I’ll be honest, I’ve been struggling with this post for a few weeks.

First it was going to be about training; where I’m at with the dogs, what I’m working on now that the clinic & trialing year is done, plans for next year, the usual.

Then I thought I should really give Rebel Kitten his own post because… well…

Truth of the matter is though, I’m finding it difficult to write anything other than a post more fully answering the question some of my friends have been asking. How am I doing since losing Cian?

I have that post written. When I finished, I couldn’t decide whether I would hit delete or publish. I did neither. The writing of it was, in itself, truly cathartic. There are reasons psychiatrists suggest people keep journals. Just getting your thoughts and feelings out can really aid in healing. Or at least in dealing with them.

Though I still have that post, I decided not to share it. It’s… pretty emotional and I’m generally more private when it comes to deep emotions. I’m not a ‘wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve’ type of gal. Although I share some things here and on Facebook, only a very few, very close friends ever get the dubious honor of seeing me completely melt down. And even that is rare. Not saying it’s the healthy way of handling things, but I’m pretty accomplished at the art of internalizing, dealing, and moving on. Usually.

This time, however, the ‘moving on’ seems maddeningly difficult. Something I realized when I found myself still answering those inquiries as to how I’m doing with, “It’s been tough.” accompanied by a boatload of tears when what I want to say is something upbeat because it’s been a month now and I need to move on.

So why share even this much? Well, as I’ve said before, writing is my therapy. And the purpose of this blog, after all, is to share my journey. A journey not unlike many others, I’m sure. And so you’re getting a bit of everything this time around.

First, training. Jig and I ended the trialing season with a couple Final’s Points in sheep and ducks (LMAO on that one) and I think 1 point on cattle. Over winter I need to decide if I’m going to keep trialing Jig or retire her. With things already scheduled for next year I don’t have a lot of vacation to play with. Finding trials early enough in the year to get the remaining points would mean travelling south and I just don’t have the extra travel time. So the question becomes, do I keep working with Jig, take all we’ve learned and look toward 2021 Finals instead? Decisions, decisions.

And then there’s Dillon. He and I continue to have moments of brilliance and moments of …

Lately we’ve been working on getting him to understand and use his power. It’s not that he’s overly soft. He’ll stand in the sheep’s pressure all day if I let him, just begging one to pop so he can put it back, but when he needs to push from the rear and get a stubborn sheep to move, he’s just not certain how to handle that. Toward that end, we’ve been doing some chute work with me helping him, letting him know it’s okay if he has to nip one. He’s been punching with his nose, then popping back and looking at me. I don’t give him too much eye contact, keep my focus on the stock and verbally praise and encourage. I can’t overdo the praise or he gets all sorts of goofy and wiggly. The boy can be a bit immature at times but he certainly makes me smile and utterly adores me. Can’t knock either of those qualities.

Next up… Rebel Kitten. This cat. I can’t even. He’s such a character. He really deserves some screen time. It is a rarity for me to be able to work the dogs without Rebel coming along and helping out.

Lastly, Cian… it’s been tough. I’m stuck somewhere between the anger and the sadness. There are, as I would say with Cian’s epilepsy, more good days than bad, but there’s also not a day I don’t think of him and fight back tears with varying degrees of success. Being me, I lose patience with myself in short order for being a weenie. Also, being me, I’ll work my way through it and come out the other side.

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss… you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.

~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler
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