Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Yesterday was the unofficial start to summer.  HURRAY!!!

I know there are a lot of feelings regarding summer.  Some people love the season.  Some people are indifferent.  Some people find it so unbearably hot they consider moving to cooler climates.  Personally, I fall into the category that loves it.

Why do I love summer?  Frankly, it's because of the heat.  Here in VA, temperatures in the summer can top 100 degrees Farenheit and a humidity level of 80% is considered low.  That sounds perfect to me.  Yes, the heat can at first be suffocating.  Yes, I wear out faster and can become more exhausted because of the heat.  Yes, I have to drink about 8 glasses of water per hour just to replace the fluids I'm losing.  But all that is wonderful for me.  It's wonderful because if I'm cold, all I have to do is step outside.  It's wonderful because if I'm hot I can simply jump in a pool or in the river.  It's wonderful because in what other season could you sit still and still sweat enough to say you got in your daily workout?

Oddly enough, autumn is my favorite season (probably due to the changing leaves, my birthday, and Halloween), but summer falls in a close second.  The days are longer which means there's more I can do, grilling out becomes the norm, and tasty fruits and veggies (like corn, mulberries, and strawberries) come out of hiding.  I fully intend to enjoy this summer to the fullest.  I hope you enjoy it too.

P.S. On a completely unrelated note, my SIL, LutherLiz, did something completely awesome yesterday.  You should head over and congratulate her.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The other day, I was trolling Facebook, and I saw an article my friend posted about a dog, Coffee, who sits outside of Yankees and Mets games holding a pipe or wearing a Groucho Marx disguise and panhandling.  The article was about how people think that Coffee is being abused.  Of course, this put me on alert, so I read on.  I then went to the Facebook page "Stop Abusing Coffee."  The people on the page stated that Coffee wore an e-collar, and was forced to sit outside for long periods of time with no food or water.  They also claimed she had no teeth, and they said that all these factors pointed to extreme abuse.  The people called to have the man arrested.  After the ASPCA investigated and found no signs of abuse, they turned against the ASPCA.  They insulted Jay Leno after he made a brief comment about the situation, and they insulted Nick Cannon because he agreed with the ASPCA.

Frankly, I'm more than a little annoyed and quite disgusted by all these people.  So, let me address each issue.

The E-collar
The e-collar is a training tool.  Cody wears an e-collar on a regular basis.  I put it on him so he can walk next to me off leash and come when called.  I call it my safety blanket, because I know it will keep my baby safe.  He wears that collar WHENEVER he is off-leash, but I rarely have to the nick (shock) function, and I often use the simple vibrate function just to get his attention.  Whenever his collar comes out, he gets excited because he knows we are going somewhere fun.  Putting and e-collar on Coffee does not equal abuse. 

That said, an e-collar can be used improperly, and I have not seen/met Coffee or her owner, so I don't know how they're using it.  All I know is that the fact she's wearing one does not point to any signs of abuse.

No Water
Of course, forcing a dog to sit for hours on end with no water available could be considered abuse...sort of.  When I'm out with Cody, or when we're at an event, I do not often have a bowl of water for him.  Rather, I keep an eye out for his needs.  Does he seem thirsty or tired?  Is it particularly hot?  On more than one occasion, I have taken water in my mouth and put it back in his (particularly on long car rides) just to wet his mouth.  Also, there are lots of doggie water bottles that do not require an owner to carry a bowl.  On top of that, Cody does not drink water 24/7.  He will often go hours without any water, and if a bowl were placed next to him, he almost certainly would not drink it if all he'd been doing was standing in one place.

It is Coffee's owner's responsibility to make sure she is not dehydrated.  Having a bowl of water out all the time would be easy, but it does not promote actually watching and observing your dog for signs of healthiness.

No Teeth
Many people are claiming that Coffee has no teeth, and indeed pictures of the dog's mouth do not show many (if any) teeth present.  However, while most are assuming that the owner removed the teeth so the dog could hold the pipe for long periods of time, I'm more apt to believe that this is how Coffee came, or that Coffee had bad teeth that HAD to be removed.  Coffee was a rescue dog.  I have seen lots of rescue dogs with terrible teeth.  Many had to have teeth removed.  As a pit found in a shelter, Coffee may have been a fighting dog.  If she had chewed on chains, bars, and other unsavory objects and not been given proper care, it is totally plausible that she simply wore her teeth down beyond repair.  If this is the case, then one could applaud Coffee's owner for feeding her foods she could eat and caring for a higher maintenance dog.

Dogs Shouldn't Have Jobs
This is one argument that makes me want to slap the people who say it.  The human-dog bond was created by dogs working for us.  ALL dogs need a job, especially higher-energy dogs like pits.  For some dogs, like Yorkies, the job is to chase rodents; Shih-tzus have the relaxing job of keeping laps and hands warm by sleeping on them; Labs work by retrieving; Pits were originally bred to work on farms.  ALL DOGS HAVE JOBS.  This one may be unorthodox, but it's a job none the less.

All in all, I think these people are overreacting.  They've contacted all sorts of sources, and those sources are all giving the same response: "There's no sign of abuse, but we're monitoring the situation."  Even PETA said this...PETA, the same people who insulted the president for killing a fly and who wanted Ben & Jerry's to start using human breast milk instead of cow's milk to make their ice cream because milking a cow was inhumane. 

It makes me ill to see how quickly people jump to reactions, and it makes it difficult as a trainer to see how some people treat other trainers.  Please, people, get over yourselves. 

Oh, and just to quickly address some other issues raised.  The bandanna is worn over the e-collar not because the owner knows the e-collar is wrong, but rather because he's sick of comments for ignorant people.  The Groucho Marx disguise that's worn does NOT cover the Coffee's nose.  She can breathe just fine.  Oh, and Coffee probably has had puppies, and she most likely bore them BEFORE she came into her current owner's home.  There, I hope you got the message!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I am SICK of STUFF!  There is just too much of it.  After my blog post yesterday, I just kept thinking about |what could possibly make things better.  As I sat there and watched the dogs play, something struck me.  I have too much stuff.  How did I come to this realization?  Well, I can thank Phoebe (a new foster).  She's young and hasn't learned, well, anything.  Every few seconds were spent calling Phoebe, picking up before Phoebe got something, taking something out of Phoebe's mouth, and each thing I rescued (with the exception of a few bills) I would look at and think, "Wow.  When was the last time I used this?"  For some things I even wondered why I'd bought the item originally.  I looked at corners that are difficult to clean, and I suddenly envisioned things differently. 

I envisioned living in more of a minimal way.  I envisioned getting rid of everything I didn't use on a regular basis.  I thought about how my apartment had been when I was in college, and it dawned on me that I've accumulated a lot of crap since then...a lot of things I don't need.  Then I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I get rid of all this junk, these dust collectors, I might just find that life is a lot easier.

I've done this before, purged my life of things I don't need, and I always feel a lot better afterward.  This time, though, I'd like to take it further.  There's furniture I'd like to get rid of, and clothes I'd like to toss.  There are video gaming systems we never use and kitchen appliances I don't need.  I want to get rid of all of it.

Who knows?  Maybe this little purging of possessions will be helpful, maybe not.  All I know, though, is that I don't need this stuff, so why should I keep it?  Is there anything wrong with a minimalist lifestyle?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Happened?

Four years ago, things were different.  I was different.  I was graduating from college, planning a wedding, and living life a lot differently that I am now.  I was working out every morning, I was fixing healthy, tasty meals every day, and I was a clean freak!  My time was well-managed, and while I was a bit stressed out, I was working hard and doing well.

In the winter, I remember coming home, tracking dirt and rocks and salt all over the floor.  I'd take off my shoes, set my books down, take out the broom, sweep everything up, and Swiffer for good measure.  Then, just because I'd gotten started, I'd head to the bathroom (where the litter box was).  I'd shake out the carpet, sweep and Swiffer, and wipe down the counter tops and tub.  After that, I'd go make dinner.  The norm was some sort of pasta, my favorite being baked chicken with sauteed mushrooms and onions on a bed of whole grain pasta (soooo tasty).  After eating, cleaning up the kitchen and putting food away, I'd get to homework.  I'd finish up homework, read a bit, and go to bed.  This was all done after a morning of working out, a day of classes, an early evening of piano and voice practice, and sometimes even another quick workout that evening (just to de-stress).  In the morning, I'd start all over.  I can't say I was happy...I wasn't, but I was organized, and that was good. 

Now, though, I don't know what's happened.  Have I re-focused my energies?  Have I just become lazy?  Am I overwhelmed far more than I realize?  All I know is that cleaning and working out are no longer fun or relaxing.  They feel more like chores.  I have my theories as to why:

-I'm super stressed and need a major break.  Stressed over money and work and life in general.
-I'm happier than I was in college, so I don't feel the need to clean.
-I'm not just cleaning up after myself but also after Hans and get frustrated over having to clean things I didn't   dirty.
-I'm working harder and longer hours, and frankly I'm tired.
-Hans is so kind and hard working, I know he'll pick up the slack.

Really it's probably a combination of all of those.  And I DO NOT like it.  And here's why those excuses stink:

-Needing to clean and live a healthy life is another one of those stresses.  If I accomplished those goals I wouldn't be so stressed.
-Being happier should equal being more depressed.
-Actually, being ticked off over cleaning up after Hans is kind of valid.  The problem, though, is that I'm creating plenty of mess myself.
-I'd be a lot less tired if I came home to a clean environment, ate better, and worked out.
-Hans will pick up slack, but that's not fair.  He works hard too!

Basically, I'm not exactly sure what to do.  How do I get more motivated?  What do I have to do to return back to that healthy / clean / organized mode?  Do I need a buddy?  Do I need to find hired help for added motivation?  Do I need a nice, long vacation?  Do I need a roommate I'm trying to impress?  If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Past Week

Yes, life is crazy.  That's just the way it is.  Luckily, though, I was finally given a break.  Somehow, by some miracle, all of the foster dogs were either adopted or moved.  Tango found an AMAZING home filled with love, and we were worried that he'd never find a home.  Charlie, an adorable beagle, found a home in the same weekend.  Sprinkles is spending the next 6 weeks in another training facility that has more opportunities for her (re: more dogs and a pool).  Willa, who came in the same Friday that Sprinkles left was adopted on Monday by a really sweet couple.  So, all we've had for the past week have been Cody and Merlin.  Yay for a break!!!

So, how have we been enjoying the past week?  SLEEEEEEEPPP!  There has been lots of sleep.  With all the dogs, I was waking up at 5:30 am for feeding and exercise, and I often didn't get to bed before 11:00 pm.  I felt good, but I was starting to love coffee.  I didn't realize how tired I'd been until I got to sleep again.  Oh, I've been sleeping so much.  Yesterday, I didn't wake up until 9:40 am.  Granted, I didn't get to bed until 12:00, but that's still almost 10 hours of sleep.  My God, it's been beautiful. 

We've also been giving Cody some much needed activity time.  For example, in the past week he went to the dog park 3 times, played with a friend, went on a walk, and went to Williamsburg.  That little boy is TIRED, but he's also very relaxed.  The whole family is happy.

With the break and the rejuvenation, I now feel ready to bring more dogs in.  Hans and I will start fostering two more dogs on Saturday.  They biggest difference is that they're not necessarily the problem dogs like we've had in the past.  They're just dogs that need a loving environment, and that's much easier to handle.

The Fun Event
On Friday, Hans and I did something really fun with Cody.  Richmond was holding the Dominion River Rock Festival.  It's basically a fund raising event to help care for and clean up the James River.  Going to that was fun enough, but it gets even better.  Part of the event was Air Dogs Dock Diving.  What is dock diving?  Basically, dogs leap off a dock and the dog who jumps the furthers (measured from the base of the tail) wins.  Cody had never done this, but he loves jumping into water, so we thought we'd give it a shot.  The first jump didn't happen.  He stopped at the edge of the dock and whimpered for his toy.  The second jump, though, the second jump was perfect.  He didn't jump far, and we weren't expecting him to.  He did jump, though, and we were proud.  Cody bug was well behaved and happy, and that makes for a happy mom!

Like I said, we're ready for more dogs now.  I'll still enjoy every moment I can get with Cody, but I can handle the next wave of work now that I've had a break! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dedicated or Demented?

This morning it was raining...a lot.  Yesterday was sunny and warm and bright, but this morning was cold and wet and not so bright.  The problem was, though, that I had scheduled a run for this morning.  An easy fix would have been to hop on the treadmill, but I really didn't want to.

You see, I had really been looking forward to this run.  I thoroughly enjoy taking Cody and one of the other dogs out for a jog.  I enjoy seeing the people in my neighborhood.  I enjoy feeling the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.  I enjoy seeing the end result as to how many miles I went and what my average pace was.  Today, however, it was raining.

I thought about it for a few moments, and finally decided that I wanted to run more than I cared about getting wet.  So, I started putting the layers on. 

By the time I was dressed and had the dogs ready the rain was really coming down.  It was coming down hard enough to give me second thoughts.  I had made up my mind, though, and I was going!  Out the door we headed!

The run wasn't all that great, admittedly.  I had to worry about puddles, and while Cody did fine, my other partner seemed to be trying to dodge all the big drops.  My phone and run tracker seemed to be confused by the weather, and really didn't like getting wet.  I started off kind of cold, but luckily I warmed up quickly.  I had to worry more about cars that might splash us than running.  Plus, there must have been some wind last night because a few of the trees in the area had lost some larger branches.  Basically, I couldn't focus and my run suffered.  I ended up walking more than I would have preferred. 

Still, though, I was out for 33:00 minutes.  I came back wet, and the dogs needed a towel.  I jumped straight into the shower to warm up, and I let myself relax.  The dogs were happy and wanted to play a little, so that's what I let them do.  The run may not have been great, but I still had a good time.

I realized that, despite all the distractions and the fact that running in the rain isn't easy, I enjoy it.  I enjoy hearing the rain drops hit the trees and the streets around me.  I enjoy the solitude that running in the rain provides.  There aren't any other joggers, no one else is walking his/her dogs, no one is riding a bike, and even the squirrels seem to be quieter.

So, I may be super-dedicated, or I may be slightly demented.  Either way, this morning I went for my jog and I'm happy about it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Death of A Man

Yesterday Osama Bin Laden was killed.  I'll admit that my first reaction was big ole whoop for joy.  I'll admit that I said, "YAAAAY!"  I'll admit I wanted to congratulate the people who completed the action.  I'll admit I was proud for Barrack Obama, and I wished I could have celebrated in front of the White House with the others who were there.

Then I was brought back to reality.  Friends and family posted Facebook comments over how they lament such joyful celebrations over the death of a man...any man.  Many posted that they worry about the backlash from such actions.  I started to think about it all.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared of the backlash this action will cause.  Admittedly, when we announced 10 years ago that we would attack strong and hard, I worried.  I worried about one quote, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."  Attacking back would only cause more hatred and more terrorist attacks.

So, why was I so thrilled last night?  To be honest, and I think this is true of many of the people who are rejoicing, I was relieved.  I am relieved that such a force of evil is gone from the planet.  I am relieved that a ten year mission is now completed (not that the war is over, but that we have completed this bit).  I am relieved that this man who murdered thousands of innocent people, not just Christians or Americans but Muslims and Arabs alike, can no longer kill any more people.  I am not rejoicing over the death of a man, but rather over the victory of humanity in general.  It is a huge victory.

I do not mourn Bin Laden's death, but I do worry about what his death means for us as a nation.  Will others attack us because of his death?  Will we attack ourselves trying to decide who deserves credit for such an action?  Will we attack ourselves over the issue of whether we should rejoice or not?  I don't know, but I hope for the best.

I will not / cannot mourn the death of such a man.  I will be joyful over the erasing of such evil.  I will rejoice over the victory and the morale boost this gives our nation.  I will hope for a brighter future, and I will let others feel how they wish to feel.

I will pray for peace.