I don’t know how it’s possible, but it is currently June 2015, I’ve been out of school for a month, and I’ve yet to make it to the kennels. I’ve been trying to get to the kennels at every free moment I get, but a myriad of roadblocks has prevented me from doing so, and I’m positive I’m going to lose what little is left of my sanity if I don’t get there soon.
Towards the end of senior year, I somehow managed to muster up the strength to stay relatively kind of focused enough on my schoolwork to graduate on time (hallelujah!). However, that extreme feat of strength combined with preparing to compete for my school’s equestrian team at IHSA Nationals (which conveniently fell right in the middle of finals week, causing me to reschedule every single one of my exams) prevented me from visiting the kennels for the last half of the semester. In the midst of my academic adventures, I was amused to happen across this quote while reading Lady Audley’s Secret for my Victorian Literature class:
“That’s the consequence of letting a girl follow the hounds. She learns to look at everything in life as she does at six feet of timber or a sunk fence; she goes through the world as she goes across country—straight ahead, and over everything.”
I’m going to be completely honest; I really didn’t enjoy that book. However, this one quote prevented me from completely loathing its existence. It got bonus points for referencing hunting, and was a nice reminder to keep on keeping on, so I reminded myself to keep this attitude up until the bitter end. It was difficult. It was exhausting. It was frustrating beyond belief and I’ve never felt further away from a goal as I did that last week before graduation, but somehow it happened. It’s okay, I told myself, because the moment I graduate, I’m sure I’ll be able to go hound walking and be leapt upon by countless hounds. And yet, here I sit.
I have had one saving grace these last four weeks. Well, two actually, and they’re lanky, uncoordinated, and have personalities bigger than their droopy ears. Thank the good Lord I was surprised to find two hound puppies from Shakerag at Mr. Wayne’s farm on puppy walk when I returned from school! It was by far the best welcoming committee I’ve ever encountered, and a huge relief after this unnecessarily long and unexpected break from the kennels. In between job interviews that lead to rejections (or better yet, a chain of unanswered emails and phone calls!), and working a couple part time jobs in the meantime, I’ve been able to escape to their farm and visit the hounds.
Having those ground-covering strides and floppy ears in front of me is one of the best motivators for my runs. I also like to try to find things to make their walks a little more interesting. Sometimes I’ll block off the stall doorway with plastic crates and see how they go about negotiating how to get to the other side—it didn’t take them long to figure out how to leap to the other side, though the first few attempts at scrambling across it were worthy of America’s Funniest Home Videos. I keep an eye out for ditches and small drop offs to practice crossing. Today I decided to climb a fence and see how long it took them to figure out how to go underneath. While it didn’t take too terribly long, I could definitely see the gears clicking in their minds. Teardrop sort of jumped left and right a couple times on the fence line, trying to see where she could slip under, while Terrapin put both his front feet on the bottom board, staring up where I had gone over.
I think we go underneath, Terrapin.
How on Earth did she climb this thing? The fence is so tall! It must be easier for people to climb because their paws are shaped so strangely.
I called for Terrapin once, and he hopped down and stared at me through the fence boards. After a moment, he tried putting his head under the bottom board.
Hmm, I think this’ll work!
“Good boy! Come on Terrapin!” And with that, he easily slid underneath to the other side, where he joyfully leapt onto me.
I did it!
Teardrop, however, was a bit at a loss. She shot back and forth along the fence line once more and stared at us through the boards.
Not fair! You did that when I wasn’t looking! Now how am I supposed to figure it out?
She stuck her head through the fence, and Terrapin noticed his sister was missing, so he ran back to help her out.
Seriously Teardrop? You go UNDER. Duh.
…Oh. Um, yeah, of course. That was my next guess.
Teardrop easily slipped through the fence, and then they both bounded up to me.
WE DID IT!
But before we completed our walk for the day, the hounds had one more trick up their sleeves. At one point, they both made a beeline over to a pile of brush, noses glued to the ground. I watched them poke around for a bit, but moved on fairly soon because it was getting late and a storm was rolling in.
“Come on, leave it,” I said as I began to walk away. They both leapt up and hopped forward when I realized Terrapin had something papery in his mouth. He merrily trotted up to me, gingerly carrying a dollar bill.
For your student loan debt!
“Ha! Good find Terrapin!”
Someday, an employer is going to say, “Hey, look, this phone call/email has a human being on the other end of it. I should answer it!” And someday, I’m going to make it back to the kennels and have my sanity fully restored. But until then, the hounds and I are going to keep practicing the same life view that annoying Victorian book discussed—to move straight ahead, and over everything.