Past Posts…

Here you will find old blogs from my past life 🙂  They’re all squished in together so I hope you can make sense of them!  I’ll be starting off from scratch on my regular page…

So much has happened! 

Buster waiting patiently for his tennis ball to be thrown!

Hi Everyone –

There have been a gazillion changes since I posted last. Sorry for being absent for so long.  When you hear about what’s been going on in say, oh the past YEAR, you’ll understand!

First of all – got married.  Ryan and I had a beautiful, private ceremony up in Door County in March of last year.  We surprised everyone!  It was wonderful and I had to keep myself from crying the whole time – I just loved every minute of it!

Second of all – Had a baby!  Wow, that year has flown by!  Corey is almost one!  He’s walking, waving, eating table food, playing with his older brother and sister, going to daycare, climbing on Wyatt and taking his bones J

Third – Moved!  It’s been a big adjustment for all of us, but we are all really happy out here in the country!  I had lived in Madison all of my life, and at my last house for 10 years.  I moved from a beautiful home with even better neighbors, to come out to the country to raise my family. We knew we’d love it out here, but didn’t realize we’d love it this much!  Abby & Rudy tell me on a daily basis how much they love their new school and teachers.  The dogs have 5 acres to stretch their legs!  The kids will soon each have a bedroom of their own (thank you Ryan for doing such an awesome job on building Rudy’s room!!). 

We still have more plans for the house (yes, one does involve building a barn for horses!), but we’re just focused on finishing the projects we have going right now.  Christmas will be here before you know it!  Snow days, hot chocolate… I can’t wait!

The dogs have all adjusted well.  Squirt likes to find things to roll in.  Maggie has 2 rock walls to shove her nose into, looking for “naughties”.  Wyatt is amazing when he runs – I swear he can cover our whole 5 acres in about 10 strides when he gets going…  He’s really fun to watch!  And Buster – Buster is in tennis ball heaven out here!  And, he’s also ventured over to our neighbor’s a few times to visit his new girlfriend, Emily (an 8 year old Yellow Lab). 

I was actually most worried about my two cats, Amber & Guinness.  My dogs get out often enough that they know there is a world outside their home. But, our cats…  They had lived in my previous home for 10 years.  I knew this would be a big change for them.  Especially Amber – Amber’s 17 years old and has always been afraid of his own shadow.  In my old house he would either be upstairs on my bed, or in the basement where his food and litter were.  You’d never see him otherwise.  Even my good friends would say “I don’t believe you have another cat, I think you’re lying!”  From day ONE at the new house Amber has been active, coming out to the front room, going in the kitchen, spending time in each bedroom, walking around downstairs without flinching at every sound!  Heck, I even caught him on the counter top the other day!  I couldn’t even say anything because I was so amazed!  Way to go Amber! 

Ask Rudy about Amber when you see him, those two are best friends.  Amber lies on Rudy’s bed waiting for bedtime.  I swear Amber doesn’t know what to do with himself when Rudy’s gone, just like how Squirt stares out the window when Abby’s away…. 

So, now that we are starting to get into a groove again, I’m hoping to write more!  I have so many things I want to talk to you about!  How fantastic our staff has been with training our “newbies”, some of the *very* interesting private lessons I’ve been having, working on training new behaviors with my own dogs…  Lots and lots to tell you!! 

Thanks for listening, I’ll talk to you soon

–Giene

December 15, 2009

Dogs and Babies 

HI!  Now, you didn’t think I would have forgotten about you?  I have just been a little busy lately with “Mommy” stuff…  As I’m sure all of you Mommies can relate, the last couple months of pregnancy sure took a toll on me, I was exhausted!  Taking care of a business, 2 kids, 4 dogs, 2 cats, a bird and 2 fish (my daughter never lets me forget to mention the bird and the fish!), well, when you’re 8 months pregnant it can be a little tiring sometimes!  We are all happy to say that baby was born on healthy and well.  We had a bit of a scare 3 weeks after he was born.  He developed a dangerous fever and we had to be admitted to the UW Children’s Hospital.  Luckily it turned out to just be a virus, but it was pretty scary to have to be there for 4 days with your baby that was just 21 days old!!

Since you are all my doggie friends, I’m sure you’re wondering how the dogs have adjusted!  Here’s the recap of the past 7 weeks (from what I can remember, I’ve been a bit sleep deprived!)

Maggie – She’s very much a mother.  She’s “raised” all of my current dogs and many-many foster puppies that I’ve had throughout her 11 years… She knows all about babies from my 2 kids, my sister’s and many of my friends.  You wouldn’t guess that anything in Maggie’s life has changed. She’s an old lady but still able to roll with the punches.  She’s happy to be getting walked a little more often and has assumed her spot on the couch each night around 8pm.  She usually gives Corey a good once-over sniffing when we come home from being away for a couple hours, but besides that she pretty much ignores him

Buster – Buster surprised me more than the other 3 dogs did.  With my older 2 kids Buster pretty much decided they were of no use to him until they started eating solid foods (and dropping solid foods on the floor!).  But, maybe it’s because he’s more “mature” now…?  He has really taken an interest in Corey from the moment he came home.  Buster met Corey outside and ever-so-gently stood on his hind legs to get a good sniff…  He’s been very gentle with him (keep in mind that his full name is “Bust On Through”!).  Every time Buster comes in from outside, or Corey comes downstairs from his nap, Buster gives him a good ‘ol lickin’ on the back of his head.  I think if Buster could talk he’d tell you he’s happy the baby’s here!

Wyatt – Wyatt’s the puppy…  The full of energy, pushes things down that are in his way (yes, he’s about 110 pounds at 1 year old!) puppy…  He was the one we were concerned about. Well, not really concerned about, he’s a really nice dog, but you know, just big…  I should say – he’s the one I thought I might have to do the most training with once baby was here.  Nope!  He has pleasantly surprised us!  He was very-very interested in this new person that came into his house. New smells, new sounds, new routine.  He has proven to be the big-brother protector that his breed suggests.  The very first thing Wyatt did when he met Corey was give him a gentle lick on the back of his head, and then lay at my feet (honestly, it could not have been cuter!!).  7 weeks later he still does the same, gentle lick on the head, lay at my feet, or below the baby swing, etc.  Aw…  (PS – Thank heavens for The Dog Den – Taking Wyatt to daycare 2-3 times a week has been a wonderful outlet for his puppy energy during this time – Thank you guys for taking care of my puppy!!)

Squirt – Squirt on the other hand  She still isn’t too sure about this whole baby thing.  She kind of looks at him like he’s an alien!  Doesn’t really do anything except for watch him from a distance.  I’m sure she’ waiting for him to get old enough to play with her. She likes kids when they can do stuff J

That’s my recap for now…  I think I’ll go take a nap since I only got about 3 hours of sleep last night!!

September 3, 2009

What Animals See… 

When I was 17 I had a horse named Chelsea.  She was a retired racehorse, a Thoroughbred.  When I got Chelsea she was one of those horses that no one really wanted to ride because she was so skittish.  The girls in the barn didn’t like her because she “freaked out” at everything.  You couldn’t ride her in the arena, you couldn’t walk her past other horses in the aisle and you sure couldn’t catch her if she was in the pasture…  I took things really slowly with Chelsea.  I don’t even think I rode her for the first month I had her (and, I was a 17-year old girl, so I was basically spending every waking hour at the barn!).  We would just “hang out”.  I would sit with her in her stall.  I would sit on the fence with her when she was in the pasture.  Slowly she began to approach me on her own; she began to understand I wasn’t a bad thing.  Back when I was 17 you didn’t really hear about rescue groups much – for dogs and especially for horses…  So, who knows what Chelsea’s history was, but I guessed since she was a retired racehorse it would be similar to the retired Greyhound I adopted when I was 20.  Minimal human exposure, basically crate/stall to racetrack and back.  Chelsea was an adult horse that just didn’t know about things yet…

So, Chelsea and I spent the next few months getting to know each other.  She would eventually come to me when I called her from out in the pasture (huh, kind of like a dog!).  She would eventually walk calmly and with confidence down the shadowy aisles past other horses, sometimes even lowering her head to go under a tie-up that a horse was clipped to (huh, kind of like a dog – wonder where my dog training started, eh?)… Chelsea eventually let me put on her bridle and saddle without moving an inch.  She was calm enough, she would just stand there and let me groom her, check her feet, and get her ready to be ridden.

From that point it was the scariest of all to her- going into that huge arena.  A big wide-open space, usually with no other horse friends in there to keep her safe. To a “prey” animal, going into a wide open area like that can cause them to be full of fear…  The girls that tried riding her before me would say things like – she just freaks out at nothing!  Well, Chelsea and I discovered together what triggered her fear… and, when you would really look at it and think about it, it made complete sense!  We would be riding down the long part of the arena and when we would come to a turn all of a sudden she would stop and lurch sideways, often times trying to gallop away from the corner.  It’s a corner that we humans didn’t pay attention to because, well, there was nothing to it – to us… When you stopped to look at it from a horse’s perspective it was super scary!!  The corners of the arena at this barn were used for storage, which also meant that they didn’t always look the same.  Sometimes there were bales of hay in them, sometimes a tractor, sometimes wooden pallets, sometimes tarps – and sometimes those tarps would flap with the breeze a horse would create by cantering past it – Yikes!  How scary!!  And, to top it off, the lights were usually burnt out in the corners and the owners of the barn thought because it was the corner, it was unnecessary to have them replaced – So, with all of that terribly scary stuff going on in the corner it was also dark and full of shadows!  Wow…  Amazing that any horse would go near it!

So, we worked on hanging out in the corners.  I would walk around with her when no one was in the area and let her go up and sniff things on her own.  It was a little heart-breaking and a little hilarious at the same time.  This 1,000 pound horse lunging backwards at the site of a kitty cat jumping up on a bale of hay….Yep, she pretty much had NO socialization in her prior life!

The other part of the arena that would cause fear was that some areas were light and some (like the corners) were dark.  Horses cannot see directly in front of them, so it’s not surprising that sometimes they become skittish of things – Imagine not seeing something directly in front of your face, but then turning your head a bit and discovering it’s *right there*!!  Well, we quickly realized that the barn had sky lights.  Big, huge, scary sky lights…  So, when it was daytime the lights in the arena were off and the light would come through the skylight.  Picture this – a ray of sunshine with dust floating around in it.  You know how you can see the dust floating in the ray of sunshine, but not really outside of it?  Chelsea would act like there was a brick pillar in front of her and come to a dead stop – even if you were cantering or turning off of a jump!  Yea, not so good when you have a rider on top of you!  So, again, we worked on walking up to and actually THROUGH the sunbeams!  That was a big step for her…

Chelsea learned a lot when we were together, she would walk around the barn with me without a leash, I mean, lead rope!!  We would ride in the inside arena and outside arena, she would come when called when she was outside in the pasture. We became best friends.  When Chelsea and I were working together I thought it was pretty cool how we were helping her get over her fears…  Now, 20+ years later I look at my relationship with my horse, Chelsea and think – WOW…  I can’t believe how much I learned from her.  She was a one-in-a-million horse and it wasn’t until later in life that I realized how much she really taught me about animals and the way they view the world…

Sorry for the poor quality, it's an old photo!

September 2, 2009

Daycare dogs act different… 

One day I had a conference with my son’s preschool teacher (this was a couple years ago).  She told me surprise after surprise about my son, luckily all good!  She said that he was her “right hand man”, she could always look to him to explain something to a child that didn’t understand, or help one of his classmates if they needed it.  She also said that he was the first one to start to cleanup when it was time, and that he was a great cleaner-upper!!  What, MY son?  The one that I constantly have to remind to clean his room and pick up his toys (of course, it’s a lot easier to get a child to clean up their toys when you have a puppy in the house.. It only takes one chewed up toy and they’re pretty quick to make sure all of their OWN stuff is out of reach!)…

It then occurred  to me how surprised our doggie mom’s and dad’s must be when we tell them their dog does a behavior at daycare that they have never seen before.

Not that dogs that go to daycare act different, but it is easy to understand how they may be different than they are at home, or even at the dog park.  At home they are often the only dog, or there may be a couple dogs in the family (what?  Not all families have 4 dogs and sometimes a foster here and there like mine?), which means the dog-person ratio is much different than at daycare.  At daycare the “pack mentality” often kicks in and the dogs act as a pack, rather than on their own.  I don’t want to say we’ve heard it all, but we’ve sure heard a lot!  There have been times where we have had a dog that barks excessively at daycare (non-stop!!), when we tell their owners they must think we’re crazy because their reply has been – Gee, I’ve NEVER heard him bark at home!  Or vise-versa, we’ve had owners ask if their dog barks at daycare because it barks constantly at home – and we’ve never heard a peep!!.  Dogs can act much differently in different environments, just like children.

We will often hear owners assume that their dog will act the same at daycare as they do when they are at the dog park. But, dog daycare is also quite different than a dog park environment.  At a dog park there is wide open space, at daycare the dogs are in a building (inside and out) with the same dogs throughout the day that they get to know very well.  We always encourage owners to bring their dogs to daycare the same day each week. It may sound silly to some, but anyone that has spent time with a dog understands that they are absolutely able to develop relationships.  Daycare is not any different!  Dogs that come on regular days each week almost seem to do better than dogs that come randomly.  Yes, it’s because they come on days when their friends are there!  Imaging a kindergartener going to school on the first day. They don’t know anyone, they don’t know the teacher, the building is new, the schedule is unfamiliar to them… But, after they have been going for a while they know their teacher, their routine, they develop friendships and ‘clicks”…  Daycare dogs are no different!!
At the park they have the ability to run away from a dog if they want to, but may also meet many dogs they don’t know at all.  It’s a much different situation.

I was thinking about this recently because we have a super-cute Samoyed puppy coming to daycare. He is a little ham – literally so cute he looks like a floppy stuffed animal!!  His Dad came to pick him up the other day and I told him how he was playing in the pools outside.  His Dad had the response of – What?  Samoyeds don’t like the water.. Guess what – we’ve got proof!!!  He LOVES to play in the pools with his friends!!

August 29, 2009

My Backyard Dog Park 

I guess with 2 kids and 4 dogs I shouldn’t e surprised that my backyard becomes the local dog park..  Either all the neighbor dogs or dogs of friends usually ends up in my backyard.  That or children!  The other night we had my kids and a couple neighbor kids, my four dogs, a friends’ 10 month old yellow lab, a 10 week old Labradoodle and a 6 month old Boxer.  And, it’s not unusual to have more than that!  It’s not surprising that, with my career of observing dog behavior, that I find it interesting how my own dogs (and kids!) behave when there are friends over.  One of the parts I enjoyed the most the other night was Wyatt playing with the kids – with all of the dogs in his yard to play with, he was the dog that wanted to play with the children!!  I love my family!!

My backyard dog park!

August 19, 2009

Ahh… We can all breathe! 

(Sigh…deep breath)…  We are finally CONE-FREE!  Wyatt is doing MUCH better and last night was his first night without the cone. We all slept a little sounder J  We took about 2 days of gradually having it off less and less.  It helped that he was able to play with a lot of friends to help tire him out too!  I’m sure he was pretty pooped, going from laying in the house for a week and a half, to having a busy few days!

Sunday was the annual Rottweiler Rescue benefit picnic at Token Creek. It was so much fun!  It was like a family reunion!  Wyatt got to see his Mom, Dad and 4 of his brothers & sisters.   He had a blast and slept for about 3 hours straight after we got home (thankfully, because then I got a nap in too!).

It was great to see so many Rottweilers that had been unwanted – placed in great, loving homes.  How fun to see Wyatt and his brothers all playing – a bunch of 9 month old, un-neutered male Rottweilers (sorry Wyatt!) all playing so nicely with each other (Thanks Joan for picking such a great breeding that produced fantastic temperaments!).  And, talk about the food!!  There were probably 3-4 picnic tables full of potluck food…  Yep, you don’t have to tell a pregnant lady twice to get in line for food!

I was able to bid on some fun items too.  I ended up winning a UW Badgers football, signed by Bret Bielema – Shh… Don’t say anything!  It’s going to be Rudy’s birthday present when he turns 7 on September 24th !!

August 12, 2009

Wyatt’s neuter, day 5… 

Yippee! Wyatt has slept the past 2 nights and so have I!  He’s feeling much-much better.  So much better that he’s full of energy and BORED!  He doesn’t know what to do with himself and he’s running around the house with the cone on, bumping into *everything* in his path!  I ended up getting him a second cone because the one he has is so bent up.  FYI, the one I bought at the big chain pet store came apart within minutes of being on him.  He was outside and luckily not too far out of eyesight because he got it off right away and started licking – yikes!

Ryan took him for a long walk tonight so hopefully it will help, being able to stretch his legs.  It will still be a while before he can go back to daycare, and at least 2-3 days before I’ll trust him with the cone collar off…  The WI Rottweiler Rescue picnic is on Sunday, hopefully he’ll be better by then and not have to wear the cone – He’ll be like the kid wearing the dunce cap in class!!!

Doh.....

August 10, 2009

Friday night – Wyatt slept for hours after we came home from the vet. Then, around 2am he woke up J  we were trying to get away without using a cone collar on him because of how claustrophobic he is.  Claustrophobic dog?  Well, one day a few months ago he put his head in Squirts crate – and got it stuck!  For the first few seconds it was hilarious, like on the show America’s Funniest Videos.  But, then you could see that it really WAS stuck and he really WAS freaking out!  Ever since the “incident”, Wyatt’s been a bit claustrophobic…  But, by 4am I realized that I couldn’t keep him away from his incision and had no choice but to try the cone. It seemed similar to the old fashioned way of “breaking” a horse, when you would slap a saddle on it for the first time. All of us were exhausted but did manage to get a couple hours of sleep that night.

Saturday – Wyatt’s still very antsy and can’t get comfortable. He can’t help himself and all he can think about is getting at his incision.  He hasn’t quite figured out that he can walk around with his cone on, so each time we take him outside it has to be on-leash and we have to stop every 2-3 steps to stop him because he’ll sit down in an instant and try to get at his stitches…  Poor guy!  We meet Ryan’s parents at Blackhawk campground and take the pitiful puppy with us. He basically slept the whole time we were there.  We tried taking him on a short walk so he can go to the bathroom, but he just wobbles around and we don’t get very far.  Saturday night, no sleep again L

Sunday at 5:30pm…  He’s just been miserable!  Boy-oh-boy…  I’ve had puppies before and none of them have had near the problems that poor Wyatt has had with his neuter…    So, I’m guessing he has an infection.  We end up going to the emergency vet.  Our TWO hour trip to the emergency vet…They were *very* nice there, and I understand that there are emergencies, but…  A pregnant lady sitting on a wooden bench for almost 2 hours while waiting to see a vet for 3 minutes?  Ugh.

Now we’re home, Wyatt’s finally napping.  I’m watching “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”. Maggie and Buster are sleeping, Squirt is playing with the kids.   I have high hopes for a restful night…

August 7, 2009

Wyatt’s Neuter Surgery… 

Oh boy, talk about pitiful!  Poor Wyatt went in for his neuter surgery today. 8 months and 3 weeks old. He was supposed to be my conformation dog, and he was actually doing quite well for a puppy, but it was “time”…  Those un-neutered males don’t always make the best family pets!  Plus, he was starting to like the pretty Goldendoodles at daycare just a tad too much 🙂

I picked him up from the vet today at 3:30p and he’s basically been sleeping since (it’s now 6:40p).  I’m sure he’ll be awake tomorrow and that will be the more difficult day to watch him and make sure he’s not licking his stitches…  Right now he’s groggy, but jumpy at the same time.  You know how you are when you wake up in the middle of the night, awake but not entirely?  That’s him.  Poor guy – you can’t help but feel sorry for him!  He tried eating his dinner and you could just see how uncomfortable he was.  I think he sat and then stood up again about 6 times in the 60 seconds it takes him to eat!  My poor little 105 pound June bug!

Something surprising though – Maggie was laying next to him!  Okay, I’m not sure if HE was lying next to her, or she was lying next to him… But, I have the photo to prove it!  Maggie, the Queen Bee who will let out a low growl if another dog comes into her space, allowed poor, pitiful Wy-Wy to lie next to her…  Either she’s getting soft in her old age or she knew he wasn’t feeling well (couldn’t possibly be the fact that she just didn’t feel like getting up and moving! No – She was *snuggling*with him of course!)…

We’re supposed to do some tracking Sunday morning.  It’s hard to believe that he’ll be up for it by then, looking at him now… But – I’ve raised too many puppies to know better!!

PS – I had to attach this picture of Abby & Rudy… I went into work Thursday night with Wyatt and Ryan watched the kids for a couple hours… This is what I got to come home to!

  

  

 July 25, 2009

How much do our dogs learn, when we don’t even realize we’ve been training them?

How much do our dogs learn, when we don’t even realize we’ve been training them?  We have a new class called “Control Unleashed”.  It’s a fantastic class for reactive dogs, based on the book of the same name by Leslie McDevitt.  I was working at home with Wyatt, my 8 month old Rottweiler, the other day, showing him some of the commands that are worked on in this class.  I’m planning on Wyatt being my demo dog in classes next year, so I’m trying to show him something different from each of our more specialized classes…

I’m in my front room with Wyatt and I have Maggie and Buster downstairs.  Squirt just kind of always hangs around, so I wasn’t too worried about her being a distraction to Wyatt during our training session.  I decided to work on “Go to your mat”.  At home we call it “Go to your bed”…  There are many different commands/behaviors that we work on in this class, but I thought this one would be a good one to start Wyatt off with because we have people coming to our door almost every day (if not multiple times a day!).  Maggie and Buster know well enough to lie down and stay if someone is at the door, but Wy-Wy gets super over excited and wants to greet everyone.  Go to your bed – Yes, a much needed command in this busy household!

Wyatt is a pretty smart dog, but he’s a teenager right now, and he LOVES treats.  Sometimes he gets a little over excited for the treats, sometimes he’s distracted by a sunray; you know puppy kind of stuff.  So, I decided instead of using luring I would use more of a shaping method for this command with him.  We work on it a few times and he’s getting it, very slowly getting it.  Each time he nears his bed I say “Yes” and treat.  Closer, closer, then he’ll walk backwards and put his butt on his bed, “Yes”, treat.  So, now he’s got it that he goes backwards and puts his butt on his bed – great.  I thought we’d stop there and take a few minute break.  Squirt is still hanging out with us, lying on Wyatt’s bed…

We come back to our training session and he does really well in that he picks up right where we left off – taking a couple steps backwards (not really what I wanted, but I’ll take it!) and putting his butt on his bed.  So, we start working on having his whole body on his bed and instead of sitting, lying down.  Squirt is still around.  After a few minutes I decide that this is enough for Wyatt’s puppy brain and decide to stop for the day. He did REALLY well and was getting it, slowly, but still getting it.  So, I put the treats away and start to do something in the kitchen.  For some reason I look over to Wyatt’s bed and Squirt is still lying on his bed.  I stand there for a minute and Squirt and I just kind of stare at each other.  The reason I’m watching her now is because she’s not just LAYING on Wyatt’s bed, she’s laying there with her ears perked like she’s waiting for me to come over to her, or at least say something to her.  I give her a confused look and say “Okay!”.  She gets up off of his bed and trots over to me.  What?  Could it be that Squirt was listening and working the whole time that I was working with Wyatt?  I thought, naw… I never reinforced her or gave her specific instruction (or even attention!!)….  But, little Squirt is pretty smart.  So, I thought I’d try her… I made sure all the other dogs were downstairs, I walk about 4 feet away from Wyatt’s bed and just stand there.  I didn’t have any treats on me, I just stood there and looked at Squirt.  She sat in front of me.  Without moving or motioning towards the bed I said – Squirt, go to your bed.  Guess what, yep, you got it – she trotted right over to the bed and laid down smack dab in the middle of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Man, gotta give those little guys some credit!!! So, I went and grabbed a handful (okay, it was like 2 regular treats, but to squirt it’s about ½ the size of her dinner portion!!) of treats and asked her a couple times to Go to her bed – she did it each time flawlessly – AND, stayed on the bed until I released her!!!

Squirt…  Thinking back on it now she was probably trying so-so hard!! I can just imagine her doing it each time while I was working with Wyatt and not getting treated for it (while she was seeing him getting treated!).  She probably was working even harder wondering when she was going to get my attention so she could get that $#$%^ treat out of my hand!!!!

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