Taking our cues


Sometimes when I begin a post I have a fairly clear idea of where it's headed
and other times, as happened here, it veers off into another direction entirely.
This one has become an open thought, just some observations
about how connections can happen
and where they might lead,
so I'll leave it as that.

Backing up a bit, here's where my thoughts started ....

Michelle and "the boyz" had an impromptu practice session yesterday
so Isla and I headed over to the training facility to join them.
Working with our dogs is one of the great joys in our lives
and I'm certain it's the main reason M and I have became such good friends.

Sam, her Golden, is twelve years old now but still learning
new tricks.  This is a bit of platform training used in Freestyle
and Sam's just accomplished "four on" [all four paws square on the platform]
so he's been clicked for the positive behavior
and gets a yummy reward.

Benny, who's eleven, is learning verbal commands to understand
which platform M wants him on.  Here she's said, "Behind,"
and Benny has moved into position  -  M clicks
[clicker in her right hand] 
and will hand him a treat backwards.

Our dogs take turns - while one is on the floor working
the other dogs are enclosed in their crates or pens.
It's a great way for them to learn discipline while in close proximity to other dogs
and the crates also become their "safe spots" where they can always feel secure
and chill out if they need to.
We keep the exercises short & fast ... that way, the dogs stay fully engaged
and it's easier on the handlers, too, in the long run.

The dogs seem to love the practices as much as the humans.
We're building a mutual language through teamwork but perhaps best of all,
we're building comaraderie across species.

Here's the newest addition to M's doggy household, the spritely Border collie, Craig.
A youngster by comparison to his "old men" brothers,
he's barely three and believe it or not  HE  has become Isla's first boyfriend ... 
oh my, is she ever so sweet on the Craigster ... shamefully so.
They look like brother & sister - must get some portraits of them together soon
[more of that story another time].

Although he arrived with sheep herding skills under his withers,
M has some   additional plans   for this fine fella ...
as in
her next Agility companion.

So how might one teach a herding dog new tricks?
Practice, patience, practice, determination, patience, practice,
mixed together with a lively batch of hand signals,
verbal controls, body language
and endless amounts of positive reinforcement.

Taking the cue for "bow."

So far so good.
M is nothing short of focused & dedicated ... as for Craig,
OH what a happy dog he is !

After we finished, Isla and I headed to the beach.
I needed some stones for a project and anyway,
the bright afternoon was excuse enough to head outdoors.
We walked and walked 
and as the little stones clinked into my bag
I rewound thoughts from our day; 
about training, and learning ... how much dogs and humans have in common,
thoughts about how all of us take cues from our surroundings,
from what inspires, excites, 
and also from those who purposely or not
encourage us towards new directions.

Like Craig.

The beach experienced some leveling over winter which made for easy rambling.
Piles of driftwood were displaying their silvery lines
in the chilly sunshine, exposing their story, 
showing what they're made of ...

which reminded me of some lines back home.
This piece is finished now

and this stone is my next cue ...


  1. I really enjoyed reading this post.......and love the doggy pics!!

    I am envious.

    X. C

    1. Chris! my goodness, haven't seen you round here in an age, so good
      to have you stop by for a visit. I do luv them doggies, thanx much.

  2. looking forward to a stone-and-dog wander down that beach a little later this year...

    1. You betcha, my friend ... a wandering we shall go ;>]]

  3. sweet balm on this nor'easter from hell wednesday. *sigh*

    1. Been watching the reports from this side, Jen, my sincere condolences.
      But I hear you've got some ***angels*** keeping you company ...
      perhaps it's time for a storm angel?

  4. This newly finished beaded piece is so beautiful. I'm fairly new to your blog and was wondering how this piece would be displayed: deep frame, hanging free or maybe as part of clothing? I'll be checking for your next inspirational piece and dog watching as well!

    1. Blue Sky, good questions. Photo here is but a snippet of the whole piece ... will post about it, and the story behind it, a bit later on. It's definitely not flat so if it was put behind glass it would require some kind of "shadowbox" type frame, I think, something where the glass is mounted the surface. Although it was made from a repurposed piece of clothing [silk sleeve], it could not at this point be added to clothing ... has become its own entity, so to speak ;>]]

    2. ... typo ... mounted ABOVE the surface ...

  5. Wonderful beach images! I love the texture of the driftwood. Whenever I am at a beach (not often living in Ohio), I have a tendency to take pictures of rocks just like your last image, always a treat to find one with a stripe through it. Something about those rocks smoothed by the ocean...

    1. yeah, something about being tumbled around until all the rough edges are gone.
      Working on that life one meself { grin }

  6. "you got the silver!" Christi!
    to quote Keith Richards love this clip

    1. thanks, Mo, "Shine on"!
      ... one for you, from Eric Bibb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gWKqjljxTE

    2. ah Eric Bibb, magic man, got to see him at The Basement about 9 years ago

  7. Veering off the dog training to gathering stones and photographing driftwood on the beach was a pleasant surprise for me, although the first photo of the post should have given me a clue. How we learn, staying engaged and connected, curious and interested, is a fascinating subject. I enjoy your dip into it!

    1. I know it probably sounds odd to a *cat person* but my dogs teach me soooo much. Learning from them
      is an almost daily enterprise and my life is so much richer for knowing them. Thanks for the kind words, Robin.

  8. This is a fascinating story - well worth being published and shared. What I like most following your path and your obvious commitment to a full and rich life. Your photos nicely compliment your words, or perhaps vice versa. But either way, they intertwine to tell your story that is both affirming and encouraging. So nice to meet you.

    1. gosh Donna, thank you for that, and I feel just the same about your blog.
      So nice to meet you, too!

  9. Hurrah for Isla and Craig! What an interesting class...Gilly and I are mostly doing agility training work, but there is much appeal to learning these more sedate subtle skills. Is it a weekly class? I greatly enjoyed the beach walk and your new piece...

    1. Suzanna, I wish you could see the two of them together ... it's HILARIOUS! Isla does these acrobatic jump-ups
      and flips in air, to then swish her tail in his face, then stand in full, erect posture mode as if to say, "Look at ME, handsome!!"
      Must get a video of this exchange and post it so you all can see ;>]]
      Agility is fantastic teamwork training, so happy to know you're enjoying that with Gilly. Yes, our Dog Club meets weekly.
      We're down to very few members in the off-season as so many peeps travel then, but we always have a swell
      time nonetheless.

  10. une belle éducation.. un exemple pour mes chihuahuas! :))))

    1. Oui Elfi, l'agility est pour n'importe quel chien... J'ai vu les Poméraniens sauter les cerceaux !

  11. Hi Sweetpea, I feel right at home here, except I know my dogs need more training.. but it's true Old dogs can learn new tricks.. my dogs let me know this everyday..
    Love seeing your beach and finds.. and seeing how you interpret these wonderful natural inspirations into your finished pieces. everything here just feels so good.
    Thanks and your virtual tea was delicious!!