Mental health through the lens of radical life changes, and the virtuous cycle of pet ownership, Guatemalan travel and catnip smuggling

This is episode 6 of our podcast, Our One Wild and Precious Lives (and Our Dogs). I’m really proud of this one – it turned out really well, if I may say so myself! Thank you, Peter and Val, for being vulnerable and brave and brilliant with me!

I’ll be adding the link to the episode below so you can all listen – but before I do, I want to ask you all a favor. If you are reading this (potentially because you’re a subscriber to my blog), and if you’ve been enjoying the podcast episodes I’ve put out so far – every second one is dog geeky, and every other one is about living abroad, being brave, vulnerability, mental health, politics, queer lives etc … So if you’ve been enjoying them, please subscribe to the podcast on one of the podcast platforms as well! We’re on all the major platforms. AND please, if you’ve been REALLY enjoying things, leave us a rating on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, and a nice review on Apple Podcasts! I’m not making money podcasting; I’m just having a lot of fun doing it – and seeing the listener numbers increase makes my day. Ratings and reviews will give the podcast greater exposure, and that means positive reinforcement – more listeners! – for me. Thank you so much!

I myself am super lazy when it comes to reviewing podcasts. I’ve got SO many favorites I haven’t taken the time to review yet. So I’m setting myself the goal to review one independent podcast I love for every review I get, to pay it forward! Thanks, folks!

Alright – on to this episode I really, really like! I’ll embed a link, and you’ll find the episode description below.

In this episode, Chrissi and Peter talk to Valerie Russell. Originally from the US, she has studied forensics in the UK and worked in law enforcement in the New York metropolitan area for many years. After severe depression and a PTSD diagnosis, Valerie started her life from scratch: she moved to Guatemala and opened Due South Travels, a unique and successful travel business. Val is one of the first people I (Chrissi) met in Guatemala, and I admire her on SO many levels. She is brave, courageous, authentic, and simply good people.

In this episode, we talk about mental health, all the things the animals we share our lives with do for us, the broken system of law enforcement and health care in the US, and smuggling cat nip. We hope you enjoy this conversation as the three of us did!

One Wild and Precious, E5 Dog geekery: to touch or not to touch, that is the question

Canine nerd level scale: 1.5 (for interested pet owners as well as enthusiastic dog folks who already know quite a bit)

Chrissi, Peter and Amy Miller discuss their perspective on living or working with dogs who don’t appreciate being touched by strangers. This episode consists of three distinct stories: Peter’s experience as a dog walker, boarder, and vacation-experience provider, Amy’s perspective as the owner of the lovely, but opinionated Marley and his protocol for meeting new (and familiar) people, and Chrissi’s experience as a trainer working with people who share their lives with dogs who’d rather not be petted. We don’t only talk about our personal experiences, but also speculate on where the human desire to use our hands to greet dogs may stem from – and why canines might consider this rude. Most importantly, we dispel the myth that the best way of greeting a new dog is by sticking your hand in their face to sniff.
 

You can listen to Our One Wild and Precious Lives (and Our Dogs) on all the major podcast platforms as well as on Youtube or right here on my website. I recommend subscribing to it on one of the pocast platforms – you’ll get each episode a day earlier there than on Youtube and on my website. Also, yes, pelase do subscribe and share with your friends and, if you like what you hear, rate and review! This will help more people discover the podcast. I’m going to pay it forward by reviewing one of my favorite podcasts for every review we get.

LINKS & RESOURCES  

Amy’s Bio

Amy is one of the masterminds that make sure FDSA runs smoothly. Amy, you are doing A LOT of those things that seem entirely mysterious to me. You’re among the ones pulling the strings in the back, making sure the experience for everyone else – instructors as well as students – is smooth and intuitive. You are a helpdesk and tech magician, and I – just as all of our colleagues – deeply love and appreciate the work you do!

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Jennifer Summerfield, DVM – a great vet, dog trainer, and FDSA guest instructor (as well as Marley’s trainer): https://www.drjensdogblog.com/

Friends of Control Unleashed FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/298300721554

Keep an eye out for Julie Daniels’ upcoming CU classes at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy: https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/people/786-people/faculty/3636-julie-daniels

Get in touch with Peter:

peterfrombelfast [at] gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/mcgarrypeterj

Get in touch with Chrissi:

www.chrissisdogtraining.com 

chrissi.schranz [at] gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/chrissi.schranz/

https://www.instagram.com/adogisabondbetweenstrangers/

One Wild and Precious, E4: The unique city of Guanajuato, sharing a multicultural house, making panditas, and human connection

New episode! This is the first time I experimented with recording a conversation in the same room rather than over Zoom. I don’t have professional audio equipment, so we recorded a single audio track, hunched over Andrés’ little table, crumbs of mota and my laptop. The sound quality isn’t perfect – but it worked well enough!

I’ve been living with three Mexicans, and on this episode, I talk to one of my housemates: Andrés Ortega. We chat about the trials and tribulations of living with strangers, cultural differences, the colors and facets of Guanajuato City, and what we have learned from each other. Get ready for laughter, city stories, lots of mutual appreciation, and a rant about pocket-less pants!

I’m really glad I found this house, and the three wonderful people already living in it. You guys are awesome! Game has been enjoying it here as well. She’s loving the leftovers that are being saved for her (especialls the month Ivan used to cook way too much), and every time tortillas go bad, or Andrés buys an entire roast chicken. Game has also received two toys from Moi. One of them, the yellow sheep, is still alive and being well loved. It is her new favorite, and even went on a road trip with us.

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Moi opened the door to his room to Game and I when we first moved in. We were invited to take over his bed – even Game! – and hang out, watching movies. We both felt comfortable and at ease right away. I’m thankful for Moi’s intuition and perceptiveness about making me feel at home!

I am grateful to have met my three housemates, having learned new modismos and gotten to know Los Simuladores. I couldn’t have found better people to share a house with. I appreciated sharing my imperfect pizza experiment with you all, having lots of coffee breaks with Andrés, sharing lunch tortas with Moi, lounging on the kitchen furniture with my dog at my feet and new friends by my side. And Ivan! Thank you for lending me your car, and introducing me to your inflables and their casa. (Ivan runs what probably is a not-entirely-legal bouncy house rental business. He also forges data for the government, but the bouncy house business is way cooler and more fun.)

I’m the lucky one. I don’t believe in God, but if I did, I would thank them for my time here, and for the freedom I rediscovered. And for something I thought everyone did, but am realizing may not be as common as I used to think: I see beauty around me all the time. I meet amazing people. (I, too, see the shadows, but also: so much good stuff!)

There’s something else I learned from Moisés that I didn’t mention on this podcast, but have to share with you because it’s brilliant! If you have raw eggs that aren’t fresh, and you aren’t sure they are still good, there’s an easy way to find out: fill a pot with water. Put the egg into it. If it sinks to the bottom of the pot, it’s still good. If it floats, it’s bad.

The other trick I learned: if you’re making coffee in a drip coffee machine (we are making a lot of coffee!), you don’t have to put entirely new coffee into the machine for every new can of coffee! You can just add a spoon or two of coffee to the used coffee already in the filter, add water, and you’ll end up with coffee just as tasty as the previous round … And you’ll be using up less coffee overall! (This is going to save me a lot of money going forwards, since I drink LOADS of coffee.) Up until now, I used to empty out and refill my filter every single time!

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You all, whether you’re reading this or not – I’m going to tell you in person again anyway: thank you for the conversations, the movie nights, water-refill and bouncy-house-recovering trips. Thank you for cotorrear-ing about dogs and the world, girlfriends and human beings, and anything from our personal challenges to family history.

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I’ll be leaving because I want to live in the middle of nowhere again, not in a place surrounded by highways. But if I could bring Moisés, Andrés and Ivan (just pack up the entire house), I totally would.

LINKS & RESOURCES

Get in touch with Andrés:

https://www.instagram.com/xerxes_man/

Get in touch with Chrissi:

www.chrissisdogtraining.com

chrissi.schranz [at] gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/chrissi.schranz/

https://www.instagram.com/adogisabondbetweenstrangers/

Thank you …


Thank you to Lesfm for providing our royalty-free intro, outro and en-tro music, and to Isabelle Grubert for designing the logo of the show!