Sunday, November 29, 2009

Perry Cox

Many of you may know who Perry Cox is.  Perry Cox is awesome, House-like doctor on Scrubs who's infamous for his constant harassment towards J.D. and anyone else who annoyed him (which was practically everyone).  Well, this post has nothing to do with Dr. Perry Cox, but it does have everything to do with a dog who I will call Perry from here on out (you know, for the whole protecting the innocent thing).

Perry, by all rights, should have been a sweet dog.  Breeding-wise he was not predisposed to aggressive behaviors.  He lived with a family who loved him and anything he ever could have wanted or needed was there for him.  Perry, however, was not a sweet dog.  He would bite anyone who approached his food, he lunged over being crated.  Worst of all, he often turned over seemingly random events.  You never knew what would set him off.  I've been working with Perry for the past month, and we finally ended on Friday.

Just like the doctor on Scrubs, Perry had a pretty sweet life.  Also like Dr. Cox, however, Perry's life wasn't always so great.  While he'd been with his owner from a pup, he'd suffered some pretty serious illnesses during his life, and his thought processes had been affected by his time in medical care.  For instance, he was extremely sensitive with his paws because he'd had so many IVs in him.  As his aggression started to escalate, certain people in the household thought that physical punishment would be the best way to deal with it.  When I say physical punishment, I don't just mean a bop on the butt or a rolled up newspaper.  I mean severe, disturbing punishment.  On top of all of that, no one was there to give his owner any really good advice on how to stop his behaviors before they got worse, even though she searched and searched for help (something I fault the dog-training world for and hope we can overcome).    Needless to say, I had a lot to work with.

Perry presented symptoms of dominance aggression, territorial aggression, stimulus aggression, displaced aggression, and many others.  In fact, surprisingly enough, the only thing he wasn't aggressive towards was other dogs.  Still, though, I felt with time and work we could make some progress with him.  I won't even begin to go over what we did for him.  We did give him Prozac, but everything else is too long and detailed to follow.  All I can say is that we did a lot of work.  A LOT OF WORK. 

Here's what I will tell you.  The past four weeks have been hard.  I doubt I'll bring another aggressive dog in to live with me.  I like having a home that is separate from my work.  I learned a lot about myself and about dog training, though, and I think that makes the whole experience worthwhile.  I also think I've done a lot to help this dog, and I pray that his owners are able to continue working with him and follow the plan I laid out.  I definitely learned a lot about Hans, and while I knew that he was a wonderful man, I never expected him to help me to the extent he did.  He wasn't just there for moral support, he stood with me every single step of the way.  If I did it, he did it.  I don't think I'll ever be able to express my gratitude to him for that.  So, thanks Hans.

Now, life is back to normal...kind of.  We're getting ready for Christmas and shows are opening, so life is crazy.  Oh, and there is another dog in the house.  We're fostering / training a hound mix named Merlin.  He's not aggressive at all, and it's taking all my will power to not adopt him.  Lord, help me!  He does need some structure in his life, but that's what we're giving him and he's taking to it quite well.  That being said, anyone want a dog???

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Little Things

Life is hectic.  I mean, it's crazy all the time.  It's very rare that I'm able to take an actual break, some me time, and just process the world around me.  Blogging really helps, but even that can often be rushed and put off.  There have even been times where it's felt more like an obligation than a joy.  And, of course, all those obligations and chores can really be a downer.  That's why I so enjoyed this evening.

I had just gotten home after running around all day and was folding laundry.  The entire time I was folding laundry, all I could think about was how much I hate folding laundry.  It's one of those never-ending chores.  You have to fold laundry every week, often multiple times a week.  And then I got to the socks.  I reeeeeaaaally hate folding socks.  At least in my family, they're all white!  You can't distinguish by color and each one is supposed to have a match.  Of course, there's almost always at least one pair that's missing its match.  You can search through the socks again, look through the colors to see if it was misplaced, or even check the washer and dryer.  You're never going to find that sock.   Well, that is until it mysteriously reappears months later at your friend's house just after you tossed its match.  Well, I had all the matches!!!  Every single pair had a match.  It made me smile, and it got me to thinking about the little things in life.  Sure, I love it when something big and wonderful happens, but maybe I should be looking at all the tiny little things that happen every single day.  So, here's a list of a "few of my favorite things."

* Finding all the matches when folding socks

* Making even the smallest progress with the hardest dogs

* Dragonflies landing on a fishing pole

* Fall leaves

* A clean room

* Freshly baked anything

* The smell of dryer sheets and the feel of warm, dry clothes

* Super hot showers

* Morning jogs with Cody

* That brief moment between sleep and awake when the world seems just right

* Cody kisses (well, dog kisses in general, but Cody's make me the happiest)

* Snuggle kitties

* A good book and a lot of free time

Ok, the list is fairly long now, and I'm sure I'm forgetting quite a few things.  But, as you can see, I have a lot to enjoy.  Oh, and I'd normally add rainy days to the list, but after 2 weeks of a VA "monsoon" I'm kind of tired of the rain and want some blue sky.  Maybe that will change in 2 more weeks.  :P

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lil' Tidbits

So, I wasn't quite sure what to post about.  There's nothing really big happening right now that I'm quite ready to post about.  Heck, there aren't even any small things to post about.  However, I do enjoy posting on a regular basis and what to keep it a habit.  Hence, I'm giving you all tiny little updates.

* Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  As a matter of fact, it's this week!  I can tell you right now that I'm thankful I'm not holding Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm also thankful for quite a few other things, but that will come later.

* Black Friday (aka the day after Thanksgiving) is going to be a wonderful day.  I'm not into shopping, so I'm steering clear of the malls, but it's still going to be great.  Again, I'll explain later.

* This week leading up to Thanksgiving is going to be hectic.  The only problem with holidays is that there's still just as much work to do in the week.  You just have a shorter week to do it in.  Of course, I'll take the short, rushed week with a nice relaxing vacation over the long, no breaks week any day.

*Hans and I are anxiously awaiting Christmas.  We are holding a Christmas dinner and Hans' family is flying in from Minnesota.  I think the total count at this point is 15.  Luckily, I have easy dishes prepared.  They're fantastic dishes, but they take less time than a turkey (Liz, my dinner will be poultry free).  Also, due to lack of kitchen space, I've enlisted friends and family to help.  Yay, friends and family!

*In the rush towards Christmas, I've realized I should probably get started on Christmas cards.  I'd like to include a Christmas letter, and I'm just now realizing how much has happened this year.  It's a great year to have a letter, but I'm a little worried that next year will seem drab.  Oh well, I guess I just have to take my chances.

*Cody and the cats have been quite well.  It's been super-rainy here lately which makes for some great cuddle time (they enjoy cuddling).  Cody will probably enjoy the sunshine again, though, since that will mean we can resuming running on a daily basis. 

*Speaking of rain, rain equal humidity.  Humidity equals moisture.  Moisture plus cool and dark equals mold.  Mold in my closet is NOT appreciated.  Now, I have to figure out how all that moisture got in my closet.  The placement of my closet does not match up with the build up of mold.  So, I figure I'll talk to the the rental company about maybe checking for some leaks (the placement of the mold makes me believe there may be a small leak in the roof).  Anyway, the closet has been cleaned and a fan has been placed in there to keep air circulating.  We'll either keep the mold away, or we'll spread it through the rest of the apartment.  Ahh, dilemmas!

Well, that's pretty much my list of updates.  Oh, one other thing, though.  I know there were a couple of places that I mentioned exciting news and things I'm not ready to talk about yet.  Let me make this clear now, before it comes up.  I am NOT pregnant.  Let me say this again.  I am NOT pregnant.  I'm not ready for kids, and kids certainly aren't ready for me.  So, for those of you who let that nasty little thought enter your head, cut it out!  Alright, enough of my diatribe.  I will talk about the exciting news on Friday.  And, I should mention that it's really only exciting for Hans, Cody and myself, and the rest of you may wonder what the big deal is.  Like I said, though, I'll go into detail later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


What I'm about to blog about may sound a bit callous, but I'm starting to get a little fed up.  I'm kind of tired of all the National (fill in the blank) Months.  I'm sick of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National Diabetes Month.  I'm tired of National COPD Month and National Dental Hygiene Month.  It's getting old.  Oh, and those four awarenesses fall in just two months and there are plenty more to accompany them.  So, why am I fed up?  Let me list the reasons.

1) They tend to instill fear in the general public.  Yes, it's healthy to know the basics of breast cancer or the warning signs of diabetes.  However, do you really have to push the fact that millions of people have the disease and don't even know it?  Can't we just give the warning signs, describe the tests, and send people on their way?  I read a blog today that stated that 18 million people have diabetes but don't know it.  Of course, I have to wonder how they got that figure, but I also start wondering if I'm one of those people.  I mean, I'm tired and thirsty and have cold hands and feet.  Of course, I also stay up late, suck on hot dogs all day (for the dog training) and spend most of my days outside in the chilly weather.  But, hey, those are diabetes signs so I must have it and not know it.  Basically, the point I'm getting at is that they don't really encourage people to think rationally.  They encourage them to live in fear.

2) These months are almost always used for marketing ploys.  Take Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  You can't enter a store in October without being accosted by pink.  That's fine if you like pink, but I'm not so much a fan.  Besides a lot of these pink items don't even benefit breast cancer.  Companies just want consumers to think they do.  So, I'm tired of being accosted by pushy "salesmen."

3) One event always overshadows others.  November is the awareness month for approximately 30 different illnesses and events.  October (aside from being my birthday month) also celebrates Halloween, National Liver Awareness, Better Speech and Hearing, and National German Heritage.  Let me put it this way, my father-in-law is 100% German, my father was born in Germany, my husband is your quintessential blond-haired, blue-eyed German boy, and I didn't even KNOW it was German Heritage Month.  Of course there's Oktoberfest, but that's pretty much just become an excuse to drink.  Besides, do you know how confusing it is to go into Target and be hit with pink and then all-of-a-sudden be thrown into black and orange and purple?  Are we celebrating Easter or Halloween?  I'm confused.

4) The people who fight for these causes and issues of awareness fight every day, not just for one month.  People who have had breast cancer or who know someone with breast cancer don't stop fighting breast cancer on November 1.  They don't say, "Ok.  People are aware.  We can go home and give up the fight."  No, the keep making people aware.  And that's great.  We should be educating people every day, not just one month out of the year.  I'll never forget when my aunt first taught me how to find a lump.  She had one of those rubbery things you can get from the doctor for educational purposes.  She didn't wait until October to talk to me.  I think we actually had that discussion in August (or maybe over Christmas).  The point is, education was a daily thing.  Awareness was a daily thing, not just something that lasted a month.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't mind the awareness part.  I don't mind the walks, or the fundraising (to a certain extent), or the personal stories.  I just don't like being forced to celebrate or support something I wouldn't normally support.  For instance, while Breast Cancer is a big deal, I'm more personally connected to Animal Safety and Protection.  And, while I wish I had the money to support both, if it came down to it I'd go for the animals.  Again, please don't hate me.  I just haven't had the personal experience with Breast Cancer (thank God) that I have with animals.

Alright, I know this post is long enough, and I'm sure I've upset enough people.  I just wanted to lay it on the line.  You can agree or disagree.  That's the joy of it.  It's your choice!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dog Trainer...Exposed

This blog may seem a bit odd at first, but I think it's a great idea.  I'm copying an idea I found on another blog I read.

Here's the thing, people today (women especially) tend to have horrible body image.  Instead of seeing how well their bodies work for them, they look at the fat and the cellulite and the dimples (yes, I'm guilty).  We all beat our bodies, trying to force them into submission.  That doesn't really work, though, does it?  After all the beatings we're typically just exhausted and still not happy with how we look. 

But you know what?  I love my body.  My body has carried me through a lot, from simple walking to riding horses to swimming.  I ask a lot of my body EVERY SINGLE DAY and somehow it keeps giving me more.  Yes, I'm guilty of beating my body.  Yes, I try to force it into submission.  However, it works best for me when I just accept it.  I know my body is strong enough to run, so I run.  I know it's strong enough to hold a leash and train dogs, so it does.  I know it tells me what it needs, and I do my best to listen.  So, here I am...fully exposed.

*Obviously that's supposed to say "Rides Bikes..."

I encourage all my fellow bloggers out there to follow suit.  I don't care if you're 90 lb or 390 lb, take the time to tell your body you love it.  Work for your body and your body will work for you.

Need more ideas?  Visit Mizfit, or any of the other amazing   blogger   bodies   out   there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Doggie Expressions

One thing I've learned as a dog trainer is that dogs have the ability to express themselves in ways that people just can't do.  For instance, a dog doesn't just smile when he's happy; he wags his tail.  He doesn't just clap when something's really exciting he jumps and spins and says, "I'm so excited!" with his whole body.  He doesn't just grimace when he doesn't like someone or something; he growls, the hair stands on his back, and he sends the whole message of, "Back the F*** away!" that no one can misinterpret.  Today Cody communicated my feelings precisely.

Out of all of my clients, most of whom I love (or at least tolerate), there's one guy who just really bugs me.  He's a little odd, but he's also slow.  S-L-O-W.  I don't mean mentally, I mean physically.  He just can't keep up with his little energy-blaster simply because he doesn't really try.  Cody met him today.  Can you guess what he did?

I brought Cody in on leash.  Cody looked at the guy.  I told Cody to sit.  Cody sat and continued to look at the guy.  Then I heard, "Toot."  Cody jumped a bit and turned around.  I kind of giggled and told Cody to sit again.  Cody sat and looked at the guy again.  I then heard, "Toot.  Toooooooot!"  That's right!  Cody FARTED!!!! 

I know it may sound kind of childish, but in that moment Cody expressed my feelings in a way I never could.  He may not have done it intentionally, but that's not how I'm going to choose to see it.  That's why I love my dog.  He gets me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why Hire a Trainer?

Alright, so this post isn't so much about why you should hire a trainer.  Everyone has their own personal reasons for that.  My question is, why would you hire a trainer if you're then going to tell the trainer she's wrong about every little thing?

Let me clarify.  I have no problem with questions.  As a matter of fact, I love the people who do their research and want to pick my brain and maybe even give me a few ideas.  I love working with that person to find a solution that works for both me and them.  I want my clients to be happy and I want their dogs to be happier. 

Do NOT, however, take your own personal opinion, which has no basis and tell me I'm wrong because you haven't tried it before.  Mind you, I'm not even so much talking about preferred methods among trainers.  I'm talking about something that 99.9% of trainers will agree on that a dog likes.  Oh, and definitely don't tell me I'm wrong right after you've told me you spent a whole week without even trying.  Basically, "It's not working.  She's not better.  We haven't had time to work with her."

Sorry, I don't mean to rant, and what happened today was more of a relief than a frustration.  It's just that I feel sorry for the dog.  The dog deserves better than owners who aren't willing to put the time or effort into her.  A dog deserves better than owners who won't even get up to take her outside.  I thought these people were ok because they at least cared enough to hire a trainer.  I realized, however, they hired a trainer expecting an instant fix.  They didn't want to put in the time or effort.  They just wanted a quick solution.  The funny thing?  The solution I gave them was probably the easiest for them (which is why I gave it to them).  However, they didn't try it, so it didn't work.  Go figure!

Ok, that's enough bitching for now.  I have actually had a pretty great day.  A visiting dog hasn't been aggressive all week (more to come later), while we've been having a monsoon here in RVA, it's really helping the water levels and that makes me happy, I've had some great times with Cody, Hans, and wonderful friends, and the business is doing great.  I guess I was just a little frustrated.  Thanks for letting me get it out!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Running With Dimples

Let me start off by proclaiming I HATE DIMPLES!  "What?!" you may ask.  How can anyone hate dimples?  Let me clarify.  I'm sure that most of you, at the mention of dimples, pictured a cute, curly-haired, blond, Shirley Temple-esque kid who brightens the room when she smiles with those little puckers in her cheeks making her that much cuter.  That's not what I'm talking about.

When I think of dimples I only imagine the product of the arch-nemesis of women everywhere, Captain Cellulite.  These dimples can occur anywhere on the body, and aren't half as cute as the kind on your face (I almost said cheeks but this kind of dimple can appear there too, just a different kind of cheek).  Oh, and once they're there getting rid of them is like trying to kill a werewolf.  I mean, really, where does one find silver bullets anyway?

Of course, there are certain places on the body that it's more acceptable to see dimples, but I don't like them anywhere.  That's why I'm nearly overcome with the urge to shatter the bathroom mirror whenever I step out of the shower.  As I lift my leg to step onto the floor, there they are.  Yes, my legs and bottom are riddled with dimples.  Admittedly, I'm not as dimpled as I was a few years ago, or even a few months ago for that matter, but I have my dimples.  I wonder, if I drew a smiley face on my arse and walked around pant-less, would it be any cuter?  I doubt it.  I suppose I just have to keep trying to get rid of them.  Time for another lap around the block!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tid Bits

*Cody and Mo are much improved since their last vet visit.  Mo is almost done with his medication and Cody just needs a bath (with medicated shampoo).  Otherwise, the itching is practically gone and the breathing is back to normal.  What a relief!  Now, let's just hope it stays that way.

* As part of my business, I'm currently boarding a somewhat aggressive dog.  He's pretty mild by my standards, though I didn't think he would be.  So far, he really reminds me of Sam and I wonder if he started out in a similar way.

*  Speaking of business, everything's going really well.  I definitely think I made the right move by getting car magnets seeing as I've been accosted at Target twice (just today!) and asked for a card.  I'm really, really hoping this trend continues.  Things should stay going well until awhile after St. Valentine's Day (people love to give puppies as presents), but I'm wondering what April and May will be like.  That being said, I'm constantly wondering what the next month will bring.  Oh, how I dream of the day when I'll have my own kennel and can do doggie day care with regular clients!

* I'm quite sad that October is over.  As usual, October was a fantastic month for me all around.  Maybe it's just because it's my birthday month and all (so I'm already in a good mood), but October has always been good to me.   Work seems to be easier in October.  Leaves change colors in October (my special birthday gift from God).  The weather is warm but not hot, and everyone seems to be in a good mood.  November's nice too, but I miss me some October.

* Halloween was extremely uneventful this year.  Normally this is my favorite holiday, but I found that this year I felt it was too commercialized.  Maybe I was just too busy to care about greedy kids coming and begging for candy on my day off (I'm a Scrooge, I know), but I was really relieved when we didn't have a single trick-or-treater.  That being said, we were prepared with candy and we kept a candle lit by the front door (we were at least welcoming) but, as I said, not takers.  I suppose it doesn't help that we live on the third floor of a semi-retirement community!  Oh, and yes, Cody did dress up for Halloween.  He was a ghost, just like last year!

So, as you can see, life has been going well although not extremely exciting.  It's definitely not boring.  Well, not for me anyway.  I have lots to keep me busy and I'm happy.  And, really, isn't that all anyone can ever ask for?