A debt of gratitude to the "Pumpkin Lady" for putting something out there that we all can enjoy.
I was able to go from this:
to the picture of my carved pumpkin this year that you see above.
I am definitely not an artist and this is my first time "really" carving a pumpkin.
This however, was so much fun I know I'll be doing it again next year!!
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I mentioned before that, over the course of the past 15 months, I have been blessed with my fair share of "dumb luck" saves. The rest has been hard work with many fun and rewarding moments. I hope the ones I've shared recently have brought a smile. There are a few things now that I may take for granted but on a closer look are worth highlighting as keys to how we made it this far with our sanity intact.
- Do - From the get go we knew we were going to crate train the dogs - and crate trained they were much to our sanity and survival. It gave them a safe place to be at night, a place they couldn't get into trouble, a place they could relax for a "time out" when they needed it.
- Don't - We thought that at 8 weeks old they should be in the same crate together, but soon found that the scars from them chewing on each other were not a good thing. Not to mention that the racket they could make together was not conducive to a good nights sleep at 4am in the morning.
- Do - By 10 weeks old they were in two separate crates. We kept them in the same room but put a visual barrier between the crates. They are still crated at night even now, except now as they no longer whine at night their crates sit at the far end of our bedroom. A simple "Go to your crates" tucks them in at night. Sometimes when Shelby's extra tired he'll put himself to bed - it's the cutest thing.
- Don't - Initially I worked with the dogs together a lot. It saved time, it was easier for me, it seemed to be good for them, but don't be fooled like I was. They started depending and looking to each other instead of me.
- Do - Quickly I saw my error and put in the extra time to train them separately. Shelby is always better by himself even today with obedience activities like "heel walking". You want your dogs to be taking all of their cues from you not from each other - or another dog for that matter. The rewards in doing this far out way the extra commitment of time and energy - trust me!! When five dogs a head of them are charging out into traffic and you call your dogs back, you want them to know that you are more important not the other five dogs they were following.
- Do - With two dogs it was easy to imagine how crazy feedings would get if an organized routine wasn't established from the start. So even as puppies, especially once we started our first obedience class at 4 months, they were sent to their beds for "down stays" before they got their food. I would not touch their food bin until they were lying completely down and had stopped whining. Once their food was served they had to acknowledge me by looking in my direction if only for a second. Then a calm "release" freed them to go to their dish. To this day that is our routine for any and every meal, even those away from home. It may be a "sit stay" vs. a "down stay" but they must wait while their food is served and they must wait for a "release" command before going to their food. This has been a good "self control" teaching moment that has carried over to many areas of their life.
- Don't - The one good thing our first vet recommended was to not allow the puppies to play with rope or cloth toys and to not give them rawhide bones. The reasoning behind this is that they don't know the difference between cloth and rope they can chew and the rugs, socks, scarves and other personal items you wouldn't want them chewing. She warned that with rawhides puppies can obstruct on them resulting in painful and very costly surgery. Chewed rawhide also is awful close to the texture of leather shoes so don't blame the dog for chewing your $100+ shoes if you have given them rawhides to chew.
- Do - We gave our dogs the edible "Nylabone" bones and got through the worst of their teething stage with these. At seven months they got their first real raw bones. We only give them beef femur bones and they have to clean them outside. I prefer the long bone section, and our local butcher will cut it in half for us. The bone marrow is good for them and the connective tissue and meat on the outside is a real treat as far as they're concerned. Their teeth are always cleaner when they're done - Bonus! After they've chewed them clean I drop them in boiling water for 60 - 90 sec. to sterilize them, then they can become inside the house as chew toys. The dogs love them even after they've been cleaned and sterilized and will sit and gnaw on them in the evening. Some owners I talked to swear by "bully sticks" but say they do smell and can stain carpet if chewed indoors. I personally didn't want them to not be able to bring a chew toy inside and once started those were definitely not coming inside our house.
- Don't - Avoid harshly reprimanding your dog for barking or growling at strangers that approach your house. Even our people loving, well socialized, Yellow Labradors will bark to alert us if a stranger is approaching or walking outside the gate of our drive. They even let us know when the very familiar and well liked neighbors are stopping by for a visit or quick chat. This is often very frustrating and it's hard to not get annoyed.
- Do - Jan Fennell, in her book "Tales from a Dog Listener", offers a better approach and tells her readers to "thank your dog" and then call them to you. This lets them know that it's not their responsibility to worry any further after alerting you. Although the reasoning behind her approach is not completely accurate, (Read: Bones Would Rain from the Sky) the objective is rock solid. We often follow it up with a "leave it" or "that's enough" or "quiet" command. If necessary we send the dogs inside for a down stay on their beds if we're at home or, if we're on a walk, turn and walk a few steps away rewarding them once they turn their attention to us and away from whatever / whoever has set them off. Pat Miller has a great article on this, "The 'Gift' of Growling", that was published in "The Whole Dog Journal". It's available for download from the website.
- Do - One of the ideas that came to me when the dogs were puppies was to have a blanket for them when they went out to eat with us. This has been a stroke of genius that two others in the community have adopted with the same success as us. It really was nice to give them a well defined boundary. One they understood with a simple "go to your bed". It also keeps them, even now, from licking at or lying in "under the table drippings" - Bonus!
- Don't - There's nothing more annoying than not being able to navigate the patio due to rude, over excited dogs. Don't be one of those owners. Just because dogs are allowed does not mean their allowed to be rude - and that includes being rude to other dogs.
Part #2 continued here.
Part #3 continued here.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I know this post is not necessarily dog related but I just want to send out props to "Hoctro's Place" for the code I used to create the tabs at the top of the posts section on the blog. As you've noticed recently I've been learning by trial and error how to add different elements to the page to make it easier for you the readers to navigate the contents of the blog. I've also enjoyed adding the embeded "Google Video" clips that I've made in "iMovie" and than uploaded to "Google Video". Embeding them into the new "Blogger in Beta" is so easy I hope that those of you with a blog will give it a try. You can now embed the "Google Video" HTML into any blog - so go for it!!
I have a dog post in "drafts" that I'm working on right now so I'll have a new one out soon. In the mean time try something new and out of the ordinary today and enjoy the moment.
Monday, October 23, 2006
A MAN AND HIS DOG WERE WALKING ALONG A ROAD. THE MAN WAS ENJOYING THE SCENERY, WHEN IT SUDDENLY OCCURRED TO HIM - HE WAS DEAD. HE REMEMBERED DYING, AND REALIZED THAT THE DOG WALKING BESIDE HIM HAD BEEN DEAD FOR YEARS. HE WONDERED WHERE THE ROAD WAS LEADING HIM.
AFTER A WHILE, THEY CAME TO A HIGH, WHITE STONE WALL ALONG ONE SIDE OF THE ROAD. IT LOOKED LIKE FINE MARBLE. AT THE TOP OF A LONG HILL, IT WAS INTERRUPTED BY A TALL ARCH THAT GLOWED IN THE SUNLIGHT. WHEN THE MAN WAS FINALLY STANDING BEFORE IT HE SAW A MAGNIFICENT GATE IN THE ARCH THAT LOOKED LIKE MOTHER-OF-PEARL, AND THE PATH THAT LED TO THE GATE LOOKED PURE GOLD.
HE AND THE DOG WALKED TOWARD THE GATE, AND AS HE GOT CLOSER, HE SAW A MAN AT A DESK TO ONE SIDE. WHEN HE WAS CLOSE ENOUGH, HE CALLED OUT,
“EXCUSE ME, WHERE ARE WE?”
“THIS IS HEAVEN, SIR,” THE MAN ANSWERED.
“WOW! WOULD YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE SOME WATER?” THE MAN ASKED.
“OF COURSE, SIR. COME RIGHT IN, AND I’LL HAVE SOME ICE WATER BROUGHT RIGHT UP.”
“CAN MY FRIEND,”, GESTURING TOWARD HIS DOG,”COME IN, TOO?” THE TRAVELER ASKED.
“I’M SORRY, SIR, BUT WE DON’T ACCEPT PETS.”
THE MAN THOUGHT A MOMENT THEN TURNED BACK TOWARD THE ROAD AND CONTINUED THE WAY HE HAD BEEN GOING WITH HIS DOG. AFTER ANOTHER LONG WALK, AND AT THE TOP OF ANOTHER LONG HILL, HE CAME TO A DIRT ROAD LEADING THROUGH A FARM GATE THAT LOOKED AS IF IT HAD NEVER BEEN CLOSED. THERE WAS NO FENCE.
AS HE APPROACHED THE GATE, HE SAW A MAN INSIDE, LEANING AGAINST A TREE AND READING A BOOK.
“EXCUSE ME!” HE CALLED TOTHE MAN. ” DO YOU HAVE ANY WATER?”
“YEAH, SURE, THERE’S A PUMP OVER THERE, COME ON IN.”
“HOW ABOUT MY FRIEND HERE?” THE TRAVELER GESTURED TO THE DOG.
“THERE SHOULD BE A BOWL BY THE PUMP.”
THEY WENT THROUGH THE GATE, AND SURE ENOUGH, THERE WAS AN OLD-FASHIONED HAND PUMP WITH A BOWL BESIDE IT. THE TRAVELER FILLED THE WATER BOWL AND TOOK A LONG DRINK HIMSELF, THEN HE GAVE SOME TO THE DOG. WHEN THEY WERE THROUGHLY REFRESHED, HE AND THE DOG WALKED BACK TOWARD THE MAN WHO WAS STANDING BY THE TREE.
“WHAT DO YOU CALL THIS PLACE?” THE TRAVELER ASKED.
” THIS IS HEAVEN,” HE ANSWERED.
“WELL, THAT’S CONFUSING,” THE TRAVELER SAID.
” THE MAN DOWN THE ROAD SAID THAT WAS HEAVEN, TOO.”
“OH, YOU MEAN THE PLACE WITH THE GOLD STREET AND PEARLY GATES? NOPE, THAT’S HELL.”
” DOESN’T IT MAKE YOU MAD FOR THEM TO USE YOUR NAME LIKE THAT?”
“NO, WE’RE JUST HAPPY THAT THEY SCREEN OUT THE FOLKS WHO WOULD LEAVE THEIR BEST FRIENDS BEHIND.”
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I've been working on this iMovie since Wednesday. It was my first venture with iMovie so it took me a while to figure things out. Then there was figuring out how to upload it to Google Video. Well finally I got it figured out and here it is . . .
Monday, October 16, 2006
For those of you who want to make your own water tolerant martingale collar and want to find the best hardware out there, here's a company that has the products you may be looking for. Bo'Sun Supplies Inc.
Have questions on their products?, than call and talk to one of their sales reps. They are very knowledgeable and helpful. With the primary customer for their products being boat and marine people they still understood why a dog owner would be seeking out their products.
The nice thing is, now I can have the collar I want. No more searching for the right components that never seem to come all together as I want them. I'm still looking forward to my leather collars from LDS-Leather but for those very frequent times that we head out to the water I can switch collars and save the leather from the damaging abuse of water or worse yet salt water.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I noticed recently that the Silverfoot Martingale collars we are using are leaving a grey stain on the underside of the dog's necks. I then realized that the metal portion of the collar is plated metal verses solid stainless steel - what a disappointment!! So I was off again on a hunt for collars. And this week I found and ordered some. Here is all the info with links to the website. I placed the order in person over the phone with Karen and am looking forward to receiving them soon. I'll update the post when they arrive with some pictures. For now here's the scoop! You can click on the picture to go to the website.
Description Excerpt from the website:
Our leather martingale dog collars are available with two different adjustment types. This is our original martingale dog collar and adjusts using a slide. Our newest leather martingale collar adjusts using a buckle. This old favorite martingale dog collar adjusts very smoothly and permits adjustment in the tiniest increments for a terrific fit and works very well when made of our top grain latigo leathers or the ultra soft bull hide.
Martingale collars are sometimes referred to as the "no-slip" collar. They are excellent for the training and working of nearly any breed. They are adjustable so you can set the limit for how tight it can become around your dog's neck. The action of this collar is similar to that of a prong training collar, is extremely smooth and provides for a very effective circumferential correction with only minimal effort. If you prefer, the chain pull can be replaced with leather.
As with all our fine hand-crafted leather collars, after selecting the leather that is just right for you, and after cutting your collar to the proper length and width, all edges are beveled, rounded and burnished silky smooth.
• There are several Leather Types and Colors to choose from. Only the finest imported German chain, stainless steel rings and quick-open links are used for our martingale collars.
• We can personalize your leather dog collar with Engraved Personalized ID Plates.
• To order our leather dog collars, telephone 1-405-701-2707 or 1-405-701-1725
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
When the puppies were 4 months old and able to start exploring the community with us we took them everywhere we could. That meant that some of our favorite restaurants were the dog friendly ones. We hung out on patios for our meals and even though it was cooler outside as we were soon moving into fall (as we are again now) it was worth it. The dogs were with us and learning manners in public.
One of the best things I did was to purchase a soft lined waterproof picnic blanket. We would lay this down next to and just under our table and then tell the dogs to "go to their bed". It really helped anchor them. They knew the boundaries of where they could move within. Not to mention, of course, that outdoor restaurant patios are not the cleanest. I didn't want them polishing the concrete where food had dropped with their tongues. The blanket solved both issues nicely.
Then we hit adolescence - and trips to restaurants with the dogs became a significantly less frequent occurrence. We tested the water early in our work with Trish and although things had definitely improved we still had a ways to go. No one enjoying their meal, even though it's outside, wants to be disturbed by rude, over excited, barking, or whining dogs. And they weren't getting any smaller or cuter to compensate for their behavior. So our goal was clear, - calm, quite, anchored to their blanket politeness, - when they went out to eat with us.
Well today was another "Reward Day" for all our hard work. I took them by myself to lunch and they were absolute models of politeness. They held perfect "sit stays" while I laid out their blanket and then settled in quietly. We sat at the outer edge of the patio to be out of direct foot path. However, this meant that we were next to the dish room cart the waiters used for the dirty plates as tables were cleared. Shelby was closest to the cart and never said a peep. He stayed lying down verses his typical jump up to demand attention and get under foot. No over excited whining or barking as the waiters came close. I was so proud. At one point he appeared to fall asleep (though us dog people know that is impossible) and didn't even crack an eye lid when someone passed by.
Yes, even so, we still have things to work on. But having come this far means that we all have more freedom and can enjoy more privileges, making all the hard work worth it!! For me, my Labradors are a joy to have around. I see more smiles around me when I have the dogs. Even for those who may never chose to have a pet themselves, it does seem to bring joy to most everyones day. Being able to take them back out into the community is a real pleasure. As the summer comes to an end it's nice to enjoy the last nice warm "patio dinning days" with the dogs.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I can almost guarantee that you won't find anything else out there like this. Trust me I've looked. I met the couple who make these at an AKC event. They also do custom work if you have something special in mind. They have everything from small to large single, double, and triple feeders.
Hand crafted Raised Stationary Wrought Iron pet feeder w/
two 2qt. & one 3qt.stainless steel bowls 10" to 14" high
Monday, October 09, 2006
Yesterday I finished Jan Fennell's book , "Tales From A Dog Listener", and dove headfirst into "Bones . . ." Wow, Suzanne Clothier is amazing! If you truly want to open up your heart and experience the beauty possible in the relationship we can share with our animal companions, than you MUST read this book. Halfway through chapter one I got out my highlighter and sticky note bookmarks. I now have over a dozen tagged pages and I'm just starting chapter four.
I noted in a previous post, when the book first arrived, an excerpt from the book's jacket, :
"As in no other "dog book" or training manual, in Bones Would Rain Form The Sky an extraordinary woman shows us how to find a deep connection with another being and to receive an incomparable gift: a profound, lifelong relationship with the dog you love."This book delivers on its promises. I hope those of you who own a dog who are reading this blog will buy this wonderful book. It is not a training manual in the typical sense, but we don't need any more of those. This book goes to the heart of understanding what it takes to build a true bond with your dog. A life long bond based on the love, trust, understanding, and the dedication that every dog deserves.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
“Things do not change; we change.” – Henry David Thoreau
"Leadership is much more an art, a belief, a condition of the heart, than a set of things to do. The visible signs of artful leadership are expressed, ultimately, in its practice." – Max DePree
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." – Roger Caras
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I found this list on a website and couldn't agree more with most of the choises as I have them already in my library. The rest I'm now interestd in reading myself. All of these books can be found at Dogwise.com except 'The Dog's Mind'. However, other books by Bruce Fogle are available.
- The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, 2001, Howell Book House.
- Positive Perspectives, Pat Miller, 2004, Dogwise Books.
- On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas, 1997, Legacy by Mail.
- Excel-Erated Learning, Pamela Reid, Ph.D., 1996, James and Kenneth Publishers.
- The Other End of the Leash, Patricia McConnell, Ballantine Books
- Don’t Shoot the Dog!, Karen Pryor, 1984, Bantam Books.
- The Dog’s Mind, Bruce Fogle, DVM, 1990, Howell Book House.
- The Culture Clash, Jean Donaldson, 1996, James and Kenneth Publishers.
- Dogs: A new understanding. . ., Raymond & Lorna Coppinger, 2001, Scribner.
- Scaredy Dog!, Ali Brown, M.Ed., CPDT, 2004, Tanacacia Press.
- Ruff Love, Susan Garrett, 2002, Clean Run Productions.
- Parenting Your Dog, Trish King, 2004, TFH Publications, Inc.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
When you have those break through moments they reward you beyond compare. I promise!
I had one today with Shelby. As I've mentioned before there was a time just about this time last year when I truly believed that every squirrel and bird in the neighborhood had conspired against me. They seemed to come out in full force when ever I would try and take Shelby for a walk around the block. He would yank on his leash and carry on like an insane dog barking and whining and lunging. The prong collar didn't seem to phase him in the least and all my yelling at him was of no use it only added fuel to the fire.
We've been working so hard this past year to change our approach, to work with the language he understands, to set new positive boundaries and expectations. I was rewarded today. I've started very short distance walks off leash in the neighborhood, mainly when I'm running next door or across the street to the neighbors. Nutmeg is the angle of perfection on these walks, and much to his credit Shelby is getting more reliable. Well, today I made it to the end of the drive when I was distracted by a neighbor and stopped. Shelby stopped in a perfect "heel" next to me without my having to say a thing as I talked across the street. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him quickly shift to my right side and he yipped. Ever in tune with them when off leash I quickly called him back to my left side into a "sit stay". Once I knew he was anchored I ventured a look at what had caught his attention. There, just three houses down, was a squirrel darting across the street. Fixed at my side Shelby was having a fit, barking whining and carrying on, but to my amazement it was evident at points that he was trying hard to contain himself. Just two reminders to "stay" at my side and "leave it" was all I had to add.
I was shocked! Just a few short months ago he would have been off in a flash, especially since he was off leash. Despite the loud fit he was having at my side - he was at my side. I know that this is only one test and that we will not always come through them so well but what amazing progress we have both made. I was so proud, my neighbor was impressed, I couldn't stop grinning. Calmly and quietly when he was finally quite I told him what a very good dog he was. What a moment - one worth waiting and working for. I have to keep reminding myself that he's just 17 months and we've had to back peddle a bit in that time.
One thing was clear today though, we're well on our way - both of us!
Monday, October 02, 2006
When I first started this blog I went looking through all the different resources I had collected in my journey so far, books, internet articles, websites that I had book-marked. I included a excerpt from one that talks about Labrador's being "physically insensitive". I'm beginning to think that this could very well be used as a cop-out and is potentially dangerous in the wrong hands. The statement in it's entirety was the following:
The reasons that Labradors give the impression of being hard-headed is because they are physically insensitive.My change of thought has come from being more observant of the subtle insights my dogs offer every day. In taking the time to appreciate quite time just watching them play I've noticed that even a whisper of disturbance across Nutmeg's fur sends her spinning to investigate. We have a tree that over hangs the driveway where they play. At the moment it is shedding the tiniest of yellow flowers. When they happen to land on her she notices immediately. If she has laid down for a while and one stays on her as she gets up to move she's quick to notice and turn to investigate before shaking it off.
How can this obvious keen perception be called "physically insensitive". It seems to me that something else is going on when it comes to Labradors. It is a bit more plausible to me that Labradors, not to mention any dedicated and determined dog, when given a task will go through "hell and high water" to complete the task for a well loved owner. Dogs will also offer this determination for something of their own interest, ie. a squirrel, bird, favorite ball, favorite treat, etc. In light of this I believe that our obligation is to offer something of greater reward to them.
When they are yanking and pulling at the leash about to rip our arm out of the socket - is there a word, a command, a request we can make that can turn off that impulse? Have you taken the time to condition them so completely to know that what you have is better? Can we turn the determination and dedication they focus on the squirrel back on us at our request? This I know will not be something that happens over night. And some breeds of dogs will be more challenging than others. But can it be done? Yes, I believe it can. And taking the short cut with harsher more physically painful measures is a dangerous tight rope dance that I personally don't want to walk anymore.
Reading through the many excellent articles on the Flying Dog Press website I came across this article "Training with the prong collar" that really help make sense of what I've discussed in this post.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
If you are like me and learn best from the experiences, stories, and empathy of others you will love Jan Fennell's book "Tales From The Dog Listener" Jan offers great insight through personal stories that have shaped her understanding of dogs. She straight talks about what it takes to be "the owner your dog deserves". Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:
People are not born good dog owners; they need to learn to adapt, to show some thought. Sometimes they also need to admit when they've gone wrong.Oh how I can relate to all of the above. Her compassion for people who yearn to be good dog owners is very tangible in the text. Although her approach is based on her extensive knowledge and real life experiences vs. others who tout scientific research it does have great merit that can not be flippantly dismissed. But you be the judge yourself - don't let others decide for you.
. . . it is far better to work with the dog than against it, using positive reinforcement to underline key messages.
We live in a world of instant gratification. People seem to want everything not just now, but yesterday. There is an obsession with the quick fix, the miracle on demand. Some owners seem unwilling - or even unable - to appreciate that somethings aren't solved in a minute, a day or even a week. The word "patience" doesn't seem to exist in their dictionaries.Copyright © 2006 Jan Fennell