Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Dogman...

A month or so after we got Glacier, we invested in a pricey trainer to help us with her people shyness. That trainer was aggressive with her and ultimately with us and after two sessions, the trainer disappeared for two months. Needless to say, we weren't sad to see her go but we were at square one as NONE of the trainer's aggressive work helped Glacier. The trainer didn't respond to emails or phone calls until we finally asked for our money back. It took us several months to get our money and I spent that time researching dog anxiety and looking for a new trainer. Obviously gun-shy about hiring someone, we took our time.

After starting Glacier a few days per week at the doggie day care, we started hearing really good things about the trainer that teaches classes there two times per week. I finally contacted him and he agreed to come to our house two days later so he could see exactly how she behaves when people come over.

He was here two days ago for about an hour and it's already changed our lives! He was calm, patient, and firm with her and explained the theories of wolf pack behavior and how our body language sends as many messages as our tones and words. It turns out that although we thought we had stopped comforting her when she was nervous around people, something in our body language was telling her that we wanted her to be nervous. Now we know how to encourage confidence instead of nervousness.

After only an hour or so of working with him, we had a half dozen or so really useful tips to use with her. That very afternoon we went down to my in-law's house where she will usually cower in a corner and stay there until we leave. But this time was different. We used the techniques we had just learned when we brought her into the house and she moved around the house, still somewhat fearfully, but she would stay within range of my in-laws and even relaxed calmly with all of us within feet of each other on the patio.

We encouraged each of them to walk her on the leash around the house and after a few struggles, she gave in and followed them. She let them pet her and feed her treats. They were so happy! It got easier and easier throughout the day and eventually she was tagging along with my mother in-law (on the leash) without really worrying where my husband and I were. She even went into the house for a break with Brody and both of them were comfortably relaxed when I peeked in the window at them. Yay!

The next day we did as the trainer told us and walked both dogs through the house on the leash establishing our dominance of them in the house as well and then went for a walk in the neighborhood looking for people willing to greet Glacier. Luckily there were plenty of folks out so she was greeted by 6-8 people and did very very well! Some of our neighbors have been wanting to pet her for months and she wouldn't let them. Yesterday they could pet her and she ate treats from their hands. Until Monday with the trainer, she wouldn't take a treat from anyone!

Her only really shy moment was with the six year old girl across the street who REALLY wants to love her! She walked a bit too quickly toward Glacier and G wouldn't take the treat from her. But we explained that she's still working on it and asked Sophia if she will be our special helper dog trainer and help us get Glacier used to kids. She was happy to agree!

So we've had her for 7.5 months and tried a variety of tactics only to need the input from one patient, calm trainer who really paid attention to Glacier and the vibes she was putting out.

We are SO thankful because we love her so much and we know that others will too when we work completely through this phase. We are now hopeful for her to comfortably spend time with many other people in our "pack". Yay!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Days Like Today...

Another senseless act of violence today - Patriots Day here in Massachusetts - better known as "Marathon Monday".

My husband and I spent the day blissfully ignorant while helping my in-laws with a yard project. It wasn't until about 4:30pm when my step-son called to ask us about the explosions at the Boston Marathon that we had any idea that it wasn't just another Monday.

We snapped on the radio in the truck on the way home and listened as the details started to take shape.

What is wrong with this world? Why do some people turn to violence against innocence to make their point? If they were indeed trying to make a point, what was it? Who was it?

Posts on Facebook ranged from offering prayers, rides out of the city, blood donation to the victims and support for their families to quoting Toby Keith's song "We'll put a boot in their ass, it's the American way..."

We need to understand what the Hell is happening but in the mean time, here is what I think needs to change in this world.

Parents need to parent. They need to shield their children from the evil in the world - not just the gruesome gore on the news but the crap on TV and video games that they are exposed to for more hours a day than they spend in school. They need to teach their children right from wrong from the moment the child can first grasp the concept. They need to teach true tolerance and love for others by exhibiting it themselves. They need to engage their children in the world instead of keeping them in insulated ivory towers where everyone wins, parents fix things the first second things go wrong at a normal childhood development level, and everyone is homogenous. They need to instill a sense of responsibility and pride in their children that shows up in every facet of their lives - not just on a sports field or in a classroom. They need to encourage voluntarism, participation in real life, and commitment.

I firmly believe that if kids could be raised this way globally, the need to piss on each others' furniture and commit random acts of violence would be alleviated and possibly replaced with random acts of kindness.

My reaction to today's senseless act of violence is a combination of sadness, disgust, anger, and fear. That is NOT what I want in my life or in the lives of the young people growing into this world we are making.

Join me in answering the following questions for yourself because they are bouncing around in my head and I intend to make a step toward acting on and answering each one:

How do I change it? What can I do?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cupboard Cleaning...

Another boring post about organizing our house - ho hum. Oh well. Getting organized makes me happy in a variety of ways!

My latest bout of purging and organization happened as a result of an unfortunate incident while we were on vacation. Last fall we installed a lovely new French door in our kitchen and during the blizzard this year, it leaked some water onto the kitchen floor. As soon as it was warm and dry enough, my husband caulked the corners that seemed to be the problem. When we came home from Florida, our house/dog-sitter told us that a large amount of water had come through the door during heavy rains and flooded the kitchen floor. The tiles buckled and cracked down the middle and popped at the grout line the entire length of the floor in two different places.

Crown Royal Construction built our home. Okay... so that just means that the fellow/previous homeowner that did many renovation projects on our house was sober in the morning and not so sober by the time the project was done. We can cite many projects that clearly lasted more than a half day and therefore whose execution is far less than perfect. For example... anyone with any sense knows that you install the cabinets on the sub-floor and THEN install the flooring so if you have to change the flooring for some reason like - oh - say - because it flooded and the tiles cracked - then you wouldn't have to tear out the cabinets to do it!

Yep, you get the idea. CRC installed the tile floor and THEN the crappy cabinets he made himself that are neither sturdy nor standard sizes.

So, after overcoming our tidal wave of nausea while inspecting the damage, we sat down and discussed the fact that we've WANTED a new kitchen and perhaps now is the time since to replace the flooring, the cabinets need to come out. After spending a few weeks mulling it over and designing what we would like, we finally went to Lowes to have them put our wishes into dollar signs. Nausea tsunamis passed through when we saw how many zeroes were at the end of that number and we decided that we have bigger goals (getting debt-free for instance) in the short-term and the kitchen will have to wait.

Hence the organization project!

We have an odd-shaped floor to ceiling closet that faces the dining room but is behind the refrigerator and has held cleaning products for the past 5.5 years that we've lived here. We decided that regardless of new or old kitchen, this would become a pantry for things like mixers, dog food, over-sized bowls - things that we need often enough but that don't need to be under our noses daily.

In addition, my husband and I have recently made a major change to our diets so that we are only eating fresh veggies and lean proteins almost exclusively. While assessing the shifting of pantry items I realized that we had tons of canned goods etc that we will never use. My step-son came and took about six grocery bags worth (really... I can't believe I was hoarding that many non-perishables!) and I gave another two bags to a homeless fellow that I see in town all the time. It made so much more room in our cupboards that several items that have been cluttering up the counter-top now have a home out of sight!

I did, of course, need shelving in the new pantry but realized that we already have a rolling wire shelf system that would fit perfectly with a few tweaks so that is now snugly in the new pantry. The old "pantry" has a few new shelf risers (seriously - who needs 22" between the bottom shelf and the next one up?) and a lot more room. And the stuff that was cluttering my view in various locations now has a home of its own inside the now nearly-empty upper cabinet!

The major bonus is that I've been looking for my Magic Bullet mixer for several months now and feared that I had given it away in my kitchen purge last year. But while on my hands and knees rib-cage deep into the corner cabinet (that we not-so-affectionately call "The Abyss") there it was! It now as its own spot in the upper cabinet because with our new eating plan, we make smoothies and shakes with it almost daily.

I am happy to say that my kitchen purge of last year really did get rid of tools and appliances that I NEVER use so this re-organization process did not get bogged down in decision-making on that level.

So... it's not a NEW kitchen but it does function more efficiently and hopefully we will hit the lottery and be able to get the kitchen we would really like... but I guess we need to play.