One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

I’ve been bad. I haven’t been walking Bailey everyday, as I know I should. By the time I get home from work, study, and take care of everything that needs to be done it is time to get to bed and start all over again. Most people say they don’t have time, but you know better because they are playing games on their phone, watching TV, goofing off on Facebook… you get the idea. I make it a point to play with Bailey for at least 15 minutes when I get home, but aside from that I really am short on time. If she wasn’t reactive I would hire someone to help out. As one day of walking was missed, and another, I really felt awful and wanted to do something about the situation. I decided that since I didn’t have time when I got home from work I would take Bailey for a bike ride in the mornings. Any exercise is better than nothing. This worked for a short time, but I didn’t want her to suffer an injury from running so much. Plus, the temperatures have been steadily rising. To make matters worse, there are lots of people to avoid in the morning, more so than late at night.

This weekend I got back into the routine of walking Bailey at night because the semester is almost over and the workload is lightening up. My husband goes with me 99% of the time, but he did not tonight because he wasn’t feeling well. The new Sporn no-pull harness I bought worked like a charm both nights. I had one for Bruiser until he grabbed it one day and chewed it in half. It worked beautifully for him, so I decided to give it a try on Bailey. For the price, I figured it couldn’t hurt. We passed a jogger, and to my complete shock she didn’t growl, but instead kept looking to me for guidance. I couldn’t believe it! We have had many triumphs and setbacks over the years though, so I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a fluke. We passed several other dogs and the same scene played out. I was elated! I hypothesized that the Gentle Leader that she used to wear over her mouth may have caused her to be more reactive because it made her feel somewhat trapped. Just a guess.

All was well until we looped back to head home. As expected, two dogs came running from their yard barking and growling. These are the same dogs I have encountered numerous times before. The situation is always dangerous, especially when I’m on my bike. The worst part was that this evening I was alone, so I had to juggle Bailey as she bounced around and try to spray the dog repellant spray I always carry with me. I’m so incredibly angry that their irresponsible owner refuses to heed the leash law and prevent her dogs from roaming the neighborhood. I don’t have an issue with the dogs themselves, because I know they don’t know any better. In fact, I worry all the time that they are going to be hit by a car, attacked by larger dogs, picked up by someone with ill intent, etc. This is one of countless times I have been confronted with these two and I have had enough. I know Bailey would make a lot more progress if we didn’t encounter loose dogs on our walks and rides. If anyone out there has a suggestion I am all ears! Animal Control will not do anything, so I’m at a loss.

Summer Fun

I haven’t disappeared. I am working hard on prerequisites to get into grad school, so I haven’t had time to do much of anything other than work and study. Thankfully, the end of the semester is drawing near, so I have been able to grab a few minutes for myself here and there.

For my birthday I asked for a bicycle trailer. I love letting Bailey trot along next to me as I ride my bike, but I have found that it isn’t much exercise for me. After a few blocks she gets pretty worn out, at which point I turn around and head for home. The funny thing is that even though she is totally pooped when we return, if I drop her off so I can then ride by myself she has a fit. I figured that the perfect solution would be to allow her to get her energy out and then load her in the trailer so that I could get my exercise. She successfully learned to get into the trailer and allow me to wheel her around, but she wouldn’t tolerate it once the trailer was hooked to my bike. I think she has been strongly conditioned to want to run next to me, so even though she had just run around the neighborhood with me she refused to take the backseat. Sadly, we decided to return the trailer. With plenty of time and patience I probably could have gotten her to ride in the trailer, but unfortunately I just don’t have that kind of time and likely won’t until I graduate. I hated the thought of the trailer sitting around and collecting dust, so back it went.

Aside from that, Bailey is a pro at staying cool. She has been enjoying her new pool and going on walks late at night when the temperature finally drops below 85 degrees. Once the semester is over I plan on freezing a bunch of special treats for her and taking her hiking to somewhat make up for not being able to do as much with her as I normally would.

  • Bailey’s Bike Trailer
  • Bailey’s Pool
  • Take a break from the studying, would you?
  • $1 toy… lasted 10 minutes

Bailey the Destroyer

Bailey waiting for toy

Bailey waiting patiently as I sew a new toy. Excuse my awful hair day. Maybe I should Photoshop a hat on my head. 😉

Remember that cute toy I wrote about recently that I got for Bailey on Listia? Well, she worked very hard today to reduce it to a pile of fluff and bits of fabric in record time. I was busy catching up on pen pal letters and I felt guilty because Bailey kept following me around seeking attention. The first time I took out the Loofah toy after it arrived she got entirely too aggressive and I put it away. I knew it was inevitable that she would destroy it, so in order to prolong its life I tried to play fetch with her using the Loofah dog. The thing must have been loaded with doggie crack because she would not drop it and she was very reluctant to bring it back to me. She even turned down the treats I tried bribing her with to get her to drop it. This is not a dog that turns down food! I watched with sadness as she tore it to shreds. She enjoyed it while it lasted though. I wish I could find a plush toy that would stand up to her destructive tendencies. The best advice I’ve received to date is to buy stuffed animals from thrift stores (as long as they don’t have any unsafe components) and let her go to town. I also sew toys for her, but not nearly fast enough to keep up with her urge to shred everything. Does your dog snuggle their plush toys or reduce them to fiber fill?

This entry was posted in toys.

Get Free Stuff for Your Pup on Listia

I’m sure you enjoy spoiling your pet as much as I do. It can get pretty expensive and I’m always looking for ways to enhance our pets’ lives while sticking to a budget. One of my favorite ways to do that is winning dog-related items via Listia auctions. If you aren’t familiar with the site already, you create a free account and earn credits by offering items you own, inviting others, and/or completing surveys. I know it probably sounds too good to be true. That’s exactly what I was thinking when I first stumbled upon it. However, I have scored lots of great dog toys and clothes for free. Just a few minutes ago I won an auction for a Loofa Launcher and I can’t wait for it to arrive because I know Bailey is going to love it!

To make the best of the site I have found that it is beneficial to list items that can be mailed in an envelope for the current postage stamp rate. Think stickers, packets of seeds, coupons for free items, etc. You can charge for shipping but most people prefer free shipping (I can’t remember ever bidding on an item that was listed and required a shipping fee). You’ll earn credits quickly and they can be used for lots of great pet items. Probably the ultimate way to get truly FREE credits is to offer something virtual like an ebook or similar product. I hope to do that sometime in the future because it offers the greatest return. A virtual item can be listed over and over infinitely, likely didn’t cost you anything, and can be delivered for free. I was against it for a long time because it didn’t seem fair to the people listing physical products and paying for the shipping, but there are great virtual products available and if the demand is there I guess it isn’t a bad thing to give people what they want, right?

Another tip- use the site to get rid of things that wouldn’t sell well on other platforms. My general rule is that if I can’t sell something on eBay or Craigslist for more than $10 I list it on Listia. I’ve listed sets of music CDs, DVDs I no longer watch, stickers that didn’t sell on eBay, out of style sewing patterns, old software, and more.

I hope you find this useful and if you have any questions just ask below, I’m happy to help! Here is a link that will get you 250 credits to start. In order to provide full disclosure I’d like to tell you that by clicking on the link and signing up I will be awarded 500 points. Bailey and I thank you for your generosity! I hope you find some wonderful items for your favorite furry friends!

Keep Your Promises

You get home from work, toss your keys aside, and slump into your chair. It has been a long day but your dog is so incredibly happy that you made it home (all the while wondering why humans leave in the first place). Buster wants you to throw the ball, scratch an ear, go for a stroll, etc. However, your motivation is severely lacking.

I’ve always had a hard time keeping commitments. I’m not a very consistent person and I’m sure that it is super frustrating for animals that tend to prefer routines. Sure, things get done, but they are usually on my terms and I’m easily distracted. I’ve kept a variety of paper lists, experimented with various to-do programs, and I have test driven a bunch of apps. Paper was a disaster. I would start one list and feel pretty good about it then either forget to cross items off or add a nauseating amount of new tasks to the list. I would often lose that list and then start another one. I don’t recall ever crossing everything off of a paper list. Ouch. I then had an epiphany. I’m a geek. I love tech. Why am I not using my computer for this? Thus started my foray into all manner of software and web-based to-do programs. I felt confident that I’d found the answer but I soon found that it was just an electronic version of the nightmare I had created with paper lists. I must have signed up for at least 15 different options and which ultimately lead to defeat. My self-esteem even suffered. What on earth was wrong with me? If technology couldn’t help me out then I must really be helpless.

I am happy to say that in 2014 all of this changed for me in a big way. And if you have gotten this far and you are wondering what in the world this has to do with dogs, please hang in just a little while longer. I’ve always had lofty goals (have $1 million in the bank by the time I’m 45)  interspersed with the more modest goals (get in bed by 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday). I’m finally making progress and it is all thanks to HabitRPG. I stumbled upon this during my last search for a to-do list. I’m glad I gave it one more try. For the first time in my life I have been using the same to-do list manager for more than just a few days or weeks. I’m on my 8th month! As someone that used to switch from one solution to another almost weekly, this is life-changing.

HabitRPG

I was hooked as soon as I learned the ropes and I feel confident that HabitRPG will continue to make me a better person and better dog owner. I believe in it so much that I pay $5 per month to support the project. I don’t earn any commissions and the link I’m posting is not an affiliate link. I just want to get the word out because I think this has the potential to change a lot of lives.

If Bailey could speak I think she would say it has been life-changing for her as well. I’ve set Dailies up such as “train Bailey” and “play with Bailey.” I’ve also placed “exercise” on the list, and I tick that one off each night that Mike and I take Bailey for a walk. Prior to HabitRPG I’d always think to myself, “I should really get a training session in with Bailey each day” and I’d fail miserably. Something would come up or there would always be an excuse. I get such satisfaction from checking things off in HabitRPG and leveling up that I rarely miss any Dailies.

Briefly, I’d like to explain why I think it works for me. Other lists were downright boring. Jotting a list down on paper felt satisfying, but seeing it languish just made me feel bad. The programs and web-based organizers I used lacked flair. There was nothing to draw me in and keep me coming back. I once thought the task list in Gmail was the answer. I mean, I use Gmail constantly. How could that not be the best solution? It’s because it was boring! Add a task. Check it off. Do it again. <YAWN> HabitRPG addresses all of that. It’s highly motivating and I feel a great deal of pride as I check things off. Although I’ve never been a big RPG fan (GASP!) this definitely works for me. I enjoy leveling up and I work hard to make sure my character stays alive. The training sessions with Bailey that used to be sporadic at best now occur daily, if not multiple times a day thanks to HabitRPG.

You may find paper lists more appealing, a memo app on your smartphone, or tying a string around your finger. If it works, stick with it. Use it to improve your relationship with your dog. However, if you are still searching for that perfect solution give HabitRPG a try. It might just change your life and enrich your dog’s life further!

Baby it’s (still) cold outside!

Do you find it difficult to exercise with your dog in the winter? There have been plenty of nights that I didn’t want to even think about going back out in the cold again. We grin and bear it for Bailey, but there were a couple of nights here and there that were just too cold for all of us. What do you do with a dog with a surplus of energy? Think outside (and inside) the box! I have had a lot of fun coming up with ways to keep Bailey active indoors. Here is quick and fun way to tire out a springy dog. (My first YouTube upload in YEARS! I’m still editing it because video has never been my forte, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.)

Carpe Diem

dog_eating_ice

Bailey playing around with the ice I extracted from the water dish.

Last week it was downright cold. It was a struggle to walk Bailey each night and we even skipped a night because the temps hit the single digits due to the wind.

This weekend we were fortunate enough to have gorgeous weather, and it would have been a shame to not take advantage of it. At first I really wanted to go hiking, but I remembered that with all of the recent rain it would be too muddy and slippery. The next best thing? Our local parks. On Saturday we took Bailey to King Caldwell Park. We started out on the trails and then walked the block back to the VFW Post.

dog_next_to_tank

Today, like yesterday, was pretty windy and perfect for kite flying. We walked the trail at Goose Pond Colony Resort and then had a picnic lunch near the amphitheater.

Reporting for duty!

Reporting for duty!

Want to tire your dog out faster? Make her carry her water, food, poop bags, etc.

dog_peanut_butter_sandwich

Bailey enjoyed a modified peanut butter sandwich.

 

Did you say sammich?

Did you say sammich?

 

Windsurfer on Lake Guntersville

Windsurfer on Lake Guntersville

It was an enjoyable, relaxing day. Somewhat. Bailey is pretty anxious most of the time, and today was no exception. Here you can see her eying my husband’s kite. Kites are one of many things on her list of “ominous things that fly, must destroy by any means necessary.” Shortly after this photo was taken the kite spiraled out of control and was unfortunately within her reach. It was a sore subject and therefore there are no shots of the remnants of the kite following the heinous crime. I can only imagine that she saw it as a threat, felt proud that she protected us from the awful thing, and wonders why we were so upset.

Giving the kite the evil eye.

Giving the kite the evil eye.

We did get one of the kites in the air for a bit. It wasn’t sturdy enough to support the iOn Air Pro camera as we originally intended, but it was fun nevertheless.

bird_kite

I would have to say that the best part is coming home with a tired dog. As they say, a tired dog is a good dog! She’s still snoozing in the office as I type this.

If you are lucky enough to have escaped the winter chill (or you don’t live in it in the first place) I hope you had some time to enjoy the outdoors with your best friend.

Until next time,

sig

 

 

 

Want to Become a Veterinarian?

edivet

Image by The University of Edinburgh

For anyone that is interested in becoming a veterinarian, EDIVET is offering a FREE 5 week online course to familiarize people with what a Veterinary Medicine degree requires. The course is available here.

I found this a few months ago and signed up out of curiosity. I figured this career would be a natural fit for an animal lover. I did a lot of research that scared me away, but I still plan on following the course because it never hurts to learn something new.

These are the cons associated with becoming a veterinarian that I have identified:

  • Length of time in school. For someone just starting out this is probably no big deal. For someone like me, in their 30s with one mostly useless bachelor’s degree under their belt, you probably want to speed things along and enter a new field ASAP.
  • The necessity of euthanizing animals. Although I could justify it for an animal that is suffering and beyond treatment it would still be extremely difficult for me. I know I would become disgusted if I had to euthanize animals that people simply no longer want.
  • Treating animals that have obviously been abused or neglected. Resisting the temptation to lash out at the owners would be a constant internal struggle.
  • Dealing with people that refuse to do what is best for their pet. Enough said.
  • Stressed animals… Who actually enjoys visiting the doctor (besides hypochondriacs)? What if the majority of your furry clients are afraid to see you? I want dogs and cats to enjoy and embrace my company not cower, scratch, or bite me!

Those are my cons. Of course these will differ from person to person. There are plenty of pros, such as knowing you are making a difference, good job prospects, good pay, and flexible placements to name a few. Is it for me? The jury is still out, but I’m sure this “EDIVET: Do you have what it takes to be a veterinarian?” class will help. If you are curious about the profession be sure to sign up!

P.S. – I am not affiliated with Coursera, The University of Edinburgh, or this EDIVET course in any way. I just want to help get the word out!

New Year’s Resolutions

Bailey dreaming about 2015

Bailey dreaming about 2015

Love them or hate them, many people have already set their resolutions or goals for 2015. I have set my personal goals and I thought it would be a good idea to create a separate list for those I have for Bailey. I have identified quite a few goals I have for her this year, and since she can’t create resolutions herself I’ll just have to hope these meet her approval.

Here’s the list:

  • Get serious about posting to this blog
  • Strengthen obedience training
  • Teach at least one trick per month
  • Take Bailey camping
  • Set up an agility course
  • Taper treats
  • Set up a budget for treats, toys, gear, etc.

It never hurts to post things in order to have more accountability. Here is why I chose these goals:

THE BLOG

I keep a list of things that I want to write about and then I either make excuses about not having time or I chicken out for one reason or another. I plan on posting at least once per week and customizing the site as time permits.

OBEDIENCE

Bailey has been taught the typical commands- sit, down, up, stay, off, roll, touch, etc. However, we haven’t worked up to longer duration stays and with distractions. We’ve practiced in other environments but all of these things could be improved. Bailey is very impulsive so it would be great to get her to perform at stay for more than a couple of minutes.

TRICK TRAINING

Jumping through a hoop and ringing a doorbell to go outside have been introduced. The hoop proved to be easy to teach. The doorbell is another story and I’ll go in to detail about that another time. She can ring it but has not made the connection with going outside. I’d like to challenge her by teaching her some new tricks.

CAMPING

We went kayaking with Bailey last year but just didn’t find the time to go camping. I prefer backcountry camping but her first trip will be a lot more like “glamping.” I fear taking her deep into the woods only to find that she stays up all night barking at things, tries to take on a bear, or otherwise loses her mind. I imagine our first trip will be to one of the local state park camping grounds with our truck nearby in case we deem the trip an utter failure.

AGILITY COURSE

This is something I’ve been daydreaming about a lot but always seems to end up on the back burner. Due to Bailey’s social issues an agility class is currently out of the question, but we have plenty of room in the backyard for a DIY course. The real challenge is my budget…

TAPER TREATS

I have gotten in the bad habit of giving Bailey too many treats for compliance and I never properly faded them out. I’m just a sucker for a cute face and those imploring eyes! I plan on tapering treats. This one is going to be tough because Bailey is highly food motivated and I’m a softie.

THE BUDGET

This goal ties into one of my personal goals. I plan on paying off my debt this year so that I can begin saving and investing. Instead of working my life away I want to make steady progress so that Mike and I can retire early and spend quality time at home with Bailey, Fluffy, and Chewie. The less money we spend the more freedom we will gain. Plus, isn’t that what all of our companion animals want- our time and affection? I think they would easily give up the crate full of treats, pile of dog sweaters, and drawer full of catnip mice if it meant more time with us.

Speaking of, it’s time I shut down the computer for the night. I hope you and your best friends have a tail-wagging good time in 2015!

 

Welcome

I bought this domain a long time ago with the goal of sharing all of Bailey’s adventures with the world. Unfortunately, we haven’t been going on as many adventures because of her reactivity. It is rather unpredictable and as a result our days consist of prevention and management. I do get discouraged at times, but I know that buried somewhere beneath the fear is a good dog that yearns to be confident and friendly. It amazes me that Bailey can be so fun loving and playful with humans she trusts, but turn into Cujo in certain situations. Despite the challenges she will always have a home here and I will never cease to seek out new knowledge to help her.

I will post her adventures soon, because we still have plenty of them at home.

 

This entry was posted in news.