Follow my lead

Q. How do I stop my dog from barking and lunging on our walks?

A. Don’t take him on walks.

Ha. That’s only partially a joke. Contrary to what the Dog Whisperer tells you, it does not help a reactive dog to keep parading her past the things that make her react. Remember, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. I tried that for months with Isis and wondered what I was doing wrong. It wasn’t until my trainer told me I had to stop before I could go that we started making any progress.

Technically, since I’m not a dog trainer myself, I’m not qualified to give advice on this topic. I can only tell you what my experience has been. Curing leash reactivity is a longer process than I can fit into a blog post, anyway. You’ll have to read my book when it comes out. In the meantime, get yourself a clicker and reward your dog for calm behavior at a distance far far away from the thing that makes him react. If the barking and lunging is so severe you cannot safely take your dog in public, hire a trainer who uses force-free methods.

Force-free, also known as positive only, is the key here. When I used a pinch collar, Isis’s behavior got worse. The technique I was advised to use exacerbated the very problem I was trying to cure. Ironic, huh?

Really, the best way to stop a dog from barking and lunging is to prevent him from barking and lunging in the first place.

But what do I know? Leo’s been trained with positive reinforcement only, and we socialized him in puppy preschool, so what’s his excuse? Perhaps he suffers post-traumatic stress from living with a reactive dog for seven formative months. Perhaps German shepherds are particularly sensitive to bicycles and other fast-moving stimuli. Perhaps I should have clicked and treated him and squealed “bicycle” every time he saw one from the time he was a little puppy. (I was too busy trying to keep him from jumping up and biting my arm during our walks to think of that, but I’m totally doing that with my next dog.)

Perhaps I’m the problem, and I should adopt older dogs from now on. Because in the two-plus years I’ve known her, Mia’s never barked and lunged at a single bicycle.

This advice column is part of the Weekly Writing Challenge from Daily Post.

Iconic Northwest Rain

Al Roker’s voice rings in my head. Wet weather in the Pacific Northwest. What else is new?

This week’s writing challenge felt like a photo challenge as well: Write about something iconic. I mulled over this assignment, asking myself, What is iconic to me? How to capture it visually? What to write about it?

Inspiration struck on Thursday as I drove from Bellingham to Olympia in the pouring rain. What could be more iconic than Seattle Rain? But again, how best to capture it visually? From the freeway, I recklessly snapped a few photos through my windshield with my phone. This after sitting out the month of Phoneography challenges, because as much as I enjoy my LG slider, it is no smart phone, and certainly nothing special as a camera phone.

I admit to taking my Canon DSLR out of my bag and trying to take a few photos with it when the car was nearly stopped in traffic. Then thought better of it.

What I really wanted to get a picture of, and write about, was my passenger on this drive. I’d been traveling more than an hour when a ladybug came out of nowhere and landed on the inside of my windshield. More sinister bugs are ushered quickly out of rolled-down windows, but what about the rain? Can ladybugs fly in the rain?

She flitted from the windshield to the steering wheel, landing with one of her wings partially out-tucked from her red and black carapace, a dark lacy prom dress sticking from a limousine door. I aimed my poor woman’s camera phone at the ladybug as she circumnavigated the steering wheel, but I was too close, she moved too fast, and I couldn’t get her in focus.

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lady

For a short time, she disappeared into the center of the wheel, then reappeared for another few laps before disappearing again and that was the last I saw of her.

My attention back to the assignment at hand. Wet weather in the Pacific Northwest. When I google-imaged “Seattle rain,” I found several lovely shots of the Space Needle through raindrop-spattered windows. Yes, that’s the picture in my head as well. But I wasn’t close enough to the Space Needle. On my drive back north on Friday, I think it was too gray to even see the landmark.

Sunshine is easy to capture. Snow is glorious. But rain? I had a harder time. The images on my memory card didn’t reflect what I thought I saw with my eyes.

I gave it a go. Here’s my collage.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Image vs. Text

I drafted this post before I saw this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Image vs. Text, and was struggling to pick an image to accompany it. Should I borrow Evernote’s logo, since I’m giving them free advertising anyway? Maybe Rob has a picture of me using my Nook. I was tempted to steal photos of Louis CK, Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer, or at least embed the videos I link to below.

Given the challenge at hand, I have taken a post I didn’t know how to illustrate with one picture, and illustrated it with four images.

The Next Generation of Typos

I no longer know how to write things by hand, so I’ve begun making notes to myself on my Nook and my iPod touch. Evernote seems to be designed for such things, because it syncs to become available on multiple devices.

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evernote.com

I turned off the autocorrect feature on my digital devices long ago, because I trust my own ability to spell over the computer’s assumption that when I type pissy,what I really mean is pussy. True story: my stepmother emailed my significant other that her Blackberry tried to autocorrect her message to him thusly.

In a pinch, I’ve used Evernote to jot down what could be described as a journal entry. Let me explain. In a world before blogs, people wrote things down for themselves as private documentation. Today I felt sad, or My best friend really pissed me off. Things you don’t want other people to read, but make you feel better to express.

I expect that these personal musings will be useful for future memoir or fiction projects, but because those pesky little touch screens are so small, my literal notes to self are riddled with typos. I’m terribly afraid that after my death, some historian will come across them and won’t understand that my spelling errors are a result of the technology of the time.

writing

I do all my writing by keyboard, but I still edit with a pen.

I suppose everyone else in the world has an iPad or whatever, and has been word processing remotely for years, but Evernote has been something of a revelation to me. The members of my writing group provide one another with typed critiques. On a few recent occasions, I’ve wanted to work on my critiques in places that weren’t convenient to take my laptop. On an airplane to and from a weekend getaway, as one example. In the car at the Canadian border crossing, for another.

Disney

Celebrating Rob’s birthday. Didn’t feel like taking the laptop with me.

On the way back from Disneyland in January, I wrote three critiques on my Nook, then uploaded and corrected my spelling errors on my laptop before printing. On Sunday, I planned to do the same, but when I got in the car, I realized that my Nook’s battery wasn’t charged. I handwrote (as legibly as I could) two critiques before I remembered that I had Evernote on my iPod. I wrote the third critique on the tiny handheld touchpad keyboard.

Sometimes technology really a-freaking-mazes me. And I don’t even have a smartphone that uploads photos to Instagram.

Louis CK really nailed it with this commentary. (“Give it a second to get back from space!”)

nook

Pretty sure the coolest thing about my Nook is the sticker I put on the M-Edge case.

I will say (lowering voice like Kim Jong Un’s best friends from growing up), the Nook Tablet is not a great tablet. It’s a fine e-reader and the price was right. But it’s seriously deficient in apps (none for Facebook, for example, which would have been a dealbreaker if I’d known ahead of time) and the web browser is pretty shabby. My next electronic device will be a true tablet (unless my iPod dies and needs replacing first). Probably the iPad mini.

UPDATE 3.24.13: I spent $19.99 to turn my Nook SD card into a Nook 2 Android card. This may have resolved all of my tablet complaints, namely the lack of a Facebook app. Now I just have to adjust to the Android interface, which on first use does not seem as pretty as the Nook’s. Fortunately, I can easily switch between the Nook and the Android just by rebooting the device.