All The Good Dogs

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Today I let Flirt go on a journey to a new life full of new adventures.

I’m raw and numb all at once. I can’t believe I really did it, even though given current life circumstances, it’s the obvious and most selfless choice. The home in question will do all of the things Flirt most loves and needs. It benefits her, her new handler/owner, and also us, as we will remain co-owners and enjoy seeing my training pay off as she earns titles and awards. I’m currently between homes, and it’s the responsible choice for everyone in my life, too. But, it’s still hard.

In the course of a life of a dog trainer, handler, rescuer, and breeder (and I’ve been all of these things), one will see, know, learn from, and love many dogs. There will always be the special ones, though.

First, there was the neighbor’s Golden Retriever that is why you love the breed to this day. He wasn’t yours, but you were absolutely his. You walked him every day, and became his pet-sitter, groomer, and trainer. He lived and breathed for 4PM every day, and so did you. You can’t think about him without tears, and even his owners wished they could have let you have him.

There was the show dog that belonged to your handler boyfriend’s mom when you were an older teenager, but adored you too. She was never yours, but you remember crying into her warm soft velvet ears when you and the boy had your first real argument, and you always wished you could have bought her.

There were the three Greyhounds (out of the thousands you handled in race kennels and doing adoption) that were never yours, but you were absolutely theirs. You won’t forget them, their warm brown eyes, and even many years later, you’ll recall their race names and little quirks. If you’re lucky, you’ll find out where they landed when they retired, and cry with their owners when they pass away.

Then there was pit bull foster that wanted to slay all nine of your other dogs when you were running your own rescue out in the country in your 20s, but was so kind and loving and loyal to you. He was such a damn good dog that you actually asked yourself if you could live with a crate and rotate situation for the next decade. He was never meant to be yours, but you were his.

Then the little golden who gave you everything, not the least of which is your kennel’s future, your new service prospect that’s even more suited to your needs than she is, a load of amazing experience training and whelping, and a lot of laughs and good times and love. You thought she was yours, but she has better things to do now. You’ll always be hers, either way.

Yes, if yours is a life like mine, there will be all these dogs, and more. There’s so many I didn’t even mention here, from elegant Salukis to the most unlikely street mutts. Every one of them shaped me, and my life.

My world has been so full of all the best good dogs, and when they move on, be it by my choice or not, I like to think we made a difference to each other. I like to believe that when I send one off to the next stage of his life, he takes a piece of the best part of me and shares it with whichever human is lucky enough to be the next one in his life.

On that note, I’m sharing a bacon cheeseburger with my Whippet, watching Willow and Fontana snooze after a long snowy run, and remembering that with any luck, I have a long life of dogs ahead of me, ready to make me theirs and teach me more about myself, and dogs, than I can imagine.

Good dog, Flirt. See you in the ribbons.

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Surprise Gift

I woke this morning and stumbled down the steps, through the breezeway, and to the back sliding door. It was stuck. I yanked it open only to be shocked by a snow drift. My dogs leaped over it and into literal Golden Retriever paradise. Thick, powdery, dry snow, and a gorgeous sun rising gave way to a lovely morning romp. Although I wasn’t dressed for it, I couldn’t help but join them in their pure happiness and joy. One just never knows what can happen in life, and today I am thankful for the safety and life of those I love most, and I have a heart full of gratitude for the simple pleasures in life.

Goodbye is not Forever

Andi has been placed in a wonderful breeding/working/companion home. She will be residing in West Virginia with Veronica and family. Her new “sister” is a Golden close in age who, due to a genetic condition, can no longer be trained as a working dog. Andi will have big paw prints to fill, but we think she can do it! Later, I will get two puppies back from Andi, so I have not lost her gorgeous structure and type in my breeding program. I feel sad, but it’s bittersweet. Sending a wonderful home-bred puppy off to a great home is an amazing feeling. I will be pet sitting her in May and June, so look for pictures and updates both then and before then from her new family. Congrats Veronica, and welcome to the Windridge family! Here is the meeting between Andi (left) and her new sister Sailor (sitting, right).

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Meanwhile, I will be focusing a lot on Willow and her training. She is simply amazing.

She’s Got “It”

Willow is a very special puppy. Now, it’s not a secret that I suffer from some significant mental health issues. I don’t hide it. For one, I’m sick and tired of the world’s stigma against the mentally ill. We shouldn’t be ashamed. We aren’t at fault. We can’t control it any more than a diabetic can control having diabetes. That said, I’m going to explain what this magical puppy did for me recently.

Recently, though my life is vastly improved in many ways, I have had some difficult things to deal with. My BPD has flared, among other issues. A few days ago, this looked like me lashing out at someone who definitely did NOT deserve it, and the resulting guilt and self hatred I had. Soon, a full fledged break-down followed. The entire time, sweet five month old Willow kept her self wrapped around my back, with her head on my shoulder, pressed into my tear-stained face. She watched me with concern and love. I didn’t notice at the time, but a friend witnessed the whole thing.

The episode grew worse, and I was reduced to sobbing incoherently, and Willow laid across me, on me, and beside me, 100% by her own choice. My crying and panic did not frighten her. She remained intuitive yet perfectly calm and attentive. This dog is everything I would want in a prospect for psychiatric service work. I couldn’t be more proud or thankful that she is in our lives. I don’t  know what our plans for her will ultimately end up being, but I can tell you that she isn’t going anywhere!

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Andi and Willow are Four Months Old!

Over the last few days, I have gotten some nice photos of the girls. Scottie’s girl Willow, and my girl Andi, are both looking lovely in their own ways.

First,  here is Andi. I love her balance, angles, head type, and her spunky personality. She wants to do all the things, and wants to go with me and work and learn. She is sassy and demanding, affectionate, and a bit free spirited. She is very much like her mother, with a slightly prettier head. more coat, more pigment, and a better front assembly!

Andromeda (Andi) – Windridge I’ll Show You The Stars:

 

And Willow is also lovelly. She is built more like her mother, and with a rather “tweedy” type of head and look about her. She is super fast and athletic, very biddable and gentle and loving, and wants to be quietly and affectionately with you most of the time. She is a lot like Fontana,  and the two of them are usually together. We love her eyes,  expression, color, light bone,  leggy build, and wonderful temperament. She has natural retrieving drive, too.

Willow – Windridge Wild Mountain Time: