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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Interview

No, not the Rogan-Franco one. Not the Kelly-Drumpf one either (but didn't he say he'd never talk with her?) My interview yesterday. As mentioned, it went well. It's what happened AFTER that took some time to digest.  I guess I was still trying to come down (no pun intended) from being stuck in the building elevator with Mr. Claustrophobia. You know, I'm not completely afraid of tight spaces.  After all, I squeeze my formidable okole into a pair of clean panties every morning.  I have more of an issue with trypophobia (seriously, don't google that with images) or acrophobia.  However, being stuck with someone who is claustrophobic can really make you feel like you are too. 
 

 
 
It's good I remembered I'm a mother because the soothing voices and the memories of Lamaze patterned breathing soon kicked in.  It had to.  I went into survival mode myself, because this young man was completely coming unglued in a matter of minutes.  He did what everyone does as a first response; he pushed buttons.  He pushed all the floor buttons, he pushed the open/close buttons, and finally he found the one button that would soon prove to become my own undoing if I didn't calm him down...he found the red emergency button. 
 
Now, this is the third time in my life I've been stuck in an elevator.  The first time, I was 7 months pregnant with Averie.  Luckily, it was in the building that my OB-GYN was in, and I was stuck with two other expectant mothers.  One of them was due the following day.  Funny thing is, none of us panicked.  In fact, after opening the little door with the phone and letting whomever was on the other end know we were stuck, we started talking about; what else?; all things babies.  Childbirth methods, labor fears, mothering fears, nursing, etc.  The time passed quickly, no one went into labor, and soon we were moving again and out of the elevator.  I became friends with one of those women and we're still in contact today.  I call this a happy accident.  A good kind of "stuck in elevator" story, if you will.
 
The second time I was stuck in an elevator was between the 6th and 7th floor of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas.  We were in Sin City to celebrate Caris' 21st birthday.  Where else would we stay for a Caris celebration, than a hotel that is smothered in pink?  After having had some fun the night before at a dinner show, Averie, Caris, and Caitlyn were still asleep.  I'm an early bird, and as it was only 5 am and I knew I had some time to kill before the girls would be up and around, I got dressed and went down to the casino to have some coffee and spin the wheel of fortune.  Three hours and the most expensive cups of coffee later, I thought it was time to get back upstairs and rouse the gang for breakfast.  I stopped at the coffee bar to get three cappuccinos, then headed to the elevator.  Cue dramatic music of pending doom (or is it?) here. 
 
I got into the empty elevator, turned to push the button for the 9th floor while balancing a tray of coffee cups, then looked up to see a VERY large wall of a man standing next to me.  He wore a big Stetson, some fine looking Justin boots (I asked), a big silver belt buckle, probably his "going to a barn-raising party" finery (pearl snap buttons), and a very pretty silver engraved bolo tie.  He looked at me, smiled and nodded, raised his hand to his hat, I thought to tip it, but he actually surprised me by removing it and holding it next to him in one hand.  In the other hand, he held a very large mug type glass in the shape of a boot.  Yes, a boot.  It wasn't a Justin (I asked).  It was just at this point that the elevator came to a very sudden halt, jostling me enough to push my back against the wall of the elevator while trying my best to make sure I didn't spill hot coffee.  I felt a big hand steady my arm.  To which, this booming voice over the top of my head (he was a good 6'7" and probably 350 lbs. easy) says;  "You okay, Darlin?"  For some stupid reason, I turned into a teenaged girl because my only response was to giggle.  Good gravy, I giggled.  No one has called me "Darlin" since I lei'd Toby Keith (oh yes, I did). Well, he and my sweet Texas friend, Boogie (Damn, I miss him).  Apparently, I blushed too because I could feel it.  I assured him I was fine, thanked him for his chivalry, and for the next 45 minutes, again after calmly calling someone, we waited and passed the time.  I did tease him about the boot mug.  His turn to blush.  He asked if it were filled with rye would he be redeemed.  I laughed and told him it probably made it worse in a couple ways.  I reminded him that it was 8 am and held up my coffee tray, and said he might not want his friends to see him holding that mug; rye or no rye.  He reminded me it was Vegas and he'd been playing poker, so he honestly wasn't aware what time it was, and he was just now, on his way up to bed.  Fair note.  Soon, the doors opened, albeit between floors, but they got us within an easy hop down. 
 
 He wished my daughter a happy birthday, I wished him a good rest, we thanked each other for passing the time so easily, then he donned his beautiful Stetson, and we parted ways.  My phone rang.  It was Caris wondering where I was.  "I have coffee (it was cold).  And a story (heartwarming).  I'll be right there."  Another good "stuck in an elevator" story.  Then, there's yesterday.
 
After merely three minutes, my friend started to sweat, swear, and generally freak out.  He was young, maybe 30.  He kept looking at me like I needed to save him.  So, I calmly asked him if he knew how to meditate.  He looked at me like I had two heads and started pushing that red button again.  Let me tell any of you out there who don't know what that red button does; it is a bell.  A VERY VERY LOUD BELL.  Like a school fire drill bell.  Like the bell that goes off in a firehouse when there's an emergency.  THAT kind of bell.  Now, put that bell in a very small, closed in elevator, and add it to the yelling of a panicked human being.  Not good.  I asked him to please calm down.  We were not in a tower.  We were in an atrium-style building with an open courtyard.  Only 4 floors.  I know none of this mattered to him, but I thought if by talking I could get him to stop yelling and pushing that damn bell, I could maintain my own sanity.  I knew there were people all over the building and in the courtyard that could definitely hear us, and help would arrive soon.  I asked him about himself, why he was in the building, if he was coming or going, where he was going after this ("a bar", he responded.  "me too", I thought).  He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and leaned against the wall.  "See?" I said.  "You DO know how to meditate!"  He wiped his brow with the sleeve of his shirt.  We heard someone outside say that help was coming.  I envisioned this:
 
or this...
 
 
What we got was basically this:
 
 
But, at least I avoided this (sort of):
 
And made it back to this:
 
 
Oh yeah, the interview.  You know the drill.  Don't call us, we'll call you.  On to the next adventure.
 
 
   
    

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Say "Ahhhh"


I got a call from Averie yesterday.  We don't often get to chat and I had texted her earlier in the day without response.  In the afternoon, I texted her again because it wasn't like her not to respond and so I was worried.  She called on her way home from work and apologized for not getting back to me, it was just one of those overly busy days.  Relieved, we just went into the pleasure of catching up.

We bantered back and forth with the usual "what's going on in your world?" stuff, and as always, there are the giggles that come when I talk with Averie.  The girl is funny even when she's not trying to be.  Once "the business" was done she proceeded to tell me about her recent visit to the dentist.  She began it by saying; "I want to thank you for your forethought as a parent WAY back when I first went to the dentist as a kid."  Confused, I said; "Um, okay.  Why?"

Averie:  My dentist said that I have nice teeth.  So thanks for the braces.  But that's not really what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about my fillings.  He was surprised at my age that I had white fillings.  He said that most people he sees at my age, Caris and Bry's age, and older, have amalgam.  You know, that silver filling.  Anyway, he says he spends a lot of time in people's mouths replacing the amalgam with composite.  He said I was lucky, because amalgam was just the "go to" when I was a kid.  Insurance covered it, so that's what people did.

She proceeded to tell me that she'd thought about it, and though it might be a small thing, she realized and remembered how much thought I put into it back then.

Averie:  I suddenly remembered you coming home from the dental consultation and talking to Daddy about the expense of composite fillings, that it wasn't covered by insurance.  I know that you and Daddy didn't really have the money, but when it came to us, you always found a way.  I remember you being adamant about the composite and how important you thought it was in light of your own, and Daddy's own dental nightmares.  It didn't really register to me.  I was young.  But when the dentist mentioned it, it all came back to me, and I just thought how grateful I am that you went to bat for us in that way.  It's the small things.  They come back.  It's that, and other things.  Like when Caris had to have her broken nose repaired.  They said you could leave it, but I remember you saying; "Oh hell no, my baby is getting her nose fixed come hell or high water!"  By the same token, I remember you saying; "It's composite for my babies' teeth.  None of that silver crap!"  We didn't know it then, but we know it now, as adults, the everyday sacrifices you and Daddy made for us.  I know they came from your own bad experiences growing up; your parents not having the best dental care for you, or when you didn't get follow-up surgery on your face.  I know those are the reasons you made the decisions you made for us, no matter the cost.  I told my dentist about that conversation you and Daddy had so long ago.  He said; "Your mom was ahead of her time."  Yeah.  She was.  So thanks for that.

No, Averie.  Thank you.  It's the big things.  Like gratitude.  :)

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Happy Birthday, Daddy.



I really miss you.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Day 6



Normally, at the beginning of a new year, folks are into their new routines.  For most, it's an exercise regimen, or perhaps a new diet program.  Maybe they've given up smoking, or drinking.  I have one friend who, upon the onset of a new year, they start their "Pura Vida" lifestyle.  Only "good things" will go into his body, and only positive thoughts into his mind.  I had no such thoughts this year.  I had a fleeting vision that I would do all of that.  Diet, lose weight, get back to walking every day.  That thought came and went as fast as my first martini of 2016. 

What I did do, however, is leave Facebook.  Without fanfare.  I didn't make a grand announcement of my retreat.  I just pressed the "deactivate my account" button on New Year's Day and walked away.  Today is day 6.  On Day 1, a dear friend texted me to let me know he noticed.  What I found so funny about that is that this friend is not an everyday FB user.  He occasionally posts his beautiful photos with words of inspiration.  I love seeing them.  His posts are meaningful.  He doesn't post drivel.  He doesn't post pictures of his food.  He doesn't post stupid articles about movies or celebrity gossip.  He doesn't post pictures of abused animals or children.  He doesn't post about his exotic vacations, his new cars, his vacation homes.  His posts are without a dollar sign attached, or any hint of braggadocio.  He doesn't get caught up in the silliness of whining for attention, or "Vaguebooking".  He's a decade younger than me, but far more wise, far more healthy (both spiritually and mentally), and I always joke with him how when I "grow up" I want to be just like him.  The fact that he even noticed my departure touched me.  We don't see each other in our 3D world, in fact, we met 20 years ago online, and in that time, we've actually laid eyes on one another only 5 times at most.  Yet here he was the one who immediately texted me and said he noticed.  We have this "thing", we sense a disturbance in the force in each other's worlds, if you will.  But the truth of the matter is, we were friends long before FB and we will be friends long after.

Believe me, this isn't easy.  I'm one of those people who likes to be "connected".  I love social interaction.  I really love people.  Not all people, mind you.  But I do love the sense of belonging.  I spent most of my working career being an at-home mom.  With the onset of the computer age, and home computers becoming the norm, the interwebs were, at times, my only social contact when my kids were tiny.  I connected with other people, they touched my life, watched my children grow up, and hopefully, in return, I touched their lives as well.  This blog was my savior.  It was a sweet time, but as all sweet times go, it would end when FB arrived on the scene.  Of course, all of my blog buddies are still my FB friends.  But something changed.  Everything changes.  The Blogosphere became "old news" and "old fashioned".  The family of bloggers retreated, running like rats from a sinking ship to their waiting rescue craft; Facebook.  Instant gratification.  Constant movement.  A grandstand full of audience members vying for Drew Carey's attention on Let's Make A Deal.  Jumping up and down and waving a new post;  "Here!  Here!  Look at me!  Pick me!  I have the best this, I have the best that, I have, I am, I do, I matter!"

FB is invasive.  It's a scrolling cancer.  It lets you see too much.  Too much politics.  Too much religion.  Too much materialism.  Too much.  For someone who is compulsive, sensitive, tenderhearted, and tends to fall easily into depression, it is dangerous.  My husband has been patient, and good-natured about it.  Sometimes, I have been guilty of having my nose in my phone when I shouldn't.  Ironically, while I have flesh and blood people around me to visit with, I have been peeking into other people's open windows on FB and ignoring who I'm with.  That is a complete embarrassment to someone who didn't allow her children to answer their phone or even have their phones out when we are visiting with people.  Before cell phones, we sat at the dinner table and talked.  If the house phone rang during meals, we did not answer.  Now, with mobiles and social media, all signs of proper etiquette have been bludgeoned to death. 

Everywhere I look, I see parents with young children sitting in cafes, or at the park.  Lovely?  Well, it would be if the parents weren't nose deep in their phones while their child sits across the table from them trying to get their attention.  Or yelling from the playground for their parent to come play while they, instead, sit on the bench looking at their phones.  Even worse, now if you go into a restaurant you see WHOLE FAMILIES around a table, every single one of them nose-deep in their phones.  No interaction with one another, only with what is going on "out there".  It's heartbreaking really.  My kids were in college when FB came to being.  Back then, it was ONLY for college kids.  You had to have a verified school email address to sign up.  When they opened it up to the masses, manners became a thing of the past.  I admit, with sadness, that I am guilty.

I know people on FB who probably post 3 or 4 times an hour.  Everything they're doing, everything they're seeing, everything they're eating, and so on.  There are people who are constantly posting who they're with and every second of what they're doing with who they're with.  I often wonder how the "who they're withs" feel when that person is constantly on their phone posting to FB.  How do you fully enjoy the moments of BEING with those people if you are thinking "Oh!  I need to post this picture!"  or "Hey!  I need to check in!"  Again, guilty.  Ashamed and guilty.

So, Day 6.  Yes, I am having severe withdrawals.  Yes, I sickeningly wonder if anyone misses me.  Yes, I feel a bit lost and lonely.  And yes, I find that I feel all these things a bit sad.  But on the other side, I almost feel introspective.  I feel like I hear my "voice" coming back to me.  I feel like I want to write again.  This is hard.  Especially when really, your life is just pretty quiet.  Work, home, work, home, occasional social interaction.  FB tends to make people like me "exaggerate".   Oh look!  I have exciting things happening too....see?  Let me post it so it seems like I'm special.  You can easily get lost in the old "keeping up with the Joneses" game.  It isn't easy to step away from the game board.  But I have to try.




Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Life Lived Well Beyond Well

Yesterday, we attended the Celebration of Life of someone special.  Yes, everyone has someone special that they've had to say goodbye to.  But this woman was truly one of the most amazing people.  The kind of person who really does leave the world a better place because they were in it.  A person who made a difference every single day and was the poster girl for living life to the absolute fullest.  The legacy she leaves for her two beautiful daughters, and her brand new grand-daughter is brilliant and beautiful.  Just like Gay.

Joe, Gay's husband, and Celinda and Maggie, her daughters, asked friends and family to share stories about how Gay touched their lives.  Honestly, we would have been there still, if people did indeed stand and share.  Averie and Mary alone went on and on, just at our table, about how Gay was a gamechanger in their world.  Being two of Celinda's best friends, they spent many, many hours, days, events, dinners, dances, parties, joys at Café Geranium, as they refer lovingly to the family home.  As a mother, I am so grateful for her place in my daughter's world.  I know that Gay was instrumental in helping to teach Averie how strong, independent, and empowered women can be, to never settle, to stand up for herself, and to go after your dreams.  I have but one personal story, but I am so grateful for the many, many stories that Averie holds in her heart and memory for a woman who's FB profile picture was, appropriately, Wonder Woman. 



This is MY Gay Geiser Sandoval story:

Last summer, as many of you know, our daughter Averie participated in a worldwide event called “GISHWHES”, which is an acronym for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.

(From the GISHWHES website):

GISHWHES is a 5-time Guinness World Record breaking scavenger hunt hosted by actor Misha Collins. Thousands of participants from more than 100 countries are placed on 15-person teams and for one week, through laughter, sweat and tears (of joy of course), they acquire Items on a wild and jaw-dropping scavenger hunt list. The Items are “captured” as videos or images and uploaded to this website to memorialize the annual Gishwhes experience and to supply the judges with something to judge. The more sublime and creative a submission, the more points awarded. Items range from the sweet and touching, “perform a sock puppet show at a children’s hospital” to the weirdly sublime, “a fully dressed storm trooper cleaning a pool next to a sunbather.”

We try to create a list that is challenging, thrilling and absurd. We like to see items that make us tear-up and laugh out loud. We like to have participants break out of their comfort zones, humiliate themselves a bit and do a bit of good in the world. We’re proud to have broken several Guinness World Records including: the most global hugs, 108,121; most pledges to commit charitable Acts of Kindness, 93,376, which we did in partnership with our friends at the non-profit Random Acts  (www.therandomact.org); and of course, let’s not forget the prestigious Longest Safety Pin Chain – over a mile long! We’ve also: delivered thousands of items to the homeless; raised the money to completely furnish every room of a home for a wounded veteran and his family (we’ll be posting videos for this soon!); had a Mars rock named after us by NASA; made Christmas trees fly; and have been reported on by news organizations around the world.

The GISHWHES list is lengthy, to say the least, and in 2014 it featured over 190 tasks.  Bear in mind that the teams had only one week to complete as many of these tasks as possible.  Therefore, team members got their friends and families, and their friends’ families involved.  Which brings us to the task that Averie asked us to help her team complete:

Task #31 - IMAGE. Get married. If you’re married, renew your vows. For this ceremony, the marital partners must be adorned in this season’s hottest, stunning and elegant… kitchenware. Make sure your ceremony is well attended and set outside in a stunning location befitting such a momentous occasion. The officiant must be a ship’s captain. 82 POINTS

She said: “I know you and Daddy are already married, but you have been talking about renewing your vows for a while.  I couldn’t think of anyone that would love this idea more.”  How could we say no.  So we quickly made calls to friends and asked them to just show up at the beach for a sunset vow renewal, and ran around like crazy trying to throw together the perfect “trousseau” of kitchen gadgets. 

Enter Gay Sandoval.  Gay let us know that she had kitchen aprons, and wanted to know if we’d like to use them for the big day.  In my head, I was thinking that she had an apron for me, and one for Charlie, to wear during the ceremony.  I was thrilled.  Yes, of course, I told her.  We’d love to have that “something borrowed!”

When Celinda, Joe, and Gay arrived at the venue, we were stunned to find that Gay not only had aprons for Charlie and myself, but enough for the ENTIRE WEDDING PARTY AND EVERY GUEST.  She had aprons of every style and size, new and vintage, cute and funny, demure and sexy, seasonal and everyday.  Now I ask you, who do you know, in this big, wide world, that just happens to have such an eclectic collection of aprons to costume and entire wedding party?  Gay Sandoval. 
Needless to say, we were beyond thrilled.  The wedding was a big success.  After the ceremony, we celebrated with a "reception" consisting of another task on the list...A water balloon fight in business attire.  Gay took some pretty amazing photos of that, and then she helped Averie complete a few more GISHWHES tasks.  Not only did Averie’s team get the points for this task and many others that particular day, but our kitchen gadget wedding photo made the GISHWHES 2014 yearbook.  However I have to say, that perfect finishing touch was from the always ready for fun heart of Gay.  This type of thing was right up her alley. I found out later that aprons were a running theme for Gay.  She brought them to the community kitchens where she and Joe volunteered and "aproned" the rest of the volunteers who were serving meals to the homeless.  She gave them as theme gifts.  She liked to dress up and she loved to get others to dress up too.

All of that being said, I think the final statement on the GISHWHES page pretty much epitomizes the way I think Gay lived her life.  With the help, of course, of her equally amazing family.

gishwhes believes that “normalcy” is overrated and that true “living” can be found hidden under the rocks of community artistic creation, acts of artistic sublime public performances, and random acts of kindness. More importantly, we are all artists and have gifts for society no matter what our capabilities or talents. And most importantly, we at GISHWHES want you to know the most important thing we’ve learned in the past four years: it is almost impossible to make durable clothing from cheese.

(That's Gay, third from the left-tan hat- in the top picture, peeking over....)
 
Thank you Gay, for going beyond “normal” and completely, utterly, and unashamedly embracing life.  We could all learn from your passion.

With gratitude,

Charlie, Pua, Averie, Caris, and Bryson

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Not-Quite-Empty Nest



Movers are hired for Saturday.  Now it's just a matter of finishing the packing and cleaning out the fridge.  It's a very weird feeling I haven't felt since 2008 when Averie left.  I'm overjoyed Caris' new life that she has prepared herself for, worked her ass off for, saved for, and sacrificed for, for the past five years is coming to fruition, but at the same time, she's still "leaving the nest".  I'm not as freaked out as I was when Averie moved to LA, and I don't think I'll cry my eyes out for weeks (maybe just a couple of days).  But that's only because I know her sister, who is also her best friend is close by, and in many ways, has paved the way.  She'll always have her close for advice and wise counsel.  

As I did with Averie, I'll still lie awake for a few nights that first week, and I'll still have Charlie holding my hand to keep me from calling her or texting her too much.  I already admit to that.  I'm her mother after all.  I grew that person in my body.  She lived under my heart for nine months. People keep telling me that LA is not so far away, but believe me, it's a different world, in a different universe.  Especially when your kids are there.  Still, even though we're just one away from being certified Empty-nesters, I'm not as jubilant as I thought I'd be.  Proud.  Very proud.  But not quite dancing in the street.

I walk around the boxes lining the halls, the bathroom floor, the garage.  This morning when I left for work, I took a quick glance at all of her linens and comforters, neatly folded in zipper bags.  Every box has its contents neatly marked.  She's meticulous, organized, and has been planning and working on this move for a very long time.  She's taken risks I know that I would have never been brave enough to attempt.  Many times, I've lamented to Charlie that I think she's putting her cart before her horse.  Many times, Charlie has said in response; "Did you expect any less?  Remember this is Caris. From the minute she was born, she did things differently.  Didn't she?  And have we not always told them to pursue their dreams at any cost?  To find their passion?  To chase rainbows?"  Yes, we have.  We did.  He couldn't be more correct.  She's been chasing rainbows since she emerged.  She definitely yelled at them a lot to stop running.  Funny thing is, I'm not sure she realizes that they seem to have slowed down so she could catch up.  That's the kind of magic she wields without knowing.

The one thing I know for sure is that transitions are hard.  Getting through them to the bliss is an exciting adventure.  It may not seem so while it's happening, but Charlie and I have always had that "EGBOK" mentality.  Everything's Gonna Be O.K.  The best part is knowing that you always have someplace safe to land.  I have Charlie.  Caris has us.  Even if that safe place is a not quite empty nest.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Scary Things


I have learned, wait, no.  We have ALL learned, over the past 16 months, what it is to have a Reactive dog.  We have learned that Cesar isn't necessarily the guy that holds ALL the magical keys to the workings of a dog's brain.  Yes, he seems to have a way.  But I have learned that his way isn't really the way I want to work with MY reactive dog.  It's been a hard road.  A REALLY hard road.  A road, I think, not many people would have stayed the course on.  I believe, with some hard-earned hindsight, that someone else would have given up on Kili a long time ago.  Early on, in fact.  Very early. 

He came to us with a story, like any dog who started somewhere else would.  But we have discovered that his story, his hardship, his course before us, young as he may have been, was already steadily charted for destruction had he not come to live firmly in my heart.  I am a mother, after all.  I would do everything...EVERYTHING in my power to save him from himself.  So much so, that I remember, weeks in, and already crying myself to sleep, knowing full well that I had made a terrible error in judgment by doing what I always do; thinking with my heart and not my head, lying next to my husband and begging him; "If anything happens to me, please, I beg you, please don't send Kili away.  Stick with him.  I know there's a good boy in there.  I know he is salvageable."   Charlie of course fetted me with reassuring hugs, beginning his affirmations with; "Stop talking crazy.  Nothing is going to happen to you."  But something did happen.  Something I had no control over.  As the days went by and my love for him grew, my resolve became more and more steadfast.  I WILL save this boy.  I WILL break through his fear.  I WILL show him that he has nothing worry about.  I WILL win him over with love.  And dammit, I will show everyone in this house that I will advocate for him, and him alone, until I win them over too.

We've made amazing progress.  As smart as he is, there are just some things that his brain just cannot put aside.  Yes, he is a Border Collie, and therefore hardwired for certain things.  If you are not the human belonging to a working dog, you may not understand some of these things.  I know I didn't fully understand.  Just because our Ellie was part BC, she did NOT have these traits that we have come to know in Kili are just "IN" him.  It is part of his DNA.  His prey-drive is off the charts.  He wakes up herding (me, to the bathroom, to the laundry room, to the kitchen, etc.), he falls asleep herding (me, to the bedroom), he spends his days herding (the Frisbees, the balls, the toys, the empty plastic bottles, the lizards, the squirrels, the wind) and he even herds in his dreams.  It is entertaining, unending, and exhausting.  Add to this mix, a dog who is fear reactive, and you have the makings of a nervous breakdown.  Unless you yield.  This is where Cesar and I differ. 

I have learned that this dominance stuff, at least in our world, is not how to break through to this particular boy.  HE can be unyielding.  He WILL prevail.  He WILL move you where he wants to move you.  He is AFRAID.  He WILL NOT let you near his home, his car, his person, if he does not know you.  If a child were afraid, would you hold him down forcefully, or would you SHOW him that there is nothing to be afraid of?  Someone took his trust away.  Someone hurt him in ways that scared him.  Why is bullying him the way to regain his trust?  In the same way I refused to give up on him, I refused to accept that being the bigger bully was the way to work on gaining his trust.  With the same passion, I started doing my homework.  I reached out, I researched, I read, I gleaned, I listened, I practiced, I cried, I pleaded, but dammit, I learned.  I watched my dog.  I watched how he behaved.  I also watched how people behaved when they watched him.  On walks, if Kili reacted to them as they walked by, they glared at me.  After all, it was my fault my dog was "out of control" and not well-behaved.  It was embarrassing.  I cringed.  I wilted.  I stopped walking my dog. 

I had people telling me that I should give up on him, rehome him, that he was too much for me.  That he is "dangerous" or "unpredictable".  I called bullshit.  He was trying, in his way, to tell his story.  I stopped listening to "people" and started listening to other parents of reactive dogs.  More importantly, I listened to Kili.  I listened until I heard him.  I still hear him.  I advocate for him because I hear him.  Now, like Cesar, I DO hear the voice of other dogs.  I see when they "act out" in certain ways that they are trying to tell their stories.  They just need someone to listen.  In this way, I AM grateful to people like Cesar and fosters, and loving rescuers, and other owners of fear reactive dogs who've helped me, held me up when I was a mess, told me to hang in there, told me not to give up.  Gave me tips, advice, resources, and told me where to find like-minded folks who knew what I was going through and wouldn't admonish me...or my dog.

I have come to realize, by watching the way he holds his tongue against our soft skin and falls asleep, that he was taken from his mother much too young.  He is essentially pacifying himself.  He's done this since he first came to us.  We all thought it was just a "cute" thing he did.  But he was clearly showing us that he STILL needed his mother.  This "cute" thing he did has never gone away, he still does it.  When he is anxious, he will lie down next to me or Charlie and lay his tongue against some soft skin, preferably an inner arm, between the wrist and elbow, and soon, his eyes are drooping and he is asleep. 

Someone robbed him of the closeness and comfort of his mother when he wasn't ready.  Someone who wanted to sell a full-breed dog of high intellect and value.  Someone who didn't care about the emotional well-being of the puppy as much as the well-being of their bank account.  This was the beginning of Kili's spiral.

Someone bought this dog.  On the internet.  From a picture.  This picture:



Who wouldn't fall in love?  He's adorable.  Who would know, from looking at this picture, that they would make a mistake by buying this beautiful puppy.  A mistake that would set a difficult course for everyone involved.  An innocent gesture of good intent that would go wrong.  A common mistake often made by well-meaning people who see this breed on commercials and in movies and want that smart dog.  People who don't realize how much work is involved.  People who live in apartments and condos who don't know that these dogs need lots and lots of running room.  People who really have no idea that buying this gorgeous puppy from a "ranch" in Louisiana where his parents are both working and herding, having him put into a crate, loaded into the cargo hold of a plane, and discovering upon arrival, that he'd chewed his already broken tail into a boney, bloody mess, would quickly turn into a three-day panic attack of rehome or dog pound questions.  Who in their right mind would know?  Obviously, someone not in their right mind.  They, like me, fell in love at first sight.  They, unlike me, lasted less than a week.  So changed our lives.

We have learned that when he rests, he is not to be bothered.  He has worked hard all day, herding everything, and has therefore earned his well-deserved rest.  He doesn't react well to be woken up.  It doesn't matter if you want to give him a loving caress, he doesn't want to be f'ed with when he's down for the count. 

We have learned that you cannot make eye-contact with him.  Border Collies use their eyes intently.  Their stare is how they watch sheep and herd them.  Their eyes are tools.  You will not win a staredown with a BC. 

We have learned that he understands English better than most humans and has an amazingly large vocabulary.  He prefers if you speak to him in complete sentences as opposed to one word cues.  He can identify and bring you every toy he owns; "Bring the BLUE Frisbee, bring the RED ball, bring the tugger, bring the _____, please go to your bed, lie down on the bricks, walk with me to the laundry, ready for daycare?", and so much, much more.  We have learned that he loves his family and will tolerate everyone OUTSIDE of his home.  Away from home, he has no issue with you.  However, if you don't already live here and you come to his house, he is cautious and will bark at you.  Crazily bark at you.  He is frightening when this happens because he is unrelenting and is nearly impossible to calm down until he is removed from the situation. 

We have learned that he does NOT walk or work well on leash no matter how much we train.  He wants to run.  He wants to herd.  We have learned that these things are okay.  It is what he does.  It is his job.  We have learned to work with it.  Most people will say we have caved.  We're not disciplining him properly.  Most people are not this dog's people.  We are.

He hates bikes, motorcycles, loud noises, wind.  He has learned, because we live 12 miles from Disneyland and hear the nightly fireworks, to deal with it.  The use of Counter Conditioning and Positive Reinforcement has brought us, slowly, to a place where he barely notices the pyrotechnics at the House of Mouse anymore.  Same with lightening and thunder.  It may seem like a small thing, but for us, it is a huge victory. 

I have learned how to counter his need, even at 16 months, for the comfort of his absent mother, by using a DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) collar and diffuser.  This is the pheromone that the mother dog emits while nursing her puppies.  It calms them.  It has worked wonders with Kili.  He is calmer, less anxious, less reactive.  I would not have known to find this product if I didn't pay attention to his "tongue pacifying" quirk. 

We have learned that he doesn't do well with people wearing glasses or hats.  He especially hates Caris' glasses, and Bryson's beanies.  Of course, we can't all go around without our glasses, but we've all made the conscious effort to take them off if we're greeting him.  He appreciates that.  We're all very much of the opinion that somewhere between his eventful flight from his Louisiana birthplace to his former owner,  to us, someone with glasses and a hat hurt him.  We think it was probably at an airport here or there.  Can you picture yourself a tiny, weeks old puppy, in a crate, on a tarmac, getting jostled around, pushed here and there, and shoved into a plane, then jostled OFF the plane.  You've seen the way those luggage handlers treat your luggage.  Do you think they think a crate is any less of a piece of luggage to them?  When he came to us, even after a few ill-fated days with his former owner, his tail was still a mess.  His first dad said; "It was actually worse.  His crate was a mess inside when I picked him up at the airport.  I took him straight to the vet."  Hmmm...let me think...what hell did this poor guy go through?  And even then, to be moved, yet again after only a few days, because he was more than someone could handle.  In a short time, this poor puppy acquired a lifetime of angst and anxiety.  Something that revealed itself little by little as he tried to figure out if we were "okay" and we tried to figure out what made him tick.

Slowly, over time, we have come to accept some of his quirks.  Charlie and I don't WANT him to stop barking when people approach the house.  It's his job.  He needs a job.  He needs to know he is helpful.  Everyone needs to feel like they matter.  We try to curb superfluous barking.  Barking that has to merit.  Itʻs hard to teach him the difference, but heʻs learning.  We have figured out that itʻs OKAY to remove him when people visit.  We tell people about him, we ask them to call from their car when they arrive so that we can put Kili safely in the back of the house and keep him calm.  There is less anxiety when we go out to greet guests and let them in.  He gets less worked up and that is good for all of us.

Itʻs easier these days to identify "off" behaviors.  Now that we know some of his quirks and why he has them, I can almost divert a problem situation before it becomes an issue.  Today, for example, we were having a lot of wind.  I could instantly see that Kili was very much on edge and uncomfortable in his own skin.  I instantly gave him homeopathic calming drops (ginger), closed all the blinds so he couldnʻt "see" the wind, and closed the windows so he couldnʻt hear it.  Unfortunately, I didnʻt think about how the wind carries sound, especially on a clear day, and our close proximity to the airport.  When I took him out for a quick potty run, a jet flew over and it sounded like it was right on top of us.  Poor guy bolted, ears back and tail down, and nearly knocked himself out when he butted the French doors in our dining room trying to get back in and find a hiding place.  Iʻd never seen him react that profoundly to the sound of a plane.  And then it occurred to me what heʻd been through as a cargo pup.  Of course.  Why wouldnʻt that scare the holy bajeebers out of him?

I have come to accept the responsibility that he is a dog that absolutely requires two to three outings a day.  Each of them at least 30 to 45 minutes long and including lots and lots of Frisbee tosses.  In between those outings, at least 30 to 40 ball tosses, and a good few rounds of tugger when Charlie gets home.  We realized, to our dismay, there will be no more sleeping in ever again.  He is up before the sun rises.  Itʻs okay.  Itʻs hard, but itʻs okay. 

We donʻt entertain like we used to.  Which is difficult for us, because we LOVE to entertain.  Itʻs just too hard now.  But itʻs okay.  Itʻs for now, but not forever.  We make the same commitment to this new "child" of ours that weʻve made to parenthood.  No, this is not how most people with dogs are living.  Yes, some people in our lives think weʻre crazy.  But Iʻm not one of those people who can give up on a dog that needs me.  This boy needs me.  I canʻt give up.  I wonʻt give up.

Iʻve learned to carry training treats in my pockets at all times.  I have treats in the car, treats in my purse, treats all over the house in little dishes and jars.  Iʻve learned to divert his attention when I know heʻs about to react.  A well-placed Frisbee works wonders to move his brain to a happier place.

Weʻve also learned there must be boundaries.  Iʻve always lived in a house with pets.  I donʻt know a time in my life that I havenʻt had a dog.  All of our dogs have always had run of the house, are welcomed on the furtniture, and sleep on our beds.  This guy doesnʻt have that luxury.  He can, and will, abuse his place in the hierarchy.  If he is eye-level, he thinks he is king, so we keep him at floor level.  He is allowed to lie on the foot of our bed until we are ready to sleep, and then he must go to his bed in the dining room.  He is only allowed into bedrooms if he is invited.  He is not allowed in the same room where we are eating.  Because we teach with treats, he will always assume that what we eat is also his, so we keep him apart from us when we have meals.  He seems to understand.  He doesnʻt always like it, and he tells us so, but his protests are few and his acquiescence swift.  Heʻs smart that way.

Daily life is still a challenge.  He is a slave to routine.  He cannot waiver or it throws his whole, regimented life off-kilter.  What weʻre talking about here is basically a dog with severe OCD.  But again, weʻre working through it.  Heʻs still a puppy.  There arenʻt as many tears as there used to be.  I donʻt have that overwhelming feeling that Iʻve made the biggest mistake of my life.  Itʻs still hard sometimes, and there are some days that I just donʻt want to do those outings.  But I canʻt miss, and I know it isnʻt an option.  I took this on, I owe it to him to keep moving forward.  He canʻt speak for himself, and so I speak for him. 

For all the trouble he is, no one loves me the way this dog loves me.  As I type this, he lies peaceful and content, all 65 pounds of him, on top of my feet.  He watches me, he moves with me, he is always with me, stuck to me like glue when I am home.  I cannot move a muscle without him knowing.  I do not visit the bathroom alone, I am escorted.  I do not walk around the house alone, he walks with me.  He is my shadow, my guard, my guardian.  He takes his job very seriously.  He also seriously the task of always letting me know what I mean to him.  His morning cuddles when Charlie lets him into our room when we wake up overwhelm me.  He cannot give enough kisses, enough headbutts, or enough bellyflops.  We, in turn, cannot administer enough tummy rubs. 

This beautiful, stunning, broken creature is exasperating, tiresome, overwhelming, exhausting, and entirely loved.  As much as I would love a good, long, uninterrupted sleep and a day without worrying if he got enough exercise, I don't want a life without him in it.  He's mine and we deserve each other.