Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Updates and a garden gnome

It has been a long time. A very, very long time. There is a reason for this...

Nothing's been happening on the house front. And there's also a reason for THAT...


Yep. Animals. Pets. Dogs 'n' cats.

Last time I left off, we had adopted a stray pit bull-- Robin-- who has some fear issues. In March last year, we had to let our sweet Simon go. His arthritis and dementia had got the best of him, but he was happy until the end. We had him cremated, and he still watches over us from the mantle.

Our porch kitty contracted histoplasmosis and had to be put on a feeding tube for 4 months.

Adam also bought a liquor store, and so we've been pretty involved in getting that moved to its new location and off the ground.

I started working on the fear issues (clicker training) with Robin, which took up a lot of time.

Then I started competing with River in rally obedience. She has her novice title and we're one leg away from Advanced.

Then around July, we found another dumped pup-- only a few months old. We took her in, too, under a full moon, and named her Luna.

I really did not want another dog. At all. Certainly not a puppy. But she stayed. And to help me develop a better bond with her and to work on her resource guarding tendencies, I started training pretty vigilantly with her, as well as competing. She now has her rally novice title. And she and Robin have mastered the art of tandem snuggling.

We feed raw now, so I spend a good chunk of time prepping and portioning raw chicken, beef, pork, and organs for the pups.

Somewhere in all this, the trainer we work with asked me to start assisting in her classes, which was super exciting for me! So I've been assisting in puppy classes, going to conferences and workshops, training my own dogs, and learning as much as I possibly can about what I'm doing. I love it so much. Even on the days that I'm tired and would rather stay home, I'm always glad I went, always come away feeling good about what I do. I just love it.

However, this weekend, I learned something. I've been in a rut (that is *not* what I learned), and part of that is the fact that I'd become so singularly focused. I needed to focus on something not dog related. And I had no motivation-- so I had to just DO it. Just get up, put on my big girl pants and DO IT. The motivation came once I got started.

And boy did it ever.

While I was driving by Home Depot Sunday morning, I got a wild hair to plant things. By the end of the day, I had planted 3 planters or coleus, caladiums, and Persian Shield; a hanging basket of petunias and one of pink mandevilla; red and orange bell peppers; basil; and bought a mature tomato plant (hey-- I'm lazy and impatient, what can I say). The heat of the last 2 summers has wreaked havoc on the gold dust plants that aren't heavily shaded, so they are mostly dead. I pulled out and cut away all of the dead parts (and was reminded that I still had paint to touch up behind the bushes, not to mention all the trim). I mulched under the bushes and weeded and mulched around my hostas. And I cleaned the porch. Luna tangled herself in her line; River supervised.

Monday I tackled my back patio and did some deep-cleaning type things in our kitchen. All in all, it was a good weekend. I feel more motivated to get some housework done. We still have a lot of work to do, but I feel refreshed, if a bit achy. And happy, despite the straggly bushes and the long list of crap left to do.

Our Garden Gnome is happy, too. he'd been hidden under leaves and ivy for far too long.


Anonymous said...

I was wondering how you were doing with the pit. Sorry about your Simon, it is never easy...

Excellent about the training pat yourself on the back, it is hard work.

I attended a great workshop on socialization with fearful dogs under Chad Mackin out of Chicago here in Ohio (where I live)it is amazing what the power of a stable pack of dogs will do to help one with issues. It was life altering/spiritual to be in the ring and feel/watch these guys change - amazing. He is one of those people who is humble, honest and so balanced. If he comes to your area go, what you will learn I can't put a price tag on.

You are a good person to help the kitty, most don't care. How is the kitty doing? We have 2 and a feral community that we watch over and TNR.

The Liquor store....lol, you will never go out of business.

Balance in life is hard. I still have to remind myself to stop and smell the roses.

Amalie said...

Balance is indeed *very hard. :)

I will look up Chad Mackin... Stability and a stress-free atmosphere goes SUCH a long way with dogs, and with people for that matter.

Our pittie girl is doing so much better than she was when we found her. She's really a sweetheart. I plan to do some cyber rally and cyber agility with her at some point since shows really aren't in the cards for us at this moment. I do clicker training and have been so happy with it. I'm an assistant in puppy classes and will start assisting with basic classes later this month. It's been a great experience for me in a lot of ways.

Our shar pei pit mix has really come a long way, too. She was a nasty resource guarder and pushy and overall very stressed out. But she's settling in so much better.

Kitty is FAT now! We have 5 altogether, and she's integrating with them well now that she's an indoor cat. The feeding tube was the easiest thing I've ever done with a sick cat. The feedings were stress-free, medication dosing was easy. Not at all has horrific as it sounds. We have a lot of "strays" in the neighborhood-- as in, I think they belong to people, but only sort-of and no one is speutering them. So I'm thinking seriously about some TNR around here; unfortunately, we also have a lot of skunks, probably a result of all the food left out for the cats. The last think I want to catch in a trap is a skunk. One of my neighbors has caught at least 9 over the years. :\

Anonymous said...

Do you guys do pack walks. I am talking about rules and the beauty of migration with a pack of dogs. Two Pitties in the City does them, I attend them, and they are springing up every where. Makes my heart beam!

Example of this power....there was a pit at the workshop that was so scared he was drooling, lower jaw chattering, flat back and tail tucked. This dog was almost over the threshold. Chad brought the dog to the center gained its trust which was huge. That was enough for one day for that dog. My trainer/friend, with a well thought out list of stable dogs invited this dog/owner to a pack walk last Sunday. It was a walk for Piper as we called it. My trainer had this dog in the center of the line with dogs within 20 minutes of walking. It was beautiful to see how far this dog came by just walking. By the end of the walk we were all hanging out and within 15 more minutes Piper put himself in the center of what was a ring. It just happens that we were all in a circle talking, giving space and he decided to LAY DOWN in the center. Talk about a bunch of smiles...a perfect day in the dog world with not so perfect dogs. :o)

Something to think about...A&E from Two Pitties have links on the "How To", it's not hard just important to set the rules and stick to them. Like NO retractable leads - I hate those things-, giving at least 5 feet of space, balance stable dogs (more the better) with no so stable dogs. You get the idea.

The Shar Pei mix...resource guarders are interesting to me because it tells me that food was something that didn't come by easy. We had to hand feed the blue boy when we fostered him because of this and his need to inhale his food. Hell claiming the bowl was a joke. When we found out "surprise" that he had food issues we had to brain storm fast. Hand feeding was the answer. It worked but took a couple weeks for him to get it.

I think you live in an area like us...kind of urban? Mine is now The Hood thanks to the landlords and their less than respectful renters. The cats are an issue but I cannot hurt them so we tnr, feed and take care of matter when they let us.

If you decide to trap let me know and I'll share what I do.

Amalie said...

When we have introduced new dogs to our house, or even just as playmates, we almost always take parallel walks. I hate retractable leads, too-- no control, whatsoever!! But we walk with a bit of distance and gauge when to increase or decrease distance. That act of doing something together is very important.

With resource guarding, sometimes it stems from a lack of resources, for some dogs-- but really it's quite simply an instinct. Dogs naturally want to protect resources and naturally DON'T want to share (as a general rule, not for ALL dogs). For Luna, it wasn't immediately obvious. It developed with toys, some food, but also with space and with space around me and my attention. We have been doing a lot of classical conditioning and counter conditioning and implemented a lot of stress reduction tactics, improved her diet and overall health, and set up stricter house rules, some of which remain, and some of which have been allowed to relax in an incremental fashion. And it was resource guarding against the other dogs-- NOT the people. Our pittie originally had some resource guarding toward people, and Simon did when he got older. I actually worked this week with a puppy a few months old who guarded some high value kitchen trash. The important thing is that we teach them that good things come from us, good things happen when we are around, and good things happen when the other dogs are around-- be it treats or stress-relieving walks, or playtime. Whatever is positive and reinforcing for that particular dog-- so that that instinct to hold on to what they have is replaced by being happy and excited to see us or the other dogs coming.

We live in a town of about 80k people. Not particularly urban, but more so than your average suburbs... we have a few houses on the street that supposedly rescue cats, but they just keep breeding. It's so out of hand, but I don't want to hurt them, either. I've trapped in my mother's neighborhood, as they don't have the skunk problem, and we've socialized a number of litters of kittens... We have a low-cost clinic; I wish people would just take care of things in the first place. :\

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