Monthly Archives: October 2013

I’m a Puppy and a Border Collie

Guess which puppy I am?

Guess which puppy I am?
Photo by datpet – http://www.datpet.com

I’m a puppy…new and starting my training.  I know instinctively some things and I’ve learned a lot over my 40 plus years of animal advocacy and pet ownership, but I am still wet behind my ears.  I am learning new training methods — embracing only positive training methods.  I find the study material incredibly interesting and a lot of things I thought I knew just don’t work or are not effective.

Association of Professional Dog Trainers - Dog Training Professionals

On Tuesday I am making my first journey to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) conference in Spokane, Washington.  I’ve met a few other members through Facebook and an online class I took but I effectively don’t know anyone. I signed up to be a “Border Collie” at the conference.  These are people who help out in seminars, give out information and directions and basically help out the staff in anyway possible.  I’m looking forward to meeting new people but I’m on the shy side.

If you went to see some border collie puppies, I would be the one sitting in the corner staring at you but not coming to your calls. When I do things like this that are out of my comfort zone I usually put on this alter ego.  it is exhausting!  Some people build their energy off of other people…for me it is the opposite so this will be a big challenge for me.

But I love having a job to do (I guess I’m a good Border Collie!) so I’m happy to help and also have time to absorb a lot of information.  One of the sessions that I am helping with is about building a Prison Dog Training program and I’m so looking forward to participating in this.  I think it is an awesome program and benefits man and beast!

There are just so many things that I will learn so that I can teach my clients and work with my Mostly Mutts dogs so they can find great homes!  If we have the most adoptable pets we’ll be able to save so many more of them.  That’s what I want my life’s work to be and I know I will get there but right now I’m content to be the puppy in the corner trying to take everything in.

Are We Just Idiots Here In Georgia?

How is this good for people or the bulls?' photo from greatbullrun.com

How is this good for people or the bulls?’
photo from greatbullrun.com

I just heard on the news tonight that the Georgia Running of the Bulls is on this Saturday in Conyers.  I’m sickened.  Do these bulls look like they are having a good time?  What happens to the bull that gores an idiot who can’t run fast enough?

Who thinks this is a good idea to have these fake “running of the bulls” all over the US?  This event is being held where we had the Olympic events for crying out loud.  I’m disappointed in Georgia.

Oh The Dreaded Pibble

A Pibble will make you happy even when you don't want to be!

A Pibble will make you happy even when you don’t want to be!

Be afraid…be very afraid! I am pet sitting for some new clients, Gigi and Oscar.  They are Pibbles.  If you’ve never heard of a Pibble there are a few things you should know.

First, Pibbles don’t realize that they are 60 or 70 lbs of muscle.  They think they are actually Chihuahuas (and funny that Chihuahuas think they are Pibbles!) and should be in your lap, on your head, or someplace on your body.  See example below:

Here I am practicing my new career as a dog bed!

Here I am practicing my new career as a dog bed!

Second, they have mad cleaning skills.  If you have any dirt or food bits on you, a Pibble will hunt it down and clean you.  Their one weakness though is cleaning glasses.  It seems that Pibble juice just fogs glasses up instead of cleaning.  I’m very lucky to have Gigi and Oscar, otherwise I’d be walking around with food bits all over me!  Here is Oscar making sure I am presentable before leaving the house.

Oscar making sure there is no gradoo in my hair!

Oscar making sure there is no gradoo in my hair!

Third, Pibbles are very polite even when they don’t want to do something.  For instance, Gigi did not want to go to bed in her crate last night.  Oscar was a good boy and went right into his crate but Gigi wanted to stay up.  Instead of running away, Gigi did a little bow and asked pretty please could she stay up.  I was sad to say no but I had to get home to the Litt Palace of Puppy Love and give some love to my girls whom I hadn’t seen all day.

Please may I stay up?

Please may I stay up?

In conclusion, beware of Pibbles.  Their tongues are wet.  Their love is plentiful.  And their adorability factor let’s them get away with stuff like using you as a dog bed!

October is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog month.  Pibbles are one of the most plentiful breeds in shelters and have the highest kill rate.  Oscar and Gigi are both rescues and live happily with their family.  Love the dog first no matter the breed!

Retro Wednesday — Rex the Bank Robbing Dog

ma_winthrop01

Drawing of the town of Winthrop, Massachusetts

I was born in the small town of Winthrop outside of Boston in 1964.  For those of you doing math, yes that makes me 48 (well 49 in December).  The role of a dog in the family was very different back then.  Although we always had dogs growing up, our dogs were treated differently then I treat my companions animals today.  It was not frowned upon to have an “outside” dog or a dog tethered to a giant chain.

We had such a dog.  He was a Sheperd/Collie mix named Rex.  I remember getting him as a puppy.  He was an inside dog until he had one too many accidents in the house.  I remember him gnawing on our arms and playing rough with us.  But the thing I remember most about Rex was that he was a great escape artist.  Even though he was chained to a big tree in our yard, Rex would somehow manage to get loose.

The first time the Winthrop police officer brought Rex home in the back of his police car, my dad and he stood in the driveway gabbing away.  Evidently they knew each other pretty well.  I was pretty young so I don’t remember all the details but I think maybe a Budweiser was offered and a cigarette or two smoked.  I remember hearing deep belly laughs about that darned dog and his ability to get out of the heavy chain.

The second time the police officer brought Rex home, no beer was offered.  There was no laughing at that darned dog. There was a stern “Jim, I’m gonna have to fine you the next time…” lecture and that darned dog turned into the damned dog!

The third time was not happy.  A ticket and fine was issued.  A lot of talk about rehoming or worse yet taking him to the dog pound with us kids crying and begging to keep him. We won out.

Then Rex escaped again.  This time, however, he went downtown and held up the First National Bank.  He wouldn’t let anyone come out of the bank and he wouldn’t let anyone go into the bank.  Our family was famous for having the crazy dog who held up the bank.

Rex found a new home with my uncle out in the country (western Massachusetts) and we got to see him every time we visited him. Rex lived a long and happy, off leash and unchained.

Tell me about your dogs of the past!

The Symbiotic Relationship of Pets and Their Humans

The gang's all here!

The gang’s all here!

Science offers us a lot of information on understanding the inner workings of your pets minds.  They are food motivated or they are toy motivated.  Modern cognitive psychology tells us that our companion pets don’t do anything just because.  As a pet parent I have anecdotal evidence that says sometimes that is bullwhackey.  Maybe there is some deep scientific reason my pack gathers around me and comforts me and takes care of me when I’m down but my evidence is that they have a deep unconditional love for me and know their job is to love and protect me.

Last night when I got home from a very stressful day — many petsitting/dogwalking jobs while trying to simultaneous juggle my full time IT Consultant job.  Yesterday my car became my home office.  Thank goodness it was a lovely day out as I sat on front porches watching the dogs play and talking on conference calls or had my headset on as I hiked with one of my wards or sat in the parking lot of shopping center to do my emails and work on my deliverables in between visits.  And then I got the call.

I’m currently working on a project that was supposed to be long-term, at least another couple of years to deploy in the US and with my husband freshly laid off from a failing start up company, this gig was perfect because I made enough money to sustain the family without Andy working so he could find the perfect job.  Plus the work was flexible enough that I could start Kritter Keepers and work my appointments in between meetings.  I have my own Mi-Fi so I literally can work out of my car — as long as I have access to the internet and telephone, I am golden.  And for those “All Day Deluxe” gigs I have, I get to spend time with the companion animals while still doing my job.  There have been many a conference call with a kitty purring away on my lap or a heavy-headed pup resting on my thigh while I conducted business.

The call yesterday gave me two weeks but as a consultant/contractor.  The bottom line is after October 31 I don’t have a full-time, well-paying job to support the family.  And my girls sensed immediately my depression when I came home yesterday afternoon.  Now, they are always excited when I get home because I am the center of their universe.  “The Daddy” as we refer to Andy is nice to have around and if “The Mommy” isn’t around then he will feed them and they always like that!  But The Mommy is the whole in their doggie doughnuts.  I rock their world and they rock mine! If they had apposable thumbs they would bring me chicken soup when i am sick but instead they rally the troops.

Last night was no different.  Each dog wanted to comfort me — sometimes all together and sometimes one-at-a-time.  But they were all gentle and loving and knew something was wrong.  The don’t force me to “talk about it” (boy do I hate talking about it!) and they don’t ask me for answers to questions I have no idea about.  They just let me go through my process of reconciling with the bad news or illness or whatever is going on in life.

The pictures I’ve included are not the most flattering of me but they are the reality of the bad times I was going through.  And for their support of me during the bad, I pledge to support them during their bad.  I pledge to hold them as they cross over Rainbow Bridge.  I pledge to comfort them and make them feel better when they are sick and hurt.  I pledge to always keep them as a part of my family.

My girls are not my surrogate children but they are my companions, my loves, my family.

Please ignore the bulbous pink butt but I have 102 degree temperature but they just wanted to help me feel better

Please ignore the bulbous pink butt but I have 102 degree temperature but they just wanted to help me feel better

The Bitter Sweet of Fostering

Kibbles in the lap of his new dad

Kibbles in the lap of his new dad

This weekend my beloved Kibbles got adopted by a wonderful man and his girlfriend.  He called her his partner…they are of the age where boyfriend and girlfriend seem a little ridiculous.  He’s retired but very active.  He’s planning on taking Kibbles on many adventures and making him into a boat dog.  We’ve already heard from them as to how much they are in love with Kibbles.

I’m sad to have to give up my co-pilot.  Kibbles went with me on a lot of my client visits.  We had him for about two months and helped him learn to let go a lot of the adolescent bad behavior.  He is so quick to learn and I hope his new family continues to work on his training.  I think he could easily be a therapy dog.  He has never met a dog or human that he hasn’t loved.  We were also working on agility and he is a natural…although the jumps throw him a bit.  He doesn’t realize that he can jump!

He does however realize that he can chew and new dad Donny bought Kibbie a nice Antler for when they get home to the new house. Kibbie, however, could not wait that long so he took it out of the bag, laid down in the store and chomped on it while Dad made his new tag.
Everyday I would ask Andy if we could keep Kibbles and everyday he would give me a pained look and roll his eyes.  I had a connection with Kibbs for sure that I haven’t had with my other fosters and that was clouding my emotions and causing me to lose a little focus on why I am fostering.

With Kibbles safely and happily adopted into a new family I can offer a foster spot to another pup and save another life.  I’ve had a few people ask me how I can give them away once they’ve been integrated into my family.  I won’t lie, some are tougher then others to let go but I’ve got to keep my eye on the prize — saving more adoptable dogs!

October is Adopt-A-Dog Month.  If you are thinking about bringing a furry friend into your family, please consider adopting from your local shelter or rescue.  Only around 30% of companion pets are adopted — that leaves a lot of lives in shelters, rescues and foster homes like mine.  We can only save so many.

A Cure for Sheddy McShed Shed?

Beautiful elderlab Viola has a big problem twice a year in the spring and the fall.  She becomes Sheddy McShed Shed and on a daily basis I pick up at least a Yorkie dog worth of hair.  In the spring it is worse and I would say she drops at least two Pom pups a day with the annual shedding of her undercoat.  I can pick out full tufts or clumps of her undercoat emerging through her top coat.  She hates it when I pick at her.

Sheddy McShed Shed

Sheddy McShed Shed

I have all the shedder tools ever developed and some do their job better than others.  Not sure what the ionic brush is supposed to do but it is a favorite because it is so easy to clean and I feel like something positive is happening because the little red light is on!  Having a multiple dog household means that when we do husbandry things it is a free for all because I’m not so disciplined to go someplace else and do one dog at a time.  Actually that is a really good idea but my girls are somewhat panicked if I don’t do the group thing.  You see, I work from home and most of them hang out with me 24/7 unless I’m at a pet sitting, dog walking or training client’s house.  And even then, sometimes, one or two of them get to hang with me there because some of my clients love the dog-on-dog interactions.

But having all these dogs and my foster(s) really puts a big wear and tear on my house and I’m so busy all the time I have limited time for cleaning activities. Not to mention I don’t really enjoy cleaning activities like some other folks I know who use cleaning as a stress reliever – really!  I’d like to introduce them to chocolate personally.  When I find a tool that makes me want to vacuum, well I really need to tell the world about it!

So I’d like to introduce you to my little friend, the Dyson Animal DC 50.  It’s one of those ball action vacuums.  And even though my carpeting has seen way better days, it makes those cool carpet cleaning lines!  I can’t believe the stuff it picks up!  Of course you can see everything in the clear cylinder that holds all the dirt and dog hair and toy stuffing and chewed up rope pieces and leaves that have been drug in from the outside.  The suction is incredible – per the Dyson commercials on TV.

By the way, I have no affiliation with Dyson other than I’m totally obsessed and want one of everything.  They are not paying me anything BUT if they happen to see this blog, I would love a Dyson no blade fan/heater thingy.  No really, they aren’t paying but I want to give you my honest opinion on this appliance.

I LOVE it!!! It is so lightweight and it maneuvers really easily. I love this new design which allows me to move from carpeting to hard floors without stopping to change setting.  The one thing that I don’t like is that the dirt catch bucket is smaller than previous designs so that means that I have to empty it more often.  And, it’s purple which of course is my favorite color!

What appliances make your life easier?

The Dyson DC-50

The Dyson DC-50: Look at all that dog hair!