Wendy Barker, my oldest sister, a brilliant and beautiful poet who was beloved by thousands, died last week on March 11th. She was 80 years old, and still writing. She had been ill, but was scheduled to leave the hospital that day. She had a heart attack in the middle of the night. I had planned to lead with a training and behavior post that I have half finished, mentioning Wendy under the usual farm-related "Meanwhile." I couldn't. What I can do is show you her newest book, Weave, published by BKMK Press: It is brilliant. I am, of course, completely objective. I was able to fly down to San Antonio, late last fall, along with my dear niece Wendy Piatt, for a book launch and 80th birthday party. Here they are together: You can imagine how grateful I am that I Read More
First Draft of Novel Done! Whee!
Finishing a first draft of any book is a big deal, even though every experienced author knows there is tons and tons of work to do. That is not an understatement. I'd say it'll be one and a half to two years before this sees the light of day. But, still. I started playing with this five years ago, took two years off during the worst of the pandemic, and picked it up about a year ago. I've taken a week off from writing, but will get back to it tomorrow. I'll be doing some tweaking and minor revisions, then, in about two weeks, send it off to my agent, and a dedicated group of friends who have been helping me along the way. And then, phase two begins. Structure? Pacing? How many needless words can I eliminate? Given where I am, I thought it'd be fun to have a conversation Read More
Dogs in Translation: A new book with over 1,300 photographs?! Wowser.
My first dog training class, in 1968, involved my adolescent Saint Bernard and an ex-marine instructor who hung a Basenji off a choke chain for not sitting when told. Me and my dog walked out. Years later, in the 80's, I became interested in dog training and took a friend's dog to classes for the experience. Both classes focused on the "commands" we were to give our dogs, and how to punish them if they didn't respond correctly. No one mentioned paying attention to a dog's posture and expression as a way to be a better dog trainer. Oh, how far we've come! I remember, when I began teaching family dog training classes in the early 90's, how surprised people were when I asked them to describe a dog's response to praise and petting after coming when called. "Oh!," they'd exclaim. Read More
Who ARE you? [Or, We Rarely Get the Dog We Think We Are Getting.]
"They SAID he was house trained!" "She said he loved EVERYBODY!" "He was FINE at my house! What did the new owners do to him?" Every trainer and behaviorist who does consults hears these phrases on a regular basis. About the "house trained" spaniel who pees on the rug, the "everybody loving" Border collie who is terrified of strangers, the Boxer who loved his crate at the foster home, but bark/screamed whenever his new owners left the house. Understandably, new owners are disappointed when their new dog behaves vastly differently than described by the foster home. Fosters and shelters sometimes express frustration when told of behavior problems, and exclaim: "But he never did that here! Those new owners just don't know what they are doing!" But the fact is, Fido in Read More
Delight in the Desert
Today is all photos from our trip to Arizona. We just got back, and it was good to be in my home state for a visit. I admit to not wanting to live in the desert any more (too many thorns, too hot in summer, too little green), but there's nothing like going back to where you were raised. There's something magical about the desert, including the gorgeous sunsets and the rock formations. Here's a classic pile of boulders outside of Carefree, AZ in the evening, with a huge metal sculpture of a bird perched on top. The area north of Phoenix and Scottsdale is a riot of rock formations, including this massive one, the size of our barn, that fell from a cliff on the other side of the road. Here's a rock formation, called a Hoodoo (and who couldn't love that name?), on the Read More
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