Abbey's future mama picked us up yesterday morning to go to dog training class together. I was planning on perfecting my role as spectator and cheering section but the trainer has no problem delegating and I was handed a leash and told to work with Lucky; a chocolate brown, compact version of a dachshund; all wagging tail and a true believer in humans being a direct source of good things.
Lucky knows a lot more than I do. The class was working on going from having their dogs "come" and "sit" in front of them to "finish", with the dogs at our sides , sitting in "heel" position. Using "watch me" commands, and leading with a treat-filled hand signal out to the side, circle and back in, is how this is taught. Lucky knew this one and that he would be rewarded at the end of it. Imagine a chocolate brown hermit crab shuffle, his eyes never leaving my face, as his wiggly butt swiveled from front and center to ankle ready position. A turn-key dog.
Abbey did well with Barbara, ending with our "meet and greet" manners exercise when dog owners stop to chat and dogs sit politely until told otherwise. We pretended to ask "can you hold my dog a moment while I go over there to get something?" and each took turns working two dogs, who were still expected to behave as if nothing was happening. Barbara spent some time with Abbey in one hand and another dog in the other. This was the perfect practice run for our after class activity which was to return home and continue acquainting Abbey with Barbara's dog, Bella.
Barbara and I took Bella and Abbey for a short walk then had lunch in her garden, with Abbey on leash and Bella sniffing around. Abbey was a good girl, except for one attempt at a snap, which was useful as an opportunity to correct her. I set up a doggie pen so that Abbey could stay there and acclimate, but not endanger Bella and I left them to it. Barbara was invited to return Abbey to me at the end of the day and to stay for dinner with us.
The Artistic One had volunteered to plan a menu and cook, which is always a promise of something tasty. Unfortunately he has no problem delegating either. I peeled and diced a million veggies, each of which was cooked separately to perfection, before combining for the final phase of seasoning. (Is butter a seasoning?) We had cantaloupe, rabbit in red wine and rabbit roasted in the oven. The veggies were divine. One guest asked for grated cheese and so we all tried adding that to the flavor bouquet as well.
There was a cheese plate and then tiramisu topped with fresh raspberries and blueberries that I had intoxicated with a sweet red wine and brown sugar.
Barbara had brought home a very tired Abbey. She had managed both dogs at her home very well. She had worked with Abbey, side by side with Bella, without the pen and managed to take a rest with one dog sleeping on each side of the bed. I've had a good vibe from Barbara since our very first meeting. What I learned yesterday in our dinner table conversation was that her career was as a psychiatric nurse. Great qualifications for staying calm and handling unexpected situations.
This morning was hard. We had gone to bed after midnight after copious amounts of food, wine and good company. If I had no dog to take for a walk and no riding lesson scheduled I think I might have lingered between the sheets. Not to be. Luckily, Abbey lets me have my coffee before we go out. I warmed up to the rhythm and didn't listen to my lazy suggestion to self that a foreshortened circuit would be O.K. just this once.
At the stables by 9'ish, I rode a large bay quarter horse called Mac. He's a beauty with a huge stride and a noble head. It was the start of a new session so I had imagined there would be more people than usual in the class, which would allow me to take it easy. My name was the only one on the board so I ended up in a private lesson. Warm up was a struggle but we ended up working through a low level dressage test quite respectably, for a horse and rider who had never met before today.
Lunch was a no-brainer. Hurray for left overs. The Artistic One worked on a new water color this morning and is now taking a nap. I am trying to catch up with all the blog posts that I haven't had time to read. I am on the cusp of attaining my one hundredth follower. There are so many kind and interesting people out in the blogosphere. Who would have thought that so many would show an interest in my search for pony-dom?
I don't write as much as I did in the beginning. For a while this blog was a bit of a lifeline; an exploration and affirmation of identity that I had lost sight of; A crutch, a retreat and a safety valve. Abbey has been a part of my journey back onto a path that once again feels as if it might lead somewhere worthwhile. I'm getting my life back. I'll try not to lose sight of it ever again.