Spring planning 2009

This blog is my personal journal, but I always keep in mind that others read my ramblings here. As an explanation, this post is an attempt at a bit of closure and an explanation of the conception of our Private Lesson Sale.

Two years ago Bud and I bought this piece of family property from my parents. In the ensuing years my siblings have carped, complained, threatened, and manipulated the tenuous emotional state of my 85-year-old father so that he believes I cheated him out of his property and robbed my siblings of their inheritance. My mother, who co-owned the property, is in complete disagreement with all of them and has subsequently filed for a divorce after 60 years of marriage to my father.  In other words, my family has imploded.

This state of affairs is not unique to my family. Having talked to other people with battling families and disputed property, this nearly always happens when one family member purchases property from aging owners. I’m not sure if knowing that prior to the sale would have dissuaded me from pursuing this property, but hindsight is 20/20.

A week ago I received a long, detailed letter from my youngest brother, explaining how my error was in not acquiring permission from and consensus between my siblings, because it was their business. For 2 years I’ve allowed my brothers and sisters to argue loudly amongst themselves, figuring it would fizzle out. Now, for the first time in 2 years I decided to respond to the letter and present the details of my perspective.

When I finished my e-mail response, my finger hovered over the mouse pad, with the pointer on “send.” Should I save this as a draft? Delete it entirely? Swallow my anger and just hope it would blow over? Nope. I sent it. And then I breathed a long cleansing breath. I’ve received no response to my answer, and can assume it was either accepted (an unlikely possibility) or that he’s no longer speaking to me (more likely).

Regardless, I’ve felt more peaceful since sending the response. And I’ve felt more than ever that, whatever happens, this is my home, my responsibility, and my number one favorite project. Rather than living in a sort of limbo, being unenthusiastic about projects, I’ve got a major burr up my butt about planting flower beds, putting in guardrails, getting ground-cover started, and making our woods more accessible with paths and benches — in general, making this a spot where people really want to spend a relaxing week’s vacation.

Simultaneously, Bud came up with his work-study partnerships, with campers able to clear paths, build benches and bridges and fences, planting trees and flowers, in exchange for agility or rally training. What can I say, great minds run in the same direction. Perhaps it’s just cabin fever, but we’ve initiated a couple of new programs to jump start the 2009 beautification of Country Dream.

The second program, my idea, is to have a private lesson sale. Beginning now our private lessons will be $20-30 less than normal, with the proceeds going toward the purchase of plants, flowers, bulbs, shrubs, trees, and any soil amendments or covering needed to keep them alive. I’m picturing the place with lovely evergreen plantings and ivy covering those red-clay hills. Flower beds will be popping up at the cottages, around the pond, and along the woodsy paths.

This sale will continue indefinitely, not only as a way of allowing our students to “own” the beautification projects they fund, but also to enable economically challenged agility enthusiasts to continue training their dogs. It will apply to basic obedience, rally, and all levels of agility. It will apply to group privates as well as individual lessons. It will apply to old customers, current customers, and new customers.

My post to local lists announced my …

P  R  I  V  A  T  E       L  E  S  S  O  N       S  A  L  E    !  !  !

        — agility, or rally-o

        — weekdays, evenings, or weekends

        — with Bud or Marsha Houston

        — full-time students = $25/hr

        — part-time students = $35/hr

        — non-students = $55/hr  (Sarah, this applies to your group on the 27th!!)

        — any number of dogs in your group

        — any number of hours

I’m going to use the plat map of our 28 acres to plan this beautification project and to report progress. Hopefully our students will enjoy seeing their contribution as it grows, blooms, and spreads.

Shelter news for the day includes a couple of e-mails as I didn’t visit the facility (it’s Tuesday and I go back on Friday).

Yesterday I noticed that the puppies were in individual steel cages and weren’t getting lunch. I asked their keeper if the puppies were fed once a day or 3 times a day and was told “they’re fed once a day.” When I asked if food was left with them all day I was told “yes, we leave the food.” So why didn’t I see any food bowls with puppies?  I’m talking 8-10-week old puppies, gorging at 5:00 p.m. and then getting no more food for 24 hours.

An adult dog’s metabolism can adapt to that feeding schedule, but a puppy?? 

On Friday I observed the feeding of adult dogs and saw bowls with 8-9 cups of food being given to every dog regardless of size. The adult dogs were being given SO MUCH food that they were gaining weight, getting heavy, and turning their noses up at treats. I’m going to research the clinical pathology of the person who overfeeds their dog, overfeeds their cat, or overfeeds their family member and try to get a handle on this but, in the meantime, I recommended that the 20-40-pound dogs get 2 cups a day (figuring that will get them down to 3-4 cups) and that the 41-90-pound dogs get 4 cups a day (figuring that will get them down to 5-6 cups).

I forwarded my recommendation about the adult dogs, and my shock-and-recommendation for the puppies, to the board president who, hopefully, is implementing a change. It takes time to reverse long-held beliefs about pet care, but hopefully the shelter dogs will start looking a little leaner (it’s the job of the adopter to fatten up their new dog). I also hope the dogs will start looking forward to training more.

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