Greetings from The Bridge

The rules here are rather strange, but like all places, there are some who view rules as set in stone and others who view those rules as much more in line with strongly worded suggestions. Supposedly, I am only allowed one time to contact my human in such a manner once I crossed the Bridge and I used that one time when I hacked Vander’s Facebook page. But, as I said, there are some here who view rules as little more than suggestions—and for that I have to thank my old feline friend, Ding. If anyone could find a loophole, it would be her. I also figured if Vander could take over HER blog for a day and write a post, it can’t possibly be that hard to do.
I have waited some time before I decided to steal HER blog and send HER a message because I know how deeply HER heart hurt when she kept the promise she made to me when I was a small puppy. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt HER. She was—no, she is my human and hurting HER is something I never want to do. I know the day I left HER and went to the Bridge she hurt so much.
I remember I woke HER up that morning because I was in horrible pain. She tried to make it better and the only thing that helped was when she laid down on the floor with me and just held me in HER arms. She held me when the doctor lady came out to help me go to the Bridge. Having HER hold me when the doctor lady helped me was so nice because I wasn’t alone. I always trusted HER and she said that the pain would be all gone.
I can’t really explain what happened next, but some of the others here said that my body died. I could still feel HER holding me, feel HER gently stroking my head, and kissing my muzzle—but—I was also looking at all of this. And, the pain was gone. She very carefully placed my body in a pretty wagon and a nice lady pulled my body away. I heard HER say to Aunt Jacque, “I can’t watch him being taken away,” and she and Aunt Jacque drove away. I tried to tell HER that I was still there, in the car.
When we got back to the house, all the dogs I knew were still there and they could see me. I could see them. I could see HER, but she didn’t seem to be able to see me even though I know she could feel me next to her. She kept telling me it was okay, that even though it hurt her, she would be okay and I could go.
I couldn’t leave HER. Only thunderstorms scared me until that day. If I stayed right next to HER, I didn’t have to walk across a large black area. There was nothing in that area. NOTHING. She was on this side of the emptiness. On the other side was a place so beautiful and bright.
Our friend Johanna sent HER a text message. HER response was that I was scared and I wouldn’t go to the Bridge. I didn’t see a Bridge, only that horrible, black emptiness. Johanna said she was sending help. And, then in that empty blackness I saw a large tri-colored smooth walking to me. And, behind him were a lot of other dogs and a cat. Some I knew: Belle; my half-sister E.B.; my friend Cara; and my best cat friend, Ding. The tri said his name was Elvis and his human, Johanna, had asked him to come walk with me across the blackness. He said when HER dogs and Ding heard I was joining them across the Bridge, they all wanted to come with him.
Another tri smooth crossed the emptiness. For a minute, he leaned against HER legs and I could feel HER happiness to sense him by HER. He said his name was Boots and he was the smooth who made HER fall in love with tri smooth boys. Boots is a very serious dog. (Vander, take note, please…) And, then I saw HER very first heart dog. I have never met royalty, but I knew beyond a doubt, this tri rough girl is the embodiment of regal and royalty. Lena looked at me and said, “You aren’t leaving HER forever. You’ve done this before. Many times in HER life. Heart dogs like us, we find ways to return, again and again.”
Lena and I started to walk into the blackness and I got very scared when I felt HER fading away. I ran back to HER. Lena walked back to me and she growled at me. “You are hurting HER. Walk with us. Cross the Bridge with us. It won’t be forever. You can come back to HER. She will always hold you in HER heart.”
And, then Ding rubbed her head against me and whispered, “I will walk right next to you. Lena will walk with you, too. And, Boots and Colt and C.J. will be with us. Just look across the emptiness and you’ll see the Bridge appear.”
There was a Bridge. I could see it, then. Elvis asked me if I was ready to cross the blackness. I wasn’t ready. I told him I wasn’t. All the dogs she ever loved just sat down or lay down around HER and Colt said they would all wait with me until I was ready.
Two more collies crossed the emptiness. That blue smooth doesn’t seem to be the sharpest knife in the drawer but he said something that made me realize I have a promise to keep to HER, too. When she became my human, I promised I would never hurt HER. I had to leave HER.
Whiskey, the other collie who came across after the others, has a very sick sense of humor. He told me not to worry about falling through the blackness. He knew of only one dog who fell through it and that dog came back as a cat. Ding didn’t appreciate the humor.
I’ve been on this side of the Bridge for a little while now. Every night, I hear HER say, “Good night, Snapey-baby. Mommy loves you. Always.” I have gone back to HER, mostly when she’s sleeping because the two times I went back when she was still awake, I heard HER say how empty the little cabin still feels. I don’t want HER to feel hurt still.
Mommy, you were the best human a dog could ever want. All the dogs you ever loved and still love are here. Beary wants to know if you still have “his rock”. I don’t know what that means, but I promised him I would ask. Ding said to tell you “Thank you.” Lena thinks you’ve waited long enough to find another spiritual companion. I’m not sure what that means, either. Boots is proud of Vander. (Someone should be, I guess.)

And, Mommy,  I love you, too.

Always.
~~S

Special Places in the Heart

8512snapeBecause of his age and the arthritis in his right front wrist, my old champion Snape (Gr.Ch. Wych’s Prince of Summer) has become a house dog. Because of his age, getting him up and down the stairs into the basement for a bath is an ordeal–for both of us. He’s no longer completely steady on his feet while navigating stairs so he relies on me to prevent a fall. Until yesterday, even though he was slow, he could still climb them without assistance. Yesterday, after he had a bath and a complete blow-out with the dryer, I had to lift his back end on each step.

 

That assistance brought home just how old he really is. He’s eleven and a half years old. He’s been with me since he was eight weeks old and when I first picked him out, I really didn’t want another male. I was tricked into meeting him. I’m glad I fell for the ruse perpetrated on me by his sire’s owner and the owner of his mother. As a puppy, he was a bright red and for some time, I thought like his sire, he was going to be a pure for sable. Until he started to grow his adult coat when he was about 18 months old…and then that rich, deep mahogany began to fill in. _eag2742-edit-1820183777-o

Finishing his championship took time–because he is one of those dogs that doesn’t really look a lot like other collies in the ring and the right judges had to be found for him–older judges who’ve been in the breed for decades. Every one of those judges who put him up, whether all breed or specialty judge, all had the same comment–that he has a “classic look” to him. He finished his championship with all-breed points and specialty major wins.

 

Snape is my pet. My highest aspiration for my collies is that when they are retired from the show ring, they become “pets.” There is life after the show ring. Most of us will never have a top stud dog. Most of us will seldom have a top ten winning dog. Most of us will never win the Nationals, but I think most of us have these dogs who hold a special place in our hearts. The day Snape finished, while I was crying tears of joy, another person in this breed was very angry. Perhaps forgetting that I was set up behind this person, this person threw a pin brush into their tack box and announced that they couldn’t believe “that f$&^ing pet won.” Whether or not I was meant to hear that comment is neither here nor there. I did hear it, and I have not forgotten it. I have since come to realize this person is no more than a bully, just as fierce in the bullying as those who bullied this person in high school. I actually pity this person. And, I’m very proud of my “f$%^ing pet.” He holds a very special place in my heart and none of the insults hurled at him will ever take away his championship, his grand championship, and most certainly never take away that place in my heart.

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We’re Not Getting Out of this Alive

It’s not a damn competition. Life, I mean…it’s not a damn competition. I’m not supposed to be in competition with anyone other than myself. Yet, I keep getting sucked into competitive mode. Maybe it’s part of human nature but the competitiveness can also manage to suck the happiness out of a being.

When I’m not writing and masquerading as a published author, I show my collies. This year has been an ugly year. I’m not sure what shifted because I’m still winning as much as I usually do, but something changed and it just wasn’t as much fun as it used to be. Competition became cut-throat. Back stabbing became the norm. And, when that wasn’t happening, and there wasn’t enough sh*t flying, some people took it upon themselves to out and out lie. Twice this year, I seriously considered hanging up the leashes, putting the brushes in the tack box for the last time, and calling it quits. A few years ago, I had already retired the “professional” shingle because I was well over the drama. It used to be what happened in the show ring didn’t affect the friendships and relationships outside of the show ring. Not any more.

And my writing career—I’ve seen far too many authors attacking and slurring other authors. We’re all in this together. I guarantee, it’s a really big pool of readers out there. There’s more than enough readers to go around. The only thing that happens when two authors go at each other in public forums like Facebook and Twitter is you make the rest of us look bad. So if you could please knock it off and at least try to act professional, the rest of us would appreciate it. If Author Aaaa says something you don’t like or says something about you, you don’t have to respond. When you do, you’ve given Author Aaaa a much bigger audience than they probably would have ever had and you’ve given them “street cred” because you’ve responded.

The only exception to that response has been another ugly trend I’ve seen in the writing world—and that’s the bad behavior of some of the male cover models. Gentlemen (and I am using that term VERY lightly), it is NEVER—I repeat NEVER acceptable to intimidate, harass, and belittle any woman for any reason. When you attack, mock, and degrade the very women who write the books that you appear on the cover of, you better believe the rest of us are going to sit up and take notice. And, we’re not going to want you on the cover of our books. Ever. We’re going to respond to that bad behavior.

Politics—Oh, dear God—I am sick to the death of the political posts. The election here in the U.S. is over. One side lost. One side won. For the love of all that’s holy, can we please remember we’re all supposed to be Americans and work to making this country better for EVERYONE? I have lost track of the people I have unfollowed on Facebook; some I’ve had to unfriend, and about half a dozen, I’ve actually blocked because of the vitriol. Guess what, folks. In two years, we get to vote on most of the Senate and almost all of the House, AGAIN. We get to do this all over, AGAIN. I can’t wait (and add as much sarcasm as necessary to that last statement).

The only thing I can attribute all this nastiness and ugliness to is competition—competition for readers, competition for modeling gigs for those covers, competition for championship or national ranking points, and competition for which political ideology will govern for the next few years. But you know what—at the end of the day, all the competition gets us very little. Oh, there is some monetary compensation, I’ll admit that. But, when the competition becomes so intense that it makes us into ugly, hateful people, it’s not worth it. Personally, I like to be able to look at myself in the mirror.

 

 

 

Define Beauty

How do you define beauty? I know how our society seems to define it and I never fit that “ideal”. Because of that ideal, I have never really seen myself in a positive light, unless I was evaluating a role I was fulfilling—mother, wife, grandmother, dog handler. We use body shaming too often with our girls and ourselves. I can partially understand why the Mayor of London (as in Great Britain) has banned some public images of the female body. After all, as he says, he has two teen-aged daughters and he’s worried about their self-image in regards to their own bodies. I also have my reservations about the Mayor’s edict, but that’s for another blog post.

 

I’ve found a wonderful organization which celebrates girls, teens, and young women with disabilities. Founded by Abbie Curren, 2008’s Miss Iowa, and the first contestant to compete for the Miss USA crown with cerebral palsy, this organization is the “Miss You Can Do It” pageant (https://www.facebook.com/missyoucandoitpageant/).

 

I like this organization for a lot of reasons. Beauty comes in all sizes and in all forms. Beauty isn’t just the “ideal” our society claims it is. Beauty is just as much in the eye of the beholder as it is to be found within. I struggle daily with body image—I’m not getting any younger and those grey hairs I keep finding aren’t helping. The fact I’ve carried two children within my body doesn’t help that body image. That is—they didn’t help until I looked in the mirror a few years ago and said, “ENOUGH!” How I view myself had a direct effect on my daughter. I hear her say the same things about her body that I’ve said, unwittingly, within her hearing about my own body. And, I’ve heard my ten year old grand-daughter and my six year  grand-daughter shame their own bodies.

 

Enough is enough. I will no longer allow myself to be shamed because I’m not 95 pounds soaking wet. I will no longer allow myself to be shamed because I have stretch marks from carrying my two children, or that I have grey hairs in the brunette because even though Miss Clairol is wonderful and only she and I know how much grey I really have I earned those grey hairs, or be shamed because….You fill in the blank for whatever reason we as women allow ourselves to be shamed.

 

I will see myself as my husband sees me—as a beautiful woman he is attracted to. I will see myself as my son sees me—as the beautiful woman who gave him life. I will see myself as my daughter and grand-daughters see me—as a woman who is beautiful, caring, strong, and intelligent.

You probably need a new religion

Fifty dead, another fifty-three (the latest figures at the time of writing) injured. Another mass shooting, this time in a social club where members of the LBGT community were known to congregate. And, later the same morning, another man was arrested all the way across the country in a car loaded with explosives and weapons. He was on his way to a LGBT parade. Thank God he was stopped before he could carry out his blood-chilling acts of murder and destruction.

And, speaking of God, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our ideas of God, that Higher Authority, Al’lah—whatever you call it. I’m not arguing whether there is or isn’t a Higher Power. What I have been questioning are the dogma and doctrines of some of our current religions. I’m not delving into the past for any of this, either.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, doesn’t view tolerance and acceptance as a fundamental right of all humanity, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, claims to be the only correct manner to achieve paradise, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, argues only your god is the one true god and insists on killing those who disagree with your god, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, makes the claim that the being who gave life to you by carrying you for nine months within her body and under her heart is never equal to a male, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, argues that a woman does not have a right to determine what to do with her own body but then turns a blind eye to born children living in poverty, with abuse, and in squalor, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, argues that humanity has dominion over the earth rather than the caretakers of this planet, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, argues that those who slur the religion’s prophets are to be put to death, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, makes your beliefs the sole arbitrators of morality and decency, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, promises you seventy two virgins, or fields of flowers, or spending eternity in a candy shop if you martyr yourself by slaughtering innocents, you probably need a new religion.

Religion is a good thing. Belief in a god is also a good thing. Religion and the many god and goddesses which have come from religion give comfort in times of sorrow, hope for a life after this life, precepts on living a moral and decent and compassionate life—but when any religion is twisted, bastardized, and corrupted to fit a certain world view, religion becomes the most dangerous weapon known to humanity.

How about, instead, we actually live the command we have been given—in every major world religion—to love one another as we love ourselves. Maybe, we could surprise ourselves with how gentler, more accepting, and tolerant the world might be.

 

What the Hell Was I Thinking?

If you find me in a group of more than two or three people that I don’t know well, I’ll be the one not saying a word, hanging back, and trying to appear invisible. I’m pretty sure if you look up the word “introvert” in the dictionary (does anyone still have an actual, physical, words-on-paper dictionary?), you’ll see my picture. Or, more like the top of my head because I’m slouching and looking at the ground. To this day51V142mXicL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_, I can hear my mother telling me to stand up straight and be proud of my height. “And smile. You have such a pretty smile.” NO! That would bring more attention to me. Nonononononononoooooo.

Those of you who know a little about me know I show dogs. I have for over thirty five years. And, it took me about fifteen years to be comfortable enough in that little community to actually go out with dog show people after a show. More than once I was dragged to a restaurant after a show where the only words I think I spoke were to the wait staff to place my food order. The dog show world is one place where being a painful introvert is actually to my advantage. Because I’m so adapt at blending into the background and not bringing attention to myself, I learned very quickly how to fade away so the focus was solely on the dog(s) I was showing.

A few years ago, not only did I run the writing center at my alma mater, I also taught freshman composition at the college level. Yeah…and amazingly, I enjoyed it, because on that first day teaching, I realized those kids sitting in my class room were as terrified as I was. We got to know one another. I let them know up front what the rules were in my class (it was all spelled out in the class syllabus), told them I can’t spell worth a tinker’s darn (and stressed how much I rely on a dictionary), and assured them that anyone who told them they couldn’t write was full of manure. Everyone has a unique voice and it was my job to help them discover that voice and hone it. Words have power. My comfort level with speaking in front of a group of people rose—at least in that situation.

Back in my first marriage, I6e426a276aac57e1f90b359ca0f32e93 started writing. Being an author is great career choice for introverts because writers (for the most part) are really shy people. We’re also pretty darn comfortable with our own company. We better be, because we chose to spend hours a day, locked away in self-imposed isolation, fingers tapping on a keyboard. And, in the worlds we create and populate, the people there know us and we know them really well, so it’s easy to interact with them. I was pretty sure the romance I was writing would sell, so I screwed up my courage and signed up for a weekend conference with the local RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter.

I have never been so terrified in my life. And, when I’m terrified, several things happen to me. I can’t think. I stammer and stutter. I slouch even more and talk to the floor, when I can form words. I have anxiety attacks that make it impossible to breathe. I left that conference in tears, without ever sitting in on one workshop and without meeting with the agent I had signed up for a meeting with.

Fast forward to my time at the university which is my alma mater. I was confident enough that I let my husband (who is also my best friend and biggest fan) talk me into going to college as a non-traditional student. I completed my undergrad degree by graduating Magna Cum Laude. I went to work on my master’s at the same university, took over the writing center, and taught freshman composition—to mostly at risk students. And, I was still writing. I signed my first book contract (my publisher–The Wild  Rose Press–is the best in the world, BTW!) before I earned my Master of Arts. I had learned coping skills for the anxiety attacks that go hand in hand with the painful introversion.

Since signing that first book contract, I discovered Facebook is an introvert’s best friend. I could interact with other authors and readers from the safety of my keyboard. I built a street team, composed at first mostly of close friends but that grew to other friends on Facebook. And, then I got a burr under my saddle blanket. Why not try a writer’s conference, this time as a published author? I have three books out, I reasoned, and they’ve all done very well. My first, The Devil’s Own Desperado, has a good review ranking on Amazon and is a Laramie Award winner for debut novel. My second, Smolder on a Slow Burn, was RONE nominated. (Yeah…should have seen me dancing around my living room when I got that review from InD’Tale magazine and realized the review nominated the book for the RONE!) My latest, Seize the Flame, has received some really good reviews for the manner that I’ve dealt with the issue of spousal abuse. So, why not try a writer’s conference?

WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?

I took my bestie with me, because I’ve joked more than once she’s my good luck charm. When she’s with me at dog shows, I clean house. So, it was only natural that I take her with me. She’s one of those people who just doesn’t know a stranger. I envy her natural ability to make friends instantly and be able to talk to people she doesn’t even know.

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gratuitous brag about my collies–the Van-Man

We went the day before to help stuff goodie bags for the readers and authors attending the conference. (Yeah, silly me volunteered us to help with that.) We were back at the conference the next morning when it started at 8:00 AM. I had to stand up in a room full of people and announce what I write. I’m exclusively a western historical romance gal. Just love my cowboys—but hate modernity. (Yeah, I write that on my computer keyboard and will be posting this on a strange thing called the Internet.) And, then, after that opening session, I had to talk to more people in something called “Speed Dating.” Tell people about my books. Say what? Ask me about my hubby, my family, my grandkids, my home in Tennessee, the property we have in Wyoming, let me brag about my collies—talk about my books? Oh, Lord, help me…

And, by the end of the weekend, I’d made several more friends, got to meet authors I’ve been friends with on Facebook for several years, and even though I’m not a NY Times best-selling author, I was treated by the authors and the organizers of this conference as if I was. As a matter of fact, every single author and reader was treated like royalty. The atmosphere was laid-back, the ladies who organized this were wonderfully accommodating and adaptive (something is guaranteed to go wrong when planning an event like this), and all the authors and readers took the one SNAFU in stride.

This little slice of heaven for this introvert was A Weekend with the Authors, in Nashville, TN. (You can find them here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A-Weekend-with-the-Authors-1030606610309225/) I am planning to attend next year’s conference, as soon as I can figure out finances. Even as an introvert, it wasn’t hard to force myself out of my protective shell. And, because I’m planning to go next year, I’ve got a whole year to polish my sales pitch.

Thank you, Sandy and Maranda, for putting on such a wonderful conference.

It’s a Long Road

This past weekend, I accomplished something that I have never done in more than thirty-five years of showing dogs—I completed the requirements for a championship on a rough-coated collie that I bred and every point Dixie earned was from the Bred-By-Exhibitor (BBE) class. She is not the first rough champion I have bred, but she is the first that I have taken from no points to finishing points strictly through the BBE class.  As I said, there have been other rough champions that I bred or co-bred.

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Ch. Wych’s Where Honor Lies–aka “Dixie”

I’ve finished many champions over the years, most of them for other people, but I can say that I have had a good run with my smooth BBE champions. There have been ten of them. I know that number because of the beautiful medallion the American Kennel Club sends when someone finishes a champion with all points earned exclusively from BBE. I actually counted the number of champions that I have bred over that thirty-five year span and came up with twenty-three. Considering that on average, I breed less than one litter a year, that isn’t too shabby for a small, hobby breeder.

And, what does this have to do with the writing life? On first glance, not a whole lot. But, upon scratching the surface, the similarities start to emerge. Both activities should involve a deep commitment to producing the best product possible (and before anyone starts to flame me, I DO NOT consider my dogs a “product”), both involve a learning curve, both have short-cuts to “success”, and both have a high rate of burn-out when that success isn’t instantly realized.

Like dog shows, being a writer involves what should be a deep commitment to producing the best product possible. Learn the rules of writing (at the very least, proper grammar. PLEASE!), learn the norms of the genre you’re writing in (once you know them, you can push and bend them), and READ. READ A LOT! As Stephen King has said, if you don’t have time to read, you aren’t a writer. Good writers read everything they can get their hands on. They read in the genre they’re writing in. They study how other authors take the norms and push those boundaries. They read in other genres.

Being a writer has a learning curve. That’s where all that reading comes into play. Read “how-to” books on writing. Maybe you won’t use all or much of that advice, but there is something to be learned within the pages of that guide. Just as the American Kennel Club standard is the guideline/blueprint for what a collie should look like, that standard is open to personal interpretation. Dog show judging is highly subjective. So is writing. However, if what you’re writing isn’t selling, just as in the dog show ring if the dogs aren’t winning, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate how you’re approaching the guidelines. I’ll never forget a time one very self-important small man announced to me (amidst several insults, as well) that he was going to be the number one breeder of smooth champions of all time. That was thirty years ago and he is still involved with this crazy sport. Anyone care to take a guess as to how many champions he has bred or co-bred? Anyone? Just like him and his inability to adapt and to follow that blueprint for what a show collie should look like, if you cannot adapt your writing you are doomed to failure before you sit down at the keyboard. There is a learning curve and you either learn or die.

That isn’t to say you should be writing to a template or formula. Use those as guidelines. How you color with the words inside that template/blueprint/formula is entirely your choice. Your unique choice of words, your spin on how the story is told is what makes your story different from every other story out there. I read somewhere that there are only about six or seven different romance story lines out there: the Cinderella story line, the Beauty and the Beast story line, Sleeping Beauty…how you tell those tales makes it your story line.

If you aren’t committed to creating the best writing you possibly can, please spare the rest of us. I understand that’s harsh. The lack of commitment to being the best and the ability to publish something as soon as you’ve written the last word in a first draft through mediums like CreateSpace falls into the area of a short cut to “success.” Yes, that’s your name on the cover of that book. And, yes, you’ve probably got a lot of friends to tell you how wonderful the book is and will even post a review for you—but, as a famous politician said a few years ago just because someone puts lipstick on a pig doesn’t change the fact it’s still a pig. It’s just wearing lipstick, now. It’s still a pig.

That high rate of burn-out is common to both dog showing and writing. How many start NaNoWriMo every November and never finish? How many start November out ready to write, hit a wall at about day 10 or 15 and never go back. Or how many actually get that novel written and on December 1 push “publish” at CreateSpace and when the horrible reviews start to roll in, stop writing. They blame the bad reviews on trolls, on the fans of authors with more name recognition, on the barred doors of the ivory towers of traditional publishing, rather than attempting to understand what it is the reviewers are saying. News flash—if the vast majority of reviews are arguing for a proof reader and a professional editor to look over your masterpiece, you might want to consider such. Pull the book down, spend the extra money and get it professionally edited and then republish it.

For years, I had a sign in my tack box that said “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” Too often, I’ve seen people buy a first rate dog, have some success with it, only to find at the larger shows, they weren’t prepared. They hadn’t learned the nuances of grooming a dog to accent virtues. They aren’t as polished in the presentation as people who have been involved in this insanity called a dog show for years. And, instead of evaluating why they aren’t winning, they chalk it up to “politics”, become discouraged and leave. We call them five year wonders…in that we wonder if they’ll still be involved in five years. Even those of us who have been involved for years (decades) chalk up some losses to “politics.” The latest tempest in a tea pot over group placements is a good example of politics, and I’m just as guilty.

And, just as I did something this past weekend that I haven’t done in thirty-five years of showing dogs, this week something happened that has never happened before. My first published book The Devil’s Own Desperado suddenly rocketed up the charts at Amazon and by the end of the day on Wednesday was sitting at number one in Westerns and number four in western romance. number one babyAnd, I was just as giddy about that as I was the day I signed the contract for publication of that book and just as giddy as I was about finishing my first bred by champion. I never want to lose that wonder, that giddiness, that sense of deep gratitude to my readers.

Go do something you’ve never done before. The sense of accomplishment is simply amazing.