german shepherd

Just Dutch

I began this post a few days ago (the 18th) but didn’t have the energy to put the pictures in. I was more trying to get my thoughts out.

To say today was great would be an understatement.

The weather was beautiful (read: NO RAIN!!!!) and I was having an excellent hair day. I knew that I couldn’t sit around my apartment for another whole day like I had been over the weekend. So despite not wanting to spend money for at least a few more days, I decided to visit a coffee place that I had heard rave reviews about through co-workers and a fellow dog park attendee. Plus, the place in question is having a special: show your student ID and get any coffee for just $1. How cool is that?! So anyway I figured since it was only going to be a dollar I could do that.

So Jayde and I get in the car, I slide my shades on, Jayde sticks her head out the open window, and off we go. Moving car meets red stoplight. At said stoplight (corner of the intersection, really) is a couple who is there pretty much every day. A homeless couple, that is. Today their sign said, “Anything Helps Amen.” Having driven by them many times before, I knew it was only a matter of time before I broke down. While I am suspicious of people, wondering if they’re trying to pull off a scam or other awful thing, the scrawniness of these two and their consistency at the same street corner, and the fact that they are always together… I went to Subway and got a footlong and bottle of water. When I came back around, I had to lean over the passenger seat and get the woman’s attention in order to give her the water and the sandwich. The amount of gratitude in her voice when she saw the bottle of water I was giving her, nearly brought tears to my eyes. I don’t understand how someone gets in the position of being homeless, having to lose dignity and beg from others for food and money, but it is so so sad (the legitimate cases, that is).

The experience shook me. I felt good for having done a good deed. Perhaps that water and sandwich was all they would eat today. But it jolted me, as if the barrier between “oh everything is good and dandy” and the darker side of the world was suddenly taken down a notch. I guess you could say I lost some of my ignorance today concerning the realities of what some people live with and through. There is a big difference between reading about, or seeing videos/documentaries of, homeless people, children with cancer, animal abuse, etc. etc. and actually being there, involved in maybe, or even just seeing with your own eyes, or even better your heart. It’s so easy to views things we see in the media as just another news story or just another statistic. But when you are there, you see the individual or individuals who are affected. It is real, it is raw. It hurts. As they say, ignorance is bliss.

After that experience – still clear as day in my head – I turned on Siri and used Map (tell me you didn’t read that in Dora’s voice xD) as a back-up to get to my destination. I knew the street names and such but I wasn’t sure how far along the streets I was supposed to go. (Yes, I’d be hopelessly lost without modern technology.)

End destination:

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I was tempted to use the walk-up window instead of the drive-thru, but I hadn’t seen anywhere to park and there were quite a few cars. So I waited patiently in line, wondering what I would order. There was no menu to look at while waiting, so I had to wait until I actually got to the window to peruse what they had. I asked the girl (who had immediately awwhh’ed at Jayde and given her a treat – definitely a winner in my book) if my student ID as a grad student would work and she said yes. So I told her since I’d never been there before I wasn’t sure what I wanted yet. I quickly decided on a Caramelizer, iced. She made it right there and I don’t think Jayde ever took her eyes off of what they were doing inside. She was very intrigued, or maybe just wanted another treat. Either way, the girl handed me a large iced coffee drink and said, “Actually the first one is on us. So enjoy!” and she gave Jayde another treat. Um, yes! How awesome is that?! To say I was excited would be the second understatement of the day. And the drink was delicious, just fyi. 👍

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I still didn’t want to go back home right away, so I decided to explore this new section of town I had exposed myself to. I think I learned the layout a tad better, so that’s a start. And I love love love the Spring’s downtown. The buildings, the stores, the shops, the little restaurants and cafes, the statues and other artistic pieces, the rustic look, the majestic feel, the variety of people, the busy-ness of everybody going about their business. While I’m not one for lots of people, today I felt less like a tourist and more like a part of the town. (But I still felt like a tourist snapping photos with my phone every chance I got.) Yes, I actually enjoyed seeing everybody out and about. I didn’t feel crowded or overwhelmed. Perhaps it was because the tidal wave that hit Colorado has now passed and the weather was just gorgeous, so you couldn’t help but be in a good mood and just thankful.

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Peace.

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Agility, Montague’s, & H2O

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The sky tonight.

Boy, do I have a lot to share with you. Lots and lots of photos in particular. Hope you’re ready for it!

Every Wednesday morning, Jayde and I have agility class. We’ve only been going for about three weeks, but we absolutely love it. We’re in the advanced class with two other ladies who have an aussie and a terrier mix. Wonderful people. And if you didn’t already know this, I kinda sorta really have a soft spot for aussies (yes, someday I will own another one!). Indy (male blue merle) is absolutely gorgeous, intense, fast, energetic. Just a blast to watch and I can only imagine what he’d be like to run. (Seriously though, there’s nothing more photogenic than a merle aussie, except perhaps Jayde.) Anyway.

Jayde and I have not done serious agility for quite a while. I’ll be honest, I stopped training at home because the connection was gone when we ran. She didn’t enjoy agility a single bit. And while I adore the sport, I wasn’t going to do it to her if she wasn’t loving it and having fun like I was. But I knew when we moved that I would have to find something to keep us both occupied and maybe to make some new connections with people, and what better way to do that than agility? I went into it with the mindset that we were just going to play, fool around, keep it light, and who cares if she didn’t keep criteria or knocked a bar?

Well, I think it was about two weeks before I actually got enrolled in classes and became a regular. But I could see the change in Jayde the first time we ran a small course together there. She was engaged, she was excited, she wanted more, I could see it in her eyes and her body language. She loved it. Let me tell you, there is no better feeling than knowing your partner, your teammate, your dog loves something you do together. It’s a connection that cannot be beat. And that made me love it tenfold. Of course I didn’t immediately assume we were back to our old ways and I could get into serious training. We’re still keeping it a game, if she messes up, I don’t make a big deal out of it like I used to. (If you haven’t ascertained this by now, *I* was the problem in the relationship the entire time – of course). Every Wednesday so far she has never become stressed, nervous, or shut down. She keeps her eyes on me the entire time and is so eager to run with me. Like I said, no better feeling. ❤ We’re going to keep playing and maybe I’ll take it more seriously down the road, enter a trial or two, but I’m not ever going to sacrifice my relationship with Jayde again. Love that dog so so much. (I have to add, it’s a shame that dogs bear the brunt of human mistakes and fumbles… but that’s a whole post by itself.)

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~~~

After agility this week, I knew I had to get down to business and work on some homework. So I left Jayde sleeping on the couch, picked another coffee shop off my list, and headed downtown.

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I’m not going to lie. My first impression of this place was “old lady’s house.

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My second impression was, “Holy crap there are a lot of people here!”

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I grabbed a table by the door before going up to order coffee. I couldn’t believe the amount of furniture and people stuffed into such a tiny little area. But somehow, it worked. There were all sorts of baked goodies on the counter. I heard the barista tell another guest that everything was made from scratch “back in the tiny kitchen.” And the menu was very fancy.

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It was a very homey place. Someone appeared to be doing some serious work on her laptop at another window. Another lady walked in with her friend and said, “Oh my, I just might go take a nap on one of those couches!” What looked like a knitting club (or otherwise busy activity) was huddled around a round table at the end of the coffee bar.

I sipped my coffee and set to work with notes on the lecture material, reading other responses on the online discussion forum, and otherwise focused on getting what I needed to do done. Looking back, I think I would’ve liked to visit such a cafe with a more relaxed task instead of something drilling like short answer questions. But, I finished the assignments, packed up my stuff and headed out. This time I took the back door (because I had to park in the back, in an alleyway). And this is what I saw.

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And probably the coolest outside seating ever

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Overall, I enjoyed my stay at Montague’s. It was an interesting atmosphere.

~~~

Later that day, I found a bookstore.

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And perused the downtown just a bit the next day. But it was a tad intimidating so Jayde and I went home. 🙂

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And last but not least, the h2o situation. H2o as in rain. Rain as in flooding. Lots of it. I’m no stranger to storms (and even minor tornadoes) but the amount of flooding going on all around my area is slightly alarming. All I can say is I hope this is as bad as it’s going to get and the rain decides to visit Texas, or Florida, or the Atlantic. Even Alaska. Just go away from here. xP Anyway, please keep Coloradans in your thoughts! ❤

Off to watch a movie with Ashley! Hope everyone has a safe Friday the 13th! (it is only a number after all xD).

Peace & Pawprints

 

The Next Big Adventure!

This will probably be the only post you’ll see from me for at least a week. I am getting Internet in my apartment on the 19th.

The past few days have been long, stressful, and tiring!

On Wednesday morning my uncle and my dad brought the u-haul trailer and we loaded ‘er up with a couch, mattresses, a box spring, and lots & lots of boxes, with a few lamps and odd baskets thrown on top. And a broom. That afternoon I went with Ashley to our good ‘ol Starbucks, the place that had been our second home the entire school year and summer. We gave homemade cookies to the baristas that had become like friends and had our last specialty drinks.

At the buttcrack of dawn on Thursday, we loaded up the last few things, I got Jayde settled into her kennel seat, said my extended ‘see ya later’s, and hit the road. The worst part was saying bye to Ashley, and then to Parker. Gosh I’m going to miss that little man so much. 😦 At least I can Facetime and text Ashley though. (She’s off to Nebraska to study forensic science, something she’s very passionate about. So as much as I’m going to miss her, I’m so happy she gets to go to the school of her choice and study what she loves.)

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The ride was riddled with gas and bathroom breaks. We drove straight through Nebraska (I didn’t realize mountain time began in Nebraska!) and then hit Colorado. Okay. When I think of Colorado, I think of mountains (as I’m sure lots of people do, right?). Lots of big, rocky, jagged peaks poking holes through the clouds with earthly tones of red, browns, & greens breaking the blue monotonous sky. Well, my uncle led the way and he took his old trucking route that he knew best. Let’s just say the edges of Colorado make Nebraska & Iowa seem anything BUT flat. We didn’t see mountains until we were actually in the Springs!

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Jayde was absolutely phenomenal the entire way. She slept peacefully in her kennel, got out for all the bathroom breaks and did her thing, then went back to sleeping during the ride. When we finally got there, we found out we couldn’t move in until the next day, Friday. So we spent about an hour and a half searching the town for a restaurant and a motel that would accept dogs. To say it was frustrating after a 9 hour drive is an understatement. We were all tired and worn out from the drive and just wanted to fill our bellies and go to sleep. It’s a huge, busy town with confusing streets (at least to me). When we finally did those things, I did not sleep well at all. Not sure if it was the bed or the whole ordeal (probably both) but I woke up feeling like I had fallen off a mountain in my sleep.

After breakfast – we got up early and our appointment was at 10am but we were ready to go by 9am – Mom and I went to find coffee while Dad and my Uncle Bob went back to the apartment to see if they could start unloading. Mom and I trailed in not long after and went straight to the office to check in and sign the lease. Holy moly I felt like I was signing my life away – which I guess I kind of was. 😛

A nice neighbor helped us take the couch and mattresses up the stairs (well, one went up over the balcony instead of up the stairs :P) and we started getting everything set in place. Boxes upon boxes piled up in my new bedroom. The coffeemaker got settled in its spot on my counter beside the sink in the kitchen. Jayde’s kennel is my end table in the living room. 🙂

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After everything was unloaded and pretty much settled, the u-haul trailer was returned to the company and Uncle Bob & Dad brought lunch back. Uncle Bob left soon after. He’s one of the best men I know and was such a big help on this trip. He towed the trailer and helped pack and unpack. I am so blessed to call him my uncle. ❤

Mom and Dad helped me get everything organized, then we found a bank and got my checking account set up. After that we went shopping for necessities and groceries. (Mom basically led me to have green accents in my apartment, of which I happily complied. xD) They were such a big help and bought everything for me to get me started off right. When I saw that they wouldn’t let me pay for anything, I was so touched. They are so good to me and I’m so thankful to have such wonderful people as my parents.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been as exhausted as I was Friday night. I had stress cramps and didn’t feel good. Honestly, I was dreading Mom and Dad leaving the next day, because then I would be truly alone. I gave them my bed and I slept on the couch.

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Saturday morning we woke up bright and early. The three of us explored town a little bit and found a dog event, which turned out to be an annual event held by the All Breed Rescue & Training group of Colorado Springs. We looked around there for a bit, I signed up for a couple contests with Jayde that were later in the day (with the mindset that that would distract me from being alone), and then we had lunch. After getting back to the apartment, Mom & Dad left. I tried my best not to bawl my eyes out and chase the van down the street. In other words, I tried not to let my fears get the best of me – and I succeeded.

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All my friends and family have been such good support yesterday and today (Sunday). I appreciate every single call and text. ❤ Amberness lifted my spirits by proclaiming that I was now independent and could do whatever I want so why not order pizza and sit in my apartment naked?! While I didn’t take that offer, I do appreciate her wonderful reminder that this is a new beginning of independence that I need to embrace.

And of course, Jayde has been an absolute angel. She’s enjoying the dog park, and is learning the layout of her new apartment and grounds. She’s so well-behaved and has been so calm, taking everything in stride. Even more so than I realized, she is my rock.

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We found a couple awesome public parks to visit and explore. One is the Bear Creek Dog Park and it is the biggest, most beautiful dog park I’ve ever seen. There are so many trails for humans and dogs. Underbrush trails for the dogs to explore, a creek for the dogs to splash around in, some uphill trails to give legs a work out. And it is HUGE.

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I am slowly learning the layout of the town. The streets are much more confusing than my small hometown and the traffic is much busier. With the help of my GPS and my iPhone, I’ve only managed to get lost twice, and that was mostly on purpose because I was exploring some streets. They seem to just randomly change into different streets without notice.

I’m sure I’ll have lots of stories and photos to share later. I need to edit the two sessions I did before I left Sioux City, also. I have lots of good books to read. Before we left, Ashley gave me the Manson book she won from Goodreads. I’m going to read it asap and get it back to her so she can read it. 🙂 Because I have my own apartment now, I have:

  • my own bathroom (no more crowded dresser!)
  • no TV (stupid thing, anyway. I only want to get one to watch movies on.)
  • peace and quiet whenever I feel like it! (reading time!)
  • loud music whenever I feel like it! (with respect to my neighbors of course :P)

I’m trying to stay positive and to look at what I do have. But it is so hard to look at pictures of Parker, Mandy, Buddy, & Secret, and my niece, and my sister, and my parents, and Ashley & Amber, and know that I can’t see them any time I want. 😦 However I know that if I brood on that, I’ll never figure out this whole thing called “independence.” And that is the ultimate goal. ❤

Peace&Pawprints

Just this little thing called reality

A new adventure. A new state, a new city, new people, new dogs, new sights, new sounds, new backdrops, new experiences, new trails, new parks, new roads, new houses, new independence, new responsibility. New everything.

Tonight was the last night of work at the place I’ve worked at for the past 5yrs. To say the emotions were almost overwhelming is an understatement. I’ve been with that restaurant since the very beginning: 8 managers, 3 managing partners, 4 or 5 kitchen managers, and dozens of co-workers; the ups and downs; every change & adjustment; and all the best times & the worst times of my life. It was my first job, and an extremely positive one at that. Honestly, I never considered it a job because I loved it so much. That place – the building, the knowledge that came with the job, and the company itself – holds more memories than I could ever count. So when I walked out the doors for the last time, I felt the finality of it. The end.

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That’s what my life has been like the past week or so. Moments of sudden finality. Realizing the moments of “end.” Not all have been pleasant (although some definitely have). Most of these moments I’ve balked at with my innate fear of change, but then have quietly resolved myself for what’s to come, as a necessity. I believe my last shift tonight at work was one of the biggest so far, the biggest end, the biggest door to a new beginning. New.

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On the same point, I am thankful that I have these reminders of reality. More and more I’ve been looking at Jayde and wondering how she’s going to adjust. Not necessarily because I am worried that she *won’t* adjust but more so because she has no warning of what’s to come. In a little less than a week her world is going to be flipped upside down and she’s not going to understand why Mandy & Buddy & Secret are no longer there every day. She’s not going to understand why she has the new house our new apartment all to herself for extended periods of time. Her entire life she’s lived in a family, with people walking in and out (at all hours, at that) of the house, other dogs always around her, a doggy door that gave her freedom to go outside or inside whenever she chose.

And put in that perspective, the changes I am going through and will go through are minimal compared to her’s. At least I have time to mentally prepare myself.

Peace & Pawprints

Meet my co-star

As I mentioned in my first post on this blog, one of my goals is to make this blog more of a dog blog. Particularly with the adventure I will be embarking on within the next month with my girl, Jayde, blogging will be a perfect way to document lessons, things we do, and of course lots of photos. So my theme for this blog (if you can’t tell by looking through my categories) is ‘dog.’ 🙂

Here’s an introduction to the co-star of this blog, Jayde the German shepherd. 🙂

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Full name: NoraJayde von Holtgrew (aka Heather’s Dare To Dream)

Nicknames: Jayders, Jayder Jues, Juicer, Big Ears, Radar, Gremlin

Breed: German Shepherd Dog

Sex: Female

Birthday: March 13th, 2007

Favorite toy: the Kong

Favorite activities: chasing squirrels, squirrel-watching, playing Kong, playing chuck-it, learning new tricks

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I’d always dreamed about getting a German shepherd. After having poodles as family dogs (Ebonie, Andre, & Frenswa), three rescue mutts (Maggie, Mandy & Buddy), and an Australian shepherd (Violet), I got Jayde from a breeder in a small town about a half hour’s drive from my house when I was 16yo. She was originally going to be my juniors/confirmation/show dog, but I quickly fell out of that world (thank god). We then moved onto agility, which was much more up our alley. Along the way she gained some titles, learned lots of tricks, and taught me many things about life. She is still teaching me something new every day.

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The name ‘Jayde’ came from jaden, which supposedly means ‘purple’ (or so I was told). When Jayde was born, to tell her apart from the others, her breeder put a purple band around her neck. She was known as the ‘purple girl’ before they settled on the name Nora. Instead of calling her Jaiden or Jaden (because there was no way I was name my dog Nora), I shortened it to one syllable and added a ‘y’ for some character. It wasn’t until later that I realized jade means green. xD But oh well. Jayde stuck and I love it. 🙂

So from now on, any post specifically related to dogs (Jayde or other) will be placed under the category Pawprints. General stories (dog or otherwise) will be under the category Daily Tails.

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Peace & Pawprints.