into his bed and hid all day. So much for parenting!

It occurred to me in my seething anger of his laziness that in fact, was it not my lazy parenting that was the core root of the issue? In my attempt to reach the water’s edge, I ignore the moss, the spiders, the sights, smells and feels all around me and simply focus on my goal, because to take in all of these things I could not physically complete the task of filling my bucket. My defense for my laziness is simply that I do not have time. This is an old thought and one that is important enough to me that I am literally changing the way I do business so I can be a parent. The problem with that is timing….there is no way in the middle of this holiday that was going to happen. In order to reach the water, I must prepare the bucket.

Preparing the bucket is to find the people who are worthy of my time in training them. Then I need to find the time. To find the time I must hire help so I can train the people who will stay. In hiring the people to help I must become the “parent”. The parent that explains how business works. Seriously?? Since when has it been the duty of a business to explain how things run at their core to entitled millennials who have never been parented. Ahhh…the infinite loop again. Lazy parenting = entitled people = lazy people = no help = overwhelmed business = lazy parenting…. In a desperate attempt to find the weak spot to break apart the loop, I’m watching my lazy child slip away. Soon he will become the entitled millennial that cannot be trained by business but must instead be parented. I sure hope he can find a business with the time to parent him (shaking my head in despair, I return to my “step down”).

I think inspiration should be enough, in my simple minded, buzz word filled world…why isn’t it enough? We try to inspire people we cannot train because it is our last ditch effort to “sell” them an ideal. You cannot sell an ideal to closed minded people. They must be ready and open to receive information for them to process it. You cannot do that for them. You must find them at the right time. It’s like the water in the well….the water sitting at the surface is ready to be gathered in and refocused to give life…the rest of the water is being forced through the rocks and soil to sit at the bottom and wait until it sees the sunlight. If the water represents the people of this world…I cannot imagine the degradation of your efforts to find that one person. I have no time for such things. Neither would my heart handle the endless rejection.

I do not find inspiration in people, but instead within myself. The inspiration of the light reflecting off the stone walls deep inside the dark well. My inspiration comes when a strange dog conquers their god given instinct and looks into my eyes, emotionally feeling their way in this world to creep forward with trust and open mindedness. I am inspired by my horse honoring his flight instincts to challenge me to approach in a way he is comfortable. I am inspired by the sparkle in a single snowflake, the water lapping over tiny stones, the light shining though the cloud in rays of grey, the way a flower opens it’s petals to the warmth of the day… The simplicity of inspiration cannot be dissected or complicated. It simply is. You choose to be open minded and inspired. I can’t wait to see what my inspiration will be today. I wonder if I can find inspiration in a warm tea, and marathon day of Outlander in my pajamas?

 

Home

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The concept of “opposites attract” has intrigued us for generations. No matter what you believe in you can Google your idea and find scientific proof you are right. In terms of opposites, right is the opposite of wrong. We know that we must make a mistake the learn…does that mean we must be wrong to learn how to be right? No way!! Believing your right doesn’t make you right, it just make you who you are. Fighting someone to emotionally see that your right is simply a way of standing up for what you believe in, but if you are successful in your “right fight” quest, you will make the other person lose who they are. Isn’t that the definition of bullying? What would happen if we all just honored and truly celebrated our different opinions. Simply in the process of  learning and believing we are attracting good things into our lives that are worthy of celebration.

My first thought regarding the quote “opposites attract” makes me think of Jason….I know, obvious! I don’t consider us opposites…on the contrary I believe we are very similar. We think the same way, carry the same work ethic, the same outlook, the same love of animals and the outdoors…. He simply fills in my weaknesses.

The “working holiday” ideal is an extreme opposite. A holiday is the escape from work. But as any business owner knows, there is simply no escape. This was the choice we made when we jumped into the dark unknown cavern that swallowed us alive and refuses to allow a sliver of sunshine to land on our sandy dirt floor. In that dirt we construct an idea like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, only to wipe the sand level again and start over. The pieces of sand that turn to pebbles get worked over and over until they become full fledged rocks beaming with gold highlights.

I think one of those highlights may be the concept of a working holiday! I’ve been able to accomplish so much! My websites are updated, my invoices are almost caught up, my schedule is organised, future plans are concreted, new endevours are beginning…and I have my feet in the sand! As I look out through the palm fronds waving in the warm breeze to the white, soft sand that disappears into the sargassum seaweed littering the shoreline, I am proud to have touched base with all those people depending on me to guide them through their doggie challenges.

I feel accomplished, refocused, energized, and ready to go home.

Transitions

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“Don’t give away the farm!” so says Georgia Nicols about Pisces today under a Libra moon. Fairly fitting for my mood as I am so excited I can hardly wrap it up with a pretty pink satin ribbon. I have finally taken the time to deliver on long awaited promises to my puppy parents. I found a way through the deafening technology buzz in my ears to create a shared album in my Google photos so I can teach them how to groom their perfect Cockapoo puppies!

I know all those techies around me are giggling hysterically…if I wasn’t looking at Google…where was I? I thought Google was simply a search engine! Ha! Ron has been trying to maintain a grasp on the single brain cell I have that can retain information with images of “inside” and “outside” the house to describe network vs. internet.

As usual my enthusiasm has taken control of my “good business” senses as I plan other albums for training and frankly anything I can  give my puppies to help them navigate in this absolute human world.

My new system of invoicing has also materialized from the techie guru Ron after he handed me a simple book called “The e-myth”, which I am still working my way through after almost a year of borrowing this quick read. The system depends wholly on having the structure of gmail behind a contact network of client emails. During this “data collection” transition I’m utilizing facebook messenger and pictures sent via text for those peps who refuse to be part of the digital revolution. Who can blame them?

Fascinating to me is that when I take the time to transition to Google, my photos from my phone appear immediately on my computers creating instant backups, simple sharing options both public and special invite only. My email events get automatically uploaded to my Google calendar which magically appears on my phone and sends audio reminders so I can’t possibly forget anything. Did you know…YouTube is an app from Google?? (back ground giggling turns into all out snickering and tummy spasms…”serves you right!”)

Today is a momentous day where Bakers Acres embraces Google as my new BFF, including new email addresses, new shared information and a whole new world! (All you LDSS graduates of 1993…try to say that without singing!!:)) Tomorrow I will try to navigate through Google calendar…again…sigh.

The sunshine inspires me, makes me happy and has me throwing candies to anyone who wants to catch them. I will try to not give away the farm!

Feasibility

WIN_20180301_12_10_46_ProI’ve closed the kennel for another short  break. Yep…I did! Seems like it’s one of those perks of running your own business…oh the leisure!!! Ha! Reality falls somewhere in between a tornado blowing diesel farm trucks into space and the red-eyed, blurry sighted, homeless disaster of a business owner (and that’s on a good day!). My ususal routine buried deep in the snow. Spring break is fast approaching and I intend to rest here so I can go full tilt for that particular occasion!

In my effort to win an Academy Award for procrastinating…I constructed a newsletter instead of completing my January invoices, to provide an explanation and provide a promise of results for my second holiday this year. This newsletter given to my daycare clients outlines my goals for the next week. One of my news years resolutions was to take the time to “go digital”, that and to talk about my Dad so my children can know who he was. It is time for Bakers Acres to transition into the digital era! Stop doing things by hand, the hard way, so when I’m on vacation I can actually take a break. This goal includes digital filing systems, digital invoicing, digital calendars with digital reminders, even a digital tracking system for my daily bus route.

I am still hoping to complete new advertising including commercial short clip videos and client access to my video training and grooming tips. We have a current live stream video in the kennel that I want to open up to my clients, but the daunting task of climbing the wall of confidentiality and costs have me stalled in quicksand! Our websites are sorely out of date and I need to continue the momentum in rejuvenating Bakers Acres online presence.

It’s also way past time that our business plan gets a quick glance and review that I am focusing my attentions where my attentions should be. With all the cooks in the kitchen, that isn’t as easy as it sounds. So…it’s time to try a digital survey and see what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong as well as determining the feasibility of new programs such as agility, professional house sitting, monthly newsletters for non-digital peps, homemade, local ingredient dog food and holistic medicine.

I’ve been trying for a distrubingly long time to recruit local students to train with me for help in grooming and provide uninterrupted service, but working in a kennel is not the expected “playing with dogs to pass the time” endeavor that new recruits are quick to recognise. To find the right person I am going viral and I hope to complete the advertising before I head home. The grooming season is about to kick into high gear and with no time left to train, we will need someone with experience.

Diane has been with the kennel since it started and is no stranger to hard work. She diligently takes care of all of us in her motherly way and keeps things orderly and clean. Dezeray is a detailed student who’s pleasant attitude has been consistent and dependable for several years. Cameron has agreed to re-join the kennel staff as our talented handy-man…the dogs follow his energy around the farm like a hungry baby bird while he works. We have an amazing group of hardworking, loving, imaginative and self motivated people surrounded by animals…who wouldn’t want to join us?

 

 

Slow cooker beans!

via Barbecue “Baked” Beans

Michael whipped up a batch of slow cooker baked beans with bacon. The whole house smelled like comfort food and with the cold air outside that makes your breath freeze in your throat, I was not unhappy to “supervise” Michael’s efforts. He was more than competent and quite honestly, other than pushing him to be more descriptive, he did not need me.

Baby Silas has become all too comfortable under our feet. He was busy helping Michael follow the recipe directions by “patting” his perfect paws on Michael’s feet so that he was not forgotten in the process.

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Michael has fallen completely in love with Silas and as his training stabilizes into routine I know that he must soon go home. I calm my thoughts to put my feelings aside as I try to ignore the compressing pain in my heart at the thought of his departure.

I am humbled by our family. How accommodating they all are to the changing dynamics of animals under our feet. The compassion and tolerance is second to none and I could not be more proud to be a part of it.

Today baked, slow cooked beans, tomorrow…Ham! Yum!

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Barbecue “Baked” Beans

First I got all my ingredients, which are as follows. (I added bacon because beans and bacon go together)

  • 2 cans of white beans (rinsed)
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • bacon

20180211_101847After I had all my ingredients out I opened the cans of beans and rinsed them in a strainer and chopped the onion up and put them into the slow cooker. I measured out the brown sugar, maple syrup and water and added them to the other ingredients already in the cooker.

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Next I set it to high and let it sit, stirring about every half hour, for 3 1/2 hours. While that was cooking I placed all my bacon into a frying pan and cooked it all until it was crispy but not hard, I drained the grease and cut it up into bite sized pieces and added into the cooker. After that I measured out and added the ketchup and mustard to mix and let it cook on high for another hour, again stirring every half hour.

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Self-control

16

We must make a mistake to learn.

Lance is a tall, dark, confident guy….who’s favorite hobby is watching the world pass by while he awaits his favorite meal served to him by his stubborn, good hearted, white haired, handsome butler. His loving family has left Lance in my capable care with the additional request to teach him some boundaries. Sounds simple enough!

Teaching a dog to not bolt through the door is a basic essential. It gets a lot easier to understand the importance of this lesson when you have a 150lb German Shepard pushing his weight against a solid door that’s slamming into your face. After making the mistake of expecting this beautiful creature to instinctually respect my personal space, I inch the door open slowly with only a nose to control instead of the entire beast. Surprising for his intense presence, Lance is instantaneously from one side of the room to the other before my brain can process the situation. I must act instinctually, and quickly!

The problem with my instincts is that if I don’t think it through, my emotions take over. My brain is quietly coaching me to breathe and focus. I instinctually position my body to control Lance’s movement. Lance takes this step towards him as a challenge. It is in this moment my emotions creep into my brain like an old rocky creek bed that accepts a trickle of clear spring water, silently weaving around and under before the churning wave hits with an all consuming rush.

Lance has won. We both know it. I try to regain my calm confidence as he puts his head down and strategizes at incredible speeds a hundred ways he can get rid of me. My stubbornness gives a cheerleaders “ho-rah” as I corner him, furthering the challenge. It is at this point he could easily take me down for the imposter that I am. He remembers that he has a loving family butler returning for him and he chooses to smartly bite my hand in warning. I concede.

It is at this point my good sense of reasoning takes over. Lance chooses to go and see what’s happening through his short doggy door, out into the play yard. He totally disregards this lump of pathetic human who opens the door for him with a curtsy and a bowl of food. I shamefully latch the door behind him with an insignificant shiny metal clip. Now to find the words to tell his “butler” that I cannot train this lap dog to respect me. I simply lack the tools to control my emotions in the face of danger. Yep! I’m a girl!!

Silas on the other hand…a spoiled, entitled, fluff ball of absolute perfection has made leaps and bounds. His manners at doorways have him sitting and looking at me with those deep brown respectful eyes for permission. You can see his little body shaking as he copes with the stress of self control which (in time) will become a mindless habit IF I can keep reminding him consistently. His self control in his kennel at night is improving. The tantrums have narrowed the destruction to simple nesting behaviour to deal with his anxiety. I am able to go into the kennel in the morning and let all the big dogs out…saving him for last…while he patiently and quietly waits his turn. He even waits at the open door of his nighttime prison as his bladder screams to be emptied. He looks up at me proudly and respectfully watches for that tiny gesture of release.

The release comes with an adorable skid around the corner that almost knocks his legs out from underneath him as he beats me to the next door and sits his furry butt on the step. I praise him and resist the urge to gather him into my arms and take in his goodness as I know it will result in my snow boots covered in warm exploding pee.

I contemplate the issue of his sporadic aggression. How can I teach him appropriate behaviour without creating a situation in which he fails? I know that I have to set him up to fail, to teach him. Setting him up in this situation means putting a child at risk. I can teach him self control, good manners and respectful behaviour. I can give him enough exercise, discipline and structure so he achieves and soars beyond his potential. But what is next for him? Does he return to his family? How does Silas look at the small angelic face that he split open with his teeth and promise to never do it again? How does that angelic child’s face forgive the trauma of a wild animal so close to his eye that Silas must have looked like a monster bearing down on him? A life changing trauma that will certainly follow the humans that love Silas, not only in physical scars but in emotional scars as well. A life changing moment that will surely restrict the love a human boy has for his dog…and perhaps, the love that his boys, after him, will have for a simple dog. How can I teach the family what changes need to be made without assigning blame? How can they possibly forgive?

Lance has yet to hurt a human. But this moment is coming. When this German Shepard releases his frustration, pent-up energy and disrespect on a human being…he will be euthanized and pay the ultimate price for human stubbornness. Silas has hurt a human, a child, the most precious of us all. Because he is small and fluffy and cute he gets to keep his life. He gets another chance to learn new things and become a productive member of society. These two families may or may not make good choices. But the decisions they make will come from good hearts and well meaning intentions. That in itself is the right choice, if not a good one.

Teaching simple boundaries is so complicated! Lance is a young adult who was neutered late in life. He has the instinct of a working dog and the power to support his almost every wish. As a trainer I lack the emotional resolve, and physical presence to challenge Lance into a corner and win. He is a disrespectful, entitled, millennial. Silas is a teenager who was neutered early. He has the fun loving instinct to live in the moment. As a trainer I have the confidence and knowledge to be consistent and challenge him without fear. He is a disrespectful, entitled, millennial. Fair? NOPE! If only life was fair.

I must concentrate on the things I have control over. I can control Silas as an individual and be useful to his life’s progress with his human’s. I cannot control the humans in his life. I cannot help or advise in Lance’s situation…I must simply walk away. I made a mistake in thinking that I could help Lance. My lesson in that is to concentrate my efforts on where I can help. Concentrated help is more powerful than half hearted help.

Next mission: How to inspire the human’s in Silas’ life…to be consistent, ignore Silas and change how the children interact with him at a fundamental level. Yep! Easy! Anyone know how to teach humans? (sigh)