January 2023 – Update

The end of 2022 brought with it a lot of relatively BIG changes for me and mine.
After trying to find a place to move to for the last 18 months, Dennis Martinez , the dogs and I ended up leaving our Palm Bay home at the end of November in our trailer and saying goodbye to 5 wonderful years of growth and amazing memories. Rents and property prices in FL have become astronomical, so we currently don’t know what will be our solution (ideas always welcome). We held on for as long as we could, but another year would have been impossible. For now, we have a travel trailer so we will travel

I can’t thank Dennis (my love and my ROCK), or my twin sister Sharon Gutierrez and her husband Rafael Quiñones enough for all their late night discussions and planning, their listening to me cry and vent when the anxiety of not having a solution proved to be too much for me to keep in, and of course for all their help and support with our move all while dealing with their own struggles and things back home. We literally couldn’t have made it all happen without you and you know we love and appreciate you and all you do for us! All our family has been amazingly supportive in whatever way they can from the island and in keeping the smiles coming and helping us face this Travel Life adventure

Some of my students were witness to some of my stress, as well, and I cant thank them enough. You know who you are and please know I am incredibly grateful for your willingness to listen, your patience and your support! I am not exaggerating when I say that your laughs and your trust in me kept me going and that I learn as much (if not more!!!) from you and with you, as I teach. Thank you for sharing your wonderful dogs with me whether it was in privates, weekly lessons, or a one time seminar. I appreciate you all!

And with the family you are born into, comes the family you adopt, in the way of friends. So many friends and students have reached out and helped offer solutions, we feel so lucky to have so many in our corner. Most notably, Annette Alfonso and Kat Brown who took us in for the Holidays and have provided us a place to land for now that always feels like home and that my dogs (and us) consider paradise Annette and I have had an intensely full year working together for EO Team USA and co-teaching some seminars, making some amazing memories together! Through our travels and adventures, Kat and Dennis always hold down the fort and often make us laugh while away and give us peace that someone is home putting out fires Annette has listened to my troubles and fears and offered a net to give us some breathing room, and Dennis and I are very grateful for that. Being a “Squatter” is never easy for anyone involved, so we don’t take it for granted and appreciate it immensely!!!! It certainly made the Holidays sooooo fun and I don’t think I have been this relaxed in a long time!

While all this was going on, I came across a message announcing that AKC was accepting applications for a new Agility Field Rep. I did a lot of soul searching and thinking, and made some calls, and decided to put in my application. Long story short, I was hired for the position and I am incredibly excited. It brings a lot of new things: a return to a corporate work force which means my time is no longer my own. I have had my own business since 2007 so this will take some adjustment, as I do tend to map out my year pretty early and now the decisions will not be solely mine, but I have high hopes…and if my experience so far is any indication, I seem to be working with a great company, some wonderful people and a well structured team Carrie Elks DeYoung and all the Reps have been super patient and supportive of me as a newbie, and I am slowly but surely learning the ropes of this new role. I am truly grateful for this opportunity, feel honored for their trust in me, and am really looking forward to the new adventure! While I have enjoyed my time as an agility judge and dog trainer (ups and downs and all in between) and will likely miss it a lot, I feel so much passion for this sport, and always hope to be part of its growth in our country. They say change should come from within, and so I am excited to have another way to make a living and career in this sport I love, while working for a company that plays such an integral part in its growth. So I really look forward to continue to connect with agility people this year, even if it is in a slightly different context! EOTT was my first assignment and I wore so many hats my head felt like it was spinning, but I loved every second of it!!!! Getting to run Kyber and Rebel as White Dogs was one of the goals for 2022 and it did not dissappoint! While we werent very successful (lets face it, we were in over our heads and I could barely concentrate!), I do hope qe were somewhat helpful to the teams watching us run. We did a lot of demoing what could go wrong! Lol! The event is just so charged and fun, and to once again be part of this outstanding EO Team is truly an honor. Thank you, Ann Braue , Annette and Carrie for inviting me again to be Assitant Coach. I really cant wait to work with our Team Members and to experience this event! Denmark here we come!!

Tryouts was quickly followed by my second assignment: the AKC Agility Invitational. While I have been a competitor and spectator at this event many times, it really was another world getting to experience it from the “backstage” so to speak. I got better acquainted with so many of the people that make these events run like well-oiled machines, who smooth the rough edges and deal with the personalities involved. And let me say, IT WAS SO FUN!!!!!!! The hours were long, and no one got a full night sleep while we were here, but it’s amazing how everyone knows their part and seeing them all in action: INSPIRING but boy do I have big shoes to fill! So happy to see wveryone that took a moment from their day to come say hello! I wish I had more time to chat with all of you but just saying hello kept a smile on my face all day!

So with all these changes in mind, Dennis and I had planned to spend New Year’s at Rising Star Canine Ranch’s inaugural UKI Agility Trial! Because the next three months are a bit intense and I am not sure when I will be able to trial again, I chose to enter three dogs in more classes than usual and take advantage of this beautiful new facility doing what we all love best: training and playing in the ring. My dogs absolutely loved Melissa Tiedemann’s “playland”, and we know her vision will continue to make it even more of a dream location for agility events. We look forward to returning soon!

I ran 41 runs with my own dogs this weekend on Rosanne Wesemann’s wonderful courses, 5 more with borrowed dogs (Taco, Veggie and Medley), and lost count of how many courses I actually built…oh and sat in the car and worked on my computer any minute I could, to work on courses due, clean up emails and try to make some headway on my schedule since I am traveling to Mississipi and Texas in the next two weeks Thank goodness for a judge that appreciates the wonders of nesting while still having some fun, flowy and creative course design! Still, it was a bit overwhelming at times, but knowing you all have my back made it totally doable! I am exhausted, LOL, but greeting 2023 with a heart full of hope and a brain full of ideas and possibilities. In answer to everyone’s favorite question “where are you moving to?”, while I am not sure yet where we will land, we are all healthy, together and enjoying your love and support and that is what matters most!!!!