Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meet the Turner's

The Turner’s Est. July 21, 2012
 It was a marvelous springtime with flowers galore. 
When Lauren met Michael right outside her door. 
Building 26 altered lives for these two. 
It is where their love story began and also where it grew. 
On a fine, memorable September day, 
History for these two folks was finally made. 
For outside the place where they first met, 
Michael’s proposal was thoughtfully set. 
With love, devotion, and trust in God,
 A groom will kiss his bride, in which all will applaud.  
July twenty-first, two-thousand-and-twelve. 
A date to remember that will surely be swell!

(Beautifully written by Brittnie Partin)

 The proposal took place at their old apartments where they first met, with Charlie carrying the ring around his neck and a friend of Michael's snapping pictures of the event.

Sometimes love comes along when we least expect it. For Lauren it came at a time when she was doing some serious soul searching and trying to focus on her spiritual life and relationship with God.

Michael was her neighbor. Their apartments were both at the end of their building, so their doors were on opposite sides of the building but their apt. walls were back to back to one another and they were technically neighbors. 

They both had dogs, but Charlie was staying with us at the time because she was working long days in school. According to Michael, he had seen Lauren with Charlie before and was determined to meet her.

So, one day when they were both outside he let go of his dog, Dixie, and she headed towards Lauren. Lauren immediately started petting Dixie and within a few minutes there was some conversation between her and Michael. I remember getting a photo text that night of Dixie and Lauren telling me  that she was dog sitting for her neighbor while he worked a night shift.

Over the next week or so there were a few calls between us when she mentioned she was grilling with her neighbor. When I asked if there was more to this neighbor than just a neighbor, she said no, he was cute and nice but too young and too short for her. (That has since become an inside joke) He's taller than Lauren, and she just meant too short for her typical standards of always dating much taller guys. As far as his age and him being almost two years younger, well, that was a first for her and she was really letting the age thing get to her.  So, I was told that she thought he might have a little crush on her but that she'd made it very clear that she was working on her spiritual self and not interested in getting involved with anyone. So, they continued their neighborly BBQ gatherings for a while. I went for a visit one weekend and met "the neighbor". I thought he was very nice, very handsome and that he definitely had a crush on Lauren, but she insisted that they were just friends for all of the reasons above. 

Shortly after my visit, it seemed that they were spending more time together but I was still being told it was just a neighborly friendship. That all changed one night when they went with some friends to Lake Travis and stayed up all night sitting on the pier by the water talking, for I want to say like 10 or 12 hours just really getting to know each other. It seemed to be the turning point for these two and when they both realized they had feelings for the other.

Michael was easy to like from the beginning and hit it off immediately with our family. He also became the brother that Caden never had and just fit in like a glove.

After Lauren graduated from Texas A&M she moved back home to live while she looked for a job. Michael followed shortly after her. He's from Georgetown but wanted to be near Lauren. The demand for jobs in his field were pretty good in our area and so he quickly landed one nearby.

 He'd started looking at apartments but it wasn't long before he asked Les for Lauren's hand in marriage. Of course, we were both thrilled because the love between these two was undeniable and we had no doubt that they belonged together. So, after the proposal we decided that both Lauren and Michael should just live here to save money. 

So, we had a house full, which included the two of them and all of their college crap for almost a year before they closed on their new house shortly before the wedding.  

Let me introduce you to the neighbors.

They live two doors down from us and we laugh about it all the time. The house wasn't even officially on the market but the neighbors who live next door knew it was going to be and started pushing them to look at it and once they did and liked it, they wrote a long list of pros and cons to living so close to us. Well, they love knowing all of the neighbors and feeling safe, they got a great deal, it's close (walking distance for Lauren) to their jobs and just offered a lot of good reasons to say yes. It sure made for an easy move! On a side note, she is teaching third grade at her old elementary school, which is so cool!

I couldn't have been any happier than I was about the wedding but was having a hard time with the changes that came with it.  I found myself crying into my pillow the night before we were leaving for the out of town wedding and weekend festivities. It was all hitting me hard and it just felt so strange. Her name was going to change. Someone else would be responsible for making any life changing or emergency decisions on her behalf. We would no longer be her emergency contact! We would no longer be considered her "next of kin". And.....How can we be at this point already when it seems like just yesterday that she was learning to walk and talk. I know that all sounds silly, but it was a very sad and weird feeling and I was emotional the entire weekend.

I still can't look at the photos without getting choked up and teary eyed. It was an amazing and beautiful wedding with 200 of our family and friends in attendance. We had a blast! Every little detail that Lauren fretted over and worked so hard on almost solely by herself was absolutely perfect. Right down to the beautiful handmade broach bouquet that was made from a shoe box full of old broaches from my grandmother, a couple from Michael's grandmother and some pieces from my great, great aunt. It was heavy, too! Just ask Cassidy,, who had to hold it during the ceremony. 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Two Weeks Down, Ten to Go!

I started TCA 15 days ago, and oh my, what a 15 days it has been. Our days are long ones, usually starting at 7am and officially ending at 6pm. However, we’re expected to put in at least two additional hours working with our dogs each night. I think my body is still in shock. Oh, how I miss my naps!

I am enjoying being here, learning and being challenged. I have met some interesting people from all over the country. There’s Jacqui from New Hampshire with the coolest accent, Jessica from Utah, Kristy from Georgia, Jim from Fargo, Patrick from Louisiana, Shannon from D.C., the two Laura’s from New Jersey and Wisconsin as well as some fellow Texans among the group and last, but certainly not least, is my roommate, Mai (pronounced My), who is Egyptian, but came here from her home in Guatemala. There are 17 of us in all.

We started out with 18 but we lost one 7 days into it, which was a blessing for us all. I predicted that outcome, but even so, I was shocked at how quickly she dropped out. She was my other roommate, and had she returned from her overnight stay “with her aunt” in Waco last Monday, Mai and I had already decided that we had to let the school coordinator know that we couldn’t continue to live with her.

Within 15 seconds of meeting her it was obvious to all that she was loaded with issues and not someone you’d want to be around 24/7, or even 24 seconds for that matter. She provided some great material with her shocking stories and behavior during week one, but she also made studying and getting any peace and quiet in the house impossible. She accused me of going through her pockets on her coat when I was just pulling the sleeves out after finding it lying on top of the stove and was going to place it neatly on her counter space. She was a 50-year-old train wreck to put it nicely. I wish her well, but she was making life miserable for us here in the house.

I brought Jaxon and Sam with me, and was also assigned a rescue dog to train and care for. It’s a bit overwhelming to have three dogs to work with, especially with the fast pace in which we move. I’m living in a 4-bedroom mobile home on-site. I do a lot of walking to and from class and to the kennels and training center. I don’t have my vehicle. I had to leave it for the family. That has taken some getting used to but I catch rides into town with my student neighbors when I need something.

I had kennel duty last week and it nearly killed me. I was up at 5 and cleaning kennels until about 7:30 then had to start my day. We all have to rotate on kennel duty and some people got stuck with it twice but I only got it once. I’m so glad I got it over with and out of the way.

We will be going on a class field trip at some point to Sea World, where we will get to see a dolphin ejaculate on command. I guess that’s something most people can’t say that they’ve seen and I’m not sure they’d really want to. We use clicker training and dolphins have been using it for quite some time and they can actually train a dolphin to do that for reproduction purposes.

There have been plenty of funnies since I’ve been here. Let’s see. I locked myself into the kennel with my rescue dog the first day. I have since learned how to open it from the inside, but was afraid I was going to have to crawl through the doggie door and holler for help or sleep with my rescue. Luckily, Mai showed up just in time. She was upset that she didn’t have her camera.

Then there was the morning after Mai made me some of her Guatemalan tea that is a great laxative for those of us who aren’t always regular. She warned me that it takes about 12-hours to hit and so we had to drink it early or we’d be reliving the scene from Bridesmaids during class. I was out walking my rescue on this 360-acre spread when the rumbling in my tummy started. I thought I’d have time to get him back to the kennel and make it to my trailer, but ended up bringing him back to the house and barely making it to the bathroom. Then, 15-minutes after class started round two hit me and Mai said I walked very slowly and strangely to the bathroom, which made her laugh. When I sat back down I whispered, “I hate you” to her and it wasn’t because of how she said I walked out. I didn’t know that until later. Funny how I vow every morning I’ll never drink it again as I sit here sipping on a cup now. We are on an every other day regime of the Guatemalan tea.

Besides the crazy roommate stories, which I don’t have the time or energy to share in detail, I guess another funny and my biggest blonde moment thus far would be having one of my fellow students inform me yesterday that my rescue dog, Boots, was not a male dog, but a female. I thought she was joking but she said she saw his paperwork and he’d been spayed, not neutered. I rolled her over and sure enough……I’m not really sure why I thought she was a he or why I never really checked or looked closer at her paperwork. So, for the past two weeks I have been giving Boots atta-boys and telling people what a gay name Boots was for such a husky boy dog. I’m still reconditioning myself to say, “Good girl”. I guess I really need to be more observant of certain things!

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now and I’m too tired to proof this or to organize the pictures, so this post is going up as is. Mai is the one mixed in with the scenery photos and Boots is the black and white dog, and if you’re reading this then you should know which is Jack and Sam.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Destinations Unknown

Back in August I contacted the Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue and they agreed for Sam to be accepted into their rescue program, as long as we could continue to foster her until her adoption. They have paid for her vetting and care. She has finally undergone her first heartworm treatment and will finish her second and final treatment in two weeks.

It will be a difficult day for me when Sam is finally adopted and no longer living here with us. We've developed a special and unique bond and saying goodbye will not be easy. I have prayed that she will be placed with the perfect family for her and that she will be a blessing to them. I am excited for her to finally reach this place in her journey, but also dreading our goodbye. In the perfect scenario, I would like to still get to see her from time to time. Who knows, maybe I can volunteer to dog sit for her.

Sam's Bio

On another note, I am in the midst of making a life changing decision that would allow me to have a career working with dogs. I can't think of anything I would rather do, but there are so many factors to consider as I continue to explore this avenue. I must reach a decision soon. If I take the plunge, I will be leaving to attend Triple Crown Professional Dog Training Academy in Hutto, Texas on January 9th for a few months.

I have started the application process and am moving forward with my plans to attend. I'm just waiting for God to give me his final seal of approval with additional confirmation, perhaps in the form of a big flashing neon sign that either says, "Go for it. I am behind this and you will succeed" or "Not now, child, maybe one day".

Things have moved quickly and must be finalized so soon. Maybe that is contributing to my stress and uncertainty. One minute things seem to be so clear and the next minute, I don't know if this is His will or mine, and I can't afford to invest this kind of time or money without knowing that HE has my back.

I struggle with what brand of spaghetti sauce to buy at the grocery store. BIG decisions are definitely not my specialty! The sixteensisters are working overtime and obviously can't seem to reach a unanimous decision.

Deep down, this feels so right. I could do so much with the training they offer. I would have so many options besides just obedience and behavior training. I could train dogs for scent detection, search and rescue and even dogs for special needs people.

The only thing that seems to be holding me back is the fear of putting my family in financial strain if my employment goals aren't met in a timely manner. If we don't take chances, how do we know if we will succeed?

Looks like Sam and I have something in common. We both have destinations unknown.

To go or not to go?

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Am Sam. Sam I Am.

They call me Sam. It’s short for Samantha. I haven’t had that name for very long but that’s what my foster family decided to name me. I like it and know they’re talking to me when they call me now. I came to live with my foster family on Good Friday (April 21, 2011). That was a rough day for me, but looking back on it now, things worked out much better than I thought they were going to when I woke up to some man (my foster dad) trying to capture me with a rabies pole around my neck. I didn’t know it at the time but my foster mom and dad played a trick on me. The pills they put into those hot dogs I inhaled actually had a dog sedative in them and they made me very sleepy. The hot dogs didn’t fill me up so I started to cross back under the freeway to go look for some more food but I ended up passing out underneath the bridge near my old home.

I used to live at the very busy intersection of Highway 90 & Beltway 8 in east Houston. There was lots of traffic in the area but I had been living there on my own for quite some time. The homeless man who sometimes slept under the bridge near my former home told my foster dad that I had been there since at least January when he first started using my bridge, but that I had never let myself get too close to him or anyone else for that matter. I was terrified of people and if anyone tried to approach me I would take off light a bolt of lightning. I was fast and no one could catch me. I was street smart and very familiar with the four corners of the world I lived in. I even knew that it was safer for me to come out at night to search for my dinner. I slept in the drainage ditch during the day so that no one could see me or bother me. I was even smart enough to walk down to the red light before I crossed the busy road, and even waited for the lights to change. I was a creature of habit and had a daily (well, nightly routine). I lived off the trash that people threw out, or sometimes food that good Samaritans would leave me. No one knows how I ended up there but it was the only life I knew, and I trusted no one.

When my foster mom found out about me after a nice lady posted about me on craigslist, she drove out to see if she could spot me and was hoping that I’d hop up into her truck after she offered me some food. Ha! She was sadly mistaken. When I saw her approaching me I took off running and at one point she was afraid she’d caused me to get hit by a car, but I didn’t. I ran off and hid from her in the brush along one side of the road until she finally gave up and left. Luckily for me she still felt sorry for me even after I dodged her and she left some food and water out for me.

Over the next two weeks she came and left me food and water and made several attempts to try to catch me but I was just too smart for her. Whenever I would see her truck pulling up into my “triangle” that I liked to lounge around in, I would take off to the other side of the bridge and wait for her to get the hint and leave.

One night she came looking for me late at night with some guy and he chased me around with a flash light but I outsmarted him. She actually thought that he could catch me! Then another night she put some food out for me but it smelled really bad because she put something in it to make me sleepy but I smelled it and wouldn’t touch the food. She brought a friend with her and they sat parked under the bridge in her truck for like five hours waiting on me to eat that stinky food. I was beginning to think she was stalking me and just wished she would leave me alone. I did appreciate the food I had learned to count on every evening, but she just wasn’t getting the hint that I didn’t like people and she wasn’t going to get close to me.

Then one night she brought my foster dad out with her to try to catch me, and again, I smelled that stinky food and wouldn’t touch it. They sat for hours in lawn chairs in the back of their truck watching me with binoculars. I laid down in my special spot by the food (they thought I ate it!) and my foster dad managed to get pretty close to me before I heard him but I darted as soon as I saw him. There was no catching me.

My foster mom says she saw something special in me the first time she saw me and her OCD (whatever that is) kicked in and she couldn’t quit thinking about me out there all alone, skinny, living among all those cars and big trucks whizzing past me. Her friends and family thought she was crazy and thought she was going to get mugged by the homeless man or hit by a car if she kept coming out there to feed and try to catch me.

My foster mom called her vet (who is also her cousin) for advice on using sedatives to catch me and he told her he would give her pills instead of the liquid stuff and that’s how she ended up tricking me. I smelled those hot dogs and had no idea there were pills stuffed inside of them. Sigh!

Her cousin was concerned about me biting anyone who tried to catch me so he loaned them a rabies pole, just like dog catchers use, and that’s how my foster dad was able to catch me. I ended up passing out and was in a pretty deep sleep when he snuck up on me, but when I felt him trying to slip the noose of the pole under my snout I woke up, flailing and fighting! It was traumatic for me, and especially for my foster dad. He had to fight with me because I totally panicked and immediately started attacking the pole that he still managed to get over my neck just as I started flailing and we had a pretty good little battle and kicked up quite a bit of dust before I became totally submissive and just froze. My foster mom rushed over with the truck and the kennel that I struggled to keep from being put into. I was barking and biting at the wire cage, but I was only scared. I wasn’t trying to hurt them. I was still pretty groggy and terrified. My foster dad is a police officer and he told my foster mom that the struggle he just had with me was one of the scariest things he had ever experienced and that he would rather fight with a bad person than to struggle with a dog like he just had. I heard him say he had a new respect for dog catchers. Apparently, when I suddenly woke up fighting for my life it scared him pretty bad! He said he almost let go of the pole but he knew I would run out into traffic dragging a pole around my neck so he held on. I didn’t fight for long before I froze, but it was an intense struggle.

I finally got a closer look at the crazy lady who had been stalking me. She was smiling and hugging him and thanking him over and over for catching me. I just laid there in the kennel, still groggy, wondering how I’d been duped and where they were taking me. I was terrified but had no way out. I just knew whatever I was in store for couldn’t be good.