Category Archives: Dogs

Doggie Joy

Dogs bring joy. They just do. How can you look into puppy eyes and not feel flooded with love?

You can’t.

That’s right.

So I figured, we need more puppy joy. Why don’t I spread some?


First up, I Has A Sweet Potato.

This makes me laugh until I flipping cry. Tears streaming down my face as I choke through laughter. I’m just grateful I haven’t peed while reading it yet.

A sample:

Dog: I am starving.
Me: Actually, no. You aren’t starving. You get two very good meals a day. And treats. And Best Beloved fed you extra food while I was gone.
Me: I saw you get fed not four hours ago! You are not starving.
Dog: Pity me, a sad and tragic creature, for I can barely walk, I am so starving. WOE.
Me: I am now ignoring you.
Dog: Did you hear me? I am starving.
Dog: Are you seriously ignoring me? Fine.

[There is a pause, during which the dog exits the room in a pointed manner.]

[From the kitchen, there comes a noise like someone is eating a baseball bat.]

It gets better. Oh. So. Much. Better. Go. Laugh. Cry. Try your best not to pee.

And if that doesn’t do it for you…this dog REALLY wants the stranger on the park bench to throw a stick for him.

That is one determined dog!

This looks exactly like something Toby would do. Exactly.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dogs

Good news: Toby is still alive!

The past few days my dad and I met up for our annual weekend of crabbing.

Remember last year? It was a lot of fun. It was less so this year, largely because I was sick. But we walked away with a lot of good crab!

Granted, we only caught a few out of the ocean. The others we “caught” when the commercial crabbers were unloading their boats and took pity on us in the pouring rain and shared theirs that were large enough to be legal but too small for them to sell. So we caught them as they “ran away” on the docks when the crabbers “accidentally” dropped them. Or when they “jumped” into our bucket. *cough*


This weekend was also less fun because we got quite a scare.

Remember the sea lions from last year?

Yeah, cute. Now remember their giant teeth?

Yeah. The sea lions were even more in evidence this year. They kept popping up and staring at us, even when we were as far away from their dock as we could get. Every time they’d show up we’d grab Toby to be extra careful, just so they didn’t decide to snack on him.

After we’d been there a few hours, one kept popping up around us, going under water, hovering, and then popping up in a new place right next to us. It was super creepy. We had Toby staying pretty close.

And then, when I was trying to get him to drink water from a bottle, some new people came down the dock. One woman stopped and told us to keep him close. I noticed she was holding a small dog in her arms. She warned us again to keep Toby really close, and told us that a few days ago one of the seals had surged out of the water, grabbed the son of the dog in her arms, and eaten him right in front of them.


If those sea lions had wanted Toby, or if we’d let him wander farther away like we were last year (this year I had him tied to me on a short leash, so he was always close if on the ground) they would have had him before we could have blinked. They can come up out of the water so fast there is no time to react, and you can’t see them coming under the water.

And here we had thought we were just being extra cautious. Turns out the sea lions already had a taste for dog meat.

I picked up Toby, we pulled up the rest of our pots, and we left. That was the end of our crabbing.

And since then, Toby has gotten lots and lots of extra cuddles and loves. I am so grateful he’s alive. It would have crushed me if I’d lost him.

He’s definitely never going back there. I don’t know that I will, either.

Stupid sea lions.

1 Comment

Filed under Dogs, Life

Positive training, it’s all essentially the same

I had today off and I have spent it enjoying some positive training shows.

One is It’s Me Or The Dog, showing Victoria Stillwell using positive training methods to train problem dogs (and their owners).

The other is Supernanny, showing Jo Frost using positive training methods to train problem children (and their parents).

I was just introduced to Supernanny by a friend, and I marathoned 5 episodes in a row. Watching it, I was struck over and over how much what she does is similar to what I do when I go into people’s homes and help them train their dogs. The standing and giving them instructions while the kid is having a tantrum on the floor was eerily reminiscent of my regular life working with clients while their dog is misbehaving in front of them. “Lots of praise, lots of encouragement,” comes out of my mouth constantly, just like hers. And so many of the techniques and advice are essentially the same as what I recommend to my clients for their dogs.

Basically, the show has helped confirm for me that raising children is much like raising dogs. Positive training is positive training! Here are just some of the similarities I saw:

Give appropriate outlets for energy

For dogs this means the owner takes them on lots of walks, runs, plays games of fetch, goes to the dog park, and does training. For kids this means the parent has to spend time playing games with their kids to have fun together and give them physical and mental exercise. This is the number one things that almost every person with problem children/dogs needs to improve on.

Set up rules with consequences and always always always follow them

Define the problem behaviors, decide on consequences for the behavior, and be 100% consistent in enforcing the rule the same way every time.

Use time-outs

Separate the offender from the fun of the family as a form of discipline; for many problem behaviors this is taking away what the offender really wants most and is thus the most effective punishment.

Make the offender choose to accept the punishment

With kids this means not locking them in time-out, but allowing them to choose to get up/out and being there to put them back every.single.time they choose to do so. The punishment is internalized when they acknowledge it enough to choose to stay in it. With dogs it’s often much the same, for example, holding them in an “alpha roll” proves nothing. Intimidating them into an alpha roll (they choose to submit and roll over without physical contact) at least conveys a message. Similarly, when your dog refuses to listen, getting firm and waiting them out, being calm but not backing down, insisting they listen to you at least eventually, is far more effective than just shoving them into position.

Don’t hit

Hitting only escalates the situation and doesn’t convey any lesson.

Stay calm

If the owner/parent loses it and gets angry, the battle is over. There is no longer any productive comunication happening. To stay in power and control of the situation stay calm and follow through on your planned discipline.

Acknowledge the good behavior that’s easy to ignore

It’s easy to ignore your child/dog when they’re being good, because you have a break. Instead, make a conscious effort to notice that good behavior and praise or reward it somehow.

Yup, pretty much the same. Now imagine what Jo could do if she had a clicker!

1 Comment

Filed under Dogs, Life

More photos! (Stop it, you’re not sick of them yet)

February 13

I was going to take a bunch of photos of a friends’ jewelry this day…but then we got busy with her teaching me to coupon and us eating a yummy dinner and got tired. So I just have a photo I took of one of her fused glass pieces with my phone.

It totally reminds me of xkcd. I love it.

February 14

I totally suck. I thought I took a photo. Guess I didn’t. *hangs head*

February 15

New photos of pieces for DesignsByART



I love her pieces so much. Now I need to get them on Etsy.

February 16

OneĀ  of my favorite students! Hope you don’t mind, awesome student/friend of mine, I just love this picture! Her big ol’ delicate lap dog.

February 17

Whaddya know, I’m posting today’s photo today! Granted, it is another cell phone pic…*sigh* That’s OK, it’s still a photo.

This is what has been staring at me all afternoon.

Cutest. Puppy. Ever.

1 Comment

Filed under Dogs, Life, Photos

The need to be seen

I have a problem with needing to feel heard. If nothing I say or do right is ever acknowledged, I get frustrated and shut down.

I was reminded of this tonight at agility.

We had an indoor class because it has been monsooning. We went over the basics of how to clicker train. Um…hello? I teach other people how to do this. But that’s OK, I figured good review. It was just sooooo slow and sooooo boring.

But that’s not the point.

Eventually they decided to have us each practice nose targeting one at a time. Toby hadn’t done this in about a year (with a target on the ground), and he’d just spent 30 minutes working quietly for me and being comtained while the teacher talked (and talked and talked). So we get up for our turn. And he does phenomenal! At least, in my mind. Within a half-dozen clicks I have him going to get his treat and trotting back over to the target from a few feet away. He got one click for his first investigation and almost instantly figured out what to do. I feel like I’ve done well, both with this trick and his foundation.

But no comment to that effect.

OK, whatever.

We go around again and hit my turn. Before we can start the teacher starts harping on me about how Toby isn’t motivated enough. How I need to get him more up. And how I need to get him touching multiple times. (Which I had no idea was a goal, for the record.)

And OK. It’s true. Toby’s not motivated. I didn’t think this needed to be a super-high-drive trick. And he’s doing it fine, just kinda whatever. He’s tired, he’s cold, he’s bored, and he knows I’m bored. So he’s figuring it out and having fun, but not being super up about it. We’re both working.

But really?

All he had to do was say, “OK, he’s doing great touching the target and going to it from a distance, now let’s see if we can build some motivation and get him touching multiple times!”

See how much better that is than, “His drive is low. How can you get him excited? And get him to touch it multiple times.”

It’s not a big thing.

It’s just that it’s all.the.time.

I don’t want a “compliment sandwich.”

Just an acknowledgement that I did some good.

And so, because I felt like I wasn’t really being seen because there was no acknowledgement of anything good we had done, I would find myself commenting to try to defend myself.

I can take criticism.

But I wanted to hear a, “OK, good point! How can we work around that?” or “Well, good that you know!” rather than, “Prove it,” or “Do this other unrelated thing.”

I kept talking and responding because I felt like I wasn’t being heard. And I couldn’t stop myself. I just needed a tiny acknowledgment that I might have some clue what I was doing.

I have come away from agility in the past so disheartened, because I feel like Toby did something GREAT! Maybe he ran when he normally doesn’t, or took an obstacle he just learned..but when I get off the course, all I hear is, “Next time, work on this.”

And I know. I’m there to be told what to work on.

But you lose your motivation when it feels like no one sees your successes.

It takes two extra seconds to say, “Wow, great job on that hoop! Next time, work on this.”

Is it really that hard?

I am constantly telling my students to watch for their dogs being good, not just to react when they’re bad. I remind them to keep things positive, to give corrections but then immediately set up to succeed and reward. Don’t just harp on the bad. And, for the most part, they get it.

Why is it so hard for this teacher to do with his human students?

And I know I don’t do this with my human students. It is just obvious to me. You don’t walk up and correct someone all the time. Maybe I say, “That was great! Try this…” and that’s all. But there’s still that lead in.


I know it’s not a big deal. It’s not. It’s a little thing.

But that little thing building up for years starts to take its toll.


Filed under Dogs, Life

More photos

I have not yet figured out a good system for getting the photos onto my computer. It tells me it has 5 hours before the next set is uploaded. *sigh* I should work on that.

But here are some previous day’s photos!

Also, just for the record? I’m not editing any of these photos. They’re going up as-taken. And it’s totally not because I don’t know how to edit photos.

February 10

Well, I had high hopes for adding another day or two worth of photos…but since there are currently photos uploading it is taking almost a minute between shots for me to view them, let alone upload them! I have got to figure this out…

Just bask in the Toby cuteness for now :-)

Leave a comment

Filed under Dogs, Life, Photos

Photo a day

A student turned friend of mine was telling me about how she was doing a photo-a-day type challenge on her blog. And I thought, that’s brilliant. Especially since a few months ago my hubby and I bought an AWESOME new camera.

So I am going to be trying to take a photo a day (not too hard) and put them on my blog (evidently FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE!).

I started two days ago…but haven’t been able to figure out how to get the photos off my camera on my computer…and then once I got that, how to get them from there to here. The stupid software is REALLY SLOW…so I figure I’m using it wrong. Just need my hubby to fix it for me some more.

I’ll probably put up several a day, because I stink at picking just one. So feel free to chime in and tell me your favorites! :-D

Oh, and sorry they’ll probably almost-exclusively be of my aminals. Lucky they’re cute!











Yes, I took photos today. I am being good. But my computer tells me there’s 2 hours left in the upload. *sigh*

Today I even took them before 9PM! They look better with natural light!

I’ll try to just tack these on the end of normal posts, so feel free to skip past!

Leave a comment

Filed under Dogs, Photos

Moments of Intentional Happiness

Recent little moments of happiness I refuse to overlook:

Cracking open a crisp, refreshing coke and taking that first cold pull.

Going to a new agility class with Toby (same teachers, higher level), and having him not only hit every obstacle (he knows) perfectly, but run the whole extra-long course.

Walking in the door at home with Toby and having Parker rush up to greet…him.

“Cuddle-watch”ing with my hubby — the name we have given to our ritual of cuddling up in bed together almost every night (and some afternoons) to enjoy some TV on DVD. Last night? (Spoiler alert!) Maxwell proposed to Fran! (Yes, we are watching The Nanny. I have a good husband. Who actually enjoys it. And yes, we have a TV in our bedroom. Despite common wisdom, best thing we ever did for our marriage!)

Watching my hubby’s friend have his socks charmed off by Toby.

Working on a current writing project, and actually liking what I wrote.

Unloading the dishwasher for my hubby (typically his chore) just because I can and I love him.

Doing homework help tutoring today, and feeling like I really got through to the student…even on an AP English essay (have I mentioned I teach math?)

Laughing over a fantastic episode of Big Bang Theory with my hubby.

Waking up to a puppy curled against my legs and a kitty curled against my shoulders.

Sitting on the couch and having my puppy come and circle up next-to-and-half-on me.

Stopping to remember and enjoy the little moments.

Sorry there’re no pictures. I figure she’ll forgive me over at Bad Mommy Moments.


Filed under Dogs, Life

Less-puppy super bowl

My hubby threw a super bowl party today for some reffing friends and his boss.

I have approximately zero interest in sports, and y’all know how social I am (especially with strangers!). So…I was totally looking forward to this! (/sarcasm)

First reffing friend walks in the door.

“Look at your dog!” (Who is jumping all over him. Yes, I’m a dog trainer. No, my dog is not “well-behaved” in the conventional sense…but he’s perfect to us!)

*pets Toby enthusiastically for several minutes*

“Man, I almost asked if I could bring Bear, but I figured, nah, that’s not something that’s acceptable…”

At which point I cut him off enthusiastically, “You totally should have! Man, that would have been awesome! …It would have given me something to do!”

He looks crushed, and mumbles something about wishing he had.

I said, “That’s OK, we’ll invite you over again and you can bring him.”

He spent the entire night playing with Toby and Parker.

When he left, he told us if we ever go out of town he would totally dog-sit Toby because he had fallen in love.

My hubby sure knows how to pick ’em :-D

And if any of y’all ever come over to my house?

Your dogs are totally invited.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dogs, Life

More books

It’s another post about books! I know, you’re thrilled. But I just started the 2011 A-Z Challenge, I’m three books in, and the one I just finished almost made me cry, so now I have to write about it/them.

In the order I’ve tackled them, here’s what I’ve read so far:

Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamist Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs, Elissa Wall & Lisa Pulitzer

I’ve been on a polygamy kick recently. I love and am fascinated by sociology, studies of culture, of how we tick and how we interact, of what is “normal” to others versus “normal” to us. This fascination is why I love fantasy and science fiction: every (well-done) book is basically a big thought experiment in another “normal.” I firmly believe that getting outside of your normal is necessary to being a well-rounded and intelligent person, and I love books that take you there. This one is one of my rare non-fiction reads, and it will plunge you into a world outside your comfort zone.

This book is definitely biased, as is clear in the title’s use of language. But still, it is an insider view into a large polygamist sect in fairly modern times, and how difficult it can be to break free. The story is fascinating and appalling all at once, as Elissa tells us the story of her life, starting with her parents’ marriage (her mother is her father’s second wife) and coming up to present day after she testified against Warren Jeffs for his responsibility in her repeated rape. Elissa was born into the FLDS church and raised in polygamous families (yes, plural, her mother was “reassigned” to a new husband when her father was deemed incompetent by the prophet). She attended FLDS school, wore FLDS clothes, was brainwashed and indoctrinated with FLDS teaching, and at 15, since she was proving troublesome, was married to her first cousin. This is not a light read, but it is extremely detailed and fascinating, and it does have a fairly happy ending (as real-life stories so rarely do). I recommend it to those interested in the topic; if you’re not particularly interested there are definitely lighter reads out there that can still give you a glimpse into this intriguing lifestyle.

My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult

This book and author were pointed out to me by the fabulous Corey when she did her book giveaway, and I secured my own copy when I wasn’t lucky enough to win one. (It’s OK. I have still won her give-aways. Twice. Only drawing(s) I’ve ever won!) The story is about a thirteen-year-old girl, Anna, who was conceived by her parents using science to ensure she would be a perfect genetic match for her older sister. Her sister, Kate, has a form of cancer that is aggressive and “learns” each treatment thrown at it, meaning that once you’ve used a treatment it will never work again. At this point in the book Kate is near death, not from the cancer, but from a kidney shutting down in response to the aggressive treatments it has had to endure. Anna sues for medical emancipation, meaning that she can make her own medical decisions instead of letting her parents decide for her, in order to avoid having to give up a kidney against her will. The book follows the family during the legal struggle and includes many flashbacks to give us background.

Each chapter of the book is told from a different character’s point of view, and I must say, I love that every character has their own font. The book is good, and definitely pulled me in. It was a page-turner and I went through it quickly. But boy is it high on melodrama! Reading the reviews, it seems Picoult’s books aren’t always this high on the melodrama, but this one screams “Lifetime Original Movie.” So if you go into it, go into it knowing that that’s what you’re getting into (complete with corny ending!). But if you don’t mind, and you want some engaging brain candy and/or are interested in the topic, then this is a good, enjoyable book that really does look at some hard questions. Things like, what obligation does Anna have to be a donor to Kate, given that she is the only one who can be but that being a donor is dangerous, painful, and has life-long implications? What happens when a baby, conceived for her cord blood, grows up? How can parents make medical decisions for their two children, when what is best for each is opposite? The ethical questions are fascinating, and are given a fair shake in this book.

The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein

This book is fabulous. I’ll just start right there. Fabulous. I totally get why it is a New York Times Bestseller. It is appealing to almost everyone. There is no niche target audience here. It’s just good.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is told from the point of view of Enzo, a Shepherd-Poodle-Terrier-who-knows mix. I know, sounds like a corny concept. It makes a great book. And looking at reviews, people who aren’t animal-lovers agree. Which I get. Since the other major aspect of this is racecar driving, something I have absolutely zero interest in (really not a big sports fan at all, let alone car racing), and yet, in this book, it’s made fascinating.

The book starts at the end of Enzo’s life, and then Enzo takes us on a recap of all he has witnessed. Enzo was brought home by Denny when he is just a puppy, and watches as Denny goes through life: finding a wife, having a daughter who he is devoted to, becoming a semi-professional driver. And then he watches as it is all torn apart, by fate, by others’ selfishness, by trickery and lies. Enzo is there for Denny through it all, with a unique and insightful look on everything as it happens. As one reviewer on Amazon says, “Bad things happen to good people in this novel, and then worse things, and soon you are so angry, so hurt, so tear-stained and concerned that you do not think for one second to step back and say, hey, wait, this is just a story! A shaggy dog story, at that!” This book Sucks. You. In.

It is fabulous. There is no way to describe it. No way to convey its power. All I can say is: read it.

(As I was reminded today by a client and friend, a warning (and semi-spoiler alert): a dog dies in this book. This is no real spoiler, as I said, the book starts at the end of the dog’s life. But still, if you have lost a dog recently and are still hurt by that loss, this book may be too painful to handle for now. But remember it. And when you’re ready, come back. Because Enzo’s view of death for a dog is a beautiful, if heart-wrenching, thing.)

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Dogs