September 21, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

It's good to have everyone together again- for at least a little while! The past few weeks have been hectic.  All the humans have scurried around here going about our human-style business- horses and dogs. Meanwhile the animals have carried on business as usual.

Gary and Amber made a journey into the mountains of West Virgina to the West Virginia and Mountain State Futurities- they brought home several Championships! Tara's horse Chevromotion (known as Kramer) performed well for both Tara and Amber and a good time was had by all. Back at the farm, the preparations for the Congress Super Sale continued as well as general horsekeeping such as Fall vaccines and pregnant mare checks.

Wayne had business which called for a short trip to California leaving Sheri and I to hold the fort down at Canine Companion. Although it was nearly a full house at the dog hotel, everything ran along just fine. Brittney even found time to move into her first apartment AND help out at the kennel and barn while everyone was scattered hither and yon.

So, the beginning days of this week find us all back in our regular roles- dogs, horses, and people alike. We are expecting a visit from mare owner Christa today and she will meet her 2010 foal Vegas for the first time. Like a stage parent, I've prepped Vegas for her grand appearance and am anxiously hoping that she will hit her cues and make me proud!

Oh, and on Sunday- I stepped back into an old set of shoes when I (together with an exciting group of other ladies) repurchased a large dog kennel and grooming shop that Wayne and I formerly owned. I have a strange sense of deja vu as I tabulate budgets, make a list of repairs, and begin an old journey anew. But, rest assured, there will be a lot of new faces and animals to appear in future blogs! For now I'm glad that we are back into our regular routine- there certainly is no place like home.

September 17, 2010

Ten Hearts

I have been doing some extensive house cleaning recently. A friend recently suggested that I review my personal gratitude list. When I did so, I realized that it needed a little fixing up. Much like a room which needs to be updated or redecorated, my gratitude list needed a little refurbishing. Here is a list of ten things which fill my heart today.

10. I have a job. In fact, I have several jobs and am thankful for the success of our businesses.

9. I have a nice house to sleep in every night.

8. Reality TV (I know, but I'm still thankful for it!)

7. I am vital and healthy.

6. Team Chevy- this ever-growing network of customers and friends with whom I share a common bond.

5. I am daily thankful that I was born an American citizen and enjoy the rights, privileges, and opportunities that it affords.

4. Bacon. Sometimes it's the simple things in life that give us the most pleasure.

3. My own personal animal kingdom. I get to walk on the wild side everyday!

2. Chevy. I am blessed to share the life journey of a great horse.

1. I am surrounded daily by people who truly know and care about me.

September 14, 2010


Ace was a Bernese Mountain Dog. He more closely resembled a black bear than his Saint Bernard cousins. Although he had never seen an Alp nor been close to a cart, his dense fur and massive bulk told the story of his heritage. To a human, he was 130 pounds of pure canine; to the other dogs around him, he was a chump.

Since he was a puppy, he had dodged confrontation. He often averted his gaze to avoid eye contact with other dogs; was satisfied to eat after everyone else had their fill; and preferred his master's gentle pat of approval to a tone of displeasure. He could not remember a time when he did not accept his fate, go with the flow, or obey a command. As a young puppy, he attended obedience school and outshone his fellow students. His nature was to obey blindly. He was a follower and it served him well in his lot.

Now, Ace spent most days lying in the sunny spot at the end of the barn aisle. Sometimes he moved  when people walked through but usually they just stepped over him. He had become a fixture and was part of the furnishings of the stable. He was a doormat for the cats- literally, they liked to wipe their paws on his black fur when it was wet outside or after a particularly dirty hunt. He would lie in his usual position and it was commonplace to find a cat or two curled into a ball on top his mountainous bulk.

He looked out the doorway through half-closed eyes and enjoyed the feeling of the evening sun baking him. His thick fur served as an insulator to both heat and cold- so it took a while for the radiant energy to reach his flesh beneath.

"Well hello, big guy,"  a male voice spoke from behind him in the darkness of the barn. It was late afternoon- the feeding chores were finished and he had thought he was alone without the people who tended the horses for a few hours. Customarily, they would return later to close the barn doors against the cooling night air and check on the equines who stood in the stalls around him. But for now, he should have been alone.

A chill crept across his gut like a long shadow. He liked people and was always ready for a pat on the head or to meet a new human friend. This one, however, was unannounced and inside his barn. Ace allowed his frame to rise to a sitting position- a great effort for this time of the day. He wanted to get a better look at this new voice. He pushed the shadow in his gut down and cocked his head sideways. Ever a smile on his big face, he wagged his tail slowly sending a friendly volley across the space to the man standing a few feet away.

The gesture was met with a nervous smile but Ace became uneasy when it did not reach the man's eyes. Why was this man standing here breathing short nervous breaths? Why did his eyes dart side to side as if they had a mind of their own rather than meet his warm brown gaze? Ace began to feel an uneasy ball roll around inside his stomach. Different than hunger, the ball rolled against the back of his stomach and he knew he was unsure about this person. He wished that there was a barn person here to greet him in the usual manner- to shake his hand, smile, and inquire about his business. But Ace was alone, here in the barn with a stranger, and he did not like it one bit.

Somewhere to his left, a mare whispered quietly, "Ask his business." With a low nicker, her neighbor- a chestnut mare with light hair sprinkled throughout her brown mane said, "Someone must send him away- he should not be here."

Ace looked down the long barn aisle as if wishing would make a familiar person appear before him. His rich brown eyes always held a hint of sadness, now they were quickly filling with worry. He knew this person should leave the barn. He could not imagine who would tell him to go. Furtively, he glanced behind him. Where were the cats now? Perhaps they would enter en force in all their feline fury and drive the intruder out.

But, alas, there was no cavalry to be seen. Ace was running out of options. The ball rolling inside his stomach was getting larger and causing him to be more uncomfortable. He was becoming agitated by it. A quiet voice whispered to him, "You know, you could tell him to leave."

He cocked an ear to discern the direction the sound came from but could not find the source. He continued to watch the suspicious man and noticed that his arms hung stiffly at his sides. His hands opened and closed into fists in a rhythmic motion. Ace knew that he was a big dog. He had always used caution when he moved close to people so that his bulk would not cause them harm. He had never before contemplated that his size could be used for any other purpose.

That idea settled upon him like a cloak and the ball suddenly settled within him. A tiny seed of courage sprouted from it and began to grow. Faster than an idea can travel from a dog's heart to his mind, Ace opened his smiling mouth and said "Woof." It was a small woof but his sheer size dictated that his voice was baritone and rich. The man took a half step backwards. Without pausing to think again, Ace said a bit louder "Woof."  He liked the way his voice felt rushing across his throat and threw his thick jowls.

Courage welled inside the black beast like a wildfire now. His voice boomed and he was bolstered by the nickers of approval coming from inside the stalls around him. He stood up- an impressive mound of hair, flesh, and teeth and enjoyed the sound of his booming voice as it echoed through the rafters and off the concrete floors. The intruder was retreating now- and quickly. He had come here not expecting to be greeted by this bear in dog's clothing.

Ace watched as the man disappeared out of doors at the other end of the barn. He still felt the ball inside him but now it had moved upwards and was filling his heart. He did not feel afraid nor meek at this moment. He felt proud and vital. He walked the length of the barn once and back again- huge paws falling softly on the hard surface. He accepted the congratulations of the admiring horses as he passed their stalls and beamed.

Once he reached the sunny spot at the end of the barn, he settled back onto a lump resembling a furry rug and let out a satisfied sigh. With half-closed eyes, he resumed soaking up the remainder of the long evening rays of sun.

September 12, 2010


The bay mare blew through the pasture like a cold wind. She stretched her long legs with each stride feeling the soft earth below her feet. In the Spring or Fall when the grass was moist and the earth held the rain inside it, the sound of the her hooves would have been muffled. Now, it was Summer and she thundered across the paddock- four feet echoed until it sounded like twenty four feet. The earth was hard and dry. It ached for a hint of rainfall.

She raced headlong toward the farthest end of the field. Like a tornado, her path was erratic yet relentless. She careened toward an unknown destination mindless of anything in her path and destructive in her velocity. There were a handful of horses who shared her enclosure- and they stood quietly watching the tornado mare race across the dry ground. In her wake, a cone of dust and debris swirled into the air only to settle quietly back to the earth a few moments later.

Just as quickly as it began, the burst of energy was over. The bay mare snorted once, slowed to a trot then a walk. The only evidence of her tornadic activity was the harsh sound of air rushing out of her nostrils as her lungs struggled to recover. And in moments, the paddock was calm and serene again.

September 8, 2010

If I Only Had A Brain

Here is a Top Ten List of things that I would do if my brain were larger.

10. Balance the check book on the first attempt
9. Build a better mouse trap
8. Find my way out of a corn maze
7. Be smarter than the Border Collie who checked in for training
6. Crack a top secret code to something
5. Break the bank in Vegas
4. Not lose my cell phone at least one time each day
3. Invent an I-Phone App or Facebook or something
2. Be a one woman think tank
and the #1 thing that I would do if I had a larger brain is...One word...World Peace (oh, wait...that's two words)

September 6, 2010

Love and Loss

He stood at the doorway  watching her walk away and knew that he would probably never see her again. Each warm breath left his body and was like a wind that carried her further away from him. He caught himself holding his breath- hoping that it would keep her close to him longer. But it did not.

With each step, she became smaller and smaller. He watched until he could no longer see her outline. Even then, he watched a while longer, at the place where she had disappeared. Barely breathing, afraid to blink lest he miss a final glimpse of her blonde hair, he felt as though his heart would stop beating.

It faltered once inside his chest- obliging his fear. Momentarily, the pain ceased but then his heart sputtered back to life and he felt as though he may die yet again. Each hollow thud of cold pain inside his chest was followed by a swish of hot emotion flooding his senses. Every thud of his heart emptied its chambers reminding him that she was gone. Every swish filled the emptiness with hot blood and served as a reminder that he would go on living without her. He could not escape the pain- his heart would not allow it.

Somewhere in the background, a horse whinnied. It sounded far away and he tried not to notice. The voice called again and seemed closer. Chevy did not turn his head but a single ear freed itself from the raging battle inside his body and turned toward the sound. Autonomous and independent, it listened to the voice- soft and feminine. It was intrigued. The ear dispatched a message to his brain hoping that it would arrive at its destination safely. The onslaught of emotion sieging the horse below was threatening to win this war.

The entire war lasted only moments- battles within his body were won and lost in milliseconds. Suddenly, a new emotion arose within the stallion. Something soft and feminine passed across his memory. She was bay and tall and younger than his usual concubine. His heart lost its grip upon him as his soft muzzle absorbed the new smell. Her scent wafted through the air like a perfume. And Chevy turned to see the new mare walk into the barn.

September 5, 2010

Time for some new "old sayings"...

The animals at Fields Quarter Horses (with contributions from Canine Companion as well) have decided that it is time that we create some new cliches. They are tired of the old ones!

Here is a list of their suggestions:

Instead of run like the wind, they suggest "gallop like a goat". Example: She is participating in her first marathon today, she is going to gallop like a goat.

The cats at the barn have taken particular offense to the saying Fat Cat and would like to suggest Roly Poly Poodle. Example: She is a big TV star and lives like a Hollywood Roly Poly Poodle these days.

The Hedgehog would like to suggest that pleasantly plump objects now be called "fat as a broodmare" instead of "fat as a hog".  Although appropriate, this saying is likely to never make it out of committee as the broodmares have a lot of lobbying power here.

The  Jack Russell contingency who is spending the weekend at Canine Companion have suggested that the saying "bark is worse than the bite" be abolished. I totally agree.

From the cats at Canine Companion, the suggestion passed that "looking a gift horse in the mouth" be replaced with "don't ever look a raccoon in the eyes".  They felt that this advice was interchangeable with most phrases and relevant at all times.

Gary and Amber nominated that "everything but the kitchen sink" be replaced with "everything in the tack room". Example: Instead of saying "She packed everything but the kitchen sink for the show," one would now say "She packed everything in the tack room for the show."

Ringo would like to replace "Every dog has his day" with "Every Raccoon is the King of the World."

Moving forward, "Hold your horses" shall now be interchangeable with "Sit. Stay."

Ace the Bernese Mountain Dog asked for amnesty for the cliche "Let sleeping dogs lie." At this time, this suggestion is under review.

"It's raining cats and dogs," will now be referred to as "It's raining colts and fillies."

The mares of the barn are tired of hearing "Look what the cat dragged in." They suggest the following: "Oh look, it's a mouse."

And finally, "To err is human." All of the animals at Fields Quarter Horses and Canine Companion agreed that this saying suits just fine and should be left as is.

September 4, 2010

Big Asses, Little Asses, and Smart Asses

There's a new sheriff in town and his name is Eddie. He's about yay tall (imagine my hand held waist high here), very opinionated, and has an attitude that is disproportionate to his size. Eddie moved to the farm about 2 months ago and is a miniature donkey Jack (this means male donkey with testicles).

His owners were in sore need of a Summer sabbatical and so was the group of Nubian goats he lived with. His ardor was unwelcome among their species and his frustrations were vocalized upon the entire neighborhood. Eddie had become a scourge.

When he arrived at the farm, he immediately was introduced to the sister donkeys Connie and Sara. They are regular sized Jennies and were without their usual male escort Rico this Summer. Both had given birth to baby donks last Summer and were now clamoring to be mothers again. Eddie gladly obliged them in short order.

The next few weeks passed blissfully and Eddie will likely remember them fondly. The three donkeys frolicked like children among the Summer grasses- food and love were aplenty. Then, as if the Fall winds heralded an end to the season, the sisters began to prefer to eat their choice patches of clover alone. They turned their backs on Eddie and sometimes their heels. Still he longed for the days when he stood between them like a sentry- feeling much larger than his diminutive size. At dawn and dusk each day, Eddie would sing a mournful song across the farm. Plaintive and pitiful, his voice sang of lost love, despair, and longing.

And now it is nearly Fall. Eddie still walks among the jennies but holds his head a little less high. He follows them dutifully around the paddock as they discuss baby names and such. It is indeed a new season and Eddie is adjusting to his new role. Life runs in cycles. Eddie is learning about those now.

September 2, 2010

It's The Little Things

Little things are important in my life. I'm not talking about small details nor do I speak of finding pleasure in life's small surprises. Rather, the important little things in my life are usually furry, sometimes bite or kick, have more legs than I do, and seem to require a lot of care.

Whether it's a horse, a dog, a raccoon, cat, llama, donkey, hedgehog, or some other beast which happens to be in my care- they are all important. I sometimes wonder if other people see animals the way I do. In my world (which I share with you occasionally) each little thing has a voice, a personality, and a story.

I look at a small dog checking into Canine Companion for a weekend visit while his owners go on vacation and he instantly tells me a story. These stories are usually complete with nuances such as distinctive voices, ethnic flair, a diverse and rich garden of emotions to choose from. I walk past a mare and foal standing in a paddock and instantly imagine their conversation. Or do I?

We've already established that I have a vivid imagination (if you only knew!) but some days I do ask myself who will tell the stories of these animals if I don't? Who will explain the anguish that Brownie will feel when her foal is weaned in a few weeks. Who will share the sage wisdom that only a raccoon can offer? Who will explain the airy thoughts that bounce through a Jack Russell's brain when he chases a ball? So, I suppose that I will resume this task. The little things around me are clamoring to have their stories told. Right now Rondo the poodle is pestering Ringo the raccoon to help him write his name. It's infectious- this giving animals a literary voice thing.