Thursday, November 30, 2006

Lola & I went to Feisty Fidos class again this week. She was a little wound up, not having a walk for two days. There was another Boxer beside us on the right & a GSD named Sherman on the left. The first thing we did was step outside of our cubes and work on Find It & Watch. Her Watch isn't very strong so I used Leave It if Lola starts to stare down another dog. She thinks Find It is great fun & immediately starts scanning the floor now. Cool!

We did some Walk Aways with another dog & she did pretty well. I had her on her regular collar when we first got there & she was pretty nervous so I put the GL on and noticed an immediate difference (that & the Chill Out I sprayed all over our Cube). This is a perfect example of listen to your DOG. I really didn't want to use the GL...for a lot of reasons...but the main one being how much worse Penny became after I started using it on her. I'm finally starting to trust myself as well, which is really hard for me.

All in all we had a good class.

So on the way out, we see two people sitting on the curb and Lola stiffens & I have no idea why so I say "Oh, stop it" and when we walk right next to them, I see a large black GSDx & it giving Lola a very hard stare. She puffs up & starts WOOOoooooooofffing at it and I start to panic and walk faster, dragging her with me. Duh! What the hell did I just spend the last hour doing???


"Lola...Walk Away!!" and I start moving backward away from the dog. Hot Damn! She stops barking, looks at me and starts following! You've got to be kidding. This stuff actually works??? Apparently so. I had no treats on me (lesson for next week) so we just start running back to the car together and I whooped it up the whole way. There was a volunteer who was taking a JRT out for a potty break about 10 yards from us & it started barking so she started barking, but we hopped in the car and I fed her salmon treats until it went inside.

She slept the whole way home.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I've continued to take all 3 dogs on their own walks. For one, it gives me some much needed exercise (takes about 75-80 minutes to walk all three) and I get to spend some one on one time with them. Sherman, especially, really needs that.

The planets must have been in perfect allignment recently b/c we have been having some fantastic walks. Walking Sherman is always a joy, with the exception of his constant sniffing. We're working on that. Penny & I have been having a ball. I'm lucky to have lots of big parking lots around us (library, churches, VFW, banks, etc) and we've been playing follow the leader and doing lots of erratic heeling patterns. Her LLW is at about 90%. And we haven't had a single flip out in weeks, despite seeing lots of dogs. Lola has been doing really well too. Strange looking people are no longer an issue and we've had one incident w/ another dog (he started it!) where she was barking & lunging. Even though I'm still using the GL, she voluntarily walks by my side 80% of the time. She automatically sits at intersections and has been much calmer. The first 2 minutes of the walk usually stress her out (lots of whining and frantic movements), so we've been working on that. But we walked through Bellevue tonight & she did really well despite all of the commotion.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I got the whole house decorated for Xmas today...we just need our tree. Next weekend we're gonna attempt to get a family photo (well, just the dogs) for our Xmas picture. Should be interesting based on past attempts. This was from '04. Do they look miserable, or what???

This is last year's least Sherman looks kinda happy!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Scott & I decided to take advantage of the stellar weather & take S & P for a walk. We ran into a group of kids, around 10 yo and I recognized the little blond girl as the one who ran up to Sherman & threw her arms around his neck a couple of years ago. He promptly told her off that day (GGGGRRRRRRRowlllll)

As we approached the kids I said hello and the little girl said "I love dogs! Can I pet them?"...could I (and Sherman) possibly have made a dent in her little brain that day? I told them sure, just be gentle with the black one b/c he's old. They were all very calm and gave both dogs lots of rubs (which Penny loved) and I was very proud of Shermie for wagging his tail and taking advantage of the attention.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pet Supplies Plus had 20% off everything in the store from 7 - 9 this morning. So I braved Black Friday & met Debby there right when they opened. They were already out of carts. But I eventually found one & bought 4 bags of dog food. Sherman eats Solid Gold Hund-n-Flocken, so I got 2 bags of that & the girls rotate every bag, so I got a bag of Eagle Pack & Prairie.

Debby & I (along with Penny, Lola, Siri, Merlin & Kera) then went to Riverview and had a really nice hike.

Sherman had his annual vet visit later in the morning, so I walked him for about 30 minutes & stopped at the Vet on our way home. My boy has lost 2 lbs! He's now at a svelte 52.6#. He also had a lump on his back that I wanted to have checked & Dr. Nagle confirmed that it was just a fatty tumor. She also mentioned that it most likely had been there a while & I've just noticed it since he lost some weight. I'm to keep an eye on it and bring him back if it gets bigger.

We spent the remainder of the day resting.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I just love Thanksgiving & really go all out. I took some pictures of as everything was just perfect.

Our Thanksgiving table...

My beautiful turkey with cornbread stuffing...

My bean casserole with caramelized shallots...

Scott & I have lots to be thankful for...our families, our dogs, each other. Savor the day!

The Dogs...well, it was the perfect day to nap!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sherman has never been big on sharing. That blue bed in the corner is HIS...that's where he lays every morning & hangs out with me while I get ready for work. He was not happy about Lola invading his turf.

"Um...excuse me...what is she doing in MY bed??? I demand you do something about this immediately".

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lola is all of a sudden into tennis balls...and plastic squeaky balls, & rubber Kong balls and giggle balls. I bought her some new jumbo tennis balls at Target & figured we'd roll with it.

(Get it...ROLL with it!! Man, am I funny!)

Monday, November 20, 2006

This morning while I was getting ready for work, I heared the familiar sound of Lola trying to dig up the carpet that has come loose on the landing of our stairs. Feeling lazy & being 1/2 undressed, I said "Lola...c'mere". She stopped digging but stayed put. About 10 seconds later, a light bulb went off in my head & I said "Lola, Come!" and she shot up the steps & into my room where she promptly planted her butt in a Sit.

It was a very good reminder to me that consistancy is key!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lola spent the day catching up on ther reading. Then she took a nap.

Meanwhile, we watched the Steelers get their act together & beat Cleveland. What a game!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

"I'll stay in this crate ONLY if you don't shut the door"

"Back away from the bone!"

"Rub my belly!!"

Friday, November 17, 2006

Our good friend Opy has just informed us that we're in the running for Photo of the Month on Dogs With Blogs!! Yahoooo!!

Well, yes...the Dogs are very beautiful (or handsome, in Sherman's case).

The Nominated Photo...Damn they're a good lookin' bunch!

(And it was even suggested that I cheated & photoshopped this picture . Like I know how to use photo shop!! I ain't no cheater!)

Come on all of our Bloggin friends! Get online & vote for us!
Last night in class, we had a couple of people ask where Lola got her Pink EasyWalk Harness. Even though I had just bought a new purple one, pink is her color. So I was thrilled when I was shopping for clickers on, stumbled upon them. Jess also carries lots of other cool gear (she has the best bait bags & we also love the bungee leash). Her prices are great and shipping is a $5 flat rate.

Lola volunteered to model her new harness...

As she was in the modeling mood (there were lots of cookies involved, of course)...we decided to show of the winter coat we bought at the Pet Expo. I still haven't lengthened the bottom straps, so it's pretty snug, but she still looks pretty darn cute!

A Diva dog indeed!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lola had her best Feisty Fido's class yet tonight. She did get pretty barky in the parking lot going into the shelter, but once inside she was able to focus on me.

We had the curtains opened on all of the "cubicles" and I really reinforced her for looking at all of the other dogs and not reacting. When I saw her start to tense, I asked for a Watch & 9 times out of 10, she did. We did a few dog to dog exercises and she was able to heel 1/2 way across the room towards another dog w/o freaking out. In fact, we didn't have one meltdown the whole class. We practiced Find It, Walk Away and Stuff a Dog all outside the cubicles. And while we were inside, we worked on attention & targeting.

There is a dog in class named Sherman & everytime someone said his name, her ears perked up. It was very cute.

After class, Lilian wanted to see how she'd play with her new foster, Luna. Luna & cute! Anyway, they had a ball. Luna is a rough & tumble player and Lola loved having a playmate that could dish it out as well as she could.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

They were not happy about having to smoosh in the doorway!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Princess Penny Wiggles had her Dynamic Dogs class tonight to prepare for our WPHS outing to the Joseph Booksellers in the Southside Works next week. There will be a lot of shelter dogs going & Marsha wanted to make sure we practiced a lot of different behaviors with LOTS of distractions.

We did heeling while she walked around like a crazy person w/ loud shopping bags. We did long down stays with the dogs inches from each other while Marsha threw out every possible distraction. Penny broke twice, but fortunately she ran right to me. I haven't done more than a 2-3 minute down stay with her, so I guess we have to practice longer duration.

The biggest accomplishment of the night came when we had the dogs in sit stays right beside us & Marsha did everything she could to get them to break...rattle keys ("wanna go bye-byes?"), throw a ball around, squeak a toy, say "Puppy, Puppy, Puppy! Here Puppy!!" and the one that always got us...that blasted Knock on the Door. perfect angel, Princess Penny, didn't move an inch. Marsha gave a loud Knock & said "Hello??" and Penny noticed, but I reminded her to stay & she looked at me and kept her little butt planted!! WooHooooo!! That's my girl!

We're gonna have fun next week.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I've come up with some really great treat recipes in the last few months. Most of them are versions of ones I've made in the past. The first 2 require a food processor or blender.

Lola's Liver Brownies

1 lb chicken livers
4 eggs
1 medium apple
1-2 carrots
1/2 cup parm cheese
2 cloves garlic
rolled oats

(This is best done in batches)
1. pulverize carrot, apple & eggs (shells included) & garlic...empty into large mixing bowl.
2. pulverize liver & cheese...add to veggie mix in bowl
3. Dump a bunch of rolled oats (3-4 cups...I never measure) & grind to a fine texture. This helps to get all of the liver off the sides of the food processor, making clean-up much easier.

Combine all ingredients and spread over a well greased cookie sheet (I put foil over mine & spray with Pam...even easier clean-up!). Bake at 425 for 30 minutes & turn off oven & let sit for an hour. Cut with pizza cutter into small brownies.

Sherman's Cheesy Chewies

1 apple
1-2 carrots
4 eggs
2 cloves garlic
2 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar, reduced fat is also fine)
rolled oats

1. pulverize carrots, apple, garlic & eggs (shells included...don't include shells if you intend to eat some...they're actually kinda tasty!). Dump to large mixing bowl.
2. Add cheese & oats (3-4 can put them in the food processor to grind into a fine powder if desired). Add a little milk if mix is to thick.
3 Spread on well greased cookie sheet & bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Cut into desired shapes & baggie up!

Penny's Peanut Butter Treats

1 3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 1/4 C oatmeal
2 T Olive oil
1 C warm water
1/2 C peanut butter

Preheat oven to 300°F.
Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix water and peanut butter together then blend into dry ingredients until you get a firm dough.
Blend both mixtures until a firm dough is achieved. Shape dough into an oblong roll, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for an hour.
Lightly grease two baking sheet. Slice roll into 1/2 inch slices, place on cookie sheet and bake for about 50 minutes or until lightly browned.

*These are a pain to make so I only make them for special occasions. I use bone shaped cookie cutters & they turn out really cute. Penny loves them!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sherman? A therapy dog???

Yep, you betcha! And no, I'm not kidding. I am so unbelievably proud of this dog...I can't even stand it. I actually cried on our way home from testing this morning.

Not only did he pass...but the comments from the evaluator on his TDI forms were"What a sweet dog! Very Obedient!'. Very Obedient? Sherman? OK...yes, he is very sweet. But Sherman is not a big fan of other dogs (Huskies, Rottis andLabs in particular), is insanely food obsessed and would prefer that all of the children of the world be kept a safe distance. My big, grumpy boy did the meet& greet w/ a (male) Chocolate Lab and didn't even make eye contact with the dog. He did the Leave It like the big peanut butter cookie was made of poison. And...(and this is huge) he allowed himself to be brushed and fawned over by two5 year old girls who designated themselves as the doggie welcoming committee forall dogs being tested. One of them even whispered to me, "Sherman is my favorite dog here". It helped that I was feeding him Liver while she brushedhim LOL!!

We had the evaluator that failed Penny the first time. She is all business, which made me even prouder. He didn't get to skate through anything. I remember telling Scotty two years ago that Sherman would *never, ever* pass theCGC, let alone the TDI. And I really haven't worked with him that much.

I'm very giddy & very proud today. Sherman & I are a good team. He trusts me and I trusted him and we succeeded. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Penny & I then went to the Pittsburgh Children's Museum to do a bite prevention workshop with Marsha & some folks from the WPHS. Penny was fine with all the dogs & loved the kids. She was a bit nervous when we were on stage, but give little kisses to those who came over to visit. Marsha is amazing with these kids. And she asked Penny & I to visit some preschools to do bite prevention sometime in 2007. I would actually get paid!

I just love my dogs!

Friday, November 10, 2006

The girls spent the evening "sharing" a chewie....

While Sherman chilled...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A lot of people ask about Penny's scar. Well, let me tell ya a little story. Penny & Sherman & I used to go to this great dog place, Misty Pines. For the entire summer after we got Penny, we'd go every Saturday, pay $10 and watch the dogs run & have a ball. I liked the place b/c it was very rare that an aggressive dog was present. And if it were, it was swiftly escorted (along w/ it's clueless owner) out of the dog park.

One gorgeous late September morning, we got to Misty Pines to find a packed house...probably 50 dogs were there. I thought it was great...lots of dogs for them to play with! (I was really, really dumb back then). Everyone moved their dogs away from the gate, I walked in & let both dogs off leash. Sherman ran to the first tree to start his patroling & Penny took off at 100 miles an hour in hopes of finding someone to play her favorite game...Chase Me! Well...Chase Me, they did. About 15 dogs took off after her, knocked her into the fence & when I turned around to see where she was (I had been watching Grumpapotomus, Sherman), a 6" x 6" flap of skin was ripped from her body. It was just hanging there. I could see her muscle and some rib bones. And it was bleeding, a lot.

I screamed, but no one seemed to notice. Penny was surrounded by all of these dogs, still trying to play with her and she was petrified. I started yelling "Everyone get your dogs!!" and started pushing away all of the dogs out of my way until I got to her and started to lead her to the gate. The owners were all still clueless, talking and laughing and thinking their dogs were playing. I turned to the guy next to me, in tears & shaking, and said "YOU'VE GOT TO HELP ME!!" He took one look at Penny and said "What do you want me to do???". Truly, I wanted to punch him. "Get these dogs away from us so we can get out of here!!!!!". He half-assed moved tried to move the dogs out of the way. Fortunately, our dog park friend Nicole, realized what was happening & totally took control of the situation. She cleared a path for us & we got outside of the fence.

To make a long story short, Penny was rushed to the Vet (by me, who was having a partial heart attack on the way). They put her under to clean her, remove all of the metal shavings & then they stitched her up. She came home the same day with the instructions of wearing a T-shirt every day to prevent licking the wound for the next 6 weeks. We spent a sleepless night on the floor in the right next to her just trying to help her get comfortable. By the end of 6 weeks when the stitches came out, we realized her modeling career was over. She was permantly flawed.

Unfortunately, in more ways than one. She became exceptionally dog aggressive when on leash...lashing out at any dog within 1/2 a mile of her. I tried to take her back to Misty Pines after she healed and she almost pulled me down in the parking lot trying to get at another dog. We left and I cried the whole way home & immediately called my friend Debby to help us get over the aggression. She started us out on the right path & 3 years later, Penny is a Canine Good Citizen & a Certified Therapy Dog. But it took a LOT of work...a whole LOT!

My point being...Dog Parks are great. They are a wonderful outlet for dogs to be play , run just be dogs. BUT, please, please observe the environment before you enter the dog park. Know your dog's stress level. Watch the other dogs in the park. How do they play? Is it compatable with your dog? Are the owners watching their dogs or are they chatting on their cell phone? Are the owners attentive to their dogs? Are they watching their dogs & stopping any inappropriate behavior? Do they even know what behavior is inappropriate?

There is nothing wrong with taking your dog home if a bunch of asshole owners & their out of control dogs are ruining a good time for your dog. Now is not the time to take a stand & say "Well my dog is the well behaved dog & we're staying!" . Put your dog first.

Honestly, I trust the dogs Waaayyy more than the people.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Last night was another good night. Sherman enjoyed his solo walk, Penny has finally let it sink in that we will go further, faster if she works with me and not against me and Lola had another non-freak out walk.

I gave Lola melatonin again & we may have just found the key to calming her down. That & I talk to her the entire walk. This walk we went treatless and I just talked and sang to her the whole time (she's very fond of the theme from Laverne & Shirley). We heard several dogs barking & when she tensed up, I walked backwards and got her to sit & focus on me. She did Woof at a strange looking guy walking across the street but I calmly said "Oh knock it off. Come on Lola!!" and we ran up the hill together away from the guy (she loves to run). My neighbors are REALLY gonna think I'm nuts, but I don't care. Better me singing than her barking, right?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Who's got funny teeth????

Monday, November 06, 2006

Before I took Penny to class, I walked Sherman & Lola, individually. Sherman is supposed to take the TDI test on Saturday & we haven't practiced much in the last couple of weeks. He's a good boy though. He shouldn't have much of a problem.

I gave Lola melatonin as soon as I got home & was anxious to see how it would affect the walk. I put her on the GL, despite the objection I've gotten from some. She seems to focus so much better and it almost seems to relax her. I'm learning to trust myself & listen to my dog. The GL made Penny way more reactive and she never really took to it. Lola seems to be a little different so we're going with it for now. We walked the whole block w/o a single flip out. It's much different for her now walking in the dark so I made sure to stop every couple of minutes & have her work. And anytime we saw a person, we'd move to the side & she'd sit & I'd feed her. She's been reactive to sound as well recently and a barking dog 2 towns away sets her off. Not tonight. I'd hear a dog bark & jump around like a moron chirpping "Lola, what do I have? and Who's a good girl??" and stuff her with liver brownies. She's getting better!

Penny & I had class at the Univ. of Pitt student union tonight. We had to park about 3 blocks away and she was more than willing to heel the whole way to the SU. Oakland is way more hustle & bustle than she's used to. She took it all in stride and was very calm as long as she was working. Any time she was allowed to stop & sniff & explore, she got a bit anxious. We met up with 5 other dogs...all of which she wanted desperately to play with. Nice change from my normally snarky Penny. We met lots & lots of students and she was in hog heaven...all those people there to pet & fawn over her! Towards the end of class she was over it, though & she'd had enough petting. The last exercise was walking through the Catherdral of Learning up & down step, through a quiet study area and moving through revolving doors. She did not like the last part. Those spinning doors freaked her out and I was grateful she did not have a tail. She moved through them 5 or 6 times and then was happy to head home.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Who doesn't love a Pittsburgh Autumn day???

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tonight was lazy & quiet at home. I ordered some really bad Chinese food (that I ended up throwing away) and watched the Dog Whisperer (Paul Owens, not Cesar)

Lola enjoyed watching too...let's hope she learned something.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lola had her first Feisty Fido's class tonight. Walking into the building, we were surrounded by volunteers walking dogs...which of course, sent her into a full-out barking & lunging frenzy. Hmmm...not a good way to start out.

But class eneded up being great! There are 6 dogs per class and each dog is separated by an ex-pen covered with a sheet. Lola found this very annoying as there definately other dogs in the room for her to play with. But it did give us a chance to practice attention & focus. We were given several good things to practice. Some I knew & was doing (Watch, Hand-Targeting, U-turns) and a new exercise (Walk Away) that Lola picked up on quickly.

They had each dog view a giant stuffed Dalmation (that was pretty dog like) and practice Stuff a Dog...Lola loved this! Dog comes into view...Yahoo! Peanut Butter!!! Dog goes does Peanut Butter :o(. I've tried this at home outside, but she is usually too worked up to eat. I have done something similar on the front deck & it worked very well. I'm gonna just keep moving in baby steps till she can relax outside.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I love to take random pics of the dogs in the sun. Some of them turn out kinda cool.