Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Brockle Grows Up.

I was given a surprise hour of freedom yesterday.

There wasn't enough time to run errands, besides, the dogs were with me and it was too hot for them to wait in the car.

Instead, I took my unplanned gift and stopped at a city park, thick with shade trees and quiet. I leashed up Charlie and Brockle, grabbed my bag and headed for the trail along Fountain Creek. It's narrow and rutted, and weaves in and out of the thick willows and gnarled cotton woods that hold the creek.  The trail is not officially part of the park, it's a highway for urban wildlife, an efficient cross-city path for those who prefer to travel on foot and out of the cities eye, and a great unofficial off-leash area.

We settled on a sunny bank dotted with boulders. I gathered a small pile of sticks, found a comfortable perch and pulled my Kindle out of my bag. I was lost in my latest read, throwing sticks out into the current for Brockle, keeping half an eye on Charlie as he hunted through the rocks, and still just about wiggling in the delight of the day. Talk about your multi-tasking.

The dogs were in high spirits. Brockle would abandon his stick to the current and jump on Charlie, teasing him into a rage. Charlie would snarl, go for his throat and within seconds, they were rolling around in the shallow water, putting on a dog reenactment of a battle to the death.

Charlie tried to stay properly outraged, but once they broke apart and stood panting in the cool water, he couldn't hide his grin.

The dogs and I looked north at the exact same moment. Two men were approaching. They had the unsteady gait of the drunk or high, and the wind-burned, dusty look of our local homeless. I called the dogs and leashed them, then calculated the steep embankment between me and the jogging path above me. I figured a surge of adrenalin would could me get up there if needed and relaxed.

They picked up their pace as they drew close. There was no communication between them  that I could see, but they moved with a sudden fluidity and purpose. There is a look that men on the hunt share, a certain stillness, a mutual gleam of mischief and excitement.

They had zeroed in on my bag. I knew better. Normally, I never bring it with me when I'm out walking. But I had needed my phone, my Kindle, my water bottle and treats for the dogs. I had set aside my own rule of never carrying something worth stealing when I was out on the trail and here we were.  Son of a bitch.

I stood and got ready to run.

Before I had slung the offending bag over my shoulder Brockle stepped in front of me. I barely had time to get my feet planted before he hit the end of the leash. He barked once at the men and when they kept coming he strained against the leash and cut loose with a volley of deep, cadenced barks. There was no yelping, no high pitched yaps, just a booming bass of serious warning while he lunged across the arc created by my restraint.

Charlie joined in, all twenty pounds of him ready to take those bastards on.

"Good dog, Brockle, good dog."

I could feel his tension through the leash and see strings of slobber slinging from his jaws. I would have loved to see his face, it must have been awesome, because the men turned in unison and bolted back the way they came.

 Brockle watched  until they were a hundred yards away, then snorted, peed and kicked up a small dust storm  with his hind feet.

I settled him with a few obedience reps and then threw a stick in the water. He ran to it, picked it up and faced the direction the men had gone. His eyes were sharp and I could hear him growling. The stick fell into the water and escaped downstream.

On the way back to the car Brockle stayed close, his shoulder at my thigh, and touched my hand with his nose every few feet.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Dog in Trouble

Great female German Shepherd in a bad spot! Family dog, personal protection training. 8 years old, Czech bred, exquisite bloodlines, no health issues. Good with kids, male dogs. Free to an experienced home. She's located in Colorado Springs. 
Email me at for contact info.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Writing, Grammar, Spelling or I Can't Believe You Wore Those Pants

Just have to clear this one up. Then, I can just refer readers to this post as needed.

When I started Mugwump Chronicles I wanted to share some stories, think through training issues, and gripe.

I hoped for an audience, because I wanted to know if I wrote well enough to earn one.

Being the needy soul I can be, I hoped for affirmation that my secret desire to write was more than a pipe dream.

I got those things and thank you for that.

For me, the blog became a place to go and just...write.

After a while it became a place to share with others. Ideas, stories, thought, dreams, and I just loved it. I received emails with great stories and started posting some. More often than not, the writer would say, "Please clean this up for me," or, "I know this isn't very good, but..."

It made me nuts. Some of the best stories I read were written by people with vast experience, amazing tales and often, little to no education. Their voice, clear and beautiful, still came through the errors, often the "mistakes" gave their writing a tender awkwardness, a local flavor, a taste of a different world. They wouldn't let me share them because of their fear of ridicule.

Then, I fell into writing the Fugly Blog and some of the nastiest bitches the trolls. 
We'll skip the bits trashing my daughter, my choice of riding discipline, and my love of a breed that is notoriously built down hill.They went crazy on my awkward sentences, spelling errors, structure, you name it. It soon became clear, there is a world out there that equates getting A's in 8th grade Composition with knowledge about horses.

I quit writing the blog because I hated those people. They made me feel insecure and sad. They weren't worth my time.

I worked on my writing constantly. I had journalism technique shoved down my throat at a fast and furious pace by my extremely patient editor at the paper. I studied, went to workshops, talked to journalists, columnists and so forth. 

I met other writers, some good, some bad, some boring. I learned that writers can be mean, jealous, petty and crazy stalkers. They can also be lovely, funny, and generous when sharing their knowledge.

I threw myself on the mercy of teachers to help me learn the pieces I had daydreamed through in school. I read blogs, books, teachers reference books and books about writing. I kept my personal education off this blog, because it's about dogs and horses.

I found out the best writers to come out of the school system are children who are allowed to write, to express themselves and tell their stories without correction on spelling or grammar. When those very important parts of writing are treated as a separate education, creativity flows and the writer learns, with time, to blend them together.

I read blogs and other social media where people go to ridiculous lengths to ridicule writing mistakes. There are web sites, FB pages, blogs and who knows what else, dedicated to mocking people trying to communicate.  

My automatic response is, WTH is wrong with you? Shut up and let me listen, read, write, share, explain. 

I made Mugwump Chronicles a safe place to visit. Tell me your story, your idea, your experiences and don't be afraid of being criticized for your ability to write. 

To me, this is the same as mocking a stutterer, or a heavy accent, or grownup with a second grade education. I hope if your Grandma heard you behaving that way she would slap the shit out of you. 

Currently, I still work hard on improving my writing. I think I'm getting better, but my education comes from outside this blog, from people, events and places I've researched and am comfortable with. Places about learning the art of writing. This blog is where I think and talk.

When I write here, or post other writers, I'm always excited to check the comments and see where they go. When a comment starts with an edit for grammar, spelling or structure it makes me feel exactly like the nerdy who kid finally got invited to the cool kids party. The kid who spent hours trying to dress just so, then walked into the party, shaking, terrified but still filled with hope, and is immediately laughed at for the hay in her hair an the horse manure stench emanating from her shoes.
I think there are many others who feel the same.

Read the blog, read each other, disagree, agree and share. Or don't. It's up to you. But let this be a safe haven to write in. I already told you guys to call me out when I need to go throw rocks. Now I'm going to insist on this one. Let the stories flow and leave the grammar alone. 

It's just a blog for goodness sake.

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