I am home again, at long last, having survived the craziness of the last month.  The sheepdog clinic was, as I wrote earlier, fantastic.  My visit in the Laurentians was wonderful, and the two conferences went well.  The girls were amazing traveling companions, never complaining and adapting instantly to wherever I went.  Other than Mira’s little panic attack at the clinic, even she was calm and well-behaved everywhere.  I didn’t even have any problems walking them about in the heart of downtown Montreal for a week!  I’m very pleased with my dogs.  Such good troopers.

I was worried that the grass would be waist high by the time I got back, but I was wrong.  It’s nearly shoulder high!  The dogs disappear in it, just like my garden and garden furniture have.  I have a lot of work to do to get it back in order!  That said, I actually like how peaceful this tall grass is and plan to keep most of the property this way if I can get away with it.  I am just going to mow the part around my sitting area, parking spot and gardens.  Oh, and most of the dog yard.  The dogs just flatten the grass down so I’ll cut it short except in the back part where I’ll leave it long for shade and privacy along the back fence.

My roommate moved out while I was away (this was planned) so now I have this whole house to myself.  While I’ll miss living with someone, I look forward to being able to spread out throughout the whole house.  No more sleeping and working amongst my boxes of stored stuff.  No more keeping food and cooking utensils in my bedroom!  I now have the whole, fairly large kitchen to myself, three bedrooms and the living room-dining room area which is open concept.  My plan is to move my office into the dining room as I really don’t “dine” there very often!  Perhaps twice in the last year.  The dining room table makes a fantastic desk and is right next to the woodstove. Plus it is surrounded by large windows that look out into trees in three directions.  A very inspirational place to sit and work.  Should I have people over, I can easily put my laptop in the closet and who doesn’t like to look at bookshelves?  As long as I keep them tidy.

The animals seem very happy to be home.  The cats in particular are purring constantly and seem torn between being outside in their private kingdom, and sitting on my lap.  I had left them with my parents and Evie, my little black cat, was terrorized by my mother’s cat and refused to go outside the entire time I was away.  My other cat, Liam, seemed content enough to explore their neighbourhood, but it’s not the same as his jungle (complete with fish-filled pond) around here.  But even with both doors propped open, he’s sitting next to me on the table as I write.  Perhaps he missed me more even than his kingdom.

When I picked up Ross, I was a bit alarmed by what I found.  He’s fatter – as I expected – but he seemed somewhat dull in his energy, his coat feels dry, his ears are itchy and he is smelly.  He smells like dog, which is not normal for my raw-fed crew.  He also has a strong scent along the ridge of his nose.  I’ve noticed this before on him, and I worry that it is linked to internal organ imbalance.  My old Jake used to smell like urine along the ridge of his nose.  The vets always dismissed it, suggesting that he likely got peed on while sniffing another dog.  When he finally was diagnosed with kidney failure (and still smelled like that despite rarely being around other dogs) I knew that it was uric acid coming through his skin.  Oh had I only known that sooner!  But, what could I have done?  I feel the same way with Ross.  His smell is not of urine but rather of, well, I can’t quite describe it.  It is strong and unpleasant.  I need to find a vet who will take this sort of thing seriously.  Ross’s symptoms are very subtle and most people would think him the picture of health with his shiny coat and white teeth.  I know something is out of balance, but it’s very hard to pinpoint the problem.

For the last month all my animals have eaten predominantly chicken, with some ground beef and a little bit of organ meat.  Not exactly a great diet.  This week I am going to get some rabbits, lamb and a variety of other cuts and meats from my local sources.  It is good to be home.I am going to give Ross a few weeks of being in a regular routine and of eating a more balanced and well-rounded diet, and if I don’t see improvement I am going to get blood-work done.   It’s possible that his thyroid is off, or that his liver or kidneys are functioning poorly.  Thyroid can be balanced with supplements, the other organs supported with herbs and homeopathy.  But I’m hoping that reducing his stress will get him back into balance.

The rest of the summer is going to be extremely busy, but at least I will be working at my own pace.  I have to finish a full, rough draft of my dissertation, which is equivalent to writing a roughly 150-200 page book.  I also have to design four courses and finalize the syllabus and book order for two of them before mid-July.  I need to do my taxes.  I want to grow a fairly substantial herb garden so that I will have enough herbs for cooking and for tea (and perhaps for some medicinal purposes) for the winter.  I also am going to finish going through the rest of my possessions and paper-work, purging and organizing as I go.  I made a big dent in this over the past year and it feels great.  I want to finish the job this summer, including sorting and organizing several boxes of photographs as well as my digital ones.

I’d also like to get back into doing some of my hobbies, such as drawing and playing music.  My roommate took her furniture with her so the living room is now fairly sparse.  The light is amazing in that room, so rather than get more furniture, I am going to set up my easel and art supplies, along with my music stand and music.  I’ve always wanted a studio, and now I am going to have it.  I don’t watch tv and am too far out in the country to have friends over often, so my living space is going to be set up to write, paint, train dogs and play music.  This will be a fun experiment for the summer.

With respect to the dogs, I am going to try and train on sheep at least 3 times a week for the summer.  I hope to start tomorrow, or Wednesday at the latest.  The sheep farm where I train should be up to nearly 400 lambs and ewes, which will supply a great variety of tasks and training opportunities.  I’m also going to try and move forward with agility, hopefully having Hannah read to trial at very long last in the fall.

Gosh I’ve set myself a lot of goals for the next 3 months!  I doubt I’ll achieve them all, but hopefully I’ll make some progress towards each.