My Little Irish Wanderer…and the Aftermath

Well, so it has been a hot minute since I last updated this – or wrote anything if I’m honest, but work and life have not given me a second to breathe, let alone open the laptop.

That little face there is my Ciaragh (Our Cailín Ádh), and she has had a marvelous adventure this week that nearly ended me. She and I were working at the Georgia Renaissance Festival this past Saturday and I completely forgot that there was a cannon shot from the bow of the pirate ship until it went off with us standing right there. She started to vibrate and I tightened up a bit on her leash to make sure she didn’t bolt. My wonderful niece was there with my sister and she tried to comfort Ciaragh, but as soon as she moved away and I slacked up the slightest bit on the leash, C saw her chance and bolted. Now, for the initial escape, I was still holding onto the leash, so I spun around and was dragged behind her (through the gravel) until she could dash through the exit. Sadly I did not make the graceful turn through the S-bend of an exit that she did and instead bounced off the large wooden fence that marks the boundary between onstage and offstage.

Two of my group’s volunteers and a GARF cast member pursued her as a third volunteer and my sister and niece stayed with me. At first, all I could do was make a primal growly sound because gravel+skin=OW but I was (and am) all right. It took a minute to walk up to my car, but that was where I fully expected folks to be waiting with C.

They were not.

She managed to evade capture for three more full days, and I drove back to the site every one of those days to keep looking for her. Finally, on Tuesday night around midnight, I got a phone call from someone in the area – Ciaragh was on his front porch and could I come get her, please?

Once I got my heart started again, I made some calls and arranged for some folks to go get her and keep her overnight until I could get back on Wednesday. I still don’t know how I did not get a speeding ticket on my way to Atlanta that morning, and yesterday (Thursday) we got her into the vet for a checkup – she is fit as a fiddle. An Irish fiddle.

Aftermath: I have helped out with many lost greyhounds in my two decades of having pets in my life as an adult. I have always just gone where I am needed and done what needs to be done, but I have not until now been on this side of the equation. Sure, my greyhounds occasionally got out, but I never had to spend a night without them back home safely – I sent thoughts and prayers to those that did, joined the search, rejoiced in the eventual recovery, but never really got it, until now.

I have ideas percolating (as does hubs) about non-profits that not only look for lost pets but care for the owners of those pets. I had so much love and support that it was overwhelming, especially since I was convinced that Ciaragh’s loss was my fault, but when it came to trying to pay for gas to keep searching, tracking teams to bring in, other pet recovery specialists who need money for materials and time – it is an expensive prospect to find your pet if they go missing, and mine was only gone for three days! So, I will let that idea keep rolling around. There has to be something that can be created that will harness the talents of EVERYONE that wanted to help rather than narrowing down the field of helpers to only those affordable options. What if we had not had a breed club behind us to help? I already have some ideas that were born from the search for Ciaragh.

So, enough of me. My girl is back, and she has effectively helped me write the last chapter of her Clobberpaws book, and I’m going to go snuggle her on the couch before I get back to writing. Make sure your pets are chipped and tagged, y’all…and loved.

Back to the faire…sort of…

This is me and my girl – well, okay mostly my girl Bryn, with what appears to be a Mommy growing out of her head. This photo was taken by a patron (at one of the renaissance faires where I work as director of the Hounds of East Fairhaven) in November of 2013, when she was just 5 months old and had been mine for about 24-36 hours.

We bring period appropriate hounds (mostly Western European, 1500-mid 1600s, but we also include some Asiatic and Eastern European breeds as well) out to meet patrons and we talk about their place in history. We also wear period-appropriate garb (or as appropriate as possible when the threat of a Clobberpaw on one’s skirt is a real possibility) and tell the patrons about how these hounds (sight mostly but a few scent hounds as well) lived and worked with people in this time period.

I used to work much more than I do now. We started with a small group (four members) and we were attached to the Lord Mayor’s Court at the Carolina Renaissance Festival near Charlotte, NC. We grew in numbers and ended up with our own tent the next year, then our numbers dwindled down to almost nothing and we have gone up and down ever since. We also added more appearances to our schedule – we now appear in the spring with the Royal Court at the Georgia Renaissance Festival and in September at the Enchanted Chalice Renaissance Festival in Greenville, SC.

I can remember the early days of CRF when I had three greyhounds (out of my five) that did faire with me, often sleeping in my Honda in the parking lot with me so that I didn’t have to drive the 2.5 hours (one way) on Saturday nights to just have to get up and drive back on Sunday mornings. Thankfully I moved about 45 minutes up the highway since that time, so it only takes me just under 2 hours to get there now, and I only work on Saturdays because I simply cannot physically do my job on Mondays after being at faire and in the car all day Sunday.

CRF opened this past weekend for it’s 25th year, and it was the first opening weekend that I haven’t worked since the two years that I was forced into behind the scenes work due to living abroad. After the year that 2018 has been for me so far, I decided that it was in the best interest of my health, both physical and mental, if I took some time off from faire this fall. Bryn doesn’t like the setup there anyway – she is afraid of the booth that we have after some bad playtime-gone-wrong experiences with some of our other dogs, and as a result I have to stand out in front of the booth with her for the whole day. Both of us are ready for the car after closing cannon! We will see how Ciaragh does up there – she was a star at GARF this spring until she got tired, but she’s almost two and growing up more every day, so hopefully she will be able to manage being in close communion with other dogs better than her big sister does.

All that said, y’all go to the faire! The Hounds of East Fairhaven will be in their normal booth at CRF across from the DaVinci flying machine. We have greyhounds, Irish wolfhounds, borzoi, Ibizan hounds, and Afghan hounds in any combination on any given weekend, and we have fantastic human cast members that can tell you anything you want to know about their canine companions. The faire runs from 29 September to 18 November, Saturdays and Sundays. My girls and I will be there on the 21st of October and 10th of November, and I will be there with an Ibizan friend on the 6th of October and dogless to interpret on Deaf Awareness Day, 27 October. Hope to see you there!

Huzzah!

Lights at the Ends of Various Tunnels

Me and my girl at GARF,
photo courtesy of the Southern Travel Guide

Yeah, the last post was pretty grim, and if I’m honest, the work situation (that I still can’t talk about) hasn’t gotten any better, but there have been bright spots and that’s what we are going to focus on in THIS post.

One of them is featured in the photo: The Georgia Renaissance Festival. Now, this is not a new thing, not by a longshot, but apparently, the fourteenth year is the charm, hoopskirt issue notwithstanding. I have made friends at GARF in the past, cast members and vendors and directors and the like, but this year just feels different. I feel at home in “Newcastle” in a way I have yet to feel at home in “Fairhaven” after fifteen years in what we refer to as the Northern Kingdom.

What has changed? Me? Having Bryn? I don’t know. But this past weekend, I was able to play, really play, with both the cast and with my partner in crime, Lucy to my Ethel, and the only other member of HOEF that does more than one or two weekends at GARF, Anne. Perhaps it is the beautiful friendship that has formed between her Bo and my Bryn. Perhaps it is Anne’s extrovert that brings my introvert along, often kicking and screaming, to get to know the cast.

Whatever it is, I am profoundly sad on days that I have to miss attending GARF, even though it means a 5 am start every Saturday and a late afternoon arrival back home, dirty and sweaty and hot every Sunday between the middle of April and the first weekend in June. I long to be in the lanes, even though that means pulling turkey tendons out of Bryn’s mouth and replacing steak sandwiches that she snatches in the blink of an eye. I dream of the joust, and of watching with pride as Bryn thumps her tail when her favorite princess rides by, upside down in her saddle, even though I’m fighting the reflection of the sun off the light colored sand which is swirling about in my eyes and nose.

I’m hoping that this feeling of Rennie family will continue into the fall when I am again with my HOEF family in the dog barn on the eastern side of Fairhaven, and that we can project the kind of skilled performance that we are learning at GARF into our wonderfully laid back home at the Enchanted Chalice in Greenville, SC. Vikings ahoy!

I did say tunnels in the title, didn’t I? While GARF is the light at the end of one tunnel, the fact that I only have four days left until my summer break is certainly another. But that tunnel is not quite as bright because I will have several months of empty coffee meetings to look forward to without Daisy. While it hasn’t been easy without her, it has been easier because I’ve had work to distract me. Without my daily commute to Clemson, I am going to have to face what our reality looks like now; no queen on the end of my bed, huffing because I’ve rearranged my legs and accidentally knocked her about. No beautiful blonde/red fawn fur glimmering in the green grass of the back yard as she sunbathes. No teeth chattering in my ear.

But you see that muppet in the picture with me? She is a light of her own, and she and Willow are there to distract me when they can and snuggle with me when they can’t. Their light comes to find me in my tunnel and shines into the darkness to remind me to keep moving forward.

Finally, there is light at the end of the Superginormous Manuscript tunnel…book one in the three book series that it has become is almost ready to go to Amazon, and that is both exciting and horrifying. I took the first Camp Nanowrimo to edit the second book, and am not working on editing/fleshing out the third in between expense reports and mad garb sewing/laundering. So all in all, my life has far more light than dark. I just need to be able to remember that and hang on to it…and keep moving.

It’s more exciting than all that, honest!

Snores of a Clown by Nancy Dunne
Snores of a Clown, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.

Well, the 2011 CRF season has almost come to an end. We have two more weekends to go, and I have a day and a half left to work.

Speaking of, if you’re in the area before about 1pm on Sunday, 13 November or any time on Saturday, 19 November come see me and Clown in the doghouse!  And while you’re at it, you can follow us on Twitter, like our page on FB using the box on the right hand side (make sure you’re following the official HOEF page for the most up to date info), and join our FB group.

Right, shameless promotion done. This season has been so much better than I think any of us could have imagined back at the beginning of October. Just before the season started (and I do mean JUST BEFORE, like A WEEK BEFORE) we had a major change up of leadership and basically how we operate as a group. Rather than one director as has been the way in the past, we now have an advisory board made up of one member from each adoption group that is represented. So much more democratic as well as taking the burden off just one person.

Sadly, in the change up we did lose some members but we have gained about seven new members in the process. Almost every day we’ve been at CRF this season the dog house has been full to overflowing with dogs! We’ve had such a good time. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun again like it was in the early days when we had nothing but a tiny wet tent and a few hay bales on which to sit. It’s been a good thing overall, and will ensure the continued success of the group and the growth of membership. Win-Win!

As you can see, my new boy Clown has taken to life at the festival like he’s always been there…I think he might be channeling a bit of Hunky there as well.

So Huzzah and Well Met! Two more weekends and then we’re planning for GARF in the spring!