Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Shelties know how to paw-tee!!

Paw-TEE!

Katie here. I’ve had to bug and bug and bug mama to let me tell you about the Sheltie get together held over at one of my parks. Mama says there are more important things to write about and it’s not my blog, but as we all know there is nothing more important than me, and of course this is my blog!

Mama is getting old and a bit senile if you ask me.

Anyway. Last Sunday was the 2nd annual Sheltie Meet and Greet. Maybe you were even there! If I didn’t get to meet you I’m sorry. I did stay a little stand offish; being a princess and all I let people stop by to meet me! I didn’t do too much mixing and mingling because it was very hot and mama knows I can get a bit cranky when I’m hot. And I don’t allow any butt sniffing either. No way. A princess does not tolerate that at all and I tend to snap at any doggie that tries. So mama didn’t let most dogs get too close.

Lots of sniffing going on. I did not partake.

Mama said the party was all about the people getting to see all the gorgeous dogs and less about us dogs getting to meet and play. I think she’s delusional.

A special sheltie.

My goodness there were a lot of beautiful dogs! Ninety shelties said they’d be there and bring their people. We didn’t count, but there sure were a lot!

There was plenty of ear skritching…

That’s the spot!

…and tummy tickling.

Don’t stop!

I got to visit for a few minutes with Cookie and Zohan and their folks. We met them at last year’s sheltie party. They were just as calm and collected as I remembered, hanging out with their parents in the shade.

Going with the flow, hanging out with mom and dad.

And I met a new friend named Blue and his mom. He was calm too and we liked hanging out together.

Hey! Got anything to eat?

But you know what I did? (Seems like I always do something at these things that embarrasses mama.) Blue’s mom got him a piece of doggie cake, and when she put his plate on the ground he was sort of sniffing it and nibbled off a little piece, just testing you know? And I swooped in and grabbed the whole piece and gulped it down!

I’m sorry Blue. I shouldn’t have eaten your cake.

All I left him were a few crumb! Mama was mortified. I was lucky Blue didn’t bite my nose off, but all he did was calmly lick up the crumbs. He even stayed my friend. Mama says I should apologize right now, so I will. But geeze mama, why didn’t you just go and get him another piece! No excuses that it didn’t occur to you, mama. As I said, you’re starting to get senile.

Blue was a gentleman, and even after I stole his cake we were able to settle down together and watch all the other shelties. It’s a comfortable friendship.

Hanging out together.

I had a good time, other than when we all marched up to a hill to get a group picture. It was so hot I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to sit in the sun. I didn’t want to be next to a whole lot of other shelties and people I didn’t know.

See me sitting by myself over there toward the left? Mama was taking a picture!!

Mama didn’t make me sit there very long. We got up and walked back down the hill, I went to sit under a picnic table in the shade and mama took more pictures. I’m a good girl and sat patiently under that table while she tried to get the whole group in one shot.

Only part of the group.

It was impossible. There were just way too many people and beautiful dogs. Shelties of every size and color…

Big and little, sable and blue and tri and more.

…every face was beautiful…

Such a sweet face.

…every dog was adorable…

Want to play?

…and lots of fun was had by all.

Can’t stop grinning!

I didn’t play at all, and only interacted with a couple dogs, but I enjoyed watching the rest of them greet each other….

Emily Ann, the rock star, meets Harvey one of the greeters.

….and play with each other…

Attack!!!!

…still, I had a good time. I want to thank the organizers and hosts, Linda and Ty, and anybody else that had a hand (or paw) in putting this together. I know it was a lot of work and I appreciate you giving me a chance to take my mama to my park and hang out with so many other nice dogs and people!

Look at all these shelties mama!

Mama is always coming up with something new to do and I appreciate her effort. But I think our next adventure should include air conditioning. Can you work on that mama?

I’ll go take a nap now in preparation.

Love ya mama!


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Music to smile about

We made a big sound. It was wonderful.

So. You’ve all probably been wondering how the concert went. Last week I wrote about practicing for it, my worry about a couple of the pieces. Maybe you worried that because I hadn’t written it hadn’t been successful. But that would not be true. The truth is this has been an amazingly busy week for me, something major going on every single day, and I just haven’t had time to tell you all about it.

Katie, of course, got to tell you about our trip up to Midland for her Rally trial on Friday. She’s not particularly patient and wouldn’t wait in line for her turn at the blog. What can I say. She’s a princess.

But now that it’s taken me days to write about Wednesday’s concert I can include the other concert we did on Saturday too. Each was a totally different experience, but both were fun.

I was nervous about Wednesday’s concert, not sure about the piece Pastime, a Salute to Baseball by Jack Stamp. I was worried about a few measures in other pieces too. But I’d practiced, so I figured I was as prepared as I could be. And of course nothing sounds exactly the same when you’re playing on an unfamiliar stage. Turns out I shouldn’t have worried, the music was played as well as we’ve ever played it. And Pastime went a lot better than I expected it to go; we even all ended at the same time, a good goal to have in any complicated piece of music.

I don’t know why I don’t learn this lesson. We can have a tough rehearsal and still pull off a good performance. Most of the time anyway. I think the audience enjoyed the concert and we had fun playing it. I went home humming the music while being glad another event was checked off my to do list.

Saturday morning a subset of the band played in a local farmer’s market. We played a bunch of patriotic music, some showtunes, and a few pieces from our Wednesday night concert. It was a blast. No matter that a heat wave struck that day and we were playing in full sun while seated in a parking lot. No matter that we played for almost three hours. We played fun stuff and pretty stuff. Stuff that made shoppers stop and smile and ask about who we were. Maybe we recruited a few people for next season, I hope so!

That’s me over on the far left in the big hat.

Thursday, while I was having a cracked tooth repaired, my dentist mentioned his wife used to play flute and she wanted to get back at it. Through gauze and novocaine I encouraged him to tell her about a community band I used to play with near his home, one that didn’t require auditions and was welcoming to new members. I hope she checks them out. I can’t say it enough. If you used to play and you miss it, quit making excuses. Dust off the instrument and go find a group. You won’t regret it.

On Saturday we got copies of the concert CD from Wednesday’s performance. I played it on the way home from the farmer’s market and guess what. I didn’t hate the baseball piece.

Actually it kind of made me smile.

A one and a two…


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A title earns a retirement!

Katie here.

Today was a big day; I earned my Rally Excellent title! For you guys that don’t compete with your dog and maybe don’t know what Rally is, let me tell you, it’s all about the mama. There’s this big ring, see, and in the ring are all these numbered stations with signs about what mama is supposed to do at each place. I’m just supposed to follow along and do what I’m told. I’m very good at that. Mostly.

This is at my school! It shows what a sign looks like. Mama is supposed to follow the directions.

You have to have three qualifying runs to get your title, and I’ve had two of the three since December of last year. I don’t know why mama waited all this time to get me entered for my third leg. Oh wait. Mama reminds me that she took me on an awesome vacation down to Florida and Alabama and Tennessee and North Carolina last winter. Right. So maybe she has an excuse for procrastinating.

Anyway, this morning when I got mama up at 4 a.m. she didn’t seem to be as ticked off as usual. Just as tired, but not as irritated. Then about 6:30 she started putting stuff in the car. I asked if I could go and she laughed and said “Of course baby! It’s all about YOU!” So we drove and drove and drove for a thousand million hours. Oh. Mama says I’m always exaggerating. It was only ninety minutes. We got to the venue with an hour to spare which is how I like it. That way I get to sniff around and get comfortable. I work better that way.

But it was still hard for me. It was in a big barn at a fairground. And there were noisy trucks outside that I didn’t like. I wanted to wander over to the people at the table too…I figured they’d have good stuff there, but mama called me back and I trotted right over to her. Then I figured out we were supposed to be working, so I paid attention to my mama.

Which was my mistake. Because apparently mama can’t actually read the signs. So we did a couple of things wrong, and I got marked off. I don’t think that’s fair, do you? Mama messes up and I get marked down? Whatever. The good news is we still got enough points to qualify for a leg, and since it was my third leg I got my Rally Excellent title! And a purple ribbon!

This is my title ribbon!

Isn’t it beautiful? The ribbon…the ribbon is beautiful. I know I’m beautiful, but you’re supposed to be focused on the ribbon.

I was pretty excited when I figured out I got my title!

Mama had signed us up for two runs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. But since we got the title on our first try we stuck around only long enough to watch our friend Peep do a run, and then we left. Mama said she was going to take me to a park. She knew I’d rather be walking in a park than sitting in my crate until the middle of the afternoon. We drove and drove and mama found a park, but when we got to the gate the sign said “NO PETS!” Really? What kind of a park doesn’t allow pets?

Mama was ticked because we’d been following signs for the park for a long time, driving over dirt roads way out into the country. But she got a photo of a cool barn, so she says it was worth it.

A double barn!

Then she found a parking lot on the rails to trails path so we got out and walked a little bit. There wasn’t very much shade though so we didn’t stay long.

This is a boring path mama!

She sneezed and I barked and barked at her. I don’t like it when people sneeze, she should know better.

No sneezing allowed mama!

Anyway, I had a pretty good day. Some of it was boring, and we didn’t get to explore anywhere very exciting. I think mama would rather take me camping than to another trial. She says this was my last title so I don’t have to go in a ring anymore unless that’s what I want to do.

Gee, I don’t know mama. Retirement sounds nice, but I did sort of really love that nosework class last year…

I’m FINISHED with Rally!


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Memorial Day – don’t forget the dogs who served

The War Dog Memorial

Katie here.

You probably expect me to spend this post complaining about how mama abandoned me to go hang out with a cat! And I would, but I have more important things to talk about.

Happy Memorial Day!

Like dogs.

Especially dogs that served our country, some even our local communities, and are buried and honored at a very special War Dogs Memorial Cemetery.

Since today is Memorial Day my Aunt Karen, her dog Deuce, and mama and I went out to visit it this morning. (Aunt Karen provided my patriotic attire.) It was pretty amazing.

More than 400 dogs!

I felt very honored and almost overwhelmed to be visiting these amazing dogs and paying my respects. Deuce says he felt the same way. These were very special dogs, loved beyond measure, who worked hard at their jobs and who are honored here in this beautiful place not too far from where I live.

Deuce paying his respects.

We spent a long time walking around, reading stones and thinking about these heroes.

Only 2 years old when he died in 1931.

If you are ever near South Lyon Michigan you should stop by. I guarantee you’ll have a better appreciation for all the work these dogs did while they were alive.

Eleven tours of duty!

And then, if you’re lucky enough to have a Prince or Princess at home, give them an extra dog biscuit today. On me.

Deuce stops to visit Cody, a therapy dog just like him.

Talk to you all later…it’s a holiday and that calls for a nap!

We thank them all for their service.


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A walk in the woods…and sunset too

Yesterday, after the fog lifted I wandered in the Leelanau State Park hiking trails that wind through cedar and beech trees, then up to the dunes that separate the woods from the shore of Lake Michigan.

Come with me for a walk in the woods!

It’s a magical place, and I was lucky – there were very few bugs! I loved how the light sifted through the newly minted leaves.

Spring green.

And though there were few bugs, there were plenty of natives scurrying around in the leaves on the forest floor…

Anything good to eat down there?

…and scolding me from behind tree trunks.

Stay away lady!!

I enjoyed the cool trail through the damp deep woods…

What’s down there?

…but after a bit the trail left the dark woods and began to climb up and around sandy and more open dunes. The trees changed too, from deep dark forest to open and airy.

Let the sunshine in!

Eventually the trail spilled out onto perfectly beautiful dunes and provided a view of the lake. What a pretty picture!

Such a pretty place.

I probably should have climbed over those dunes to the lake. You never know what you’ll find. But it was getting late in the day, so I headed on through the woods. I met a new friend sleeping in a sunny spot on the trail. He wasn’t as excited to meet me as I was to notice him, and he silently moved away.

See you later lady!

And just before the parking lot I found a sweet little patch of forget-me-nots.

As if I could.

Later in the evening I waited in anticipation for sunset. I must have run down to the beach a dozen times, hoping that this was the one great shot. Turns out it was a pink and purple, more gentle kind of sunset. Still it was pretty. I’ve put together a short slide show for your enjoyment.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That way you don’t have to do all those stairs yourself.

Magical


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Being in the woods

Usually Katie-girl tells you about our latest camping adventure. But she says we didn’t do anything exciting so she’s willing to let me talk.

This time.

Spring has been fickle here in Michigan, Cold and rainy and then sunny and hot. When the weather people said we were going to have a couple of days in the 80s (26.6C) with nights in the 60s (15.5C) I thought we should head to the woods for this season’s inaugural camp.

This is a pretty good site mama!

I was lucky to score a site that, though small, had a spot to tuck the tent under some shade trees. It lacked grass, but that’s the price you often pay to have shade. And Katie, though she’s a princess, doesn’t mind hanging out on dirt.

I didn’t make a list of things to take. I just sort of grabbed things as I thought of them and piled them all up next to the front door in the days preceding our scheduled trip.

Katie watched intently.

On Wednesday, as I began to pack the car she stayed under my feet, “helping” me get everything stowed. Even with her help, however, I forgot the bug spray, the sunscreen and the broom, all important things on a camping expedition. I blame her.

Still, even without important essentials it was heaven to be under the trees, enjoying the breeze and reading, then going for a walk, helping ourselves to a bit of a snack. Then a nap and repeat.

Hey mama! These are pretty!

On a Wednesday afternoon I was privileged to be sitting under a blue sky watching the leaves dance in the wind and the light move across the landscape. Not at work, not at the grocery store, not doing laundry, not vacuuming.

Just being.

Katie is very good at just being, but me? Not so much. It’s an acquired skill, I think, the art of just enjoying where you are when you’re there without worrying about what happened yesterday or might happen later in the day.

Let’s go explore mama!

Our first night was perfect, not too cold, not too hot. I slept great, and even Katie lounged around until after 6 a.m. Thursday the sun bore down on us and the winds were strong. I watched the tree limbs above our tent flail about and pictured them crashing down. The temperatures rose, the wind roared.

Katie and I went for a drive in the air conditioned car, she sitting in the front seat with her nose in the air conditioning vent. We headed down to the lake where were we could watch the clouds skip across the blue sky and the waves rush to shore.

Hurry up mama! My fur is getting messed up!

We enjoyed walking on the trails too. The wind wasn’t too bad back in the woods.

Cool stump!

Later that day we went back to the lake to see the sunset, and even though there wasn’t much of a show we enjoyed being out there, though the temperatures were dropping fast.

Waiting for the sun to set.

Our second night in the tent was miserable. For me anyway. Temps dropped to 43 degrees (6.11C). I wore all my clothes, doubled up the blankets, pulled the sweatshirt hood up over my ears. Still it was too cold to sleep. Katie, on the other hand, thought it was perfect and snoozed the night away.

…zzzzzzzzzz…

Lucky girl.

By morning I was more than ready to go back to civilization, with pillow topped mattresses, heat, running water, toilets closer than a half mile away. But the drive home was disconcerting. People were driving to work, fast and furious. I could feel stress begin to build just watching them dart around me.

And then I remembered. I was driving home to a hot shower and breakfast. Not to work.

Lucky me.

Hey mama! Let me show you how to entertain yourself!


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I’m baaaaaaack!

Katie here! HEY! I’ve been gone a hundred million gazillion years people! And I’ve got stuff to say even though mama has been telling me to be quiet for four days! She must be delusional!

Me and my garden.

Anyway.

Mama took me to my park about a trillion weeks ago because she said she felt guilty. I didn’t know why she felt that way, I just noticed she was busy taking pictures of the clouds rolling in. They were making me a little nervous.

Maybe we better get home mama! Those clouds look dangerous!

Well, the very next day after our park walk mama took me on a ride and I figured it was to another park but I ended up at camp! She didn’t warn me or anything so to make her extra sad I pranced right in and tugged my way into the office and walked away with the nice lady there without looking back at her even once.

So there mama!

But then I realized maybe I shouldn’t have been so mean cause it was days and days and days until she came to spring me from the joint. I mean, it’s nice there, but nothing beats sleeping with my mama on her big soft bed!

Still, I needed to make her pay.

So every day since I got home I bug her until she takes me to a park. Every. Single. Day. Sunday she took me over to my park again.

It’s finally spring mama!

The dandelions were blooming! Mama was worried we’d missed our opportunity to take our annual photos with the pretty yellow flowers because the park people have mowed once already, but we got lucky and found some!

Mama says we got lots of rain here while she and dad were out of town. She was worried that she’d have to carry me through the puddles at the back of the park. Silly mama. I was so happy to be back at my park that I didn’t let a little puddle stop me!

I missed my park so much mama!

In fact mama had a hard time keeping up with me. I had to wait on her a whole bunch. She was so busy taking pictures. As usual. You’d think she’d have enough pictures of my park. But no, mama says it’s different every time we visit.

Come ON mama!

I guess she’s right. After all, I know that it smells different every time I visit, and mama lets me take all the time I want to read all the pee-mail that’s been left for me. So I guess I should be more patient with her and her stupid camera.

Still, it’s hard to hang around waiting on her when I just want to run run run!

Better get those treats ready mama!

We had a beautiful walk at my park. Just look at the crab trees! They were stunning, though not as stunning as me. Of course not.

Pink is one of my favorite colors.

I had so much fun that I was a very good girl when we got home and settled down for a nap. And then you know what mama did? She took me back to the park for another walk at the end of the day! Two walks in one day!!! And this time I got to show my friend Deuce and his mom all the pretty places.

Deuce and me hanging out at my park.

I even let him read my pee-mail, cause he’s a good guy and I’m nice like that.

Now that I’ve experienced the “two walks in one day” phenominon I’m demanding extra walks every day. Mama says I’m over the top and I need to settle down. I don’t think she understands that I’m the princess and she is just mama.

I’m not worried, I know I can wear her down.

Tomorrow I’m going to start at about 3 a.m. I find she’s most malleable at that time of the day. She’ll do just about anything to get me to stop bugging her. I think a walk in the park would be perfect.

What do you think?

Hey mama!


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Danger

As Katie the dog and I entered the park I noticed a pair of Canadian geese resting in the spring green grass. They noticed us too, and immediately stood up, sensing danger.

Mom and Dad watching over their five little ones.

The five little babies swam oblivious but mom and dad were on guard.

You can see other interpretations of danger here, here and here.

What’s dangerous in your world? Share!


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Storms brewing ahead


Today I took the dog for a walk at a local park. The clouds were heavy, dark, and hanging low over the fields and ponds. I felt melancholy and I wondered why.

And then I remembered.

The time is coming for me to attend another Sorrow to Strength Conference in Washington DC. The Truck Safety Coalition hosts the conference every two years; I’ve been to six of them since dad was killed by a sleepy semi driver in 2004.

The conference is a time for families to join others, all of whom have been damaged by preventable truck crashes, to share their stories, gain support, and learn about truck safety issues. Some families are struggling with permanent injuries, others are grieving the loss of loved ones. And some are trying to deal with both injury and loss.

It’s almost too much to fathom, all those people in one room.

But it’s a good thing too, because you won’t meet a better group of people to support a family in the throes of grief. These are people that know how it feels to get that call or to sit next to a hospital bed knowing that life will never be the same, but hoping for at least a semblance of normalcy sometime in the future.

It’s a difficult conference to attend, but it’s called Sorrow to Strength for a reason. We begin filled with sorrow, and leave, after several days, stronger for having been together. We’ll be talking to Congressional members, agency employees, and the media about truck safety issues. The current political environment in DC is not particularly conducive to regulation these days. But we aren’t giving up finding compromises that make our roads safer for everyone.

Everyone has trepidation as they head to DC for this conference. Attending dredges up all the old memories and emotions. Even after almost thirteen years I still get anxious thinking about the crash, anticipating the questions, planning for the meetings.

But then I think about dad. And so many others that I’ve come to know over the years. There will be new families attending this year, there always are. They are stark reminders that every year, every month, every day that goes by without solutions more people are being injured and killed. This is no time to let politics get in our way.

Wish us luck.