Posts Tagged With: Border Collie

Who We Are

This week, my vet was back in the country, so we scheduled Ked for his ultrasounds. They came back clear of cancer, or any other kinds of bladder/kidney/liver/stomach disease, so that was awesome. The only un-awesome part is that we still don’t know exactly what his issue is, so we’ll be going back for more tests in the future. They thought it was possible that he had an infection in the bladder lining (since his is a bit thicker than normal), which is hard to diagnose, and doesn’t show up on tests very well, and although she thinks the Amoxicillin he was on SHOULD HAVE gotten rid of something like that, we’re doing 10 days of a broader spectrum antibiotic, just to make sure. The next thing on the list to see if we can rule out will be Cushing’s. If it is Cushing’s, he only has one symptom, so that’s atypical… We’ll just keep going down the list to see if we can figure it out, but in the meantime, as long as he’s acting normal and happy, I’m not going to stress.

Rowan has finally come in heat, at 10 months old. I was really hoping she would come in at 6 months, so she’d have two heat cycles under her belt by around a year old, when I want to spay her, but now it’s looking like I won’t be able to expect her back in season until she’s about 15 months, at the earliest. AtΒ 15 months, we’ll be at the sheepdog trial, so I don’t want to have her in season there. At 16 months, I will probably be heading out of Utah… So I’m thinking I’ll compromise and go between a year old, when I originally wanted to spay her, and 15 months, when we’ll be at the trial. I’m thinking probably the 14 month mark – July. It was really a lot easier to decide on when to fix a dog back before we had all the information we do now. Spay before this age, and risk all these side-effects, spay after this age and risk all these other side-effects… Ugh. I feel like 14 months is a good compromise between cancer, endocrine, hormonal, and bone plate issues. I don’t want the inconvenience of having an intact dog to factor into when I decide to spay her. When I spay her will have life-long repercussions, so I want to do what is right.

This week I got the RV transferred into my name (finally) and got temp tags so I can go get it fixed and inspected. I also picked up new-to-me kitchenware so I could pack all my own kitchen stuff and still have stuff in the kitchen to use. My roommate talked to the landlord and confirmed that he would be staying here in the house when I move out, and the new prospective roomie filled out paperwork and turned it in to her to get approved. She told me I was welcome to stay, because I’ve been a great tenant, and said we could work out rent to have 3 people living here. *lol* Very kind of her, but that won’t save me the money I need to save up, so… nope. The roomie and I have been touching base to figure out when the best time for both of us would be for him to vacate for a couple days so I can shampoo all the carpets (including his bedroom). In the meantime, I’ve been working on packing the remainder of my stuff.

It’s a cold, wet day here in the Salty City today. Mother Nature’s indecision over the status of spring means mostly rain, a bit of sleet, and occasional snow falling. Yesterday it was warm and sunshiney, with bright, poofy My Little Pony clouds. Β Days like today call for good music and a big mug of hot cocoa while I pack, so I’m working on the closet (when I’m not sitting here typing).

Yesterday I was shoe shopping with Em, and thinking about how picky I am (not hideous, no leather, must fit my fat feet, no known sweat shops), and looking at everyone else who was out shopping, and thinking about how they picked out their clothing, and I was scratching my head at some of their choices. So today, while packing the remainder of my clothes, I was looking at my choices, and smiling about what they said about me. I choose things based on what is the most practical and comfortable. All my pants have extra pockets. They are all denim or khaki-type material. I have short socks, long socks, thin socks, and thick socks. Almost every single shirt in my my closet is aΒ printed t-shirt. Almost all of them are animal causes or band shirts. There is some environmentalism and comedy thrown in for good measure.

(Exhibit A, my favorite Tori Amos shirt, and one for Squatters, a local brewery that donates money to No More Homeless Pets based on the sales of its dog-inspired beer, Chasing Tail):

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I pulled out my most favorite shirts out of the bunch, to see what they say about me. They are the shirts that I don’t want to wear because I want to keep them forever and I’m scared of them getting stained, torn, or just plain worn out.

Here’s the first one. Let me just say that I had an inner battle over buying a shirt made by Hurley. I refuse to pay $50 for a damn piece of cotton, no matter how much I love it. So the day these went on sale for cheap(er), I jumped on them. I wish I would have bought two. I lovelovelove this shirt. The painting is by Brandon Boyd, one of my favorite singers of all time, and I just love the design. If you look closely, you will see that the whale has a teardrop. The shirt is organic cotton and buttery soft. Yes, I’m a hippie. But I don’t care, this shirt is amazing!

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The second shirt is made by Life is Good, and features Jake and Rocket going for a hike. It’s simple, it’s cute, it has the dog hiking with his human, and has a message I try to live by when I’m out in nature. The shirt is also buttery soft organic cotton and I love it. They no longer make it, and do not bring back designs they’ve retired. When I saw this shirt at REI, I jumped on it. Matt rolled his eyes at me, but again… I wish I would have bought two! The day I brought Rowan home, she put a hole in this shirt with her claw, and I know that it’s only a matter of time before it completely unravels now. 😦

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The last shirt I got from Tori. We were packing her stuff for a move, and I saw it and was like MUSTHAVE! She never wore it anymore, so she gave it to me. The shirt was rare when she got it… She saw someone wearing it and had to have it, so her dad searched high and low to find it for her. It is made by Patagonia, and the front says “Support Sustainable Forestry”. I love the “hidden message” in red. Trees are near and dear to my heart.

shirts-patagonia

I think my wardrobe is a fair representation of who I am, and what means the most to me. Saving the animals, saving the world, music, farming, doing what you love, and hilarity. πŸ™‚ Oh, and… ya know, since I’m a crafty hippie… lots of tie-dyed stuff. πŸ™‚

Categories: dogs, lifestyle change | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toy Review for Power Chewers

(Warning: This post has a ridiculous number of pix.)

For most puppy owners, choosing a new pet toy is simple. You head to the closest petropolis, make your way to the toy aisle, and stand there, staring at all the bright colors in wonder. Then you find something totally adorable, maybe a pink fluffy bunny that squeaks when you squeeze it, or a baby blue tennis ball with a bell inside. You buy the toy, take it home, little Sparky is overjoyed, and that’s that.

But for some of us, that’s just not how it works. Maybe Sparky aspires to be an agility champion when he grows up. For the rest of us, our dogs are aiming for a profession more along the lines of velociraptor, or Tasmanian Devil wrangler.

I keep seeing toy reviews that include things like flirt poles, and fancy stuffed animals. Here’s a review for the rest of our nutty dogs. The ones who don’t lick and nuzzle their toys, but who take it as a personal challenge to mangle their toys beyond recognition, and/or eat them for a midnight snack.

For those of you who aren’t up to speed on my little terror, she is a Border Collie pup. She is almost 9 months. We have very few toys in the house. I got her at 5 months old. By 7 months old, she had eaten over 60 toys, and Kedric’s beloved toy collection was gone. We are on a mission! Ked wants toys. And the only way to keep them around is to make sure that Rowan can’t kill them.

I have a small list of criteria:

1. It cannot do serious damage if swallowed. This means no hard plastic to break into sharp bits, no “string” type toys that can slice open intestines when swallowed whole (think rope toys), etc. No small, hard parts (choking hazards).

2. It cannot be so hard that it cracks teeth when bit down on. Β I have read way too many horror stories about hellacious vet bills from having to remove fractured teeth!

3. It cannot be so soft that she has it shredded and/or ingested within seconds of handing it to her. That means most stuffed, squeaky, and floppy toys are out. There’s really no point in even wasting my money on them.

So, without further ado, here’s what we’ve tried so far:

Grrriggles Chompy Romper ball

The reviews on this were pretty good. People said their dogs adored the balls and it was one of the only things their dogs hadn’t been able to eat. At just over $10 a ball, they weren’t too expensive (that’s velociraptor shopping for ya – a $10 ball is considered cheap!), so I gave it a shot. Handed it to Rowan, who looked delighted, and I feltΒ delighted until she bit down on it. Holy Jesus. Who designs the squeakers in these things?! Seriously one of the most annoying squeakers I have ever heard in my life. Not to worry though! She laid down and was chewing happily on it while I played on the computer. After maybe 3 minutes I realized I wasn’t hearing the squeaker anymore, so I turned around to check on her. She had the ball chewed in half and was chewing it into pieces small enough to eat. A quarter of the ball was already missing, down the hatch. I would include a picture of the ball, but it didn’t last long enough to take one.

FAIL.

West Paw Design Zogoflex Bumi

I kept hearing the word “zogoflex” when looking up tough dog toys. Turns out this company has some revolutionary new material that they “guarantee tough”. Okay, I laughed, but I’m game! πŸ™‚ I tried out the Bumi before any other toy in the Zogoflex line because it looked cool, and I didn’t want to get the dog nothing but boring, round balls. The Bumi can be used for fetch or tug. It bounces, it’s chewy, and it’s super springy! Since I bought it from Amazon, and not the West Paw site, I missed the fine print that said this is one of their Zogoflex “play” items, not one of the “chew” items. Still though. My puppy had this a couple weeks before she figured out the secret to putting scratches in it. She LOVES playing tug with it. We had it 3 months before enough pieces were chewed off that I figured it probably wasn’t safe for her to play with anymore and took it from her. West Paw Design is so cool though that they offer a one-time free replacement. So we are sending the Bumi back, and trying out one of the “chew” items to see if it holds up even longer. I plan to buy another Bumi again as well, because it was great for tug. It offers lots of grip to the human, and lots of bouncy, chewy goodness to the dog. I’ll just have to put it away after tug so it lasts longer this time around. Rowan was a fan, I was a fan. It didn’t last, but it lasted longer than everything we’d tried before, which is amazing! I plan to try all the toys in this line. Added bonus? Zogoflex floats! Any dog toy that floats gets added bonus points from me.

PASS! πŸ™‚

Here is Ked with the Bumi. He is a 50-lb dog, and this is the Large Bumi, to give you a size reference.
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Petstages Orka Tire

I used to have an Orka ball about 10 years ago, and I thought it was the coolest material. Of course, I didn’t have a monster then, so I decided to give this a go to see how it would hold up. I bought the Tire in November, and it is February… Not a scratch on it. IMPRESSED, I am! The Tire is interesting. It feels very rubbery/flexible, like a giant LifeSavers Gummi candy, and has no nasty smell. It is hollow, but since the material is see-through, if the inside of it gets nasty, you can see it and easily clean it out. The way the tire is set up, I’m sure you could stuff treats into it to keep your dog occupied. The slit in the tire is on the inside of the ring, just like with a real tire. I think this is what keeps Rowan from being able to eat it. She tries hard to get her mouth inside of the tire, but rarely succeeds. If the seam was on the outside, I’m sure she would have eaten it by now. The Tire is AWESOME for tugging. Since it’s flexy and chewy, but has grip lines on the outside, Rowan can yank as hard as she wants, and the tire just keeps bouncing back. Also, IT FLOATS! Bonus points, ALWAYS, for floaty toys! πŸ™‚ I really want to get another ball from this company, as well as the Jack. I’ve seen good reviews for the Jack, so I’ve got some high hopes there.

PASS! πŸ™‚

The look on Rowan’s face when I picked up the Tire to take a picture of it. Haha!
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Here is the seam on the inside of the Tire:
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Super flexible, so you can stuff stuff in it:
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Good for tug!
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Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Recycle Balls

Planet Dog recycles all of their toy remnants into these awesome balls. They are hollow through the center, so I didn’t know how they would hold up, but they’re rank “5 out of 5 chompers” for toughness on the site, and I’d seen lots of protection-work trainers online raving about the Orbee-Tuff line, so I thought I’d give the crunchy-hippie balls a chance. πŸ™‚ You never know what colors you will get, as the balls are made from remnants of other toys. I got green and bright orange. The balls are tied together on a rope. You can untie them and use them separately, or tie them up however you’d like, to create interest. Well, Rowan’s interest was keen, and that rope was in about 10 pieces in under 2 minutes, so so much for that. *lol* I hadn’t expected the rope to last anyway, so I wasn’t heartbroken over it. The balls have a soft mint smell to them, which you won’t notice unless you put it to your nose and sniff. They are SUPER bouncy, and about the same size as a regular tennis ball. Both of my dogs love to chomp-chomp-chomp them because they are hollow and make an interesting collapsing/suction sound when they are squished flat and then released. I suppose you could put small treats inside if you wanted to. The hole on one end is larger than the hole on the other, so that could create some interest, as larger treats would only fall out one of the holes. The holes are NOT large enough to reach into though, so cleaning out isn’t as simple as it could be. We have played with these outside and got mud in them, and I found it simple enough to pour a drop of soap inside and clean out. The larger hole is big enough to fit a finger into, so you can “scrub” the inside to make sure all the junk is out. These toys ALSO float (what luck!!!), which is both awesome and not so awesome, since Rowan likes to drop them in the water bucket, let them fill with water, then slowly pull them out like she’s bobbing for apples, soaking my floor. Oh well, at least she’s entertained. πŸ™‚ She prefers the orange ball to the green ball. I think it’s easier to see when it lands on things, since it’s bright. After 3 months, these balls still look perfect. Not a single nibble taken out of them. Very impressive! And even though the rope didn’t last, I like that I can tie my own rope through the holes so it’s easy to throw without getting slobbery if I wanted to.

PASS! πŸ™‚

Recycle Ball in action:
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Ruff Dawg Peanut and Stick

I have Ruff Dawg’s rubber bowl for traveling, and it works great. I also have a plethora of their K9 Flyers. I lovelovelove the K9 Flyers! They come in standard or mini. When we were training for agility, many moons ago, we discovered these. They can be rolled up and put into your pocket like a burrito for training purposes, and they are soft, so if you fly one right into the side of your dog’s head, they won’t hurt him. They are one of the only frisbees that Kedric will catch. With hard ones, he ducks as they fly by, then picks them up off the ground. They are also one of the only frisbees that he doesn’t destroy the second he catches them. Regular frisbees are gone as soon as they hit his mouth. He holds them down and crunches them into scary splinters, so they don’t even last a single session. That being said though, he CAN chew through them if you let him use them as a chew toy. Knowing this, I looked into the rest of Ruff Dawg’s products. The Stick had good reviews as a fetch toy, and the Peanut had great reviews as a chew toy. I found the 3-pack online, which offered a Stick, a Peanut, and a K9 Flyer. I can always use more K9 Flyers! πŸ™‚ So these arrived, and I was excited to try them. Ruff Dawg’s products smell like rubber. Makes sense, right? They ARE rubber. But if you’re not expecting them to SMELL like rubber, you might be surprised when you first pull them out of the package. On top of the smell, they also do not float. That kind of sucks, since lots of people who play fetch do so around water. Well, long story short there. Rowan loved the stick. She held it down and had several pieces chewed off and swallowed within probably 2 minutes. That sucks. It does, however, work great as a tug toy. It’s really flexible and bouncy, and doesn’t seem like it will fall apart with vigorous tugging. Unfortunately, I have to keep it hidden in the closet outside of tug, because it’s way too easy for Rowan to eat like a big corn-on-the-cob. So I handed her the peanut. Higher hopes there, since so many people online said their dogs chewed the crap out of it and it held up well. I was hoping the shape/design would stop her from eating it. Well, maybe 3 minutes into that, and she had the end chewed off and swallowed. Luckily the material is soft enough that it passed through her just fine, but… Yeah, big waste of $20! (Except, you know, that I got a new K9 Flyer out of the deal… It was the same price to buy a Peanut and a Stick as it was to buy the 3-pack, so happy new K9 Flyer to me!)

Fail. 😦

The Peanut after just a few minutes with Rowan:
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The Stick, when it was still in one piece:
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Kong Senior

I have a regular Kong, which used to be a Kong Tug, until Rowan ate all the firehose tug straps off. Now that it’s firehose-less and squeaker-less, she mostly shrugs at it. I think because it just isn’t very soft to chew on. So I bought a Kong Senior. It’s a bit softer than the regular Kong, but still tough. While she likes this toy, and she hasn’t chewed it to pieces yet, she’s just not very interested in it. Sometimes I find her holding it down and gnawing on it, which is more than I can say for the original Kong, but all in all, it doesn’t hold her attention too much. Ked, on the other hand, thinks it’s awesome. He gets worked up and holds it down and tries to tear it up. Other pros: You can put stuff in it. One of the holes is large enough to let you clean inside (with just a little hassle). You can also tie a rope through it, for easier throwing. Cons: Doesn’t float. 😦

Pass. πŸ™‚

Kedric waiting for me to throw the ball for Rowan:
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Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Snowball

The Snowball is made out of the same material that the Recycle Balls are, so I was expecting it to be pretty much exactly the same thing, but it’s not. This is a first-run product, not a product made of first-run product remains. The mint smell is much stronger. When you play fetch with your dog, your hands will smell minty afterward. It’s also thicker than the Recycle Balls. I was not expecting it to be hollow and have holes on both ends like the Recycle Balls, but it does. So cool points there for a design that allows you to tie a rope through it or put random little treats inside. Because it is thicker than the Recycle Balls, it also weighs a little more. It is also slightly larger than them. And I’m not sure exactly what the difference between this and the Recycle Balls is, but it almost has a sticky texture. I’m wondering if it’s from the mint. It seems to be lessening as they play with it more, and it still smells minty though, so I’m really not sure. We’ve had this ball probably a month, and it’s holding up perfectly. Again, added bonus points for buoyancy! πŸ™‚

Pass! πŸ™‚

The Snowball in action:
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Here the greedy beast is with her loot:
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And this is how I gauge success… A dog worn out from playing, with her toys still in one piece:
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The next company I really have my eye on to try is Goughnuts. I really want their green doughnut, and yellow stick.

If you know of any other awesome products out there for power chewers, please leave a note!

When I try out new products in the future, I will leave more reviews on them. I’m always on the lookout for cool new “indestructible” (ha!) toys.

Categories: dogs, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slowly But Surely

I’m kind of torn between wanting to update this frequently, and not wanting to post nothing but dog training. Currently I am working with the puppy (now named Rowan) every day, but have not been working much on the RV, so I feel like that’s all I’d be doing. The puppy is learning and doing better. Not reacting as much, but still has obvious issues. She wants to eat the cats, has not learned the art of “Quiet” very well yet, and does still react to my roommate and one of his friends (although that also seems to be improving). I don’t think I mentioned this, but she did nip my roommate’s friend a couple weeks ago. He was one of the people she tried to bite when she was new here. She’s taken quite a while to get over her issues with my roommate, and she’s still not there 100%, so I figure it’s going to take quite a while for her to get over her issues with this friend, because she doesn’t see him as often. He had been over to visit, and it was the first time she’d seen him since the day he kept trying to pet her after she’d warned him to leave her alone and she snapped at him. So this time, she ran up to him, and he reached down quickly to cover himself, and it spooked her. She jumped back away from him, then jumped back in and nipped his pant leg. It was closed-mouthed, and she just pinched a tiny bit of the jeans, but it was still very upsetting for me. I am not sure if she went in with the intent to bite in the first place, or if she only decided to bite once she got spooked. It happened too quickly. So I’ve been wary of letting her near him ever since. She needs to get over her issue with him, because he comes over frequently, and I’d rather not play interference. He is very sad that she doesn’t like him because he loves dogs, and wants to be her friend. She’s seen him twice since the nip, and did not try to bite him either time, although she was not comfortable with him either time. The second time she saw him was today, when I was outside working on my RV. He was carrying a computer, and she barked and barked at him as he walked through the yard, then circled him, sniffing the air around him, and then turned her attention to my roommate, who was leaving the house behind his friend. I thought it was pretty ballsy of the friend to walk through the yard with her loose out there. I don’t know why he didn’t tell me he was coming so I could grab her, but I was relieved that she didn’t try to attack him.

On our walks, she has been pretty good. Definitely needs improvement in just about everything, but she isn’t reacting to cyclists, runners, skateboarders, or strangers with insanity anymore. Some people she is wary of, and will cross behind me to walk on the opposite side as they pass, then she wants to sniff the air behind them. Most people she walks calmly past and (mostly) ignores though. She gets treated for all good behavior around strangers. People she’s met before and had good interactions with, she is a crazy excited puppy toward when we run across them again. Lots of new people passing seem to see her and want to make friends, since she still looks like a puppy. Most of them she is shy with, stepping back from their outstretched hands, then she steps back in and licks them or lets them pet her, and then instantly turns away from them (if they are someone she is unsure of), to direct her attention back to me, because I give her tons of praise and treats for good interactions with strangers, or she jumps all over the place like a complete lunatic 6-month-old puppy (if they are someone she’s decided she really digs).

I’ve been trying to only have good interactions with dogs as well, but they’re such wild cards. You never know what you’re going to get as people are approaching you. Yesterday I was walking my usual route when suddenly there was a loose dog on the sidewalk. A little Pit-Hound looking mix. The owners saw me coming, their dog was off leash, and they acted like everything was fine. And then the dog approached Kedric with all raised hair, passed him by to get to Rowan, and then proceeded to growl at her and try to jump on her (twice). WTH? Why would you let your dog approach strange dogs if he has aggression issues? NOT the experiences I’m looking for with a fearful pup! We have had some good experiences with larger dogs, but for the most part, she’s pretty scared around them, until they get to know each other well… And who has times to sit and let dogs get to know each other as you’re passing someone on a walk? But little dogs she LOVES. She goes all crazy for them, and wants to play, and I have to hold her back, because I don’t want her to jump on them and hurt them. She likes to play tag with Stella, the little Chi-something that lives in our apartments, and she REALLY wants to play with Sam, the Jack/Rat mix, but he’s an old man, so he doesn’t put up with her shenanigans for long. So at least I know, for my own references, that she needs more exposure to good-natured, well-trained larger dogs.

So basically, I’ve been doing nothing but eat, sleep, shower, work, and dog training for the last month. My brain is tired. I need a serious vacation from work, some kind of recovery period. It also sucks because I can never let my guard down with this pup. Today, as I was leaving the back yard, she slipped out before I could grab her, and was intent on not being caught. Scary moments, for sure. When she’s in the house, the only place she can be off-leash is in my room. The door has to be closed because she flies over the large baby gate like a Grand Prix horse… Or should I say she used to, until she crashed the gate trying to get to one of the cats, and broke it in half. Until she is trustworthy with the cats, the roommate, and recalls, she cannot be let off leash outside of my room though. So I’m pretty much thinking she’ll probably be on leash in the rest of the house until we move into the RV. Which is a pain in the ass. When I take a shower, she has to go in her kennel, because I can’t trust her to not chew shit up, and I can’t leave her outside in the yard, because I view her as a liability (and don’t trust people to keep the gate closed). I’m just getting to the point where I will SOMETIMES leave her out of the kennel for a couple hours in the morning, after she’s went out to potty, and before I’m ready to get out of bed, but I can’t sleep well then, because I’m constantly checking to see what she’s into. She is the BIGGEST pain in the ass.

So I’ve been looking into trainers with different philosophies online. Basically, I am an eclectic kind of girl, and I like trainers who are the same way. There are a whole lot of training methods I look at as either evil, or completely unrealistic. I need to find a happy medium. I just ordered some Michael Ellis DVD’s. Expensive as hell, but I really dig him. The more I see of him, the more I like him. He makes sense. He has great energy, and gives the dogs the benefit of the doubt, treating every one as an individual. Highly skilled marker trainer, but also believes that it’s okay to tell your dog when they’re doing something wrong, rather than ignoring it and hoping your dog figures out the right way. Let’s be honest, folks. I don’t have 20 years for my dog to decide that she’d rather not do the things I don’t want her doing. I may be wrong (I’m not), but I’m pretty sure that Border Collies are considered the smartest breed in the world. So I’m pretty sure my dog understands when I say, “Hey, I don’t like that behavior,” and she isn’t going to be in mortal fear of me the rest of her life. I can disagree with behaviors without the relationship that I have with my dog bursting into flames. Really, who thinks this shit up? (Maybe they just have ultra-sensitive dogs that they’ve over-corrected?)

I despise clicker training. Don’t get me wrong – I think marker training is AMAZING. But the clicker itself drives me nuts. I could NOT listen to that damn thing all day. Maybe my hearing is just sensitive, but clickers seem SO loud to me, and who has the extra hand for that? I have a bag of treats on one hand, and a crazy, reactive dog in the other. I am not an octopus. Β I can hear people using a clicker a block away from my house. Dogs have amazing hearing. Who designed these things to be so damn loud?? So I love marker training philosophy, and will stick with it, because it is undeniably the best training method out there, but until I start to go deaf, you will never see me using a clicker. I will also continue to tell my dog, “Nope, that’s not right”, and I roll my eyes at the people who say that is a terrible mistake. Maybe they’ve never owned a dog with such a high-functioning brain?

Anywho, yeah. So this is my brain lately… Dog training, dog issues, dog reactivity, what we need to work on next, what skills need improved on, what tools I need to have for the next step, etc. It gets pretty boring, believe me. There are days I’d rather just sleep all day, and maybe read a book later. But time is critical. Rowan just turned 6 months, and I feel like the closer she gets to adulthood, the harder it’s going to be to change her innate reactions, and fear-based behaviors. So for now, my brain is in doggie overdrive, and dammit, I’m tired.

The winter is supposed to be officially rolling in… oh, 36 minutes ago. We’re supposed to have a day-and-a-half-long snowstorm to kick things off. So I got the dogs walked this morning, then finished sealing almost every seam I had left on the RV (there are like 3 things that need redone, but nothing that some rain or snow could hurt), then put the tarp on top. I still haven’t gotten around to resealing the roof. I need a skinny person to hop around up there for me for that project, and all the skinny people I know have been busy, so it will probably just have to wait until spring. But the tarp is on, so I’m not so concerned about that.

When Em was here last, we tried to figure out what the deal with the washer fluid was. All the tubes seem to be in decent shape, and there is some suction in the tubes… just not enough to generate fluid spraying onto the windshield. Rather than bother with tearing shit apart that I know nothing about, I’m probably just going to take it in and have it fixed. Maybe the motor is dying. Or maybe there is a pinched or cracked line somewhere down in the engine compartment. I don’t know.

So I have to get the washer fluid fixed, get it inspected/licensed/registered, and I’m considering reupholstering the cushions to make them a color I like (and because the top bunk upholstery is falling apart in the center, where people have slid off the bed). Then a tune-up and oil change and whatever other basics I need, and she’ll be good to go.

I have a list of the things I am going to need while on the road that has been on my computer for years, and I am just now starting to go through it and color code everything, so that I will know what I have, what I need more of, and what I don’t have at all. It’s pretty exciting. πŸ™‚ I brought in my emergency bags tonight so that I could go through them and make lists of what was in them, so I will know what I need to add into them… I do like to be prepared. πŸ™‚ (Girl Scout for life!!) (Yes, I’m a nerd.) πŸ˜€

I tried to get a happy family picture the other day when I was raking leaves in the back yard… Here’s how that turned out. (Kedric’s face says it all).

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And here’s Flash with the tarp on, ready for winter!

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And until I can really get on the ball with my exercise program, I’m not even going to bore you with the details. Been so busy with this crackhead puppy that my exercise routine has been put on the backburner. But that’s temporary, I swear! πŸ™‚

Hope everyone’s having a great night.

Categories: dog training, dogs, goals, RV maintenance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Intermission

Whoa, okay. So that absence was unexpected. The lowdown of the hoedown is…

I can’t even remember what I was doing the first week of my absence here, but I’m SURE it was something amazing (okay, maybe not). I then got sick because… well, germs. And inconsiderate people. And then I got a puppy.

I couldn’t find what I was wanting through rescue. Every dog I seemed to like had aggression issues. And I have a roommate, and he has two cats. So bringing home a dog with aggression issues didn’t feel like something I could take on, while being a considerate roommate. I considered waiting another 6 months for a puppy from a breeder who would be having a litter I really wanted a pup from, but that would then be a full year of Kedric being alone. And honestly, at this point, getting a puppy was mostly for him, because he’s been so lonely. I figured we could get over the annoying stuff now, so he could enjoy his retirement with a well-trained companion.

So there was a breeder nearby whose dogs I really like. Her males are all eye tested, and she’s working on getting all her breeding stock hip tested, which is more than I can say for the majority of the breeders out there… And she had a pup that I’d been checking out since she was little, but was never sure about… She also had a pup last year that I really loved, but didn’t go get because it was a boy and I knew I’d be wanting a girl next. And I saw how gorgeous that dog turned out, and I feel like I missed out on a good thing there. So rather than waiting until this pup had been picked up by someone else, or until she was a year old and I was kicking myself, I decided to go for it.

I went out a week ago, and we talked, and I decided that I was for sure taking the pup home, so money and paperwork changed hands, and I had myself a new dog. She was a dream the whole (very long) car ride home, and was fine that night in her crate… And then the next day came. And my adorable puppy turned into a lunatic. She had lived the first 4 1/2 months of her life in the country. Not much happens out there. She had no exposure to skateboards, bicycles, runners, traffic – nothing. The breeder suggested I just let her chill and get used to me, but I couldn’t just leave this high-drive puppy locked in a kennel for 8 hours while I was at work without burning off some of her energy, so I started taking her on walks in the morning. She is super reactive and fearful. Within a couple days, she had tried to bite my coworker, my roommate (twice), and his best friend. Everything was freaking her out. Strangers and children were not on her happy list. Pretty much everything was triggering her. I figured it was basically just sensory overload. Over-stimulation triggering just extreme fight or flight reactions.

I was a wreck the first few days, thinking that I’d finally made a decision to bring this dog home, thinking it was the best thing for all of us, and I’d bought a psychopathic biting machine instead. So I did what I do best, and got online to research things. Fearful dogs. Reactive behavior. Fear aggression. On and on… Hours of videos and papers about training. Some articles said that since she was older than 3 months, she would never be “normal” again. Some articles talked about how BAT had turned their own nutjobs into normal, sane dogs. I was just frustrated that I could have picked up an aggressive rescue for a fraction of the price, and instead I paid more for an aggressive puppy from a breeder. Of course, she was sane when I picked her up, because she was in her own familiar environment. So to me, the problem was twofold: that she’d never been socialized, and that she was being exposed to everything at once. But I can’t pick and choose what she is exposed to in the city. I never know when I will run into a longboarder or a sprinter. It’s the luck of the draw. I am not going to the park. We are walking on quiet streets. But everything is still so new to her.

So I started doing some modified BAT with her. I can’t turn and walk the other way every time someone approaches or we would never get our walks completed. So I step off the sidewalk, far enough away that she isn’t feeling too triggered, and she gets rewarded when she breaks contact with the trigger and checks in with me. I’m allowing her to check out the things that scare her, rather than continuing to make her walk with me, because I feel like in order for her to stop reacting when she sees things, she needs to have come to a conclusion about whether or not they are scary in the past. It seems to be working. I let her investigate the scary things (some things I have to approach myself, and then lure her to them with a treat), and then she’s like, “Oh, just kidding… It was only a garbage can,” or whatever. And then the next scary thing we run into, she is like, “Oh, yep, seen that before.” Within 3 days, she was no longer reacting to scary Halloween decorations in yards along our route because I’d let her check them out, and then praise her when she looked relaxed and satisfied that they weren’t as scary as she first thought.

She has a remarkable memory, but she reminds me so much of Shannon in how she does things. She doesn’t care a WHOLE lot about treats. I mean, all puppies like treats, but they are not her driving force. She wants to see things. That’s what Border Collies do, they look at the world around them. There are commands that she already knows, that she will just brush me off on, because she just doesn’t give a shit that I’ve asked it of her. Just a hard-headed little shit. But when you have a treat and she wants the treat, the behavior you ask for is done in milliseconds. Within 3 days of moving in, she knew No, Let’s Go, Off, and Leave It. I taught her Sit in about 15 seconds. 24 hours later, after not having repeated Sit a single time in that many hours, she gave me the behavior the first time I asked for it. She’s smart as a whip, this one. Today we started on With Me. It’s more of a mouthful than Here, but I just really dislike how closely Here and Heel sound to each other. All my Borders have been able to tell the difference just fine, but I really want something that sounds different, so I’ll be phasing out Here (although I still let it slip from time to time, since it was Kedric’s command).

So I’ve really got my work cut out for me with this one. She has that typical headstrong bitch personality that Shannon had. I see it and it makes me smile at the same time I want to give her a shake for giving me the finger. What drove Shannon was not food, nor was it toys. It was love, and drive. The day after coming home, this puppy challenged Andy’s dog because it approached me for some pets, so I know she’s becoming attached already. It’s only a matter of time before I can turn that into something constructive, I think.

She hasn’t tried to bite anyone in the last 2 days, and she actually had positive interactions with two strangers today – women who she decided just out of the blue that she wanted to be buddies with. She also met and had good interactions with two dogs she did not know. She then had a not-so-positive interaction with Andy’s new dog, who comes from the same breeder. He was very excited to see her and wanted to sniff her girly region, and then play with her while she was rolling around on the lawn. She was not having either interaction, so she got reprimanded for her bad reactions. I don’t mind a lip curl or something to tell another dog she is not pleased with their actions, but snarling and trying to bite are both big no-nos. A snarl at the wrong dog can land her in the doggie ER, so she’s gotta learn to keep that attitude in check.

But with all good things come the bad… On Friday, she chewed up my phone charger cable. So I am without a phone until the new one arrives. Then the next day, she chewed my internet cable in half. $40 and two days later, the internet was up and going again. Then this morning she chewed the new cable in half. Rather than spend another $40 on a new cable, I spent the morning splicing cables and connecting each itty bitty wire in the CAT-5 line together one by one, and patching it all with a generous supply of electrical tape. I was beyond delighted when it actually worked. *lol* I knew that degree wasn’t worthless! πŸ˜›

So yeah, my mind is kind of exploding with puppy training crap. I can’t have a biter or a lunatic, so we’re working on lots of stuff, and my poor brain is spinning. But I was totally stoked today when she had the good interactions with the strange people and dogs. She even offered up the sit after a few go-rounds of me stepping off the path of strangers. “This is what you want, right? Hand me the hot dog!”

I have toys shredded all over my room. It looks like a plastic and stuffed animal massacre. I am beyond tired. It is like having an infant, needing out at crazy times of the night. I have already thrown at least 6 mangled toys away this week.

At the same time, I am trying to get back on the exercise wagon after being sick for like 2 weeks and doing nothing during that time. I also still have not finished the outside of the RV, and I want that done before the snow season hits (it has already snowed a few times, but not for long). I plan to finish the caulking tomorrow, and try to get the windshield washer fluid issue figured out. Then my friend Emily is coming out next week, and she is going to help me finish the roof. Once the roof is done, I have a tarp I want to put on it for the winter. It won’t cover the sides, just the roof, so I can continue to go in and out of it, working on random things throughout the winter – like getting the cushions reupholstered, and doing some basic cleaning. I was going to work on it this morning, but I ended up spending the morning on that cable, and then I had a City & Colour concert to go to tonight.

Wish the phone wasn’t dead, so I could share some pix or videos from the concert, but it is, so a few pictures of the new pup will have to do.

Here’s one the breeder took of her… Her eyes are two different colors currently, but look like they’re changing. Her right eye is currently gold on the top, and brown on the bottom. Her left eye is gold and has some green hazely thing going on.

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Here she is, walking with Kedric. Their markings are kind of cool, I think. They have the same white shoulder, but their hips are opposites. She has a spot on her left hip, and a white streak up the right – he has a spot on his right and a streak up the left.

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And here’s what she looks like when she’s being good: πŸ˜›

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So there’s that.

And since it’s Monday, I suppose I’ll include this, to help get the ball rolling…

Starting weight: 272
Lost this week: Who knows?
Total lost: 20.6
Currently: 251.4

Starting BMI: 43.9
Lost this week: ?
Total lost: 3.3
Currently: 40.6

Hope everyone’s having a great week. πŸ™‚

Categories: dog training, dogs, goals, lifestyle change, RV maintenance, weight loss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Packing & Puppy Politics

My last two days have been spent taking care of my friend’s sick dog, rather than working on the RV like I’d planned, so there’s not much to update on today. I slacked this week and did shitty on my exercise schedule. Rather than playing online tonight, I’m spending the night going through some of my remaining stuff and sorting it… Keeper stuff for the storage shed, stuff that needs to go to donation, and stuff for the motorhome. There really isn’t much left to sort through, but those little things seem so tedious and time-consuming. Of course the biggest stuff was the easiest, so that happened first. The (huge) storage shed was crammed as full as you could get it, and I worked through that bit by bit, and now I am sharing one of the smallest sheds you can get with a friend, and there’s still room to spare inside. I just feel scatterbrained and apathetic a lot of the time. I would rather spend hours looking at land for sale online, or browsing through places to rent on the coast, than sort paperwork that I need to file. Really though, it’s the little things that will matter in the end. Crafts correctly sorted into totes, all my stuff in order… When I’m living full-time in the RV, things being in their proper places will make a world of difference. I got the second-smallest model I could find, so it’s not like there’s room to be a slob or have any clutter.

I’ve started thinking about where I want to keep things in the RV. Originally I figured I’d use the big bed above the cab to store all my stuff, but I’m thinking that’s going to be too much weight, and it’s also going to make me top-heavy, which is the last thing I want, so I’m re-evaluating that…

Been thinking about getting another dog soon. Kedric seems lonely, and it seems weird to just have two of us, so I’ve been digging through the internet, trying to weigh my options. I don’t want to wait a year, because I don’t want a new puppy driving him insane in his old age. He turns 12 in December. So I figure now, while he’s still full of life, and not a grumpy old man or weak and wobbly would be best. Especially because he just needs a friend. The complicated thing is where to GET a dog. I’ve done rescue before, and helped with other rescue organizations before, so I recognize the incredible need there is for people to adopt. But then I have to guiltily admit that I want a purebred. So I’ve been looking at both Petfinder and actual breed rescues, just searching for the right dog to pop up… And it’s not appearing. So I’ve also been searching through breeders. For those of you unfamiliar with Border Collie politics… Holy shit. (Prepare yourself!)

The Border Collie was originally bred for herding. Owners did not care how the dogs looked, as long as they could get the job done. So Border Collies come in every package imaginable. Everyone pictures a black and white, semi-long-haired dog with tipped ears when you say “Border Collie”, but that is not always the case. Border Collies come with floppy ears, tipped ears, prick ears, short hair, long hair, medium hair, and curly hair. They can be anywhere from 25 to 60 lbs or so, and come in a full rainbow of colors and body types. Some look more like whippets, some look more like German Shepherds… Nobody cares. The dogs, after so long of being bred for brains instead of looks, were the smartest dogs on the planet and could do just about anything – from service dog work to narcotics detection. Border Collies are used in Search & Rescue, agility, lure coursing, and sledding. They have even been used in protection work and as therapy dogs. There is little in the world a BC can’t do. So the AKC wanted this dog in their kennel club. The herding people fought hard to keep the dogs out of the club, because the only thing the AKC really breeds for is looks,Β not abilities. They couldn’t care less what the dog’s instincts were, as long as it conformed to a written standard on what a BC should look like. And what should a BC look like? It should look smooth on the outrun, calm on the lift, and steady on the fetch. It should look capable at the shed, and patient at the pen. But as to its color and conformation, there has never been a standard. So the AKC added the BC to its roster, even though most BC breeders opposed this, and now there is a war at hand. There are people who breed AKC-style BC’s, which are gorgeous, fluffy, and tend to be, for the most part, either completely uninterested in anything other than taking up space on the couch, or completely hyperactive and somewhat nuts, loving the sound of their own voices. I’m sure I’ll get comments about how that is not how all of them are, but I’ve met a fair share of them, and most fall into one of the two categories. The problem with the AKC dogs is NOT that they’re pretty. It’s that the breeders tend to breed only the best looking dogs with no regard to instincts, so most AKC dogs just don’t have the abilities bred in anymore to perform hard farm work or trial courses. Of course, the secondary problem is that in breeding for large, square bodies with incredibly lush coats, you end up by default with a dog who generally couldn’t do the trial work even if it DID have the instincts, because the coat gets caught in everything (and overheats the dog), and they don’t have the shape and fluidity of a working dog. They can’t really flex at a gallop, and they can’t really do the slinking walk up either. On the other end of the spectrum, ABCA breeders are breeding dogs with brains to dogs with brains. Some of them are lurpy, some of them are just so homely it’s hard to look at them without wincing. But no matter how funny-looking the dog, when it is in motion on the hillside, it is a work of art. It is pure beauty, and few can argue with that. The talent and instinct of a well-bred herding dog at work is an amazing thing to behold.

So where does that leave me? In the middle, of course. I never fall into the black or white, I ALWAYS end up wandering around the grey spectrum. When I was little, my mother raised Shelties, so I’ve always loved the tipped ears and sweet expressions (and pretty sable coats). What I am looking for is a dog that was bred with good intentions (to WORK), but comes in a pretty package. Not a big, boxy, flowing-haired dog, butΒ pretty. For this, I feel like a terrible BC person. I do not agree in the slightest with what the AKC has done to the BC, but at the same time – I don’t want to own a homely dog. My thing is – I don’t own sheep right now, so I don’t NEED a dog that can work. But I don’t want to support a breeder who doesn’t have the breed’s best interests in mind either. I have found many breeders who have some really pretty dogs, but *only* in black and white. I’m not sure why this prejudice exists in the BC world, but over the decades, breeders favored the black dogs, so even if a chocolate/red, blue, or sable pup popped out along the way and was showing interest in stock, the breeders would choose the blacks over the colored pups. This means that the gene pool of dogs with REALLY good herding instincts tends to be predominantly black (or tri, which is mostly black). What I am looking for in a breeder is someone who raises ABCA dogs (not AKC), is breeding dogs that have the desire and talent to herd, has colors other than black or tri, has dogs I like the look of (medium build, rough coat, tipped ears), and is hip/eye testing their breeding stock. You would think that I’m looking for a unicorn breeder. And not just ANY unicorns, but ones who can only live off sugar cookies, and who crap rainbow sparkles. It’s just… not to be found. Anywhere. There are breeders who breed color, but the dogs don’t really work (even if they have instinct). There are breeders who have herding, colored dogs, but they don’t hip or eye test. There are breeders who have herding, hip and eye tested dogs, but no colors… UGH! I have literally gotten to the point where I’ve decided that in the future, I will be breeding Border Collies. I CANNOT be the only person out there looking for this combination, so any pup I don’t want to keep for myself, I’m sure someone will want to buy. It is seriously driving me to insanity. I have looked at probably every breeder in the US at this point who has a webpage (any webpage, no matter how terrible). I’ve seen some really nice herding, colored dogs in the UK, so I’m not sure what’s going on over here. Of course, if you ask opinions anywhere online, you will get yelled at from both sides of the spectrum. You want a brain-dead colored dog?! You want an ugly herding dog?! All I have to say to that is… Border Collies were never bred for looks, so they come in every look imaginable now. I’m going to pick the dogs I like the looks of best who are registered with the ABCA, since that’s the best compromise I can come to at this point. It just really sucks that if I decide to go with a registered dog, I will not be satisfied on all the items that I’m looking for, since nobody appears to be breeding them. There’s a reason I keep going back to look at Petfinder and breed rescues, and that’s because it hurts my brain less. Also, the Pit Bull cause is near and dear to my heart (so many amazing dogs being put down because of a bad rap), so every time I get done searching through BC’s, I look through the Pittie database as well. I’ll be the weirdo with 15 Border Collies and a Pit Bull in the future, for sure.

Anyway, it’s Monday, so here’s my weekly breakdown. It sucks, but at least I didn’t gain anything (surprise).

Starting weight: 272
Lost this week: .2
Total lost: 15.4
Currently: 256.6

Starting BMI: 43.9
Lost this week: 0
Total lost: 2.5
Currently: 41.4

Categories: dogs, dreams, goals, weight loss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drudgery

So I spent my birthday coating all the silicone bits on the RV with McKanica silicone remover. Two thumbs up for the silicone remover, and a big emoticon of displeasure and pokey sporks for the company I bought it from, which took almost 2 weeks to send it out.

The application of the silicone remover is… not fun, to say the least. It is called a “gel”, but it is more like old, half-dried toothpaste. It’s sticky and grainy, but unless you smash it onto a surface, it’s just going to fall off. The label said to “cover it immediately” after application… Um, what? I’m coating every seam on an RV, I’m not going to go around taping plastic wrap over it. So I just left it.Β So after hours in the sun, applying the stuff, I came back outside to this. It was somewhat alarming…

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The stuff basically turns dark brown as it’s drying, and then white when it’s completely dry. I was worried about my paint, but when I scraped it all off, the silicone came off quite nicely (for the most part), and my paint was fine. I smoothed it on with a piece of cardboard, and I scraped it off with a plastic scraper. For any leftover residue, you just wipe it down with a dry cloth, and it comes right up.

Here is what the edges look like once done:

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So compared to how the seams used to look, these are a dream!

Yesterday I had to then clean all the seams with denatured alcohol to remove any residue and clean the seams. Um, yeah, eek. They don’t warn you that the denatured alcohol acts (and smells) like fingernail polish remover, so if you scrub it when it’s on your paint, it will eat the paint off. I cleaned the rest of the seams as quickly and gently as possible.

Then I started on the caulking… That was interesting. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the caulk used for RV seams has a consistency like super-duper thick slime. It is super dense. It also turns tacky extremely fast, so if you want to form it or work with it, you have to get to it within seconds, or you’re going to have a mess on your hands. So after a couple seams, I had my technique down.

Here is my main window, all taped up and ready to go:

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Here is my storage cubby with fresh caulk on the seams…

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And for a novice, I think the seams are turning out quite nicely. I’m not completely done with it just yet, but wanted to update this blog on my progress before heading into work. I’ve been using my hands (wet & soapy) to smooth out the edges of the caulk. It starts to set up so quickly that I don’t think I’d have time to sit there with a tool and work it, so I’m satisfied with how they look (finger indents here and there, but pretty smooth, for the most part)…
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I have the next two days off work, so I’m going to try to get the caulking finished then. The only annoying thing I’ve run into so far is that I did not use the denatured alcohol to clean the seams that did not have silicone remover on them, and after putting the caulk on those seams, I’ve realized that you can see some of the old dirty siding under it… It’s not a big deal, but the perfectionist in me grumbles a little bit at it. I figure if it drives me nuts later on, I can always just easily remove the caulking I just put on, and fix it. God knows I bought enough caulking! *lol*

And of course, Kedric is mightily disappointed every time I let him out the back door, and instead of going somewhere or taking a walk, we just work on the RV… Soon enough, though, we’ll be going places! πŸ™‚

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Categories: dogs, RV maintenance | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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