Total Life Change: Research and Planning

Total life change is likely to go better with research and planning. The foundation reassures me of the dao.

The truth is that sometimes this old dame feels overwhelmed by what I’ve done. The cozy comforts of my condo are swept away.

There are times when I ask myself, “What have I done? Have I taken on too much?”

I always come back to a sureness that this is what I want. I wouldn’t feel that way, I suspect, if I had rushed into things.

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The Christmas Doberman

Molli (Melrae’s California Girl) arrived on Solstice.

Her tummy was a little upset. Whose wouldn’t be after being bounced around in a crate for 9 hours or so.

She was good-natured about it, asking to go out several times during the night. I missed one of her calls: My bad; I didn’t respond quickly enough. She tried, poor thing.

I’ve learned a new thing: Worms can lie dormant and be activated by stress.

Now that we are deworming, she is a typical lively Doberman puppy.

Dobergirls Just Wanna Have Fun

She loves to run around the walled courtyard, barking her head off. I am teaching her to recognize ordinary sounds of neighborhood life. I don’t want neighbors terrified to walk past this house!

I’m quickly recalling that few toys survive those powerful jaws — and certainly not the children’s Turtle and Christmas Bear. Ball and the tough bone have done better.

Total Life Change in 8 Days

I finished my last teaching contract in Fort Lauderdale,  moved to Melbourne, FL, five days lates, and two days after that, Molli The Divine Miss M, came into my life.

I planned for this for a long while. It feels good to have things come together.

Looking Forward to Training

A main joy of having a Doberman is training together so that we move and act as a team. Classes resume in the New Year.

After intense weeks of packing for the move from condo inhospitable to doggies to a house, I’ve gotten most of what I need out of boxes.

It will take weeks to put the pieces of the puzzle of a household back together. So Mollie and I are enjoying a few days of holiday rest and getting to know each other.

Happy holidays, peace and blessings to all.

Duty of the Doberman Owner

The Doberman is a breed like no other — bred with purpose for a purpose. If an owner doesn’t understand this, you deny the animal its purpose. It is like having a child prodigy and refusing to provide it any opportunities to develop the talent.


Why Doberman Breeders Are Picky

Doberman breeders are sometimes criticized for being picky and prickly. There is truth to cliques and competition; there also is a lot of good will and help for those who are genuinely interested in the breed.

This elegant breed is designed for obedience work; like the Sheltie, a Dobe “will work its little heart out for you” as one Airedale owner remarked to me.

What Is Your Duty to Your Prodigy?

If you are fortunate enough to share your life with a Doberman, it is criminal to consign it to a life of lounging about and chasing balls. If you had a child prodigy, would you deny that child the best education you could get her?

I was mentored by amazing breeders and trainers who had a passionate respect for the Doberman Pinscher — even when some of them preferred other breeds themselves.

Breed Temperament Is Critical

I have shared my life with a standard poodle, an Airedale, and a selection of good-natured All-American mutts. Each breed has its temperament. It is critical to understand the temperament of any breed for a happy experience for animal and owner. For example, a friend spent years rescuing “shaggy dogs,” because the Disney films create a false profile of animals that are endlessly cuddly. In fact, sheep dogs like to herd their charges — and that may include some ornery nipping, especially at heels. It is not what the family expects.

The Doberman Pinscher is singular in its devotion, intelligence, and focus. A Doberman has a job to do as a personal companion. I loved going to training and our daily training sessions after walks. L’Ombre was a dog about town, at my side at many places were supposedly dogs weren’t allowed because he presented himself as the service dog he was. He loved showing off his ability — going to parties and discussion sessions at church where he was much admired.

The Joy of a Symbiotic Team

I never thought of L’’Ombre as a fur baby, and I am a little offended by the idea. We were a symbiotic team. I loved him dearly. I dreamed of him routinely for a decade after he had passed. I wish he’d been with me longer than 9.5 years.

Remember, when acquiring a Doberman, your animal needs training and desires to accompany you at all times. To live that life, the animal must be well-behaved. “A well-behaved Doberman can go anywhere,” Roz Terhune (who helped create the Marines Devil Dog unit) told me. She was right.

Are you in or out?

Roz Terhune Was A Character & Other Notes of Past and Present

“There’s plenty of puppy left.” Roz Terhune dismissed my longing for a puppy and advised me to buy the 9-month-old L’Ombre. He already  knew more about obedience work than I did.

Roz spent her life among the doggie set.  In her era, the sport of conformation showing became a society enterprise. It was often supported by wealthy women who kept kennels, sometimes even employing a kennel master.

A breeder in the Midwest said the same thing — there’s still plenty of puppy left — as we discussed the difference between bonding with an older puppy and one you get so early, you are a replacement for  Mom.

A Working Girl Doesn’t Need a Puppy

Roz was right when she looked at me and said, “You’re a working girl. You don’t need a puppy.”

I came to agree with her some two decades later. I was still a working gal when I got a feisty two-month-old Airedale puppy. He was well-bred, smart as game-show contestant, friendly, and showed signs of aptitudes for scent and spatial problem solving.

I was ready for a Doberman even then.  I tried to tell my beloved, who was fixated on the Airedale, this was a hunting breed.  I shared anecdotes about hero Airedales cornering mountain lions.

It’s always a mistake to buy a breed because you like the way it looks. Appearance is no predictor of temperament. Stanleigh spent years rescuing sheep dogs who can be protectively snappish, because people watch Disney’s shaggy dog series and get the impression this is one big cuddle bug.

People Don’t Understand the Notion of Breed

The Doberman was bred on purpose for a purpose.

Roz Terhune bred Collies at one point, and she knew Dobermans.  She went around the country for FDR asking some of the best kennels to give up their dogs for the war effort inception of the Marines’ Devil Dogs unit.

I met her decades later, at the end of her life, when she was  dog editor for the News American where I was working as a feature writer.

A Generational Torch Was Passing

A Sunday dog breeder column was among those fading conventions of women’s news, a section  newspapers devoted to brides and engagements, club and society party news, advice columns, and news about prominent breeders and kennels. For the ladies, you understand.

The women’s movement was transforming some of these outdated notions. I was part of that new wave. Roz sat at a desk adjacent to mine when she came in once a week to write her dog column for the Sunday paper.

I didn’t know of her expertise with Dobermans nor her government war service until after she died when I wrote a commemorative obituary.

Sometimes she brought stale baked goods and insist I eat them. Sometimes I hid in the library from her chatter.

How I Ended up with a Doberman Pinscher

One night after finishing my day at the newspaper, I was mugged on my own front door steps in daylight hours.  I was dragged down 11 cement steps on my back.

I missed a lot of work for most of the next year.

When Roz asked why I’d been out and heard my story, she insisted I needed a dog for protection.


A Labrador, I suggested. She looked at me with something between scorn and amazement.

She  took my clueless self to an obedience training club at a high school in the suburbs. She leaned heavily on the arm of the photographer, a tall man who showed her the great respect.

There were at least 100 dogs on the floor, in four groups representing various levels of training.

“Go talk with that man over there,” she told me. “He breeds Labradors. Tell him what you want it for.”

Next Time, They’ll Take Your Dog, Too

The man chuckled. “Next time they’ll not only knock you down and take your purse, they’ll steal your dog, too.”

I reported back to Roz, seatedat the edge of the auditorium, cane between her knees. “That’s right.

You don’t need a dog that’s dumber than you are,”

she observed with satisfaction.  “You need a dog that’s smarter than you are.”

She was another a wise crone who mentored me without my knowing it. She introduced me to the world of Dobermans and dog training, and I want to spend some years now among the doggie people.

Thank you, Roz. Thank you, L’Ombre. Thank you, Linda Coggins, for breeding Martin-L’Ombre and his early first-rate training and your induction of me into features of the breed.


The Well: Transformation

Unknown artist, ([?sic] Hugh Hambleton), Hermes Leading Persephone out of the Underworld, undated, Yale Center for British Art.
The Well. 48.

Deep in the chthonic chaos of the mud at the bottom of The Well, transformation

Wilhelm writes, “The well is the symbol of that social structure which, evolved by [people] in meetings its most primitive needs, is independent of all political forms.”

Myth also meets the primitive needs of people to understand our lives. The well nurtures with its clean water. Yet our deeper selves know that it is in dark underworld of the mud that our deepest transformations happen.

In the most ancient of myths, Inanna travels to this world and is dismembered and then revived. The Greek version is the myth of bright Persephone’s annual reluctant journey to her husband, Hades, dour lord of this dark realm whilst her mother, Demeter, mourns. The goddess of agriculture and fruitfulness plunges the world into winter while she waits for her daughter, Spring, to return.

This is ancient and deep wisdom indeed, transcendent of social structures fulfilling humans’ deepest yearnings to understand our place in the Universe and the world. Only in the deepest chthonics depths are we renewed: Each of us in that Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, as Douglas Adams titled a book.

In nature, the example is the caterpillar that willingly dissolves itself into an oozing mass that resembles neither of its two states of being — to emerge as a butterfly. Nothing is the same in the two beings, except essential DNA mapping the universal patterns.

I have been silent long, because an oozing mass does not speak. That does not mean nothing is happening. Wait.

Dreams Don’t Die, Not Really

Despite my disappointment in January, I continued to plot, plan, scheme, and strategize how to achieve my goal of living with a well-trained, well-bred Doberman Pinscher.

Seeds grow in the darkness. They need the rest of night to germinate life.

Witches and magicians warn against revealing plans prematurely. Such disclosures invite malignant forces, naysaying, and may dissipate creative energy in unproductive spiels.

I have been making progress.

“You have fallen into a fit of despondency, and there is not the least need. In fact, it encourages one to believe that there is nothing to be done, when all that is wanted is a bit of resolve to bring matters to a happy conclusion.” — The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer.


How A Dream Can Die

There is no hexagram for loss in the I Ching. The dao resolves the inevitable ebb and flow of creation — including life and our journeys through it.

The full moon in Cancer portended letting go.

Full Moon Chinese scroll painting
Tao Lengyue (Chinese, 1894–1985)
Full Moon, 20th century
China, NY Metropolitan Museum of Art,

It is now clear that I must accept I have probably lost a part-time income I enjoyed. The institution was acquired by an investment group. Even though I hold a terminal Ph.D. degree in my field and hold advanced certifications offered by the institution, I am now deemed unqualified to teach. In a shakedown — which I tellingly wrote as shamedown on my first effort — we are being asked to take courses from our employer to keep our jobs. Pay for play.

The Signs and Markers Pile Up

Without this income, I cannot retire from my adjunct teaching. I cannot afford a home with a yard and my Doberman Pinscher in this area and become active in the sport of training. I can’t afford one anywhere, for that matter. Not now.

Even if the job re-materializes, it points out the tenuous nature of my plan in these times when the social safety net is being shredded in Washington. Without Social Security and Medicare, my means of support are limited and fragile indeed. I must keep my current employment and pray that lasts!

I need to develop some additional income streams, probably by reviving another site about fashion I started in 2008.

Health Factors Warrant Consideration

In December, I experienced a flare of a stress-related illness sparked by the goings-on in Washington. I questioned whether I have the energy to train a large dog. With a yard, it is possible. The walking and activity with my companion dog will further healthful living and minimize such flares.

But the yard is not possible. Not right now anyway.

Some people urge me to get a doctor’s note to have a small therapy dog in my apartment. I like all dogs, but it would not be even close to go to this plan D.

First, I have found no small dog that equals the noble characteristics of a Doberman. A standard poodle is a close alternative. I had one in the past.

However delightful the poodle, it does have the breed characteristics of a Doberman. I doubt that even a small standard or moyen poodle would be accepted by the condo association.

Living in a third-floor apartment, I will not be able to let the dog out in the mornings while I have coffee and meditate. The texture of my days will change in a way that having a yard would not. I want the safety net of a yard for the dog and me.

Coping with the Cancer Full Moon and Loss

Tapestry old stage pursued by hounds
1500s Tapestry, S. Netherlands, NY Met Museum, Old Stag flees from pond pursued by hounds

The Cancer full moon (January 12) was widely interpreted in astrology as a watery condition and a time when we would be asked to foresake and forego.  I am sad to let go of this dream that has energized me for the past 10 months. I am bereft at the realization I may not be able to manifest this dream for years, if at all.

Opening the I Ching, Wilhelm translation at random, I am at the Taming Power of the Small, Hsaio Ch’u (9). Strong elements are held in check by the weak. We are told that we can only persuade a tyrant — and we certainly have that imminent — by small persuasive actions. “So also an individual, when [s]he can produce no great effect in the outer world, can do nothing except refine the expression of h[er] nature in small ways” (p. 41).

And so it is.

The < ahref=;ft=grief&amp;offset=40&amp;rpp=20&amp;pos=44″>New York Metropolitan Museum of Art</a> offers this poem with the image, which seems apt:

This tapestry illustrates a poem about human frailty, in which the stag represents Man. Here, Age and her hounds Heat, Grief, Heaviness, Cold, and Anxiety, drive the stag from a lake. A French inscription may be translated:

Then Old Age mounts an all-out assault
That drives him from the lake
And unleashes upon him Pain and Doubt,
Cold and Heat, and thus brings on
Care and Trouble to seize him.
And Age with wrinkled flesh
And Heaviness make him flee
Toward Sickness, the dreaded one.


K’un, The Receptive: An Epiphany

I don’t so much throw the I Ching anymore as look for a hexagram that resonates. I am an Earth sign, and a female, and it is the start of a new year. It seems appropriate to go to the beginning of the hexagrams to seek wisdom: K’un, the Creative, Hexagram Two.

A Magician Pen and Ink George Hayter
Sir George Hayter. c. 1826

I had many plans for the start of this year. I expected to be in a new home receptive for training my new Doberman Pinscher companion. The political dangers confronting our Republic militate against this.

I find myself receptive to new paths in life. All dreams and goals are on hold as I explore a total life change more total and sweeping than I dreamed a year ago.

I am exploring ways that I can support and participate in the Resistance to the current treasonous efforts overthrow to our institutions that are underway.

The Receptive Complements The Creative

The Creative, Hexagram One, associated with traditional so-called masculine energies, exists not as a duality with the Receptive but as a complementarity.

The Judgment in the Wilhelm translation of the I Ching specifies sublime success follows from guidance.

I, who have lived alone as a mystic and recluse for the past dozen years, am suddenly in the position of believing Resistance can be accomplished only in association with others.  This is a strange turn for what I foresaw as my future only a short time ago — a future I planned for most of last year.

Today also is the Feast of Epiphany. In the Roman Catholic tradition, we did not take down the Christmas tree and creche until this day. According to legend, this is when the Three Wise Men, or three magicians, reached Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of the Christ.

Epiphany and The Receptive

Epiphany is a sudden insight or revelation in common language.

An epiphany is more likely to happen if one is receptive. The Magi were receptive to the guidance of a star that shone brightly in the sky. The undertook a long and perilous journey with their gifts.

Mine usually occur after a long journey of research, meditation, and prayer. They are sudden only to the extent that once guidance blossoms, it is whole, complete, and redoubtable.

I am reading about, the New Jim Crow, the surveillance society, the encroachments of financial institutions into every area of our lives through debt and fees, and many dimensions of political and communication theory I abandoned after my research career was ended.

An epiphany is often only for part of my journey, perhaps only the next step to be taken. Then I must remain receptive to the next step and the one after that.

Best Wishes for Your Healthy and Happy New Year

I wish anyone who read this a happy and healthy year. May you be receptive to your own special guidance, and may your epiphanies show you the way forward.

Solstice: Hexagram 36 Darkening of the Light

The latest crinkle in my total life change Doberman Project is money. One of my required sources of income has been sold, and I’ve not been offered a contract for 2017. So I face a new challenge in this time of waiting and planning.

Looking for guidance from the dao using the I Ching, this dame turns to hexagram 36, Ming I, in the Wilhelm translation, darkening of the light.

Solstice has long been a time of wonder and miracles with customs that go back even before recorded time.

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