Monday, April 21, 2014

Tribute to Butch

The year was 2004. Late June early July I believe. My father had passed away in the winter. The house on 983 was for sale. I had been living with my boyfriend at the time, but life was changing for me and it was time to go out on my own. My dear sister Angela had taken me in for a few months while I got my seemingly crumbling life together. It was time to get my very first place and along with that it was time to get my very own dog.

One hot summer night, my friend Les, brought two red heeler puppies to my sisters home and said pick one out I will take the other. There was a little boy and a little girl. They were both the most precious things I had ever seen!  I couldn't resist the little boy. Something drew me to this furry little white teddy bear with a perfect red patch over his right eye. I would call him Butch.

Butch and I began a life together. We moved on to Main Street in Farmington, UT.  As a child I had been very scared to be alone and afraid of the dark. Coming last in a family of five girls I didn't have to be alone much. I guess that's where the fear comes from. Or maybe it is a natural instinct. But with Butch around my fear was dissipating.  I knew no matter what that Butch would not let anything happen to me. Butch was about 4 months old when I realized my newest fear..... Losing that dog. Early one morning I let him out in the front yard to go potty. It was before light so I figured he would be fine to take a quick break and come in. He was a very smart obedient dog so I did not worry about leasing him. He always did his business and came right in. I never accounted for the man that was walking from what I imagine was his release from the jail down the street. In the early morning the man startled butch and he nipped his heel when he passed on the sidewalk. No blood was drawn, but the man reported him to animal control and they came and took him for quarantine. I was so sad when they took him. I knew he was scared and did not understand. But 10 days later I got my buddy back.

Butch and I spent every moment together. I worked a part time job in the morning for four hours to help supplement my horse habit. And even then he would come along with me most days. At lunch I would walk him to the McDonalds and pick him up a hamburger. Then it would be off to the barn where he would spend his days watching lessons in the sunshine and exploring all the wonderful smells.  I still remember the infamous La Femme Nikkita was off with an abscess.  We were grazing her on a small hill. Everything Nikki did Butch would follow. He watched her eat the grass until he began to eat with her. We had casually dropped the lead rope and we're sitting next to our four legged friends when we looked up to see butch grab there lead rope and start walking Nikki off. Of course we all began laughing and telling him how cute he was. He was quite shy so he dropped the rope and looked at us like he did something wrong. I always hoped he would try it again but apparently we embarrassed him too much!

During the early years, Butch and I would go camping and horseback riding with our friends. He loved the great outdoors. I was always able to leave him off leash and he would never go farther than 20 yards away. I loved to watch him run to the front of the trail and stand and watch each horse and rider go by. I always said he was accounting for everybody. On the trails he found his love for water and swimming. Times that we would camp Butch insisted on sleeping on my one man cot with me and occasionally in my sleeping bag. I didn't mind.  I shared everything with that dog. My hopes and dreams, my fears, my soul.  So naturally we would share a cot.

Butch and I had a few apartments along the way, but we finally settled in with a good friend that owned a home with a fenced yard. What a blessing coming from third floor apartment life. Things were good and we had recently moved to a new barn in Bountiful. One day a fellow trainer was struggling with a horse that had just dumped its child several times at a jump. She asked if I could get on the horse and help. Sure!  I enjoyed the challenge as I have always been able to gain the horses confidence to jump.  The horse went to the jump and stopped. I gave the horse a smack on the rump
 and the horse scurried around under me trying to act up. Butch saw me in what he thought was trouble and in his cattle dog mind went behind and heeled the horse on the fetlock. Immediately my girls called him and got him out of there. The horse and I went along and finished well jumping all the jumps. We checked the horse out who seemed to be fine with one small scratch from a tooth. I helped the owner wash her legs as a precaution and all was fine. Until two days later when the owner reported him and he was once again taken away. This time it would be 8 months and 3 court dates before they released him. The Animal Control was determined to destroy this dog. I've always fought for what I believed in. And to me this dog was not an attacker. He was just a dog doing what his instincts told him. No one was injured. Although I would win in court, the Animal Control would appeal. At one point I heard that one of the guys in charge of the center said he would kill my dog if it's the last thing he did.

The day I got Butch back for the second time I promised him I would never let him go back there. After 8 months in a four by three cement cell my beautiful boy was rail thin.  He had sores all over his joints from lying on cement. He had not been walked or given attention or even seen sunlight in 8 months. After the adrenaline wore off I thought after all we had been through I would have to euthanize him anyhow because he was in so much pain. Not too mention if he wasn't aggressive before, he now trusted no one. He was suffering from PTSD and severe anxiety. A few wonderful vets and friends helped me with some anxiety medication and a rehab program to get his health back.

Butch would make a near full recovery. His physical health seemed back to normal within a year. We struggled with his mental health. One day early on a girth fell next to him in the tack room. He hit the ground immediately and began tremuring  for about ten minutes. I silently wept for what he had been through. Life was different now as Butch was deemed dangerous by Animal Control. He was not to be in public off leash or unmuzzled.  But Butch and I settled in a routine. He still went with me everywhere. Just with a new set of rules.  In time he got back to normal. He knew all my friends and clients and was loved by all. The barn mascot for sure. I made sure that everyone who met Butch knew to give him space and let them know he was shy and to give him time. In time he was licking
their faces and greeting them for love.

Shortly after Butch was released the second time, we attended a horse show in California. There was nothing better to a him than hanging out in the golf cart driving around the shows in the sun. I noticed a little black dog enter our alley one day and how curious butch was with this particular dog. He perked up and wanted to play. I hadn't seen this in over a year. Well of course I came home and adopted him a little black dog named Nugget.   Nugget would teach Butch to trust people again. Nuggets time was short on this earth and butch needed a mate. We got little Natalie to fill the void. Butch would outlive Natalie as well. But having another dog was one of the best things for Butch. He loved his little friends. It took him time to trust them, but once he did you could see the loyalty in this dog. A trait I saw over and over with everyone he met. He loved the girls at the barn. He loved my room mate Sean. Sean was so compassionate to Butch. Even when Butch could barely recognize Sean after his 8 month prison time, and he was scared of Sean, Sean rebuilt an even stronger bond with him.

Eleven days ago I left Butch with a friend while I went to teach at another barn. A client came who was fairly new.  For the last time Butch wouldn't trust someone. I had asked and reminded this person to leave Butch alone knowing that Butch wasn't liking this individual.  They decided to pet him innocently and Butch nipped his hand. I guess I always knew it would end like this. An entire decade with this little pet would end with a last nip. He would be turned in for he last time. Officer Amy at Animal Control spent a few minutes with me trying to get to know Butch. She let me pack a blanket and food for him and I put his Thunder Shirt on and looked him in the eyes, I told him I would see him again.

Today I picked him up at 1 o'clock for his appointment to be euthanized at 2.  What a blessing to spend one more hour with my baby.  My best friend. I held him and fed him and pet him. I silently shared the last decade of my life with him. I wen through memory after memory. I wanted to remember everything. I felt each part of his face and rubbed his neck and ears. I laid against him so I could remember the feel of his soft hair on my face. If I had one hour left I wanted to cherish each moment. We drove through Burger King and got him one hamburger and a five piece nugget. I gave him a nugget but as hungry as he was he wasn't sure he could eat it. I took a bite and offered it to him again. He ate every last piece of food. This dog trusted me more than any human has ever. My heart swelled. How lucky was I?  I shared 10 beautiful years with this dog. He was my best friend. People came and went, but Butch stayed with me. It was the end of an era. And as he lay on my lap with a sedative now in his system I saw the past. And then I saw the future. I saw a new friend. I saw new beginnings.  And in my beautiful future, my best friend is still there. He's rolling in the snow in the winter afternoons.  He's swimming with the ducks in the summer and he's still protecting me.

Today my best friend was layed to rest in my arms. I felt his last breath in this mortal life.  I felt peace. I felt him freed of earthly anxieties. His innocence restored.  I love you buddy.  Thank you to everyone who has been a part of his journey. Thank you for your compassion to him and thank you especially to those who loved him.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Loving and Losing

In my job I have the pleasure of getting to know many horses and riders. All of which have touched my heart. Recently we had to say good bye to a wonderful friend and horse, Austin. In my life I have said good bye to more people and animals than what I feel is average. Death was also the first fear I remember having.  Now it is time to put that fear to rest.

The fear of death I believe came from watching my Great Grandmother pass away from cancer. Before I was school age my mother was helping tend to her Grandmother in her last months.  My Mother and I went to tend her during the week while my siblings were in school. My Mother was extremely close to her Grandma. I watched my Mother's heart breaking and my Great Grandmother suffering.  It's not that the experience was necessarily frightening, but it was something I couldn't understand. My family was religious and they said that Grandma saw her loved ones as angles calling her home. Even at my young age of not even five I was intrigued by this comment of angels. I questioned the after life for as long as I could remember. Grandma soon left this world and became a tattoo on our hearts. We remembered her gentle touch and the scent of her home. We missed getting together with the family at her house and her famous rhubarb pies. 

In the years to come I would develop a severe anxiety for death. I would remember my Family talking about Grandma Claire's chest pains. Or maybe they didn't say chest pains, but I heard chest pains. And then I began having chest pains. I would never tell anyone though. What would they say? Was I dying?  I wasn't ready for that!  So from about the age of eight to fifteen I cut out all butter that wasn't cooked in by the chef. I didn't butter or salt a single thing for over six years. Because I believed I would die if I did. Doesn't make any sense right?  

I developed panic attacks over death. At seventeen years old I would lie in my bed and feel my heart pound. It must be giving out. I would get short of breath and my arm would go numb. This would happen for about eight months. Then one night I knew it was the last night I would be on this earth. I didn't tell anyone. I was too afraid. But I vowed to see the doctor the following day if in fact I lived. So off to the doctor I went the next morning when I wasn't dead. Instead of being diagnosed with heart failure, which I was sure I had been developing since I was eight years old, they diagnosed me with anxiety and panic attacks. In the next several years I would stabilize and the panic subsided through pharmaceuticals and time . 

In the first thirty years of my life I watched several of my friends and peers die, uncles, dogs, horses, other pets, Grand Parents, Nieces and Nephews, Cousins, my own Father, my Brother in Law and the list goes on.  Isn't it interesting that a person with severe anxiety toward death would see so much of it?  Coincidence?  Or is this a life lesson? It wasn't getting any easier. I got angry and I got numb.  The more People I lost the harder I questioned what came after this. I knew that all could not be lost. I had to believe I would see these people again. I was not fitting in to an organized religion so I was left to start creating my own ideas. I started to realize that religion might just be what each of us individually believe in. Whatever helps us sleep at night.  For me, I had to believe that all of the young beautiful talented people that left this world too early must have had a much greater mission somewhere else. And all the lessons I was learning must be for a reason. Would I start to accept death?  Yes I would.

My little dog Nugget died on impact about six months ago when he was struck by a horse.  I ran to the spot where he lay and found him already limp.  My best friend, my child, my puppy, how could this happen?  I failed him.  It was my job to keep him safe.  I went through all of the mourning stages as usual.  I cried many tears.  Every night I would sleep with his doggie blanket and close my eyes and imagine him next to me.  I decided that Nugget loved birds so every time I saw a bird it would mean Nugget was nearby.  Months passed and I began to heal from Nugget's death.  I thought about the symbol form time to  time.  Nothing unusual was happening.  There were always birds at the barn.  I began to think the symbol failed.  Then one day I started to notice birds in strange places.  Single birds flying in front of my truck going the same direction as me.  A large falcon stayed in the barn for no apparent reason for about 4 days.  I didn't think anything of it.  Suddenly on the drive to California this winter it hit me as two birds circled in the distance next to the freeway.  The Birds!  It's Nugget!  Well you say it could be a coincidence.  There are a lot of birds in this world.  They are everywhere right?  Right!  That's just it.....Nugget never left.  He is still here with me, everywhere.

Over the next several months I would start to truly see how all the people I loved and lost were not far away.  It sounds so cliche I know.  Train yourself to take your mind wherever you want to at any time.  When they say close your eyes and imagine a better place, they really mean that.  Go back and see your lost loved ones.  Or take them in to the future with you.  Just stop yourself and imagine every detail and let your mind take you there.  You will truly find peace.  I started to see the value in all of the things that come in to our life.  Yes a loved one is lost, but a loved one was also shared.  I started to consider myself lucky to have been able to spend the amount of time that I did with each of my lost loved ones.  This life is YOUR journey.  Surround yourself with positive, loving people.  Have a support group.  Be there for each other.  And in the end live your life to the absolute fullest.  Make yourself happy and happiness will follow you. 

I met Austin's family at the clinic earlier in the week to see Austin off on his next journey.  Through my experiences I was able to console a broken family.  I was able to look Austin in the eye and tell him what was happening to him, assure him that the journey continues and watch him visibly take a breath and relax.  For the first time in my life I was able to see death as a new beginning.  It is only the end of a chapter.  The journey will continue not only for the family, but for the animal as well.  I half joked that Austin was going to try and be a darker horse in his next life so that you couldn't see all of the dirt and poop stains on him as he was a white horse the last time around.  But perhaps a newborn baby foal hit the ground at the moment Austin finished his last breath.  And just maybe it's a brown horse this time.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Coming Home!

I am so happy to be sitting down on this site and writing again.  I have been in the most exciting whirlwind for the past several years.  I have learned so many things in my career, in my relationships and in life.  I feel that I am making an earth shattering discovery within myself.  I currently am interested in finding and fulfilling my Dharma. 

Ever since I was a little girl my dreams were vivid, my imagination was wild and my anxiety was high.  I had a very clear vision of my life.  Marriage and children were never the things I dreamed of.  I always knew there was something different out there for me.  I had many ideas about how my life would turn out.  And that's just it.....could I see the future?  Were my dreams vivid for a reason?  Was I crazy?  I felt crazy.  But one thing was always for certain.  I wanted to do something BIG. 

As the years went on the dreaming became normal.  I would occasionally  wake from a dream that I knew was something different.  The World we live in began to replace a lot of my imagination.  I became an Equestrian over two of incredible decades of my life.  Life got fast.  People came and went.  My loved ones lived and died.  My career took off.  My future was looking bright.  As my career took off, I found myself on the road more.  I dreamed my entire life to travel the Horse Show Circuit full time.  And in the last 5 years I did.  Then something happened.  I got to the end.  I got as far as I ever dreamed.  There I was and I was disappointed for some reason.  I spent weeks trying to figure out what went wrong.  Why didn't it feel like I got there?  And then I started to feel it again.  The dreams came back more vivid than ever.  Only now I could see them all the time.  The Universe spoke to me and it told me that the picture was so much greater than what I imagined.  And thus begins the next phase of my life which I can not wait to share with everyone who wants to listen. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Year In Reflection

Where does the time go? I have not posted on this thing forever! I find myself sitting alone this Christmas Eve taking time to reflect on my life. This evening I drove myself to the cemetery to wish my Dad Merry Christmas. I like to go and sit at his graveside and sing songs to him. Tonight it was my new favorite song, Innocent, by Taylor Swift.

After the cemetery I stopped at the Smith's in Farmington. I spent countless hours there as a child. Every Saturday Brooke Jensen, Steph and I would ride our bikes or walk to Burger King for lunch and then go to the Smith's and shop for makeup and candy. I found myself strolling up and down the isles looking for familiar faces and searching for memories.

My truck continued to drive down memory lane. I drove the same streets I drove for 15 years of my life. Up the hill I went to that beautiful brown brick house at 983 North Oakridge Drive. I drove slowly up the hill and took each and every house in. Each home bringing a different memory to my brain. As I came to the top of the hill and saw my home my heart felt like it missed a beat. I pulled to the curb across the street from the home that I built countless memories in. When I came to a stop a middle aged man in his pajamas emerged from the house and flipped a switch on the porch lighting up some kind of holiday arrangement. I was so jealous of him. I longed to go to the door and just ask for one look around. Through the glass I could see company sitting down by a well lit Christmas Tree. A large Confederate Flag hung from the banister of the loft in the front room. Several times I nearly drove my car in to the driveway wanting to knock on the door. In the end I drove slowly through the neighborhood that I remember as a child. I wondered if the same people still lived in all those houses. My heart broke as I passed our next door neighbors home and thought of how their lives had changed. A broken marriage several years before and now a son who took his own life after serving our Country for many years. I remembered a time when there were no houses at the end of our street. I remember watching those houses go up and fill the area. And I remember one of the last walks I took with my father as a young girl through the new part of the neighborhood. I remember him telling me more or less that the world was mine and I could do and be anything I wanted to be.

I had so many hard times in that home, but all I can think of are the good times. I am saddened that I will never create more memories in that home. The house on 983 Oakridge will be a part of me for the rest of my life. I must go forward now and create new memories in a new time and place.

Tonight I am missing my family and wishing All a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

All That Jazz

Our 2009 UHJA Horse of the Year. Owned and ridden by Megan Spencer. Trained by Denise Tilley.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2009 UHJA Banquet

Me doing what I do best
Cassie, Jessica, Amy and Cali
Greg and Sherri
Bob taking a picture of me taking a picture and Mary.
Cody, Amy, Tori, Megan , Denise, Brian and Butch. And Butch put himself there we did not ask him to be in the picture lol.
Amy, Tori, Megan, Denise and Butch's rear end.

Last night was our annual UHJA Awards banquet. It is so fun to get to dress up and enjoy a night with everyone and share our accomplishments.

It was held downtown at the Hilton. The awards ended at about nine thirty and then it was dancing until midnight. We got a couple rooms there and a few of us spent the night.

I am so proud of my team and all their hard work. I can not wait for next year!

2009 Horse of the Year - All That Jazz with Megan Spencer and Denise Tilley
2009 Pre Green Hunter Reserve Champion - All That Jazz with Megan Spencer and Denise Tilley
2009 Open Working Hunter Champion - All That Jazz with Megan Spencer and Denise Tilley
2009 Long Stirrup Hunter 4th Place - All That Jazz with Megan Spencer
2009 Large Pony Hunter Champion - Showtime with Tori Hansen
2009 Pony Equitation Champion - Tori Hansen
2009 Pony Equitation Medal 3rd Place - Tori Hansen
2009 Medium Stirrup Hunter Reserve Champion - My Black Knight with Laura Hartle owner Denise Tilley
2009 Medium Stirrup Equitation Reserve Champion - Elynne Gaffney
2009 Medium Stirrup Equitation 3rd Place - Laura Hartle
2009 Novice Jumper 3rd Place - Showtime with Tori Hansen
2009 Novice Jumper 4th Place - Second In Command with Jessica Caton


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Goat jumps!

So I haven't figured out how to put youtube videos on here yet. So go to this link Cindy is jumping and is freaking hilarious!!!!