Lettuce Hard Reboot

Watchers
The watchers, Bryn and Willow.

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Yeah, so…um…hi.
It’s been a year plus since I’ve updated the Lettuce, and that is embarrassing and mortifying and actually…freeing.  I have no precedent set, really, anymore. I can talk about whatever I like.
So…yeah…hi.
I think a bit of catch-up is in order, though that seems to be all I do around here.  I’d make promises to be more timely, to push out more content, but let’s be honest, shall we? Haven’t heard a peep about “When will you post again?” “What’s going on at the Lettuce?” “Are you still alive?” but that’s all right.  
So, let’s see… last post was last March and I believe that I was ranting about something related to snow, leave time, work, or Sandy Paws, not sure which.  I skipped Sandy Paws last year, and was glad of it…so glad that I went again this year and was reminded why I had stopped going. Surely I can find something more interesting to talk about.

Rebooting. Watch this space. Loading, please wait…

I’m so out of the loop I’m a straight line…or a t-plane.

Tá mé na hÉireann.

So what started out as nostalgic blog reading led me to this post: SP14 Wrap Up which further led me to thinking about why I didn’t go to Sandy Paws this year…and why I’m kind of glad.

But first, in case you’ve forgotten who I am because it’s been so long since I’ve posted, I’m still at Clemson, I’m 37 days from summer break from Clemson, I still live in Greenville with Hubs and Daisy and Bryn.  I’m still me.

I’m still not as good of a dog parent as I could be.  Life still gets in the way of keeping toenails perfectly trimmed and practicing our obedience lessons.  I’m still not earning any part of my living, really, through writing.  But I carry on and I dream of a day when “going to work” means “going to my home office and writing for 8 hours.”

But back to what led me to open this post and write…I was looking at the experience I had last year at Sandy Paws…the people that were nasty to me and Anne about not having greyhounds at the end of our leashes, the people that laughed when Bryn nearly pulled me off my feet, and all the other experiences we had that made me feel like an outsider.

Well, I have to share that instead of going back to that pit of thinly veiled anti-racing sentiment and Greyhounds Only Breed Snobbery for the chance to see a handful of people that I truly adore, this year Bryn and I walked in the Greenville SC. St. Patrick’s Day parade and she didn’t pull me down!  No harness, no prong collar (because I’m still just not going to do that to a sensitive breed like a Wolfhound if I can help it), just a martingale and a leash.  I could not have been more proud of her and I’m still telling anyone that will listen about it.

As far as work goes, I am encountering new challenges like t-planes, compilers, ethnography and research rigor and I think I’m muddling through it all right.  I have an amazing staff of women that caption and interpret for Clemson.  Does it make sense to say I love what I do but I don’t love my job?  Anyway.  Off to do more things that “aren’t really important” in the name of keeping up my skills and certification until I get to go home and see that fuzzy face up there.

Sandy Paws Wrap Up or "I told you I’d blog that!"

Screaming at the beach is gnome-much fun!
Photo Courtesy of K. Lazenby

In its own unique way, Sandy Paws time has come and gone again.  We spend weeks on Facebook and in text messages and emails planning and laughing and looking forward to seeing each other.  We despair that we only see each other once a year.  We arrive, and from that moment on there is hugging and laughing and screaming and cheering and spending money and all the exciting things we’ve looked forward to for the past 364 days.

And it is gone, it is over, in the blink of tearful eyes.  Even though this year my time at Sandy Paws was infinitely more challenging due to the addition of one big furry puppy who only has manners when she pleases, it was still gone and over too fast, and we were heading back up I-95 to our lives and jobs.  How does that happen?  Why can’t the enjoyment last as long as the anticipation?  I find myself now back in those 364 days, waiting for Sandy Paws 2015 when I can see my FTH family again…hopefully with a much better behaved Bryn next year.

Now, on to the part of the weekend that made me put my “I’m Gonna Blog That” face on:

I will admit that in the past I have been one of those greyhound owners that I’m about to talk about…and I will extend my heartfelt apologies to anyone that owns a little dog or a big dog or any other kind of non-greyhound or non-sighthound dog that has come to a greyhound event and gotten the Hairy Eyeball from me.  I found out on this trip just how unpleasant even the most well-meaning people can be when they identify your dog as Other or NotAGreyhound and make a point of either looking at you like you’ve got four heads or telling you how to manage your dog in the sea of apparently ravenous high prey drive greyhounds ahead.  I mean really…I think if we did a survey of the dogs that attended Sandy Paws this year you would find that a great many of them live…are you ready? WITH OTHER BREEDS or even…gasp…CATS AND OTHER SPECIES.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have known, loved, and lived with some real Cat-Zappers.  I saw a foster dog catch my cat in his front paws in mid-air.  I know the possibilities.  But for crying out loud…the reception that Anne and I got when we entered the conference center with Millie (Boston terrier who lives with a greyhound and a bloodhound and was NOT on a flexi-lead, thankyouverymuch) and Bryn (wild-eyed Irish Wolfhound puppy of a mere 9 months who is still not sure about everyone and everything she meets) was less than welcoming.  Granted, not all of the almost 200 people that attended know me personally and/or know that I have a greyhound as well as the Big Hairy Beastie that came with me to Sandy Paws, but it’s a good guess that I do IF I AM THERE.

Here are just a few things to chew on if you happened to be in the vicinity of the traveling circus that is me, Anne, and our Nons at the Jekyll Island conference center over the Sandy Paws weekend.

1. The fact that Bryn pulls me around is not funny, really.  It happens when you have a puppy brain in a 97lb body attached to an owner with the upper body strength of a Keebler Elf (to borrow from Sheldon Cooper).  It is a little embarrassing, to be honest, because I’ve never owned a dog like her before and am still learning the best way for both of us to be able to walk calmly and pleasantly.

2. My wolfhound is not going to eat your (fill in name of other breed here) as long as I am still attached to her and/or am conscious.  There is no need to glare at me or pull your greyhound around on the other side of you to protect your precious greyhound from Bryn.  In fact, you may be called out on your Death Glare if we happen to see you do it.

3. I understand that not everyone likes big dogs.  But for heaven’s sake, y’all…this is a sighthound gathering and the hound in question is not an Italian Greyhound!  I’m assuming that most of the people there have at least a passing familiarity with sighthounds that are at least 50lbs and some much more than that (not always because they are big boys, either, but that’s another blog for another day).

4. If I tell you that Bryn needs some space then she needs some space.  It doesn’t matter how many whatevers you have raised/bred/raced/whatever in your day, I know my dog better than you do.  End of.  I appreciate all the offers for help over the weekend from everyone (including my friend Brian who asked me to let Bryn come running at him…which I did) and the compliments were fab for her and me.  It’s hard to believe she has only been in my life for just under 5 months…feels like 5 years some days.

5. A Boston Terrier on a stationary leash that is being held by her owner is probably owned by someone savvy about the prey drives of greyhounds and other sighthounds and will NOT be putting her dog or anyone else’s in a dangerous position, at least not consciously.  A person who brings a small breed into a sighthound event on a flexi lead is a different matter, but that, again, is a blog for another day.

Overall we had so much fun…Bryn slept most of the way home when she wasn’t trying to chew on her Auntsie’s ears or get in the front with Millie.  My FTH family is more precious to me than I can express and even now, as I sit here typing, the thought of THEM…the thought of US…it brings tears to my eyes at how important we all are to each other.

Metrognomes of the world, unite.  Onward and upward…to Mountain Hounds if not before!  (You can see pictures of Bryn at SP14 on her blog, Our Daily Bryn, beginning with the entry for 26 March.)

Sandy Paws and other Peaches

Clowny’s paw print, Jekyll

It always amazes me how Sandy Paws is up on me and then is over so fast.  I spend all year waiting, anxiously, to see a group of people that in some ways are closer to me than my own family…and like a flash, I blink and I’m on my way back home.

This year’s get together was no different.  My Mister and I rented a minivan (go on, get that out of your system, me in a minivan) and headed down to Jekyll Island with Clown and Daisy.  Those two rode in STYLE…I was even more irritated than normal that the Mister hasn’t gotten his SCDL yet because it would have been HEAVEN to crawl back there on the gooshy dog beds and nap all the way to Georgia’s Golden Coast.

The hotel where we stayed was okay…older, and definitely not the posh affair of the last two SP events, but homey, in a way.  What was NOT cool was vending from hotel rooms rather than in a large vendor hall as we’ve done in the past.  You didn’t get to see anyone if you were vending, other than those you were staying with or your vending partners.  I was lucky enough to glom (is that a word?) onto Janet Schaffer of Casual Bling and Suzie Collins of Skinnyhound Designs so that I could sell my books.  I sold seven, which is a record for a greyhound event.

Sandy Paws started out as a means to an end for me, and remains so.  I didn’t go initially because I wanted to attend an organized gathering with workshops or because I had a stack of books to hock.  I went because I had preadopted an amazing creature called Daisy (FTH Oopsie Daisy) and was now a part of the Follow That Hound family.  So changes to the venue or schedule, ice cream socials and over-priced buffet meals really aren’t a factor to me when I think of Sandy Paws.  The only thing that I do, really, that has anything to do with the event, is help sponsor the creation of crowns for the greyhounds named King and Queen of SP (even though my own hounds have never even been nominated…not even after Daisy went to SP 2012 a mere 5 days after a transatlantic flight-turned-nightmare).

Anne and I pay to have someone make crowns that fit the theme of the gathering, and this year was no different…except that prior to this year’s SP someone in the organizing group got her pants in a bunch over a design for a Tshirt that the aforementioned Suzie made…for us, the FTH family…because she wanted EVERYONE to know that it was NOT an official SP13 shirt.

Well, duh.  Suzie didn’t make it for everyone.  Not everyone is a Peach.  🙂  Not everyone is part of the FTH family. But the WAY that the person made it clear to anyone that was listening was just over the top and plain rude, really.  You would think that it would be common sense not to make an enemy of a very popular vendor, but apparently it wasn’t.

So jump ahead now to the crowning of the King and Queen at SP13.  Anne and I are there, she has the crowns and I have the bling that Janet made for the winners.  The person with the twisted pants approached us and took the lot, heading up to the front of the room to get things started.  We didn’t think anything about it until we heard HER announcing the King.

Problem…part of our sponsorship of the crowns and bling means that we get to present them to the winners. It’s a neat way for us to be a part of the gathering and to get to meet the winners…or, like at SP12, crown one of our own as King when Lightning (FTH Lightning) won.  Well, because Anne is a superhero, she charged down to the front with me, Mighty Mouse, trailing behind her to find out what was going on.  We were offered the chance to announce the Queen, but she turned it down, pulling a victory lap back to her table, and I continued on Anne AutoFollow back to the back.

Y’all…I don’t have time for grownups that act like children, I really don’t.  Not during a swiftly moving weekend with people that I adore that I only get to see once a year.  To the organization’s credit, a few of their members approached us afterward and apologized, but you see, the damage was done.  Once again, I’m not “in the know,” or a part of the core crowd…and finally, after over a decade of doing greyhound adoption and hanging out with greyhound people…that’s okay.  I don’t need it, or as my perfect niece Joy says, “I can’t use it.”

Keep the drama.  I love my Peaches, I know what is important in my life, and I’m off to celebrate it.  GEM and Mountain Hounds ahoy!

For my friend Carla, with all my love…

“Where are they?”  Daisy asked, her question directed at thin air.  “And why can’t I see you?  I saw Profile before.”
“Because we’re all together now,” Jeany said.  “Things are different now.  Things are changing.  But we’re all still watching Mommy and now watching Daddy Simon.  You’re the one that has to take care of Mommy now, like Profile taught you.  She is going to be lost without us.”  
“I’m lost!” Daisy sniffled.  “I can’t do this by myself.”
“Yes you can,” Jeany said, her voice fading a bit.  “I’ve got to go, Pup, but we will all be watching and listening.  If you need us, just go outside and look up at the stars.  That’s where we’ll be, dancing around and playing.”
-from An American Greyhound in Yorkshire

I won’t say goodbye, because it isn’t. I’ll just say see you later, because I will, Stardancer.

Carla with FTH Sassy Thang, Sandy Paws 2009

A Falk in the Driftwood Worest..with Peaches.

Are we there yet? by Nancy Dunne
Are we there yet?, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.

(thanks and love to Zilch the Torysteller for part of the title…)

This weekend was the annual Sandy Paws event…and if this were years past I’d be doing something uber fun right now in Jacksonville before getting ready to go to Orange Park to watch the dogs run. But alas, with gainful employment in higher education does not always come annual leave, so here I am, back from my break, blogging. Yeah.

I headed down Thursday night after work to spend a whirlwind weekend of meeting, greeting, laughing, and even a little tired crying (on the way home yesterday) with people that are one of my families of choice: my greyhound friends and more specifically my Follow That Hound friends. Even though with the closure of B&J Kennels this year the FTH program is no more, we all still get together and we all still feel like a big extended family.

Friday afternoon Anne and Leah and I went out to Driftwood Beach for some photos of me and the dogs…but I ended up just wandering around and taking pictures because HOLY MOLY is that place amazing. Oaks felled by a hurricane created petrified sculpture. It’s like walking around and seeing dinosaur bones. Insane.

Friday night was spent laughing until we cried with good friends. I need more of that in my life. I need my Peaches.

Saturday was more Sandy Paws fun, including the crowning of the king and queen, a live auction (including one of Daisy’s books that went for $55 I think?), and then the tired returning to the villa for one last night’s sleep to the sound of the waves.

Yesterday was awful…I hate the annual theft of an hour by Daylight Saving Time even though it means I’m only 4 hours behind Simon rather than 5. But the pretty face in the picture there kept me company for the ride back to Greenville, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of that time even if it did seem to be an hour earlier.

I’ll get my pictures uploaded to Flickr soon…stay tuned. Roooooooo!