Today I have to grade 160 exams.  This is really not going to be fun.  Usually this time of year I am crazy busy (as I am again this year) but we have plenty of snow on the ground so training is not possible.  I take this as a good excuse to give the dog a couple of months off while I work.  A lot.  When we go for hikes the dogs get fantastic work-outs in the deep snow, and I don’t feel too guilty about not doing much else with them.

This year we have no snow.  At all.  Even with yesterday’s massive blizzard that blanketed much of the US south of us, I look out my window and see grass.  Fortunately most of the ice has now sublimated so the dogs can run again.  I took them for a good long hike on Wednesday and yesterday I played soccer in the yard (on the steep hill behind our house) until they were all panting hard.  I also did some brain work in the house, but I’m now out of treats and need to make more.

Yesterday Kess was a right royal nuisance she was so full of beans.  I had to try several desperate measure to get her to settle, none of which really worked very well.  I put her outside with a fresh bone and that kept her busy for some time.  I can’t leave her out all the time because she starts barking at people walking past, squirrels, clouds, who knows?  She doesn’t bark a lot but it is becoming more frequent. Obviously a self-reinforcing behaviour and I don’t want it enforced any further.  So in she comes the second she starts to bark.

Next I did some box work with her.  I put the box down that we have been working with and she immediately jumped in and sat down.  She is such a quick study!  That is where we ended things on Wednesday and she clearly got that this is what was wanted of her.  Good girl.  Then I flipped the box over and shaped her into sitting on top of it.  The box was a bit wobbly and she didn’t like that much.  But she did finally get it after about 4-5 minutes and got to finish the treat bowl (which contained roast lamb, so she was pretty happy about that!).

I hoped these things would settle her but no luck.  She was constantly pacing about the house, tossing toys about which is fine, but annoying when you’re trying to work.  Click, click, click.  Bang!  Click, click, click.  Bang!  Finally I took them out and played soccer on the hill.  That did the trick. I will likely do the same today.  I would have taken them for a hike in the conservation area but I received a phone call from my homeopath that lasted 2.5 hours (we were doing a follow-up on my case which requires a lot of detail).  By the time we were done it was 4pm and that’s when others are out walking their dogs.  There’s still enough ice on the paths to make walking four dogs on leash past other dogs quite dangerous, so I opted out.

I was also being lazy.  I’m really tired and starting to feel quite run down these days.  I have so much work piled up it’s staggering and I hardly know where to start.  I can’t seem to get into a good routine of just getting up in the morning and either working or running dogs.  I putter, check my email, write in my blogs etc.  The next thing I know I’ve wasted hours and my work is still sitting there.  Today I am going to try and break that pattern.  I am going to sign off and immediately start working.  I need to finish something for my dissertation this morning then do these stupid exams.  I am not looking forward to them but they must be done, and ideally finished today so that I can at least take tomorrow off and enjoy and spend some time with the dogs.

As is also usual this time of year, I start to fantasize about spring and summer.  I won’t be working at all this summer and that will hopefully be wonderful.  Of course I will be writing, which is work, but my own (unpaid) work.  My own schedule every day.  I can’t wait!  So I am pondering questions like: should I build a raised garden bed in front of the dog yard, which is the only fairly sunny part of the property?  I would love to garden again this year and grow some veggies of my own.  I really missed doing that this past summer.  But building a garden bed is a lot of work and if I do end up staying here this year, it is almost impossible that I’ll stay for another.  I also really want to get a few chickens. I read the by-laws of my township and couldn’t find anything about chickens, which likely means they are not illegal.  But I did discover that I can only legally have three dogs here.  Groan.  I rarely have all four outside at once, but I hate having to hide how many dogs I have.  Getting chickens might bring animal control to check on things, and then I could get in trouble.

So then I start thinking about moving again.  Would that be more trouble, or less?  There is a little town that I have my eye on, and they allow not only chickens, but four dogs per household.  It would be nice to be legal.  Furthermore, there is no mention of rabies vaccines being necessary for dog or cat licensing.  That is also true of where I live now.  What a refreshing change.

There is really nothing I can do about any of the above right now, so what I really need to do is sign off and get down to work.  If I am efficient, I will have tomorrow off completely and that will be a real treat.  Hopefully that will be sufficient incentive to keep me on the straight an narrow as I plough through the mountain of papers on my desk.

Well, here it goes… Wish me luck!