A couple years ago I wrote a poem called Ode To The Horse Widower, to honor those amazing partners who respect our passion, however frustrating it might be for them at times. (I have no idea how hay got in the bed!) I love sharing that poem around Valentines day but I started thinking, what if they don’t they’re a horse widower? What if they have no idea there’s thousands of other horse husbands out there, just like them?
So I created the below reference guide for those who are trying to decide if they’re a horse husband or not. Are you a horse husband? Do you know one?
If there’s a horse in the barn referred to as the “husband horse” that you only ride once a year, you might be a horse husband.
If you ever thought she was talking about you when she told her friends, “He’s an easy keeper,” you might be a horse husband.
If you trip over her shoes inside the house, and trip over her boots outside the house, you might be a horse husband.
If she rakes the barn aisles every day, but only vacuums the house every couple of months, you might be a horse husband.
If you’ve ever missed a football game to watch your wife in a horse show, you might be a horse husband.
If you’re not exactly sure how much money she spends on horses every month, you might be a horse husband.
If your wife cries a lot and is cheating on you with a guy named Buck, you might be a horse husband.
If you suddenly find yourself having time for long naps on the weekends, you might be a new horse husband.
If you’ve ever had to fix the washing machine because a round of filthy blankets jammed it up, you might be a horse husband.
If you’ve ever faked a back injury to get out of stacking hay, you might be a horse husband.
If you’re annoyed your wife spends money on new shoes every 6-8 weeks, you might be a horse husband.
If you’ve ever been late for dinner reservations because your wife had to swing by the barn for “just a minute,” you might be a horse husband.
If you’ve ever lingered at the edge of the arena, resetting jumps, you might be a horse husband
If she spends $200 on a vet bill for a cough, but tells you to quit being a baby when you have the flu, you might be a horse husband.
If you’ve ever said “Take your time at the barn,” so you could finish a football game, you might be a horse husband.
If you’ve ever had to do barn chores because your wife was sick, you might be a horse husband.
And finally, if you think your wife likes her horse more than you, you might be a horse EX-husband!
What’s missing from the list? What needs to be added?
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Last weekend at the Oregon Horse Center they hosted an indoor eventing show. Sans the dressage portion of eventing. I really don’t know much about eventing or show jumping. I just know it’s cool to watch, I never want to do it and it’s lots of fun to shoot.
I was struggling mightily with my camera in the low light of the arena and the fast movement (blurry photos, me getting irritated) so my photographer mentor handed off her camera to me and I had an absolute blast. I’m a big believer that the clothes don’t make the woman, but I’m pretty sure in this case the gear made the photographer. My saving grace is all the post processing is completely my touch.
Please enjoy some photos jumping ponies from this fun event and amazing course that the crew at the Oregon Horse Center put together.
I love the look of this guy. Big, beautiful, bay. The three b’s.
Weeeee! Look at that length!!
Dublin boots abound. I cropped out the part showing them all on their phones, ha ha.
Don’t you just love the look of boots and breeches?
Isn’t that what started this whole nutty adventure? The desire to write a book?
It is. The whole blog, Facebook page, giveaways, interviews, published articles, all of those things are because I had have a little idea to write a book. The problem with me is that little ideas turn into big dreams. And big dreams take time, hard work, more time, and more hard work.
The little book is still chugging along. It’s the little book that could.
Last year I started sending out the first pages along with a query letter to literary agents (literary agents sell the manuscript to publishing houses). This is the most traditional route for publishing. It turns out I queried my story prematurely. Even though I had worked quite a bit on it, when you’ve never written a book before, you don’t know what you don’t know. I didn’t know that the book wasn’t really done and still needed a few more rounds of serious rewriting. So I stopped querying the story and went back to editing the hurking thing. I’ve been editing it for the last six months, most heavily in the last three. Which is what I blame for putting the blog on the back burner.
I have it out for another round of edits and feedback right now. Once I get the edits back, I’ll go through it AGAIN (I mean because why not?? You’re supposed to be able to read it from memory by the time you’re done with it right?). After this next round of editing then I’ll resume querying. When I started this process I said I’d query until I had 100 rejections. That’s still my plan. I’m not going to lie, the first several rejections I received last year stung. “But my life’s work! How could they not love you??!!” Because it wasn’t ready. Now I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to set this little bird free. Will it fly into the arms of a loving agent and get published the traditional way or will she land on the desk of a small independent press? I haven’t a clue. I’m okay with whatever form the book takes. But this is the year it’s going to leave the safety of my hard drive and take it’s worldly form. I’m ready.
I can’t tell you what an amazing journey this has been. From the very first shaky conversation with a friend about my shy desire to write this story, her encouragement to blog the process (But what would I blog about? Would I have anything to say? Yes. The answer was yes. You’d have plenty to say. Sometimes maybe too much.) Then on to my first writing workshop, then writing conference, talking with a real-live Brooklyn-living, New-York-Bagel-Eating, Funky-Glasses-Wearing literary agent. I may or may not have been a little star struck. That conference is where the little idea exploded into a big dream. All of a sudden I had visions of a book tour and Matt Lauer interviewing me about my New York Times Bestseller. First of all, Matt Lauer ugh, second of all, have you recovered yet from my stars-in-my-eyes visions?? Oh sweet child. Sweet, sweet child.
If those things happen (interview with Hoda now, not Matt) I of course would be totally okay. But they are not likely. The same way me winning a million dollars isn’t likely. But I know I’ve grown and I’m on the right path with this journey because money, fame, notoriety are not my goals. I care about this story. I want women to read it and feel like I told them a juicy story over a cup of coffee and now they’re ready to go out into the world and kick some ass.
And that’s what I want to keep doing on the blog. Keep telling stories that leave you happy, thankful, inspired and like you’re ready to kick some ass.
So wish me luck. Cross your fingers and toes and your friends’ fingers and toes too. And whatever happens will be okay. Because no matter what, I still have all of you awesome people who give me a little bit of your time by reading my words. I love ya for it.
Did you enjoy the holiday? Or did you get bogged down by the pressure to be happy, to serve delicious meals on sparkling table settings? Did you feel sad and disconnected even though you were surrounded by people? Or were you alone and wished you had a tribe to spend your time with?
The reason I ask is because our lives must be conscious decisions, choices we make and steps we take on purpose. Otherwise, we end up slipping into our most comfortable routines, which can be masquerading as Pinterest-level entertainers, keeping relationships alive that are draining, or even holding people apart from ourselves to the point that we end up with no friends at all.
You might be surprised to learn that even though I give up my inner-most thoughts, doubts and desires on my blog, I can be hard to get to know in real life. I am what I like to call slow-to-warm. Also known as cold. Which is a word that’s been used to describe me on more than one occasion. Earlier this year I looked around at my friends and realized the majority them were people I knew because of my husband. I pretty much made zero effort building my own gang and relied on the built-in spousal friendships of my husband’s coworkers. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some amazing friends that way. Friends who have become family.
But I also felt bad. Because I knew part of the reason my friend set was made up of women I’d known for 10+ years or through my husband was because somewhere along the way I stopped trying to make new friends. I got burned a couple times by girls (and I am using the word ‘girls’ here on purpose) and lost faith in the possibility to have healthy female friendships. When I met new women I’d be polite (probably they’d say cold, ha) and then go on about my life. Building new friendships requires vulnerability. Even before honesty (which is what you need for an actual healthy friendship), you need to be vulnerable enough to let someone get to know you, to let them know some of your secrets (fun and painful) and to show them they can be vulnerable too, that you can be trusted with their feelings.
In her book she talks about to have a friend, be a friend. I had a revelation. I have a friend who’ve I always felt held me at arms-length, that I never got the chance to really be a true friend. After reading Jen’s book, I wondered if in actuality, she only reflected what I’d demonstrated, I held her at a distance so she would do the same. Unfortunately this isn’t someone I’ve had the chance to explore this with, and I may never. But that’s okay, because the wish for what that friendship could be caused a new wish to bloom: to be a better friend to those I already have, and to be a better friend to the women I haven’t yet met.
I made three new friends this year. Not just casual talk-about-the-weather and what’d-you-on-Saturday friends. Friends with depth, friends who talked to me about their spirituality, their desire (or not) for children, hurts and triumphs. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
I can’t tell you if I did any better at being a friend. It’s not for me to say. But I can tell you that on my husband’s 40th birthday, and on the days leading up to Christmas, I looked around and felt so much love. Have you ever been in a room filled with people and felt like the walls were fogging up with the volume of love in the room? I didn’t tell my friends I loved them, I’m not much for the L word. I didn’t grow up saying it or having it said. Love came in the form of food and hugs and good-natured ribbings. But I did hug my friends, and told them Merry Christmas, and how happy I was to have them in my life.
So what does this all have to do with feeling pressured to be Martha Stewart or feeling disconnected or lonely? Because you get to decide what kind of life you want to live. You get to decide what kind of day you want to have. What kind of year you have. You can’t control the bad shit that rolls your way, the bad people who’ll cross your path or the misfortune that might befall you. But you do decide how you’re going to respond to it, how you’re going to let it shape your tomorrow, and all the tomorrows after that.
I would never let a horse throw me and then give up on riding. But for some reason a couple friendships knocked me back and I decided I didn’t need to make new friends. That’s the easy way out. Giving up and turning away is the protected path that ensures no pain. But that’s not the way life is supposed to be lived. Loving people is hard. We do shitty things to each other. We lie and falter and say unkind things when we’re hungry or hurting. But loving people is what makes life full. Loving people is always the harder choice, but it’s the bolder way to live.
Whatever you want to be for 2018, be a good one. (Which is my take on old Abe Lincoln’s quote).
For a little holiday cheer, I’m reviewing (and giving away!) the Solo-Ride mounting aid, a Pink Pinecone Studio neck warmer, a subscription to Northwest Horse Source and a bag of barn-useful goodies. Before we get to the goods, a little legal stuff. I was not paid by any of the below businesses for my reviews. Where I received a free product, I will let you know that. It’s important to me that you know this isn’t just an advertisement parading as a heartfelt product review. So now you know!
Oh, and the winners of the Solo-Ride, the neck warmer, and the barn goodies, will also receive a custom Sass In Boots canvas bag featuring my original photography.
If you were around for last year’s review and giveaway, you know I love discovering new, useful products. And finding businesses built by women is even more invigorating. I love seeing all of the wonderful, amazing, inspiring things that you ladies do. And I say ‘you ladies’ because I know even though we’ve never met, you’re doing great things.
Solo-Ride Mounting Aid
Up first is the Solo-Ride Mounting Aid by Hairy Back Ranch. I stumbled on this tool by accident and was smitten by Randell’s story about how the mounting stirrup came to be. The quick version is that after finally having her own horse and living her dream of horse ownership, the dream hit a roadblock when she took a solo bareback trail ride, had to dismount, and couldn’t find a good stump or rock to help her get back on. There was a mossy log, and a resulting injury that still didn’t get her back on her horse. So she had to walk all the way back to the truck, sad and bruised.
Randell sent me the Solo-Ride free of charge to try and giveaway. I’ve had the Solo-Ride for about a month and it’s been making the rounds at my boarding barn getting tested out by different riders on different horses. The Solo-Ride is a well-made aluminum stirrup, on a nylon strap with padding under the stainless-steel hardware. To use it, you drape the nylon strap around the foreleg of your horse on the opposite side from where you’re mounting. The strap then drapes just in front of the withers, and you can adjust the stirrup height to wherever you need it. Once you’ve mounted, you unhook the strap and slip it in the included carrying case, which you can either wear (if you’re bareback) or tuck in a saddle bag.
This is such a great idea to help you get back on without a boost or hunting for a suitable rock or log. You can use it for getting back on a bareback horse or to help when you can’t quite reach the saddle stirrup from the ground. You can see the Solo-Ride in action with a saddle here.
Or you can watch a video of the mounting aide being used on a bareback horse below.
Pink Pinecone Studio Neck Warmer
Next up is a handmade neck warmer by the Pink Pinecone Studio. You may recall I talked about Sara Baker and her artistic skills when she did a memorial painting of our dog Connor. Why do I love this neck warmer so much I bought one to give away to one of you lovelies? First off, it’s like a hug for your neck, it’s so soft and warm. Second reason I love this thing? It has no tails! Whenever I wear a scarf and lean over to pick hooves, the ends of my scarf always get in my face. I find it annoying. So I love that no matter what, my neck is warm and the scarf isn’t shifting or getting in my face. Once you try this thing, you’re going to wonder how you ever lived without it. And it requires no special care and feeding. Just toss it in the wash when you need to get the horse slobber off.
Northwest Horse Source Subscription
I’ve been writing for Northwest Horse Source for two years now and I am so excited at the chance to give one of you lucky readers a free one-year subscription. In the age of the internet and arm-chair experts, Northwest Horse Source gives you useful information you can depend on. Their contributors are veterinarians, trainers and experienced horsemen and women. If you’re a horse-related business you can order bundles of the magazine to stock in your retail space. My local feed store is where I first discovered Northwest Horse Source and it was a column by Trainer Allison Trimble that kept me checking back for new issues.
Barn Hack Bag
Last up, a little gift from me to you. I call it the Barn Hack Bag. I’ve packed some ultra-useful items to make barn life a little easier. Also, if you’re struggling on what to get your favorite boarders, this makes a great gift and can be put together for as little as $15.
You can never have too many rags out at the barn so I’ve included two rags. During these winter months, I don’t care how puffy your jacket is or how well insulated your socks are, having hand and feet warmers can keep you going even on the coldest of days. I’ve included Softsoap antibacterial soap, which I use pretty much any time I need a good clean area on my horse, including cleaning wounds or washing rain rot patches. Along the same lines, triple antibiotic ointment is another barn necessity, so I’m throwing in a tube. Scissors. Where do they all go?? I’m giving you another pair. A toilet brush? Yes, a toilet brush. Toilet brushes are perfect for scrubbing out buckets. It’s brand new, I promise.
I’m also including a sample of Finish Line Herbal horse shampoo as well as a sample of Willowcin-X, a paste for when your horse has sore, stiff muscles due to a hard workout. Did you know you can save on your shampoo and conditioner when washing your horse’s tail? Once you’ve wet your horse’s tail, add shampoo or conditioner, and then add a bit of water to a plastic grocery bag and put the tail in the bag to work the suds/conditioner thoroughly into the hair. It will save you a lot of energy and product.
And the last thing in there is a strainer. Even if you don’t have a hay dunker (I’m not so lucky) having a strainer makes it easier to fish debris out of water troughs.
So about this giveaway… The Rules
There is no purchase necessary. The giveaway will take place on Facebook so you must have a Facebook account and you just need to like and comment on each post related to each giveaway item. Each item will be listed as a separate giveaway post so that way if you aren’t interested in a certain item, you’re not entered to win that item. For the Northwest Horse Source subscription, I will provide the winner’s information to the magazine. The neck warmer, Solo-Ride mounting aid and the barn hack back will be shipped by me personally and I will cover the shipping costs (it really is a free giveaway!). You can enter once a day for each item by adding a new comment to the giveaway post on Facebook. By participating in this giveaway you acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by Facebook and that you hold Facebook harmless. One winner will randomly be drawn for each item (4 items: 1 Solo-Ride mounting aid, 1 subscription, 1 neck warmer, 1 barn hack bag) and announced on Friday December 1st on the Sass In Boots Facebook page. The drawing will close at 5pm PST on Thursday November 30. I will PM you via Facebook to obtain your shipping address. The information you provide to me will not be used for any other purposes. Good luck and THANK YOU for participating and giving these businesses a look-see.
Did you read all the rules?? You little rebel you! Go on over to my Facebook page and comment and like the free item posts to get entered.
A couple years ago I came across a picture on Pinterest. A 1950s cowgirl sat on the ground, her dog next to her and her horse behind her, head resting on her shoulder. I wanted a photo like that image, my beloved dog and horse all in one shot. I had the best intentions but kept procrastinating. I thought I should lose a few pounds, wait until the weather was better, sunnier, cooler. I never made the time. Then Connor died. I have plenty of photos of him. Even some with me in them. But I didn’t get to recreate that Pinterest photo that would capture my bond with my dog and horse.
I follow a fellow horse blogger (turned MFA student) Lauren Mauldin of She Moved To Texas and she had some absolutely gorgeous photos taken of herself and her dogs and horse during the bluebonnet bloom in Texas. In her post, she talked about previously not getting photos taken because she wanted to wait until she was thinner. But like she points out, we could be waiting forever on the idea of perfection that’s never going to happen.
I took her words to heart and talked to a photographer friend of mine about getting photos of me with the new puppy and the horse.
Chris (of Chris T. Sloan Photography) took some amazing photos. I love the golden light, the good friend off camera making me laugh and my beautiful animals. Oh, and my husband too. I will tell you a secret though. When I first saw the photos, I didn’t see how gorgeous my horse looked, how his ears were up and forward, or what joy in my animals she caught. What I noticed was how my jeans fit a little too tight; how I could lose some fluff around the middle.
It’s a great gift to get older, not just for the added time here on earth, but also for the wisdom gained as you age. But does letting go of insecurity come much later? Because I’m still working on it. I had to tell myself to quit picking my body apart.
Adding to my insecurity, a few people asked why I had the photos taken. I should have answered, “Because I wanted them.” But I didn’t. I said I wanted some updated photos for the website, some family photos. And those things are true. But the truest statement is “Because I wanted them.” Please listen to me, get photos of yourself with your horse, your dogs, your family (What?! That’s not in order of priority, I swear!). Whatever you want, and for whatever reason, get them.
Our horses, our pets, and members of our family, won’t be with us forever. Someday you’ll want to look back on photos that transport to you to that time, how you felt in that moment, the love you had in that split second of time. To relive that love shared or laugh that filled your soul with relief.
I know a woman who regularly gets photos taken of her children, but she never jumps in the pictures. I’m not the first person to say this, and hopefully I’m not the last. But I’ll say it anyway. Get in front of the camera. Get in the picture. Someday your children will want to look back at photos of their mom or dad. Don’t leave them just a photo a year. Let them be reminded of your love long after the flash burned.
Don’t let the fact that you think you should lose weight, or have shinier hair, or wear more stylish clothes, hold you back from capturing your life. I’m pretty sure your future self will look back on the photos and think, “Wow, I looked great.” In reality, and sorry to be a buzz kill here, we’re only getting older, saggier, fluffier. You’re more beautiful than you think.
There are 215 photos on my phone of Connor. That’s 35 for every year he lived. About three per month. That seems like plenty. But I wish I had more. When it comes to those we love, there are never enough photos.
I only saw one post on social media about it. None of the horse pages I follow mentioned it. Not even the feed stores I follow posted anything about it. They mentioned a fundraiser for FFA, Future FARMERS of America, but nothing about thanking a farmer. No wonder someone made a day to encourage some recognition. Even on the day, farmers can’t get a thank you from those who should know better.
I’m not laying blame, just merely observing. Obviously I can’t judge the speck in someone else’s eye when I’m posting at ten o’clock at night the day of.
But I did think of some farmers today. There was Earl who wore overalls and a white shirt so thin you could see through it. He sold me my 4-H lambs while I was in middle school. There was also my friend’s dad who raised cattle, and hayed properties every summer while still showing houses as a realtor. But I never really appreciated those two farmers. I was too young. I didn’t have a concept of the work they did.
There is a farmer though who I knew right away was special. Initially he won a place in my heart because he kept his promise that he wouldn’t make me back up my trailer to his hay stack. I didn’t know how. He just chuckled and said I wouldn’t have to back the trailer up. When I first bought my horse Gangster, that man even let my buy a ton of hay but leave half of it stored with him to pick up a few months later. He didn’t give me a receipt or take down my name. He just said “sure” when I asked him if he could store half of it. This blows my mind five years later because real estate on a farm is precious, and he let me take up room in his barn for no additional cost.
He was already old when I met him. Somewhere on the back half of his eighties I believe. He was always outside when I pulled onto the property. He’d see me and stop what he was doing to step into a tractor and load bales. I had to be patient though because gentlemen in their late eighties don’t move with the swiftness of youth. A little extra time was a small price to pay for the knowledge that my money was going directly in his pocket. My money kept his business going and put food in his lean belly.
I always wanted to make him an apple pie.
I never did.
That farmer passed away last January.
It’s funny how you can have such affection for someone you barley know at all. But I did. I cried when I found out Lloyd with the horse hay died.
You don’t have to do anything for National Farmer’s Day. But I beg you to tell a farmer how much you appreciate the hard work they do and the long hours they put in to feed you and your animals. Better yet, show them. Make them a pie. I lost my chance.
The name of the blog is Sass In Boots, and I’m feeling sassy today. I’m at a boarding barn, and for the most part it’s fine. I stay out of trouble, pay my bill on time and keep most of my opinions to myself. But sometimes it’s just plain annoying being around other people. The Horse Channel recently came out with an article on “How To Be A Better Boarder.” The article has things like don’t complain, get to know the barn staff, and just be nice. Good try Horse Channel, but I have some more specific advice. Being nice is as obvious as paying your bill. Paying your bill on time is better advice. Kind of how don’t put the hose back like a drunken toddler is better advice than just saying “be nice.” I don’t really care if you exchange pleasantries with me, as long as you put the hose back in an orderly fashion.
So, because I’m feeling salty and this is my blog and I’ll do what I want, here’s my list of how to be a better boarder: Don’t be these people at the barn. The worst people you’ll find at the barn.
The Dirt Whiner
The dirt is too deep. The dirt is too shallow. The dirt is too sandy. The dirt isn’t sandy enough. It’s too wet. Too dusty. Too dirty. This person thinks they’ve got a future National Reining Horse hall-of-famer on their hands and needs the dirt screened through a baker’s sifter in order to complete a 30 foot slide. But, and I’m just spit-balling here, maybe they could alter how they ride their horse depending on the footing that day. The dirt gets worked up every day. This isn’t a private training facility. The ground is never going to make everyone happy. The dirt whiners really need to just chill about it. Or, call me crazy, they could offer to work the dirt up themselves. Or schedule their rides when it’s been freshly turned. So many possibilities. A flexible person makes a great boarder. For both the office and for me.
The Arena Hog
Oh dear sweet fellow rider, I love you but you can’t take over the arena with your gauntlet of poles for some kind of hedge-maze pole work. See where I reference that this isn’t a private training facility above? So no, your impromptu dressage test for which you roped off the arena is not cool with me during the busiest ride time of the day. Clear it out. Do some rail work like a normal, polite, non-irritating human being.
Unsolicited Advice Giver
What’s that? Did I just hear a collective groan from horse people everywhere? I believe I did. That’s because we’ve all been there. We’re minding our own business when we get blindsided with impromptu lectures on the merits of feeding beet pulp/alfalfa pellets/rice bran/magic weight control sparkles because it’s so much better than what we’re currently feeding. Unless my horse’s hips look like Kate Moss’s cheeks, please don’t come to me about my feeding regimen. Trust me, if I need advice, I’ll ask. Until that happens, I don’t want you chewing my ear on how I can better care for my animal. Who, apparently, you think belongs in a Sarah McLachlan animal cruelty commercial. I’m not having it. I’m not feeding him your magic beans or whatever else you’re selling.
I already mentioned this but I’m just saying, there’s someone who’s unclear on the concept of coiling a hose and hanging it on hooks. It makes me crazy. Bat. Shit. Crazy. Look, I made a special, super easy-to-follow instructional guide below. Share it with your friends (or hose enemies). I know hoses can be complex but you drive a 1000 pound animal with your legs, I feel like this should be basic horse sense. Like cleaning poop out of the wash rack. (Quick aside, if you just thought to yourself “I’m supposed to pick the poop out of the wash rack?” then I can guarantee people at your barn are plotting your death. That wash rack poop doesn’t disintegrate down the drain and go into magic poop-disposal land. Yes, it looks like it washes down the drain, and then it stops somewhere along the way. And then it builds up. And then some poor shmuck that uses the wash rack sometime after you is standing in poop soup because you clogged the drain. Pick the poop out of the wash rack. Please and thank you.)
The Facebook Vet
Yeah, you know who I’m talking about. The fellow boarder whose horse seems to always have a problem of some sort and who relies on Facebook for veterinary advice. Lady, I’m sorry but Bernice from Idaho who told you WD-40 makes excellent fly spray is an idiot and I think your horse now has scald. You need a vet. Not the next step in D-I-Y veterinary medicine. Call your vet. Then ask a trusted friend. You have no idea how ill informed those Facebook armchair trainers really are. I know the vet is expensive. But your Pinterest solution to a serious health issue is not the time to cut corners. Trust me on this. And I’m cheap as hell.
*My apologies to all the horsewomen named Bernice in Idaho.
I’m not always so snarky, but you’ll have to follow me on Facebook to find out.
We are back from our three week road trip from Oregon to Wisconsin and back. Because a 33 hour road trip wasn’t crazy enough, 8 hours in we picked up our puppy, Hinter. Multiple people, including our vet, suggested perhaps we should pick the puppy up on the way back. They were worried about a puppy keeping us up at night, and all of the potty stops and the threat of contracting Parvo by taking an unvaccinated puppy across country and stopping at all sorts of public spots. But, as I’m sure you guessed, we didn’t listen. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Our puppy never made a peep the first night on the road and slept 7 hours overnight, curling up next to me in our tent. He never cried for his mom at all. He bonded to us instantly. We learned camping with a puppy is the best way to work on potty training. It’s certainly easier than having a puppy in a house and constantly heading outside and waiting around for him to do his business.
At just 8 weeks old our puppy traveled through 7 states. (The eighth state in the road trip was Washington, which we had already gone through by the time we picked him up in Idaho). We took Hinter into the chapel of a shrine, a Shopko, and the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. Puppies can go anywhere. People don’t kick a puppy out, they just smile and ask if they can pet it. Which Hinter gladly obliged. He loves meeting people. In Casper, Wyoming he took a spin through Lou Taubert’s Ranch Outfitters. In Western Wyoming he watched as the Grand Teton’s came into view, he even saw his first moose. He was the reason I got to hear a bull elk bugling down the mountain at 5:30 in the morning under a pink-tinted sky. Left to my own devices, I still would have been snuggled in bed instead of outside on a bathroom run.
We are hopeful that Hinter can be used for therapy. He seems to have the affection for people and is quickly learning his manners. Connor had the affection for people, but had poor manners. Shelby is incredibly obedient and could have passed the test with flying colors. The only problem is that she doesn’t care for affection. Her idea of affection is a drive-by licking while you’re napping, waking you up in the process and making sure you’re still alive. Then as quick as she descended on your face she’s gone. She doesn’t want many pets, just treats and for someone to throw a ball. Nope, not a therapy dog at all in that one.
But Hinter shows great promise. He is wickedly smart but mellow for a Shepherd. Even if we never get him to the point of therapy, I think he might already working magic on my heart. You see, I had a pretty hard time after Connor’s death. Nothing I realized, just a listlessness. You can see it in my blog posts. It took me months to write something funny. Even the number of blog posts suffered. Right now I am strapped for time with waking up overnight for potty breaks, getting up early with him, then driving him to my mom’s for doggy daycare. The evening is consumed with rushing from horse care, to dog walking, to puppy training. By the time I sit down it’s usually after 8 O’clock. And yet, the writing is coming a little easier. The valve has been opened a little wider. I don’t want to jinx it, don’t want to scare it off, but puppy joy seems to be an antidote to writers block.
One last shot from the road, not a puppy photo but a shot of rain moving off the mountains as we were driving south toward Jackson Hole. I love the misty wonder of this photo. Driving 4000 miles is hard work, but seeing the vastness of our country, the beauty in the changing scenery and the cultures from place to place makes me appreciate our wonderful country.