This is my dog shelf. All the dogs I’ve lost in my adult life (with the exception of one) reside on this shelf. All with a photo or a trinket or two. Momentos of our time together, something that reminds me of them, or something gifted me at their passing. All with a piece of my heart.
Several times a year that shelf, along with the rest of the bookcase, gets a thorough cleaning as opposed to just a quick dusting. Those are the times each box, each token, is picked up, handled, remembered. Those are the times the Sad likes to pay a visit. Just how strongly it does so depends on what song is playing on Spotify, what my mood is, and how many glasses of wine I’ve had.
Yes, wine while cleaning is a thing. There is also occasional dancing while cleaning. It all depends on the previously mentioned three criteria. Cleaning is one of my least favorite things to do, I have to make it less tedious somehow and those are the ways I choose. You do you, I’ll do me.
I’d been putting off the task for obvious reasons but spring cleaning demanded it be done. Unfortunately, Friday the 13th hit us in spades. I should have known after the near miss with a skunk, followed up with the exploding brake fluid bottle, that things were headed swiftly downhill. Nothing horrendously earth shattering in the grand scheme of things, just several layers of stress over the weekend leading to a few sleepless nights, all of which made the thought of getting within striking distance of the Sad something I just didn’t want to deal with. Needs must, however, and so I rolled up my sleeves, put on my big girl panties and got to it. Surprisingly, for the most part, the Sad kept its distance, perhaps because my mind was preoccupied with all the other bits of life or perhaps because time is doing what it does and making the ache less sharp around the edges.
Now, some of you may wonder why on earth I have such a shelf so fraught with potential heartache? Well, I’d have to say because, overall, there are more smiles and laughter than tears in the memories I keep there. All my dogs, past and present, have taught me (or attempted to teach me) patience, humility, how to laugh, how to be more accepting, and how to let go. They have shown me the meaning of unconditional love, how to live in the moment and how to take joy in the little things. They have, and still do, take me places I never would have gone otherwise. They have brought people into my life I never would have met, some of whom have become lifelong friends. Without them, the dogs and the people, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
So I spent an afternoon remembering each one. In some cases, letting the Sad have its moment (like I could prevent it if I wanted to). In other cases smiling at some silly memory or remembered quirk. I dusted the trinkets, straightened the pictures, revisited each piece of my heart. Yes, there were some tears and a few apologies, but mostly, I thanked them for choosing me along the way and making the journey something worth remembering.
Speaking of journeys, these two boys are still going strong on theirs. We’ve got a much anticipated clinic this weekend, then both of them will be going to the SEMASA trial over Memorial Day weekend. Limited trialing to start off the year. Dillon will be running in advanced sheep and Finn in started cattle. Then it’s back to work as we prepare for the rest of the summer.
I have to say, it’s been oddly fun training these two this spring. I don’t know the reason, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it. And, because that begs the question, “Don’t you always enjoy working with your dogs?” I’ll give you the answer.
Not so much.
Okay, most times, yes. Why else would I be doing it? And that is a talk I’ve had with myself on more than one occasion in regards to more than one dog.
In any case, Dillon and I continue to fine tune his driving, inside flanks, and understanding what I’m asking without stopping to give me the ‘is that really what you want me to do’ look or the even more popular ‘you already told me that so please stop repeating yourself’ glare.
I think Finn has reached a new level of maturity because working him has become like spreading butter on warm toast — pretty dang smooth and effortless. Oh sure, you occasionally hit the cold spot in the toast, or the really dry areas and the knife skips a little, but overall…ssmmmoooove. I’ve been asking more of him and he’s been eager to give it, though I have to still be mindful of how young he is.
And just because it makes me giggle, I leave you with Dave and his girls. He’s been spoiling the hens and now whenever they see him they all come running and follow him to the barn hoping for some treats.