Blindsided

Blindsided with news that hits you like you’ve been punched in the gut. It makes you feel like you were set up. Betrayed, even though this was long before you were in the picture. It’s nonsensical, but logic doesn’t have a place in emotions. Emotions don’t always make logical sense.

Just because it was in the past doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting. Old news from the past brought up in the present, is the present to the people who weren’t there. It’s new news, and a fresh trauma. That’s was life is… trauma after trauma. We just get better at dealing with it.

Avoiding the issue and burying it doesn’t fix anything. Just leaves a giant mess to deal with later. Typically, when left alone, these things have a tendency to get bigger. Rip it open. Talk about it. Listen and be compassionate towards each other. Accept there are differences, changes, pasts, and mistakes. But that’s easier said than done. Emotions get in the way.

You visualize it because you are a creative, emotionally intelligent person. You play it out in your head like you are watching a movie. You see it all happening in front of you like it’s real, playing over and over. Like it’s right now, and you are just watching on the sidelines. There’s nothing you can do but just “watch”. It’s so real, you can almost hear it. You feel dizzy and feel your heart in your throat. But if you make the smallest sound, the floodgates of emotion will consume you.

So you say nothing, sit in silence. You want to throw up. The blow in the gut makes you nauseous. Wait until the threatening choking feeling resides. You try to remind yourself this was in the past. Try to talk yourself down and hide the hurt because it doesn’t make sense. You can’t. You can’t because emotions aren’t logical. So you lash out. You question everything. You doubt because you’re hurt. You ask questions you never thought of before. Emotions are threatening to cause as much damage as possible. So you swallow it to avoid making it worse. You just hurt more.

Vulnerability can make people mean. Make them angry and defensive. So, eventually someone gets angry and lashes out. The other gets defensive. There’s a big fight. There are tears, and there are wounds getting deeper and deeper. The more lashes, the more yelling, the more damage is done. But underneath everything is just hurt. Hurt drives all the symptomatic feelings and causes the problems.

You have to get out. Fight or flight. Fighting made it worse, so you leave. You leave to cry and mope and scream and feel the hurt. You’ve learned to sit with your anger, your sadness, your hurt. You’ve learned to feel it, because only then, you can process it.

Goodbye, Marshall

marshallhatLife is a precious gift. It can be taken away so quickly. I hold my family a little closer today, as our sweet Marshall unexpectedly passed away last night. We are devastated, and it still doesn’t feel real. I keep expecting to hear his little feet on the floor pitter pattering as quick as he can to come to me if I called him. He wasn’t sick, he wasn’t old. He was taken far too early. He was one of my best dogs, and the best ‘little’ I have ever had. I never thought I would have a little dog, as I’m into the ‘tough’ breeds. But then Marshall came to me for training and I fell in love with him. I told the family if they ever didn’t want him or couldn’t keep him, that I wanted him. I never expected to hear that a year later, they were moving and couldn’t take him. So without hesitation, I took him and he was immediately a part of my pack. I didn’t foster him, or even try to adopt him out. He just belonged with me. He was an amazing dog, and brought so much happiness to every person he met. I never expected this would happen so soon.

homedepotmarshallWe buried him under a tree in our front yard. He will stay here forever, and bring nutrients to the trees, the soil, and the earth. His body has returned to the planet, and his soul is now on a journey to wherever else it needs to be. He’ll always be with me, and I’ll have all the beautiful memories of him to remember him. I want to remember my bright, happy Marshall. I want to remember all the silly, cute things he did. The house feels very dreary today. Our hearts are breaking, and our souls cry. I wish this didn’t happen.

marshall

I remember the way he would sit or lay on top of the big dogs to stay warm.

I remember how fast he would run back to me when I called him. His recall was always awesome.

I remember how when the other dogs were eating, Marshall would clean up the pieces they missed. No one minds, and he never tries to steal food from out of their bowl.

I remember how he would try to sneakily crawl up underneath the blanket to snuggle on the couch.

Chasing Jane around the loveseat in the living room.

Always walking nicely on or off a leash, never had a problem listening.

When you corrected him for something, he would stare at you with one paw held up.

marshallhorsesWhen he curled up in the big dog beds by himself and his tail was resting on his nose, like he was hiding.

When we all went camping, and he found the sunniest little spot to rest while we were all cooking breakfast.

How everyone who met him instantly loved him.

When I would let him sleep with me in my bed, and he could curl up right behind my knees.

jinxmarshallHow he loved to sit right in between the big dogs’ paws, like he belonged to them.

How he was the perfect size to sit with you and make you feel better.

He wasn’t really ever scared of anything.

He had no issue putting any size dog in their place if they were being pushy or rude.

How he loved to drag around the biggest bone he could find.

That time we went to the Farmer’s Market and Rob put him in his camelback because he was tired.

marshallgrassHow everyone thought he was a puppy.

How he loved people so much, he would just start walking with them.

How he just looked extra cute no matter what he was doing.

His eyes were too big for his face.

The time I took him trail riding, and he kept up with the horses like it was no big deal.

How he was amazing with kids and all other dogs.

He was awesome with all animals. He never tried to hurt chickens, cats, kittens, or even little rats.

He was the ‘Marshall’ of the dog yard. He was named after Eminem, but to me, he was literally a Marshall. An authority figure.

He really was the best dog.

squishesmarshallI’m really going to miss him, the house won’t be the same without him. I only had him several years, but in that time, he left his pawprint there. For such a small dog, he had the biggest presence in the best way. His spunky, happy personality is what I want to remember.

We will build you a little memorial in front of your tree, and plant flowers there in the Spring. You have no idea how many dogs you helped, and how many people were touched by you. You have made a huge impact on the world, and I will never forget you. You can never be replaced. I’ll do my best to keep my chin up and put on the smile, because I know you wouldn’t want me to be sad. In fact, I feel like you would be curled up with me right now, trying to cheer me up.

I love you, Marshall. So much. Be at peace now.

marshalltail

polymarshall

Life Lessons

life-lessons-no-school-taughtToday, I feel like I need to sort out some of my feelings based on the decision I had to make recently. Yes, it has been about a month or so, but I’m not ‘over it’. I’m fine for a couple days now, and then I’m caught off guard by someone checking in. “Hey, how’s the training going with Ryder?” “I heard what happened with Ryder…”

So, I’m finding big decision quotes and how they relate to what I’m going through. It’s helping, because I feel like a bigger person for making this decision. Even though it sucks, it was right. I’m having dreams… and I wake up, thinking I’m boarding Ryder, and I actually walk all the way downstairs to the kennel he used to sleep in, and he’s not there. I think if he was actually there, I would check myself into a mental hospital, but that’s’ not the point.

So, here’s to you, Ryder. Because I did what was best.

 

“There must be a few times in life when you stand at a precipice of a decision. When you know there will forever be a Before and an After…I knew there would be no turning back if I designated this moment as my own Prime Meridian from which everything else would be measured.”
― Justina ChenNorth of Beautiful

This decision was life changing for me. It changed my personally, emotionally, and it has changed the way I see aggression. It has changed the way I train, and how I interact with people with difficult dogs. And it changes the way I evaluate dogs. I will not set myself or the dog up to fail by taking on a case too difficult for me for my current skill set. I am more reserved as a person, and I have taken a step back from the ‘Let’s go do this’ attitude I usually have.

 

“Waiting hurts. Forgetting hurts. But not knowing which decision to take can sometimes be the most painful…” 
― José N. Harris

 “It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.” 
― Elbert Hubbard

“When faced with two equally tough choices, most people choose the third choice: to not choose.
” 
― Jarod KintzThis Book Title is Invisible

All 3 of these quotes represent what I felt like before it happened. This is what I felt when we were weighing the option of rehoming or euthanasia. Waiting on the family to make a decision. Then, the procrastinating to make the appointment. Then, making the appointment and hoping a miracle would happen. Then, after it happened, the healing process. At least I made a decision.

 

“If you always make the right decision, the safe decision,
the one most people make, you will be the same as everyone else.” 
― Paul Arden

I am not the same. And I never will be ‘normal’. My experience with this situation has been life changing, and I will never be the same again, either.

 
“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.” 
― Shauna NiequistBittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

I have sacrificed time with my husband, my free time, and my mental health to make this transition. Not necessarily because of Ryder, but he helped me overcome this career obstacle that every trainer needs to go through. And going through this fueled my fire to not give up. I am sad and crushed that it had to come to this, but he is at peace now. I have given up sleep on weekdays, and sleeping in on weekends to be able to switch my career and do what I love. I love my husband for being so patient with me, as when I find something I want, I go for it. I can’t stop. It’s a curse, and a blessing.

So I’m still in the process of grieving. But I’m fine, and I’m healthy, and I will be ok.  I really miss him though. Sometimes, when I don’t have any boarding dogs, I feel like he’s at my house in his kennel. I wake up at nighttime sometimes and hear his bark. A few times, I have really thought he was there.

I’m able to talk about him more and more. People who follow me on my blog, or know me in person, people who love great danes, people who have been interested in hearing my progress with my new career… they ask about him. They sympathize and understand. People who have had aggressive dogs or dogs with mental illnesses have reached out and given me their support.

People who know me know this will haunt me for a while. Out of respect, out of love, out of concern, they won’t say anything, but they are thinking it. And I want all of you to know – I’m ok. I will be fine. Sometimes, I’m a rock. Other times, I’m so fragile, just a caring look will break me. Professionally – I am put together and you will not see this while I am working. Putting on this armor sometimes helps me take my mind off of it.

I write this blog and keep a log of how I feel for a few reasons.

1)       I want people to know I’m human too. I succeed, I fail, I feel. Just like everyone else.

2)      I have a mental disorder I have chosen to not be medicated for. I am an emotionally passionate person with bipolar Type II, so when I feel sad or happy, it’s on either side of the spectrum. When I’m sad, I’m devastated. When I’m happy, I’m annoyingly joyful (ask my husband!) I am living with this. It’s a choice I have made that I am proud of. I can do it without medicine.

3)      I want to help people realize they can do whatever they want. I want to train dogs. I’m doing it. I am changing my destiny and improving my quality of life.

4)      I use this as a therapy tool – it helps to put all these feelings somewhere. I choose to make this public. I am not hiding anything. I write about the good, the bad, and sometimes, the funny. Sometimes, it’s personal. Other times, educational. And occasionally, just downright sad. I  write about my journey. This is what my blog is about.

5)      Education. I do occasionally write educational articles on this blog about dog training. Many people can benefit from just reading about what I go through to learn how to better communicate with their canine friends.

6a0133f351a1fb970b0191030616ca970c-500wiSo, in short. Ask me, don’t ask me. Read, don’t read.  Love me or don’t. But if you get anything from the journey I have taken so far, please – get this: Live and be passionate. Life hurts and it knocks you down, and you are MEANT TO FEEL. So feel!! Crying, being sad, being joyful and being angry are all parts of being human. Embrace this, but don’t let it rule you. Get back up after you have been brought down. Don’t let it stop you from being a great person.

Reflection of Positivity

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

With all of the emotional challenges I have faced recently, I have to keep focusing on the positives. I focus on how much good I do, and I also face the grim truth: We can’t save them all. But, the ones we are able to save will live on with better lives. I have to think positively.

So, this week’s blog is about my successes this year with my business and personal gains. At the beginning of the year, I had set goals.  Goals I had to accomplish in order to make a huge life change. To take a leap of faith, to make the jump. It all comes down to that decision.

My biggest goal was to get my certification. I have been talking to the owner of K9 Lifeline for quite some time (starting over a year ago) about taking her certification course. At the time, it was around $3,000 and 2 weeks long. Well, that means I needed the money, and I also needed 10 days of PTO. It takes a full month for me to earn 1 day. So, that was 10 months of absolutely no sick days, no vacations, and no ½ days for my own personal sanity. I started saving up my time last year around November. I had a few days saved, so if I didn’t take a day off for Christmas or any other holiday, or get sick, or have an emergency, I could take the course in July.

I had the time, but the Difficult Dog Workshop was in June, and I JUST HAD to go. Which cost me 3 days. That’s 3 more months of no sick days or vacation. I can do it, I know I can. That means I can take my certification in October, and to play it safe, let’s plan on November.

Then, I found out the eTouch Workshop was coming in October with another very reputable trainer. Ok, that’s another 2 days. Which means I’m looking at Dec/Jan. Ah man… at this rate, I’ll never get it. And I’ll never take a vacation!

Then I heard from another trainer that the course is a little cheaper, and is only 6 days, instead of 10, but I get the same amount of material. WHAT?!  Really?! I can take it now! So, the plan is in motion, and I hope to get my certification at the end of August! YAY!

Pack Walk 6/28/13

Pack Walk 6/28/13 (Click to enlarge)

I have also started doing my pack walks. This wasn’t a requirement, but it is a success, and I’m proud I have been able to organize this event. Every time I do them, they get a little easier, I gain a little more confidence, and more people show up for them!

I am now offering a nutritional workshop (hopefully twice a year) because so many clients have been interested in what is the best dog food or I’m interested in raw, I’m just feeding chicken, is that ok? I want to educate and help people do what is right for their dog. Wow, another big event, planned. Hook. Line. Sinker.

I have attended a few nutritional workshops, watched online seminars, increased my training network and made some awesome friends as well. I have read so many books, it sometimes feels I’m reading the same things over and over again. But, if I attend a seminar, read a book, or meet with new people at a workshop, and I learn ONE new thing, it was completely worth it. If I learn a lot, that knowledge is invaluable because I will build on that and learn more new things and become an even better trainer.

I have been asked to help during my trainer friend’s Saturday Socials, and I feel I am becoming more and more confident each week.  This was huge for me, because eventually, I want to run these. I have run a small social in my backyard with 11 dogs (specifically picked out who would be able to come) and I was pretty confident (but so nervous too!). I am more confident and assertive when I am by myself because I sometimes feel I am such a baby in this field, so when I am around someone with more experience, I tend to freeze up a little or my heart starts pounding. I have only been ‘on my own’ training for 2 years. I worked at Petsmart and did simple sit/stay training with my dogs in high school, but not like this.  I will someday be as awesome as these trainers. I can do it, and I am well on my way!

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

I have started boarding in my own home. This was a scary move, but overall, I really enjoy it. The dogs are kept safe, get plenty of attention and stimulation and are in a loving environment. And I get to experience what handling more dogs feels like in a safe way. I try to only board dogs I know for this reason. Sometimes, I board dogs I haven’t met before, and it can go either way. I had a crazy dog I boarded in the beginning that was a disaster, but right now, I’m boarding 2 that I had never before. Both are sweethearts, and I’m happy to have them! I get to practice some of my own techniques, I get to practice reading dogs I don’t know, and I get to practice walking multiple dogs at the same time. Sometimes this is a huge challenge because I’ll be walking 4 dogs at once, and only one knows how to walk on a leash nicely. So, we take an hour to go around the block. But that’s just it – I get to practice!

I have actually started making money, and even though I won’t show a profit this year (which is actually a good thing for taxes, of course), I will next year. This year, I attended 2 workshops (so far, and plan to attend another) and my certification course, which weren’t cheap. So, I made money, and then spent it all on workshops.

I have plans in the making to get a better ‘dog car’ as mine is really taking a beating with all the dogs coming and going in it. This may not happen next year, but the year after. In the meantime, I need to find a way to keep my seats intact! Even Napoleon’s kennel won’t fit in my backseat.

We have plans about our location for when I get more serious about doing this. Either having a facility on my own lot, or leasing/purchasing a facility in the future. This is WAY in the future, just a dream right now, but it’s something.

The biggest success, if you can call it that, would be the decision the family and I had to make about their dog, Ryder. You can follow his whole story here. He was a very special Merle Great Dane who had an unpredictable streak. He could be loving on you and playing, and then turn and bite someone. Unfortunately, these are some of the hardest dogs to work with because you can’t find a trigger. We thought it was men, hats, uniforms, etc – but, he wouldn’t go after the same person twice, or the same hat, and if you switched the hat with another person, he would be fine. 95% of the time, he was manageable and just needed training. The other 5% of the time, he was unpredictable and could seriously hurt someone. He was hard to adopt out, and we didn’t find the right home. So, we made the decision to euthanize him. We didn’t come to this decision lightly and it was months of talking about options. I won’t get into everything again, but this was the right thing. I cried pretty much the whole week, I was emotionally exhausted, I didn’t want to talk about it anymore, I wanted a miracle to show up on my doorstep and be the perfect place for him, or I wanted Best Friends to take him. Neither happened. But now, I am at peace with this decision and I am still sad of the outcome – it won’t ever be a ‘happy ending’. But, I know he is running free and will be happy now, without having to worry about anything. I had to make this decision and it has made me a better trainer. This was a turning point in my career. I’m sad it had to be him, but I’m happy he is free and healthy now.

Most of all, I can’t ‘count’ how much I have learned this year, but I have really taken an initiative on learning as much as I can, and sacrificing so much to do this. I have also learned so much about myself, and I feel more complete because of what I have accomplished.  I don’t have the constant stress feeling of ‘Am I doing this right?’ or ‘I’m going to fail, what if I fail?’ feelings. If I fail, I get up and try again. If I get bit or kicked in the teeth, I put a band-aid on and try again. I won’t let other trainers, dogs, people, or my mistakes stop me from continuing on. I will learn from them and be a better trainer for them. I’m happy to take constructive criticism and coaching, but please – no need to be an asshat about it. I want to learn, and I can admit I don’t know everything.

I work in the dog industry, a bite is bound to happen. Not that I want it to, but just like working in construction, it’s inevitable. It’s not if, it’s when.

I’m happy, and I see an end to these 100 hour workweeks. I see a light, and I’m excited to see what happens. Scared, but excited.

I can do this.

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.

His story comes to an end

Hard decisions make us the people we are. We want to be the one to make the hard decisions and take charge of a difficult situation. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. Sometimes, we want to be the person who is being taken care of, instead of the decision maker.

You see, when you become a trainer, it’s not all about playing with puppies and teaching Sit/Stays. You have to work through the hard issues too. Hard issues like euthanasia of a difficult dog. Hard issues like the possibility of having an aggressive or dangerous, unpredictable dog in the presence of a child. Specifically a very large dog who is unpredictable.

You can work as hard as you can, but it’s not enough. Again, now is one of those times. I did everything I knew how to do and exhausted every resource. I made all the recommendations, and the family followed through with all the homework. They really did everything, too. But it comes down to how much progress has been done and how much more needs to be accomplished. It’s more than what I can do, it’s more than what the family could do. Even if he went with the best trainer in the world, I believe the outcome may have been the same. There was a ‘right’ family out there for him, but either it wasn’t the right time, they weren’t experienced enough yet, or they didn’t hear my cries for help. Either way, the decision has been made and the end has come. I also can’t think like that anymore – there is always something else to do. That’s a pet owner’s way of thinking, and I will torture myself thinking ‘What if?’. Thinking as a trainer, I exhausted all resources and didn’t come to this decision lightly.

The question needs to be asked, “Can you trust this dog to make the right decision?”. The answer was No. It has been no for the last 8 months, and I don’t see this changing. With dogs like this, you have to constantly be on your guard and be ready in case things go bad. The one time you let your guard down will be the one time something might happen. This dog was fine 95% of the time, but in those small moments when he wasn’t, bites have happened. A dog that gives no warning is the most dangerous kind of dog. A dog that is unpredictable makes this situation even worse. Even though he is sweet 95% of the time… the moment you let your guard down is when something will happen. This dog was not a monster, but sweet and confused. The product of a hard puppy-hood and negligence and malnutrition. He was a great dog.

It’s exhausting, and you don’t see an end. A decision needs to be made. Can you rehome the dog? Can you adopt them out? Is euthanasia the only option? How do you find the right home? What are the conditions of adopting out an unpredictable, dominant, possibly aggressive dog? What about liability? Is that a life for the family? Why should they have to do this? What kind of quality is that kind of life for a dog? And what if, at some point, he does finally get to be a decent dog? How much time will this senior dane have left? How much time will he get to enjoy his hard-earned freedom? How many people are willing to take on a project senior Great Dane who is likely to bite again? These were all things that we discussed. These were all valid points, and unfortunately, the answer was that in the most ideal family, and with the best training, he would still be a project dog and once the training was ‘done’ (because training is never ‘done’), he wouldn’t have much time left in his short life.

That’s always something to think about. At some point, you need to weigh the cost and quality of life for the animal. Euthanasia is a better alternative, and this way, he can be happy.

Sometimes, that means euthanasia is the best option. Weighing this option is never an easy topic. It’s never easy to think about or discuss, especially with a dog that isn’t yours. How do you even bring up this topic? What if you get attached and you don’t want to accept it yourself?

I have always been of the opinion that euthanasia was an unnecessary option. It was a ‘lazy’ option for people who didn’t want to fix the problem. But after seeing some of the best trainers in the United States have to make the same decisions, my opinion was swayed. I still want to do everything else to not have to make this decision, and I thought that when I had to discuss with a client, it wouldn’t be this dog. It wouldn’t be this client, and it would be years later in my training. But after exploring every angle, talking to the best trainers, and discussing options with the family, I am confident this is the right decision. Even though it hurts and feels like I’m being ripped apart. I know in my heart this is right.

What happens when you have to have this discussion, not only with a client, but with a friend? I handled it in a way that I knew how. I thought about how, if a trainer told me this was the best option for MY dog, how would I want to be told? These are my friends, and I love this dog. But that doesn’t mean it made it any easier. In fact, this made it harder. Part of the job – the hardest part. This is the part where trainers get judged the most, and where second guessing makes this decision even harder.

I’m trying to turn this around and think in a positive light. This will make me a better trainer. I’m sure I will have this same discussion again in the future. If I want to work with difficult dogs, which I do – this is not the last time I will discus euthanasia. I can do it, and I will learn how to better handle these situations. I can learn from this experience and I can learn from everything this dog had to teach me. I won’t forget anything, and I won’t tarnish his memory by making the same mistakes again. I will remember this dog and all the work the family did, the dog did, and how much I put into him. It’s not anyone’s fault it didn’t work out. I will get better, and just like Albert, I will learn from Ryder. To see all of Ryder’s progress, see his notes here.

I love you, kid.

R.I.P. Ryder
2010-2013

Taken on 7/24/13

Taken on 7/24/13

MemorialStone1

Temp Friendships

Temporary friends. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that friendship is only temporary. I have had friends as kids, then as I grew older, I made new friends. I moved, made new friends and old friends fade away. I have never had what you call a life-long friendship.

I had childhood friends – none of whom I even speak to now. I had elementary and Junior high school friends. My best friend in Junior High/Middle School (whatever you call it where you are from) died of leukemia. In high school, I had a group of friends and we were very close. We did everything together, and every Friday night, we would go to someone’s house and listen to music, make potatoes, play video games, and just hang out. I really miss these people. So much it hurts sometimes.

When I graduated 6 months early from high school, I realized how hard this was on our friendship. I tried to come home every weekend and hang out, but between the hour drive and the homework I always had on weekends, it was really difficult.

I made friends in college, and knowing full well that they were moving back to wherever ‘home’ was when we graduated – I got close to them. I made some very good friends. Some of my happiest memories of my life are with them.

I graduated college with my Bachelor’s Degree when I was around 20 years old. I tried to reconnect with my friends from high school and keep in touch with my friends from college. My HS friends were jobless and partying and trying to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives. I had graduated early from high school, got my BA degree in less than 2 years, and I had a high paying entry level programming position. Not that I was better, just we were in different stages of our lives now. I found myself downplaying how hard I worked to get my BA degree so quickly. It wasn’t a big deal. Meh… whatever.

Eventually, we stopped hanging out altogether. We are connected on Facebook, but random status posts, and ‘likes’ are about the extent of our friendship now. My college friends? Well, we keep in touch, but I have no idea what is happening with their lives now. I don’t know what they are doing, what they are thinking about, or why they have made the choices they have.

I have been left out. I am friendless, and I have to accept it. Should I just shell up and not talk to people? It’s easier. I won’t keep feeling like my heart is being ripped apart. I will feel less anxiety, I won’t have as much drama. Is it worth it to even continue to try to have personal relationships? I have a lot of acquaintances, but friends? Should I even try?

Friends step in and out of your life, and if you are careful – you can protect yourself by keeping them at a distance. Realize they are temporary, and that they will eventually move on. Not in a mean way. They aren’t intentionally leaving you or hurting you because you aren’t good enough. Just… you aren’t a big part of their life anymore.

Treated

…so I’m protecting myself.

I want to protect myself. I want to curl up in a tiny little ball and sink into the cushions in my sofa with a blanket. I want to just disappear to make it easier for everyone to severe ties.

But I don’t. Why? I keep inviting people to do things, I want to hang out, I want to have friends. I want to tell people my secrets and have fun. I want to be with people and have them love me for me. I love all my friends for who they are. It feels like I’m not appreciated for me. Everyone is leaving me behind.

Maybe I’ll just create a Sims neighborhood with all my ‘temp friends’ who I want to still hang out with and just live virtually. That way, when they leave for good, it will be because I have chosen them to do so. I’ll turn off age limits, and we’ll have unlimited amounts of money. We can do whatever we want, when we want. We’ll go downtown to go drinking, we’ll go horseback riding and go to the arcade. We’ll roam the city and tip the street guitarists. We’ll have lunch at the bistro and then head to the book store. Maybe head to the gym and work on the machines and then go swimming.  Who knows? I get to hang out with my virtual friends whenever I want.

To all my temp friends – I’m making peace with it. Don’t invite me places if you feel sorry for me. Don’t call or text me to say hi if you don’t genuinely want to be in my life. I understand you will someday leave me.

To all my real friends – Please don’t become a temp friend. Stay friends with me. Communicate when you are disappointed. Tell me when you want to do something. Have I hurt your feelings? Tell me. I want you in my life, do you want me in yours? Show me.