2017: Part 2

One might easily think I do not have much of a life outside of dogs -- that would be a false assumption. This is a blog about Life with Dogs -- not about Life with Mary-Ann. However, there is overlap because Life with Dogs is really all about how we practice who and what we are as reflected in our interactions with -- and about -- dogs. 

Recently I was admiring the talent of a singer, and contemplating his words about how music allows him to express his passion, his art, his emotions. I was feeling a little annoyed that nobody made me play the piano or learn to draw or develop some cool skill so I could have "art" -- and then it occurred to me: I do have art. I have things that reflect my emotions, my passion, my art -- one of them is Life with Dogs.

Others may see it as a trivial hobby -- "just a dog, after all." But to me, Life with Dogs is about doing things well. It is about a passion to seek optimal -- in a dog, in training, in performance, and just in the life of that dog. I have a passion for Optimal -- seeking it is my art. 

Nobody starts off well in their art. I have cringeworthy memories of early efforts, like any human being attempting to learn something new. But I persevered and I continue to persevere because "art" -- like optimal -- is never really achieved to perfection. That understanding allows me to be proud of incremental progress towards a goal I will never really achieve. 

And that brings me to 2017.

My dogs enjoyed a thoughtful, intelligent, and informed life in 2017. This means -- for me -- they ate well, lived in our home, utilized veterinary care in careful, measured ways, got physical and mental exercise, were safely restrained in vehicles when traveling, and enjoyed an abundance of love and respect. My dogs don't live in kennels or crates, never wear a shock or prong collar, and they are never loose at home outside of a fenced yard even though we live in the middle of no where. It might be selfish but I work hard to create lives for dogs that won't generate guilt when they leave.

Disclaimer! My optimal might not be yours, and dogs might not be one of your art forms. Therefore, no need to feel defensive or annoyed if you have a different point of view. My version of optimal and my art is not about anyone else - hence my optimal and my art (the my gives it away, FYI).

The year always starts with the wish and prayer that it will end with the same dogs; that was not achieved in 2017 because we lost Sydney. It was not unexpected, of course -- wishes and prayers do not need to be realistic to be expressed. Hmmmm.... I might need to change the first wish and prayer of the year to "find the blasted magic wand!"

Harper B for Bum Knee achieved the most important goal of 2017 -- she is here and well at the end of the year. Yay for Harper!

But she did not achieve any of the performance goals I set for her because she had a TPLO in June. Life with Dogs is all about flexibility -- unless, of course, your knee doesn't work, and then it is all about surgery and rehab.

Zoey, Sparkle, and Claire also achieved that all important "Be Here at the end of 2017" goal - yay for them!

Zoey also achieved what was my final significant performance goal for her: Utility Dog (UD). This made her one of the few Versatile Companion Dog 3 (VCD3)  in the breed. Zoey has accomplished so many things in her life, including being my bestie -- I am so proud of her...

Sparkle hit it out of the park with her goals -- Bronze Grand Championship. Versatility Dog Excellent. OAP. OJP. CD.

And Claire?

She had two goals -- the first was to show in 4 - 6 months Puppy; she did that twice and got Group One both times. The second goal was for her to have fun, positive ring experiences -- check.

And so in terms of 2017 Life with Dog Goals, I am pleased. I learned, I implemented, I cried, I had fun -- and the dogs had wonderful, interesting, active and well-loved lives. 

2018 will bring more attempts at Optimal - of course!

1 comment

by CA Heidi on Sat, 12/30/2017 - 14:47

I enjoy a new year because it invites the opportunity of what has gone before in conjunction with an invitation to what may be in the year ahead. I am always striving to be a intentional as possible, and my fondest desire is to realize this in some very specific ways in 2018. I wish I had done more of that in 2017, so I will turn that regret into a motivator for these next twelve months. Bravo, Wally, Felonie and Cera are all here, and it fills my heart with joy to think of experiences I hope that Michael and I will have with our beloveds in 2018. For me, animals are companions that remind me to be in the present, given that it is all we really have. I tend to get lost in my head, and animals bring me into the here and now in the sweetest of ways. I want to maximize those moments in 2018.

I was just pondering art myself this morning, and it too has a space in my 2018 plans. I am not traditionally artistic, and can't paint or draw, but I am also pushing myself to see other ways to have "things that reflect my emotions, my passion(s)." A new year invites all of this and more. I am grateful for the lessons of 2017, and anticipate the growth for 2018. May all of you find your new year to be blessed, healthy, and full of the "right nows," that you dream of.

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