Packing & Puppy Politics

My last two days have been spent taking care of my friend’s sick dog, rather than working on the RV like I’d planned, so there’s not much to update on today. I slacked this week and did shitty on my exercise schedule. Rather than playing online tonight, I’m spending the night going through some of my remaining stuff and sorting it… Keeper stuff for the storage shed, stuff that needs to go to donation, and stuff for the motorhome. There really isn’t much left to sort through, but those little things seem so tedious and time-consuming. Of course the biggest stuff was the easiest, so that happened first. The (huge) storage shed was crammed as full as you could get it, and I worked through that bit by bit, and now I am sharing one of the smallest sheds you can get with a friend, and there’s still room to spare inside. I just feel scatterbrained and apathetic a lot of the time. I would rather spend hours looking at land for sale online, or browsing through places to rent on the coast, than sort paperwork that I need to file. Really though, it’s the little things that will matter in the end. Crafts correctly sorted into totes, all my stuff in order… When I’m living full-time in the RV, things being in their proper places will make a world of difference. I got the second-smallest model I could find, so it’s not like there’s room to be a slob or have any clutter.

I’ve started thinking about where I want to keep things in the RV. Originally I figured I’d use the big bed above the cab to store all my stuff, but I’m thinking that’s going to be too much weight, and it’s also going to make me top-heavy, which is the last thing I want, so I’m re-evaluating that…

Been thinking about getting another dog soon. Kedric seems lonely, and it seems weird to just have two of us, so I’ve been digging through the internet, trying to weigh my options. I don’t want to wait a year, because I don’t want a new puppy driving him insane in his old age. He turns 12 in December. So I figure now, while he’s still full of life, and not a grumpy old man or weak and wobbly would be best. Especially because he just needs a friend. The complicated thing is where to GET a dog. I’ve done rescue before, and helped with other rescue organizations before, so I recognize the incredible need there is for people to adopt. But then I have to guiltily admit that I want a purebred. So I’ve been looking at both Petfinder and actual breed rescues, just searching for the right dog to pop up… And it’s not appearing. So I’ve also been searching through breeders. For those of you unfamiliar with Border Collie politics… Holy shit. (Prepare yourself!)

The Border Collie was originally bred for herding. Owners did not care how the dogs looked, as long as they could get the job done. So Border Collies come in every package imaginable. Everyone pictures a black and white, semi-long-haired dog with tipped ears when you say “Border Collie”, but that is not always the case. Border Collies come with floppy ears, tipped ears, prick ears, short hair, long hair, medium hair, and curly hair. They can be anywhere from 25 to 60 lbs or so, and come in a full rainbow of colors and body types. Some look more like whippets, some look more like German Shepherds… Nobody cares. The dogs, after so long of being bred for brains instead of looks, were the smartest dogs on the planet and could do just about anything – from service dog work to narcotics detection. Border Collies are used in Search & Rescue, agility, lure coursing, and sledding. They have even been used in protection work and as therapy dogs. There is little in the world a BC can’t do. So the AKC wanted this dog in their kennel club. The herding people fought hard to keep the dogs out of the club, because the only thing the AKC really breeds for is looks, not abilities. They couldn’t care less what the dog’s instincts were, as long as it conformed to a written standard on what a BC should look like. And what should a BC look like? It should look smooth on the outrun, calm on the lift, and steady on the fetch. It should look capable at the shed, and patient at the pen. But as to its color and conformation, there has never been a standard. So the AKC added the BC to its roster, even though most BC breeders opposed this, and now there is a war at hand. There are people who breed AKC-style BC’s, which are gorgeous, fluffy, and tend to be, for the most part, either completely uninterested in anything other than taking up space on the couch, or completely hyperactive and somewhat nuts, loving the sound of their own voices. I’m sure I’ll get comments about how that is not how all of them are, but I’ve met a fair share of them, and most fall into one of the two categories. The problem with the AKC dogs is NOT that they’re pretty. It’s that the breeders tend to breed only the best looking dogs with no regard to instincts, so most AKC dogs just don’t have the abilities bred in anymore to perform hard farm work or trial courses. Of course, the secondary problem is that in breeding for large, square bodies with incredibly lush coats, you end up by default with a dog who generally couldn’t do the trial work even if it DID have the instincts, because the coat gets caught in everything (and overheats the dog), and they don’t have the shape and fluidity of a working dog. They can’t really flex at a gallop, and they can’t really do the slinking walk up either. On the other end of the spectrum, ABCA breeders are breeding dogs with brains to dogs with brains. Some of them are lurpy, some of them are just so homely it’s hard to look at them without wincing. But no matter how funny-looking the dog, when it is in motion on the hillside, it is a work of art. It is pure beauty, and few can argue with that. The talent and instinct of a well-bred herding dog at work is an amazing thing to behold.

So where does that leave me? In the middle, of course. I never fall into the black or white, I ALWAYS end up wandering around the grey spectrum. When I was little, my mother raised Shelties, so I’ve always loved the tipped ears and sweet expressions (and pretty sable coats). What I am looking for is a dog that was bred with good intentions (to WORK), but comes in a pretty package. Not a big, boxy, flowing-haired dog, but pretty. For this, I feel like a terrible BC person. I do not agree in the slightest with what the AKC has done to the BC, but at the same time – I don’t want to own a homely dog. My thing is – I don’t own sheep right now, so I don’t NEED a dog that can work. But I don’t want to support a breeder who doesn’t have the breed’s best interests in mind either. I have found many breeders who have some really pretty dogs, but *only* in black and white. I’m not sure why this prejudice exists in the BC world, but over the decades, breeders favored the black dogs, so even if a chocolate/red, blue, or sable pup popped out along the way and was showing interest in stock, the breeders would choose the blacks over the colored pups. This means that the gene pool of dogs with REALLY good herding instincts tends to be predominantly black (or tri, which is mostly black). What I am looking for in a breeder is someone who raises ABCA dogs (not AKC), is breeding dogs that have the desire and talent to herd, has colors other than black or tri, has dogs I like the look of (medium build, rough coat, tipped ears), and is hip/eye testing their breeding stock. You would think that I’m looking for a unicorn breeder. And not just ANY unicorns, but ones who can only live off sugar cookies, and who crap rainbow sparkles. It’s just… not to be found. Anywhere. There are breeders who breed color, but the dogs don’t really work (even if they have instinct). There are breeders who have herding, colored dogs, but they don’t hip or eye test. There are breeders who have herding, hip and eye tested dogs, but no colors… UGH! I have literally gotten to the point where I’ve decided that in the future, I will be breeding Border Collies. I CANNOT be the only person out there looking for this combination, so any pup I don’t want to keep for myself, I’m sure someone will want to buy. It is seriously driving me to insanity. I have looked at probably every breeder in the US at this point who has a webpage (any webpage, no matter how terrible). I’ve seen some really nice herding, colored dogs in the UK, so I’m not sure what’s going on over here. Of course, if you ask opinions anywhere online, you will get yelled at from both sides of the spectrum. You want a brain-dead colored dog?! You want an ugly herding dog?! All I have to say to that is… Border Collies were never bred for looks, so they come in every look imaginable now. I’m going to pick the dogs I like the looks of best who are registered with the ABCA, since that’s the best compromise I can come to at this point. It just really sucks that if I decide to go with a registered dog, I will not be satisfied on all the items that I’m looking for, since nobody appears to be breeding them. There’s a reason I keep going back to look at Petfinder and breed rescues, and that’s because it hurts my brain less. Also, the Pit Bull cause is near and dear to my heart (so many amazing dogs being put down because of a bad rap), so every time I get done searching through BC’s, I look through the Pittie database as well. I’ll be the weirdo with 15 Border Collies and a Pit Bull in the future, for sure.

Anyway, it’s Monday, so here’s my weekly breakdown. It sucks, but at least I didn’t gain anything (surprise).

Starting weight: 272
Lost this week: .2
Total lost: 15.4
Currently: 256.6

Starting BMI: 43.9
Lost this week: 0
Total lost: 2.5
Currently: 41.4

Categories: dogs, dreams, goals, weight loss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And so it begins…

Life is short. You sit around, thinking about what you could be, or what you could do, and suddenly years have passed by and you have nothing to show for the wasted hours. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. We’re not even guaranteed a minute from now. You could die before you finish reading this sentence, and that’s that.

I’ve been struggling in this rip tide for years. It drags me out, I let the current take me, and then I decide I want to change, so I start swimming hard. And at some point, although I know I will eventually be allowed back in to shore,  swimming parallel to it just feels like I’m getting nowhere, so I flip onto my back and let the current carry me along again. All that progress, lost. At some point though, I decided to fight the current. Sometimes the waves suck me under, but I feel like I’m actually making progress. I can see the shoreline now.

Four years ago, I moved out of the black hole that nobody ever seems to be able to get away from. Maybe it’s the magnetic pull in the area or maybe it’s simply that people without a lot of hope just simply tend to keep doing what they’re doing, rather than jumping ship and following their dreams. I felt like the longer I stayed there, the more depressed I became, and the more pointless my life was. I decided to make Salt Lake City my stepping stone. Not where I want to be in life, but far enough away from where I was to break out of that mindset and feeling of hopelessness.

It’s taken me a few years, but I downsized from an insane amount of stuff to a very small amount, and started to think about what I wanted from life as I began to realize that living my dream was possible.

So… what do I want from life?

  • To be surrounded by people who make me feel good. People with drive, passion, kind hearts, and easy laughter. People who encourage me to live my dreams, and who have great energy. People who communicate well and can reciprocate good friendship. Friendly neighbors. People with positivity, who are increasingly hard to find in this jaded world.
  • To be on the coast again. There is nothing that rejuvenates the soul like crashing waves, enormous trees, and great energy.
  • To have a farm. I miss my animals. I want to plant trees. I want to go back to raising gardens and canning food. I would love to be able to turn my love of farming into a business. That is the ultimate goal and dream.

So now that I know what I want, and feel like it’s actually possible to get it, what now? I decided I wanted an RV. I can pick up and simply move somewhere else, but what if it’s not the place for me? Then I’m stuck until I can raise up money to move again… I decided that I’d rather just live in my home. Then I could travel around and find the place where I want to be without having to make a commitment to a certain city, a certain house. I could stop into towns and get a feel for them, see if they have what I’m looking for… You just know when some things feel right, and I’m hoping to find that city or town that I just don’t want to leave. The only catch with this plan is that I’d have to stay put for some time in order to hold down a job to pay for additional gas money, or I’d have to make money somehow on the road. I do tie-dyeing for fun, and I also hand-braid dog leashes. The dog leashes are very popular among people I know in the real world, but I would have to actually set up a site online, or join a site where I could sell them. And until they got really popular, I’d still be living on money I’d saved or having to hold down a job somewhere. I’ve been kind of wishy-washy, not sure of what I’m doing, but saving up money for when the right opportunity came along, and then… it arrived.

On June 1st, I bought a motorhome. I’d been wanting something over 18′, since they were the smallest, and had zero storage room, and smaller than 23′, which had pretty much everything I wanted, but seemed like a lot of space to pay to haul around just for the extra storage. I really have to think about the cost of things, since I’ll be alone on this journey. I’d been watching the classifieds like a hawk, checking them day and night, when a 20′ model popped up. 1978, only 40,000 miles on the engine. Bunk beds (read: extra storage) and a decent floorplan… I texted the owner, and our schedules were all wrong, but the person who was supposed to show up that night fell through, and it was still available the next morning. The owner texted me to let me know it was still there, and Andy whisked me down to the south end of the valley to test drive it. A couple hours later, and I handed my savings over for a set of keys and a piece of paper.

So now I have the RV in the driveway, and a list of things that need to be done for me to feel 100% about taking off in her. That does not include setting up the dog leash business so that I can start getting some happy customers and putting money in savings for the journey. I want to document all the steps I’m taking to get where I’m going. From fixing up the RV to what I’m doing with my days while on the road. I’m thinking it would be fun to include roadtrip recipes (I’m greatly looking forward to lots of grilling and campfire cooking, as well as the learning curve with learning to use a tiny RV oven). I also love to take pictures of everything, but I do not have a high-pixel, GOOD camera. So I have added that to the list. And I think videos every now and then would be great too, because I know that I love seeing videos from travelers’ wanderings. I recently looked into getting a GoPro. I thought, from how much people talk about them, that they’d be a few grand. I was pretty surprised to find that they’re only a few hundred bucks. I also will be traveling with my dog (and more than one at some point), so there will be info on traveling/RVing/camping with pets… So basically, all I have at this point are ideas. But the means is in the driveway. The rest is just a puzzle to be sorted into place as I go. And this blog will be the journal of how I make it happen. 🙂 Wish me luck!

Categories: dreams, goals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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