Connor was still speaking very little, but he would say “speriments” – this let us know he wanted to do experiments – or was in the process of setting one up and we needed to check on him. We did lots of speriments when Connor was little. Mixing food colors to see what happened, vinegar and baking soda, bubbles, corn starch and water, etc. Baking was fun; it is all math and chemistry. Since he could count and knew numbers AND was beginning to add, baking was very educational. Trips to the store became “speriments” and “maffs.” Can you find me the fruit that is red and round? Can you find the box of Macaroni with $0.99 on the sticker under it? Can you find the bag with “corn” on it? Everything was a learning moment.
From my previous years of working with animals, I also knew that in the right environment, a good animal can be a great asset. Before moving to Virginia and becoming a parent, I had about seven years of animal therapy work under my belt. When Connor was 6 ½, he spent several months riding at a farm in Catlett, VA. It helped with his balance and coordination. He was also expected to help groom the pony and prepare her for a lesson. When Connor was ten, he started working with my pup, Foster. For several years, Connor showed the little guy. This helped Connor learn how to watch his body position and become aware of what his body was doing. Even if your voice says one thing, if your body position is off, an animal will not work as effectively with you. Connor would go on to get a United Kennel Club Champion title on Foster and go on to be featured on Animal Planet’s Dogs 101 – the Shetland Sheepdog episode which aired in October of 2010. Connor was not on the quick few minute clips often found on line but is on the full length episode.