I am a fan of my life. I realized this today, as I stood in my backyard – thinking about my husband – and smiling, I am such a huge fan of his.
Everything that is hard about my life is actually the challenge of the good. The realized dreams encouraging next round dreams. The next round dreams offering the last round’s fears. The Dalai Lama wrote something in this years planner about using fear to remember a part of your story and then offer that story up to the present. I didn’t totally get it, but I have been working at it a little mentally.
Like, for starters – simply asking myself what it is that I am afraid of…
Recent answers are things like: losing control, getting ahead of myself, being too much for people and seeming dishonest.
To a certain extent, I am afraid of failure but find that simply goes away by realizing my inner success. Little wins like a perfect chicken ceasar salad and well trained dogs help me with larger concepts like “what if I don’t win a Grammy for this” or “what if I am not doing an Oscar acceptance when I’m 80”. The fun thing about it is, those questions’ opposites are visions for what I will wear and how I will thank my most loved and cherished people in my life, how I will share my belief in God and in wisdom and in what I feel is the path to true loving humanity, a truly kind world. My cultural references make me a part of culture, and this – this is humbling, exciting – and makes my fingers type fast.
But I am just sitting here. Having my smoothie and a break outside with the dog toddlers. Which, if you are tracking with that whole story, at 8 months old and four dog park visits in, I see dominance emerging. And I see themes. I see patience as a virtue.
Patience. And the success of a simple life surpasses the success of the world.
Patience. And the love of a puppy dog fills the void in the bank.
Patience. And the attention of your children, the favor of your husband ceases all worries.
Patience. And movie nights, bonfires and s’mores become every day’s luxury vacation. (It helps to have a bottle of a favorite hotel lotion, if I may…)
I am a fan of my life. I am a fan of my family. Aiming success within my heart beat’s reach; more practical to my immediate corner of the world than with American ambition.
And…. on that note, I am going to finish my smoothie, arrange my plants… write a yoga class… and get back to work on my book.
BTW. Special Editions are going to be out this Thanksgiving. Guys. Comment if you want one. LOVE. and Thank you.
The one dog (it is the blonde one, this time I am sure) gives off a “I thought I was really important to you” quip from the laundry room, where they have been put up for a morning chill. The laundry is running and it is officially 9:15 (an “anchor time” as I refer to it in my puppy training).
Blonde Dog quipping from the laundry room and now seemingly trying to rouse his sweet obedient sister into wrestling (I hear her obliging), has clearly forgotten how important he has been to me all morning: the long walk through old webster where I let them leisurely sniff all the way home, the gobs of peanut butter on the tip of his nose, the relaxed pets in the sun on his blanket.
It’s time for me to get a little bit serious about my creative day as all the morning chores are done and my last cup of coffee begs for my attention, next to the mouse.
I take a lot of pride in the puppy training I undertook when adopting these two littermates. The internet was such a scary place for me in those early weeks of learning about littermate syndrome, what you want from two dogs who have been raised from scratch together (without any adult dog to model for them, to boot). Thank you to local Watering Bowl and to my friends who tirelessly told me “if anybody can do it, it is you”; I have grown to live out what I thought was true originally:
That to trust yourself initially is to trust yourself all the same at the crux.
“To Trust Yourself Initially, is to Trust Yourself all the same at the Crux.”
In a way, it reminds me a lot of rock climbing, jumping into a pool or riding a rollercoaster: once you have stepped into the experience, you have to come out. Rock Climbing is a little bit different because you are at your own mercy. Which makes it less like the inevitable truth of going underwater when jumping into a pool or going upside down or whatever riding the whole of the rollercoaster means. Surely you knew what you were getting onto or into.
With training the dogs, I am at my own mercy. The things I think are important are what is important. The things I think are ok, are ok. And the things that I am not okay with (either on behalf of myself or others…) are what is not okay.
Matter of fact, the hardest part about training two puppies is not training them – but disseminating the commands, expectations and allowed behavior to the 5 kids. Letting them interpret and explore their own independent voice with the dogs is as important as bridging what the dogs have learned and like. But, anyway, maybe more on that later.
The kids are all off with grandparents for the final weeks of July. I have two weeks (starting…. now) to get some organization in the creative zone and layout some anchors to my digital life. I had quite a bit of traffic to the ole blog site yesterday but not a clear path how that worked, how you got there. But for those newly following or that liked either of my last two posts; thank you. I am writing today partly because of it.
Aaaaaaand partly because apparently discipline and consistency are keys to success. (And, coincidentally, to puppy training)
On that note, the scene here draws to an end and I need to shut the dog up who played with his sister, wore out and just wants to know that I am still in the house. This is my current training dilemna.
And just like that – the Google in the kitchen goes off and gives me an excuse to go in there, let them see me and shut up per expectation. :)
So the puppies are just shy of 6 months old which means time with them is like the 10 year old coming of age: full of embracing curiosities, sealing ambition and confidence and – of course – having a ton of fun.
I see a dog’s mentality as a human one in the following regard: capable of loyalty and appreciating of nature, enjoys adventurous experiences and settling into long, slow, steady nights at home during the winter, rainy season and anything else requiring candles and blankets.
Comfort and companionship are common themes.
But before we can get to that 20 adult vibe of relaxed nights on the patio, under the stars after a good meal and a long walk and with live music to boot; you have to get through infanthood. You have to learn how to ride your bike and swim, maybe even shoot a bow and arrow or build a teepee before you can become a friendly, worldly adult. Insert my desire to raise the dogs I wanted from scratch.
With two puppies simultaneously, the “obedience together” thing is a focus I pay attention to the most. Even before I started doing my research on littermates or dual puppies, I wanted that level of respect for and in my household. Thus the entire foundation of the training I have provided these dogs (and hope for from my children) is based on one simple and consistent expectation: manners.
Show me manners, Patio Manners, Can I see Good Manners in the Kitchen all are interchangeable for one of three pleasing responses: a nice non eager seat, a sphinx like yoga pose or relaxed hips out to the side.
More on “Relax” and “Sphinx” some other time….
For those of you out there with a puppy, here’s a Puppy Hack with rice that you can use in your obedience training:
First, the recipe:
Boil rice in 3 parts water. (1 cup of rice to 3 cups of water) If you have two dogs, make it 2 cups rice to 6 cups of water…
Finish rice al dente – it should still be sitting in a shitload of water
Drain it overnight
In silicone baking sheet or cupcake trays (anything that molds in a small handful shape), press down mounds of the drained rice
Freeze for about 3 hours (a little frost bite is fine) then store in a gallon freezer bag for up to a month
I started doing this to keep them on hand so that a quick microwave of a frozen rice (2 palmfuls usually zaps to looseness in about 1 min 30 seconds) is a no mess solution to dogs for dogs whose dietary choices are causing a different kind of mess. <Making a mental list of foods I know they can’t have. i.e: high fat pig ears? no thank you>
When the month is nearing to an end and it’s time to use them up: use them for training or reinforcing “wait” in our obedience training. For this, put one palmful of frozen rice in a bowl and bring it to them, expecting a non eager “sit”.
Side note: I did not train wait to my baby puppies (3 – 4 month old) because I didn’t mind not having a release command if they were at least sitting for as long as it took me to come in from our morning potty run, me to clean up any overnight messes, switch a laundry load or otherwise do whatever I needed to first: grab coffee, grab supplements / meds for them, hang up leashes.
Now that we are officially nearing 6 months, it seems it’s time for them to wait till I release them. Especially because I use “wait” naturally when I just need a 15 second head start before they follow me to wherever I am going in the house. Or at door thresholds, I need “a minute”.
During obedience training at The Watering Bowl in The Grove, I learned that using their bowls is actually an easy, easy path to train; especially since, as malleable puppies, they are used to waiting non eagerly in a seat for their food.
Here is my basic command order:
“Wait” and their body language is completely still and seated.
Lower bowls and count in your mind, notice how long / how low the bowl goes and it takes for them to impulsively lean forward. (Normal – we all do this when it is time to eat!)
“Buzzkill” and I come back up with their bowls. No reward given but “Buzzkill” tells them the whole no reward thing was because of them and we try again. Patience is required.
“Wait please, I love your manners” and they sit – learned a little bit – and wait.
Using the timing I noticed the first time, I then give a release word. For now, “Okay” is our joint one and we are working on individuals for the sake of timing and autonomy. “Bambi Girl” and “God of Thunder” are the current working release commands for Caramel Colored Rey and Blonde Thor.
We get compliments on our pretty dogs and the fact that everybody is learning and growing and love and patience are getting reinforced, tells me adding two 9 week old puppies 3 months ago to our 3 cat, 5 kid situation was actually really well informed on an intuitive level.
And just like that, the scene here draws to a close. It’s time to take the dogs through the front garden (the one I retired to start and build) and lay them up in their pen (the laundry room) while I get to work on prose and poetry.
Life as a creative is a life well spent, and balance is required in everything.
Share if you like. Like if you do and please, keep reading, seeing you out there means a lot.