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Something really...different is happening. I had the realization yesterday. I've never seen myself reflected back so much in another being. Kestrel has my heart, of course, she has from day 1, and so do many others, but I think she has my soul as well.

Could be the long nights we've spent together over the past five days. The night after surgery she screamed and tried to get her cone off for hours, I layed in bed with her restraining her legs and head and singing her songs until she would fall asleep for 30 minutes? Maybe an hour. And the cycle began again. She likes Simon and Garfunkel and the song from the Karate Kid.

You're the best, around!
Nothing's gonna ever keep you down.


Last night, she slept soundly. Every day will get easier, every day, every day...

Yes, we share a personality, and hard times certianly reveal them. We both have moments of happy, calm, fun. And in a second it can turn to screaming, crying, frustration, anger. We work ourselves up into a fury and then crash. We can take a long time to warm up to new things, but we're not afraid.

People keep telling me she looks like my dog, it's a funny thing.



(thanks again for the amazing photos, Heather!)

In 2008 I was 15, a freshman in highschool. Lonely, anxious, depressed, although those are words I can only use in hindsight. More than anything I wanted a dog, a dog that could fill some hole I felt I had in my life. What I got was Panic, and Panic didn't come to me to fit seamlessly into that role. He came crashing into me like a semi truck, clumsy and stubborn and destructive. He taught me patience, compassion, perservearance, and unconditional love. He was not the dog I wanted but I stubbornly held onto him and we slowly crept forward into the world together. I learned who he was, and he learned who I was. But in many ways it still feels like we're trying to figure each other out. I love him, oh man do I love that dog, and he loves me back, but he really isn't mine. Never was, never will be.


Kestrel is different. For one, I am not 15 anymore. That helps (a lot of things). I have no expectations for her, I have no role for her to fill in my life. And she fit, seamlessly, from the moment I saw her.

It's true, I was worried about how another dog might fit into thing. A lot of things have changed since I was 15, but always, always, there has been Panic. Our relationship is familiar and comfortable. How could I ever let another dog into our world? But there's no conflict for me, Kestrel feels like she's always been here with us--although the logistics of owning two dogs still needs to be worked out more.

This is a new chapter in our lives in many different ways. She is not here to fill a role, she is here to become herself in whatever way that means, and Panic and I will both have to expand to encompass her in our little world. It's true I have no expectations for her. Instead I have a feeling, an overwhelming feeling of truth, that she's going to do big, amazing things in her life. But first, lots of healing...


Winter

Feb. 15th, 2016 11:56 pm
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It's cold here. I went home (for a job interview) last weekend and brought Panic back up with me.



Yay!




We are taking an agility class about half an hour from here now. It's very good for us. Things are moving forward, per usual. 
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I'm currently nerding out over The Force Awakens, which I saw yesterday. I can't remember the last time I fell so in love with a movie. I would see it again (and again, and again) in a heartbeat. It's so easy fall into the hole of endless entertainment on the internet, but when you see something that makes you genuinely feel things, it's just an incredible experience.

It's no secret that I'm not the biggest fan of the holidays, but I have been doing a lot better with them. I am used to being extremely busy and surrounded by people. When I'm here, it's endless unstructured solitary time. It's such a huge contrast that it is often shocking to my system. I've been pretty sick since I got home, and instead of trying to force myself to do things that I consider worthwhile, I'm trying to just embrace what I have here--the unstructured time and solitude. Those things can be relaxing and recharging, but I'm just not good at not doing everything all the time. It's all about framing.

Today I took a lot of festive photos.



Toby is such a cute old dog.



Panic did not enjoy the snowman posing.



Happy Holidays to everyone, I hope they bring good things no matter what they look like for you. 
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It's very serious.

I head to Louisville for Thanksgiving on Wednesday. It's the first time I'll have been back since mid-August. Maybe the longest time I've been away? 
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I've been wanted to write a post for awhile now, but I'm not really sure what to say.

Panic is doing well here overall--I'm happy to have him here all the time. We're taking an online class right now (with Tammy)! That is something I never thought I would do, but the format is actually really fun and it makes me realize how much I've missed training. We both have so much fun working on the exercises, and I love seeing other people's videos and their progress as trainers. I've never done much videotaping of my training sessions and that is quite eye opening. I'm not great at videoing though, the last two sessions I taped were a complete bust--Panic was completely out of frame for one of them and I accidentally deleted the other. Great job.

I'd love to take another online class after this. Any recommendations? I need some that don't involve any agility obstacles, maybe a tricks class.



As much as Panic loves running free in the woods, I know he gets just as much joy out of training as I do.



Oh yeah...I have a job interview tomorrow morning. For like a real thing for after I graduate. Yeah, that's terrifying.
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I've let my shop fall a bit into the background this semester because I'm very busy, but things are easing up a bit and as we get closer to the holiday season I thought I'd throw it out there again for everyone. Here's the latest I've done, a lab named Murphy that passed away recently. He acted as a therapy dog at Cave HIll Cemetary in Louisville to people in the process of planning funerals and memorial services. Good boy.




Anyway, check out my etsy shop! Could make a great gift this winter! 
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Fall break has been a great time for me to experiment with making stuff. I built a loom earlier in the week to try my hand at weaving with plastic yarn I made from Walmart bags. This is...a slow and tedious process. But yeah, I kind of enjoy the tedium.



I came into my Senior IS with a very strong concept. I still have that concept, but as of right now I'm focusing on experimenting with a lot of different things that likely won't end up in my show. That is the beauty of an indepedent study, I have the freedom to approach it in any way I'd like. But I also continue to build up my army of undead pigeons (which I personally think are quite adorable).





Long live the pigeon. 

Spark

Oct. 16th, 2015 09:47 am
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Last Friday I went and got Panic. I only intended on having him here for the duration of my fall break, but when I saw him this time after being apart since August something hit me like a sack of bricks. Panic has gotten older, and I can finally see it in him.



Four years ago I made the decision to come to Wooster, and while it was certainly the best decision I could have made for myself, I had to miss so much of Panic's life. Our agility career was cut short just when we were becoming a consistent team, and our relationship overall is not as strong as it used to be. My head was once fully in the dog world. There are a lot of passions pulling for my attention but the one towards dog sports is pulling at me less and less as the years go by. Sometimes we will go to a show, or I will watch a video or following a big event like AWC and feel that spark again, briefly but intensely. I miss it, I miss that intensity and that passion. But for now at least it's best to leave that spark alone. I don't want it to die out, but I will hold it carefully, presciously, in a corner of my heart. I know he misses it to. The sport itself, but there's something else there too. I haven't found any other outlet that forges such a bond as training and showing in agility does.




But enough about that--the point is that Panic is here and I've decided he will stay. When I bring him here he really isn't my dog anymore. He becomes a part of this community, just like I have. There are people I love and trust and that I know will help care for him if things get overwhelming, not that he needs to be cared for much. He's taking care of all of us way more than we're taking care of him. It doesn't make sense for him to be anywhere else anymore. Besides, the squirrles here are fat and lazy and so easy to chase.

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My Senior Independent Study Project will last the duration of my senior year and culminate in a gallery show in the spring. My concept is slowly taking shape, but I know it will change and develop as the year goes on. My current focus (which relies heavily on the Environmental Studies part of my education) is, broadly, Empathetic Engagement with Non-Human Animals, exploring our various relations to animals in regards to issues like human-caused extinction and farming. I might delve into animal companionship as well, but that comparison might prove a big too unweildy.

The process so far. )

This topic will be a challenge, but I feel committed to experimenting with how art can illicit a sense of empathy in a viewer. Empathy is a very power and very personal emotion. Realistically, I don't actually expect to achieve the goal of instilling empathy in anyone. It's impossible to control how a viewer will recieve art, but I can try my hardest to convey my intent as much as possible. 7 months for now we'll see how I did.
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If anyone ever told me I'd be the captain of a varsity sports team in college, I would have insisted they have the wrong person. And yet here I am, my senior year, my last year of cross country, a captain of the team.

This team has been my saving grace at Wooster many times over. I have had the priviledge of running and racing and crying and laughing with this team. On days where the it seemed the entirity of the world was weighing down on me I somehow always managed to drag myself to practice and test my limits in the company of this team.



Fall 2012



Fall 2015

Things have changed so much in four years. Looking at these two photos fills me with so much nostalgia it's hard to swallow.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I don't know how I made it here but I promise to lead you in the best way I can.
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I had so much fun this weekend. It was a tiny trial full of very nice and fun people. That is the big thing I've missed about USDAA in this area--the atmosphere is always AWESOME.

Panic ran wonderfully. I'm so pleased with him. The rubber-infill turf there is very nice, and I think the rosin/chalk powder helped him out quite a bit--the only run I didn't use it for was Steeplechase Round 2 and while he still ran well he did noticeably slip and knock a bar in that run, his only bar of the weekend.




It was so much fun to get out there with him again. He really is running great. Despite only running clean in one run, he looks and feels better than ever to me. If we did agility more than once every sixth months I'm sure the consistency would be there. I know that things can change in the blink of an eye, but at this rate I anticipate many more years to come for us. And we can still go down to 16 in the future!

Also wanted to share his Standard run in which he TOTALLY PULLED A BRIGHT and added an extra backside. Good times.



This weekend reminded me why I love agility so much. Good courses, nice people, and runs that left me feeling happy but motivated to train more. One day maybe I WILL be able to train more. Until then, I head back to school on Tuesday. My life is full of so many seperate sections right now, but I'm lucky to care so much about each one of them. Sometime I'll have a life that isn't so broken up.
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We went out to do a little agility practice yesterday so this weekend wouldn't be a complete disaster. I brought my camera so I could do a comparison of him running on grass (which he seems comfortable on) vs. turf. Of course, I didn't remember to film anything until we had been there for awhile and were already very tired and hot.

This is a special video with bonus footage of me doing some weird flailing dance/send moves, which I did NOT know I was filming. Dedicated to [livejournal.com profile] penichops. Why oh why do my arms flail so? I am good at running forward, I have lost the skill of turning quickly and nicely.

Also includes NEVER BEFORE SEEN footage of TOBY.



I saw Jurassic World today. It's not a cinematic masterpiece, but I can't help but love it. I particularly liked Chris Pratt's velociraptor clicker training. It was so bad that I couldn't help but find it comical. But dinosaurs, yeah I love me some dinosaurs. 
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One of the most memorable experiences of my summer was getting to work at a small music festival in Wisconsin at the end of July. It's run by a good friend of Liz and Gabe's, Sima Cunningham, a brilliant musician and an all around awesome person. She's one of the hardest working people I know and her projects and responsibilities are too many to list, but one them is her band Homme. They only have one song out so far, Fingerprints, but yeah it definitely deserves a listen--or two, or three.

Hoofprint does posters, t-shirts, and on-site installations for the festival, and I was more than thrilled to be a part of that process. Something I don't think I've discussed on here is my involvement in the small music scene at Wooster. I'm not a musician, nor do I know much about music, but I do love it and I love being involved in making live music happen--and making it an awesome and immersive experience. It was a dream come true to be a part of this festival and to see that it is indeed possible for a small group of hard working people to make something amazing happen.



Gabe and I screenprinting the poster. We printed about 200 copies of a four layer image, a process that took us four 8-hour days.



Our mobile screenprinting set-up at the farm. Here I'm printing images onto pennants, which were then strung up around the property. Hundreds of them! That's my fellow intern Mary in this photo, she was fantastic to work with and get to know all summer.

On Saturday morning Liz taught a linocut workshop and I got to teach a cyanotype workshop. It was so fun.



Here, some participants are placing plants onto a plexiglass sheet. After they placed their objects, we put paper on top on them and another sheet of plexi to make a sandwhich.



Exposing the paper to sunlight. It turns from yellow to bright blue, which you can see beginning to happen here.

In the past I've done a lot of art-related teaching with children, but never with adults. It was really fun to see people go from reserved and nervous about being creative to super excited about experimenting with the process. The workshop was only supposed to last an hour, but everyone was so into it that we just kept going and going. While I think I've found that teaching agility isn't quite my cup of tea, I do love teaching in general and this in particular was right up my alley.

Art, music, and the fusing of the two together, all while camping out at a beautiful farm. It was absolutely fantastic. Of course Panic got to come along as well. People I never even met knew Panic by the end of the weekend..."Oh hey Panic, what's up?" He became particularly famous (or infamous, perhaps) for his unique enthusiasm for the water hose.

In addition to Homme, I have to plug Marrow, who has the other half of Homme in it (Macie Stewart) as well as Sima's brother. Big things are coming from these guys soon. I can't emphasize enough what a lovely community I was immersed in this summer between the art and music communities. The hard work, passion, and support of all these people is something I will carry with me forever.

All photos by Liz Born. 

Ready

Aug. 11th, 2015 12:06 am
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I got back to Louisville Saturday night. It's hard to believe my summer in Chicago is over--it went by so quickly. Despite some issues here and there, I can safely say it was the best summer I've ever had. I learned more in that period of time than I've ever learned before--real skills, yes, but most of what I learned is a little more intangible.


A more tangible skill-- applying an aquatint a copper plate.


I am so incredibly grateful to Liz, Gabe, and everyone else in the Chicago community that I had the pleasure of meeting and working with this summer. And of course, to my wonderful Wooster family that were all located in Chicago this summer as well. I have finally been able to open myself up to people, and I feel truly loved and supported in a way I've never experienced in my life.

I return to Wooster next week for the start of my senior year. I have a very full year ahead of me, but I finally feel equipped to handle anything that gets thrown at me (I still haven't learned the lesson that I can't do ALL THE THINGS, and I hope to never learn that). A huge part of my confidence is due to the people I've chosen to surround myself with, but along with that comes the shedding a lot of fear. Fear of failure, fear of uncertainty, fear of change, and a fear of really, truly, accepting myself and other people. This year will NOT go perfectly--in fact, it will be incredibly challenging. But I can do it because, well, there's no other option is there? 
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I just did two things that I had totally sworn off doing. I entered a USDAA show. On turf.

Yes I feel like a hiprocrite, but what can you do. I feel more comfortable entering USDAA now that 20" performance is an option for Panic. Every venue has it's issues of course, but USDAA was really pissing me off for awhile so it was good for me to take an extended break from it. I literally do not remember our last USDAA trial, but I'm pretty sure it was back in 2013.

Turf-wise, this facility has very nice, new, rubber infill turf, which is much different than the more common carpet turf that prompted me to swear off the stuff altogether. I have a new secret traction weapon as well--rosin. It's pretty commonly used as traction on basketball shoes and drag racing tires (damn) so I hope it serves Panic well. It also happens to be frequently used for printmaking, so I've been using the stuff all summer and have easy access to some.

Who knows, I might end that weekend frustrated at myself for trying to run on turf/do USDAA again. I hope not.

I genuinely feel as though not doing agility has had a noticable impact on my relationship with Panic. While we still do a lot of stuff together--training, hiking, walking, playing--I don't feel like there is any substitute for the intensity and teamwork involved in agility. I wanted to bite the bullet and enter at least one show this summer, and it'll be after I get home so we'll also have a week to go play at our dirt and grass facility. I think it'll be really good for both of us.

I've been taking Panic on long leash walks this week which I think has been helping him. Such an obvious thing to do, but historically I just don't take Panic for very many walks. He goes for runs with me, I take him hiking or to parks to run in fields, just not long neighborhood walks. But they seem to be good for him here--much better than going to crowded parks at least. Lots and lots of sniffing which is A++ stress relief.

Crazy to think my summer in Chicago is coming to a close so quickly. 
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My search for a getaway location last week was highly successful. Panic and I drove about 1.5 hours northwest and found Glacial Park.



Admittedly I had no idea what real the real Illinois landscape was before going here, a sad reality of living in a huge city with even larger suburban areas. But it's beautiful, open prairies littered with wild flowers, wetlands, and there was even a bog. I can safely say that I've never been to a bog before, but it makes for good times and interesting plants.



After that, on Wednesday we drove 3 hours north to Wisconsin where Hoofprint was assisting at a small musical festival. On-site installations, printing posters, t-shirts, etc. We got back yesterday after 4 nights of camping. That's an experience I will be writing about more extensively soon.

While these getaways were amazing, Panic's stress level in the apartment is getting worse and worse to the point of a near total shut down all the time here. I recognize these signs because I've seen them all in Toby. He's not particularly interested in food and eats his dinner very very slowly, he doesn't want to play or train, and he spends most of every single night stress panting and moving around the room to weird places, like trying to squeeze himself in between my bed and the wall. This is a dog that has traveled so much with me, lived at Wooster with me, has gone so many weird places and adjusted so well. I'm at a loss.

I would be concerned about a medical issue if all these symptoms didn't completely dissapear when we get out of the city. It's breaking my heart and I just don't think there is anything I can do for him right now. Fortunately, we actually move out of this apartment on Friday. Unfortunately, that means some couch surfing for another week in Chicago before going back to Louisville around August 8th.

Overall I like Chicago a lot, and I've been seriously considering moving here after I graduate--it makes sense for me in a lot of ways. But with Panic acting the way he has been this summer, I'm not sure living in the city is going to be possible with him. I do feel like a lot of it has to do with this living space. I can tell he is the most stressed out in the living room that is acting as my bed room for the summer. It's a very large room with no furniture other than my bed on the floor. The other room has a rug and a table, and seems much better in there. I'm on the third floor of a very noisy apartment complex, a one bedroom apartment with three people and a dog living in it, and there is no outdoor space to speak of. If I were to move here I have some much more specific parameters of the type of place I would want, and obviously I would actually, you know, put furniture in the place. I want my dog to be happy, and he just isn't himself here.

Stress

Jul. 16th, 2015 09:48 am
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Panic isn't fully adjusting to being here. I think we are suffering from the same type of stress, the stress of not being able to get away. 4th of July wasn't the worst, but the aftermath was terrible---residual fireworks at any and every time of the day for weeks. There are still some that go off. That put him on edge anytime we went outside for the week after the 4th. Suddenly I had an extremely noise sensitive dog on my hands. He's getting a bit better, but still isn't a fan of the baseball that is always going on at the park next to our apartment. This is a city and we have never been city folk. There are people everywhere. There are dogs everywhere. There are noises everywhere. There is no place we can just sit outside and relax.





I am learning to love Chicago in so many ways. It is beautiful, and there is so much to do and see. I love being able to explore the city with people. The idea of moving here after I graduate has been rolling around in my head, and in a lot of ways it makes sense. Being here this summer is giving me a good idea of the things I value in a living space and a location. Ultimately, that will make it easier to find what I'm looking for.



I have the day off today, and we'll be using it to explore hiking spots outside the city. I have to accept that I won't find anything close by like I can in Louisville, but at this point an hour and a half drive seems like nothing if it means we can get away. 
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Tonight I'm hiding out alone in the apartment. It's very loud here in the city, and I didn't want to leave Panic alone athough he is handling it way better than I thought he would. Historically I would always go to a show for this weekend.

I've been thinking about agility a lot lately. I miss it. I miss it a lot, a lot more than I ever have. I love keeping up with everyone's videos, it makes me super happy to see everyone having so much fun. Doing agility with Panic is so fun and I really do miss it, but I really have to accept that there are factors that are going to prevent us from doing any agility for quite awhile, and that makes me sad. First and foremost is the fact that I really can't afford it anymore. I've always had to pay for agility related things on my own, but when I was younger pretty much all my income was disposable. Agility is expensive and that sucks.

I still peruse the AKC and UKI websites for trials I could potentially go to though, but the other factor is a complete lack of trials (or training facilities) on anything other than turf around here. It's possible that Panic could run ok on a rubber infill surface, but I just can't ask him to do it.

One day I know I'll get back into it. I hope that that time will be soon enough that I can still enjoy many more runs with Panic. We have so much fun doing agility together, a type of fun you can't find anywhere else. In the meantime, I'm very happy to be able to live vicariously through all of you guys.

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One more update. Panic came up with a cool new trick when I asked him to "wave" while he was laying on his side. Creative guy.

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