Out For A Stroll
4-13-2016 – Da Vinci and I went for a stroll through these beautiful PNW woods today and stumbled upon some treasures.
Elusive Spring White Truffle
4-6-2016 – Big forest. Elusive spring white truffles. A dog with heart. If there is a truffle in the forest, Callie will find it!
Forest to Fork
4-5-2016 – Cash photobombing dinner. It’s the right of a truffle dog 🙂
We had a pretty good time shuffling truffles in the forest today!
Exploring New Places
4-1-2016 – I had the privilege of exploring a new forest with Callie today. Peaceful scenery, amazing weather, and this spirited girl as my guide 🙂
Lost Truffles! What Would MacGyver Do?
March 25th, 2016 – What Would MacGyver Do?
He found all 4 black truffles (3 whole, 1 small piece). We built in a look at me to say “found it”, added a verbal cue, and practiced our reward & ending rituals. This was his 6th exposure to black truffles.
My home office!
3-24-2016 – I share my office with a great co-worker! We had a fabulous time in the forest today 🙂
Trufflin’ Herding Dogs for the Win!
February 28th, 2016 – Da Vinci worked hard today.
A beautiful thing happens when MacGyver wakes up from a nap. He seeks me out. He seeks me out to be with me. Every time he does this it reminds me of how I would seek my mother after a nap. I just wanted a hug. No reason other than that sweet moment between dreaming and full wakefulness. MacGyver approaches me in his partial dreamtime state and asks to “be” with me. There is no agenda. We are in a beautiful state of “being” with one another. Nothing more than the sweet perfection that is that moment. Nothing less than the sweet perfection that is that moment. And then we enjoy more moments as they come. We let go of the moment that just passed and enjoy another. It’s a chain, you see. Moments are just one snapshot in time. Sometimes they are magnificently constructed and leave us reminiscing about the feeling. Other times they are subtle movement through space and time with two spirits in a congruent state of “being”. Neither is holding onto the last moment. Neither is looking ahead to the next moment.
He rarely sticks around for long. Often after a few pets and snuggles where we truly experience each other’s spirit, moving through that chain of moments as one, he contently wanders back to his napping spot. That heart to heart connection (in shamanism it a type of a ceke line) is a sacred energetic line between two beings. It’s a powerful connection, one that’s strength and presence continues regardless of space and time…if you nurture it…if you practice it.
A few years ago, early in my Reiki and shamanic training, I realized something about myself. I had been, for as long as I could remember, receiving guidance and information from the animals around me. I just didn’t know it. It always seemed rather random and out of my control. Sometimes it is a sense of knowing, other times it is a message from the natural world. Sometimes it happens in a dream. Sometimes it’s a 2×4 over my head (yes, even a sensitive person misses the subtle clues). I’ve always been aware of my sensitive nature, but I didn’t realize that I could cognitively perceive the subtleties of being present and intuitive. I know there are many people out there who feel the same way. Everyone has the ability to connect with and partner with animals on a much deeper level than they think. In shamanism we ask ourselves what energy center we are operating from. For myself, and many others, we tend to migrate to our minds. We process information and formulate plans. Even when we believe we are being present, we are still in our heads. But what can happen when we operate from our heart centers is an experience that can leave anyone speechless. Words get in the way when we are genuinely experiencing the present moment with another being. Language becomes an obstacle rather than a helpful tool.
What I found during my training was that I can intentionally access my ability to perceive information from the world around me. Animals in physical form, animal spirits, plant spirits, Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, the stones, whatever the name is that describes your Great Spirit…the list goes on and on. Everyone has this ability. Everyone can access it if they choose. Imagine the connection that you can experience with your animal companion if you spend time practicing being in that state of oneness together! It’s a state void of expectation, absent of thought, and open to communication. Animals are incredibly communicative and they are always in dialogue with us. We, as humans, press the mute button in our heart centers when we move to our heads to analyze situations, behaviors and interactions. When we make ourselves available to receiving information through heart to heart connection with animals, and then continue that dialogue instead of getting stuck in a moment…when we can do that…magic happens. Connection with our animal companions isn’t about a moment. Connection doesn’t happen as an isolated event. Connection is cultivated. It’s an open, nonverbal dialogue between species.
There is this beautiful state of being that presents upon waking and it can help you begin to find your way into deeper connection with animals and the natural world. When we emerge from dreamtime, we are in a semi-sleeping and semi-conscious state of being. If it is you who just woke from sleep, access that state by mindfully experiencing it. If it is your animal companion who just woke from sleep, stop what you are doing and take time to match their state. Clear your head and just BE, letting the moments guide you…letting each moment pass. It’s a beautiful space to experience with an animal!
These are the experiences that shape my connection and genuine, meaningful partnerships with animals. These are the experiences that hold more significance than my behavior training plan because teaching a behavior requires less effort when we are in a reciprocal dialogue with one another. Today, during his brief break from dreamtime, MacGyver and I spent a few moments “being” with one another in a sweet, gentle and raw form. We were simply present together in each moment, regardless of how many moments graced us, cultivating the connection that is the source from which everything else grows.
I’ve been here before. This place…I am no stranger here. Sometimes I am dragged here against my will. Sometimes, I come take a look at the view to gain a little perspective. I’ve navigated this terrain, but that doesn’t make it any more comfortable to be here. This place is one of deep heavy emotions and darkness. It’s a place I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. But it is also a place where amazing healing and growth can happen. The ground is full of sharp rocks that hurt with every step…but the soil is fertile and full of nutrients. To see and feel this space, brings me to tears. It brings tears of extreme fear. I’ve been here before. I climbed the barren hillsides and slogged through the swampy marshes. I was alone, or so I thought.
Now I’m back. Through timing that knows greater purpose than I do, I found myself here this morning. I’ve seen signs on my most recent path…you know, the ones that tell you how far away your destination is. I disregarded them because, surely, I knew better than to go there. This morning I arrived. My morning meditation with the dogs met me with a welcome party with the theme “Accept Help”. That’s the moment I knew. I knew “it was back”. Then it got interesting.
You see, my spiritual practice has led me to an incredible connection to nature. The earth, the sun and moon, the trees and plants, stones and animals…they, and many more, are amazing guides if we allow ourselves to hear their messages.
Each morning I meditate. Each morning I take a moment to greet my guides and connect with them. Each morning, I take the time to connect with my dogs. And each morning, a message comes, often times from Callie. She is one of my teachers. The one who reminds me to open my heart. She is pure heart. When I stretch and open my chest, she often rams her chest right up against mine. I always laugh. I am always reminded that opening my heart center brings us closer in a way that gives me great sense of privilege. All of my dogs have been, and are, teachers. They are part of my connection to the natural world. They walk with me on a path that is filled with guidance from the world around us. I don’t consider myself a dog trainer. I can’t limit our connection to dog training (but that’s a different blog post). So, when they have information to share with me, I take it quite seriously. After all, they are essentially translators of the natural world. I’m blessed that they understand me and can help communicate those things I may not be directly perceiving.
I write down the morning meditation messages, even when they don’t make sense to me. This morning’s message, I assumed, was to accept the help at a doctor’s appointment I have this afternoon. I will do that, but there was more. And this is how it unfolded.
I wept after that meditation. A little. Then I gathered myself up and headed downstairs. Periodically, while having coffee and breakfast, I cried. No reason. I just cried. I don’t want to be here again. I don’t want to be in this place again. Accept Help MUST mean I am to tell my doctor that the depression is back. I will do so, of course, but that wasn’t it. I cried again. Right about then, two of my dogs saddled up to me and literally positioned my face between them. Face buried in fur, I recognized the significance of them doing so. These two boys set aside their differences, faces in close proximity (touching!) to comfort me. I cried some more. I filled my pockets with treats (as any good “trainer” should) and we headed outside to walk, release some energy, and listen to what the world had to say.
I walked, zoning out mostly, but with thoughts spinning in my mind. I wrote this blog post in my head while walking. I listened for information and guidance from the trees, animals, earth, elements. It was quiet today, except my thoughts, some swarms of bugs that were bugging me and sirens. Yes sirens. The fire truck passed by first. I always pause when I hear sirens and send good energy to the situation they are headed to. Then came the water rescue team. While I was swirling in my thoughts and emotions there was a water emergency happening. My immediate urge was to tell myself “it could be worse”. That just doesn’t sound like right relationship with existence in this world. So, I stopped and sent Reiki to that situation. Then gave myself permission to honor how I feel. No comparison to how much worse it could be. Just different.
Then I had clarity. Clarity on what Accept Help meant. You see, this place I arrived at today…in the past, I’d have called it depression. Not this time. Depression, this time, she is a guide. Not a place. She is a guide to help me navigate a very dark and unforgiving place. She will show me where the fertile soil is and help me see where I can learn, grow, nourish, and rebuild. I don’t know how long she plans to visit, nor how long we will walk together in this void that feels like the aftermath of a forest fire. I do know that I am not here alone. I know others have been here. I see their footprints. My heart aches for them because I’m right here with them. Most of the time you can’t see anyone else in this place with you. It’s like we all have invisibility cloaks on. Today, I’ll take that cloak off. I’ll walk beside anyone else in this place…if you like.
I am exactly where I need to be…
Favorite Things – Cash’s Truffle Alert
January 22nd, 2016 – Cash, Mr. Precise. Love my little buddy so much! His truffle alert is one of my favorite things 🙂
I Adore This Boy!
December 13, 2015 – Da Vinci and his treasures. These truffles made one PNW chef very happy. Finding them was a delight with my favorite “Big Brown” 🙂
OFFICIAL Truffle Pup
December 11, 2015
MacGyver is an OFFICIAL Truffle Dog! Today was his 10th learning session and it was an awesome one! He found five truffles (not pictured because…he is a puppy)!
This boy demands that I operate from a grounded state and with heart-centered action…in anything we do together. I am so proud of this pup and our developing partnership. Our path has been nontraditional and “outside the box”, one of reciprocal learning based on organic conversation, respect, transparency, intuition, and mindful action in the present moment. Dogs are amazing teachers!
The newest member of my truffle dog crew in action! This is MacGyver’s first truffle hunt and it was awesomely fun to see how he put all the pieces of this game and our foundation training together. He offered to include the “face down” at the truffle and I LOVED it!
MacGyver finds his first truffles after just 10 sessions with truffle odor!
It’s Never About The Truffle!
November 1, 2015 – My heart is so full of gratitude for the JOY Cash brings to everything we do. “It’s never about the truffle!”
Into The Future
We just dug our first hole together! I have no idea what we were scenting and digging for, but we were working as a team to get to it 😀
That was a fun glimpse into our truffle hunting future!
Meet the newest member of the family! MacGyver was born March 22, 2015 and is the second Border Collie on our crew. Follow our puppy stories in Raising MacGyver as we learn about each other and develop our relationship.
(Photo by Lisa Kaufman, 2015)
Da Vinci (Snowflower Thyme Flies) is a Belgian Tervuren born 9-11-2010…brought home 11-9-2010. Our first puppy and forever Mr. Puppy!!! Agility, herding, truffle hunting…sky’s the limit! He has an incredible nose and always brings amusement to the truffle hunt with his happy expressions.
(Photo by Lisa Berglund, 2015)
My joy! An absolute soul mate! He’s shy, he worries a lot, he is busy all day…and he gives me everything he has, makes me laugh every day and defines what relationships, trust, safety and patience really mean. Born 8-14-2007…adopted 8-14-2008 from NOAH (Northwest Organization for Animal Help). He was always brave in the agility ring for me, he plays with sheep with me and he’s the best caretaker in our home. My Little Buddy!
(Photo by Lisa Berglund, 2015)
How can such a powerful girl be so unbelievably sweet? Our Sweet Callie! Born 6-21-2007…adopted from PNW Border Collie Rescue 1-30-2009. She’s a firecracker in the agility ring, an intense herding dog and a reliable truffle hunter. She loves the game and always plays with all her heart. Magnificent Callie!
(Photo by Lisa Kaufman, 2015)
Kristin fell in love with truffles on an Italian vacation in the summer of 2010. She joked about needing truffle dogs until, in random internet search, she discovered that they grow right where she lives…the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She took the initiative to learn about truffles and work with a an instructor who had extensive search & rescue/ scent detection experience. Her love of dog training and truffles came together and their grand adventure began. What started as a self-propelled new hobby to give her active dogs some work has turned into something she never imagined.
(Photo by Lisa Kaufman, 2015)