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Begging? We’re not begging…




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Posted in Animals, Beatrix, Coal, Dio, Dogs, Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Birthdays and Walks that Don’t Happen

Today is Isaac’s birthday. (Happy birthday, Isaac!) Unfortunately, he’s been in class since 8AM, and won’t be home until 10:30PM tonight, as he is running an exam review for a thermodynamics class. Not exactly the way I’d prefer to spend my birthday! (It should be noted that Isaac isn’t really into birthdays.)

This leaves the dogs and I to our own devices. We’ve done a fantastic job of holding down the fort while Isaac is away. I’ve been catching up on blogs and read a few chapters in a good book I picked up over the weekend. The dogs have been sleeping, snuggled on the couch. Though this is not quite what I had pictured for us…

Originally, I planned on enjoying the gorgeous spring day here in Denver and taking everyone for a solo walk. They like the extra time with me, plus it affords them the opportunity to do what they enjoy on walks. Sniffing. But, as I said, it didn’t happen and instead I found myself sitting inside on a beautiful evening reading a book. Which, okay – not a big deal! I’m an adult and I can do what I please, right?

It’s not the same for dogs. If I want to go for a walk, I go for a walk. What about if the dogs want to go for a walk? (Sometimes I wish they could walk themselves. Especially in the winter.) People have the entire world to keep them busy, but a dogs world is all people. Their people. When I come home from work I may want to kick off my shoes and melt into a puddle on the couch. However, Dio, Beatrix, and Coal are overwhelmingly excited and are ready to do All The Things. When I walk through the door I imagine them asking rapid-fire questions:

Where have you been all day? Did you go visit another dog?  Did you bring me back anything awesome? Did you go to the pet store? Hey…Did you eat a hamburger without saving some for me?! Why don’t we ever get to go on all day car rides? That’s what you were doing, right? Did you stick your nose out the window? Of course not, you never do…

Hopefully they aren’t actually chiding me for my lunch decisions.

As owners we control our dogs environment. While we’ve been away and kept busy interacting with people, working, or whatever it is we’re doing, the dogs are hanging around the house twiddling their dew claws. Perhaps their sleeping, and I suppose that’s a comforting thought – that they aren’t actively missing us – but most likely they’re bored. They can’t call their friends to chat, or go see what’s happening in the park. So when I walk through the back door and my dogs are OMG!EXCITED I cherish it. Me coming home means all sorts of great stuff is going to happen for them: they get to go outside, I’ll feed them, we’ll play in the back yard after dinner, maybe a walk…unless I have a book I can’t put down, because apparently all my walking intentions go out the window.

Sitting here writing this I feel guilty. On my lunch break today I drove to a nearby park and took a 30 minute stroll. I enjoyed the warm sun and gentle spring breeze and thought “What a great day. The dogs would love to get out tonight!” Sigh. I certainly understand that I need time to relax and unwind, and it’s okay for the dogs not to go for a walk. They’re happy, comfortable, and I’m letting my emotions project onto them. Though, ultimately, my choice to sit and read meant no walkies for the dogs. Do they know this? Of course not.

But I do, and that’s why we’re going on a surprise! car ride to Good Times for a Pawbender treat after I post this. It’s probably a good thing I don’t have human children, because I feel they’d have taken advantage of me pretty well at this point.

What emotions do you project onto your pets? (I realize this is a thing us pet parents do, but I’m feeling a little silly here!)

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Not WW: Making the Right Decision

It’s been a while since I’ve written; I’m sorry about that. The simplest answer is I haven’t been able to put into words what I need to write about…


Two Sundays ago Beatrix and Dio got into a fight in the backyard. Since Bea has 40 lbs on Dio, he suffered the brunt of the injuries. They include 12 puncture wounds, some stitches, bruising, and a bite that went into his front right carpus joint (the equivalent to our wrists). Both the ER vet and my regular vet were concerned the joint may get infected, but thankfully we’ve passed the time frame of an infection setting in!

Bandaged leg, antibiotics, and e-collar woes aside, Dio is doing fine. However, the incident has led to a decision about Beatrix and her suitability in our home.

The day after the fight I contacted a behaviorist in the Denver metro area to seek help. In tears. This was the fifth fight between Dio and Beatrix in a year, and the severity of the wounds were increasing. Isaac and I wanted to see what the behaviorists opinion was, and how to proceed to make life comfortable and happy and stress-free for the dogs. After a consultation, the behaviorist gave her honest thoughts. To quote her exactly (I’ll never forget these words, because they broke my heart), “my prognosis for this situation is extremely guarded”. Sure, there was a glimmer of hope (isn’t there always?) but the glimmer isn’t worth continued fighting or Dio’s life.

With a heavy heart we made the decision to rehome Beatrix. Thankfully, Bea is a wonderfully behaved dog, fighting aside, and the behaviorist was confident she would thrive in a home as an only dog. Beatrix issue seems to lie only with Dio, and she’s happy at pet friendly stores, meeting dogs on walks, crowds of people with dogs, and so on. But ensuring she finds a home as an only dog will be the best for everyone.

At first I was devastated. (Let’s not lie – I AM devastated.) As the days passed and friends gave their support and thoughts and experiences with similar situations I felt better. One friend’s experience with her dogs living with a dog that had started fights, and how stressed they were, really shed light on my own dogs. None of my dogs should have to live in a stressful environment, and none should get attacked and hurt by another member of their doggy family.

Several rescue groups have been contacted, as well as Colorado’s All Breed Rescue Network, in which I have a contact from working at the vet hospital. Isaac and I have spread the word among our friends and family, hoping we’ll find that perfect home for Beatrix. She will stay with us until a new home is found, as a brief “crate and rotate” routine is acceptable in this instance. There are no shelters, no-kill or otherwise, in her future! In the meantime, I’ve been taking the time to enjoy all of our interactions with Bea while I still can.


Obviously this wasn’t a decision we easily came upon. There was always the hope in the back of my brain that things would work out. That Dio and Beatrix would become the best of friends, after all they spent a year without fighting! Having a behaviorist give their educated analysis of our situation was the best thing we could have done – for the dogs and us. I am dreading, and simultaneously looking forward to, the day Bea finds her new home. It’s painful to think of our last goodbye’s. However, there is some happiness, too, knowing she will have a chance to be happy and successful. Of course, knowing Dio and Coal will also be given the chance to live in a stress-free household once again warms my heart.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to do for your pet, knowing it’s the right decision?

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WW: “Oh, so I shouldn’t jump the fence then?”


Tall dogs and short fences don’t mix.

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Posted in Animals, Beatrix, Dog Behavior, Dogs, Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

WW: Everyone!



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Posted in Animals, Beatrix, Coal, Dio, Dogs, Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

WW: Almost Wordless


Snow makes playing more fun!

Almost wordless because: I’ve been down and out with a nasty cold for the last week or so. After playing catch up at the beginning of the week, life is starting to regain normalcy. Phew!

In furry news: The dogs have enjoyed the fantastic weather we’ve had, which has been sunny and in the 60’s – unlike the photo above! I won’t lie, I’ve enjoyed it myself. For the last few days I’ve been able to take each dog on an individual walk. They’re loving the one-on-one time with me (and I think it’s VERY important to give each dog in a multi-dog household one-on-one time) and walking them is much easier! Though Bea always goes on walks alone because of her reactivity… Walking with other dogs gets her too riled up.

In husband news: Isaac was accepted into Sigma Alpha Pi honor society at Mines and placed on the Dean’s List! I’m very proud of him and glad he’s received recognition for his hard work.

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Posted in Animals, Beatrix, Coal, Dogs, Family, Isaac, Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

WW: Hiking with Beatrix

Front Range and Bea

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Fido Friday: Training Goals

After Bea’s yard escape earlier this week I’ve been thinking about my training goals with all the dogs. It’s been a while since I’ve set any. (So long that I don’t even remember what they were – oops!) I am a firm believer in having a plan, as it keeps us on task and working towards the desired result – our goals. This seems like the best place to keep track of progress, which methods are working, or what needs to change. Here are just the things I’d like to work on in the next few months.

Let’s start with the most complicated dog, Beatrix. She has emotional control issues and is reactive, which makes everything harder, and in my eyes, more important. I’ll admit the recent snowy and bitterly cold weather has been an excuse for me to say “Nah, not today!” when it comes to working with Bea, as her two biggest issues must be addressed outside. (I feel really guilty about this.) No more!

  • Mat work
    • Continue to develop relaxing on the mat
    • Introduce triggers slowly, as outlined in Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out (by Laura VanArendonk Baugh)
    • Move to working outside
  • Capturing going through/between legs
    • Attach cue
  • Teach a reliable recall (this will have to be on course with the mat/trigger work to be truly reliable)
  • Capture a play bow
    • Attach cue
  • Incrementally increasing the amount of time she can have her nails dremmeled

Dio is an anxious dog. He often gets “stuck” in training sessions. That’s not to say he isn’t VERY eager to work; he’s typically raring to go! So thankfully he’s happy to work, but he is having a hard time transitioning from guided training (me helping him figure out what to do) to clicker training. It wasn’t helpful that he was afraid of the noise the clicker made for a long while.

  • Mat work
    • Orienting him to the mat
    • Relaxing on the mat
    • Slowly introduce triggers
  • Capturing a play bow
    • Attach a cue
  • Work on targeting

By far, my easiest dog is Coal. Though just because he’s easy and older doesn’t mean there aren’t things that could be improved upon!

  • Trigger work on the mat
  • Diminishing the tendency to bark impatiently and constantly when he wants something
  • Refresh recall
  • Refreshing heel


The other thing I’d like to do is think of new names for some cues that I feel are poisoned. They’re from my pre-clicker and +R days. The names need to be similar to what the action – don’t want to confuse the humans! It would be fun if they could also be humorous, too. In emergency/stranger (in other words, times when the person using the cue either doesn’t know the one we use, or perhaps they do but are flustered and say the wrong word) situations the poisoned cues would most likely be effective. Hopefully!

You have my permission to (read: PLEASE HELP ME!) suggest alternative names for the cues “sit”, “stay”, and “back up”.

Are there goals you’d like to achieve with your furry friends? Have you ever renamed a poisoned cue? What word did you use to replace it? 

Posted in +R, Animals, Beatrix, Coal, Dio, Dog Behavior, Dog Training, Dogs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Faking Joy

Yesterday was not a good day.

Work was frustrating. A call to Isaac turned into a brief pissing match about who was busier and more burned out. (Don’t worry; we resolved it quickly and no one was the winner!) It snowed all day and the drive home from work was slippery and painstakingly slow. To top it all off, while Beatrix and I were enjoying a good game of fetch in the backyard she suddenly ran to the corner of the fence that she can fling herself over and hopped into the neighbors yard. As she and I walked back around to our house I contemplated sitting down on the sidewalk, in the middle of a snowstorm and next to a busy road, and sobbing; I had been having a good time and relaxing while playing with Bea, but when she jumped the fence all the emotions that go with owning her/a fence jumper came flying into my face. Compound those emotions with everything else that happened yesterday, it was just not a good day at all.

When I arrived home I pouted for a bit, and then decided to start reading my beloved Real Simple magazine that had arrived in the mail. In the “Life Lessons” section I stopped flipping the pages; if I believed in fate I would have thought this a sign. The topic was “5 ways to keep one bad thing from ruining your day”. I think I had at least six things that ruined my day, but hey, I’ll take whatever help I can get! Gretchen Rubin’s (author of The Happiness Project) “Fake Joy” suggestion hit me smack in the forehead.

“We think that we act because of how we feel. But we also feel because of how we act. So use this knowledge to change your mood. Jump up and down; getting both feet of the ground makes you feel childlike and energetic. Or go for a walk. Just this morning I got an unnerving e-mail from someone and felt lousy about it. So I headed out for a walk in Central Park with a friend. So many things that tend to make a person happy are wrapped up in one little thing – a walk. It really works! When I got home, I wasn’t irritated anymore. I realized, yeah, I got my perspective back.”

Her words reminded me of mat work with the dogs. As you’re teaching them to relax on the mat their first “relaxation” might be faked because they’re just interested in the treat. Over time, however, they stop faking and start relaxing – after enough faking it their response becomes real. I guess that’s why sometimes people say “smile!” if you’re looking grumpy, and it makes sense to me.

With the exception of Beatrix jumping the fence, none of what happened yesterday will be a problem for me in the long-term. The 20 or so minutes we spent playing in the backyard before Queen Bea excused herself were great. It wasn’t until we were walking back that I even realized how stressed and grumpy I had been all day!

I’ve tucked Gretchen Rubin’s words away for future reference. The next time I will do something different – go take a walk, jump up and down with a grin on my face, whatever it takes – to disengage my negative mindset.

Posted in Animals, Beatrix, Dog Behavior, Dogs, Life | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Madrid


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Posted in Animals, Horses, Madrid, Photos | Tagged , , | 8 Comments