The friend I got my dog from has a big party every year at her farm in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. For three days people roll in from all over the country with their families and Eichenluft puppies (or just E-pups, as we call them) in tow.
Some stay in local hotels, some at RV camps some camp out at Molly's house. Wherever we go at night, during the hours of 7am and 10pm we are at her place, doing every dog related activity you can imagine. Herding instinct tests, Agility, Canine Good Citizen Testing, Therapy Dog Testing, Search and Rescue demonstrations, Advanced AKC Obedience Demonstrations, and of course my sport, Schutzhund. Molly opens her pool, and we take frequent swim breaks, dogs and people. Yes, in the same pool. Get over it.
A couple of the husbands man the grill for one giant meal a day - hot dogs, burgers, brats, bbq chicken, bbq pork, you name it. We supply the side dishes, water, soda, beer, champagne (yay!) and the obligatory GIANT cake.
It's three days of the best kind of dog party I've ever attended.
Last year, I let my inner hermit talk me out of going. As extroverted as I am with people who know me, drop me into a crowd of people I don't know, and I become the stereotypical wallflower. I won't do much, eat much or even just talk much. I usually am miserable and leave miserable wondering why I went in the first place. I've been that way as long as I can remember.
This year, I almost talked myself out of going because of the ever tightening grip gas prices has on my wallet, and I was sad. I actually wanted to go. I wanted Molly to see this dog she's trusted me with, but the pile of stuff that was going all pear-shaped in my life was getting bigger and the stuff that was going right, was rapidly shrinking. I wanted a get away. Well, really, I wanted to runaway, but thought "a getaway" would do.
At the last minute, a generous friend made it impossible to say no, and so Friday morning, I packed up and headed north. Traveling through Northern Virginia was strange, the area I grew up in and spent most of my life in, has now become simply a place I have to drive through to get where I want to be. Weird. Very Weird.
I got there mid-afternoon, just in time for a lunch I turned down. The wallflower was on display.
She stuck around right until Saturday morning. When I got there on Saturday morning the kitchen was humming, coffee, bacon, eggs, and just the few people that stay at Molly's were around. Molly mentioned needing to get to work - I offered to help - and she offered to let me muck stalls. This may not sound great to you - I understand that, but I am good at plain physical labor - it's easy, and I get to be near the horses, and people, I'm good at being with animals. So I mucked and I brought the horses in and fed them. I got to rub them and touch the foals soft little nose before he ran away and hid behind his mom. Payment received.
When I finished, the sheep herding guy had arrived, and I watched while he brought dog after dog out and 'showed them the ropes' it was fun watching how dogs reacted to the sheep and the sheep to the different dogs. I got a turn and Mojo did well, he was a little insecure, as you can see in the picture below, he took the challenge that wether offered him, but his hackles are up, he wasn't all that confident. He hung in there though, and I know if we do it again, he'll be much stronger.
The day was so full of events, and activities that the pool was looking very good to me, and I knew it had to be to Mojo. So we climbed the hill and I started trying to get him to swim. The dog will do just about anything for a ball, so in the pool the balls went. He circled and whined and carried on, and then I got in, fully clothed and then HE got in., and the fun began. People were outside the pool taking pictures, talking to me, laughing at Mojo and I. I took a break on the steps, waist deep in water, sunglasses perched on the top of my head. I was happy there, watching my dog swim in circles, chasing the ball, discovering the water jets. I was happy and the wallflower was fading, and then out of the blue........SHOVE... and into the water I went, arse over teakettle, sunglasses in the deep end. The 17 year old son of one of the party attendees thought I needed to go ALLLL the way in, so in I went. For just a second, just as long as I was under water, the wallflower was embarassed, horrified even, wondering what people were going to think. Then I surfaced. And just like that, I got the hell over it. In those minutes laughing with those that saw what happened, trying to find my sunglasses in the pool, I let it all go. I wasn't worried about what my hair would look like, or if I had make up running down my face, or if people were still going to like me.
They DID like me.
So did I.
Why has it taken me almost 40 years to get here? Why has it taken me this long to realize that in order to have fun, you have to take part in the fun?
I would have been more frustrated by this and analyzed it to death, but it just would have taken up too much of the precious time left I had at the party.
The wallflower, she is dead.
I had a great time the rest of the weekend and was sorry to see it end. I helped pick up water bottles and fold chairs and put away canopies just to hang out with those people a little longer.
I can't wait til next year.