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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!