Monday, June 10, 2013

The end of an era

It has been close to a year since I last blogged. I have appreciated the people that have requested I continue the blog... and that maybe it is actually read :)

This will be the first entry of many to come. I can, and will now continue, somewhat where I last left off. Well, eventually -  I will pick up where I left off. Now, I have to start  at a different place: A goodbye.

I have not written for a reason. As summer turned into fall, I had a feeling I was looking at limited time left with Delsin. Not anything anyone else would see, and his vet check in September with a full blood panel showed a "very healthy dog". My heart told me differently.

I could no longer blog about Delsin, as I could not go forward and write about his life with me, without including what my heart told me. The private, introverted side of me - which is my dominant side....well, I choose not to be public with the process I knew I would be facing. The time would be spent instead trying to be fully "present" with Delsin. for whatever time we had remaining and whatever events happened.

I blog now, because yesterday, Thursday June 6th, 2013, I said my last goodbyes of many, and gave the nod to let Delsin go. I don't know when I will actually publish this entry of the blog, I will wait until it feels right to be public with a very private relationship with my friend Delsin.

I do choose to share though, because I realize Delsin had a public side - that side being pushed out further when he became lost, then was in the news, followed by the stories of our Westminster adventure. Life within the show ring is public and Delsin liked that spotlight. As long as that was also balanced with many other - non-show-ring events and adventures. So I write for mostly Delsin: to honor the great soul he was and still is, despite him not being here with my in body. A hard transition for both of us.

How do I even begin to share?   ...with so many raw feelings - some yes, indeed painful, but many are heartwarming and bring me comfort as well. Delsin and I helped each other grow. We each are a better being for knowing each other and allowing the deep connection we had in life to develop, and now, continue, but on a different level.

But first, what hits me, is that I once again find it so sad, terribly sad, that my love is with a breed... a breed that we are "forced" to be happy when our dogs live beyond 8 years. When our dogs reach a mere 10, we celebrate and place our dogs picture into the (USA) national magazine. When I hear "Really big dogs don't live that long" I cringe... because A) this breed is not suppose to be a really big dog like a St Bernard, and B), it is not true that dogs in the 100 pound category live short lives (and I am sorry, 10 is a short life). This became a reality years ago for me, when I visited a yard of sled dogs. No, not the small racing sled dogs, but the big guys - the draft type sled dogs. These guys were all between 90-110 lbs. Berner sized.  As I looked at these dogs - jumping high at the end of their chains, with excitement of possibly a chance to get harnessed up- and go - the caretaker of these dogs started telling me about them: "Yeah - that one over there, the one jumping so high - probably his last year on the trial. He is 16 <years!> this year". And that one over there, she is 15, she may have a couple more good years in her to run". He went on and on. These dogs were not grey, nor were they sedate. They were agile and jumping as high as the younger dogs around them. I was floored.

While diving into such a complex matter of long life span is not for this blog on this day, my memories of that day, seeing those sled dogs, makes me shake my head in sadness, that I had to celebrate Delsins last birthday - the 10th birthday - with the knowledge that it in fact was going to be his last one. And to have so many berner owners say how "wonderful it is to see such an old berner".

I would like to clarify it here: Delsin never, ever got Old. He got sick. Big difference. In looking back at any of my berners over the last 30 years... they didn't get old, they too were sick. Even as late as this past February, when cancer was well established in Delsin's body, after a bath I gave him at a dog wash, the dog wash owner saw him and said "He must be young?". When I said he was 10, the owner said - 10 months? I said "No, 10 years". Delsin didn't "look it" or " or "act" 10 year old. Or did he? Shouldn't a dog still look and feel young at 10 years? If our expectations are a dog is old at 10, or 9, or 8 or 7  ..... doesn't that just help perpetuate that?

Another soapbox, I will step down from now. At least temporarily.


What to say about my boy Delsin.... so much comes to mind...

At the forefront of my mind of course, is his loss. Yesterday at this time, I made the decision to end his life. Historically, I have been a wreck at the burden this decision makes combined with the loss. Wreck would be an understatement....I have entered into some very dark times in my life after the death of my dogs. So, as I faced Delsins cancer over these last few months, I also faced "would I go back to that darkness again?". I felt, with Delsin's help, I had found a clarity and balance in my life, but I knew that this would be a test for me. I was unsure I was really prepared for it.

I have always wanted to be able to face change <loss> with grace...something I have fallen extremely short of in the past. While I have faced more than my share of loss in my lifetime, with each one, I have only gotten more fearful, more distant, maybe more crazy. Up to Delsin.

Yes, there have been plenty of tears. Facing something with grace does not mean to ignore or bury the pain. Death and loss IS painful. It IS profoundly sad. Facing something with grace does mean to be present to the pain. Yes, allow it. Feel it. But, let it go then...don't bury it.

Daily, I would pull myself back to the present, back to simply being with Delsin. If my mind wandered to the days ahead, days of letting go of Delsin, or the days without him, I would guide it back to the present, to being with Delsin. As his health declined, I choose not to feel sorry for him, but find ways to change with him, find ways to support what he was going through, but also to enjoy where he was at. At shorter walk, which eventually turned into short wanders...I would simply follow him where he wished to go. I adjusted my schedule, so my days were simply about being with him. I never told him he was old, nor that he was sick. He knew he was sick, I didn't need to remind him. I didn't place limits on him, I encouraged him to continue to do all the things he loves, even if it was just for a little bit. On good days he would run again - although not as fast as he did before he got sick -  and he would toss his ball into the air, boss around the other dogs. On days he was tired, we just sat together, told him how wonderful he was and we reminiscence about all we had done together. I treated him like I would want to be treated if I were dying: with support, but not sympathy, only empathy. And just to be there fully present with him - really, truly, present.  If I was on the computer - on something relatively stupid like facebook - I would think "why am I doing this, when I can be fully present with my dog instead?. After all, he IS still alive". I would get off of the computer, just so I could sit and talk to Delsin. Yes, there were many times I was just there, doing my own thing while he slept. But, more and more frequently I became aware that I needed to be more to him: to touch him without letting my mind wander to other events of the day, the to-do list, what I am going to make for supper, etc. But to interact only with him on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. While I suppose this could be viewed as exhausting, it was not. Due to being fully present with him - fully present to life - I found a renewed energy. And I found a relative peacefulness about a process that has nearly killed me in the past.


My approach to health <vet> care is on the holistic end....generally far on the holistic end. It is not a "right or wrong" as some people try to make it out as, but rather, it simply comes down to what with each are comfortable with in our gut.

I choose no invasive procedures with Delsin...a choice I have made for my own life as well. Delsin has had a lot of holistic modalities during his life and I continued that throughout his death process as well. The cancer was "verified" in late January 2013. But I saw some subtle changes as early as September 2012, when I had a complete blood (chemistry) panel done, because I knew something was off. I was told everything was "remarkably normal, especially considering his age".

In November I started some more "aggressive" (but holistic) health regimes with my vet for Delsin. His appetite by this point was only fair at best and he had lost a significant amount of weight.  Initially he responded and felt better, then gradually I saw him just not be right again.

January 2013 I opted for more diagnostics, but nothing invasive. Blood and chem panel still was great. UA showed nothing bad. His physical check up was fine. Then there were the x-rays. Changes to the lungs, possibly more. X-rays sent off to a radiologist where he confirmed changes in the lungs, stomach, and likely spleen and liver. Cancer fully expected, probably histosytosis. They suggested needle biopsy, I declined. I wouldn't do a different approach regardless of what it came back as.

I made a decision at that point, not to share with people that Delsin had cancer. Yes, I am private, but it went beyond that. I wanted people to greet him with their usual "hi there" and not a "oh, I am sorry you have cancer" vibe. I did not want people to feel sad when they saw him, but continue to feel happy he was alive and lookin' good. I knew after Delsin had passed, I would share. I believed this approach was best for Delsin as an individual, but not as a judgment toward others and how they may approach their dogs death. We each walk different paths, and that is a good thing.

So through my alternative vets' help, we together and continually adjusted the game plan for Delsin. I have had a lot of "energy work" done (of various types) with all the dogs over the years and that continued with Delsin as well. We also used the drug (anti-inflammatory) deramaxx - which greatly turned Delsin's appetite around. He became ravenous and ate everything I gave him. He never was able to put weight back on, despite getting almost 5 pounds of food a day (cooked, homemade diet - high protein, extremely low carb... i.e. a "cancer diet"). But he felt better, I felt better that he was able to eat.

The ebbs and flows happened, but it mostly flowed I would have to say. While his life was different than in the past, it was also very high quality. He remained engaged in life.

Six weeks before he died, I started going to my vet twice a week for energy work (verses the 1 time every 2 weeks, then 1 time every week). The energy work simply helped Delsin feel better. He would come back home barkin' and telling the world how great he was...something that his son A'kash was not very impressed by!  But Delsins big, "look at me" energy would come out after his treatments. It was great to see

The down side of it was that something had changed in Delsin so that he no longer liked to ride in the car...something he always had loved doing. And my vet was an hour away. So that meant 4 hours a week in the car - time Delsin did not enjoy. But I made the decision that he overall felt better because of the frequent energy work. I know in my heart, without a doubt, that both his quality and quantity was increased, and I would do it all over again.

While there was a lot of gradually changes along the way, by and large, he enjoyed his life. If he had a bad day, he rebounded, and I celebrated that we had more time together. We (vet and I) adjusted to his needs, and he would respond. To look at him, no one would have suspected how sick he was. In fact, one day as we left the vet, a woman commented on how great it was to see such a "young and vibrant" Bernese.

When the changes came that lead up to the end of his life, they came relatively quickly. The appetite quickly faded despite cooking all  sorts of things for him. I knew with that, things had advanced far within his system. This time he wouldn't rebound.

His last energy treatment - Monday June 3, he did respond - and once again he came home barkin' at the other dogs and tossing his favorite ball in the air. He ate that evening. My hope went up; perhaps this was not the end after all.

But by morning, I could tell that he still was on a downhill decline.

It is personal, perhaps too personal, to talk of the last days of exchanges between two beings that love one another. We both knew we our time together was ending and we both knew that our life together was magnificent.  Delsin and I did things that few will ever do - all the travel all over the country, not for shows, but just to travel. He and I saw and experienced many things. Yes, his show career was wonderful as well, and to be on the other end of the leash for an all breed Best in Show when he was almost 9 years of age, is an experience I will never, ever forget. But I hesitate to even share that, as the perception could be that I loved my boy due to his beauty, and it could not be any further from the truth. Delsin was a great being and part of that is he liked to show and he did it well. It simply was something him and I could do together and do well together. But it wasn't the only aspect of him, nor the biggest aspect. I don't need to show to complete me, and neither did Delsin.

When the end came, it came with peace, calmness, and love filling the room....something I have never, ever experienced before and did not think was possible for me. He had energy work before, during and after the injection. I felt the presence of all those that have died before him - both human and non-human - surround us and I felt the compassion in the vet and staff as he slid away. Heartbroke? Yes. But defeated? No. Far from it. I have never experienced the calmness I am feeling now after I have lost a being that I was so connected to in life....again, I simply did not think that was possible for me.

I realize that the days ahead without Delsin will have times that I get hit with a profound sadness. I will break down. And that is okay. Because I now know that my boy gave me so much of himself in life, helped me through so many things, supported me through dark days but most importantly - he guided me to healing myself. I am sad he is gone. But I am more happy he shared his life with me:

When I first held you to my chest, when you first entered my life,
we had an unspoken truth between us:
No matter how long we are together, or how the end comes,
The connected joy we have together in this life, will far out weight the pain at the end, 
when ever and however, it comes.

Anne Wolff Nichols
BIS GCH Rogel's My Delsin B of Nighttime RN
9-26-02  to 6-6-13

Friday, July 6, 2012

Did I fall off the face of the earth?

When I took on the task of starting this blog, I did it enthusiastically and enjoyed making entries. I originally wanted to start a blog to share Delin's Westminster adventure, but when he got lost in January, I felt the need to start it with that aspect of events. I had all intentions to keep readers informed and updated in a timely manner the adventures of this friend of mine - Delsin.

My intentions and reality have been two different paths. While I don't feel the need to go into much details, life since this past winter has had, well, its fair share of challenges. Significant challenges. We all have to face various difficulties in ones life, and it seems that multiple ones came all at once.

But, I am happy to say, that my dog family does just fine. While I had obligations more times than not in "the cities" I have been back here on the farm for about 6 weeks now. My own life has started emerging again, and while perhaps not all the challenges of the human family life are behind me, to stay sane, I have held on the the farm life, pursued some of my years goals for here on the farm, and just taken solice in being in the presence of my beloved dogs.

So, Delsin is back to his morning animal chore routine most mornings. I say most mornings, because every now and then the honor gets shared with one of the other dogs. Usually his niece Jyoti, sometimes his son A'kash. But most mornings, weather permitting, it is Delsin that is by my side as he helps me with my increased "animal herd" as I tend to their needs. The scene is repeated with the evening animal chores.

The show ring seems very far away for either Delsin or I. Westminster seems to be another lifetime or another reality completely. I look at the burrs, the dirt, his overgrown ears and feet, but see only a truly happy dog, that can roll in the dew laden grass(or worse!), wander up to the cats in his "I LOVE cats - don't run" whimper, check out the new rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks in addition to the sheep, llamas and chickens, mark until his heart is content, and come running full out when I call him with a broad smile on his face...and I see one truly happy living soul. This farm and this life I lead here has kept my best friend healthy and has kept me grounded amongst turmoil in other aspects of my life...aspect that I am slowly letting go of. And my dogs help me with that process. Live in the moment, let go of the past, don't fear the future.

As lives have ended, so lives have begun. Delsin has pups on the ground. Now one would think that perhaps Delsin has had lots of pups in the past, but that simply is not the case. Much to his dismay, I have greatly limited his sex life. It has nothing to do with him, everything to do with me. As a "stud" owner, I have little control of where his pups go. When I look at Delsin, I see not only Delsin, but Delsins dad K'dar, Delsin brother Toltec,  Delsins grandma Hoshi... and I think of how each of them were wonderful, great, loving beings. How each of them loved life, had a great life, none of them confined by kennels, away from people, but accompanied me on my day to day life.... and well, I simply want Delsins kids to have that same, great quality of life. I will probably get hate mail for this, but the fact of the matter, many show dogs have shit for a life. Not all, but many. Off with this handler, to that show, in the crate or that kennel, loved only for the physical beauty and the wins that the dog may gather, alive to feed to dogs owner the for ever hungry ego. Or sold off if they don't "make the cut" or no longer can be bred. Despite Delsins quality, I have no need to have his pups be the "next big winner" in the dog show world. For if anyone has ever, truly looked into a show berners eyes - the ones out with the big named handlers, out at every show - they don't see happiness, contentedness or joy...they see profound sadness and an emptiness. It breaks my heart. So while I can't save those dogs that live a life they don't prosper in, I can limit Delsin "use" and make sure, the best I can, that any of Delsins kids go into a family home, where they are loved for who they are - not what they win.

My soapbox has ended now. I think.

Onto Delsins pups. New life is wonderful and these pups are no exception. 3.5 weeks old, five healthy pups. 1 boy, 4 girls. Delsins pretty head seems to have come through, we'll see what else is there as they mature. But does it matter? Not much - only that they remain happy and healthy and that they find homes that will love deeply and stay committed to them their entire life.

Here are four of the five....the 5th one was too crabby and tired to sleep with the group:

At some point...I will still put down in words, Delsin's and my Westminster debut. It was worth going, but I don't have the need to go back. But that is for another day, to put down those impressions...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I am here - and an update

Hello readers and followers....

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! Rather, I have had to deal with some family matters that have taken considerable time - which I did not foresee. And Delsin and I have returned back to the farm and work, so day after day has gone by and I haven't even checked in and kept updating as promised. But I have not forgotten this blog, nor the readers and I will - WILL - be updating the Westminster Journey piece by piece, and then continue blogging ... about my life, my dogs life, and this wonderful farm I live on.

Meanwhile - here are some photos for your viewing pleasure:

Delsin and his son A'kash December 2010:

Another photo With Delsin and A'kash - Kash is about 5 months old here:

Delsin(on left) and A'kash November 2011. A'kash had just turned 1 year old in this photo. Kash is looking more and more like his dad as he matures -

And here is Delsin "hard at work" on the farm..."guarding" the 100 meat chickens I raised late last fall:

More Westminster updates to come.... bear with me :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Monday - 2-13-12 Westminster - the day before!

Before I forget - here are two links you may want to go to:  this is a video of Delsin taken with his christmas toy on Jan 3 2012 (this year!)  this is the Westminster Kennel Club facebook page - and if you scroll down, you will see a photo of Delsin and I in the ring with a very nice story of us.


Ahhhh....the pre-show jitters are emerging! After a fairly sleepless night of listening to jackhammers, sirens,and  horns honking on the street below our hotel window(all night long!) combined with the adrenaline rushing through my body, my usually calm demeanor is taking a hit!

Today is all about figuring out the show - as we show tomorrow and I want to be prepared and know what I am getting myself into! But first Denise and I go for a walk with Delsin and Mick, to see if we can find any place - anyplace at all that is green, so the boys can pee or even poop.

It is going through the hotel and onto the streets that I begin to realize the size of this event. I am used to going to dog shows and have been showing for 30 some years. While I recognise that exhibitors are spending a lot of money to be at this NYC show, I have failed to realize that people come from all over the country to be a SPECTATOR! People are simply hanging out at the hotels that allow dogs - sitting and waiting for the dogs to walk by, or sitting by the inside poo and pee areas - just to see their favorite breeds or have a chance to pet them. Cameras and cell phones continually take pictures wherever Delsin and Mick go. I have to admit, it is a bit mind boggling for me.

Once on the street, there are times we can only take a few steps forward before a crowd descends upon us. Delsin loves it. Mick loves it. They eat up the attention, leaning against one person after another. Everyone knows that we are there for the big dog show. Some are tourists, some or simply folks that live or work in Manhattan. All ages, races, shapes and sizes of people come to see the dogs. All are supportive, friendly, interested. It is very cool!

Denise,Delsin and Mick hang out for a breather on a more quiet street corner.

Delsin out on the streets of NYC getting pets from his many admirers!

Mick looking for a place to pee in a planter that he was eventually kicked out of
by the building security. Oh, where is a boy to pee????

It takes us a good 1.5 hours to walk around 2 blocks with the dogs. People, people, people. The dogs still are lovin' it, Denise and I are hungry. We stop at a deli, and I hold the 2 boys while Denise goes in and gets us two breakfast sandwiches. The shop owner stare out the window, pointing at the two dogs, smiling. A guy walks by with his buddy, abruptly stops and says "my wife really wants one of these" in the direct east costs manner. He wants a picture, that is fine by me. What I didn't know is that HE wanted to be in the picture and he hands his buddy the cell phone camera, kneels down next to Delsin and wraps his arms around my dog in one fast, swift move. Good thing my dog has a stable this total stranger hugs my boy hard for the picture.

Denise emerges with the breakfast goods and we make haste to our hotel room to eat in peace. Man, GOOD breakfast sandwiches, made to order and on very fresh and tasty rolls. McDonald's has a long ways to go! :)

We leave the boys in the hotel room and head to Madison Square Gardens! My nerves are all "alive" as I go am here! I enter the exhibitor entrance so I know exactly where to come the next day when I have Delsin in tow: up the ramp, around the corner, up the freight elevator, down a hall and INTO CROWDS. Jammed packed immediately. We attempt to find the benching area, but I am confused, as I see no benches, see no breeds together - it looks like a regular dogs show, only much more crowded. I figure I must be in the handlers all-breed area and not think much of it. We go into the arena instead. It is the place everyone sees on TV. Green carpet and maroon ropes for ring barriers. It is just like TV only so, so much more intense. We have no dogs, so we are just one of the crowd and can navigate fairly easily. But to get to ring side?: Forget it!!! 4,5, or 6 people deep. I can see why it is recommended to allow 1/2 hour to get to your ring when showing a dog here.

This photo I am standing at one end of the arena looking down the center "aisle" -
 which obviously is no longer much of an aisle.

We head back to the benching area - I am determined to find the "bench". I grew up doing benched shows and knew what to expect: Elevated benches that exhibitors put their crated dogs on for the duration of the show. Of course, this being Westminster and all, the benches would have the Westminster colors and insignias. It would be classy!

We look at look. But it just is a typical grooming area for a regular dog show. Except for it being way more crowded and close together. What the heck?? I find the Westminster booth and tell them I am a new exhibitor and how to I go about finding out where I bench the next day - and ARE there benches?

I find out no, that this year, with the major reconstruction in MSG, there are no benches(due to lack of space), and as exhibitors arrive, they will be assigned a spot. Not assigned with their breed, but in whatever order they come in. Wow. That is a change - a very big change. But at least I know what to expect when I bring Delsins crate and grooming equipment over later that evening.

A corgi (Pembroke) passed out on top of his crate as spectators walk by.

We decide to go up into the stands to try and see the show and get a better perspective. We watch the afghans being judged for awhile:

From this angle, one can better appreciate how the spectators surrounded each ring.

And from this wider angle, that on the show floor, there is no room to move outside of the rings. The open areas is the inside of the ring - so once the exhibitor actually got into the ring,
there was room to breathe!!
Higher up into the stands, the 4 rings can be seen. During the day, there are plenty of seats left in the stand, but in the evening when the groups are judged, the seats all fill.

About 2:30 we head back to the hotel. Denise and I can tell that this show tomorrow is going to be crowded and intense. What have I gotten myself into? But I also feel pumped up. And I know Delsin very well: he will love the intensity, the attention, then marveling crowds.

I have a 3:00 pm appointment to give Delsin his final bath before the show. In our hotel (Pennsylvania,) in a room next to the dog pee area, for a fee, I could reserve a tub to wash Delsin. Excellent idea. A friend that had arrived to the Gardens on Thursday has reserved a time and the large bathtub for us....much to Delsin's dismay:

The last chance to get any mud (or worse) off from our farm lifestyle!!

After the bath, it was up on the groom table to blow out Delsins coat, put the final trim on his feet and ears. He looks and feel great and when we walk through the lobby after his bath, I am sure I hear extra ohhhs and aaahhhs....

Dinner was nothing extra special - a disappointment since we are in NY where there are a ton wonderful restaurants. But it was close, it fill us up and we could then get through the evening routine of the dogs to the indoor pee and and pray that they will go.

While at the pee area, there is a vendors booth set up with dog treadmills. Now Delsin has never been on a treadmill before, but he gets a ton of exercise and he could use a little now that we are on-leash in the Big City. Hmmm...I have a video of him on it, but having technical difficulties getting it to load. Check back for that....

Monday evening we head back to the Garden to see the groups. As I sat in my seat, over looking the group ring, thinking of being there, of showing in the morning......ahhhhh, all is fine in the world. It is great to be here!

There are 4 groups on, on Monday evening. We watch the first, then make a mad-dash back to the hotel to pick up Delsin's crate and grooming stuff, and head back to the Gardens with the Tuesday exhibitors can set up after 9:00 on Monday night. We arrive at the door about 9:30, the line isn't too long and we get in and set up. Cramped, cramped quarters, but it will be "home" for a day.

Back to see the last group of the evening - the herding group. It is fantastic to take it all in, feel the crowd, hear the applause, and see dogs that love the show. No surprise that the herding group winner is the German Shepherd: big name dog on big named handler.

Back to the room, another long walk down the hall (we are WAAAAY down at the end of the hall on the 14th floor) down the elevator, down another hall - to the pee area. While I am there, Delsin hops onto the treadmill for another few minutes. He watches his feet...confused that the sidewalk keeps moving, But he is cool with it, wags his tail...he likes new experiences. It keeps him young, it keeps him happy. 

 Tomorrow is the big day!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2-21-12 - Westminster: I am back online!

Hello my followers and readers...despite m,y best laid plans to keep everyone up to date as the westminster journey unfolded... I was unable to. Beleive it or not the NY hotel we stayed in did not have wi-fi in the rooms, and to use their computers were $.20  MINUTE! I am a pretty SLOW typer, and time was very tight, so I had to bypass the blog until I got home.

For now, here is my blog entry I wrote in Word so I could cut and paste into the blog. More to come - including photos and videos! Stay tuned!

Sunday - 2-12-12.
HOLY   #@*&!!!! We are in Manhattan! The full range of emotions today. Phew…. Where to begin…...

First, this will go on the blog sometime after I write it. The hotel – even at $220/night, does not have wifi in the rooms. I can go down to the lobby and get it. But keep in mind, any thoughts of a quiet, relaxing lobby go out the window. It is anything but. This show is a huge deal and even here in the hotel, swarms of people wander everywhere – just to see what dogs are coming in and out. So tonight, at 10:30, I am peopled out for the day and we are in the relative quiet of the 14th floor – the constant honking of taxi’s horns at street level is faded. I can think, I can unwind.
The drive was overall better . Roads got better as we got closer to NY. But one 3 car accident while we were still in snow kept us on edge until we got out of the snow.
The show seemed to get more and more real as I approached the city. My adrenaline started soaring and I felt high anticipation as we drove the Lincoln tunnel and into Manhattan. We arrived around 3:00 pm and I was thrilled to get easily into the city, find my way to the hotel and look forward to getting unloaded and get the dogs out. My eagerness quickly faded as we sat in the car waiting to pull next to the hotel to unload. It was THREE HOURS before we were unloaded and the car handed off to the valets to park it! The dogs needed to be fed and walked, and that meant we would miss the banquet we were going to.  Oh well, it was a last minute addition anyhow and probably would have gone too late…
Oh where, oh where does a little dog pee, oh where, oh where do they pee????……. Our dogs looked at the cement city and saw nothing viable. They looked confused and pulled ahead looking for somewhere to go. We knew the hotel had set-up an indoor pee and poop area so we went in to see what it was. Wow. They covered half of a large ballroom with thick plastic, then put down a layer of saw dust and placed out fire hydrants for the boys. So there, among vendor booths, drapes and carpet, we asked our dogs to go to the bathroom. They looked at us as if we were nuts. We walked in circles, they tried not to sniff all the dogs pee – as it was visibly grossing both the dogs out. They are drooling, and holding up their feet. Finally both dogs peed and they wanted out then. Later, before bed, we brought them back. Both peed, but even though Mick really had to poo, he wouldn’t. If he could talk, he would say “YUCK!!!" I feel bad for both boys – very clean house dogs that never, ever go inside – asking them to step around in urine soaked wood shaving and take a shit. I doubt I will get Delsin to go unless I figure out a way to get him up to central park – which is many, many long blocks away. So, tonight as I type this, Mick lays on my bed, farting. It may be a stinky night.
After unpacking and feeding the dogs Denise and I go about finding our own dinner. One of the great appeals to me about NY is culture and experiencing things I may not get a chance to otherwise. Our hotel is close to Korea town and we head there. Having no idea what to look for, we just choose. We went up some stairs to a small restaurant where we were to only white folks in there the entire meal. I was in heaven and love immersing myself into "different". The meal was great although we certainly were confused about what to order and accidently ordered the same thing, although we aren’t entirely sure how that happened. And we ordered too much food! But very enjoyable.
A side note, but one that had an impact on me: on the way to the restaurant, there was a homeless guy curled up in his sleeping bag along the side of the sidewalk - sleeping on the dement. I guess that is usual and I have seen homeless before. Nobody paid attention to this figure on a cold sidewalk in 20 degree weather. But it bothered me. How can he survive? I understand how that happens in the summer, but how about winter? How did his life get so bad that he lives on the streets in this manner? Certainly no one as a child is striving to be a street bum in New York City.
As I finish my dinner and have large amounts of odong noodles (soup) left that I have no way to keep to eat in the future, I think of that man laying on the sidewalk, curled up in an old ratty sleeping bag. Would he be offended if I took my left overs to him? I knew he most likely dug through trash to eat and I could bring him something warm and reasonably fresh but would it insult him?

I took a chance and had the restaurant pack up 2 container’s of soup – both of our left overs. I walked up the street prepared just to set it along side the sleeping man as not to disturb him. But he was awake as we I walked towards him and was sitting up in his sleeping bag digging through some trash he had piled up besides him – I believe looking for food. I politely asked him if he would like some soup – and it was warm. He gently took it and politely thanked me. He looked sober. He looked sane. I told him to enjoy it and have a good evening and went about my way. While I didn’t end his hunger forever, I did prevent perfectly good food from getting tossed in the garbage when there was a very hungry man just down the street.
A far cry from what I came here to do: show in Westminster. But, it puts some things into perspective that I did not anticipate. I am going to a dog show. A very expensive dog show. And I am doing it just for fun and I realize I am “entitled” if you will, to have fun in life. I don’t feel “guilty” per say, but I do feel something…. That it is incredibly odd that huge amounts of money are spent on so many things from showing dogs to football games when there are so many people in our country, let alone the world that have no idea where their next meal will come from or even how they may stay warm if the weather goes below freezing.
I can see, that this trip to New York will touch upon things, that for me, will make me think and wonder about my own life, what I am doing with it and if I am doing enough. If that takes a trip to Westminster for me to take inventory, it is not a bad trip to take.
Tomorrow will be more about dogs perhaps J

Saturday, February 11, 2012

2-11-12 on the road to Wesminster - still!

Phew...another rough driving day due to weather. We got a late start due to the late night last night. It felt good to sleep in, but it ended up that today was worse driving than yesterday and we stopped 3.5 hours short of our destination. At one point, west bound I80  in Ohio was closed due to massive pile ups....I counted 20 cars and trucks in one place - all tangled up together, and that was one of three multi vehicles accidents we passed on the westbound lanes. East bound stayed open, but very slow. Daylight was running out and we just decided to stop and hope tomorrow is better.

Unfortunately it appears the storm continues all across PA tomorrow. Tomorrow nights reservations are in NY - the hotel right across the street from Madison Square Garden. We want to make sure we get there. So, up early tomorrow to get as many hours in the daylight as possible. I  also want to arrive in the big city during daylight hours.

Delsin got longer walks today in the snow and wind - which ofcourse he loved. Me, not-so-much. We left Minnesota with no snow, mild temps and foolishly thought the lack of winter would surely continue. I brought no boots, light gloves, and didn't allow enough clothes to change out of wet ones. Who would have thought?

So, send all the positive energy for us to get through safely tomorrow, so we can park the car and not see it again until we leave NY on Thursday!

Right now, Madison Square Garden and the events to come seem very far away.

Good night all, sleep well!

Friday, February 10, 2012

2-10-12 Westminster - on the road

Short entry tonight - sleep is needed! Travel was slower today than anticipated due to weather and traffic around Chicago. There was snow virtually all the ay today - although not large amounts...rather just enough to wonder if it was icy. Wind, wind ,wind. We have stopped in South Bend Indiana and off the tollway, the roads are solid ice. Looks like more snow all day tommorrow as well all alonmg the way to tomorrow destination.

Delsin is bored...way too little activity today! He wanted a long, long walk tonight, the high winds, cold temps and blowing snao kept it more realistic for me. Sorry Delsin.

Mick on the other hand had dinner and passed out on the bed.

Delsin finally gave in and decided to sleep:

And here I sit in the super 8 hotel room blogging away and trying to get warm!