what would you do?

*warning! Non-dog related post ahead!*

The end of the year is marching closer and closer. Next week will be the exact halfway point for us at school – 100 days. Or maybe it’s this week. I don’t know.

As such, I need to begin making decisions about 2016. Currently, I drive 45+ minutes to work (on a normal day, this is about 55 minutes. On a bad day, it can take up to an hour and a half). As a school teacher, I am SURROUNDED by schools in my area. There’s literally about 7 within a 10-minute drive of my house. Maybe more. So obviously I’m spending a lot of time driving, which takes away from time exercising, walking the dogs, relaxing, looking after myself, training, etc.

But… I love my school. I love its philosophies. I love the teachers. I love bringing my dog in whenever I want!

Loki snoozes happily on top of a filing cabinet while I'm teaching. Such a great way to keep him still and calm and not eating his bandages off.

Loki snoozes happily on top of a filing cabinet while I’m teaching. Such a great way to keep him still and calm and not eating his bandages off.

I love the kids. Some of these kids especially are just so cool – they brighten my whole day. I go to school looking forward to working with my little group of EAL kids – mostly refugee kids.  That’s pretty lame, hey? But they’re awesome like that, and I enjoy working with them, helping them out, getting to know them more, watching them learn to trust me more, too.

I know for sure that one of the boys is going to have a very hard year 6 if I leave next year. It took me nearly 2 terms to get him comfortable with asking me for help, and I put in a heap of time with him to try and make our teaching accessible to him. There’s a girl who’s not as badly off but still struggles. Sometimes I get her to sit next to me while the other teacher explains the instructions and I break it down into simpler terms for her, otherwise the language just washes over her, she feels like it’s all too hard and she just tunes out. I don’t think anyone else would do that for them.

The older sister of the boy I mentioned above is going to start helping me learn their language, too. In a way that seems a bit pointless if I’m going away and won’t be using it again.

But what is an hour of my day worth? Or more! And who’s to say I won’t be just as happy somewhere else, with similarly awesome kids, even though it’ll be different? What could I do with an hour and a half extra every day? I could sleep past 5.30 for a start… I could hike with daylight left in winter and train under lights, instead of getting home so late I just want to train and then go inside. I could actually be involved in after school things like open nights and productions, without resenting the fact that I won’t be getting home until 8.30-9 while everyone else would be home within half an hour of leaving…

So, I don’t know. I know lots of people travel further than me… but being a teacher, I don’t have to. There are lots of schools around! Our neighbour works at a really lovely sounding catholic school only 10 minutes from home! I could leave at 8.20 and be there plenty early! Instead of leaving at 7.30! I could leave school at 4.30 and be home by 4.40 instead of leaving at 4.30 and getting home at 5.30!

It’s hard. The sensible decision is to change schools if a job comes up and they want to hire me (important things to keep in mind here!). But… I’ll miss my kids. 😦

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exhaustion and an addled brain

So I may have mentioned this before, a while ago, maybe? But when Lu was a baby puppy and we just got her (so, the beginning of November), I went through a period of exhaustion. I don’t know if it was the constant broken sleep, if it was me being low in iron, if it was adrenal glands giving up after buying a house, getting married and getting a puppy all within about 3 months of each other, I don’t know. But in any case, I routinely found myself getting home from school (and it was the end of term 4!) and just laying on the couch, zoning out. I remember one Friday afternoon at school, I knelt down to tidy something up on the ground and just… stayed there… I had to use every ounce of my willpower to get up. It wasn’t like your normal Friday “Geez I’m tired and being on the floor is comfortable”, it was more like: “I just… can’t… get up… I truly can’t”. So, it was wonderful. And throughout it all, Nic started to pick up the pieces as I did what I do with the dogs and took energy from training and playing with them and he cooked and made sure life went on and looked after me because I just couldn’t.

And now he’s gone away for 2 and a half weeks and I find myself in an interesting position because I don’t cook any more. I used to cook. I used to really enjoy making new things and being busy. You know that sense of busy-ness, where you’re bustling here and there, and chopping and keeping things hot and stirring and you have so many things going at once but you know where everything is?

That kind of frightens me now. I think this is what I find most daunting about cooking. I hadn’t realised it until I spoke to a colleague today after I’d jokingly “blackmailed” some other colleagues into cooking me dinner by luring them with the final 4 episodes of the season of a show they watch. “I have the episodes, and you’re welcome to watch them… but how about you cook me dinner and we’ll watch them then”. Another colleague is making a curry for her husband and is making extra for me. I’m coming across that pathetically. But truly, when I think about getting into the kitchen nowadays, I feel… crippled. Like, there’s too many things. Like when I was so tired and I could only find energy for the dogs and getting through the day (just) and putting food in my mouth, I closed off all these other ‘unimportant’ parts of my brain, and some of them haven’t come back online. Cooking is one of those. It’s such a strange realisation. Strange and sad, to think I used to have this confidence and energy and now it’s gone, and I don’t know why or where it went, and I’m not sure I could get it back. And maybe it’s just for cooking but I’m not sure if it is.

So in a way, my brain feels sort of… not whole. Unwhole… Holey. It has holes. (I wonder if what’s where the word whole comes from. Without holes -w/hole… whole. )

No. Just found out that it came from “hal” which then seems to have lead into “health” which I suppose makes sense… But I liked my explanation better.

 

Anyway. Evening 1 of Em Home Alone has gone well. All the animals have been fed, I made myself dinner that wasn’t cereal or toast (win), the dishwasher is on, the 2 youngdogs have gone for a good run and are sleeping, and both of them had some training, too… Mal had a good rest day and he ate a bone, and I didn’t forget to give any of the animals requiring it their required medicines, Loki has been organised for tomorrow when I have to stay at school until 7.30, so I’d say in all, it’s been successful.

That being said, it’s 8.45 and I’m in bed already.

Look out, world, it’s going to be an extreme couple of weeks. I’m out of control.

Tink

So I figured I can’t leave you all hanging after all the drama and saga about whether I’d get Tink or not.

In the end I decided it’s not a good time for a baby puppy. My Grandfather is very ill, we’ve been negotiating buying that house I linked to a while ago (and in the end we found out today that they’ve decided not to sell it after all, assholes. So, back to square one of trying to find somewhere to buy where I can train. So frustrating.), the preps this year are just full on and exhausting, Lu is only just getting back into being able to train and I’ve been through a huge amount of stress with Lu’s illness that I think I just need some time to recoup without having to wake up during the night for toiletting and having to find time to train a baby as well as Lu.

So look, in a month it might be ok, but right now, not so much.

I’m still keeping my eye open for rescues. If some kind of young border-whippet comes along maybe that’s still an option. I still don’t think I’m a BC person so I don’t think I’ll go down that route, even if would give me an easy, trainable, driven dog. I’ve got my eye out at one Aussie breeder’s place who generally breeds more for drive and working-type Aussies but she said she doesn’t sell entire dogs to unknown people, and I’d still like to one day maybe get into breeding drivey working Aussies. So, I’ll have to see how I go with that. She won’t be having puppies until August this year or March next year so there’s plenty of time.

And that’s what’s happening.

I have a video to put up of Mal actually being able to learn and perform a new trick (put a big spoon in a big bowl), and also I’ve started teaching Lu to balance on things like the arm of the couch like a kind of 4-in, and then I’ll find more and more narrow things for her to balance on.

I also wanted to write a post about her rehab and strength tricks but not right now. I need to go wallow in my misery. Ha.

falling to pieces

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with the post, it just cheers me up because I could go walking in the bush for the first time in over a week.

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with the post, it just cheers me up because I could go walking in the bush for the first time in over a week because it was cold and raining so there weren’t going to be any snakes afoot. (what would you say for snakes? they don’t have feet so they can’t be ‘afoot’ surely… ‘abelly’? ‘aslither’?

I’m sick again.

Oh, fair warning. If you don’t want to read a post about me whinging about life, you should stop now.

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light of my life

She makes me want to get out and RUN!

She makes me want to get out and RUN!

I’ve been feeling tired lately – in fact on Monday night I drove home after school feeling very average, let the dogs in, climbed into bed, fought Lumen off, and had an hour-long nap.

But the funny thing was, before this, just seeing my two happy, wiggling balls of love and excitement was enough to perk me right up- rejuvenate me, as it were. I’d told myself on the way home that I wasn’t going to go to the field, too tired. Wasn’t going to train, needed to sleep. But seeing them- seeing Lu, I thought: oh, well, I could go train…! I feel ok, actually!

But I was sensible. I had a nap… It’s just amazing how much energy I felt when I got home and brought them in.

How teaching kids has taught me to teach dogs.

Lumen at school getting attended to by one of the vets because her "fur was too old"

Lumen at school getting attended to by one of the vets because her “fur was too old”

 

Last year was my first year as an actual, honest, real-life teacher. Before that I’d been on rounds in highschools, and once with a year 2/3 class.

Then I got my job and became a prep/1 teacher (for those playing at home, kids in their 1st and 2nd year of school, 5-7 years old), and I spent the majority of my time teaching the group of kids who didn’t know all the letters of the alphabet, or who could only just count to 10, who would write the same thing every. single. week.

This year, I’m teaching kids who’ll write a page or more, and try and use words like ‘spectacular’, and who can count over 100, and who can actually read what I write on the whiteboard… but, despite them being able to do so much more than my kids last year, I feel like the combination of the two has taught me something very important about training dogs.

When I first started, I wanted those little baby kids to be writers. To write like year 2s, or 4s, or 6s. To write sentences, with full-stops, and know how to fix their spelling, and use capital letters. I would feel perpetually disappointed in them when my expectations were way, way above what they were capable of. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t have expectations, but it’s impossible to expect (most) preps to be able to write like a grade 2 kid. And now that I’m seeing the next step in that process, I’m understanding the importance of foundations, and little steps toward a goal.

Like how it’s ok if they don’t get all their full-stops right now, we’re working on it. It’s just a little piece in the picture that they’ll keep building on and building on until they are getting them all, because of that work I’m doing with them now. “Remember your full-stops, such-and-such!” in my very best and sternest teacher voice.

Yep, it's a tough life.

Yep, it’s a tough life.

And so it’s how I’ve been with Lumen, in a way. It’s sort of how she works. I wanted her to be so fast and good straight away, and I had these expectations that she would be like Silvia Trkman’s Bi or Bu at the same age and when she was slow and unmotivated, I felt (as I did last year) disappointed that she wasn’t as good as I thought she should be. And yet, having worked now on little steps, little steps, putting together pieces, building her understandings, I can see how it’s coming together. And sometimes I feel frustrated because, darn it, I taught you how to do a serpentine a month ago and yet you don’t remember now!? Whyyyyyy!? So it’s ok, we’ll take a little step back and build it up again- the worst it can do is strengthen her understandings to make that behaviour more reliable and more consistent. Hardly a bad thing!!

 

weekend wrap-up

Another good, but busy weekend has passed!

Saturday saw us at the park practising some extension/collection exercises again and I’ll tell you what, Lumen is starting to really run. She likes this straight line game! Unfortunately I’m seeing wide turns now but since my focus is on that running, I’m not going to stop her or make her multi-wrap… she just needs to get used to that speed and how to collect properly to turn well… Because we’d been going at a medium pace for so long, it’s suddenly a different picture. I had two curved tunnels at either end and she was driving forward and going through them with pretty good speed.

Another free-running adventure...!!!

Another free-running adventure…!!!

Sunday and we woke up early to get out to Tallarook, the park we were in last week, to try and find some rock-climbing rocks to explore with the dogs, and to have a birthday picnic of left-over vegan pizza (yum). We hiked out and had a bad start, getting lost almost straight away (I don’t know how, go figure). But, we pushed on and trekked through bush, over lots and lots of fallen trees, through bracken fern, on 4WD tracks and over rocks. Lumen took off at least 3 or 4 times and each time came back without having to call her too much. I don’t know sometimes if she’s actually seen something to chase, or if she just thinks she has, but in any case, it’s great to be practising her recalls when she’s ‘on the hunt’. I figure even if she isn’t chasing anything, if she does, she’ll have had so much practise that she shouldn’t go far. I figure it’s fairly inevitable that if she sees a roo or rabbit she’ll be off like a shot (I have a video of her doing this, actually, from today), so it’s more a matter of how long it takes before she comes back. Today’s recalls were great, I was very pleased.

Lunch breaks on some rocky-rocks. Lumen was NOT keen on the altitude!

Lunch breaks on some rocky-rocks. Lumen was NOT keen on the altitude!

So we had about 2 hours of hiking all up, with a break for lunch in the middle- the dogs were particularly unimpressed about being tied to a tree, but there were sheer rock cliffs all around and although Lumen was suitably cautious about going near the edge, there was rabbit activity about and I didn’t want her to see one and do something silly. Mallei also apparently has no brains and was trundling up to the edge quite happily, showing no signs of worrying about falling off. Um..

Both dogs were tired by the time we got back, though I suspect Lu could have continued on through the bush for another 30-60 minutes… Mallei was slowed down to a walk, and getting unsteady on his feet, so it’s clear who’s the fitter dog!

There it is! My soon-to-be agility field!

There it is! My soon-to-be agility field!

And the last, and possibly most exciting thing to have happened this weekend, was finally finding myself an agility field!!! The most amazing field ever because, not only is it flat, it’s 2 minutes from our house (and we live in a hilly area so flat land nearby is very hard to come by), it has a barn which I’m free to use, it has lights already on the barn (!!!) which I’m free to use, and I bet I could bring my own, too, and plug them in to an extension cord, and they’re not going to charge me anything!!!! This is like a dream come true!!!! So, now I need to order my dogwalk and weaves, make a couple more jumps, and I should have an amazing agility dog with running contacts and brilliant weaves because I can actually practise more than once a week. I’m so, so stoked. The woman who owns the place just seems lovely- they were selling, but now they’re not so I can use one of their paddocks for all my stuff!!! Whoo hoo!!! No more carrying 20kg of sand-bags back and forth from the car! No more hammering weaves into the ground every time I want to practise!!!

I’m so, so excited. It’s so perfect. It’s more than perfect!!!