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Life’s Little Detours: Making Outrageously Tasty Lemonade

Posted on 07/22/13 71 Comments
Picture of my dogs and I from Canada Cup

According to my booking calendar (planned more than a year ago) I should be in Germany right now. I had made my decision at that time, that I would not be applying to Canada’s FCI team to travel to South Africa in 2013 . . . I just could not put my dog through that much travel. So rather than the World Cup, I decided, for the first time ever, that I would compete at the European Open in Belgium in 2013.

Once that decision was made it was easy to accept an invitation to teach for four days in Germany just before the EO. What fun I thought, meeting up with many of my on-line students that I have never had the pleasure of teaching in person. That was my plan.

I worked hard to make sure Feature and I where working well together with the new handling that I have been rolling out over the past 9 months. I worked hard at my own level of fitness so I could be at my best for my dogs in the ring in 2013.

WAO in Spain back in May showed me, all was on track. I felt great running Feature and she responded beautifully by having the fastest time in 5 of the 7 individual classes we ran in Spain. Life was great!

However Sunday evening in Spain I was short of breath with a persistent cough, to me it was like asthma (which I had as a teenager, but not since). I thought perhaps the dust during the medal celebrations was tickling my lungs. To make a long story short here it is more than two months since Spain and my lungs are not 100%.

Three weeks ago I ran at “Canada Cup.” That was to be my “test event” to see if I was ready to travel to Europe.  Because we ran the first two days inside on the dirt surface, I thought it best for me to run with a dust mask helping to protect my lungs.

Here is one of my favorite runs of the weekend, with my 13 1/2 year old “DeCaff.” I haven’t aired this video in public before because I didn’t want to have to explain me  running with a mask on. However I love this clip and want to share it with you now.

DeCaff and I had no practice prior to this event, it is the first time we have run together in almost 5 years but look how much fun we both had!

Swagger at Canada Cup

The day after Canada Cup I knew I had to cancel my trip to Europe. My health had taken a giant step backwards and I was once again coughing as violently as I had done after Spain. I allowed myself to be depressed for a couple of days (had a pity party featuring many forms of vegan chocolate) . . . but I got over it quickly and today I am thinking positive thoughts for a complete and full recovery. My doctors are still unsure what my issue is, but suggested I do things that allow my body to heal rather than continue to stress it. Hence the cancelation of my trip to Europe.

Today, I am happy to report that I have mostly good days. I am able to practice running agility with my dogs at home without coughing regardless of the heat or humidity outside. I am able to get back into light workouts. This past weekend I entered a local trial (15 minutes from my home), which was indoors on artificial turf. Day one I had zero incidents of coughing and day two only minimal bouts first thing in the morning. People who have seen me throughout this ordeal over the past couple of months are telling me I look much better . . . that is encouraging:).

Next week I will get on a plane for a short flight to Calgary, flying one way only (we will drive back home). Again “trying” out things that previously triggered problems for my lungs . . . but doing these things in small doses to allow myself to recover if needed. I will compete at the Canadian Nationals next month (which gratefully for me is all outside on grass).

I am unsure how and when I will test my breathing back running on dirt, possibly after Nationals I will travel to my friend Adrian’s indoor facility to once again, give myself a “small exposure” to see how my body deals with the challenge.

You know I am an extremely healthy person. I go to great lengths to eat a very heathy diet and live a healthy lifestyle. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink. I rarely eat at restaurants, I don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs, I don’t drink soft drinks or eat gluten . . . crap I haven’t even used a microwave in over ten years. But here is the thing; some times stuff just happens. I look for the good in all that disappoints me in life and I know that having three unplanned weeks at home is just the start of all of the good this situation will bring. You know the old saying “When life hands you lemons . . .” Well I am here at home making lemonade . . . and I just know it is going to turn out tasting amazing!

I wrote this blog because I am getting more and more questions about my health. As much as I hate to admit . . . I am human and vulnerable. I felt it was time I spoke up publicly and let you all know that none of us can predict the turns that life holds for us. We can’t control the road blocks but we can control our attitude towards them. It isn’t the struggles that defeat us, it is our outlook towards them. Don’t ever give your road blocks power over your life . . . they don’t deserve it. You notice in this blog I am writing very little about my illness and more about my recovery and joy. Don’t re-live the pain of your of your struggles by talking about them over and over . . . share the joy in your detours and the excitement of where they will take you.

My doctors and I have come to an agreement to re-run the battery of tests they gave me  in May once again in September. Until then I will be enjoying my unexpected time at home and working towards the vision I hold of coming back stronger than ever!

Today I am grateful for good health . . . something we all tend to take for granted . . . it is just too easy.  Here is my wish going out to all of you reading this for an abundance of good health in your own life!


  1. Jackie says:
    Monday, August 12, 2013 at 3:18pm

    Susan, thank you for sharing. And oh my! 13.5 yrs DeCaf! Bravo! She is a kick! Faster than a speeding bullet! She obviously loved her special private time with you, and you with her!

    She must be thrilled to have you home so long.

    I must have read this today because I am recognizing and beginning to accept that I will be unable to attend the Peep Retreat. It has been difficult to accept but I am looking at what else this may mean.

    Again, thank you. Like you, we are vegan, don’t drink soda, eat pretty healthy, etc., but arthritis is moving in anyway. At first it was depressing me but now I am simply looking for ways to move forward despite it. HA! Nice of you to share. I think most people would not. You must realize we on your blog and in your courses care very much about you.


  2. Susan Robinson says:
    Monday, August 12, 2013 at 12:10pm

    I experienced what I called “agility lung” after running in several consecutive trials on dirt in horse arenas. Initially, there was a thought that it was pneumonia; however, my lungs were clear. An inhaler seemed to help, as well as a round of Zithromax. The coughing decreased, but came back and with increasing frequency the severity of coughing made it difficult to teach my graduate physical therapy students. One of those students told me that she had a similar cough and found out that it was caused by GERD. She was given a two week course of Prilosec (omeprazole) and instructed to try to resist the urge to cough. After following this treatment regime, my chronic cough also resolved. Apparently, acid reflux (even without typical stomach related symptoms) is the third most common cause of a chronic cough. Perhaps something to investigate if your cough continues…
    Best wishes!


  3. Dawn says:
    Sunday, August 11, 2013 at 6:03pm

    HI Susan

    Sorry to hear you have been ill, I wondeered why I had not had any emails for a while, Glad you are on the mend, sending positive thoughts.


  4. diane dargay says:
    Saturday, August 10, 2013 at 7:04pm

    I know doctors do a battery of tests especially if they cannot find the cause. Have they requested a 4 day poop test? Just like you do for your dogs, it shows things that bloodwork does not. You may have somewhere contracted a parasite. At 15 mos old, my friend’s baby had 2 parasites and the dr could not find a cause. Hope it was just you overdoing and needed a well deserved rest. Thanks for all you have contributed to the agility world and feel better.


  5. jan says:
    Saturday, August 10, 2013 at 9:20am

    You are an inspiration to me. I am always learning, growing and gaining new skills because of your generous goal to share with others. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Jan Blue


  6. Louise Ciarleglio says:
    Saturday, August 10, 2013 at 8:48am

    Susan, I loved your class when you taught here in AZ. I just wondered if you were checked for Valley Fever? It often affects those that are new here, it comes from spores in the soil. Just a thought if you are still tracking down what caused this. My little Minx schipperke had it as well, luckily she is now stable and off all of the meds. Good luck and best wishes! Louise C


  7. Vineta says:
    Friday, August 9, 2013 at 1:00pm

    What a wonderful spirit you have! Positive thoughts coming your way for continued improvement and healing!


  8. c.w.groen says:
    Friday, August 9, 2013 at 12:33pm

    Vervelende toestanden zeg, maar het gaat al weer wat beter. Misschien dat de doktoeren snel kunnen vinden wat het probleem is. Greetings.


  9. Sharon says:
    Friday, August 9, 2013 at 11:04am

    Onward and upwards Susan, was fortunate enough to see you in Leduc last weekend for the Nationals you looked GREAT!! We never know what life is going to give despite our best efforts. Look after yourself. Wishes for the all the best!


  10. Kristine Kubota says:
    Friday, August 9, 2013 at 10:27am

    Susan, we don’t really know each other but I wish you the best recovery. I always enjoy watching you run your dogs and learn from you each and every time. The most important focus is your health. Get better soon.


  11. Beth says:
    Friday, August 9, 2013 at 9:41am

    As always, loved your openness and videos. My husband had the same thing. He coughed almost 6 months straight and constantly. The many doctors diagnosed a perfect storm of allergies, asthma, and acid reflux. He must do a netti pot everyday, along with an inhaler, and antacid like dexalont. I think he also takes an allergy medication, but, thank God, he is now cough free. Wishing you the best with your recovery.


  12. Jeannie K. Swinemar says:
    Friday, August 9, 2013 at 8:40am

    absolutely an inspiring video. As someone just starting out at 58 years old what can I say Decaff looked beyond happy.
    Positive thoughts and well wishes you get some answers and get better.

    Jeannie in Nova Scotia


  13. Kathy Lowe says:
    Friday, August 9, 2013 at 5:59am

    Hi Susan, So sorry you have been so ill. I hope you get back to good health soon. You have been an inspiration to me training my dogs I have been reading your blog for a number of years.
    Good luck and keep focusing on the positive. I look forward to reading more of your blogs in the future.
    Best wishes
    Kathy in the UK


  14. Cecilija says:
    Friday, August 9, 2013 at 4:13am

    All the best for the grates teacher in the world. I really hope we will se you in Europe next Year. Meantime perhaps Luis L Hay is reccomended. It comes to me, that our dear Sussan forgot about living for herself too?
    I hope you will be 100% soon.
    Worm Hugs


  15. Sarschips says:
    Friday, August 9, 2013 at 2:14am

    As usual, you inspire us. My prayers flow your way to good health. Remember to test for TICK diseases. Your dogs had it, but you can too!

    I’ll be watching for your return to full health. Warm hugs


  16. Nikki Misak says:
    Friday, August 9, 2013 at 12:01am

    We will learn through your example. Thank you for being a good teacher, leader, lover of dogs and people. We know that you will come out on top and be stronger than ever. Gods love.


  17. Denise says:
    Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 10:31pm


    Thank you for sharing what’s happening “behind the scenes” – and please accept my best wishes for a full recovery of your health. I found the story of your journey with Encore to be encouraging and inspirational, and this is yet another one of life’s reminders that there will always be things beyond our control. I think it shows courage, grace and commitment to understand this, and perhaps it’s also part of growing wise because it teaches us to persevere, be patient and empathize more deeply with others. Thank you!

    Denise & Kaylee


  18. Lili Dawidowicz says:
    Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 10:18pm




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