The End of the Chapter

Nobody. Not a single soul.

Me: Okay great so here’s how I am….

‘Tears fill my eyes as I drive out of the parking lot and the opening of a country song plays. Yes, I picked the playlist. My music choice betrays my true emotions. By the time I arrive at the first traffic lights I have had to take my glasses off because my mascara is running every-where and I can no longer see the road in front of me as my eyes sting. I lean into it. ‘

I can’t even begin to describe in words how I feel right now. But of course, that never stopped a girl from trying. My heart is filled to the brim with big feelings. All the big ones. I feel joy that resonates deeply from the other day. The other day when I discovered that after battling for many years at trying to overcome subjects that I did not have an aptitude for, that I had passed all the subjects for my degree. I am still in a state of shock that I don’t believe will ever wear off. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times during this process of getting a degree that I felt beyond hopeless, lost and the deep doubt that I really didn’t belong here after all. And that I didn’t deserve to pass. I didn’t deserve to graduate. I felt imposter syndrome to my core. So, the realization that I did it, regardless of the voices in my head that told me not to, is still sinking in. I maintained somewhat of a facade of positivity, trying to believe that if I faked it, I would make it. Because that’s what I’ve been told works. So here we are. And you know what, even if I never ever do anything to do with my degree again, and even if it costed me thousands in debt, including the subjects I had to pay for repeatedly, it will still be one of the best decisions I ever made. And I don’t regret it in this moment. Not for a single second.

Because you see. We think life is black and white. You choose one path and that’s where you end up. But its not about what you decide to do. Its about the person you become due to the challenges you face. It is the self-growth. It is everything else. It is the soil surrounding the flower if you will. Drawing on elements from all around. The air for carbon dioxide, the water for hydration and the soil for stability. Every element contributes to the big picture.

Let’s talk about my big picture. And here’s the thing, every individual year of my 5 years at unit is a very different picture. Because a lot changed.

First are the people I met along the journey. I am declaring I would be a totally different person on a different journey without them. From the very first person I met in a group project in my first practical class of equine science to the work colleagues who have listened to my rants and all the way to some of the wild housemates I have lived with. Even though this year has been by far the most solitary year I have ever spent in this regional city, I have still carried many of these people in my hearts all the time. And I see them everywhere. I see them sitting with me in the Macca’s carpark, having DNM’s about the boys who had broken our hearts and eating junk food on campus all night. And to all the people who made this year special. Thank you.

Then there’s the job. I am saying goodbye to the people, but I am also saying goodbye to a job that has meant a lot to me. I bet you are thinking that for someone who complained a lot that why would I be so attached to a job. But I am. My workplace has been a bit of a comfort zone for me for a long time. A place where most of the time I understood how to do my job and I did it well. I grew as a person dealing with many challenges there. I met and saw many people come and go. And I made it into the bar, which for me was a huge goal and a dream of mine. Working at one of the busiest and popular places in town, it absolutely made me feel a part of something. A part of something awesome. For me there is such a cache with the place that I worked. Where one would see a random pub, I saw a magical world that I could become a part of. And I was thrilled to be a part of it. Sure, it had plenty of bad days. And sure, I didn’t want to work there forever. And sure, I am sick of dishes and customers and everything in between. But there was also smiles, shared hatred of colleagues and customers, lots of laughs, and so many closes. More closes than I care to count. There was parmis, I ate a lot of parmis, there was music and dancing and there were good vibes. I will have a soft spot for it forever.

There’s uni itself. Again, I kind of fell in love with the university I have gone to. It is regional, I picked it specifically, partially because it was 500kms away from where I was living in high school and because it had my special and random unique degree that no ones ever heard of and has no idea what you are going to do as a career afterwards. I do have ideas, but I am not going to speak to any of it here. If anyone asks what I am doing next? The answer is: “I am finding my way”. That is what I will be doing. And I ask that you give me time and space to do so. But back to the point. Uni, I will miss uni. I will miss so much about it. The small community, the rural campus with kangaroos hopping across it, and once again every awesome memory I have with it. Let’s face it I will remember the bad ones too.

There’s the actual location and the actual place where I have been living for the past 5 years albeit intermittently. It is unique to my previous experience in that I haven’t ever lived anywhere like it. And I love how chill it is. It is so relaxed. And it is beautiful. And it has some of the best sunsets I have ever seen in my life. I will miss all my options to walk. All the paths that I have taken with my four legged attached at the hip sidekick in life. All the photos of our adventures. Just all of it. So many phenomenal locations that are a stone’s throw away and get some peace in the outdoors. I am beyond grateful for that and it has taught me how important this is to me.

And then there’s me. I am walking away from this experience a different individual than the one who began this journey. When I came here, I came alone. I had a giant bag full of clothes, a jar of 1kg Nutella with a loaf of bread and a corolla. I leave with a degree, a dog, and a bitchin new car. Along with many other weird and wonderful things I have learnt and gained along the way. There’s knowledge bursting at the seams, there is passion that has always been there. But I have grown my passions and I now have even more of them than ever before.  Also, I am free now. Free to start the next chapter, because I have finished writing this one.

Farewell. It’s been real.

These memories are mine to keep.

A Sneaky Dose of Gratitude

Yes, here I go again, preaching about “gratitude”. She’s one of those hippies who is going to preach to us about the sun and the butterflies. The reality is far simpler than that. Call it whatever you will, gratitude is simply about recognising joy. So often we fly along in life at a breakneck pace and literally forget to notice all the good around us. Worse than that, we are busy and exhausted that we get caught into a cycle of negativity and focusing on what we didn’t get done, what we still need to do and basically anything that is bad in our lives. And there’s no need to eradicate bad things. You don’t have to run around being Mary Poppins and singing in the rain. No, the goal here is simply to take notice of the good and not let it pass us by. So, here’s a few different ways that we can do that. Also, I don’t object to the occasional rain dance, because water is my everything.

Take a photo

  • If you know me even at all I am obsessed with taking photos of things. And many would argue this takes away from the moment. They might also argue that you will never look at that photo again. Well they are wrong. I regularly spend time scrolling back through my memories and it brings me an incredible amount of joy. It is incredibly hard not to recognize the absolute privilege that is my life when it is spread out in front of me in a series of fantastic adventures both with friends but mostly just with the four legged light of my life that is Finn.

The foolproof five stars rating system

  • To yourself, to your friends, to your family. Practice rating things in your life. For example, Went for a run today 5 stars. It can also be negative such as, rolled my ankle on my run, 0 stars. However, you do it, it is a simple way of saying what really rocked and what didn’t rock so much. I like this one because there is the opportunity to recognise what wasn’t so great and have a laugh at yourself. While also appreciating things. Today I did a jigsaw puzzle and it was 5 stars. What would you give 5 stars today?

What you kicked ass at and what kicked your ass

  • On one of the podcasts I listened to this is a simple method they use at the end of every episode to talk about what they did well and what really took them down. Again it recognises both sides of the coin which I just love. Next time you are on the phone with your bestie or your family member. Ask them this? What did they kick ass at this week? What are they struggling with? It’s a great conversation prompt and more original than “how are you going” and what’s new?” Also, in-case anyone was wondering I am kicking ass at writing my novel now. I have just begun Nanowrimo which is national novel writing month with a goal of writing 50,000 words in a month. What is kicking my ass this week? Probably food. I have been flat out with exams and work and have not been doing meal prep well.

Write it down!

  • I use a simple app to write down what I am grateful for, and I swear to you, it works. It also reminds me every day to enter something which is helpful as I can be a bit forgetful when I have a lot on my plate. I’m sadly always on or near my phone so it is easy to put in my entries for each day. I never ever run out of things to be grateful for. And for that I am grateful. See what I did there? I also love the app because you can add in photos also to help remember things. And soon enough it becomes a habit and you don’t even need to write it down you just enjoy the perks of feeling joy multiple times a day. Yesterday when I set down to write a list there was so much joy in my heart, I felt like it was going to burst. That is how much I must be thankful for. That is how unbelievably great my life is. Seriously, what a time to be alive.

Just recognise it in your own head and acknowledge it

  • Be in touch with your emotions. And try to live in the moment. When you feel a cool breeze, feel happy about it. Just keep it simple. It’s a quiet nod of thanks to the world and to yourself. Because you are the one steering this ship. As I said above, once you make it a habit you will start finding joy in so many little things. It makes the bad times much more bearable and it just enriches life in the best way. I mean if you think this still sounds stupid you can spend the rest of your life just being mad at everything, but I choose gratitude.

 

Say thank you

  • And really mean it. We tend to say thank you to everyone without meaning it at all. When someone does something for you that has really helped you then thank them in a meaningful way. This can be all sorts of things but honestly just being forth-wright and really expressing yourself goes a long way. You will find that people are touched by your raw honesty and feel seen. It just never hurts to be thankful.

 

These are just suggestions and ideas. Everyone has their own way of existing and I appreciate that.

What’s a way you connect with joy? How do you fill your cup with a dose of gratitude?

Let me know in the comments!

The late shift

The light shines eerily through the tiny crack in the bottom of the blinds. It’s always noon somewhere, my brain says lazily to myself. It’s probably noon here. I roll over on my crunchy hair. Did I take it out of its practical ponytail last night? Who knows? I reach around on the bed feeling for a familiar object. My phone. I keep my eyes closed for a moment, procrastinating the inevitable. I open them and sigh. Its 2pm. Definitely past noon.

 

I remember getting in somewhere near 4am last night. Left starving after my shift I had to join the hoards at the maccas drive thru as is tradition after a night out, or a night of work for me. Of course, then I sat awake when I got home just waiting for sleep to take me but thinking about everything on my to do list. Eventually exhaustion took over and I drifted into sleep so deep that wild horses could’ve galloped through my room and I honestly wouldn’t have noticed.

 

I gather what little straws of energy I have and rise. Mainly I’m motivated by my bladder, as all the great morning people are. Maybe we aren’t so different after all. I sit on the edge of my bed; half the blankets have strewn off and clothes lay in a heap all over the place. I hang up my bistro and bar uniform on the back of my door. I sigh, I should’ve done it this morning when I got home. Now I know at least they will dry while hanging. My bistro uniform is probably still damp from doing dishes before I threw it off. And the bar uniform wet from both alcohol I have managed to spill on myself or soapy water that I used to clean the bar. If they are particularly grubby I will throw them in the machine for a rinse cycle. Often, I do this only an hour before I must put it back on and head back to work.

 

I manage to stumble to the bathroom to clean my teeth. Food can wait, I have decided, time is of the essence here. Finn finally rises from his bed at the sound of me putting on my runners. He is always down for a sleep but equally down for a walk. The light outside is so bright that I need sunglasses immediately. Outside the world seems surreal and so alive. The sunshine beats down like a ray of hope and warms my body and my soul. I wander in the warm daylight as I get my sea legs. If I’m feeling particularly energetic, I throw in some jogging. But alas, today is not that day and I blunder along back to the house with only one thought. Food.

 

By the time I get back to the house I know one thing for sure. I am very hungry. Probably the last time I ate was at 9.30pm the night before and it would have just been a snack. My go to lately is some shapes and a cherry ripe. My middle name is healthy. I fry up a big breakfast. But really its breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one fabulous meal, I am all about optimising efficiency. I glance at my clock as the bacon and eggs simmer along nicely. Its 4pm now, I have less than 2 hours until I am due back at work. I Netflix while eating my everything meal. No time for a shower now, my hair won’t dry in time and I’m just going to get dirty again at work. I pack my bag for another night. Change of uniform, snacks and water.

 

I reluctantly spend my last half hour with my head in my hands, sitting at my desk, watching more Netflix and the minutes before I head back to work wishing I had gotten more done. I look around my room in despair, there is stuff everywhere. And don’t even get me started on all the university work I still have to do. I am fully dressed in my bistro uniform now, which is where I will begin my night. It took 4 attempts of hanging my head upside down like a sloth to do a bun that is appropriate for work without strands sticking out all over the place. I feed Finn and ensure he is all sorted for the night. I leave the light on as I go so when I come home it won’t be dark.

Ready for another big night.

My Favourite Year

Welcome. I’ve been absent again. But I’m here now.

In honour of my favourite podcast of all time: the infamous “my favourite murder” with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark and the wonderful subgroups they have created because of it. I am going to write about some of my favourite things from this year.

My favourite birthday: Scuba diving on the great barrier reef. The moment I hit 18 meters deep was a moment I will never forget. Sharing it with an amazing friend made it more special. I honestly think my 23rd birthday was one of the very best birthdays I have ever had in my entire life. It will be hard to top that for 24, but I will try.

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My favourite placement: I was terrified for placement this year. But against all odds I completed 3 placements. And my favourite by far was the AEBC. Especially because everyone was so nice, and it felt like being part of a family the whole time I was there.

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My favourite movie: How to train your dragon 3 is absolutely the only movie that I have seen in cinema this year. Paid for by my AEBC family and enjoyed with a giant popcorn, coke and a choc top. I had not even heard of the first two, but I made sure that I caught up by watching number two and eventually number 1 on the weekend while I was home the weekend before we went to see it. I was not disappointed the movie was amazing.

My favourite assignment: Probably the last one that is still in progress, and damn it is a hard one. It’s my placement portfolio and involves reflecting on some intense self-actualisation about the life and career I had once pictured for myself. But Because it is the last one ever, it is kind of the best one, particularly as I did not enjoy many of my subjects this year. It is the last one at least for a while. I am not saying I will never study at university again because I don’t know what the future will bring.  But I am taking a break temporarily and allowing myself to not constantly have the giant balloon of university hanging over my head all the time. Which will allow me to do crazy things like write my novel and hike across western Australia.

My favourite waterfall: This one!

My favourite book I’ve read: Such a tough call as I have read so many amazing books this year. I was unhappy with the amount I haven’t been reading since coming to college many years ago, so I decided to set a goal for reading at least one book a week. And it was successful in the end. I have already read more than 52 books this year and it isn’t over yet. And if you tell me that audiobooks don’t count then as Karen Kilgariff would say I cordially invite you to “get the fuck out of here” right now. If I had to pick one, I would probably say Brene Browns Daring Greatly. I just cannot get enough of Brene Brown and the way she untangles life. A close second would be Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was an indescribably awesome book.

My favourite thing I’ve never done before: Dock dogs was such an adventure. And I was terrified to do it but I’m so glad that I went. I had no idea where I was going and didn’t have half the equipment, but we went and did it anyway and it was so worth it. Finn had never jumped off a huge dock before or walked through the middle of the city or been kept in a crate with a bunch of crazy barking dogs around him, but he smashed it out of the park even though I never prepared him for it. We will be back next year for some more competitions. Once we can gather all the equipment we need and somewhere to practice.

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My favourite hike of the year: It’s a tough one between the one I did on Fitzroy island where Tash and I nearly died of heatstroke or the beautiful one up mt Timbertop in Mansfield with my friends Caroline the very fast walker and Tash. And of course, Finn. I’m going to say Timbertop simply because I prefer the colder weather so much more and it was a beautiful way to spend time with two of my favourite people.

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My favourite concert: Another throwback to the start of the year is the Florence and the Machine concert that my friend Ellie convinced me would be a wonderful thing to go do. Although I didn’t really know Florence what I knew about her and what I had heard of her music I had loved so I agreed the year previously and promised myself I would listen to more of her songs before the concert. Spoiler alert. I did not. But I absolutely loved the concert regardless. It is having been the only one I had ever been to despite a free Hilary Duff concert when I was like 10.

My favourite dog trick: As we all know Finn knows a lot of tricks. But Finn learning to vault has been the highlight of the year for sure. We still need a lot of work on it though. It was one of those tricks that I mentally believed we would never be capable of and then we went and proved ourselves wrong. I just love that. Here’s to hopefully smashing more training barriers and even heading to more competitions in future.

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My favourite run: The Wagga running festival was my favourite run of the year. I was so proud of myself for reaching that goal. It was such a significant I can do this for me. And I just didn’t stop running. The weekend that surrounded it was horrific though. Just all together too much work and broken legs. But we came out on the other side and know we can do it again. So, here’s looking forward to running longer and faster.

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My favourite quote: “Of course I struggle, but I don’t quit”. Stolen from my amazing housemates motivational quote bank. I love this one. It encapsulates my entire year.

My favourite road-trip: I enjoy most of my road trips when I’m driving alone in my car. But I also enjoyed my friend Dani and I hitting the road from Melbourne to Newcastle at Easter. We had some tunes (mostly country cause it’s me), some podcasts (my favourite murder-not sponsored) and some biochem study seshes. But it was an all-round good time and it was extra awesome because we got to visit a few friends on the way up.

My favourite song: Sara Bareilles: She used to be mine. It just speaks to me on a whole other level. “She is lonely, most of the time”. If you haven’t heard it would 10/10 recommend a listen.

My favourite puppy: Jax. Need I say more.

My favourite podcast? Can you guess? I’ve mentioned it enough times.

Anyway, that’s enough from me. What have some of your favourite things from this year been?

Let me know!

Side-note: I have written favourite in this article so many times I am not even sure of its correct spelling anymore. The word just looks wrong to me. Pretty sure that the Americans spell it different to us too.

The Wide and Wonderful World of Dog Sports and Training

Tonight, while out playing with my dog. I lost my car keys. I inevitably bent over while Finn was vaulting off my back and my keys flopped right on out of my pocket. I walked back to the car, but it was dark, and the floodlights were turned off. By the time I got to the car I realised what must have happened so hurriedly I retraced my steps. Turning on my phone torch I started searching. During teaching Finn many different object names, I taught him what my keys are. Often before going for a walk I make him collect several items including socks, runners, his lead and sometimes keys. So, I thought what the hell, I will ask him to bring me the keys. And I did. And I kept looking. Panic started to fill my chest though as I still saw no sign of my keys. Meanwhile Finn dropped the frisbee he had been playing with and put his nose down and started searching the ground studiously. 5 minutes into the search in the dark I heard a jingle. I froze. Could it be? Sure enough, Finn was running towards me with the keys that I had lost. He dropped them in front of me and I proceeded to sing his praises and celebrate with him by giving him all the treats I had on me. It was a lot of treats. He got the jackpot. A little bit of object retrieval training and my dog was able to help me out of a sticky situation.

I have been getting into the dog training world more and more lately. With so much free time on my hand I have been exploring every aspect of the dog world. And with so many different disciplines on offer it is tough to choose a favorite. Who needs to choose though? I am planning on trying just about every discipline there is and maybe one will capture Finn and I more than the others. The passion I feel for dogs and the world of them out there is enough to make me excited for the rest of my life at the different partnerships that are out there for dogs and humans to participate in. I have decided to share some of this information with you. This is not a list of every sport. But most of the major ones.

Agility trials

Agility is one of the most well known and well participated in sports across the world. It involves a handler guiding a dog through several obstacles including jumps, tunnels, hoops, ramps and weave poles. The handler is not allowed to touch the dog on course or incite it with treats or toys while on course. It is of course allowed to be rewarded off course. And many trainers use rewards in training time at home. Different rules apply around the world and in some countries even if the dog receives a lot of faults and is disqualified it can finish the course for training purposes and to build confidence rather then pulling the dog off mid field. I dream of competing in agility trials and although Finn and I can informally complete a course to a half decent standard we are not at all well versed in the technicalities of agility handling. But with a little bit of help from our local kennel club I hope to be competing in our first real competition within a year. If you are interested in agility, I would recommend going to watch a few trials to admire the amazing teams out there. I believe real agility is about having fun with it. To get started try training your dog in some basics, how to jump over things, go through things and get on things. And join your local club to get more tips from people that know what they are doing. And don’t be afraid, any dog of any size and shape can do agility! Young dogs should take it easy on the jumping though as it can strain their growing frames.

Disc dogging

A much more unusual sport but growing in popularity. Disc dogging is much more prevalent in America then anywhere else. It is also in parts of Europe from what I am aware. But Australia has yet to be graced with the popularity of the sport. Although I do know of a few clubs spread out across the country and competitions held in Queensland. Road trip! So, If I ever hope to compete officially I will probably have to travel for it. There are several aspects to the sport but the most important is that your dog has disc drive and can catch! Of course, both can be taught. Disc dogging is a ridiculous amount of fun. I have recently begun training in some of the tricks used in routines and am having a ball with it. Highly challenging tricks such as vaulting off parts of the body to catch a disc as well as disc flips, choreographed disc catching, and long-distance catches. These are only a few of the parts of disc dogging though. Like agility, the handler must train specific cues and can incorporate many different and unusual tricks in a freestyle routine. I 100% recommend looking up some of these routines on you-tube. They are incredible to watch. They require a creative mind as well as a bond between handler and dog. Absolutely next level stuff. Heads up, handlers often work with 6 frisbees at a time in a routine. Its like a crazy choreographed dance with a dog.

Dock Dogging

Finally, a sport I have tried! Again, dock dogging is HUGE in the U.S but it has not gained much ground in Australia yet. It is growing in popularity though. A guy named Dave is getting Dock Dogs Australia up and running and creating lots of hype for it but there are still less than 5 competitions a year nation-wide, and no practice pools anywhere, making it incredibly hard to practice without a pool with a dock. There are very little docks in Australia too and this does not help. Finn and I went into our first competition never having done it before. Finn had only one practice in the pool before his first day of competition in which he bravely jumped off the dock into the pool at least half the time in front of a huge crowd. Dock dogging Is what it sounds like, Dogs running down a long dock to catapult themselves into the air and land in the water. There are a few different types of competitions that involve different skills. The traditional sport is a long jump into the pool. But there are now other categories, one which is a high jump for dogs where they must grab a toy out of the air. And another is a swimming test, how fast can they retrieve a toy from the end of the pool. Some of these dogs are serious stuff. They know what they are doing, and they love it, they also love the water. The world record is a whopping 31 feet in long distance into the pool. That’s nearly 10 meters and two times as tall as the average giraffe! Ridiculous right? I hope to do more of this sport in the future but maybe when I make it across the ocean to North America.

Trick training

Not an official sport but one of my favorite things to do with dogs. Trick training is fun and, in its essence, does wonders for your bond and communication with your dog. I have taught my dog Finn ridiculous tricks such as “rolling himself into a blanket burrito”, fetching my runners and the dog lead before a walk, opening the fridge and door and currently we are working on a backwards leg weave. The sky is the limit with trick training. You think it? I will attempt to train Finn how to do it. I believe that there is no trick he can’t do. Everything just takes time and persistence. He knows up to 50 tricks at this point and many more words. I lose track of them, so I have started keeping a diary of my training with him. There are so many basic behaviours too that are almost implied with him, like waiting at the door before coming in and whenever I stop walking on a walk Finn immediately rejoins me to check in. Any dog can learn tricks! Old or young, giant or tiny breed. All of them can get something out of it. Arm yourself with treats and toys and hit the internet for lots of different ways to train a lot of different tricks. And have fun with it!

Pull sports: Sled-dogging, dry mushing, bike-joring, scootering or cani-cross

Undoubtedly one of the best ways to condition your dog while also tiring them out is a pulling sport. The downside? You need some equipment, starting with a solid and well-fitting harness that allows them to pull without injuring themselves (I have just ordered one!) But for cani-cross (running with a dog pulling you) that’s about all you need. A pulling harness and a lead. You also need to put some solid ground training in before hooking your dog up to a sled or bike of any sort. Finn and I have not done much of these sports yet, but I see it in our future. He is already great at the basics of canicross. Once we get the harness, I’ve ordered I will be solidifying his directional commands as well has important commands such as “on by” and “whoa” and continuing to work on his go commands. Luckily being in Australia is no discrimination for this sport though as dry mushing is super common if you get the right rig. I also think this is a sport that is awesome if you have multiple dogs, depending on how much you weigh and how much your rig weighs. I would love one day to experience a full mushing team on snow though. Ahh one day.

Stock work

An area in which I have very little experience, I will be honest. But good stock work takes a lot of work to teach. I’ve heard some dogs “have it” and some dogs don’t. But the dogs that are bred for it and then trained from puppy-hood are great. A good farm dog is worth its weight in gold. They can go get the cows from the bottom paddock and bring them up. One day when I hope to have my own property and my own stock I will get to learn a little bit more about this. But until then, it will have to wait until I have access to stock.

Obedience work

Obedience is hectic. I don’t love the word, but it implies total control over behaviour. Competitive obedience is very cool to watch. Particularly the highest level of the German Shutzund (look it up). But basic obedience is important for any human dog partnership. Any dog or human feels better when they are aware of the expectations that are given of them. And training is not a prison, rather it allows even more freedom for the dog. And allows them to know the right thing to do.

Scent work

Dogs have INCREDIBLE senses of smell. Why not use it for good. Also scent work is incredibly tiring for them. You will have a worn-out dog at the end of it. Scent work is a time-consuming process, it takes a lot to lay complex trails and even more time to teach the dog to follow them. The most that I have done with Finn is household scent work, hiding items around the house and getting him to retrieve them. He is excellent at this, but we have not yet reached the great outdoors. Although I used to frequent the oval in the dark, throw a ball and then Finn would track it down in the dark. Which is a form of scent work I suppose. And he did find my keys, so clearly, he is decent at it!

Hunting/retrieval work

I don’t hunt. But it makes sense for retrievers to fetch birds that have been shot out of the sky no? Finn would be great at this, I think. He already is awesome at scent work and fetch.

Flyball

Apparently, a weird form of hurdles combined with fetch. Clearly, I need to learn more.

Protection/bite work

A professional line of work. Not for people to experiment with without knowing how to train it correctly.

 

So, there you have it. Dogs are just incredible, and I am so grateful to have them in my life.  Many of you just enjoy them for companionship but that dog you are cuddling with while reading this is capable of so much. They are often underestimated, and I believe that any dog can achieve greatness, it depends upon your commitment to your four-legged friend.

What dog sport do you think is the best? Let me know!

The Gym of Life

People pay for exercise? They do. Pay for it. It’s a wild idea. In my life. I have very little need for equipment to tone my body and keep my heart healthy. Magic, I know. I do it by simply having a very active lifestyle.

Let’s look at a week in the life. And unlike many other times in my life, I have done the math!

Tonight, at work I counted the stairs. We are a pub with a fancy upstairs loft that does tapas and meals etc. The downside? There’s no kitchen upstairs so we must carry it all the way from the back of the pub to the front of the pub and then up 23 stairs. It’s a long way. Once you get there you must calm the breathing and pretend that you didn’t just die on the way up as you scan the dark room for the number you have hopefully remembered. The loft has been picking up lately, it has been busy. We usually only have 2 waitresses on so both of us end up going up to the loft quite a lot. On an average Friday or Saturday night (when the loft is open) I tend to run up and down the stairs at least a minimum of 20 times. Taking meals and clearing plates. This averages out to me climbing at least 460 individual stairs. That’s a lot of stairs. If it is a particularly crazy night and we have a function upstairs, it can be up to 40 times. That’s just about 1000 stairs. That’s like doing the thousand steps! Talk about physical! Who needs a stair climber at the gym when you have this?

Now as fun as the stairs are on Friday and Saturday nights, on a regular 4-hour shift as a waitress I tend to average at least 10,000 steps. Working out to about 2.5 thousand steps per hour. That’s a lot of steps in a short amount of time. When I do a split shift day, that adds up to 20,000 steps. This is only in my work and excludes any other tasks I may do that day. Generally, if I’ve had a normal active day with a split shift, I will hit about 30,000 steps by the end of a day. Sometimes the fun even continues well into the morning. When I work a bar shift, I will add to my step count until 3.30am. And when I wake up the next day, I will already have steps under my belt. I feel these steps. Some days my legs ache, and I get very tired and grumpy by the end of a shift. You can’t argue that I am inactive because I am very much not. I have a standing desk if you will. I walk and walk, and I walk.

Taking a break from legs for the moment, lets talk about hands, and arms, and wrists. I don’t have any stats for it. But a 3 plate carry on several 400-gram steaks with generous doses of heavy sides and a gravy ramekin weight a lot. Believe it or not, hand strength and grip strength are needed. Also, a talent for weaving around heaps and heaps of people. And a tolerance for very hot plates. When I have a break from this, my hands lose strength and I get fatigued more easily. But when I’m working my standard 5 or 6 shifts week, I don’t struggle at all. I am strong and I can carry. I can carry 3 heavy, hot plates ALL the way up the 23 stairs to the loft. I can put that on my resume.

Alright. Let’s talk about my legs again. Because they do a damn good job carrying me places. Believe it or not, outside of work, I go for a walk every single day. And I run a minimum of 3-4 times a week also. So, this means I use my legs to add even more steps to my count. On a typical walk day, I take my dog Finn for a minimum 1-hour hike, but sometimes I hike for 2 hours or longer. On a typical run day. I am currently running distances of 5-6km. Not as far, but a higher heart rate so it counts as more intense exercise then my typical hike.  I do this, not for money, but for fun. Because I enjoy it. I also do it because I feel obligated to exercise my dog as it is a commitment I’ve made. My work and my walk commitment are my two absolutely non negotiable commitments. I do them pretty much no matter what. Rain, hail or shine. Happy, sad or downright dead-man walking.

The other physical task that my job in hospitality has is lifting things. Bins, gravy buckets, giant bags of potatoes that are half the size of my head. I swear, the things you see. Also, if you have never tried to lift a heavy gravy-soaked bin without a handle, you are not missing out, believe me. Often you lose grip halfway up and the bin slides back towards you as you try to pivot it on the edge then the lid on the giant dumpster slams shut and threatens to overwhelm you with the garbage stench, then you fight to push the bin over without getting bin juice all over you. The struggle is real. And a few weeks ago, in another epic hospitality fail, I managed to drop a whole tray of potato bake after trying to carry too many to the cool room at once. Also have you ever lifted 50 chairs onto the tops of tables when closing a bistro? Arms burn by the 40th chair or so. Its good fun though. Better than the bins.

Now clearly, I don’t do enough physically demanding activities in my day to day, right? Right?

Oh wait. There’s more. Being a non-rich adult who does not have gardeners and house cleaners means that I must do typical domestic labor. Weeding. Manual lawn mower that spins the grass through it, quite a lot of work to do. Vacuuming, scrubbing the kitchen cupboards. Most of these domestic chores I do on the regular, and they all add to my ‘active’ tally. Oh, and I forgot carrying groceries from the supermarket to the car and the car to the house like it’s a godamn Olympic sport because I always refuse to do more than one trip.

I will argue that the only other time that I was more active than I am now was when I also had a horse and when I rode for exercise as well as carried heavy hay bales around.

This week I also just started placement where I did a solid 30,000 step day straight up. Mucking stables, hauling hay and spreading sawdust. I enjoy it none the less.

I don’t have it that tough, some people have much longer days and work much more physical jobs and they have way less awesome dogs but hey, I’ve been doing something. So, no I don’t really feel like hitting the gym in my ‘spare time’ what even is that. I would much rather sit down with a book or a university assignment or heck just some Netflix and do nothing but sit on my ass for at least an hour or so. I’ve earned it, don’t you think?

In it for the Long Run

I’m in love

 

No, it’s not what you wish it was. I am not fulfilling my life’s purpose as a woman by finding a “man” to take care of me and to make babies with, so I can ‘settle’ down. No, the love that I have is for no specific person. Its for a hobby. Many people, they either love it or they hate it. Most people hate it because they have never really tried it. Or they have tried it and expected instant gratification from it. Such a fault in the generation of instant reward. People may begin for different reasons. But they stay for the same reason. They love it.
I’m talking about running. I’m in love with running. I should’ve seen it coming. I was always a fan of the cross country in both primary school and high school. I’ve never been much for team sports. I dabbled in ice hockey as a young Canadian, anything to compete with the boys. Later in Australia I began the classic ‘girl’ sport of netball, but I was absolutely shocking at catching the ball. As always, I am heavily affected by others confidence in me and feel a dramatic urge to not let anyone down. This let me put huge amounts of pressure on myself. I would like to think I got better over time but in high school I did not maintain the sport. I slowly became a couch potato. Occasionally having a go at athletics carnival at the long jump and participating in swimming. But none of it was anything special.

 

Of course, I always felt jealousy towards those that maintained their fitness and enjoyed the comradery of team sports. I think vastly this was because I wished that I myself was able to do what they did. Instead I hung with the gals at lunch. Drinking too many slushies in summer and slowly watching myself into a square eyed flat butted university student. I’ve always been active but not sporty. I’ve held active jobs and always been able to complete any physical task I set myself. This includes lifting and hiking. I have dabbled in a few different attempts at fitness but never really committed myself.

 

The first real commitment I have made and stuck to has been walking. I walk/hike every single day now. The reason is simple. I got an active dog. He enjoys walks. End of story. Since then I have been very committed to my walks. And in turn I have learned a very important lesson, that no matter what you feel like and no matter what the weather, you still need to just get out there and put one foot in front of the other. Its another life lesson to hold close. To just keep taking it one step at a time. I have been walking for over 3 years now. And while I sometimes slouch off in the summer and let my generous mother take my dog for me. Walking has become an integral built in part of my life that I greatly enjoy.

 

I set goals for every year. Not new years resolutions, but just goals. I enjoy setting myself tasks and it helps me focus. At the start of the year I threw out the goal that I wanted to run a half marathon in 2019. Where this goal came from, who really knows. I hadn’t been running consistently at all in years and every time I tried I thought I was going to die after 1km. Or even just 1 minute. Newsflash, running is hard. Especially when you are not at all fit nor conditioned for it. I did nothing at first. But eventually I got bored this year at some point and that drove me to look up running training plans. Its now been a few months and I am running multiple times a week. Building my distance and duration every week. I started with just absolute baby steps. Run 1 minute then walk 1 minute. Currently I can run for nearly 30 minutes. Its not long. But it’s a hell of a lot longer than nothing.

Also, I am really enjoying it. I love the feeling of extending myself and pushing through hard challenges. Running takes grit and not every day is a perfect run, but I am slowly getting there. I am persistent.

 

My goal now is a 10km run in just over a month. I am scared but excited about the prospect of it. After that, who knows. I hope to keep building on it until I can maybe if all goes well run a half marathon distance by the end of the year or early next year. I am not sure if I will get there but 6 months ago I never would have imagined myself getting to this stage so who the hell knows. I would argue the best tools for picking up something and sticking to it are.

 

Just start it.

Take your own time. Nothing that is hard comes fast.

Don’t give up.

You must like it. If you love it, even better.

 

I love running. Whatever comes next is a bonus.

"Until one has loved an animal, ones soul remains unawakened"