Our Christmas Tradition

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Every year we take the dogs to a tree farm and pose in front of our tree before Rob cuts it down. Following on my earlier post this week, Leo continues to impress me. He sat down, even lay down, while I set up the tripod. People walked by, and I did reward him with cheese, but I don’t think I had to.

So so proud of my little bug. Mia’s no slouch either.

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Sibling Rivalry

This post is part of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, although it doesn’t deserve to be. It contains a few examples of what not to do, but hey, maybe that’s what I’m known for.

It starts with a success story.

Last month, my mom was in town for a week, and I’m thrilled to announce that we’re past the stage where I’m terrified of what my dogs will do when we have visitors. A month or so after we got Mia, the dogs got into a couple of scary fights during my mom’s visit. Since then, I hadn’t let Leo loose in the room with her. I’m not worried about aggression, but I don’t trust him not to jump on her when she enters the room. He’s 94 pounds and she’s 5’2″, so you know, that felt risky.

This year, I decided to usher in a new era. Mom was with me when we brought Leo home as a puppy, after all. They should be reunited! With my mom securely seated at the kitchen table, with treats in hand, I let Leo in from the backyard, and had her throw treats at him. Yes, of course that made him sniff around her more than she cared for, but only for a few seconds before he wandered off, and eventually, returning to lay down at her feet.

I cannot overstate how happy this made me. What a huge relief to not have to leave Leo outside. To have my family all together!

Everyone gets ice cream at my birthday party.

Everyone gets ice cream at my birthday party.

 

We had a hiccup a few days later. To celebrate my birthday, we had cake and ice cream. I served up two bowls of vanilla ice cream for the dogs, and wanted to take a picture to document the cuteness. Then I did something so stupid. I pushed the bowls closer together to get a better shot.

They got in a snarling fight about it. With Rob’s parents and my mom there to witness. Rob and I struggled to separate them and move Leo through two rooms to get him into the backyard (without him redirecting a bite on either of our mothers). Then I tried to reunite them too soon, and they got into it again, and in separating them on opposite sides of the chain link, I fell down, bumping and scraping my knee in the only injury of the whole kerfuffle.

I ran up the hill in the backyard and lay down on one of the mats outside Rob’s studio, hoping Leo would join me. He raced up, looked at me, ran back down the hill, then ran back up again. And down again. I lay there for a few minutes. I might have been a little drunk. We’d just come from kind of a weird dinner at a fancy restaurant where we’d had to wait 45 minutes to be seated despite having a reservation. They’d offered free prosecco while we waited, and I’d had a kir royale with my meal.

Not THE kir royale, but A kir royale.

Not THE kir royale, but a kir royale.

Everyone in the house assumed I’d run up there to cry. But I felt fine. This fight was not a big deal, and I totally knew what caused it. Me!

I walked back down to the chain link, got some dried lamb lung, gave it to each dog on either side of the fence, then opened the gate and let them reunite. All was right with the world again.

My mom asked, “Which one of them started it?” As if I could even tell. “Me! I started it.”

Rob was rattled, but if I know what started the fight, I know how to prevent it from happening again. No one got bitten. No one was bleeding. Not a big deal.

Think I learned my lesson?

A couple of weeks later, I was giving Leo his eye medicine near the back door. There’s something weird about this eye dropper, making it really hard to get the drops out. I was holding onto his face for longer than any dog should be expected to have his face held, with my face really close to his, and I could tell he was getting tired of it. Am I about to get bitten in the face? I wondered, just before he launched away from me onto Mia’s face.

Rob had just dozed off on the couch and was rudely awoken by the snarls and my shouting for him to come help me separate them.

Maybe I’m completely delusional, but again, not terribly troubled by this fight. Clear cut barrier frustration. I was holding Leo back, doing something unpleasant. Note to self: Do not administer Leo’s eye medicine when Mia is two feet away.

Again no one got hurt and a few minutes and a few pieces of lamb lung later, everything was back to normal.

I used to be really traumatized by this kind of thing, because it was a sign that I’m a terrible dog parent, and meant my dogs would never get along. But Leo and Mia have a five year history of mostly getting along, and most days, I’m an above-average dog mom. They have enough bite inhibition not to hurt each other, and Rob and I have figured out how to separate them without getting bitten ourselves.

Am I enlightened or just jaded? Do your dogs fight? How do you handle it?

Positive TrainingJoin the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop to read some posts about actual positive pet training. Hosted by  Tenacious Little Terrier and Rubicon Days, the hop begins on the first Monday of every month and runs all week long.

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Celebrating 5 years of Mia, age 12

Birthdays are funny. It was a Big Deal when I turned 40 in October. But I didn’t feel any different.

We don’t know when Mia’s birthday is, and we don’t really know how old she is. So we celebrate the anniversary of the day we got her. Which was five years ago June 4. At the time, we thought she was 7, and I’m starting to think that was a pretty good estimate, since Leo is now 6, and he hasn’t started getting gray yet. If that means anything.

Surf’s Up with the Pups

Just kidding. They don’t swim. A better title would have something to do with the dead crabs littering the rocky beach.

We are so lucky to live in a place where we can regularly find safe places to play with our pups off leash, both in the snow, and on the beach! (But see Monday’s post about how even our Best Dog Park can be a recipe for disaster.)

Here’s Rob with the doggies at Cherry Point.

One more important thing. I recently updated my Reactive Dog Resources page with a new book called The Midnight Dog Walkers. If your dog barks and lunges, or if you’ve ever found yourself timing your walks to avoid seeing other dogs or people (like, say, at midnight?), you must read this book!!

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6 ways to beat the winter blues

Last week I started experiencing some pretty textbook symptoms of the winter blues. After cheering myself up by buying not one but two new winter coats, I shared

Mental Health Tip #1: Retail Therapy.

The next day, I decided that watching Making a Murderer is doing nothing to help anyone’s Seasonal Affective Disorder, so that became

Mental Health Tip #2: Stop watching Making a Murderer.

Turns out, I was just getting started.

Mental Health Tip #3: Float.

Full disclosure: We tried this the first time Saturday. I didn’t care for it. The water felt cold and I got bored, but Rob liked it.

Mental Health Tip #4: Color.

Put a bird on it

My advice to a FB friend (Hi, Cinthia!) interested in getting started: Adult coloring books are awesome because it completely does not matter how it turns out. I had an art teacher when I was little who said “There’s no such thing as a mistake,” which is bullshit in real life and real art. But grownup coloring books? No one’s going to judge. Or even see it unless you Instagram it. You can go outside the lines, use the wrong color… it does not matter. And if you get a book you like, it’ll look cool no matter what you do.

Mental Health Tip #5: Sing Along.

I like showtunes, but that doesn’t mean you have to. I’ve been listening to Hamilton, Broadway’s hottest show. Find your jam.

 

Mental Health Tip #6: Walk in the Rain, or the Snow, and if possible, on a Beach with Dogs.

How do you stay sane during the dark months, friends?

BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog HopOnce again, a few extra words this Wordless Wednesday.

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