accomplishment ACE Adopt the Internet Day advocate AKC ALIVE Andrea Arden APDT attention aversives Be the Change for Animals beagle beds Bianca bibliophile birthday blessings blog hop BlogPaws board and train Boston Terrier bullied by the blog C-WAGS C.L.A.S.S. call to action CCPDT CDSP certification Certified Pet Dog Trainer change chapter 1 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Christmas Cincinnati click and treat clicker expo clicker training coming when called commitment common sense communication competion coupon cpdt CPDT-KA craft crisis response Dads Daisy decisions dog shows dog training dominance Easter economy emotions empathy equine Face of Crisis facebook family focus food Fortunate Fido Frames of Mind fraud Gardner giving goals group class harness holy week house guest humanity Husker Ian Dunbar individuals instinct integral internet Jade Jean Donaldson joy K9 Chaplains K9 Comfort Dogs Karen Pryor Ken McCort Lake Township Lana Mitchell learning learning theory leash aggression life experience lifestyle training living positively mama beagle Meagan Melissa Alexander minature horse Morgan Specter Mr. Chewy mule Nevada Humane Society Never Shock a Puppy normal Northern Illinois University Open House openminded opportunity pack theory Parents of Murdered Children party Patricia McConnell peace personality pet blogger challenge Pet Blogger Hop Pets without Parents Philadelphia polite greetings POMC positive reinforcement positive reinforcement clicker training precious priorities product review puppies puppy class Rainbow Bridge Rally Obedience relationships relaxing research review rewards routine safe versus dangerous service dogs SPA sports stress success Sue Ailsby Sweet Spots Doggy Ice Cream TDInc. teacher technology The Clicked Retriever therapy dogs thinking time tools tornado toys training plan training tip travel tricks twitter unconditional love video work in progress

Friday, December 31, 2010

Chapter 6 -- Puppy Ties that Bind

I apologize to all of you for not writing anything for over a month.  Ten puppies take up an amazing amount of time; time that I didn't even know I had available!  Hopefully now, things will start to even out a little and some of my time will be freed up for things other than puppies.

As I type, I have one puppy in my lap (Cosette -- renamed Ziporrah, or Zip, by her adopting family), four squished into the dog bed on the kitchen floor, and three playing tag around our water dispenser.  One puppy, Emmett, has been adopted by friends of ours, and he is with them, their four children, and three other dogs.  Life is good.

There have been no major issues, they are growing like crazy and we are enjoying every second we have with them (well, most of them!), knowing most of them will be going on to live with other families sooner than later.  We will be keeping two of them -- our oldest daughter is keeping Elphie.  Elphie stole Meagan's heart when we needed to bottle feed what used to be the smallest of the litter.  She is now firmly in the middle size-wise and she and Meagan are firmly attached.  Dollie, the first-born of the group, has stolen Ken's heart.  She's smart, independent, and has Ken wrapped around her little paw.  We are excited to see what the future holds for these two newest additions to our family.

Cosette, now Zip, will be staying with us for a while.  My best friend and her family have adopted her and they live out of state.  We are planning a trip in the spring to visit them and to deliver their newest addition.

What's most interesting and touching for me is that all the adopted pups will always have ties to each other since they have been adopted by friends.  Kim and Sandra are two of my oldest friends.  When our children were little, our families fit together perfectly -- every child had a similarly aged friend.  Sandra's oldest and Kim's oldest, my oldest and Sandra's second, Kim's second and Sandra's third, and all three of our youngest.  Now we each have a puppy from the same litter.  How cool is that?  Our ties, and our friendship, continue on through these puppies, and across the country.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all the Puppies!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chapter 5 -- One Month Old

Wow!  Time flies when you're having fun!!!  I can't believe it's been a whole month since the puppies were born.  It's been such a wonderful four weeks and a huge learning experience.

The puppies grow and mature and find new ways to explore their world every day (maybe every hour!!!).  I love to open the crate and watch them "spill" out onto the floor, eager to see what's new in the world.  I love to watch them play together -- play bow, chew on various body parts, and play tag.  I love to watch, and listen to, them eat their puppy gruel (getting more solid every day).  And I love to watch them sleep, all snuggled up in a big pile of puppies, all content to be warm and together and sleeping.

In honor of their one-month birthday, I made sure to take pictures today.  It was an adventure!  But it was a lot of fun.  Happy Birthday Puppies -- we are so happy you are in our lives for this short, but amazing, time in your lives!!!

(Mama Lucy is doing well.  She is still nursing them and cleaning up after them.  She is a love bug, but she also has her faults -- counter surfing and fence climbing.  We are managing the issues and actively working on some training with her.  She will be a wonderful dog for an active family!)

They are all in there -- just some are choosing to hide from the camera!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Normal" Life?

Since Lucy and the puppies came to live with us, life has been anything BUT normal.  But that's a good thing.  This family in need has been a blessing to have in our house and the whole family has been working together to make this a wonderful experience for both humans and canines.

Good or bad, right or wrong -- we still have a life to tend to outside of mama and the puppies.  It's been difficult to fit it all in.  Last weekend I judged a great trial at Canine Sports in Vermilion and on Saturday, the whole family went along.  It was a wonderful day of judging, exhibiting, and spending time with family and friends.  But since Lucy can, and will, escape from the pen where the puppies are, we had to hire a "doggy sitter" for the day.  Our friend Augusta came and hung out with Lucy and the puppies all day for us.  Not terribly normal for us.

We haven't had much time to be with our own dogs lately, but they seem to be adjusting somewhat.  At the trial, they both did a really good job, getting great scores and placing in every class we competed in.  Unfortunately, that's a little bit of positive reinforcement for me for NOT training regularly!  But I know the good runs were more a factor of us being excited to play together as opposed to consistent training, so I am trying harder this week to fit in training sessions.

This morning we had things to clean up and papers to change in addition to our "normal" things to get done -- it meant something had to give, so we decided to miss a meeting.  I hate missing meetings, but it just wasn't going to work.  My hope is that lots gets done today so that I don't feel so bad about not going to the meeting.

As a trainer, I encourage my students to fit in training no matter what is going on.  The reality is it doesn't always happen.  "Normal" life is not so normal a huge majority of the time.  But our dogs need us, they need us to play with them, to snuggle with them, to train with them.  Take 3 minutes today and do something with your dog.  The benefits to both of you will be huge!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Puppy Pictures

Taken November 1, 2010.  Puppies are 12 days old. 
Thank you Bernadette and Chondra for the very cute puppy blanket!!!!

Elphie and Glinda


Emmett doing what he does best -- laying on top of his brothers and sisters.

Emmett (red) jockeying for his favorite spot.

Elphie loves to suck on Meagan's finger!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chapter 4 -- A Whole New World

It must be a scary and exciting experience for our puppies -- each day another puppy's (or two, or three...) eyes open and they are starting to see the world around them.  I wonder what they are thinking.  Are they excited?  Are they happy?  Are they curious?  Are they nervous?  Are they scared?  Are they all of the above?  What an interesting thing to think about.  This is all brand new to them.  We have an opportunity of a lifetime -- we can help them to view the world as a wonderful, rewarding, interesting place.

We are thrilled that the Society for the Protection of Animals (S.P.A.) has allowed us the privilege of being this family's caregivers.  It is an experience we will never forget and one we have already been blessed over and over by.  If you are interested in helping S.P.A., or in adopting a new member of your family, please contact them -- These puppies will not be ready for adoption until after the holidays, but they have lots of other cats and dogs who need forever homes right now.

The puppies are growing like weeds and starting to show their individual personalities.  Some are outgoing and gregarious, others are more reserved, some are very vocal and others are content just to eat and sleep.  They are all very active and very social.  Some of them are starting to be a little more independent and some of them love to always be a part of their sibling group.  It is great fun to watch each of them every day as they grow and change and become individuals.

I will have new pictures sometime this week!!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chapter 3 -- We have puppies!

Actually, we have 10  puppies!!!!  Yes, it's true and yes, we feel a bit overwhelmed.  But at the same time we feel incredibly blessed because they are all doing well and thriving under the watchful eye of their wonderful mother.

Tuesday (10/19/10) evening about 10 p.m., Lucy's water began leaking.  So we all took her to the whelping box and we ALL started nesting.  Our daughters prepared to sleep on the floor in the living room in between puppies while Ken and I got comfortable for what we were sure would be a relatively long night.  Lucy got comfy in her whelping box and alternately rested and paced in the pen we put around the whelping box.

About 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday (10/20/10) morning, puppy #1 was born.  It went like clockwork -- as did all of the puppies after her.  There were several breech puppies, but they all were born with only a little assistance from Ken or me. 

The girls stayed up through puppy #2 and then went to get a little bit of sleep.  I stayed up through puppy #4 (around 5:00 a.m.) and then I went to get a little bit of sleep.  Ken handled puppies #5, 6, and 7 by himself.  The only issue he had was with puppy #5 -- when he took too long weighing and tying the cord, Lucy got a little inpatient with him and started barking!  For puppies #6 and 7 he worked much faster!!!

Around 8:00 a.m., I got our oldest daughter, Meagan, up and moving and we took over for Ken so he could sleep.  By 9:10 a.m. we had puppies #8, 9, and 10 delivered and snuggling with mom and their siblings.  Lucy was wonderful and alternately kept track of her new babies and panting through contractions.

They are all doing well, eating, sleeping, gaining weight.  All of the puppies weighed between .62 and .79 pounds -- good size puppies for such a petite little mama!!!  We have no idea (yet!) what the daddy was, but we are having fun speculating.  Lucy is a great mom and we are constantly amazed by how well she is handling all ten puppies.

We are a "theme" family -- we like to have themes for things -- parties, events, and puppies!!!  We had a theme all picked out (Charlie Brown characters) before the puppies arrived, but when we had so many girls, we had to find a new theme.  So, we decided on characters from musicals!  Thankfully we can keep Lucy -- it's from the musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."  Can you figure out which musicals the rest of them came from?

Mama Lucy resting with all the puppies.  10/20/2010

Puppy #7 Girl -- Elphie

Puppy #5 Boy -- Emmett

Puppy #9 Girl -- Belle

Puppy #4 Girl -- Glinda

Puppy #3 Girl --Nellie

Puppy #10 Girl -- Cosette

Puppy #8 Boy -- Zuko

Puppy #1 Girl -- Dolly

Puppy #6 Girl --Sandy
Puppy #2 Girl -- Millie

What better day to premier the puppies than on a Saturday Pet Blogger Hop?!?  These are all great blogs and this is a wonderful community of pet lovers.  We are proud to be a part of the Hop.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another Pet Blogger Hop Saturday

Sometimes it happens that a dog (or other animal), no matter how loved, is in an incompatible situation.  And to be the best advocate for that dog is to find her a new home where the environment, the situation, the family is better suited.

We had this situation unfold over the last couple weeks.  A wonderful young dog was living on a farm.  But she somehow got hold of a very, very young baby farm animal and killed it.  So the family had to decide whether it was a training issue, a rehoming issue, or a euthanasia issue.  We worked with them, tested the dog, observed the dog and recommended rehoming.  Last night, a friend connected us with a family looking for a dog.  It looks like it's going to be a perfect match!  For this dog, it just took a little while to find the right home for her.  We are happy to have been a part of this dog's new life and are thrilled to know that she will live a long and happy life.

It's the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop -- enjoy these great blogs!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog the Change for Animals

Today marks another day to blog the change for animals.  This is a day for animal bloggers to share our thoughts and our blog space regarding helping animals.  I thought a long time about this post.  How can I, with my relatively small number of followers (blog, Twitter, Facebook), make a significant change for animals?  How can I, with my economically affected, somewhat limited income help animals?  How can I, with my own animals, my family, and a small business, find the time to positively influence how animals live?

I came to an epiphany this morning -- none of that matters.  What does matter is my willingness to try, my ability to help even one animal, my perseverance and hope in the indomitable human spirit and our capacity to love and care for others. 

So, my blog the change for animals message is simple and concise -- take that first step.  It doesn't matter if it's a small step, a baby step, or a giant step -- just take it.  Adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue, secure your animals in your vehicle when transporting them and tell your friend to do the same, take a training class, donate a training class for another family adopting a dog, be a dog walker or a lap for kitties for animals without families yet, donate food, litter, toys, blankets, beds -- whatever is needed, donate to the "Never Shock a Puppy" initiative to help buy safe, humane collars for dogs, transport an animal in its journey to a forever home, donate to the breed rescue of your choice, volunteer to write a newsletter article, edit a newsletter, stuff envelopes, or donate a prize for a fundraiser, spend time with children teaching them about safety around animals, kindness to animals, and exemplify being the change not only for animals, but also for children too!  There are infinite ways to be the change -- one is going to work for you, right where you are in your life at this particular moment in time.  So take that first step and start being the change for animals.

A couple weeks ago we received a call that changed our lives.  A local rescue called to tell us about a pregnant beagle that was found wandering in a parking lot.  We have not fostered dogs in the past for a variety of reasons, so the call was not about us fostering her, but about helping them to find a foster home for her and her yet-to-be-born puppies.  It was a call to step out of our comfort zone.  No one knew it at the time, but it was.  It became very clear, very quickly that it was our call to get out of the boat and to do what is good, right, and necessary and be the foster family for this mama beagle and her puppies.  Lucy (formerly known as "Daisy") has been with us a week and will forever be with us in our hearts.  We know she will be adopted to a loving family once her puppies are weaned and we are excited at the prospect of giving them this wonderful, loving dog.  We are impatiently awaiting the arrival of her puppies so we can love them, work with them, and prepare them for lives with their forever families.  We are honored and humbled by all this means not only to us, but especially to the mama and her puppies.  We took that first step -- will you take it with us by finding what you are meant to do to be the change for animals?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chapter 2 -- Waiting...

Mama Beagle has been with us one week today and we are still waiting for puppies to make their appearance.  It's definitely a lesson in patience for all of us!  I can't imagine how Mama Beagle must feel -- and I have to wonder how dogs view the pregnancy experience.  She gets bigger every day and it's exciting to feel the puppies poke at us and move.

We have tentatively changed her name to Lucy and plan on naming the puppies with Peanuts character names.  She looks like a Lucy to us and is responding to us calling her that.  She is very comfortable with us and prefers to be on someone's lap at all times.  We are amazed at her agility with that big belly!  She is still jumping up on the couch and maneuvering the steps just fine.  She is a good girl and so far, the worse thing about her is her obsession with food -- she's a terrible beggar!  We are working on it, but not worrying too much about it right now since we have to wonder if it has something to do with the puppies and her need for increased food.

Some photos from the last couple days:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chapter 1 -- The Arrival at Our House

Mama Beagle's arrival at our house last night was relatively uneventful.  She does not like the stairs to our basement where the whelping box is, but she doesn't mind being picked up and carried, so I guess that's kind of a non-issue.  Our girls already love her and our dogs are just fine with her.  We are keeping her in the kitchen, basement, and backyard right now -- just during the acclimation period.

No puppies during the night.  We all went to bed wondering since we have heard that a big change like moving her to a new house could induce labor.  She appears to have slept well.  

This morning she is full of energy and tail wags for all of us.  Whenever she sees one of us, she is all a-wag and wanting to be petted.  She lays by the gate in the kitchen with Husker, our Golden Retriever, laying on other side.  It's almost like he's keeping watch over her.  She has not eaten yet today, so I am keeping an eye on her.  It may be that the morning's activities were too much fun to watch or that labor is imminent (or any number of other things!).   She is drinking water and pottying just fine!!!

Here are some photos from her first night with us:

Wow!  Look at that attention already!!!

Trying to get an "aerial" view of the belly.

Mama Beagle's very large belly!

Meeting our Daisy through the gate.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A New Chapter

We are about to open up a new chapter n our lives as a dog family -- tonight a pregnant beagle mama arrives at our house to have her litter of puppies.  She was a stray, found in a parking lot, pregnant and alone.  Attempts to find her family were made and no one has claimed her.  We really contemplated this.  Is this the right time?  Do we have what she needs?  Can we make a difference?  After discussing it, we decided this is the right time, we do have what she needs, and we can make a difference.

So this little beagle mama will have her puppies in our cozy, warm basement surrounded by new faces -- new, but loving and dedicated to helping her and her puppies.  Her name right now is Daisy, but we will be seeking a new name for her as our beagle's name is also Daisy!  We have decided to get to know her and then give her a name that fits her.  Our daughters are excited at the prospect of all those new puppies to find just the right names for!!!

We are nervous and excited and looking forward the new chapter ahead.  We will chronicle as much of the experience as we can.  Stay tuned for photos of beagle mama after she arrives tonight...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

He Just Wants to Say "Hi!"

Our beagle, Daisy, is a vocal dog.  When she plays with other dogs, there is a lot of growling, grunting, barking, "aroo-ing" and other sounds coming from her.  She also gets a "mohawk" (the hair along her back stands up -- piloerection) because she is so excited.  She loves other dogs and loves to play with them.  But she likes it to go a certain way, she likes it to be on her terms.  This isn't a bad thing, it just is, and we are very aware of it.  So when she is meeting new dogs, we take care to observe the "protocol" we have learned from her.

I don't take my dog to pet-friendly pet stores very often.  Mostly because of the other people and their dogs.  Since Daisy is only about 22 pounds, little dogs tend to want to to "meet" her.  She's a little bigger, but not too much, and she is very laid back.  But if your dog is lunging toward us, growling and barking at the end of his retractable leash, I'm going to do a quick turn away from you while telling you my dog is not friendly -- please don't approach us.  For Daisy, this is not in her protocol for meeting other dogs and it is going to set her on edge, therefore setting the whole situation up for failure!

But because my dog is also being vocal and because her "mohawk" is up, other people think Daisy is being aggressive.  She's not.  She is being herself.  Excited to see a new dog, but nervous because this dog has lunged at her face.  We have learned to read our dog, to know when she is relaxed, excited, happy, nervous, fearful, hungry, tired -- the wide gamut of emotions she has.  If the other dog is too forward with Daisy, she is going to let them know.  If the other dog is polite and takes time to read the situation (as Daisy does), it will go very well.  She is a very expressive dog -- as long as the humans and the dogs are paying attention.

Letting dogs say "hi" while on leash is rarely a good idea unless the dogs already know each other.  Many dogs get very frustrated with the leash attached and meeting another dog while on leash may not be successful because of this frustration.  Dogs that are lunging at the end of a leash towards another dog -- no matter how friendly -- may be perceived as being aggressive by the dog they are trying to get to.  And some dogs just do not want to be greeted.  They may be wonderful dogs and love other dogs, but they may be working, they may be in training, they may not feel well, or many other things may be going on that make this not a good time or place to say "hi."

Please, always ask, from a reasonable distance (at least a distance where the dogs cannot make physical contact with each other) if you and your dog can greet another person and his/her dog.  If he/she says no, please respect that and be understanding.  Don't jump to conclusions or make judgments.  It could be anything or it could be they are just not in the mindset to successfully handle a greeting right at this time in this place.  If he/she says yes, he/she may share with you how it will go best for his/her dog.  If you know how it will go best for your dog, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE share that with him/her.  That way the dogs can meet successfully and start to develop a relationship.  (We strongly suggest observing your dog and learning how he/she best handles greeting new dogs, people, etc. -- that way you can be strong, knowledgeable advocate for your dog.)

Enjoying the journey is part of the joy of having a dog.  Make the journey a good experience for you, your dog, and the people and dogs you encounter along the way.

Daisy with Kendra in their last trial.  Love that attention and focus!!!

It's the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop -- we hope you can visit some of these great blogs and enjoy all they have to offer.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Coming When Called -- the Positive Reinforcement Way

Many, many dogs are surrendered to shelters, fitted with shock collars, or neglected because of behavior issues.  This is a sad, sad situation because this is something that can be fixed!!!  As trainers, our goal is to help people establish and maintain their relationship with their dogs and keep their dogs in safe, loving homes for their whole lives.  Every time we can help someone keep their dog, we have eliminated one more dog in the rescue/shelter system. 

One of the biggest complaints people have about their dogs is that the dog won't come when called.  This, of course, is an essential life-saving skill that is necessary for your dog to have.  Unfortunately many training programs do one (or both!) of two things -- either it waits until the dog is more "advanced" in her training to begin teaching it and/or they use an aversive to teach the dog that NOT coming when called will result in a painful correction.

Dogs don't speak English.  I know this may come as a shock to some people.  In order to communicate effectively with our dogs, we need to teach them "English as a second language" -- including their names!  (We also think dogs have a very sensitive intuition and understand our nonverbal communication of our emotions, our health, and who we are.  So go ahead and talk to your dog -- we do -- they are great listeners!  But when it comes to training, assume your dog is from a foreign country and doesn't speak your language.)  

As trainers, we think coming when called is so essential that we start to lay the foundation for it in our very first class by first teaching the dogs that when you hear a click, you have done something we like, and you are going to get something good for it.  Once they get this, we begin teaching them their names.  Say the dog's name (once!), the dog looks at you, click/treat.  Through all of these steps we are also teaching the dog that we may (or may not!) hold her collar, clip on the leash, play with the dog, feed the dog (along with the click/treat), or any number of other routine and/or fun items with the dog -- this teaches the dog to come whenever, wherever because you never know what great thing might happen when you do!  Then we follow a series of steps that build on this foundation -- saying the dog's name and backing up with the dog following you, playing the "round robin" game (everyone has treats and you call the dog from person to person, feeding as soon as the dog gets to you), having "lightning rounds" (Call the dog back and forth between two people as fast as you can get the dog going, treating as often as you can when the dog arrives at each person -- many dogs love this game so much they don't want/need a treat at each person -- and that's okay.  The reward is in playing the game.), and eventually adding distractions and distance to the teaching.  

We also have some "rules" we follow and teach that will help to establish and ensure that your dog will reliably come whenever you call her:  one -- whenever you call your dog to come to you, it ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS results in a positive (a treat, playtime, dinner, a toy, etc.).  No matter how many trees they sniffed, how long they took stalking the squirrel, or how slowly they responded -- when the dog gets to you, it's party time!  This is the hardest thing to do when your dog is being a dog and chasing a bunny or barking at the neighborhood kids, but it's essential.  It only takes one time for you to deliver a negative to your dog to erode the dog's willingness to come when you call.  Remember, dogs don't speak English, so you can say whatever you want, just say it in a pleasant, upbeat tone!  Two -- teach your dog that you may grab and hold their collar, clip on a leash, or otherwise restrain them when they come to you (see above).  This alleviates the "bobble-head" and "you can't catch me" syndromes.  If your dog is used to you sometimes holding them when they come to you, it will not be viewed negatively and you won't have a dog that stops just short of getting to you and won't let you get any closer to them.  Three -- don't call your dog to come to you to do something she doesn't like -- bath, nails trimmed, crate, etc.  Go get your dog and take her to where you need to be.  (For the crate we have separate and distinct cue that we have taught.)  Doing this eliminates the negative associations with the coming when called.  And four -- practice, practice, practice this for your dog's entire life!  If you want your dog to always come when called, then practice it diligently.  Integrate it into your lifestyle.  Call your dog every day for something and reward it.  If you don't use it, your dog will lose it.

We are involved with the initiative Never Shock a Puppy and we are helping to spread the word that there are alternatives to teaching dogs that are positive and pain free.  Please, if you are having issues with your dog, seek out a trainer that will help you actually teach your dog what it is she needs to learn.  Using a training collar that inflicts pain when the dog does something wrong only teaches the dog to avoid the collar and what it does -- it doesn't teach the dog what it is that you want from her.  There are an infinite number of ways to do things incorrectly, but only one way to do them correctly -- teach your dog the correct way to do things using dog and people friendly methods.

It's Pet Blogger Hop Saturday!  Enjoy these great pet blogs!!!