Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Voyage to Trust

With the close of this year creeping up on us, I have started writing my goals for the next twelve months. Many of the personal goals I have written have a common theme:  leaving my comfort zone. 

I have been focusing on changing some thought patterns I have had since childhood.  Patterns that have kept me rooted in a negative space, afraid to break from the safe little haven I have made for myself emotionally. 

My entire life I have had people tell me that I am too concerned about what other people think.  How right they are.  I am an approval seeking maniac.  I have repeatedly lowered and changed my goals in life to conform to what other people expect of me.  I apologize when I should tell someone to get lost.  I allow my decisions to be influenced by the opinions of others.   If I keep doing this...where am I?  Who am I?  No wonder I grind my teeth when I sleep at night. 

Surround yourself with positive people.  Choose your attitude.  Embrace the joy.  Blah blah blah...I have heard it all.  We all have.  

Perhaps it takes a 2x4 upside the head, but today something clicked in my brain.  I am not going to be able to achieve any of the goals I am setting for myself if I continue to allow negative energy to enter my life.  Not just enter it, but control it.  

Negative energy has insidious influence in our lives.  It undermines our ability to achieve goals.  It saps happiness and empowers depression.  It ensnares you, wraps you in its tendrils of anger, bitterness and despair. 

Negative people do the same.  We all know a negative person.  Someone who brings you down, someone stuck in the rut of gloomy cynicism.  It may be impossible to sever your relationship with them, perhaps they are family, a coworker..maybe even a friend.  Dealing with their constant negative attitude can be a unrelenting drain on your own life, rendering it impossible to move forward. 

But it isn't impossible.  It is simply a matter of letting go.  Knowing in my heart that their negativity is not mine to carry.   Accepting "it is, what it is" has been giving me a peaceful assurance in the direction of my  life. 

Beyond the obvious applications within my marriage, friendships, & family,what I have been learning applies to my dogs and how I train & trial them.  As I was writing my personal goals - I realized they apply directly to my training goals.  If I can practice it on the field with my dog...maybe I can learn it well enough to apply it to my every day life and dealing with people. 

1. Search my own attitude for times when I have a negative thought.  Work to change it.  Change is a decision.  i.e. Before going out in the field to work with my dog, envision  a successful and fun training session.  Feel the partnership and mutual respect.  Base my session on that energy - do not allow indecision, insecurity & self doubt to control me.  If I can do that...my dog will feel that in me and it will flow like dominoes across the field. 

2. Resolve to have a real plan for what you want to do. Not just a goal, a plan to achieve it. If you have simple laid out steps to do something, it's much easier to achieve and stay positive.  For example:  Today I am going to work my dogs.  We are working on small spaces and driving. By planning the tasks we are going to work on it enables me to achieve those goals.  Rather than just showing up, blowing my whistle then letting my dog control the session by what she chooses to listen to or not.  Too many times I have allowed that to happen.  I am not in control - I let self doubt and indecisiveness control my sessions and we get no where because I am reacting rather than planning. 

3. If things are stressful, I need to take a moment, step away and consider the blessings I have surrounding me.  Then resolve to handle things in the light of that. If I approach things from a positive spin - it casts a different glow on the entire situation.  Most of the time I am not dealing with a major tragedy - I am dealing with things that are simply a minor stress and need to be handled accordingly.  I need to stop giving it  more power than it deserves.  Don't let it rent space in my brain. So, my dog doesn't lie down, we miss the fetch panels, drive panels, pen and the sheep jumped the ditch and are running across the state line - "it is what it is".  You now know what you need to work on. 

4. Being content comes from security.  Security from within.  Peace comes from G_d or a higher power.  What I cannot control...I need to let go.  It is not mine to carry.   Did we get a bad set of sheep at a trial?  Can I control that?  Nope.  Thunder and lightening at the post?  Let it go, stewing over it after I walk off the field will only raise my blood pressure and certainly will not change anything.  Let it go and hand it over...see #3

This next year is going to be about personal growth.  Getting out of my comfort zone.  Taking chances, opening up my heart and learning how to trust.  Even if I get hurt.   I do not trust easily....learning how to trust my dog is enabling me to open my heart and begin to trust people.  Finding joy in the journey on this voyage to trust. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Something to Say

Listen up!  I have a few things to say.

I am stuck in at home all day long. 

I am not content! 

Sure we go to the field and run.   So what if it is raining all the time...I have fur, you have rain gear.  PUT IT ON! 

Are you even listening to me?  I don't think you are...I feel like my words go in one ear and out the other. 

Sure you have been busy with the holidays, the baby, icky weather etc, I get that.  But while you have been out there having fun I have been stuck at home with the PUPPY! 

Sure, you may prepare the bacon...but I bear the brunt of her care. 

Day after day I take care of this little whippersnapper.  I watch her.  I care for her. 

I lick her.  I play with her. 

I take my job seriously.  I am a good nanny dog.  She will grow up strong and have a firm grasp on dog communication. 

But this is all I do day in and day out!  I need more! 

A girl has her limits. 

You need to listen to me!  It is so typical...I think you hear me, but actual listening is a skill you have not mastered yet.  No wonder we have issues on the trial field - you don't pay attention to me!  It all goes over your head - like a 747.  I listen to you!  But you don't listen to ME! 

LISTEN TO THIS!  My brain is turning to mush!  Mush I tell you!  MUSH! 

Do you understand me?  I need sheep.  I need to work my brain.  I have sheep skills which are getting rusty. 

Even Bea agrees with me. 

I need sheep.  Soon,  or I will eat your knee caps while you sleep. 

We are going tomorrow, right?  

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Look Back Photography

In sheep herding there are many commands you can give your dog which provide directions on how you want the sheep moved around the field.

  • Come Bye  - sends the dog to their left (clockwise) around the flock.  
  • Away - sends the dog to their right (counterclockwise) around the flock.  
  • Lie Down - For me this command is like an emergency brake that is broken.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  But it allows the dog to relieve pressure from the stock, handler to gain control, stop them, prevent them from running them down and leaving the handler in a heaving crumpled mess on the field.  Actually there are too many practical uses for me to explain here - or that I actually understand, yet.  *sigh*  
  • Walk Up - tells the dog to walk straight up to the sheep.  Walk slowly, not shoot forward as the hounds of hell bit their arse. 
  • Steady or Time - slow down, take time, corrects pace if the dog is moving too fast or acting like a squirrely rocket shot from a cannon.  This command only works if the handler gives it at the appropriate time and not after she goes into a trance saying "she is so pretty". 
  • That'll Do - this is a combination of "here" and "work is all done".  At the end of work or task the dog is called to the handler.  
  • Look Back - return for a missed animal. This command tells the dog to turn around, 'look back' to find the sheep you missed.  This is a command I had a lot of practice with Beth - because she busts the sheep up at the top then tries to run them down the field like a maniac inevitability leaving one behind.  It means something personal to me too...it was the first time I really felt a connection with Beth on the trial field.  We didn't win, or even get a score - but she listened to me and went back for her sheep.  It was a big step of trust for us and I won't forget it.  

My friend Jodi suggested the name for a photography business and it fit perfectly for me beyond the relation to sheep herding.   When I curl up on the floor of my bedroom with a box of baby pictures - I look back in time, revisiting the days when my children were little...and still liked me.  I look back in my high school annuals at the friends I had and cannot for the life of me remember.  

I digress...

Without further adieu 

Ta Da!  My new website   www.lookbackphotography.com

Please visit and let me know what you think.  There is even a new blog (that can be accessed via the website) that has the photoshoot posts from this blog transferred over.

Look Back Photography Blog

Thank you for everyone's support and encouragement. It has been a scary journey to launch this and take a step off into the land of self employment.  Please wish me luck....especially since the unemployment insurance is ending next month and there are NO jobs in sight!

There is a saying "Doing what you love is Freedom.  Loving what you do is Happiness."

I can't wait to find out if that is true.  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Christmas

That is my usual response to someone saying "Merry Christmas".

I say, "Yep, it's Christmas."

So I am going to focus on the positive aspects of this day.

Turkey (again). Potato casserole. Cookies. Irish cream coffee. PIE! A lovely walk with the dogs. Friends.

Bea with Santa! 

This is the BEST Santa in the world!  A couple weeks ago I shot Santa pet photos for Dog Daze Natural Pet Market in Puyallup, WA    Dog Daze is a fantastic store located in downtown Puyallup near the train station.  I love their selection of raw & high quality kibble...not to mention the toys and other great things.  Brynn loves the bunnies - she will stand and stare at the bunnies for hours if we let her.  Dog Daze is also dedicated to pet rescue.  Dogs, Cats, Bunnies...any pet that needs a home they will either foster themselves, find placement or refer them to rescues.  It is owned by a couple of great people - not a corporation.  Prices are very reasonable too.  Can you tell I like the place? 

This was my time doing any photography for them.  Each individual that donated $5.00 to rescue received a disk of their images - so it was a nice way to give back too. 

Santa was amazing, with all animals.  On the day I shot there was even a pony brought in to the store, the next day apparently there was a possum too.  Children, pets, wild animals...wow.  We had a blast! 

Of course during the down time I grabbed Bea and Brynn and shot pictures of them! 

Bea liked Santa too! 

This is the little girl whose saintly mother  brought in her pony and dog for pictures with Santa.  The pony was very well behaved.  Ha!  It was a dog and pony show.  I just got that!  (giggling to myself...yes, I already started in on the Irish Cream). 

The little girl begged me to let her hold Bea.  I couldnt resist taking a picture - it is an illness I have - I must take pictures of anything that is remotely cute, if I dont...I will explode.

Bea had a great time meeting people and many different animals. 

 Well I cant think of anything else to yammer on about and it is time to stuff my face with yummy food, so I will say....

 Merry Christmas Everyone.  From the BCxFour + 1 More gang!    Enjoy the day, and if you can't well, then drink heavily, eat carbs, loads of sugar and pass out.  That is my plan.  :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Puppy Fix - Video

It was dark in the room, I was giggling, the quality is questionable - I still had to share this video clip.

Bea and Brynn playing.  Culminating with Bea hiding under the couch, Brynn trying to get her out and Ranger being a boy. 

I loved the silhouette of Bea's tail flopping around under the couch, the snapping teeth, mini growls and of course Brynn's expression when she looked at Ranger in the end. 

Who needs TV? 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Whole Lotta Everything

I thought I would break through the blog (cone) of silence and let you all know that I am not dead. 

Almost, but not yet. 

Things have been crazy.  My mom came down to visit last week.  We had Grandbaby to see, shopping to do, and much eating to be done.  Not a whole lotta dog stuff was done. 

I made it out to work the dogs at Cindy's one time.  On Saturday we ran in the Rocky Ewe (Judy's) trial at the new field in Roy. 

Brynn was in full Lawn Dart mode.  This is what 99% of our run looked like.  She was running on full octane. I didnt get her slowed down and under control until the run was over & she was in her crate. 

It was strictly training for us & time at the post.  I even dropped the rope on the pen to make sure Brynn listened which required some running.  Best part -  I didnt lose control!   WOOHOO!   

OR fall flat on my face.  Yeah!

I had to stop and think a few times because I forgot my damn flanks again.  If I work my dogs less than twice a week...the flanks are 'poof' GONE from my brain until we get back into the swing of things.  It is so frustrating.   I refer to this phenomenon as Alsheepheimers.  The random sudden inablilty to remember flanks after hours and hours of practice - typically brought on by periods of intense stress while at the post, manifesting in moments of bone jarring humiliation. 

We did have fun helping to set sheep.  It was our job to take the sheep from the pen and drive them half way up to the set out  where the set out dog would pick them up.  Beth does well with repeated tasks that are the same each time.  Once she gets the hang of it she does not deviate, but the amount of driving that needed to be done was a bit beyond her - so I switched to Brynn.  We had great fun!  What an excellent opportunity to train with dogs and people on the field. 

Brynn is awesome.  

She has been busy with 'her' puppy. 

We have all been busy with the puppeh.  Bea is a handful. 

Thankfully the poop eating has stopped.  She is going outside quite reliably now.  When I don't quite make it to her before she needs me, she has been going on the puppy pad rather than the floor.  She will even leave play in the living room to dart to her pen and use the pad.  I feel like a proud mommy. 

Bea got to visit at the trial on Saturday too.  She was VERY interested in watching the sheep and dogs.  She would sit quite nicely and study the action on the field.  I accidently forgot her collar, so I had to use one of Beth's larger collars, then I carefully wrapped the leash around her improvising a harness - it worked like a charm.  She is starting to figure out the leash training. 

She is so smart I think we will have her do our taxes this year. 

Ranger has been relaxing and playing with her more. 

Which gives Brynn a break. 

"Yes, I need a break...Does Calgon come in a sheep schmutz scent?"

It is hysterical to watch Ranger play with Bea.  His expressions are priceless. 

Who needs TV when you have this going on in the middle of your living room?

Watching them is better than anything on the telly. 

Poor Ranger, the center of attention.  Life is so hard for him. 

I have a couple of website related surprises coming up this week.  Can't wait to show you!  (I promised myself I wouldn't until they are completed).  Ohhhhh the anticipation is going to kill me! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Photoshoot - Ann's Samoyeds

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.  In Caldwell Idaho this year, I shunned the mobs of shoppers, instead chose to sit out in the freezing (11 degrees F) cold with my best friend Helen (Canon EOS 7D - remember my camera has a name) two gorgeous Samoyeds and our friend Ann of Suntrip Samoyeds & 2 Border Collies.

The sun was just rising, which bathed the field in a beautiful golden hue - and lit up Gracie's eyes.

The wind blew slighly, ruffling her fur

Gracie & Pogo explored together.  Sniffing the air as it blew across the fields.

Gracie's 'sister' Pogo.   I loved the difference in the color of their eyes, and nose.  Pogo's nose is brown & her eyes photography much darker. 

Their color was striking against the browned grasses

I especially liked the grasses & how they brought an interesting texture to the shots. 

"Hi Pogo!  Yes, it is Camera Face making silly noises while she sits in the dirt freezing her arse off." 

A high shrill squeak gets their attention every time! 

"AHHHHHH Incoming!"



They didn't stray far from Ann

 Even though Ann has been sucked completely into the dark world of the border collie & was bringing home a puppy (Bea's littermate, Pearl)...they still adored her. 

They love their Mom, regardless of the border collie handicap. 

 Thank you, Ann for letting me photograph your incredible girls. 

Their love for you shown brightly in their eyes.