Yara and I had so much fun this past weekend! [Note: Very lengthy and image-intensive post to follow. Big thanks to Patty, Tom, Raechel, and James for sharing all their photos!]
Friday night we headed off via the train to Hartford, C.T. It was a pretty relaxing ride albeit the fact that the roughly three-hour trip took us more than eight because we had to travel to NYC and transfer to another train. At Penn Station we had a bit of an issue with a bunch of unhelpful Red Caps, but we did get to meet some other Fidelco graduates during the second half of our train trip. At the Hartford station we were greeted by the familiar faces of Des and Tommy, which was a welcome treat, and then whisked off to the East Hartford Sheraton where the Graduate Dinner would later take place.
Before all that, though, I got to chat with Megan! She introduced me to a bunch of other Fidelco instructors and staff members, including Liz who was the trainer that worked with Yara. It really was fascinating getting to talk with everyone and learn about the dogs and people they’ve worked with over the years that I’ve come to know. I was glad that there ended up being so many people from Fidelco there since I wasn’t staying at the hotel I was sadly expecting that I might spend a lengthy afternoon bored out of my mind, hanging out in the lobby by myself.
Of course, one of the best parts of the evening was getting to meet Patty and Tom, Yara’s fosters! Yara noticed them almost the second they walked in the door and started getting very silly and excited. We chatted for a bit and then headed into the dining hall where dinner would be served. And not too long after that, Raechel and James arrived . . . and even more talking occurred! The dinner itself was pretty fun. The food was pretty good and I received my “diploma” (to the left) during the small graduation ceremony, which for whatever reason I had no prior knowledge of and thus found entirely embarrassing.
After the ceremony, there was a raffle in which our table won several times over. I ended up with two prizes! Not too long after the raffle finished Patty and Tom headed out and then James, Raechel and I gathered all of my things and set off for their house. Once we arrived, Yara and I got to meet all of their dogs, including their foster puppies Spock and Giselle. We let the puppies and Yara play in the kitchen for a bit, while we continued talking and talking and talking, but for the most part Yara was content to just sniff around and chew on the various bones on the floor. I think Spock was a bit too much for her, but she did play with Giselle a bit.
The next morning, Yara was ready to go at the crack of dawn, but no one else was. I finally gave in at 7:30 a.m. and let her drag me downstairs to relieve herself, where we were met by copious amounts of Dasha barking. Raechel said later she thought maybe Dasha forgot we were there because it wasn’t really in her nature to bark at people in the house. Anyway, after all the dogs and people were fed, we piled Scarlet, Spock, Otis, Yara, James, Raechel, and myself into the car and headed off to Manchester Community College. We met up with Patty and Tom almost immediately — and Megan found us as we were exploring.
We all wandered around a bit, checking out the various tents and doing the normal mingle thing and after I’d gotten my registration materials we decided to check out the foster demonstration. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones with this idea and I spent most of that time being thoroughly amused by Otis in his pack and all the attention he was getting.
Since we couldn’t really see the demonstration through the throng of people, we all decided to walk the course instead. Patty and Tom, having arrived awhile before us, had already gone through the trail, but were happy enough to join us.
It was a really pleasant walk across the campus grouns; the sun was out but most of the trail was in the shade and the entire length was paved. All the dogs were really good, too. And, not surprisingly, the “cute pug” was a very big hit amongst the people we passed and lots of people stopped us so they could take a picture. You might notice in the above photos that Otis has turned around in his carrying pack and is peering over James’ shoulder to see where we’re going. We all found that thoroughly adorable.
By the time we’d finished our walk, the tents were already being packed up and people were starting to leave. We hung around a bit, chatting with Megan and others and trying to decide what all of us would do next given we had so many dogs with us, and finally decided to go out to lunch and visit Fidelco. So we all piled back into our cars . . . and the dogs all fell asleep.
In the end, we went to Fidelco first where I got a personalized tour from the rest of the group. It was a bit impromptu since it was mostly what we passed en route to the bathroom and back. We ran into Robbie Kaman, the president and co-founder of Fidelco, who I had met the night before at the Dinner. She confirmed that Yara needs to put on a few pounds and instructed me to increase her food and give her some Provi-Tabs with her meals. After that we headed out for lunch. We left Stanley, Spock, Scarlet and Otis at Fidelco in an outdoor pavilion that had some crates in it for the trainers. It was actually kind of funny because as we were crating all the dogs they were all whining and making a fuss at being left. And when we tried to walk away, Yara didn’t want to leave and she started crying, too. I’m not sure if she just didn’t want to leave all her new friends behind or if perhaps she wanted to join them and be crated as well. It was really very cute.
Anyway, we went down the street to lunch at Three Brothers, where I received my first lesson on New England when I inquired about what exactly a “grinder” was. Turns out it’s what we New Yorkers call a “gyro” and others call “euros.” As we were ordering Robbie came in and ended up joining our group for lunch. Everyone immediately launched into conversations about their past and current puppies and listening to it all I couldn’t help but be astounded at Robbie’s ability to keep all of these dogs and people straight in her head. I know that while she has stepped down a bit in her duties at the school, she’s incredibly active with the school and goes there every day. She actually told us she always has lunch on Saturdays at Three Brothers, since she’s always at Fidelco for puppy class.
When we were all full and happy, we headed back to Fidelco to gather up the dogs. But first we let Spock, Stanley, and Yara have some playtime in one of the pens. Or at least the boys played, Yara mostly walked around and sniffed stuff.
Once the dogs were all good and tired, we parted ways and all piled back into our cars. Raechel, James and I had a very pleasant evening making dinner, playing on the Wii, and watching the puppies and Yara play.
Sunday morning I happily was not awoken at the crack of dawn by a certain GSD. In fact, I was very amused to discover her sound asleep underneath my bed! I was also quite surprised that Dasha didn’t bark at us when we wandered downstairs; instead we woke up Spock and he was happy enough to take on the task of getting the rest of the house up in just as rude of a manner. After breakfast, Raechel, James and I went next door to let Spock and Giselle play with Toby, the neighbor’s lab-mix puppy. I’d thought Spock and Stanley were pretty crazy the day before, but that playtime didn’t hold a candle to the crazy that is Toby and Spock. Poor Giselle only wanted to lie down in the shade and watch them, but they kept running over to her and playing right on top of her! With playtime as hard as that, it didn’t take the boys long before they were nice and tired. And then we gathered all the dogs together to take a group shot. It was pretty funny, honestly, trying to get six dogs to all sit and behave long enough for a good shot. Otis got a bit cranky when the puppies kept sniffing at him and poor Dasha looked like we’d tortured her something fierce. I remarked later when we were trying to find a single good shot that Yara was the only one who didn’t move at all throughout the entire event, which is less a showcase of how she follows commands and more that she is happy to observe the chaos around her rather than contribute to it.
From there we went back to Raechel’s to feed and relieve all the dogs and then we gathered all of my stuff and headed to the train station . . . where we discovered the train was delayed nearly an hour! Unfortunately, it had started to rain so we weren’t able to do much other than hang around the station and talk. Honestly at this point I can’t believe we hadn’t run out of things to say to one another. Among the many, many things we discussed were tentative plans for next year’s Walk.
All too soon, though, the announcement came that my train was arriving and our very chatty and fun weekend drew to a close. Yara and I bid farewell to Raechel and James and again traveled the long ride via New York City back home. I’m happy to say that we didn’t have any problems during the transfer, which was an absolute blessing given how short our layover was since the Hartford train had been so late and other than being a bit hoarse and very exhausted, I was no worse for the wear. I’m definitely looking forward to doing this again next year, but I think I’ll take a few days off around the Walk itself to deal with the endless traveling.
For more photos from this most awesome weekend, feel free to visit this gallery page!