The Dog Knight Rises

Last weekend I fulfilled a longtime dream… I dressed Leo in a Batman costume. I was inspired by Super Cooper’s Instagram page. The costume from Petsmart is a 2XL and it’s a little snug. Maybe after a couple of photoshoots, I’ll cut off the cape for Leo to wear separately and sew the Bat symbol from the front onto his ThunderCap.

We took the Caped Crusader (and his sister, who doesn’t care for costumes) to the Dog Days of Summer event to raise money for the Whatcom Humane Society. He impressed us by jumping in the bobbing-for-tennis-ball tank. But then he had trouble getting out. Kind of an embarrassing moment for the Dark Knight.

If you’re wondering about the sticker on Leo’s head, it’s a “fifth paw” bindi from Tails-a-Wagging. They give them out every year and give a prize weeks later to the dog who keeps it on the longest. Both our dogs’ bindis fell off by this morning.

BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

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H is for Harness

Harness your dog’s energy and she’ll walk nicely beside you.

Isis models her pink harness. October 2008

Isis’s pink harness, pictured on her in October 2009, has been handed down to Mia.

Leo wears a green front-clasp harness designed to improve the walking skills of pullers, even though he’s always walked pretty well on leash. I’ve read that these harnesses are tools to be used until the dog learns how to walk properly, and then you’re supposed to switch to a flat collar. Well, Leo continues to walk best on the front-clasp harness, so we’re sticking with it.

Mia wears a pink back-clasp harness that first belonged to Isis. Rob prefers walking her on this one, although we also have a raspberry-colored front-clasp harness, and she does well on just the flat collar too.

Doggies in tandem

When I walk both dogs solo, I use a tandem leash, or coupler, connected to Leo’s harness and Mia’s collar. Mia gets tangled in the front-clasp harness and the bungee stretchiness of the tandem leash encourages her to pull just a little when she’s wearing her pink harness.

Next time I’m in the market for a new harness, I plan to buy a Freedom Harness. I saw one in action at the SoCal Pet Expo and I like how you can clip to the front or the back or both.

Harnesses are my favorite tool for walking dogs.

If your dog is an exceptionally enthusiastic puller, you might need to pair a head collar like a Halti with a harness.

Harness power

In this pic from New Year’s Day 2013, Leo’s wearing a back-clasp harness paired with a Halti, connected by a leash with clasps on each end. This was prescribed for his leash-reactivity, but we’ve moved on since then. Mia is wearing her hand-me-down pink harness.


For the A to Z Challenge, I’m using all positive language in my posts. Find out how I discovered the benefits of positive reinforcement training in my book, Bark and Lunge!

Heart Like a Dog
Keep the blog-hopping fun going with the Thursday Barks and Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog.

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B is for Baseball Caps

Baseball caps?

What does that have to do with positive training — or dogs, for that matter?

Baseball caps are great accessories between hair washes. They also keep the sun out of my eyes and add an extra layer of SPF protection.

Even more useful in the Pacific Northwest, they keep the rain out of my eyes. I like to wear them when I go on boats or into the woods for work, though that results in rather close quarters between my camera and the brim of the hat, especially when the pop-up flash enters the equation.

The past several months, my collection of caps has gotten a lot of use during dog walks. In addition to giving raindrops a platform to bounce off a few inches from my face, the brim shields my eyes from the headlamp I wear after dark to illuminate the street and assist in poop pickup. The hat itself cushions my forehead from the lamp as well.


Most importantly, they make me happy.

Here’s an assortment of images of me wearing baseball caps with my beloved babies.


For more about my journey to discovering the benefits of positive reinforcement, read my book, Bark and Lunge!

Heart Like a Dog


Also, join the fun in the Thursday Barks and Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog.

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Felt + Snow = Bad

The chronicles of inappropriate footwear continue.

A few years ago, when I was shopping for the waders and boots I need for my job taking pictures while waist deep in rivers, I was under the impression I wanted felt-soled boots, to keep my feet from slipping on wet rocks. I have since recognized that rubber soles would be better in sandy marine environments, but most of my work is done in rivers.

I was a little nervous about today’s excursion because it was supposed to be 32 degrees and perhaps snowing. Last night, I laid out my fleece long underwear, sweats and wool socks to wear under the waders. I set out my North Face winter jacket. Yep, it’s time.

I also packed some snacks for Leo, who would wait in the car during my river walk. And made sure my memory card was in my camera and that my camera battery was charged and inside the camera. (Because one time I discovered after getting on a boat that I left the camera battery in the charger.)

But I forgot to bring my North Face jacket.

I worried nearly the whole way upriver that I would freeze to death, but actually, that wasn’t the problem. I was perfectly comfortable with a raincoat over a fleece jacket. The problem was the snow speckled on the creekside grass.

We didn’t spend as much time walking in the river channel as on the snowy grass. Within 10 steps, I had a thick accumulation of snow on my felt sole. My companion said, “Felts are the worst.”

Really? I thought I was supposed to have felts!

It was rough going, walking on frozen “rocker soles.” Like, if Lady Gaga wore fishing boots and then attached a rounded sole made of ice. That’s what these felt like.

Fashion inertia

It was drawn to my attention recently that journalists don’t know how to dress. Young women sometimes enter the field knowing how to dress, but within five years, they’ve lost their style.

I certainly was a lot more stylish when I was a newspaper reporter than I am now. In fact, I was overdressed for most of the first year I worked for a newspaper in Northwest Washington. Inevitably, I’d be wearing the wrong shoes, or a skirt, on the day I had to chase down a wayward whale. Or pick daffodils.

When I worked in the state capital, I rarely wore jeans, because you never knew when you might have to cover an event with the governor in attendance. I remember the exact outfit I wore when I first met the governor. Knee-length black skirt, sheer blue-green top over a tank top. You know what I was wearing when I saw the governor two months ago? Khakis, a T-shirt and hiking shoes.

In my defense, it was an outdoor event on a summer day, but many other people in attendance seemed to think it was a skirt/suit and tie affair. (The governor, as I recall, was wearing a button-down shirt and white pants, so not overly formal.)

Is my lack of style a result of being a journalist for 10 years…or is it the result of working as a journalist for an outdoorsy operation in the Pacific Northwest? I went to a work-related funeral last month and was one of maybe five women wearing a black skirt. I would have fit in fine in my khakis, T-shirt and hiking shoes.

The unfortunate side effect of never wearing anything other than jeans, khakis, T-shirt, sweatshirt or fleece is that I am not current on cute outfits for going to a nice dinner or a concert (or a funeral). At this time, I do not have any “nice pants” that fit. I have a few dresses, but they don’t look quite right with the “special shoes” I have to wear for my broken foot.

They sure aren’t Manolos

I can’t believe it. Five and a half years in the Northwest, more than a year and a half at this job, and once again, I found myself without the proper footwear.

At least I had time to acquire it. On the phone yesterday, planning for a canoe excursion tomorrow, I was told I should wear my Tevas, because surely I owned a pair. Doesn’t everyone?

I’ve never owned a pair of Tevas, and dislike even the pronunciation Tay-vas, because it sounds pretentious to me, even though it’s probably more correct than Tee-vas. Still, after deciding that I would be too embarrassed to wear the wrong shoes, after being specifically told what brand of sandal to wear…I went to the sporting goods store.

Where I felt pissed off at the world that I was having to buy a pair of those dog-leash material velcro sport sandals that I have never wanted to own. The fact that I could expense them cheered me not one bit.

I rebelled and picked out a pair of Columbia synthetic nunbuck sandals in mud and cabana pink. I feel good about those.

Strangely compelling

A What Not to Wear Marathon.

I turned it on as background noise while I applied the 2nd and 3rd coats of merlot paint, which I am so happy dried darker than the first coat yesterday, because that was positively raspberry. It’s still more plum than I envisioned, but I can live with it.

Anyway, I haven’t been able to change the channel or turn off the TV or leave the room. I’m not feeling inferior, like I did when I got sucked into Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style, because I know I’m working my WWU sweatpants and seriously oversized sweatshirt. It’s so oversized, it doesn’t even fit Rob. It’s meant to go over his impact reduction suit.

Oh, but I feel bad for some of these folks, when Stacy and Clinton lay into them about their fashion sense, because so often it’s tied into their body issues or whatever. And then there are my heroes, like Lynn, who refused to let them cut her hair (even though I really wanted to see how it would look) and Erin, who is so funky and bizarre, she makes me laugh. She’s on right now. I can’t wait to see her transformation.

Fashion backward

While waiting for Rob to finish uploading the entire contents of his cassette collection to digital format and then to his iPod, so we could watch Prison Break, I watched an episode of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style.

The subject was a mother of two who wore nothing but capri pants and T-shirts. As the mother of two pets and a boyfriend, I could relate. No, that’s not really why I could relate. It’s the job that’s made me slovenly. I managed to dress “professionally” most of the time when I worked at the below-mentioned University. But now, I need to be prepared to wade in a creek or hike to a mountain goat meadow at a moments notice.

Which means I wear jeans and a T-shirt every day. Or cargo pants. Or khakis. I suppose in the winter I wear some snazzy sweaters…but I know that if Tim Gunn ever visited my closet, he’d be getting rid of 97 percent of my outfits and make me wear little dresses and slacks that touch the floor. (So please don’t submit an application for me.)

Remember Laura Bennett from last season of Project Runway? How she dressed like Audrey Hepburn all the time even though she was a mom who worked from home? Yeah, that’s not me.

As I watched Tim Gunn, I was wearing jeans that were dirty from my walks and class with Isis and a raglan T-shirt with black sleeves that were covered in dog hair from lying on the floor by Rob’s computer while waiting for him to finish uploading the entire contents of his cassette collection to digital format and then to his iPod, so we could watch Prison Break. I was wearing no make-up and there was no product in my hair.

When we got a last minute invitation to dinner (his family always does this. Surely someone knew they were going to celebrate his brother-in-law’s birthday on Saturday prior to 4 p.m. on Saturday), I was motivated by Tim to gussy myself up a little bit. Eye make-up and hair product were no-brainers — I wear those to work. But I also put on lipgloss and mascara. Big day.

I thought for a moment about putting on slacks, but without even looking at them, I decided that all eight pairs didn’t reach the floor, were wrinkled or are too tight. My “Saturday night out” outfit? A pair of clean jeans, belted, and a long-sleeved purple and blue tie-died T-shirt, with the “Om” symbol imprinted in gold, from the Tibet Festival two years ago. Instead of Timberland hiking shoes, I upgraded to my black monochrome Converse classics.

Don’t think I don’t know that Tim Gunn would consider this a “Before” outfit. So would Chelsea. (Happy Birthday, Chelsea!)