Sunday, June 26, 2011

The All Time Best Anniversary Present

Tim and I were married 7 years ago today in Wilton, NH. It was a gorgeous day and a glorious party with lots of laughter and dancing. We were married in a tiny chapel on the grounds of my high school. (There's a great story in that alone.) It was a small ceremony attended by fewer than 80 people.

Photo by Robert Scott Button
After Tim and I had a few more photos taken, the photographer drove to the reception so he could set up to take photos of our arrival. Tim and I strolled across the grass, blissful as only newlyweds can be, to the front of the school. There was no one there.  Everyone had left and we had each been driven to the chapel by different people. We had no car. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. Hitchhiking shouldn't be too hard, since we looked so honest in our wedding finery. Thankfully, there was another stroller that day. My oldest brother Michael was savoring the morning air as well and saved us from having to hitchhike.

Most anniversaries, we've shared a gift for the household (not very romantic, but it works for us). This year, we did it a little differently. He got a brand new shiny MacBook to replace his arthritic, gasping, fainting laptop. I got a trip to the mountains with two of our four-footed children to attend a dog training seminar.

We (Echo, Finn and I) stayed in a tiny cabin at Cobb Creek Cabins which is a working alpaca ranch. The cabin is a converted smokehouse and truly is tiny enough that it's a good thing Echo isn't also a borzoi. The saving grace, size-wise, was the deck where we spent most of our non-seminar time. It was surrounded by hemlock and spruce trees the branches of which we could peer through in one direction to see the alpaca girls and two of this year's babies and in the other direction to see the pond and, beyond it, the alpaca boys. There were chickens and turkeys on the ranch too. Alas, there were also roosters. Roosters that couldn't tell the time of day and crowed all night long. No worries, the fan of the ancient and tiny air conditioner was kept running much of the night and effectively drowned out the feathered boys.

Finn Paw Targetting
The ranch is on a lovely piece of hilly land with a creek running through it. Walking the dogs had to be done out of sight of the alpacas, lest they think my wolfhound a wolf, so I would leave the door of the cabin, hang a right and climb a seriously steep hill to a small grassy swath where the children could sniff to find the absolute perfect site, at the perfect time of day, to deposit their poop. Here's the thing about traveling with dogs... they become, well, irregular. So, what's a Mama to do? We climbed that hill, I'm not kidding, four or five times each morning and evening. The stair stepper at the local gym has nothing on Cobb Creek Cabins for building glorious glutes!

Echo Pivoting
It really was a wonderful time at the cabins, and we'll go back some day soon because Tim is seriously miffed that he missed the alpacas, especially the 3-day old cria. Nevertheless, the best part of the weekend was Hannah Branigan's workshop on Obedience FUNdamentals at Cold Nose College. What a great opportunity to learn and grow as a dog trainer. Echo and Finn alternated time on the floor practicing the various games and exercises (Echo, living up to her name pitched a fit in her crate if Finn's turn was too long).

Finn Chin Rest
I had several epiphanies that have dramatically improved my success rate in training (and made it much more fun for all of us). All three of us came back more in tune with one another and with some great new skills that Tim is getting pretty tired of hearing me talk about. Poor guy, he really is a saint.

All in all, the best anniversary present ever. Tim feels the same way about his present. But I think mine's going to last longer.

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