Friday, January 6, 2012

Oh the weather outside is frightful ...

Source: Helsinki According to PPUSA

Oh, HI! There you are, winter! I was beginning to wonder if we were going to get any snow this season ... because without snow? Temps in the twenties and teens feels frigid cold, and the whole world looks disgusting because the trees are bare.

It's now January 2012, and I can't help but reflect on things. I can't believe that sometime this month ... Drew will finally get orders for his new unit/duty station. Well, knowing me and my luck? We won't know until what ... 30 days before we move? He requested orders in August, and seeing as it's now January and we still don't have the slightest indication that we're moving to greener pastures, I'm beginning to think we'll be stuck in Maine until further notice. But you know? All things considered: it might not be so bad.

The SoCal Girl that originally despised Maine has actually come around and doesn't mind it anymore?
Good grief: pigs are flying!

But no, really. It took some time ... but 2.5 years later? My life has finally fallen into place. In November, I accepted a new position with an affiliate of the FOX broadcast network. I was originally really nervous about the salary, because I'd previously been working like a dog for $8/hour at the radio station and the average salary for someone in Maine is $24,000/year. (Great. Because I definitely spent more to go to college ...)  Imagine my surprise when there wasn't even a negotiation necessary: I was offered a number that was absolutely my best cased scenario. I'd been prepared for something mid-twenties, but it all worked out much better than expected and I could finally stop waiting on tables. The irony is that I had stopped getting so angry and frustrated about being a server. I had just accepted that I had 7 years of valuable experience, and that getting used/abused is just part of the territory. I suppose you could say I had come to peace with what I had to do to make ends meet.

Things have improved for Drew, too.
There's been a new SNCOIC at his office almost every 8 or 9 months. The first one?  Seemed to be too lazy/slack and their office was constantly under the gun for not producing. The second one? Was a hard ass that didn't have things in perspective. He had them working until 10pm 6 nights a week pretty regularly ... and that's when his insane work hours really started to affect the dynamics of our relationship. Our trip to CA was almost bogus because he was so burned out, all he wanted to do was relax and do a lot of nothing. And while I sympathize? That was definitely not what I wanted to do.  And now ... enter the third SNCOIC. Finally someone with some balance! Everyone in the office goes home around 6p and they don't work Saturdays as often as they used to. Every once in awhile: they stay a little late ... but I can't believe how long it took to get a balance between too little and too much! But the hubby is finally happy, the wifey is happy because hubby is happy .... peace in the universe at last.

Have you met my dog Bristol?

She's a blast and 16 mos old ... so in other words: still an explosion of energy for the most part. All the energy has a good purpose ... I thought it might be fun to enroll my dog in agility courses and wouldn't you know it? She loves it. And hot cross buns she's fast on course, too! However ... she's been slowly developing some odd habits. She barks whenever she hears another dog bark.
Paces my living room.
Has an unmistakable "I'm stressed out" look about her.  I've never really known what to do about it, so rather than reward the bad behavior with soft cooing (It's okay ...) and stroking her head until she calms down ... I've just ignored her. But at this point, I don't know if that's the right course of action. I know that dog barking is a trigger for her. Just like I know that she recognizes the jingle of dog tags and that's a trigger for her, too. (Super awesome on Saturday mornings at 6AM in the summer when we have our windows open and she starts barking because Archie next door is going for an early AM stroll...) 

She all but loses her darn mind if we see another dog on a walk. She barks, whines, pulls on the leash to say hello. But you know what? I don't want her greeting another dog with that kind of energy. I can calm her down, but I don't think she ever goes from a 10 to a 1. Other times .... it's like she's mentally checked out of the building and I can't get her focus back. This has happened while we're training agility with distractions ... she just can't handle it sometimes; runs off course to greet the Poodle standing ringside. (*facepalm*!) I attribute most of this to her being a young dog and not necessarily knowing how to process all of the external triggers in a healthy way, but isn't that my job as her handler and her owner? To give her direction?? 

I'm failing to give her healthy direction ... mostly because I'm not educated on all fronts. So when Bristol's agility trainer mentioned that she was creating a class that would help me with some of her specific behavioral quirks, I immediately signed up. And I bought the book (which I haven't been able to put down, by the way).

Is your dog:
  • Easily distracted?
  • Unwilling or too wound up by playing with a toy around other dogs?
  • Reactive or easily aroused?
  • Anxious, stressed or shut down?
  • Unable to control their impulses when excited?
  • Unable to be quiet and relaxed in their crate, in a class or a trial environment?
  • Uncomfortable or unable to work off-leash around other dogs?
  • A  potential competitor in any dog sport?
I was particularly drawn to the class and the book  because it's ultimate purpose is to teach me (and my dog!) how to relax, focus and work off leash reliably in stimulating or stressful situations.

If I can learn how to communicate effectively with Bristol, and accomplish relaxation and focus, and have her look to me for direction when she's stressed ... I think in the long-run, we'll have a much happier and mentally-healthy dog. 

2011 was a lot. I landed my first big-girl job, albeit part time and for minimum wage.
I raised my first puppy from infancy to adulthood.
In fact, I'm still learning how to work with my young dog effectively. 
I discovered her amazing aptitude for sports ... and I'm exploring these new frontiers with her.
Near the end of 2011, I landed a job I'd only dreamed about.
I've finally come to peace with my surroundings.
I don't bitch about the cold as much.

Here's hoping 2012 treats me just as well!


  1. I love New England, but you're right- winter without snow is just odd. Bare trees are no fun to look at without snow clinging to them!

    Glad you are embracing the northeast! :) And really glad you landed a fabulous job- go you!!

  2. Sounds like 2011 was a good year for you! Hope 2012 is great too! What a cute puppy!