Thursday, April 26, 2012


Today's run was wonderful.  Today's run was smooth.  Today's run was relaxing.  Today's run was WET!

This afternoon I am taking Cody to a nearby elementary school for a career day.  I am excited about this, and I want Cody to be well-behaved.  He was groomed yesterday, and I knew he'd have a little extra energy this morning, so I had planned a long run.  Things changed, though, when I woke up.  I got up, let the dogs out, and I saw the rain.  It was not just a drizzle or even a sprinkling.  This was a nice, steady, fat-dropped rain.  It basically meant that I was NOT going to turn around and change into my running clothes.

Instead, I checked the weather to see if maybe this was just an early-morning rain.  Nope.  It's supposed to rain all day.  I thought about it, and I deliberated as to whether or not I really wanted to go out in this weather.  I knew Cody needed some exercise (and I needed some exercise), but running in a heavy rain isn't always fun.  After about an hour, the rain had lightened, so I took my chance.  I quickly changed, put a leash on Cody, and we were off.

About a kilometer (0.64 mi) into my run, this lull in the rain ended.  I wasn't anywhere near ready to turn around, and I was already kind of damp, so I kept on going.  I ran to the spot where I normally turn around during shorter runs, but I felt really good, so I kept on going.  I got to the spot where if I turned around I could still have a really great mid-length run, but I didn't want to stop, so I kept on going.  At some point, I stopped and put my GPS watch in my pocket to help protect it, but then I kept on running.  The rain came even harder, people were starting to stare, as I entered the city I encountered more and more puddles, but I kept on running.  I ran all the way to Hans' work.

When I got here, I had two options.  I could stop, get the car from Hans, and drive home, OR I could keep running the additional 3 miles home.  Physically I felt great.  I seriously considered continuing the run.  However, a few things made me stop.  First, my watch.  It's not a cheap watch, and I didn't want it to drown in the rain.  Second, my clothes.  I was drenched to the bone, my feet were squishy, and my jacket was weighing heavy on me.  It just wasn't very comfortable anymore.  Third, and most importantly, Cody was done.  Physically I think he could have kept going if the weather had been decent, but this boy was cold.  He'd shiver when we had to stop for traffic, and I knew he needed to get to a dry spot.  We had run far enough.

The total run was only 7.59 km.  It was not our longest nor was it our fastest.  It was, however, very fun.  It was fun getting odd looks from people in their cars.  It was fun being the only one out there.  It was fun feeling like I was combining swimming and running for one awesome sport.  I don't know how often I'll run in the rain.  It can be cold, and my shoes really took a beating (luckily I wore old running shoes), but at least I know that I can.  I'm grateful for the fact that I'm capable of doing it.  I'm grateful that I had the determination to keep going.  I'm grateful that Cody needed some exercise, because I probably wouldn't have gone out without him.  Oh, and I'm grateful that I have dry clothes to change into!

Happy Thursday!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Reasons For Cleaning

The list of reasons for why one should clean is long and lengthy.  Here are just a few of those reasons:

A reason to scoop the litter box:
     So the dogs don't eat the kitty litter.

A reason to fold and put up clothes:
     So the cat does not vomit on the clean clothes (or play with your socks or underpants).

A reason to put food away:
     So the dogs don't steal your food.

A reason to vacuum:
     So you can walk without getting your socks covered in hair.

A reason to clean the bathtub:
     To erase the paw prints from where your cat / dog walked in the wet tub.

A reason to pick up toys / books / magazines / anything you want to keep:
     So your belongings are not eaten by the dogs.

A reason to clean the windows:
     To erase the nose smudges.

A reason to clean the car:
     To clean up the sand, mud, and hair that your dog left behind from your last outing.

A reason to clean the table:
     To wipe off the cat hair.

A reason to clean the office:
     So you only shred the documents you want to instead of having a dog shred the documents you want to keep.

A reason to clean the yard:
     So you avoid dog land mines.

A reason to clean your shoes:
     You didn't clean the yard, did you?

A reason to clean the medicine cabinet:
     So no animal gets into your medicine.

A reason to pick up your purse:
     So a dog does not pick it up first.

Happy Cleaning!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bad Dog? Bad Person!

The other day I was working with an "aggressive" dog.  I use the quotations because I do not feel she was truly aggressive.  Rather, she was very nervous.  She had gotten to the point where she would behave around strangers as long as they left her alone, but if they encroached on her space (i.e. tried to pet her), she would become nervous and snap at them.  She had never made contact, but she would do anything to scare them off.  Many people said she was a bad dog.  I got to thinking, though, how bad was her behavior?

Imagine this: You are walking through a crowd with one of your friends.  Some random stranger approaches you, caresses your chin, rubs your ear, and gives you a kiss.  How would you react?  I'm pretty sure I would call the cops.  Actually, as somewhat who has been groped in public, I know I'd do anything possible to merely get away.  If this can happen with a bad look, great, but if more force is required then I'll use it.

Now imagine this: You're ten years old, and you're meeting your Aunt Judy (fictional character) for the first time.  Your mom and dad have cleaned you up, and you're waiting at the front door for her.  Being a little odd, when Aunt Judy arrives she sweeps you in her arms, pinches your cheeks, talks in baby talk, and kisses your cheeks.  How would you react?  Well, if you're anything like me you'll hate it, but you'll grin and bear it because you know your parents told you to.

First of all, what's the biggest difference between these scenarios?  In both cases you are dealing with people you have never met.  In both cases, this person is seriously crossing the boundaries of personal space.  In both cases, you are extremely uncomfortable.  However, in Aunt Judy's case, you have your parents giving you instruction.  They've told you who she is.  They're telling you to behave (or lose your Gameboy).  You're trusting them, and in trusting them you trust Aunt Judy.  If they hadn't shared any information with you, if they hadn't told you who this person was or that she was visiting, if they weren't there to tell you everything was OK, you'd probably call the cops and claim someone had broken into your house and was trying to touch you.  Guess what.  Dogs feel the same way.

Most people who claim that their dog bites without any warning are merely missing the signs.  They miss the licking of lips and the heavy panting.  They miss the excessive drool.  They miss the lowered ears and head, and they miss the turning away of the body and the sideways glances.  Sometimes they miss their dogs' attempts at escape, and occasionally they even miss the dog's growl!  The dog is giving all these signs saying, "I am not happy!  I am scared and nervous.  Please make this stop" and still the owner does nothing.  They don't tell the dog how to respond (sit, stay, do a trick, etc), and they don't tell the other people how to react.  Instead, they just let random people approach and greet their dogs in completely inappropriate ways.  When the dog has done everything it can to get away but is still stuck with no guidance, it then reacts with a snap.

This is where I say, "BAD PERSON!!  BAD, BAD, BAD PERSON!"  Bad owner for not helping your dog.  Bad stranger for acting so inappropriately and not even introducing yourself first.  I could tell you you're breaking dog social behaviors (which you are), but you're doing more than that.  You're breaking HUMAN social behaviors!  You are expecting a dog you've never met to be completely fine with you simply because you're a person and dogs should like people.  Well, if a dog was raised that way and has become accustomed to that sort of behavior, then fine.  But if a dog was raised more like a person, then we have a problem.  So, to help you out, I've prepared a couple of lists of things to follow.  One's for dog strangers, and the other is for dog owners.

For Dog Strangers
1) Always ask the owner before approaching a dog.  Simply say, "May I pet your dog."  Most people will say yes, but if the owner says no, then leave the dog alone.  (You'd be surprised at how many people ask this question but ignore the answer). 
2) Introduce yourself to the dog.  Let the dog sniff you.  I usually let the dog sniff the back of my hand because it's the safest place, but really any body part (other than your face) will do.

3) Start petting in the least-threatening way possible.  Basically, reach with your hand headed underneath the dog's chin.  Trying to pat the top of the head is not really comfortable for the dog, and it can be a little nerve wracking.  I generally like to aim for the chin, neck, and ears depending on the dog.

For Dog Owners
1) Socialize your dog.  You can't always rely on people to do the right thing, so help your dog out.  From a young age, take him/her out to meet as many people as possible.  Have your dog meet people of different origins, people with beards, people with piercings, young people, old people, short people, tall people.  Let your dog know that all these people are here to love on him/her.

2) Guide your dog.  Tell your dog how to react in potentially stressful situations.  Cody actually has a "Go say hi" command.  This lets him know that I am OK if he breaks his sit-stay to greet the approaching person / dog.  It's his cue that I am fine with this person, and he will like them if he meets them.  I have other commands that tell Cody that I am not OK with a person approaching, and he should be a little defensive.  I also have commands that tell Cody that I am sure the person is fine, but that I don't want Cody to approach.  This basically means do nothing.  I usually use a sit-stay or down-stay for this.

3) Watch the signs.  Get to know your dog.  Figure how your dog acts when he/she is nervous.  If you know your dog is nervous, help him/her out.  Don't force your dog into an extremely stressful situation.

That's it!  Only three simple rules for both dog owners and dog strangers.  I know we'd all love to have extremely sociable dogs who want to greet everyone, but that's not always the case.  Sometimes we have to choose to do what's best for our dog, and sometimes that is not always what we want to do.  In the end, though, if you follow this, your life with dogs will be much happier.

Friday, April 20, 2012


I have to share something with y'all.  It's something that I've been thinking about a lot recently, and now that I've finally made my decision, I wanted to let you know about it.

Not to long ago, I was offered a job.  My vet knew some people who were looking for help, and the position sounded interesting, so I called.  I don't want to get into too many details, because I don't want to expose the company, but it sounded amazing.  I would still be training dogs, I'd get to travel internationally, and Hans' and my income would almost triple from my salary.  That's HUGE.  The problem?  Well, I'd have to give up Impawsible Pups, and the travel would be quite frequent.

I did pursue the position.  That amount of money is really hard to turn away, and my thought was that I could save a lot of money and use it towards Impawsible Pups.  Something didn't feel right, though.  I was excited about this position, but I was also filled with dread.  As I started thinking about the travel, I thought about what I loved about my life.

I love coming home and seeing Cody greet me.  I love hearing Lollie bark from excitement over seeing me.  I love curling up in bed with Hans' arms around me, Cody and Lollie at my feet and side, and at least one cat near my head.  I love hugging Cody or getting a hug from Hans when I'm feeling down.  I even love having all the fosters around because their playing makes me smile.  I may be really stressed sometimes.  I may keep odd working hours, and money may be unbelievably tight, but I do love my life and the way it's set up.

I also thought about my fears of this job.  I'd be gone a minimum of 3-4 days a week.  How would that affect my relationship with Hans?  I feel pretty secure with our relationship, but that can be a lot of stress on a couple.  How would that much travel affect my new running regimen?  Would I be able to keep it up after flying across an ocean?  Considering how much flying drains me I highly doubted that.  How would it affect the dogs?  When I leave now, Cody sits by the door and waits for my return.  Would he wait by the door for days at a time?  (He does do this when Hans and I have to travel without him.)  Lollie is bonded more to me than to Hans.  Would she be able to cope?

In the end, I had to turn it down.  It was an amazing offer, and one that I put a lot of thought into.  It's one I almost took (did I mention it paid A LOT?).  I just couldn't do it, though.  I just couldn't give up everything I love about my life so much.  Money may be important, but it's not that important.  It's not more important than my husband.  It's not more important than Cody or Lollie.  It's not more important than me.

The good thing, though, is that all this did light a fire under my rear.  Impawsible Pups is going to expand.  I want to open a kennel, and I want to open it this year.  I have a business plan drawn up, and I've met with a few banks.  This is going to be a big year.  I'm going to run a marathon.  I'm going to open a kennel.  I'm going to achieve my goals!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Running Alone

Usually I run with Cody.  Every other morning, I get dressed, I put a leash on Cody, and together we will run between 3 and 6 miles all through the neighborhood.  The past few mornings, though, I haven't.  Cody simply has not wanted to go.

It started on Saturday.  I picked up Cody's leash and called him to me.  He came, but as soon as he saw the leash, he turned around and ran under my desk.  This was pretty odd, so I went to him.  He looked utterly pathetic.  His big, brown eyes were staring up at me, and he seemed to be pleading, "Please don't make me go, Mom!"  Cody had had a pretty big day the day before, so I figured he was tired.  I was watching a dog for a friend, and he had some energy to burn, so I decided to make my run shorter and take him with (which was a pretty good decision because it wore him out).

Tuesday I expected Cody to be better, but he was still so tired.  He laid up in bed all morning, and when I went to get him, he wagged his tail, but he did not move otherwise.  I was a little concerned, but I also knew that there were some factors contributing to his lethargy.  First, Cody's relaxing day is pretty similar to most people's adventuresome day.  He LOVES his outings, but they can be pretty exhausting.  Second, the temperatures had sky-rocketed.  Normally this would not be as big of a problem as it was, but Cody is not scheduled to have his hair cut until next week, so the combination of the higher temperatures and his winter coat was just leaving him drained.  The poor guy was pitiful!  Anyway, I decided to do that run by myself.  There are a few pros and cons to running completely on my own.

-Not having to worry about what Cody is doing means I could focus more on me.
-Holding on to a leash means I often end up tightening whichever hand is holding it (not a good idea).
-I did not have to run in the dirt in places where the sidewalk gets a little narrow.

-I was much more anxious around people I did not know or who looked a little threatening (and everyone looked threatening that day).

I love running with Cody.  Often times, I'm so happy at the end of the run that I just want to scoop him up and carry him around.  He keeps me calm, he allows me to focus on something other than "Oh gosh!  This is hard!" and he's just cute.  Not only that, running makes him happy too.  Runs usually end with extra hugs and lots of kisses.  I missed those.

I was very happy and relieved when the weather turned a little cooler yesterday (who thought I'd ever say that?).  Cody was able to join me this morning, and it was wonderful.  Still, I know I have to listen to what Cody is trying to tell me.  I have to be prepared for days where I'm running on my own.  I may very well hit a distance that is just too far for Cody.  I cannot push him past his safe point, and running a long-haired dog in 80-90 degree weather would just be mean. 

That said, I can't wait for his hair cut!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Grammar Lesson For Dog Lovers

Have you seen this bumper sticker / magnet?

It drives me nuts!!!!  While I LOVE the sentiment, the proper way to form this sentence would be

Who Rescued Whom?

I seriously want to slap whoever came up with this magnet!  I want to take a red sharpie to every one of these magnets I see, and I want to correct it.

My English is not always the greatest.  I'm often terrible with punctuation, and it is not uncommon for me to make grammatical errors, but this one I know.  I even know the trick to figuring out whether to use who or whom.  Let me help!

When asking whether use who or to use whom in a sentence, simply answer the question you're about to ask.  If the answer is him / her use whom.  If the answer is he / she use who.  For example:

Who / Whom ate the cookie?
It would not make any sense to say "Him ate the cookie."  So, the correct word is "who."  Who ate the cookie?

Who / Whom did you meet?
It would not be correct to say "I met he."  So, the correct word is "whom."  Whom did you meet?

In the example above, you can follow the same rule.

Who / Whom rescued who / whom?
The best response is "He rescued him."  It is not "He rescued he" or "Him rescued him" or "Him rescued he."  So, the proper form of this sentence is "Who rescued whom?"

I know this is confusing, but I am asking the general public to try a little harder. 

Thank you!  That is all.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Motivation

I have officially been running every other day for over a month now (minus last week where I took off as a reward after the 10k).  This is a pretty big accomplishment for me, and I'm really proud of myself for working out this week even though I enjoyed the sleeping in that last week involved.  I still worry, though, that some day I'll lose that motivation.  Maybe I'll get sick, or be in a car accident (both things that have killed my motivation in the past), or maybe I'll have a bad run or a few bad runs.  Maybe the weather will get cold, or maybe I'll just want to sleep some more.  It is times like these that I will need some extra motivation.

The following is a list of some of the things that help to keep me motivated.  Use it for yourself, or just remind me of it the next time I feel like quitting

When Cody doesn't get a run in, he becomes disobedient.  He is testy with the other dogs, he barks at people on the street, and he's an all around brat.  However, when he gets the run in, especially if it's a long run, he's a perfect angel.  He's everything anyone could ever ask for in a dog.  His heel is beautiful, his attitude is much better, and he is much more snugly.  This is almost motivation enough.
How could you say no to this face?
I like to eat.  I like to eat all sorts of food.  While I do try to choose healthier options, I feel less guilty about eating a cookie if I've gotten a good workout in.

To Feel Good
When I work out, especially if it's a good work out, I feel good about myself.  I love to brag and tell people that I run 3 miles every other day, and 6+ miles on the weekend.  I love knowing that I'm about to start training for a marathon.  I love watching my times improve on my runs.  It's my little form of a happy pill.

The Sauna
Sometimes it's hard to wake up early just to go swimming at the gym.  It's especially difficult when it's cold outside, and I'm already stiff from an earlier run.  One sure-fire way to get me moving, though, is to remind me of the sauna.  I may be cold now, but I'll be warm and toasty in the sauna.  The sauna's at the gym, so if I want to warm up, I'd better go.  If I'm going to take time to go to the gym, I might as well jump in the pool as well.

I'm not talking about planning workouts or meals.  I'm talking about putting deadlines on the calendar.  I sign up for races.  I'll admit, after the 10k, the only other race that's currently on my calendar is the marathon in November.  This is mainly due to lack of funds (Would anyone care to sponsor me in a race?).  Instead, I've started looking up races and setting goals for that same date.

Telling people
I'm telling everyone about my goals.  Since I don't want to seem like a failure, I'll keep working towards those goals just so I can tell everyone I did what I set out to accomplish.

Hans has been a great cheerleader and motivator.  He's been getting up early to swim with me.  On the mornings that I run with Cody, he'll take a foster dog for a bike ride (Lollie can't run that far).  He's made posters for races, and made me dinner after a long day.  When I whine about it being cold, or not wanting to, he (quite annoyingly) reminds me that I will feel better afterwards.  He's really gotten on board with the whole exercise thing.  Now if I could get him to like fish we'd really be set!

He's ready to crack the whip!
How do you stay motivated when you're just not up to going out?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Am Not Ashamed

I'd have to say that one of my biggest faults is that I almost constantly worry what others think about me.  How do I look?  Am I saying the right things?  How do I compare?  I often automatically assume the worst, and so I turn things around.  Basically, this involves a lot of sniggering about other people.  Admittedly, I will occasionally have periods of enlightenment.  These are either times when I feel really good about myself, so I am not worried what others think, or they're times when I am simply fed up and could care less.  Still, though, those periods aren't nearly as common as what I'd like them to be...except in one scenario.

When I am with the dogs I can be / say / do anything I want.  If I'm doing something for the betterment of the dogs, I will do almost anything.  I will talk to my dogs, dance for my dogs, act like random animals for my dogs.  When training, I have no problem acting like an ape or a frog just to throw something odd and unusual into the mix, and I don't care who's watching.  Apparently, I don't have any problems doing this around small children either, but I do require a bit more get-to-know-you time before this happens.

See, the thing is, dogs don't care what you look like.  They think it's hilarious and exciting when I move around like a monkey (unless they're scared, but that's another issue).  They don't tell random people that I'm weird.  In fact, if they say anything it's probably that I'm awesome because I'm not afraid to act like a goof.

Dogs really are amazing in their non-judgmental ways.  It's why there are so many organizations that deal with therapy dogs.  Did you know that there are therapy dogs that help kids learn how to read?  The dogs sit next to they child as the child reads a book to them.  It's not as nerve wracking to read to a dog because dogs aren't going to judge the child or correct the child or become impatient with the child.  Then there are dogs that help rehabilitate someone recovering from an accident.  Sometimes their presence alone is enough encouragement.

It is because of this welcoming and wonderful attitude that I will always have a dog.  I will always have someone to act like a goof around.  I will always have someone to snuggle with.  I will always have a belly to rub and a cold, wet nose to kiss.

Really, how could you not feel comfortable around a face like this?

This is Katrina, one of my fosters.  I swear this photo has not been altered in any way.  She actually smiled at me like that one day!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Revenant by Billy Collins

The other day, I attended an author reading for The Art of Racing In The Rain (an amazing book, and I highly recommend it), and while there Garth Stein, the author, mentioned a certain poem that helped to inspire him to write his book.  I thought it was absolutely hilarious, and I had to share it with you.  Enjoy!

The Revenant

I am the dog you put to sleep,
as you like to call the needle of oblivion,
come back to tell you this simple thing:
I never liked you--not one bit.

When I licked your face,
I thought of biting off your nose.
When I watched you toweling yourself dry,
I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap.

I resented the way you moved,
your lack of animal grace,
the way you would sit in a chair to eat,
a napkin on your lap, knife in your hand.

I would have run away,
but I was too weak, a trick you taught me
while I was learning to sit and heel,
and--greatest of insults--shake hands without a hand.

I admit the sight of the leash
would excite me
but only because it meant I was about
to smell things you had never touched.

You do not want to believe this,
but I have no reason to lie.
I hated the car, the rubber toys,
disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.

The jingling of my tags drove me mad.
You always scratched me in the wrong place.
All I ever wanted from you
was food and fresh water in my metal bowls.

While you slept, I watched you breathe
as the moon rose in the sky.
It took all of my strength
not to raise my head and howl.

Now I am free of the collar,
the yellow raincoat, monogrammed sweater,
the absurdity of your lawn,
and that is all you need to know about this place

except what you already supposed
and are glad it did not happen sooner--

that everyone here can read and write,
the dogs in poetry, the cats and the others in prose.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I'm Running a Marathon!

After running the 10k, I was on a pretty big high.  I was so proud of myself, and I had this feeling that I could do anything I wanted.  I mean, a month ago, I could barely run a 5k in 35 minutes.  With hard work and dedication, I ended up running a 10k in 64 minutes.  That's pretty awesome.  I had decided that this year, I would at least run a half marathon, but I was really wondering how it might be to run a full marathon.  Saturday evening I sat at the computer and looked at information on the different training teams.  I came across one very key quote:

“I went from the 10k to the marathon in five months. Along the way, I made new friends, discovered Richmond and found myself.”- Jason Smith

Now then, I don't know Jason Smith.  He may have had a much longer running career than I have, or he may be in better shape.  All I know is that he went from the distance that I just ran to a full marathon.  Jason Smith convinced me to sign up!

I am officially signed up for the Richmond Marathon training team.  Note: This is NOT the half marathon training team.  I'm planning on running the full 26.2 miles.  Ok, I may walk in there a little, and I don't think there's any shame in that.

In running the marathon, I've also stolen and idea from a friend of mine.  A couple of years ago, a friend of mine decided to run the marathon and raise money for Richmond Animal Care and Controll (RACC).  She wanted to raise $100 for each mile ran, for a grand total of $2,620.  I'm doing the same thing, but my funds will be going to Henrico Humane Society.

Basically, I love working with dogs (and sometimes cats).  Henrico Humane functions mainly on fosters, and they're short-handed.  This amount would only cover a percentage of one of their monthly bills, but every little bit helps.

So, I'm asking for your help.  Will you help cheer me on?  Will help encourage me when I'm feeling down?  Will you help me by donating to my cause?  

I've provided a donation button on the side of this page, but if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Training starts June 2nd, and until then I'll be running quite a bit so I don't lose my current stamina.

Here goes nothin'!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Video: Finishing a 10k

The video of me finishing the 10k finally uploaded.  It's not the best quality, but it's a great memory!  I'm the one in the blue shirt trying my hardest to finish fast.