Here, There, Everywhere

These past few weeks have been so nonstop and exhausting. My weeks have been full of homework, papers, and midterms, and then my weekends would begin bright and early with a drive across Houston to whichever local AKC trial was going on that weekend; WiFi by my side. I ended up taking about 8 months off out of this qualifying year, in part for financial reasons, but also because I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving poor Motion home, sad and alone, with his healing knee. (In truth, he probably would have just slept upside down in his crate as he does, without a care in the world. Still, I could not shake the image of this stealing the light from my poor boy’s eyes.) The fact of the matter was, I did not want to be around agility for quite a long time, and I don’t regret taking the time that I did. Quickly, fall began to pass us by and I realized I would need to make a huge run of trials if there was any way I wanted to head to Tulsa this March. (I did, and I do.) So off we went. I don’t know that this would have been even remotely possible if I had not lucked into this phenomenal new job. Somehow the universe conspired for me so that I now live in a city where there is a local trial nearly every weekend, and I have a job where I primarily work weekend nights. It’s draining, and leaves little time for much else, but I can enter a full weekend trial and never have to ask for a night off work. And so, that’s just what I did for the past month. Amazing how the universe works sometimes.

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She did it. 

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Against everything; time, money, age, my truck breaking down in the midst of 48 hours of rain (thank you Kara), my little monster did it. I think she knew she would all along. I wasn’t so sure, and she’s probably rolling her eyes at me right now for ever doubting her.

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Strange it was, all of those solo trips with my girl. It all felt a bit like we’d traveled back in time, back before Motion brought his light into our lives. One Saturday, as we left the ring, someone stopped us to tell us that our run resembled a beautiful dance, that not a single foot of our six combined was an inch out of place. It’s in those moments that you can feel your teammates heartbeat within your soul. Sometimes it slips my mind, but in these past few weeks I was constantly flooded with fond memories of where we’ve been and what we’ve done together. Her magic is grey in the face, but it still shines ever so brightly; I mustn’t forget. But then, someone at every trial would say “and hey, how’s Motion?” There’s no answer for that. He’s happy, the light is still fully glowing in his eyes. My gut tells me something’s not quite right with his leg, but I have no evidence of that either. Soon, we’ll head up to GCVS for his next checkup, and I’ll update on the matter then. But for now he is playing lots of fetch and occasionally we toy with jump heights and dreams of San Jose.

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Until the new qualifying period rolls around and my gut has some better information regarding Motion’s knee, we’ll be on a short agility hiatus to allow more time to finish the semester strong and develop a game plan for what’s to come.

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Finding Our Feet

Lately, life has been taking the plunge, ready or not. It’s been jumping in, and forcing myself into a life that I think I want. First it was quitting my job, then it was returning to the agility world, now it’s getting back into the groove of things with this strange new semester and also realizing that I’ve run out of money. (oops.)

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I quit my job about a month ago. I hated it, I hated the management, I hated the customers, and eventually I decided that it had shoveled enough hate into my life, it was about time to shovel it all back out. I didn’t have a backup plan, but there was no time.

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Three weeks ago Motion and I re-entered the competition ring for the first time since his TPLO. So much was up in the air, all I could do was scream internally and hope that none of it escaped audibly. Was he ready? Was it too soon? Would there be time to finish qualifying for NAC? No one knew, but there was one way to find out. Into the ring we went. It was magic, it was inspiring, it was informative, and it was necessary. The runs were mostly fantastic; 50% clean/50% almost clean, but that’s irrelevant. There was one horrifying moment where he landed on top of a bar and rather forcefully became one with the ground, though I’m mostly convinced it was an optical illusion mishap and not an oh-no-my-knee-surgery-failed-miserably mishap. He’s strong and he’s healthy, but he’s not quite back. We’re working on it. The following weekend brought fewer clean runs, but exponentially more connection; quite a valuable trade off I think. It also brought clarity and goal setting. Qualifying Mo for AKC Nationals is certainly possible, but at what cost? Financially, emotionally, and physically, it just isn’t worth it this year. I am still chasing down those points with WiFi, but Mo and I have had quite a few heart to hearts, and we’ve decided our work is going to go into prepping for World Team Tryouts in May.

He’s bionic, and it’s wonderful.
Weekend 1:

Weekend 2:

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Immediately after leaping back into the ring with my dogs, a new semester began. Part of me is quite confused at how this all happened. How am I a junior in college? Surely that can’t be right. (It is.) But another very important part of me is eager for it to be over, for a new adventure, for a new home. But that seems worlds away. This semester is an odd one, a light load, only 12 hours because scheduling is a funny thing and sometimes nothing lines up right. Two staple courses for your everyday Physics major, an architecture class for your typical World Cities minor, and a music class which is a totally rad course in which I get to spend 3 hours a week discussing rock and roll but also fills my last core requirement. Yes, you read that right: Physics major with a World Cities minor. That makes no sense, but then, nothing in this head of mine ever does so what does it matter? Big cities with bright lights and tall sky scrapers have always drawn me in, oftentimes evoking vivid daydreams of living an intoxicating life in a high rise apartment in Manhattan, Boston, or Seattle. Usually they have me planning an imaginary party on the rooftop of my imaginary apartment in Manhattan, but sometimes (last Tuesday) they have me sitting in an architecture class answering some trivial question which somehow resulted in me receiving a round of applause. That was a peculiar moment.

Two agility trials, rent, and some textbooks later, I am quickly running out of money. I’m trying to stay calm because I figure it’s not truly college if you don’t nearly run out of money once or twice, right? I didn’t work my first year of college, I started the summer before my sophomore year and then never stopped. Somehow I did not realize this before, but it is quite a luxury to come home from school and not have to immediately change clothes, and rush to work until 11pm. This past month has given me so much room to breathe, interpret and simplify. Historically, Plan A and reality don’t always align as I would have hoped, but with a little luck, I suppose I can still find space somewhere between the two for all this scheming and reflecting.

Also: Saturday we beached.

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Gut Check

Three months ago today (July 17) Motion went in to the vets at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists to have a TPLO to repair a partially torn cruciate ligament. Today he is 3 months post op, and I am so incredibly lucky to say we have had a relatively uneventful recovery thus far.

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Constantly in awe of vets and surgeons. You guys do wicked awesome things.

On July 6, Motion was released from all restrictions and is now allowed to run, jump, swim, sprint and eventually ease his way back into agility. We’ve been having a lot of fun and freedom with the sprinting and swimming, and are building up the nerve to add in jump work. While walking through London a few weeks back, I stumbled across this sign:

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and it hit me like lightning. I’d heard the phrase/quote (Eleanor Roosevelt, I think?) before, but it had never seemed so applicable and personal. I had always thought it was cool way to approach life, but maybe a bit impractical. How many scary things can you really encounter every 24 hours? And if you’re afraid of so many things, doesn’t that just make you kind of a coward? Everyday life isn’t scary, right? Right. Wrong. Everyday life is scary, because there’s absolutely nothing everyday about everyday life. Every single day is new and different and undefined. There’s nothing everyday about it. Walking your dog should never be terrifying, but it has been, and I think I’m a stronger (better?) person for it.

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Never in my life have I experienced a more forceful gut check than I did after I let Motion swim for the first time since his operation. We had a great time, and then for a while afterwards he laid in the grass as my friend and I stood there chatting. When it was time to go, he stood up. And then he instantly fell over. And I wanted to vomit. Or die. Not sure which.

(He’s fine, he got back up and walked away pain free and limp free and all that good stuff.)

Luckily, my friend has experience with this injury/recovery and said something along the lines of “He’s fine, it’s normal, it’ll probably happen again, breathe.” (Thanks dude, you rock.)

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We made a guest appearance at an agility trial yesterday, the first physical contact we’ve had with the agility world since Nationals in March. The break has been nice and refreshing, but I think we’re all itching to get back to it now. We’ll be dipping our toes in some short sequences and whatnot over the next few weeks, and then eventually, we’ll be back. Hopefully the next time we take a break it will be out of our own free will, instead of necessity.

How To Ruin Your Life (Without Even Noticing That You Are)

This, this, this. A million times, this.

Thought Catalog

Erin KellyErin Kelly

Understand that life is not a straight line. Life is not a set timeline of milestones. It is okay if you don’t finish school, get married, find a job that supports you, have a family, make money, and live comfortably all by this age, or that age. It’s okay if you do, as long as you understand that if you’re not married by 25, or a Vice President by 30 — or even happy, for that matter — the world isn’t going to condemn you. You are allowed to backtrack. You are allowed to figure out what inspires you. You are allowed time, and I think we often forget that. We choose a program right out of high school because the proper thing to do is to go straight to University. We choose a job right out of University, even if we didn’t love our program, because we…

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A Street Art guide to Camden Town

adventuring, soon….

London Calling Blog

So as I mentioned in my previous post it appears that the Camden Lock area including the outstanding Camden Lock Market will at some point in the not to distant future be lost to redevelopment works. So i am offering a free street art walk of Camden Town. The walk should take you 2-3 hours depending on how long yo stop to admire and photograph the fantastic street art you are sure to see  Enjoy the fabulous result of all the hard work from “The Real Art of Street Art” who are responsible for organizing the vast majority of work that you will currently see in Camden.

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1. Start at Mornington Crescent Underground Station and exit out onto Camden High Street heading towards Camden Town. Take the left hand side of the road and walk until you reach The Beatrice pub on Camden High Street. Here you will be greeted by…

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Motion is Good

Motion is good. (He is also love and light and everything that is good in the world, but that’s a different story for a different day.) He’s also an endless ball of energy. He has grown rather bored with the crate rest, and really, really loves when he gets to hang out in the x-pen. We’ve been working on channeling this energy into hardcore play sessions where he remains 100% rolled over on his back. He’s a pro.

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On Friday (5/15) he will be 1 month post op. So far, just walking. He appears to be fully weight bearing, although is still a bit gimpy when he tries to walk too fast, but that seems to be improving. Today we got to have our first 20 minute walk together. We celebrated by having our walk in the park instead of around our boring old apartment complex. The three of us were all pretty excited about venturing out into the world again.

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I’m also good, which translates directly to “I’m exhausted and relieved and ever so slightly woe-is-me and extremely thankful”. But definitely good. Better, now that school is over. (Goodbye Spring 2015, you will NOT be missed.) My poor dogs have been so patient with me over the past month, half buried in schoolwork, and half completely avoiding doing anything that resembles real life. But today I sent in an entry form, for WiFi of course. Just one day, and currently I change my mind every 5 minutes on whether I’m actually going to go, but it’s a step. No part of me is okay with leaving Motion behind in any aspect, but no part of me is okay with moping around stealing adventures away from my nearly 10 year old legend of a dog. Come on self, she deserves better than that.

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“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
-Carlos Castenada

I am choosing the latter, but it’s certainly a work in progress.

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          “Write hard and clear about what hurts.”

                                          -Ernest Hemingway


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I asked him to go on an adventure with me, and he gleefully obliged. I asked him to run in and out of forests with me. I asked him to go with me to Minnesota and show me what we’re made of. I asked him to be strong when I was weak. I asked him to join the big leagues and take me to Reno. I asked him to gaze, wide eyed as I at the lights of New York City. I *begged* him to make it through Reno. He has done everything I have ever asked of him. I never thought to ask him not to have a torn ACL, though.

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In July 2014 my sweet Motion came up lame after a training session. He walked it off rather quickly, but still I let him rest and recover for a few days. As the lameness persisted in extremely minor and intermittent occurrences, we began to look harder at the leg. We tried extended crate rest with Rimadyl, trigger point therapy, and then conditioning and stregthening exercises. It was decided that he either had some sort of chronic soft tissue injury, or an extremely partial tear of his ACL. Conveniently, the only non-invasive way to diagnose it as either of those things, was to rule out the other. (x-rays also really could not diagnose either of the possible injuries, at least not that early.) The intermittent symptoms came and went and he appeared to remain pain free and stable as I attempted to bring him back to full activity.  Around Christmas, I finally broke down and got X-rays taken. Now, some 6 months after the initial injury, the X-rays still can’t show you if the ACL is torn, but they can show you if there have been any degenerative changes in the knee that could point towards a diagnosis of a tear. All of my vets agreed that they saw these changes and were suspicious of a partial tear. <cue heartbreak> But, I finally knew. I could stop running from it and giving myself false hope. I could stop tormenting myself. We sent the radiographs off to multiple other vets and surgeons for a second opinion on the risks of continuing to run him through AKC Nationals. Everyone agreed that so long as he was pain free and stable, which he was, and still is today, there was no harm in running him at a low impact height (20″) for a bit longer. So that’s what we did. And we had one hell of a time.

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Today, we trekked up to see Dr. Beale at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists. He agreed there was likely a partial tear, but he was borderline on whether or not to go ahead with the TPLO. He explained that it is such a minor tear and it has miraculously not worsened in the past 9 months or so that he was unsure of whether or not to proceed. I explained that he had been living in a bubble protecting that knee. He hasn’t been to the beach, or to the lake, or gone on a long hike with me. He ran only at 20″ (6″ lower than his true height in one of the two venues we compete in, and nearly 2″ below his shoulder.) I explained that I did not want him to live cautiously for the rest of his life merely to save me a wad of cash. So the team of vets left to go check the schedule to see how soon he could be penciled in. As they left, I think I heard the vet tech say “Man, she really wants this surgery…” Understandable, I guess. I wrecked my heart and soul mentally and emotionally preparing myself for this moment.

And then he gave me an out. An out?? I had not prepared myself for an out. 

and then I did not take the out? Her thoughts (though wildly incorrect) were valid, I suppose.

So let me make this perfectly, and unmistakably clear. I do not want this surgery. I want my dog back. I want my dog to be able to live the wild and free life he was born to lead. I want to run in and out of forests, and up and down beaches, and in and out of lakes with him. I want to run hard and run free with him. I do not wish for him to have to live in a bubble any longer.

IMG_7465We have scheduled him for surgery tomorrow. I am terrified, and relieved, and racked with guilt. Really any emotion that can make you feel even the slightest twinge of discomfort, be it good or bad, I am feeling it.

No, that’s not quite right. I’m not so much feeling it anymore. I’ve felt it for 9 months. For 9 months it has festered inside me and essentially become me. I am not feeling uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable.

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Tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow is the day it all ends, and it all begins. Tomorrow is the day I have yearned for for 270 days. Tomorrow we begin to heal, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Tomorrow we are clean.

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Absolutely thrilled to be leaving for New York City in less than 12 hours. I am very excited to see my family that lives in the area, very excited to run my dogs in such a cool event, and so so *so* excited to experience New York again, but this time with dogs. I have dreamed of living in the city for a couple years for quite a while now, but it has always seemed like such an impossible thing to do with dogs (and agility). So, silly as it seems, I am very excited to get a glimpse of exactly what I *might* be getting myself into a few years from now.

(guys. I *really* love skylines and lights and skyscrapers and buildings and cities. eeeeeep!)

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All of that aside, I feel incredibly in sync with both of my dogs right now which is a really, really great feeling right before such a big event. In years past, that hasn’t exactly been the case. (what with WiFi missing aframe contacts and Motion struggling to get jumpers Qs.) The few days we have trialed these past few weeks have just felt great. Lot’s of Qs, and lots of NQ’s that were full of magic. (see below: Motion’s first run in a trial since early November, winning the class.)

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What [New York + dogs] blog would be complete without a fake photo of my dogs appearing in Times Square?

Oh, oh, also. There is a new lens waiting for me at my uncles house in New Jersey and I can’t wait to get my hands on it and harass the world with my own photos of NYC instead of stealing photos off of the internet. (sorry photographers of google images.)

“and because no matter who you are, if you believe in yourself and your dream, New York will always be the place for you.” -Michael Bloomberg

“I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline.” -Ayn Rand

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” -Tom Wolfe

(I also love quoting people who say cool things, okay.)

Lost Spaces

“Falling from high places, falling through lost spaces….”

Lately it seems all I want to do is hide in our park and speak in Ben Howard song lyrics (an okay thing, I think.)

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Between work and school, I’ve been trying to spend as much time as possible being lost in the woods.

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Headphones in, dogs in front, it’s been a great way to clear my head of all the negative thoughts and remember all that is great in the world.

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Lost at sunset is pretty fab.

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But so is 2:00pm.

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They don’t understand why we can’t swim. (alligators; we can’t swim because alligators guys.)

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peace and love for now.