Monday, February 28, 2011

Little Fishies

During a hike on the Carbon River, just below the glacier at the Ranger Station the dogs found this little off shoot to the main river channel.  When we walked up on it John saw something moving beneath the crystal clear water. 

It did not take Brynn long to spot it.  Bea was right by her side watching every move. 

 We were not sure what type of fish they had found, but they were tiny little things...and fast. 

 "Fish is an important part of a raw food diet."

Thankfully we are far enough up the river it is doubtful that there are any salmon here (salmon poisoning is bad news for dogs), but the baby fishies might be steelhead or trout. 

Brynn was determined to catch her own lunch.

Determined enough to stand in freezing cold water for several minutes at a time. 

It was adorable, actually. 

She would be fishing away, then suddenly leap out of the water. 

Get back in, fish some more, leap back out. 

What I like about the water, is how nice and clean my dogs are when they are done.  Sure, sand gets stuck on them but it brushes right out and leaves behind a fresh and clean dog. 

Of course, the added bonus of a wet dog are shaking shots. 

Later we walked up a stream that tumbled down rocks in a gradual waterfall, in an old growth section of forest. 

 Moss covered everything

Bea is getting long....looooong puppy. 

(The following pictures have not been post processed - just straight out of the camera - blurry, unfocused, blown out warts and all.)

Exploring in the rocks.  The rocks covered by snow were not protected by the old growth canopy above. 

Bea stalked Brynn by climbing up on the rocks and watching her from above. 

Oddly enough, the moss covered rocks were dry - not slippery.  Bea had fun climbing and jumping between them. 

She is not afraid of heights, that is for sure.

Then they discovered the water

The water came down the hill in a long slope of falls, pools and large rocks.  

Brynn went fishing again, right on the edge of a drop off. 

She was determined to catch the little fish

You could see them darting around among the rocks

They were too fast for her

But she tried

Oh well, extra mackerel and sardines for dinner might make up for the loss of a yummy fish lunch. 


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pitfalls of Expectations

Last month during a lesson with Dianne Deal, she said that something that stuck with me. Often things go in, bounce around in the vacant space between my ears, eventually finding a place to land where it sits as I ruminate.

This morning when I was holding my half-finished cup of cold coffee, shivering on the back patio I found myself thinking about Friday’s snowy training/work session with Brynn & Beth at Fido’s with Monique and Lucy.

At the trial last month I asked Dianne why she thought I handle Beth so differently than Brynn.Why do my words get harsher, more critical, and frantic? She said that I had no expectations of Beth. In many respects she was correct. I had given up on Beth. I decided she was done trialing and I was just going to use her for my set out dog & chores. Putting her in the last trial was a snap decision and when we placed third in Ranch I was stunned.

Expectations are a tricky wicket from my perspective. I have been plagued by unreasonable expectations throughout my life. Ones that have been put upon me and others I have placed on people in my life.

Unspoken expectations about marriage cause marital strife and can eventually lead to divorce. Expectations placed on our children; contrary to what they want for their future can cause them undue stress. Expectations are ‘rules’ that form in each of us from childhood and our teen years. We absorb these silent ‘rules’ from our cultural and religious affiliations, from television, books, previous romances and or friendships. They all shape our expectations for our own life.

When I got married I fell into a role I felt was my due as a wife and mother. My husband had a different view of what he felt a marriage should be. We did not talk about these differing expectations – instead we projected disappointment to each other. Holding onto imaginary fantasies about what your partner should or shouldn’t do are insidious to the foundation of marriage. Especially if you are holding your partner up to an impossible standard, leaving you disappointed when they do not live up to your ‘expectations’ of providing a safe, happily ever after love affair – free of discord. I believed my husband should be able to read my mind, then take the steps to heal the hurts. When my knight on shining armor turned out to be a flawed, normal man who had hair on his back and farted in his sleep, needless to say, I came crashing down to earth pretty darn quick.

At the beginning of a relationship your spouse can do little to disappoint you because you are infatuated, enjoying the high brought on by new love. As time passes, your relationship deepens, your expectations evolve. When you are not getting those expectations fulfilled – suddenly everything your spouse does is annoying. How do you get past this? Only through honest communication, introspection and aligning your expectations to reality.

This is where things get difficult for me. What expectations are reasonable and which ones are not? Of course a reasonable expectation of marriage would be one of fidelity (no cheating). But what constitutes cheating? Each relationship is different, based on each person’s expectations.

How does this play into working with my dogs? Expectations are huge. 

I have been working with Beth for longer than Brynn. I know Beth pretty well now. I know when she is going to blow off a flank; I know when she is going to lie down or not. I have a pretty good idea how far a distance she can work away from me without blowing up, or bringing the sheep back. Over time these things have changed & grown as she progressed further in training – my expectations are realistic with Beth. Chances are, given her age, and level of talent she will never be an open dog. But she can do well in the level I know she is capable – anything else is an unexpected bonus.  My expectations of Beth are reasonable – thus when I work her it is less stressful, dare I say…fun?

My expectations of Brynn are different. She has the natural talent to go to open. But do I? She is already so much further ahead of me – the obstacle to her progression is me. Dianne told me that she could get Brynn around a nursery course, no problem. I certainly cannot. I lack the experience. The unrealistic expectations I have of Brynn are to compensate for me. To be completely honest with myself I believe I have been expecting Brynn to overcome my lack of understanding, experience, and ability to communicate to her in a timely manner.

In my reasonable moments I know Brynn cannot compensate for my lack of experience – then I begin to doubt myself. My handling and the experience I do have seems to fade away. I let the anxiety overwhelm me – and know when we walk to the post that I am the weakest link. Instead of projecting confidence, I telegraph weakness & anxiety to my dog through my voice, as the commands become shrill, coarse and tense. Brynn rises to my expectations and begins to compensate for me, she doubts my commands and tries to please me by going faster and faster – a big fat self fulfilling prophecy.

How will I get past this?

I need to identify my expectations – honestly and accurately. 

Be realistic about what I am asking for- Is Brynn really ready for Pro-Novice? Yes, she is. Am I? Maybe. Are we ready for Nursery? Brynn, yes. Me? Not yet.

See where I can improve - Last week I had a fantastic session with Brynn. I was feeling confident in my handling. She responded in kind. I was very happy and bubbling over with joy. As I was walking off the field I allowed a ‘Negative Nelly’ to steal away my joy. Without any provocation or warning this person was watching me walk and suggested that I look into going on a diet. OUCH. I retreated back into a hurt little girl inside – who wanted to go to the car and immediately begin stuffing cookies into my mouth and hide. I allow what other people think to overwhelm my confidence. It crushes me and for whatever reason I am impervious to slough it off. This is where I need to improve. I need to tell myself I can do this. I am deserving, I am good enough. If I believe it, my dog will believe it and things will improve for both of us.

Use disappointment as a signal of unconscious expectations - When I feel disappointed in training or at a trial I need to examine my expectations. Thus building an awareness of how my expectations are guiding my attitude and actions.

Don’t compare my dog to others – this one needs no explanation

Look carefully at the expectations I have for myself – Like so many of us in this sport, I am a perfectionist. I do not expect perfection from everyone else, but I do from myself. I am extremely hard on myself and the expectations I have for me are unrealistic and unattainable. Thus I live every day feeling like I just don’t measure up. While these expectations may be brought over from my childhood in some way, I am an adult now and need to let go of the bullsh*t from my dysfunctional family of origin. It is time to be a little nicer to myself.

Friday, February 25, 2011

White Sheep, Black Sheep

I am always photographing black and white dogs. 

What about the sheep? 

White Sheep - did you know that sheep have incredibility long eye lashes? 

Black Sheep - every family has one.  In my case, it was me.  I embraced my black sheep status and carried it with me into adulthood where I have nurtured it with abandon. I am at one with black sheep everywhere. 

I loved the reflection of the fence in the black sheep's eye.  Very cool. 

Both of the above photographs make unique desktop backgrounds.  Please feel free to click on them to enlarge then right click to save to your computer as a desktop background. 


Thursday, February 24, 2011


By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,

Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,

Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
Suddenly shape in some divine expression,

Even as the troubled heart doth make
In the white countenance confession,

The troubled sky reveals
The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded;

This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,

Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.