Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Few Things

1. Yes, I know that I've been full of broken promises lately. Yeah, sorry. I've been busy! Between getting ready for a trans-state move and other stuff, I haven't had much time or energy for blogging.

I wish I had as much energy as Moss!

Oh, and I also went to California with my friend and agility instructor to pick up her new Belgian Sheepdog puppy! We drove 2000 miles over four days... half of which with an 8 week-old baby puppy.

This is the reason for our trip:

Isn't he cute???? <3

But anyways...a big part of the reason I haven't been here much lately has to do with...

2. Moving. Yes, it's finally come. In just a few weeks I will be making the move up to Washington to live with my hubby again. After a whole lot of stress and disappointment, we have a house, and I'm looking forward to getting settled up there and moving on with my life. I can't say that I'm that excited about leaving Boise, but I'm trying to be brave :). Cross your fingers that everything goes as smoothly as possible for us!

Our new house:

I'm so glad we were able to buy a house up there, as rental prices in the tri cities are INSANE... and most don't allow dogs. Plus, I'm sure that the collies will enjoy having their own yard... which brings us to...

3. Moss. I have been training Moss in obedience and basic agility stuff over the past month or so, and he's doing GREAT! He is happy to work and does pretty well with trying to figure out what I'm asking and offering behaviors... as long as there are no toys in sight ;).

My plan is to keep working with him with the short-term goal of entering him in Rally Novice at the BCSA nationals in September, and eventually competing in Agility, Rally (and maybe obedience), and, of course, herding... whenever we can get back into it.

While I'm on the subject of getting back in the game...

4. Cedar and I have another agility trial this weekend. We are entered in Open Standard, Jumpers and FAST at the Lizard Butte Kennel Club's summer AKC trial in Caldwell, Idaho.

Send good thoughts to Cedar and I... I am WILLING her to weave all twelve poles and we've been practicing hard. Let's see if it pays off.

Speaking of things that pay...

5. Awhile back I signed up for a working spot in a Nancy Tanner Canine Freestyle (dog dancing) seminar. I'm so excited about it that I have thought up another CONTEST, in which the top two winners will receive a book or dog toy (their choice).

To enter, all you need to do is ponder the following question:

What is the most inappropriate song you can think of to use in a Canine Freestyle (dog dancing) routine?

The definition of "inappropriate" is up to you... use your imagination!

Rules and Other Relevant Information:

Here's what you have to do to enter:

1) Think up an answer to the prompt question.
2) Post it either as a comment on the Cedes of Change Facebook Page OR in the "Comments" section of this blog post.
3) Contest ends June 14th, and winners will be announced shortly thereafter!

The top two entries will be chosen by Cedar and will receive their choice of a dog toy or book (TBD shortly). Top 10 entries will be featured in a future blog post along with acknowledgement and links to entrants' blogs/websites.

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Few Vids

Here are a couple videos of my two favorite runs from the USDAA trial I went to last Sunday:

Starters Standard
Other than the dropped bar (which I think was from me calling her too early as she was jumping the jump before the tunnel), this was a great run. And yes, I did stop her before the weaves on purpose... I'm training her to collect and THINK about things before just blasting through her entries. It seems to be working so far :) I'm SO freakin' proud of her.

Starters Pairs
The most fun and my favorite run of the weekend. I was proud of Cedar's down stay when I ran off the pass the baton... watching Amanda and Trendi rocket off the start line for their part of the course must have been tough for my girl dog :) She sure is starting to figure out her job!

It wasn't our "best" or "most successful" trial by any means, but it was one of the most fun and relaxing. Just me and my girl dog, havin' fun doing what we love :)

I promise that a post about Moss will be coming up shortly... and with new photos, too :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pants On Fire

Ok, so, I lied. I never posted about Moss. And I will-I swear! But not tonight, either. Sorry.

Yesterday, Cedar and I went to a local USDAA agility trial, put on by one of our local clubs, Boise Agility Runners and Climbers. I've never competed in, or even been to a USDAA trial before. It was a blast! I totally want to do more USDAA in the future, but probably not every weekend as I prefer jumping her at 20" rather than 22".

We competed in Standard, Pairs, Snooker and Jumpers. Although we only got one Q--in an AWESOME pairs run--we laid down some really great runs with only a few errors.

The highlight of the trial, for me, was the fact that Cedar got her weaves on the first try in Standard--ALL TWELVE POLES!!! WAHOO!!! The rest of that run was really great, but a knocked bar kept us from a Q. Throughout the trial, all her contacts were fabulous--fast and accurate with great 2o2o position. She listened well and we had a blast together.

Pairs was SO fun. We ran with a friend and her super fast Border Collie, Trendi. Both of us completed our portion of the course with no errors and in record time-- our run was only 32 seconds, including time for handing off the baton! We had the fastest pairs time out of anyone in all three levels on that day. How fun!

Snooker started off great, but a stupid handler error caused Cedar to back jump and we got the whistle. Ugh!

Jumpers.... well, there were some great parts. ;) We rocked a difficult opening sequence into a serpentine, but ran into trouble towards the end. Cedar was, I think, intimidated by the HUGE 22" triple jump, and decided to take an off-course tunnel instead--even if she literally had to go through my legs to get to it. She was quite determined! :-P But we had a great time finishing that course, and it was the first time that I've really ran for the "joy of it" in a trial. No stress, no expectations, just fun with my dog watching her fly.

This was the first trial I've done since being out of school, and I definitely felt a difference in my mental AND physical stamina. I was able to relax and enjoy the day much more than I have been able to at past trials. Neither Cedar or I were stressed out, and we were really just running for the fun of it. And it showed.

As much fun as I've had in trials so far, I think I had the most fun at this one :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Game... its every were.

Or so says the title of one of my student essays I'm grading today (yes... that title is written verbatim). LOL.

Anyways... it's come to my attention that my last post was a bit of a downer. I didn't start out writing it with that spirit in mind, but it kind of ended up like that. You know how it goes. Yes, my self esteem has taken a huge hit from my experiences in grad school, but you may have guessed that my self esteem wasn't that good to begin with :). So, I apologize if that last post made y'all uncomfortable or made it seem like I don't appreciate what grad school has given me.

While, yes, it has shown me a lot of things about myself that are negative, it has also shown me that I am, in fact, capable of a lot of things that I would have never guessed. Like being able to stand up in front of an entire class of students and teach them how to write and think critically. And actually notice a positive difference in their work between the beginning of the semester and the end. That is an achievement I never thought I'd be able to pull off, and I'm proud of that.

Trying to think more positively about grad school (and watching WTT videos) got me thinking, well, about agility. Surprise! haha. Both school and agility have taught me that it's okay to feel like you've failed--as long as you can move on from that failure and use the information to approach similar situations differently in the future. That's a lot more productive than a bunch of self-absorbed whining.

This morning I read this post by one of my favorite agility handlers, Daisy Peel. Daisy, for those of you who don't follow agility, just made the US Agility World team for the second time with her amazing dog, Solar. Because she and I train with similar handling styles (Linda Mecklenburg/Awesome Paws) I watch her videos often to study how she runs her dogs. In this blog post, she talks about making the world team and the amount of physical and mental effort it took to get there. Reading this post made me think about how much I need to step up my game.

I haven't been trialing very long (we've done four trials so far), so I haven't put much thought into my mental and physical game, other than just surface/survival-type stuff. For example, I know that I need to stretch my hamstrings before running, stretch Cedar's back and hindquarters out, and make her look at me before taking her leash off at the start line. But really, I haven't gone much further than that. Now that we're out of Novice, I really need to step up my game :)...because once we get more reliable with weaves, I think we'll sail through Open and right into Excellent. I care enough about my dog, myself, and doing well in this sport to put the time into making sure Cedar and I are as prepped and ready as possible.

Starting with my mental game. I really need to put more thought in how I approach walking the course and prepping myself and my dog for a run. Now that I have a little bit of time to think about this kind of stuff (and read for fun--yay!), I am going to take another look at the Don Blazer book (if you haven't read it and you compete with animals, you should. It's about horses, but the lessons apply to dogs quite well). I also ordered the book Daisy Peel talks about in her post, With Winning In Mind. I'm hoping that that book will teach me even more about developing my mental game. I think that if I can get a handle on that, I will be a better handler and more in tune with my dog... which is what really matters, right? Learning to manage my nerves better will only be beneficial to Cedar and I in the long run.

The other part of the equation is my physical game. I am not in as good of shape as I would like... and would like to change that. I do a pretty good job of keeping up with Cedar on the course, but I feel that I could do even better... and would like to have more stamina on trial days. By the end of the day, I'm just so TIRED, emotionally and physically, that I know something needs to change. I'm having fun, of course, but it would be awesome to have more energy.

So, I'm going to use my love of agility to help motivate me to get my mind and body in better shape. I move to Washington in just a few weeks, and am hoping that this change in my normal "patterns" will shake things up enough for me to get a good start on changing some of the unhealthy patterns I've developed in grad school.

Hope you all have a wonderful day! Stay tuned for a new post tomorrow about Moss and what he's been up to lately :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


We're all friends here, right? No judgments, etc?

Good. I have some things I need to get off my chest :)

But first, here's a pretty picture my friend Jan Skurzynski took of Cedar last weekend at the fun match:

Talk about a smoke screen.


For the past few days, as the semester has begun to noticeably wind down and I have had a chance to breathe a bit again, I've been reflecting a lot on my graduate school experience.

I have been saying since this time last year that "grad school has taught me a lot about myself--a lot that I don't like."

I've really had this lesson beaten over my head the past two semesters. The most important thing I learned is that I do not handle stress very well. I'm unable to separate my personal life from my academic/work life, and it's really been detrimental to both my mental (and physical) health as well as my work itself. It doesn't help, either, that I've been diagnosed with depression. Yay!...not. But that's a story for another day.

To be honest, most of the time I regret going to grad school at all, because it's turned me into someone I don't particularly like. I've been flaky, mean, emotionally distant, and messy... a bad wife, friend, daughter, dog owner... and all I can say is that I'm glad it's almost over. To those I have hurt, I'm sorry. This is what happens when I get completely overwhelmed and overextended: I fail at life! haha. But all kidding aside...

Grad school has, most profoundly, shown my my limitations. And they're a lot more limiting than I would have thought.

I've learned that just being "good at school" is not enough to be successful in an MA program.

I've learned that "wanting something really bad" is not enough to make it happen.

I've learned that successfully managing a long distance marriage, and all that entails, is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.

I've learned to be more careful about judging others... because outward appearances often paint a much different picture of their life than is actually the case.

I've learned to not promise other people things that I can't realistically do right now, even if I REALLY want to. It just makes me look like an ass.

I've learned the importance of not overextending myself, even though I still am doing that to some degree. It's just added stress. I've had to let some things go temporarily (like herding) that I really love... just because I can't devote the time and mental space to them right now. I don't know what's worse... not doing something you love at all, or only doing it a little and feeling bad that your mind and heart can't be 100% in. I think it's the latter, because I've tried the other way, and it just doesn't work for me.

Most importantly, I've learned that I really need to start standing up for myself and my needs. My tendency is to avoid drama and confrontation at all costs. I will cave in to other peoples' demands that I don't agree with, take the blame for things I didn't do, and apologize when I haven't done anything wrong... just to avoid tackling the real issues. And it eats me up inside. This last lesson was not learned specifically in grad school itself, but the circumstances of my life IN grad school have forced this lesson upon me in a big way.

Throughout grad school, I've been disgusted by my weakness. My inability to separate my personal life from my work life really affected me to the point of not being able to write or focus at all. I was (and still am not) the student and teacher I know I am, or am capable of being. No, I'm not getting bad grades. Nothing truly "bad" has happened. I have a 3.9 GPA, thanks to one A- in a sea of As. My students are, generally, doing well. But I feel like I could have done better. I'm disappointed that I didn't show my colleagues and professors what I really could do.

My dad getting sick last fall/winter really brought everything crashing down. Realistically, though, it was probably just the straw that broke the camel's back. Between my dad, school, teaching full time, my relationship, and trying to actively train my dogs in two different, expensive, and time-consuming sports, I was completely overwhelmed. And I shut down. I couldn't write--like, at all. I couldn't keep my house clean. I could barely train my dogs. I just walked around like a zombie, going through the motions. And, however dramatic it sounds, I feel like I'm just finally waking up again.

This "awakening" is due, in a large part, to the fact that I have given up on my thesis. I'm just now being able to talk about it, and I haven't told my parents yet. I'm worried about what they'll think of me. So... consider yourselves privileged :) Anyways... after struggling for months with my thesis, which just felt... wrong and like something I didn't want to do, and after a particularly horrible meeting with my adviser, I decided to give it up. I have never felt so free, and immediately after letting my adviser know, I knew that I had made the right decision for myself, even if it was a "failure."

I'm not sure what I'll do about graduation... at this point I don't really care. I'm signed up for two summer classes, but not sure if I can afford them. I guess we'll see.

Before grad school, I'd never felt like I failed--really FAILED at something. Like, can't fix it, can't take it back something. And it's been a bit difficult to swallow. But I've been trying to take the Don Blazer approach... that "failures" are really just information that show you your limitations in a particular situation. They don't define you unless you let them. And I have, until today, let them do just that.

But not anymore.

Cedar and Moss, thank you. I would be an even bigger wreck without you two.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

ICCKC Fun Match

Today Cedar, Joe, Scully and I went to my local kennel club's spring fun match. It's always a great time, and today was no different! I entered Cedar in rally and agility, and Joe made his dog sports debut in Beginner Novice obedience with Scully :) All the dogs did great.

Here are some photos:

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