First Day Of The Rest Of My Life

Tomorrow my certification course starts at K9 Lifeline. I can’t believe it’s finally happening. For the past year, I have looked forward to this day. I found out about Heather Beck at K9 Lifeline and the certification program, and that I really could make this dream a reality.

You hear about it all the time with inspirational quotes and people who have turned their life around. Well, I’m now part of that 1% who have actually done it. I have tried so hard to go to as many workshops as I possibly could, read as many books as possible, go to seminars and purchase online webinars. I took classes on things that weren’t even relevant to training, but were to dogs (like my Canine Theriogenology course). I wanted to learn everything dog.

I’m now at a huge crossroad in my life, and I have made a choice. I am getting my certification, and I will be a legit dog trainer. All the hard work, all the hours, all the sacrifices I have made for this decision and the mistakes I have made along the way – it’s all paying off. And I’m doing it.

I am making history, so to speak, as I am turning my life around. I am overwhelmed with excitement, joy, nervousness, and the feeling of accomplishment.

I have made up my mind, my husband has been very supportive, and only a few times we have had a fight when we have had someone else’s dogs here.

The first time was a HUGE mistake of mine. I took a dog to ‘babysit’ (because I wasn’t officially boarding yet – I was doing it for free) for a few nights while a friend was out of town. That was Checkers. (WOW! Looking back at this previous post… I didn’t know much of anything. I won’t change it, so I can document my progress, but not a good decision to watch this kid!) He was too much for me (which I knew after the first hour of having him, as when I have boards here, they are on a pretty strict routine (boot camp, so to speak). He tried to go after Napoleon, he didn’t know his name, he was highly destructive, not kennel trained or potty trained, and couldn’t be left alone off the leash in the backyard because he scaled my 6 and a 1/2 foot fence. Yeah, bad idea. I didn’t even think to call for help, as it was my friend’s dog. He barked all night, and I didn’t have a bark collar. I didn’t even have a remote collar at that point.

Another disagreement was, of course, over Ryder. We got into it because we were at the end of the road with this dog. The family and I had made the choice, and I helped carry it out. The last remaining option was to save Ryder by adopting him. That was the only option besides ending his too-short life. My husband is a logical person, and he was right on this one. We couldn’t take him, as much as I wanted to. I was emotionally unstable and it turned into a pretty huge knock-down, drag-out fight. I hate airing my dirty laundry, but again – this blog is to be open and share everything. Even the hard parts.

Because of this experience, and the fact that I am not a positive-only trainer anymore, I have changed my business name. In loving memory of Ryder, my project dog, my new business is called Project K9. So, for all of you who asked why I picked this particular name, it has a meaning. This is why. It isn’t just a new name, but a new beginning. A reality check, and a way to learn from everything that has happened.

Heather Hamilton Mistakes Bipolar Type II Project K9 Dog TrainingSo, in the last year, I have learned so much from my experiences, from the rescues I have worked with, from Wasatch Canine Camp, K9 Lifeline and their staff, from my clients and their dogs, my therapist, the mistakes I have made, and of course, my family and friends, and my husband. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my friends and family, and the help I have received along the way. I have made so many sacrifices. I miss time with my husband, sleep, eating healthy, weddings, etc. I jumped into the deep end, and struggled to not drown sometimes. But I stayed afloat, even though I was exhausted.

It’s all paying off, and I’m going to do what I love. Thank you all for following my story. And for the support and love you have all shown me. I will be back in a week or so with more updates and to talk about everything I have learned in the following week.

Oh, and on a personal note, I am learning to control the ups and downs of having Bipolar Type II without medication. I have mentioned this before, but with the ups and downs of having a training business is hard enough. Then, add in a mental disorder, and it’s a party!

For everyone struggling with mental illnesses – keep your chin up. I can do it. So can you. For all of you who don’t have mental illnesses, but are struggling with a tough part in your life: Be strong. I know it’s hard. But you can do it. Just get through it because it will get better. Just grin and bear it. Just put on that happy smile, fake it to make it. You can get through it, and happiness is just as contagious as sadness. Try not to be a downer, and suck it up. Yeah, I’m blunt sometimes.

Just get through it.

Stages of Grief

Ryder was not my dog. Sometimes, like when he was at my house for boarding or for workshops, I felt like he was. He got to stay in my basement and snuggle up with Napoleon right at my feet while we watched movies. I really miss him.

Over the weekend , I boarded a few dogs, and on Friday when I got home from the vet, I heard one of them barking. Without thinking, I asked my husband, “Is that Ryder barking?”

My husband looks at me and says, “That’s not Ryder, Heather.” And that’s when it really hit me. At the vet, it felt like he was going to wake up at any second. He looked like he was just sleeping. I was honored I got to spend the last few moments with him and whisper to him how much he meant to everyone and how much I loved him, and how this wasn’t his fault. How he’ll be able to play all day with the other dogs and chew on as many bones as he wants. He’ll be free.

I don’t believe in a heaven or hell or God or devils. I believe that all life is returned to the planet. No, I’m not stealing the plot from Final Fantasy VII, it’s just the best way I can explain it. When a person, animal, or plant dies, their spirit is returned to the planet so we can keep living on this Earth. I believe this, and I believe Ryder lives on in a different way. I won’t see him again, but I’ll feel him. I’ll feel him in the air, and in the trees, I’ll see moments of him in my clients’ dogs or within my own house. I’ll remember him and laugh at how goofy he could be.

I know I made the right decision, and the family knows that too. But I’m feeling all the things anyone would feel for making a hard decision. Guilt, pain, sadness, depression, anger. Sometimes, I’m inconsolable.  I’ll be sitting at my computer, or talking to a friend, and then I’m completely overwhelmed with sadness and I just end up crying.

GriefI’m experiencing the 5 stages of grief, and as soon as I feel like I’m ok, I remember something about him that was goofy and silly. Like how, when he thought he was going to get some food or a treat, he would sit automatically and back up about a foot so that his long legs could comfortably sit on the ground. Then he’d stare at you with his adorable face. If you waited long enough, he would paw at you to give him what he wants. No, this isn’t ideal behavior, and we had really worked on this. But last week, he got away with it. Why not? He was on death row, he could have whatever he wanted.

Or that time when he was at my house for the workshop and was exhausted at the end of the day. I accidentally dropped the leash and he bolted into my house, down into the basement and snuggled up in his kennel all on his own. I miss these moments, and he’s not even my dog. I just… got attached.

And it will take time to be ok. Sometimes, it’s only once a day where I am in a depressive state. Other times, it’s pretty much the whole day.  I know I’ll feel  better with time, and I know this was right. Sometimes, it feels like I have to remind myself that this is what he needed. Because it feels like I made the decision to kill him. Which isn’t what happened, but emotions sometimes overcome logic.

Today, one of my coworkers asked me how I was doing, and I could barely speak. If I kept talking, I would start crying and would have to step out. So I said I wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. But on Sunday, I could talk about it, and I felt confident with my decision. Yesterday, I had a migraine to keep me occupied, but then when I was feeling better, I just wanted to curl up in bed and go to sleep. So, I went to bed around 9:00 pm and didn’t go to sleep until after midnight because I was crying. It just hurts so much sometimes.  So, if you ask me about it, there is a chance it could go either way. I could be fine and tell you about Ryder and about my decision, or I could be completely overwhelmed with sadness and be put into a depressive state… walking on eggshells, I guess.

In time, everything will go back to normal.

Final Chapter: Ryder

Ryder3

Ryder, in the backseat of my car.

Ryder, the project Great Dane I have been working with for the last 8 months. If I were to look back at my notes from my last update and compare what said about him in the beginning to what I say now, here’s a comparison:

In November, 2012:

Ryder is incredibly pushy and a ‘jerk’. He jumps on people, has lunged at men (to bite, not to say hi), chews up everything, breaks out of kennels, counter/refrigerator surfs, jumps on furniture and is ‘out of control’. He is very fast and will knock you down to get where he wants to be. I recommend getting him neutered and we need to potty train and kennel train him first thing. I recommend leash work and mental exercise. I’m not concerned with obedience at this point in time. Receiving a bite may occur out of disrespect, not aggression.

Now:

With the last 8 months of training, Ryder is VERY sensitive towards corrections. Every correction must be very light. If the correction is too harsh (pulling too hard on the leash), he gets mouthy. When he gets frustrated, a bite can happen. The family has worked on Halti work, kennel training, mental exercises, and slowing him down around the house. He is no longer jumping, counter surfing, jumping on the furniture, and has slowed down quite a bit. He has a calmer demeanor and is no longer the jerk he once was. Now, he is very sensitive and wants to know what he can do to make you happy. He is potty and kennel trained, and now has more respect for humans. However, he is not to be trusted in the house or outside alone. He will break through fences to get where he wants, or will chew up things in the house. I recommend being on a leash at all times, even if the leash is dropped. This is a leadership exercise that will teach him you control space.

He has improved so much and has been in a constant state of learning since I have been working with him. He has been at my house a few times for boarding, training, and I took him to the Difficult Dog Workshop to learn more about how to handle dogs like him. While he was visiting me, I taught him how to walk on the treadmill, how to slow down and calm down on a dime in my home, and how to properly behave when he wants to go outside, wants food, or wants to play. Again, he isn’t perfect, but he has made major improvements. There was major work to be done, but I felt we were ½ way there.

I have learned so much from this dog, and I hope he has learned just as much as I have. Unfortunately, working with a difficult dog in an intense boot camp training setting is exhausting. The family has done everything they can, followed my training regimen, and really put the work necessary into working with him. After 8 months of intense training, Ryder has still made mistakes, and those mistakes are sometimes worse than others. The family is ready to find him a new home. I can’t blame them, I completely understand. It doesn’t make them bad owners or bad people. In fact, I LOVE this family.

But to make things even harder… I love this dog too. I am attached to him. My husband and I spoke until we were blue in the face to see if we can make this work. To see if we could take him into our home and work with him. Or at least foster him until we found the right family for him.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t do well with our cats (they are part of the problem – they egg him on until he gets in trouble), and I don’t have the necessary time to devote to working with him. As much as I want to believe I could get up an hour earlier in the mornings, leave earlier to work, come home earlier to work with him, and then train him after my evening training appointments… I know it isn’t realistic. It wouldn’t be fair to him.

failI feel I failed him. I feel like if I had more experience in training, or if I could have done a board and train (not doing those for a while).. things would be different. Did I do something wrong? Have I really failed? What can I do? I’m feeling all kinds of not good feelings about this. I don’t blame the family, it’s not their fault. They hired me to help them train Ryder. And he’s not trained enough. What else could I do? I know this happens in the dog training world. Every dog is an individual and learns at their own pace. I also know he did make major improvements. But it wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t able to keep him in his current situation. Some dogs choose not to learn. I don’t feel this was the case with Ryder. He is just super sensitive, not dumb. I saw remarkable learning capabilities when he was at my house. He learned how to properly walk on a treadmill without me being next to him in 3 days. I’m trying hard to feel that I did everything. I’m trying to hard to feel like I didn’t fail and that I did do everything I could. But now, what else can I do? I can get him into a different situation. I can help find another home for him and get him into a situation where he will succeed.

If you, or someone you know, feels that they can take on Ryder into their family and give him the training and time he deserves, please let me know.  It needs to be a good fit – this is the biggest factor in finding him a new home. I want to set him up to succeed in his new household by starting out on the right foot.

So please – no cats, and no small children. He is good with other dogs, and a calm dog would help him settle in quickly, and teach him how to slow down. He would do best in a household where someone is home during the day so they can continue is training.

A Few Thoughts

So, I have some catching up to do. My life has gone to the dogs, and that’s a good thing! I have been working tirelessly to make the change, and every day I’m a little closer!

First order of business, I hosted another pack walk and it was very successful. I believe I had around 20-28 dogs. Some people came late, some left early, and some joined in while we were walking. So, getting a hard count was a little difficult. This time was better than my first walk, as I was trying to keep everyone together as a group. The dogs benefit the most from having everyone in a pack, not spread out. I’m getting better at this, but it’s going to take some time.

I LOVE the benefits of pack walks and I enjoy getting everyone together to host them. It’s a great way to safely socialize and a great gateway to doing full blown socials while I’m learning more about dog behavior and getting used to reading every single little subtle sign. It’s exhausting, and I feel I miss a lot. But that takes experience. No book or seminar will teach me everything – I have to get out there and do it. At a safe pace of course. I’m not about to take on a really nasty behavioral problem just because I need the experience.

Here’s a video of the walk. If you follow through my comments, you’ll see how every person and dog’s behavior smooths out near the end of the walk. There were a few dogs who needed additional help (The German Shepherd for one), but for the most part, the dogs’ calmed down pretty well.

Secondly, I have started helping with Wasatch Canine Camp’s socials. How awesome is that? (HUGE SWELLING HAPPY FEELING!) However, I feel like I’m miles behind the trainer and her skillset (won’t mention names for privacy), and I have so much to learn. She has also been doing this a lot longer than I have. But I won’t give up, and I’m trying very hard to not feel down when I realize this. I just focus on the good things – like how much progress I have made within the last year, and where I will be at the end of this year. Someday, maybe I will have a facility. It’s a dream right now, but maybe if I work hard enough, I can get there.

The hard part about socials is that you can’t really talk to people while you are there. I’m still in ‘spectator’ mode instead of ‘presenter’ mode. I have to watch every single dog and every interaction to make sure it is appropriate interactions between people and dogs. I feel like I have to be in every place at once, and sometimes I feel like I can’t keep up. At K9 Lifeline, the instructor (again, I won’t say names) said you’ll get a feel for when things are about to happen before they actually do. Like when the energy changes in a particular part of the room/area. I haven’t felt that yet. Will I get there? I feel like I have to be in all places at once, and I don’t think this class can be taught with just one person. Well, the size of the class matters, of course. On average, the class is about 30-40 dogs. I don’t know if I would be comfortable taking that much responsibility yet. Maybe someday – just not yet.  I’m not scared, just… I don’t know enough and I feel I’m a ‘baby’ in this field. It’s comforting to know I have more experienced trainers watching my back while I’m learning, but giving me enough room to grow and to make mistakes. I really look up to these women, and I hope someday I can be as successful as them.

Napoleon

Napoleon, waking me up in the morning

Something else I have noticed is that I find myself being passive around more experienced trainers. Not as assertive as I normally am or I shut down, in one particular person’s case. Like to the point where I can’t speak – I can hardly breathe and I end up having a panic attack.  This affects my performance, the way the animals see me, and I’m not as strong of a leader as I need to be. I have started working on this and I mentally prepare myself before going to class or to an event where more qualified people will gather. One step at a time – I have started asking questions about social, asking about behavior I have missed, and I’m beginning to analyze every dog I see. Sometimes I wish I could turn that off, but other times I’m proud I see so much more than the average dog owner. At first, I was ashamed I needed to ask any questions. But then, I realized that everyone has to start somewhere, and to be the best I can be, I have to stop worrying about what people think about me. I need to buck up and ask. I was always worried someone would say, “Well, you are a trainer, you should know that!” or “You call yourself a trainer, but you can’t handle [insert something here]?” I haven’t received that reaction at all – what do I have to be anxious about? …A trainer asked me that about a dog once – and now I’m asking that same question to myself. What do I have to be worried/anxious/scared about? I’m over it.

I want to turn off the auto-dog-evaluations when I’m out with friends, at parks, or when someone says ‘Your dog is so perfect! He loves people and is just happy’. I want to say: “My dog is not happy nor is he perfect by any means. He’s over adrenalized and he isn’t in the right state of mind, and makes bad decisions. He can’t learn anything in this state of mind, and when you are baby talking him and loving on him, you are reinforcing this behavior and undoing work I have done for the past 8 months. I have been working with him about calming down around people, other dogs, and distractions. He was doing well, and now I have to undo all the un-training you just did.”

Ok that’s really harsh and I haven’t ever said that to anyone, but at the same time, it’s true. My dog is high energy, and with the combination of the wrong state of mind (over excited), he can’t learn anything. I have put him into a calm state of mind before any training, or he won’t learn anything. No, he’s not perfect. He really isn’t, but he is a gem. He’s my rock, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. Not that we were talking about that – but I am constantly looking at dogs, the people handling them, and how they are reacting. Napoleon can get amped up so quickly, so we purchased an eCollar to manage his mindset. It was really made a difference, though I haven’t received any formal training on it yet.

Any who, I think this is a long enough post for today, so I’ll end here. Next time, I am going to post about Ryder, my training challenge right now. I had him again this week, and I really had to take my time with him on most everything.  He’s a bit of a handful when he is being naughty!

And just to show... here's the obedience class I was enrolled in.

And just to show… here’s the obedience class I was enrolled in. (Click for larger image!)

Paranoid

This quote really describes how I feel right now

Yesterday, I wrote about friendship and about how lonely I am. More and more I am noticing I am intentionally left out or not invited to lunch, to “girl’s night” or just dinner. My husband says it’s because everyone is busy and it’s the summer so people have things to do. Kids are out of school, and everyone is spending family time with each other. Is that true? That hanging out with friends is just not a priority, or is it me? It is because we don’t have kids, so we don’t fit in with this crowd?

I find myself getting ignored, talked over, and being completely forgotten. It’s not only in just one place. It’s at work, it’s with old friends, new friends, at home, in my neighborhood. Am I just blind, and not seeing when some people make an effort?

Again, my husband says that I’m just seeing the bad because I’m ‘in the darkness’ right now. Which is what we call it when I’m having a ‘depression episode’.

Nothing is wrong in my life. No horrible trauma has happened. Normal every day stressors are happening every day, but right now, it feels like every little thing that is going wrong is the end of the world.

For example, my husband asked me today, “You called me to tell me one thing, and now you are freaking out and getting all emotional. What’s wrong – what’s really wrong? Because you are throwing this out of proportion.”

Well, what is wrong…?

Maybe it’s because my neighbor’s sprinkler was flooding our front yard.  A company our neighbor hired went over to talk to them about it and my husband wants to hire them to work on our lawn.

If we hire them, we aren’t going to have any money. We will go bankrupt. We will have to eat ramen and mac and cheese, and we’ll get unhealthy and fat. We’ll have horrible skin and get acne. Then, we can’t afford to feed the animals, and they’ll have to eat normal store-bought food instead of eating raw.

And because we won’t have any money, I will have to get another job and work extra to make more money to make up for all the bills we are skipping. I will have to quit my business and then abandon my dream.

And what about how I feel? My heart won’t stop, I can’t catch my breath, I can’t see straight, and I couldn’t sleep last night because I was crying, and thinking about how no one likes me and really doesn’t want to hang out with me.

What if everyone is just pretending to be nice to me because they are nice people?  Am I that repulsive? Do people really not want to be around me? Well, I think I’m done then. I’m done asking people to hang out. I’m done expecting people to ask me to lunch. I’m done asking if people want to come over and walk their dogs with me or come have a drink. Or watch this stupid Vampire Diaries show, which I have never seen, but I thought it would be fun to do with some friends. I’m done asking people to be friends. I can’t do it anymore.

How do I handle all this? I put on the happy suit and go about my day – hiding my invisible battle. Hiding my feelings and just pretending like everything is ok. Because I have to fake it to make it. Right?

RyderFinally, a paid holiday off. Tomorrow is Independence Day. I’m not looking forward to the kids or the fireworks or the noise. But I am looking forward to no work, no training appointments, and I actually get to do something for myself for once. And I am boarding Ryder – a Great Dane I have been working with. I should really get around to writing an update about him. He is back and forth on progress, but overall, it’s one step forward, ½ step back every single day. Progress is incredibly slow, but he has made significant changes since we started working with him. He is way more balanced. Now that I know more about him since the workshop, I see changes, and I see respect and calm behavior… As soon as he feels he can be disrespectful, he will. Anyway, I will have to write about this later…if anyone cares.

Why do I want to be a dog trainer?

I get this question asked a lot. ‘How/why did you get into dog training?’ Well, it was because of a dog, of course.

I have always loved animals, and especially dogs… and puppies! But within the last few years, I realized I haven’t been entirely happy with my life. Why? I make good money, I have a great husband, and our lifestyle is awesome. We have a house, and I’m living the American Dream. Well, almost. I wasn’t doing what I love.

Dane

Not Albert, but this dog kind of looks like him.

This realization hit me when I was taking Napoleon in for his post-surgery checkup after he was diagnosed with Mast Cell Cancer last year. I was a client of the Banfield hospital, located within Petsmart. On that very day, a local rescue called Lost Paws had their adoption day within Petsmart. They brought with them an emaciated, timid black Great Dane. His name was Albert.

I’m already partial to Danes, but for some reason, this one … spoke to me. He looked at me with his sad eyes, and they said, ‘help me. Please. Help me.’. I sat with him, and talked to him, and completely fell in love with this dog. His spirit was broken, his body was a wreck. He had been left outside to fend for himself, so he had sores on his body from the pavement. He was an intact 3 year old male with little to no training. However, he had a very calm demeanor, and seemed to be fearful of a lot of things: cats, people, other dogs, cars, the leash, kids, etc. I was in love with him. We connected immediately, and I told the person I needed to talk to my husband.

I could socialize this dog. I could let him have a wonderful life with us. I could clean him up and tell him that it’s ok to be scared sometimes, but with me – he would have nothing to be scared about. I would train him, and socialize him, and help him, and show him love. He could be happy and he would do well with us.

I told my husband about him, already knowing that he might not be ok with this. He asked me, ’How do you plan to get him home?’. I hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. He was a Dane, and I had a small car. . . with my other large dog. He asked me if he was crate-trained. I wasn’t sure. Potty trained? Again, I wasn’t sure. Any training at all? Probably not. Seems the cards were against me, since my husband and I both worked during the day.

undeweight dane

Again, not Albert, but he was this underweight

I cried, and fought, and tried to get my way for Albert. I don’t mind having an untrained dog, especially with the temperament Albert had. However, I understand where my husband was coming from. We didn’t have the time to train him. To socialize him and give him the time this boy needed to get better. It wasn’t fair. I wanted to help so badly.

During this time, I realized this is where I belonged. Helping animals, saving them, and getting them into better positions. I looked into being a vet technician, helping shelters and rescues, and being a dog trainer.

At first, I wanted to get into the medical field as a veterinarian. That was my dream as a kid. But when I realized you had to go to school for 12 years, and then you spend ½ your income on liability insurance, and malpractice insurance, and then you have to open up your own practice… it just seemed daunting. So, again, I’m faced with this decision.

I did research to become a veterinary technician and I was fascinated. I looked into a school very close by…and realized the cost for an Associates degree in Veterinary Technology was as much as my Bachelor’s Degree was… I’m still paying those off. This became less of a possibility. Though, I didn’t lose hope, and I was determined.

I applied for about a hundred scholarships. Then, I did more research into other fields and possibilities in the animal industry and realized what I really want to do. Train and rehabilitate difficult dogs. I am interested in rehabilitation training for dogs who have been best, unsocialized, attacked, and just needed help. I want to also do therapy training, guard training, aggression training and help in an animal rescue. I’m still interested in the medical side of things as well, but the deeper I get into the training world, the more I love it.

Yes, I have been overwhelmed at times, but it’s not because of the task of training a difficult dog (which I’ll write about later), it’s because I am working so many hours a week, and it feels like it will never end. It feels like sometimes, I’m not making enough of a difference and that even though I’m already working 60+ hours a week, I’m not doing enough.

This is the reason why I have registered for more classes. I feel like I can do more. I can learn more, I can participate more. The more I do, the more I am valued. Though, I know this isn’t really true, but it’s the way I feel. The more classes I take, the more educated I can become, the more valued I am in the dog industry.

I want to be great. I will be great. I am just at the tip of the iceberg though. And I’m ok with that. I have a lot to learn, but I am surrounded by a great support group, and have some awesome trainers in my area who will help me get there. The hardest point for me is that I am progressing so slowly (in my opinion). I want to just learn and study and practice all day, every day. But I have a job. I have a career, and I have responsibilities. I cannot abandon them.

So, I am going as quickly as time will allow without jeopardizing my current position, or my family life. It is difficult, but I will eventually get there. I just have to keep telling myself there is light at the end of the tunnel. I will do this full time… eventually. And I will be great… eventually. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I think I am on the right path.

Roller Coaster

urlJust within the past day, I have gone from a decently content mood to the high peaks of Happy Mountain. When I get to be this happy, I tend to start waiting for the cliff of sadness to take over. Well, as it always does, it did. For no reason. I have no reason to feel sad. But I do anyways. STOP IT BRAIN!

I woke up early this morning and wasn’t able to fall back asleep. I took an extra long hot shower, decided not to do my hair, and make coffee instead. Mmm, yes. I do love coffee in the morning. Especially when I have time to add an extra kick to it! No, I’m not talking about vodka. Though Bailey’s would have been a good start to the day. I added cinnamon instead! It really kick started my morning. But I do still think Bailey’s would have been better.

Work was busy, so I was happy I was able to down a few cups of coffee in the morning before heading in to the office. I was working so much, I forgot to eat, so I had a late lunch. On my walk over to pick up an extra-delicious vegetarian sandwich at a deli nearby, I started to realize I have had a pretty good day so far. Which means… at some point in the future, I would feel sad. It’s a pattern that always seems to happen when I’m extra productive, or when I realize I’m actually feeling happy.

Maybe it’s a premonition of the future – because it always seems to happen. Or, maybe I make this happen by thinking it will happen. Either way, I know it’s coming.

So, I’m now on the lookout for signs of things that could ruin my day. It’s like I’m a detective, interrogating every person who might be hiding something, or an archeologist looking for treasures invisible to the unseen eye. Ok, that archeologist part was going a bit far, but I get pretty paranoid.

Work goes by without a hitch, and I realize I’m late for my training appointment. Great. This is it, I’m going to break down. I’m late, late, LATE!

No, this can’t be it. I’ll only be 5 minutes late, it will be fine. Ok, *breathe*

Got to my appointment 5 minutes late, and there was a time conflict. The client was having family over at that particular time, so I decided to work with Ryder on my own. No, he is not my only client, I promise! He is just my project boy, so I write about him a lot. He has come a long way, and I could tell today.

He still has a ways to go before he doesn’t need me anymore, but I’m so happy at his progress. Sometimes, it feels like he has gone backwards. Not this time!

We went on a walk by ourselves, so the client could chat with the visitors. This would have been relaxing, if it wasn’t so damn cold! The wind was fierce, and the bitter cold stung my nose and hands. But, I was determined to see Ryder’s progress within the last week. Honestly, each week, he’s marginally better. Slow progress, but he is a stubborn dog and also, my most challenging client. He is very strong-willed, and determined to be the leader. But, he is showing massive improvements, and I only had to give him a command once for him to obey.

I just kept remembering when we went to the outside social 2 weeks ago, and how wonderful he did. He was considerably less pushy than at the indoor social, and didn’t once try to get too close to a human. He tried to play with the other dogs, but he’s not quite ready to be off the leash yet in class, so this wasn’t going to work. Anyway, just reminiscing. Back to today’s adventures.

Once we got back, I was giving him some love on his ears, and I noticed he really didn’t like me touching his right ear. He started to mouth me, and try to get away from me. RED FLAG went up, and I checked his ear. Sure enough – ear infection. And a nasty one!

Later that evening, the client mentioned that his ‘lipstick’ was sticking out and hadn’t gone back in about a week! YIKES! Checked it out, definitely needs a vet. The family was asking me questions that I didn’t know the answer to (as I don’t have medical training), and called my awesome at home vet.

I don’t recommend any other vets because he has impressed me so much with how much he cares about the animals. Anyway, he said it was life threatening and pretty serious. He wanted them to take Ryder to the ER. Well, that wasn’t really an option, so we set up an appointment to have the vet come take a look-see tomorrow evening, in which I will be present. Ryder has some issues towards men, and as it has gotten better, it is still a concern.

This put a little bit of a cloud over my head, and another ‘warning’ as to the upcoming wave of sadness. Again, it’s like I have no control over these things, and even though there is nothing we can do right this second, it’s still hard to hear that this was serious and he needed immediate treatment.

Now that the session is over, I was on my way home, and the ‘end of the day droop’ started to settle in. Once I got home, it was like the shadow that was lurking so closely behind me, finally engulfed my entire mind, and I was lost.

Home is a safe place. I can be lost in my own home without feeling like I really am lost. I try to go to sleep. I stare at the ceiling. I play on my phone. I get bored, I find my husband – on his computer. Tell him I can’t sleep. He offers to snuggle. But I don’t want to. I want to blog. It helps. I’m ready to put this day to rest, and start over this roller coaster ride tomorrow.

Lonely_bench