This Year’s Journey, One Month In

We’re already 27 days into the new year. It’s sometimes amazing how quickly time flies. The holidays are gone. The students are back. And now, everyone is hiding away from the frigid temperatures as we dip into the negative double digits. It seemed like a good day to check in on where I am with my New Year’s resolutions.

Here we are with blog post number 4. That seems a reasonable pace toward my fifty for the year. I don’t know that I’ve written much of anything to inspire myself or others, but I’ve written. Maybe the words of inspiration will come.

Thanks to wonders of audio books, I am on track with my book reading too. This exercise is a reminder of how I have come to multitask. Write and listen to a book. Knit and listen to a book. Do housework or office work or drive or whatever else and listen to a book. I question how well I take in all that I listen too. I have found though that it easier to listen to an audio book than a movie. The good books for the month? “The Education of Will” by Patricia McConnell. I’ve loved Dr. McConnell for a number of years. She’s a wonderful dog trainer. The book is an powerful look at who she is as a person and how her relationship with her dog, Will helped her move through some deep pains. It made a lot of sense. “Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying Yes to Living,” another excellent book. It’s a beautiful story of the end of an elderly woman’s life, how it brought her family together and changed their lives and many others.

Getting back to my healthy eating? Well, it’s a lot better without being surrounded by Christmas cookies.

Running? Nope. But, I have been doing more yoga lately and getting out walking quite a bit.

Guitar? Sometimes I think about picking it up. That counts, right?

I am more than half way on finishing a baby blanket for my first knitting project of the year.

Buddy is doing well with his good canine citizen training which is his first step toward being a therapy dog. It remains questionable whether he will pass the test, but each week gets a little easier. We started the class a few weeks late and his first session was a near total disaster. It was impossible for him to focus with other dogs in the room. The second week he did better, except when practicing stay and come. Then he decided he’d rather go check out the gymnastics equipment on the other end of the gym. And, there was the moment during puppy playtime. Young Buddy is a teenage boy and he was rather smitten with another dog who was several inches taller than him. Suddenly, I had a mess on the floor to clean up! Yep, young Buddy ejaculated across the gym floor. He also pooped in the hallway, but at least we were alone then and I had plenty of poop bags. Last week’s session’s only moment of excitement was coming in to the building. Poor Buddy somehow got his front paw stuck under the heavy entry door for the building. I have never heard a puppy scream like that! Thankfully, there was no significant damage, as confirmed by a classmate who is a vet.

As for cutting my screen time, I think maybe a little, but not all that significantly. Still it seems good. I am happy with the start of the year. Let’s see where it goes.

Puppy School– Day 1

Buddy had his first canine good citizen class tonight. I am counting it a success that we didn’t get kicked out yet. I am not fully confident that it might not happen next week.

It was a small group, just Buddy, two other dogs in the class, and the trainer’s dog. Thank goodness there weren’t any more there tonight or Buddy might have completely exploded! You see Buddy likes to play. He’s a big fan of other dogs, as long as he can chase, wrestle, and more recently, try to mate with them. Trying to work separately on basic skills causes his little mind to overload and for him to simply quake with anxiety.

The plan for the night was to start with practicing loose leash walking. That’s a tough one for Buddy. Add in the other dogs in the room and that his foolish human was remembering to use the clicker and praise, but failing to consistently provide treats, and we weren’t getting very far. The class was held in a large gym in the local high school. Every time we got in the same within 20 feet of one of the other dogs Buddy would start to pull and whine and move into a full on bark. “MOM, LET ME PLAY!” and we’d need to turn and go the other way.

Then the trainer suggested that we work together on stay. I explained that Buddy and I had worked on stay quite a bit and that just yesterday he started a strange new response. Every time I say “stay” he confuses it with “lay down” and he lays down. The trainer gave it a try and sure enough each time she said stay, he laid down. When he didn’t get a treat for laying down he tried rolling over to see if that might work. She suggested that we start over with that piece of training and gave me some guidance on doing a short stay and using a release word. But, by now Buddy was far too entranced with the other dogs in the room and cared almost nothing for treats, not even the really good ones. She encouraged me to treat him for just being quiet.

So, Buddy and I found our corner of the room and just worked on a little bit of sit, stay, lay down, and look, while mostly just getting praise and treats for every moment that he was able to let another dog near us without whining and barking.

Thank goodness for that last bit of the hour together when the trainer let us all let our dogs off leash and Buddy was free to play. Still, that wasn’t all the best either. First of all, gym floors are really hard to get a grip on if you’re a bumbling puppy trying to speed after the big guys. Buddy did a lot of slipping and sliding and at least one flip that I think may have worried the other people in the room for a moment. Then there were Buddy’s teenage hormones. Thankfully, all the young lady dogs had already been spayed. Buddy will be neutered soon, but for now is still testing his manhood as much as possible.

We’ve got some work to do. But, for now Buddy is a happy and tired puppy. School was quite the adventure! More stories next week!

Small Dogs

I don’t like small dogs. Let’s just start it that way. I mean I’m not one of those actively anti-small dog people who really wants to boot them down the street, but I don’t like small dogs or at least that’s what I thought.

I am a fan of big dogs. My last dog was a bit over 50lbs, not huge but a big dog and she was perfect to me.

So, when I went to get a puppy a few months ago I looked at the big puppies. I scanned the shelter websites ignoring anybody who was clearly going to run the risk of growing up to be a yappy little ankle biter. Then, I made the big trip to the Lakes Area Humane Society and met Buddy. He was a big little guy so he fit the bill, right? Well, there was the question of the paws. There is a commonly held belief that a dog’s size can be determined by the size of their paws. Buddy has small paws.

Hmm… what to do? Well, there really was no question. How could I say no to the happy little guy scampering all over my lap, clearly just loving life? I chose not to pay too much attention to the paws and instead listen to the shelter staff person who told me that they believed he probably had lab and husky in his mix. He wouldn’t be huge, but he’d be a big dog.

We met up with my friend Bob later that day. He noted the paws and commented that Buddy may not get very big. I remained in denial with my commitment to his lab and husky traits.

Looking at various puppy weight calculators, most estimate that Buddy will someday weigh about 60lbs. He’s five months now and just under 30lbs and stands at about knee height to me. A trainer friend told me just the other day that at five months, he’s likely to only grow another two or three inches. While I have seen some tools that suggest he could grow as much as four inches, I am beginning to strongly suspect that my already sturdy little dude may someday strongly resemble a barrel. I think I may be the caretaker of a short, round canine for life.

Right now his tail is big for him and his head is already a bit small for his body. I’m pretty sure that no matter how much he grows, he’s going to be a unique looking fellow. I appreciate that. One of the great roles that dogs play in life is that they teach us about love and acceptance. He’s already doing that, it seems I am falling in love with someone that I wouldn’t have expected in this four legged goofball wonder. Stay tuned to find out who he may grow up to be.

The New Housemate

It’s been three months now since Bella took her last walk on August 26th, 2018.  Then on September 15th, I took the leap and brought a new friend into our little household and the world changed again.

Bringing Buddy home was the best way I could find for me to heal. It’s been an adventure that’s for sure.  What else could it be going from an 11 year old relaxed  best friend dog who had the power to take people with dog phobias and gain their trust and who could see the spirits in the room that none of the rest knew were there to a ten week old bundle of chaotic energy?

I still miss Bella, I suppose I always will. She carried me through some tough times along with many good ones and traveled with me for quite a few miles living in two states and at least six different homes over our years together.  I suspect the cats miss her too sometimes, especially when young Buddy is attempting to use them as living chew toys.

Buddy is a special little guy too though and is finding his way into my heart and many others.  He’s some sort of lab mix, born on the White Earth Indian Reservation who came to me via the Humane Society of the Lakes.

The morning I went to the Humane Society I’d actually gotten approval to adopt Buddy’s sister, but while people can submit applications and get approved they can’t reserve dogs.  I promised myself that if a family with kids was there to see the puppy I’d planned on I would let them have it without questions.  So, when I arrived to find a family with kids I looked to the other puppies.  Buddy jumped right in my lap and started to chew on me and I fell in love with the little 10lb clown.  We’re still working on the chewing though.

It’s been an exciting few months.  Buddy is a high energy dog and growing fast. He’s already put on 15lbs in our just over 2 months together.  Without enough running everything becomes a chew toy including the cats and his favorite human.  Tickle takes being a chew toy quite well and just bats him around a bit.  Tonks, not so much.  She’ll only come out from under the couch for trips to the food dish, the litter box, or when she’s feeling really brave.  The good thing is that Buddy’s been encouraging me to get in plenty of time hiking and playing out at the local natural area.

Up until very recently I thought I might have to buy stock in the pet stain remover company. Accidents were coming multiple times a day.  He had favorite spots on the living room carpet! We’re down to about one accident a week now.  I have hope.

He’s a smart little guy, other than taking a while with potty training and chewing.  I was happy to see him holding a ‘stay’ as I stepped several feet away today.  He’s also doing well with sit, come, shake, spin, and lay down.  Roll over is tough.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it means the human gets a puppy nip from a puppy who really wants a treat.  We keep trying.

In a few weeks, we’ll be embarking on the next step of our journey together. Buddy and I are going to puppy school.  It’s the first step of the journey for Buddy to become a therapy dog.  Bella provided therapy by nature. I’d thought of having her certified, but wasn’t aware of the option until she was old and it was past her time.  I suspect that Buddy will give a lot of good just by his spirit, but hopefully, he’ll have the certification to take him places too to help elders or kids or maybe folks facing illness.  We don’t know yet.  There are many questions to be answered.

I hope you’ll join us along this trip together.