2020 Comes to an End

Hard to believe that 2020 is almost over – man, what a year – for everyone. It’s also the last ‘exciting’ year number I’ll live to see. I got the thrill of 2000, and 2020 is also kind of a magical number (where on earth did those 20 years go in between??) – but after that, I won’t be living to see any more exciting numbers. Realistically, I’ll be lucky to see 2060, but not something you think about as a kid, what’s the last year you’ll get to see. And, of course, what age you can theoretically get to doesn’t mean you’ll get to see it. Losing Bright in 2020 was definitely a wake up call to appreciate what you have today, as the song says, you’re not promised tomorrow. It’s nice to see the end of the virus on the horizon, hopefully the vaccine will be distributed quickly. While it will still be around for a while, at least we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

2021 will be about settling into the new property, though a lot of the things I want to eventually do there will have to wait until building costs go down. Which is fine, I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do. Life is full of choices, so, yeah, choose wisely. Moving is still kind of a big scary thing at the moment, but I’m sure once we settle in and find our new routines it won’t seem so intimidating. I really do think this is the right choice for us, and we will all be happier there once we get settled. Just have to do all the things to get us there first, I wish I could magically transport everything from here to there …

I actually got to spend the afternoon with the current owners this week and they showed me everything about the property. Just the nicest people that have lived there for almost 30 years, they’ve taken great care of it and it has obviously been a wonderful home for them. I wish it were better circumstances that they were having to sell, but I’m so thankful that I’m ending up with such an amazing property. Can hardly wait to see what it’s like in the spring, they say it’s just amazing. I’m thinking there will be many, many pictures of happy dogs there.

As for 2021 and dogs, hopefully next year we can continue to keep working away at herding, which is what we mainly did this year with the virus. Nursery/ProNovice is the plan with Asher in 2021 – and maybe we won’t ever get there, but we’ll keep working towards Open. Navarre will still continue to play with sheep, and when AKC herding trials resume Carol has reluctantly still agreed to take him and give him an AKC career. I’ll take it! Might not be in 2021 though, as, yeah, who knows when things will be safe to resume activities.

As for agility, well, I don’t have big plans. Going to try some limited trialing with Asher, get him some ring experience while there are very few people allowed in the building. See if we can get through some novice courses. It will be AKC, of course – what else is there? Assuming I’m bringing Asher, Navarre will get to tag along – but no big plans, obviously. Starting with T2B and Novice Jumpers with Asher, if that goes well we’ll try some standard possibly in February. Still need to work on his dogwalk in more complex sequences, and I suppose eventually put his optional stop on too. We’ll keep working on the Justine international exercises, and maybe by this fall there will be more agility to do? We’ll see. It’s always fun, but, yeah, that Asher is such a freight train. I’m very much looking forward to eventually having our own arena! We’ll actually be able to train things, novel thought. Mostly we just sneak in a little practice here and there before or after classes, which works out okay, but it’s not ideal.

Some international skill fun

Decided to send Fauna back to California, our time together has come to an end. Fauna has been a really nice experience as having her here has shown that the boys do want to add a girl. However, she has also shown me that we don’t need that much bitch. As she has matured she has shown some overarousal issues that I’m just not wanting to deal with. I really do like her a lot, she’s so fun, and so sweet and so much personality! But she’s also had these issues where once she goes over the top she goes too far. So like when she goes after the other dogs when she gets too aroused, or we get to somewhere and she starts SCREAMING hysterically in her crate and you can’t get her to calm down. Yeah, no. And Asher is afraid of her now, and that poor dog has been beat up enough in life – he needs a girl that is going to be nice to him. I think Fauna’s issues can be worked on, but as she’s not my dog and it requires way more management than I want to do, I think it’s time for her to move on. I also think in another household with dogs that would actually set limits, that would be helpful – my boys are too nice. She respects dogs that set limits and tries to dominate those that she thinks she can. So she’ll head off in the next couple weeks, I really will miss her, she’s one of a kind.

Meanwhile, we’ll get to see if Navarre will magically be a different dog now that he’s neutered. You never know what changes may happen with that sort of thing, and especially with the Tiny Balls – how much hormones were even really there to start with? Navarre handled the neuter like all my boys do – which is like a giant sissy. Males, good lord. A spay is such an invasive and major surgery, and the girls always handle it like pros – the boys and the neuters, not so much. So apparently Navarre howled the whole time at the vet, which surprised me. So much for my well trained dog. But he’s never had any sort of surgery, I’m sure this was a shock – and he is just a big baby at heart. And there was much drama just walking out to the car – he couldn’t walk, had to be carried. And then the cone, OMG, the cone. Navarre bashed his way through the house, the back of my calves are seriously bruised, and I’m not exaggerating – he weaponized that thing. We briefly tried a donut collar which was recommended – which didn’t work at all, he could easily reach the incision. So back to the cone, and much bashing into the walls, and my legs, and the other dogs, and the furniture and EVERYTHING.

He had lots of pain meds and he was better about being able to walk without assistance after a couple days. Mostly it was hard because he wanted to cuddle and that was SO not happening with his painful cone wearing self. I took the cone off on day 5 as everything looked good, he clung to me like a baby for extreme cuddling for at least 20 minutes. Navarre needs his love! But too much licking, had to put it back on – alas. This is not the year for vet visits, we’ll stay cautious and keep it on until he’s really healed.

Knock on wood, I think everything went well, though I’m sure he needs a hell of a lot of body work between the surgery and the constant full speed cone bashing. Now we’ll see if there was any benefit to it all, whether it will help with the back inflammation, whether it will help or hurt his relationships at home, whether it will change his coat. So far, so good – time will tell. I want to say he already seems less annoyed with Asher, but it could just be cone depression. Still pees an excessively long time, without a steady stream – but it’s only been a week.

Hiking with only three dogs is very weird, three dogs always seems way too easy and definitely like I’m missing someone. It was a hell of a lot easier to do group pictures without trying to get Navarre to put his damn ears up though – no one can ruin a group shot like Navarre with his pathetic face on. Asher definitely missed having Navarre there, he could kind of play with Fauna, but mostly she just would stalk and herd him – he wanted someone to race. The boys really do like each other.

Speaking of herding, Fauna filled in for Navarre at our lesson with Dave and got to meet some sheep. I had zero expectations of her to do anything – first, she’s only 4 months old, and then she’s related to Bright, who I could never even get to look at sheep. Her dad is from herding lines, but the other half is agility. Then Fauna is very nervous about approaching strange dogs, I thought there was no way in hell she was going to be comfortable approaching giant weird sheep. Yeah, well, I was wrong – Fauna thought sheep were AWESOME and she was right in there controlling the heads and telling them what for. Go figure. I started with her as I figured she would need the emotional support, and she was just holding them to the fence and heading them off. No real interest in getting around them, but very much working to control them. As she was so happy to play, I had Dave work her after that so I could take some video, where of course THEN she wants to bring the sheep to me – AND slam them into me into the fence. Thanks Fauna. So Dave used a paddle to get her going around, she’s definitely an away dog, and she was a little less certain about strange guy with sticks, but still keen.

So that was fun, definitely a different introduction than Asher, who was very slow to turn on to sheep. Fauna definitely can be very, uh, forward – I have to wonder if that would transfer to being more willing to stand up to sheep than my very polite boys.

Very thankful to have a couple opportunities to get Asher to some new locations for agility. Lovely new indoor arena with turf, really interesting to see how they ended up building it. 80 foot wide – so nice! And SO MANY LIGHTS, it was so nice and bright in there, I don’t even know how many LEDs they had up there, but it was row after row. Asher had seen turf when he was a baby at Brooks, but it was good to see that he didn’t have any problem running on this stuff. So, yeah, he was HIGH – he just seems to continue to get more wired as he gets older. I remember how relaxed he was at the first group agility practice we attempted during the summer … yeah, not so much any more. But his performance was good, he was trying really hard, he needed a few reps on a VERY bouncy dogwalk and then he was doing great. No problem with a non-rubberized teeter, a few weavepole pop outs, but would fix it the next time. Jumping was … well, spastic, and not much collection – but he has been worse.

Overall I was very pleased, it left me feeling very optimistic that the trial won’t be too overwhelming. And then Cathy attempted to run him so I could take some pictures, which he was reluctant, but still did it with great enthusiasm. He’s still a mama’s boy though. We have a lot of work to do, but he is a very fun baby dog.

We went to another turf arena the next weekend, learned that Asher has never seen doing a running dogwalk into a wall (maybe 10 feet to the wall?). But the fun part is that as soon as we went into this new area he saw the equipment and he was so excited and ready to work – he’s caught onto the game of ‘agility in other places’. Practiced with some ‘ring crew’ and a judge out there – but border collies are so oblivious. Also practiced getting a measurement, he’d damn well better not go over 22 inches. He was a little suspicious of that, but no issues. Knock on wood, I think he’s ready for his first trial next weekend. Though I wouldn’t say we did a great job of actually DOING THE COURSES, but that’s not my big priority at the moment. Though when it doubt, CUE EARLY, he is such freight train. And definitely not worried about the teeter – but also not good at waiting for a release now!

So bring on his first baby dog agility trials this month, and his first seminar! A baby dog seminar with Desiree, who I have really enjoyed working with in the past. Thankfully he has done some international style stuff, because her idea of ‘novice’ is not the same as mine.

Herding and whistles continue to progress, he’s doing better with his flank whistles now that I changed them to something comes easier to me, and his walk up is good – his lie down he kept being REALLY slow to respond to. The last practice I brought the rattle bottle to back me up – and naturally I never had to use it as he just immediately downed on his whistle. Huh. His driving is still erratic – sometimes good, sometimes bad – that’s our next project this month in addition to solidifying whistles and working on getting him to slow the hell down for his lifts. Still going to shoot for Nursery the end of January, hopefully get up to Fidos to practice the course and the bigger outruns before hand too.

Fauna continues to be fun to train, she loves her training time and is being less of a bitch when a cat or other dog gets too close when she’s working. She gets impatient and can be very vocal about when she doesn’t think I’m doing it right or rewarding what she thinks should be rewarded. Still can be easily distracted as well. Fauna has a lot of opinions on EVERYTHING, and likes to swear at me a lot. She swears when we’re getting out of the car to go somewhere fun, she swears at me when training, she swears at me when she wants to come inside, she swears at me when I’m eating my dinner and she would like some. It is not her most endearing quality, and it is VERY difficult to get her to stop. I reward quiet, I don’t let her practice it, I interrupt it – but she is determined. I don’t want her disturbing the neighbors so EVERY SINGLE TIME she starts swearing at me to come inside when she’s outside I take her and immediately put her in the crate in the back room. We’ve been doing that for TWO MONTHS … she still does it. It’s BETTER, but impulse control and frustration tolerance is most definitely not her thing. Maybe it will get better as she gets older?

She’s getting easier because she has so many more behaviors on her. She understands how to hold a position now, and been trying to work on her tuck sit as she doesn’t have a great rear so trying to build it up in a controlled fashion. She can multiwrap and send around buckets, but still working on transferring the behavior to toys. We finally got our cooperative care nail trims down (she had a lot of opinions on that …). Still working on housebreaking, she seems like she has the idea and then she’ll have a random accident. Not that many though, maybe five or six accidents in the time she’s been here?

But, yeah, I think she’s 4 months old. I think, I honestly don’t know when her birthday is, but she’s 18-19 weeks, I think. She’s starting to get big girl teeth already, it’s crazy how quickly they grow up. She did have one jaunty ear for over a month, but it went down and hasn’t been seen since, now she just has limp teething puppy ears at the moment. If I had to guess, she’s maybe 20 lbs? Maybe more? She doesn’t seem giant, but she doesn’t seem tiny either. My assumption is she’s average sized. Though she’s all legs at the moment and no body, total noodle, her little whippy tail as she does her full body wags is super long too. Very little coat at all, she just has a very short soft coat that is very snuggly. And she is snuggly, when she’s not too busy. She does sleep hard, and she sleeps through the night on the bed – I usually have to wake her up to take outside because the other dogs are bugging me – and sometimes carry her, because she’s like, “Naw, I’m sleeping in today.”

So I do like her, she has a LOT of personality. She’s very funny, confident, happy and outgoing. She’s very different than my dogs, once again – OPINIONS. SO MANY. She’s not really a team player, she wants to know what’s in it for Fauna. Not super fast on the uptake training things, problem solving and deep thinking is definitely not her thing. Once she gets it she’s good to go though, assuming it’s taught in a context where it’s her idea. I don’t think she’ll be easiest to train in anything, I think she’ll be pushy and opinionated and LOUD. I think she’ll be fun, but she definitely has some overarousal and impulse control issues that are going to be a big issue if they don’t improve with maturity. So, yeah, she’s a lot and I think has a lot of potential, been really fun to have here. You know, mostly.

Herding Genius

With zero practice going into his second herding trial, I had low expectations for Asher in this new location up at Fidos. We entered Ranch this time, which had a little cross drive. I know Asher is not actually some sort of herding prodigy, but he is SO EASY compared to the other dogs I’ve worked with that he feels like a herding miracle to me. To actually be able to direct him and he’s actually listening! And he has such a nice feel for his sheep and we don’t argue and fight the whole time … it’s MAGICAL. Even with Haku, who is an incredibly good boy, it was still an argument. Very much enjoying working with Asher on sheep!

Nice outrun, pretty good lift, nice drive, got all the ‘panels’ (cones), did everything I asked and even had a perfect pen (which, to be fair, probably had more to do with the sheep than anything Asher or I did). I was a little less spastic than the first trial, I tried my best not to fling him all over the place. It was funny to watch the video after though, it didn’t FEEL like he was going that fast, but, uh, yeah, need to work on slowing things down a bit. I think you get 6-7 minutes, we did it in like 90 seconds.

It just feels so nice to actually feel confident in herding, though I know it’s just baby herding – but I’m super proud of my big red guy. There is a big learning curve in herding, and I finally feel like I can at least do the basics somewhat reliably. And that gives me hope that we’ll hopefully be able to do more eventually. Asher and I have many years to try to figure it all out, and I think he’s going to be a great teammate to do that with. He is going to be such a fun dog to learn with, so glad I ended up with him.

Current herding goal is to attempt the end of January Fido’s trial … in Nursery! I feel like Ranch is very doable for us, and while we certainly could get better at that, I’d like to focus on the bigger distances. I was super thrilled that working Asher in a new place on new sheep didn’t feel any different than at home, that makes things so much easier – and he was listening, because he’s such a good boy, he tries so hard. So it’s all about getting Asher on whistles so we can work the bigger distances. We have done the bigger distances, but at those distances shouting is hard – and I’m not a shouter.

We went up to Maddy’s and tried with the whistles again … it’s going to take some work. I’ll have to say, this is something Navarre is better at, I think! Asher is actually the worst at the lie down whistle, which is mostly what we’ve worked on – go figure. He can do the walk up, no problem, and he’s getting better at this flanks (and me too, with my whistles!), but the lie down, I think we may have finally started to get some consistent response with that one. And I’m not saying my whistles are good, or consistent, because they are most definitely not. But we will continue to work on it. While our big project during my winter break is moving to the property, hopefully we’ll have time to play with sheep too. Once we move we’ll be about an hour from Maddy’s, which could be worse. I’m really grateful for all the opportunities we’ve had to work sheep this year, herding is a tough activity to break into, that’s for sure. Hopefully we can keep at it, Asher certainly wants to!

Then there’s Navarre, who also had a great time up at Fidos – and didn’t listen at all. He has a new command, which is, “Navarre, seriously?” this seems to actually get him to lie down. His NFC Ranch run was just a total disaster. We quickly gave up attempting to actually do what should have been a very simple course (which, you’ll remember, Asher did in about 90 seconds). I was very tempted not to run him in Pro Novice, but I figured we already paid. Navarre did better in ProNovice, and actually got a score, but they were being generous. We just don’t work well together, and it’s a shame, as he probably could do well with someone else. He does know how to do a lot, but we can never do it reliably, unfortunately.

So I don’t know what to do with Navarre and herding. He’s still going to get to play, because he does love it – but Navarre and actual competitions … well, that’s another story. So nothing really new there, he’ll still get to play sometimes, but no big goals with Navarre (not that we ever had any!). Navarre has taught me a lot in herding, though, admittedly, it’s mostly what not to do and what makes herding hard.

Then there still could be a physical component going on with Navarre, I think it’s time to go ahead and neuter him. Maddy had talked about his case to another practitioner and his small balls could be causing some of the issues with his bladder and back. It’s time for the snip, I think, and we’ll see if it helps at all with his many weird things he’s had going on this year. We have tried a lot of things, but still has his mohawk and still has some long pees (but not as long as they were in the Spring). He doesn’t seem as spry to me either, though I haven’t seem him at all reluctant when he wants to to move out, but I don’t feel like he does it as often. He’s only 5, so it’s not like he’s getting old or anything. Big big sweet goober, I want him to be feeling 100%.

As for agility, Asher got to do an agliity roadtrip, and did some agility in a new location on new equipment! I was thrilled with how he did, needed a few repetitions on all the contact equipment to get his performance correct, but no hesitation or worry at all. We played around with some international drills as well and he was very confident (if not very successful!). So I’m feeling good about him being able to trial … someday. It’s a crazy world out there, we’ll see when we get back to doing things again. I’m thankful that it’s pretty easy to stay safe herding and doing agility though, dogs need a mental outlet. When we were out at the coast while the house sold and they did nothing but run on beach they were going nuts without that mental work.

We have really struggled to keep up with our Justine homework, and with the whole shutdown again and dealing with moving all my plans kind of fell by the wayside. We did manage to cram in some work this week. We definitely learn a lot with every exercise, and there is a LOT of stopping and working through issues. Step by step, it’s ever so slowly starting to feel easier though. Keeping the bars low, we’ve worked up to jumping 14 inches, but I’m in no rush for big dorky boy to contort himself with lots of backsides and threadles with a lot of height. We’ll work on the understanding and then work on getting the jumping effort solidified. As always, he’s trying really hard and is a lot of fun.

I bit the bullet and entered a couple trials with Asher the beginning of January, just jumpers and T2B one day each trial. This should give me a chance just to see what he thinks of it all. I have been weirded out by the Asher that shows up in agility when the other dogs aren’t around, Asher is entirely too thoughtful without them there. A funny time to enter a trial too, with the virus worse than ever – but I’ve heard nothing but good things about Lori’s trials, they are doing everything in a very controlled and safe way, we will be there just a couple hours, and mostly just out in the car waiting for our runs watching the gating app to let us know when to come in. Only a few people in the building at a time, masks and temperature taking and easy to stay spread out. I finally decided that since trials are going to be like this for quite some time, we might as well give it a try while the trials are still very small and super cautious. I have yet to practice running in a mask, so that’s on the list. I wear one all day while I’m teaching, but running around is different. We will have a chance to practice in some new locations between now and then, which should hopefully boost our confidence … we shall see.

Fauna is growing up so quickly, she’s become quite the load to carry around these days – and suddenly she’s 90% legs. How quickly puppies grow up! Though I’ve lost all perspective, I have no idea if she’s large or small for her age. I’ve certainly done the least with her than I have with any puppy I’ve had here, but she’s doing well regardless. We’ve been progressing with stays and she can now hold her stay while I release the other dogs to their dinner, stay while I leave the room, stay while I throw toys and treats – doing well. We also have finally achieved holding an object and retrieving to my hand. It took a LONG time for her to get past stage one of that, it probably took 5 sessions before we finally got her to think about opening her mouth – not a naturally mouthy dog, that’s for sure! But once we finally got past that she’s been progressing rapidly. She enjoys it, and can retrieve a variety of objects and textures to hand now .. though not with her toys, that girl has opinions! We’ve introduced other things too, rear feet targeting, backing up, leg weaving, pedestal work, left/right, down out of motion, sends to objects, hold position, sends around the bucket, multiwraps, wobbleboards, position changes, nail trims – and her table is adorable.

It’s always really fun to work with a new personality, they are all so different. We started off pretty slow with training as she had such opinions about everything there was a lot of, “WHY?” and sassing back. But once we finally got over all that she’s really enjoying the problem solving now, though she has a very low frustration threshold. At the moment, I would put her about middle of the road. She’s not a super intense dog, but not difficult motivate. She’s not fearless, but neither is she super worried about things. She’s pretty focused in work, but easily distracted. She’s sweet, but not overly cuddly as she’s pretty busy – she’s outgoing, but can be very submissive when greeting (submissive peeing – wheee!). She’s not soft, but at least does listen to people and dogs when they’re serious. Maybe that will change, we’ll see. She may flip you the bird, but she doesn’t pout.

She is QUITE the little bitch to other dogs, and to adult dogs – and they just take it! I don’t get it. Even Navarre will play with her now, and she’ll do the same crazy shit she does with Asher and Navarre also just looks bemused at this tiny dog savaging his neck and jumping on his head. I really wonder what she’s going to be like as an adult, that’s for sure. She did actually play very well with Gromit this week, who is the same age, she had been very stiff with him before. She started out bitchy and not wanting anything to do with him, but was soon getting happily pummeled into the dirt by him, so that was good to see. She loves all people, but she’s touchy with dogs. She’s pretty independent, but she’ll come right to you if she’s worried at all. Mostly things don’t worry her, but she’s shown some noise sensitivity (but not motion, she’s doing great with the wobbleboard after some initial suspicion).

They finally opened the road to our old hiking area! Yes, a lot of it is burnt, but some of it isn’t and it’s actually quite fascinating to hike through a forest you know really well that has been burnt. It’s like someone came and vacuumed up all the underbrush and ferns. I felt it was pretty safe, we’ve had our share of rain and wind since the fires so I felt like things that were going to fall have already done so. The trail was still mostly there, and already growing back. If there is one thing Oregon is good at, it’s growing things – so that will be fascinating to watch that process. We just went on the baby hike, so there are more areas I haven’t seen yet. We will definitely be back!

As for the baby, she did great, Fauna’s started trying to keep up with the big dogs, which doesn’t quite work with her little legs – so it makes her mad and she lets everyone know they should slow down. So many opinions with that puppy. But she did quite well running and jumping all the forest debris, very easy for her. Good to be back.

So, yeah, everything continues to go really smoothly with the house buying process, and no particular need to start packing yet. In fact I had to bring things BACK into the house. It was an interesting experiment going from 5 cat towers to none, the cats didn’t know what to do, and they started scratching up all sorts of weird things. Buy your cats towers, they need them! I did order some new ones for the house, and brought in the remaining one we had in the garage. I think I need to bring back in the rugs too, poor dogs. We don’t move for another month, so it’s a long time to live in limbo. Would have liked to decorate for Christmas too, but it seems silly to take all that out when I should be packing things.

I have really enjoyed living here, I will miss it. Well, mostly. Let it be said, I don’t find trains at all novel or charming, I’m going to be SO glad to be away from that. Just weird to be saying goodbye to things already, those four years went by fast. There were many things I love about Hubbard, but I don’t like having neighbors. So super excited to have my own space, the dogs are going to be so happy. So many things to get going on though, busy busy busy. Will be nice to be finished with classes so I can focus on that and get the dogs more action – hard this time of year.

We’re Moving!

Been a whirlwind around here, a longshot chance on a property actually came through! And somehow in this market we managed to get them down 30k so I could afford it, which just seems crazy considering how most of the places I’ve looked at sell instantly for cash way over asking. I still find it all a little suspicious, but somehow it all seems to be working out. I really thought we’d find something horrible with the inspection, but, no, it’s just a nice little house!

I’m kind of believing all the other roadblocks may have been so I could get this property, which is by far the nicest property I have looked at. Beautiful area, which, admittedly, is not exactly super convenient, but it certainly could be worse. 15 acres and surrounded by orchards, so no close neighbors at all. I’ll be able to build the arena and not worry about the whole annoying the neighbors situation. And, of course, no close neighbors is just nice in general – but without feeling like I’m in the middle of nowhere and people are going to come kill me.

House is a pretty well maintained 70s ranch with an addition built on, which is basically just one big room off the back of the house, which is perfect for me. With me and my seven roommates we all like to hang out together, and we need a big great room to spread out in. Covered porch, which I have learned to love in this house so much. So many lovely mature trees, which make me so happy, so many of the properties I have looked at had no trees at all – and that just didn’t feel right at all.

Then the majority of the property is field, currently being leased as a grass seed/hay field. The goal is to eventually have sheep and be able to work the dogs, which is a perfect amount of area to do so. The whole place will have to be fenced, which will be an expensive undertaking, so it’s fine with me that someone else can take care of the fields until I’m ready to take that on. Do need to fence the yard for the dogs, including a dog run which I have learned to love since I have blocked the dogs off from the yard here.

Asher is going to have SO MUCH ROOM TO RUN. I’m so excited for all of us, and I feel so good about this property, there is nothing that worries me. It’s a dated house, with a total 70s kitchen, but that works just fine for me. It will be nice to be in a house where I’m not worried about keeping things NICE, as that’s been a big project in my current house (especially for the last YEAR when I was planning on moving!).

The project that I will need to do is convert this weird tiny ‘tv room’ into a laundry room, they have the washer/dryer crammed into this closet – I don’t even know how you open and close the appliances! And if I redo the tiny little 70s bathroom in that corner too it will be a good mudroom to come into from the garage and wash the dogs off before sticking them in the dogroom (yes, they’ll have their own room with a door dog to a run). Big happy windows in the front room for the cats to hang out in, and they’ll have their own room again, of course. So, yeah, VERY easy to visualize myself in the new place, it seems just right for us. And, yes, bigger than this house, because apparently one person needs a LOT of room. I don’t have enough furniture for the new house!

The commute to teach in Sherwood will be the same as it was in Hubbard, so that makes my life much easier. I don’t know how long it will take to build an arena in this market, or how much with the price of construction materials so high. Then I hope a lot of my students can come down to the new place, but that might be too far for many, unfortunately. I can’t imagine leaving my students, some of which I’ve had for so many years, but I don’t have to cross that bridge until I get to it. I will really miss Dwight and Paula, who have been so wonderful and welcoming to having me there for, gosh, I don’t even know how long at this point.

I really feel so relieved to take control of my future though, I didn’t want to end up with no place to teach, or renting with someone that was not as kind and welcoming as the Cashes. Having this security once the new place is up and running means I am secure into the indefinite future. The new place just feels like home already, in a way this house never has. This house was a great place to land, and it’s a really nice house, but I’m ready to move on.

I moved here 4 years ago almost to the day, and, in another kind of funny coincidence, I’m almost going back to where it all began, when I made another big jump moving from Colorado to Oregon 25 years ago when I was 18. I’ll be just outside of McMinnville again, so back to where I started and what made me fall in love with Oregon in the first place.

The plan is to stay at the new place for the next 20 years playing with dogs. My dogs, other people’s dogs, I wonder if I’ll ever get tired of them. They make me happy, and teaching never gets old to me. That’s the plan, anyway, so I hope that I chose wisely! It does feel right though, and it’s nice to have that weight off my shoulders of where I was going to end up. It’s a big decision, it’s kind of nice to have it mostly taken out of my hands, I ended up where I could actually get a property! Thankfully, I really like the area and while it’s not super close to anything, It’s not ridiculously far away either.

In the meantime, after the whole unexpectedly actually finding a property and actually getting an offer accepted (I’m still in shock about that!), that meant I had to get my place on the market in 5 days. Which I had been theoretically planning for since last year, but I’ll admit I hadn’t really thought I’d find anything lately so things were not as tidy as they could have been! Still, we got everything looking really nice and like no one has ever lived here. Then with yet another statewide shut down from the virus, I took the dogs AND the cats down to stay with my parents for a week while the house was being shown. Ha! Well, that was certainly an adventure.

The cats actually did better than I thought they would. It’s not like they get out much, and then there was the 2.5 hour drive down there. When we moved from Scholls four years ago they yodeled the entire trip, but they actually were more relaxed this time. I did have all three cats in one large crate in the passenger seat (50lbs of cat in one crate!), so they could see out, see me and had each other. There was much stress panting though, I felt bad for them. And then I pretty much dropped them off and left to go back to take care of getting the house ready, so they really had culture shock.

Fizban, of course, had no issues whatsover. He just walked in like he owned the place and thought it was a great vacation. The other cats took a few days before they came out from under the bed. They were more confident when I returned with all the dogs though. Eventually all the cats came out and by the end of the 10 days had pretty much decided they lived there. Marvin did jump my parent’s cat one day (he’s such a tiny asshole), but mostly Minty just told them to push off and they respected that. I think my cats were open to being friends, but while Minty got more comfortable with them being there, she said she’s very happy being an only cat. My parent’s dog said the same thing – definitely NOT a fan of the puppy most of all, poor guy.

So, yeah, that was an adventure. And having the puppy, my three dogs and three cats in one room – good lord. Let it be said, the dogs were way better behaved than the cats, and the puppy was better behaved than Asher. He is just … a lot. The dogs had a great time, we had lovely weather so there was much running on the beach. And Fauna just made herself at home, was her normal charming self with my parents, and was remarkably easy for a pretty untrained 3 month old puppy. No accidents, slept on the bed every night – and finally learned that we don’t go up to say hi to everyone on the beach. Boy is that an annoying trait, and not one I’ve had in any of my border collies!

That Fauna is SOCIAL. As it was Thanksgiving there were a lot of people at the beach, and lots of high tides, so she got to practice staying with us and not running off to every person she saw (though she wanted to!). She started off pretty wary of the ocean, she wouldn’t go into the water at all. Then she started barking at the waves, and then she started feeling more confident running in water. Finally she kept falling into little tide pools chasing other dogs, and she got quite good at swimming! She didn’t seem to mind though. Fun to see her go from uncertain to total beach lover. Beaches really are made for dogs.

Anyway, we all survived one crazy Thanksgiving, my house sold right away and everything continues to go smoothly with the move. We close in January, so that gives me plenty of time to pack and arrange things – and I’ll be off from teaching in January, so that’s nice too.

So, yeah, 2021 is starting off with some BIG changes! I let the dogs run a little on the new property when I was there for the inspection, and, OMG, Asher NEEDS this! And it was quite clear that 5 acres would have been woefully inadequate for his needs, he was EVERYWHERE. I think the other dogs were content with the suburban lifestyle, but Asher is leading us to new adventures.

I do have a name for the new place, which will be, “Bright Farm”. I wish Bright could have seen it, she would have loved it – that was another dog that loved to run. Hopefully a bright future at Bright Farm, it’s been a heck of a year, that’s for sure, but I think this is the right decision and look forward to seeing what’s in store.