It is, surprisingly, December 31st and my first January to January year has passed in Nova Scotia. It is gratifying to know that I do not regret it one little bit. I have big plans for 2011, but for now I cast my mind back to the events of 2010 and think on how things change, the peaks and valleys of friendship, employment, dog shows, and decision-making.
This year started out with no real plan - it was a year I feel like I let just slide by, something which I regret because the previous 3 years I'd set out a plan to attack all 12 months with definite milestones and as they were reached I'd tick them off as yet another goal achieved. Not doing that for 2010 left me stumbling with no real direction. I believed this right up until a couple days ago when my insightful friend Kim told me "2010 wasn't a year you let slide by. You used the year and a bit since you moved to find your footing in a completely new life." This is a truth which I had never considered. I blithely assumed that life should just carry on without establishing some grounding, 'finding my place' as it were.
I did find employment in the middle of the year but it was certainly the easy road, I didn't feel up to attempting what I'd dreamed of doing when I planned to move here, so 2011 is the year I intend to shed the work-a-day job and really give my ideas a chance. When my two roads diverged in a wood I didn't take the one less travelled by, but given the words of my noted friend it wasn't a mistake, it was just the path you use familiarize yourself with the woods. The coming year will see me, at the very least, attempting something I want to do, instead of what I have to do.
When it comes to the dogs, the year has seen some serious ups and downs. I have learned, the hard way, when to speak, when to listen, how to communicate, how to interpret and when to say 'I'm done'. I won't lie, I considered getting right out of Ridgebacks part way through the year. I love the breed and will likely always own them, they suit me marvelously well. The decision to place Archer was based on several things and being unsure of whether I intended to carry on breeding was certainly a factor. In the end I decided to give breeding a chance but to step back from the insanity and gather close those I trust. I have shut my door to people I can't trust, who only look at the negative and people who live for upheaval, turmoil and conflict -and sadly there are many people like that. My life here is literally like a vacation everyday but the most stressful part of it is dealing with the insane people who own, show and breed purebred dogs. Good luck to those who are working toward theirr goal - you will succeed or fail whether I am there to see or not - we must all stand alone at some point.
One of the major highlights of the year is obviously Zero's success in the USA. There is little else I can add to what I have already said about this dog other than that he is a breeder's dream come true. That said there are probably dozens of dogs out there as good as Zero who do not get the notice or recognition that he has garnered. The difference between them is the unaccountable time, dedication, care, training and extreme love his owner and handler have put into him. Without Erin Coogan and Juliet Clendenon, Zero would be just another pretty face. Instead he is doing what he loves; to be shown, fussed over, primped, touched, admired, and adored. Plus he gets the well deserved adoration of Erin and Juliet's families - the best of both worlds! The next few weeks will see him at WKC in New York and however he does there is immaterial to me; he is, and always will be, the dog dreams are made of. After that who knows, Leeloo I'm sure would love to have his puppies!
This year saw changes of the guard in dogs; the addition of one naughty little Puli and the placement of one sweet darling Archer. For breeders the decision to add or subtract dogs in the home is often based on how the breeding program will proceed, or not as the case may be. In this case it was a multi-faceted decision and has worked out better than I could have imagined. Hopefully this new year will see Archer completing the last two points of his Championship so his owners can neuter him and he can become just a regular pet dog. We all hope for that I'm sure!
Esme coming into the house in February was like a storm in a teacup. She turned the house upside down and backwards and although we have had some frustrations, she has proven herself to be the toughest of the tough and given the Ridgebacks a run for their money. Her championship easily completed, she now waits for her coat to grow in and I'm still waiting for her battery to run low! This new year will see her entering the show ring again to keep her sharp and perhaps I'll even get her doing some obedience to use up a bit of that endless energy!
The last 12 months feels like a blur that never really happened. As I look back on everything that has taken place I find it hard to believe that each single memory feels like it just happened last week, or yesterday, or a minute ago. I wonder at the vagaries of time, the inexorable march, the intangible moments, the constant trundle of the sun across the heavens, and the two grey hairs I found the other week. I can keep wondering all I want, Father Time takes no account of me. So here's to the clock at midnight, the replacement of a zero with a one, and the coming next twelve months. Meet you right back here in the blink of an eye.