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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sometimes it just takes the right timing




Rarely do I have a clear cut path in training.  I meander all over until I find the method that works for the dogs and I before trying to implement it.  I enjoy experimenting with different possiblities and exhausting all trial runs to know I'm making the best choices where both the dogs and I will be happy.

Open!  Open!  Open the door, Mom!!

One example of this was working with Blaze's strong prey drive with the cats whom she is separated from.  The cats' room is inbetween the Front Dogs and the Back Dogs.  Boxer and Leia have their own cat door into the Back Dogs section of the house, where they mingle with Brut, Silver, Fiona and Zappa.  The regular entrance door is on Chance and Blaze's side of the house.

I've tried a few different methods that involved tying Blaze up and opening the door for Boxer to come out.  When I've scheduled an actual training session these methods worked.  But like many things when you have 6 dogs and a household to run, they can get pushed to the back burner.  Where they simmer until the time is right to work on them again.

How long do I have to wait for the kitty?

Now I've done some on the spot training, with no treats and no real control of Blaze, that as you may have guessed didn't work out quite so well.  What I'm finding that all this time of back and forth, I believe I've found a way to try again with Blaze and the cats and most importantly, Blaze seems ready as well.

I sit at the doorway on the floor, have Blaze lay down behind me, and after some cheese pieces and staying in a down position, open the door to the cats' room.  She must stay in a down-stay while I treat her.  The first time there were no cats around, which was good.  Just practicing down-stay and not going into high alert with the door open is half the battle.  Today we opened the door and Boxer was in front of us eating.  Blaze's eyes stayed soft, her body was relaxed and we just sat there getting a belly full of cheese.  Then I shut the door.

Now that is fantastic.

Gotcha!!

As for the cats, I've broken some trust with Boxer and Leia with my on the spot training and must rebuild, but Boxer being most curious and laid back of the two will come around with Leia in the background.  Which is fine.

Too many times Blaze has been too excited and Boxer too curious, which has lead to Blaze grabbing Boxer with her mouth and nosing him with too much euthusiasm.  So taking it slow will be a good thing for all parties involved.  

It's a beginning with some foundation.  Not totally new.  But both at a time when we are willing and able.  And that's what makes it the best training.  May have taken several years, but well worth the wait.

I'll keep you updated!  ☺


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Addition

Man, where does the time go?  So many things going on and seems like years have flown by since we last posted, even though it was only last Friday.

We became first time grandparents last week and went to visit the little one who had only been home one day from hospital.  Her name is Meadow and she was precious.  My hubby, Mark took video and of course we had to get some shots of the 2 cats and the dog.  It just wouldn't be a family photo without the pets.  :)

New Mom with baby Meadow


Checkers, who isn't as pleased with the new addition.

It was a great visit, but as always was good to come home to our own babies!




Friday, January 16, 2015

Restoring my Faith with Dog Sledding

After a couple of shaky dog sled "rides" to start the season, I was more than worried that either the winter weather wasn't going to cooperate at all or my worse fears would occur, the dogs and I wouldn't want to sled anymore.

For those who don't know we dog sled our dogs in the winter months just for recreational purposes and the fun of learning a new sport.  This will be my 8th year doing it, since Brut was a puppy and I still consider us beginners of this great sport.  Last year it was so cold, snowy and brutal out that we never got a chance to take walks let alone sled and I was afraid this year was going to be much of the same.

My husband, Mark is a genius.  What I lack for in faith and resilience he makes up for in never giving up.  He snowblowed our little walking trail in the woods, so we would have a place to dog sled, when I was already grieving that I'd lost the love for it and figured the dogs did too.  I felt like I was in such a pickle as I only have four dogs that I can sled and only one way to pair them.  And Brut is hopeless as a sled dog.

I shot down every idea I could think of and figured there was no way this was going to happen, right up until Mark said, "So who are you going to sled?"

I tried Zappa and Silver first, they are usually the easiest.  Being a new trail to sled they slowed down and wanted to explore instead.  I ended up running with them most of the way, not something 45 year old, pack a day, who needs to lose weight wants to do, trying to stay up with two dogs running through the snow...

By then I was even more skeptical than before.  Chance and Blaze are so fussy about their sledding harnesses that I wasn't sure we'd make it out of the house!

And when it came down to it, my dear Chance, my solid rock when I waver took control, reined in Blaze and never looked back to give me the experience of a lifetime!

They even went around again for their faithful Daddy

See for yourself.        


pee.s.  This is using our new GoPro camera.  That we bought specifically for dog sledding videos.  What do you think?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Luigi Quacked Me Up!

Luigi with his feather mustache.
He also had feathered beards sometimes.

It's been tough coming to the blog.  Even though I didn't post that much about Luigi, this was the only place I did...it is still sad.  He's been gone two weeks today and we got to know each other pretty well over the last 13 years.

He never really quacked, it was more like a "wonk, wonk, wonk," but when he was hungry he QUACKED and stomped around like he was marching in a parade!  He was so adorable.

Or the times when he would be in his pool and would jump out, then jump right in, then jump right back out, then jump in, over and over again all the while talking to himself.  I can only imagine what he was thinking but it was so ridiculously cute.  He totally cracked me up! I really hoped to get on tape, but I was never prepared.

Sometimes he would just run around the pen, for no apparent reason.   His breed, Chinese White Peking, can't fly, but I've seen him run into the wind and get lift off.  That was really cool.  Sometimes he could get a couple feet off the ground if the wind was right.

Mr. Studly

Luigi was as silly as he was proud.  There was nothing more he loved than taking a bath and primping and preening half the day away.  After all his splashing around in the pool he'd fluff his feathers for that studly duck look and right in the middle of his tail feathers would be a curled feather.  A sure sign of being a Peking male duck.  He was beautiful.

And although he had no one to get fussed up for the last few years, he had a couple of girlfriends in his time.  Sadly they both died before him, leaving him to be the lonely bachelor.

There were times I flooded his pen so he could play in the make shift marsh, which he just loved!  He'd be digging in the mud, just having the time of his life, when he would start stomping around in the water.  I never did figure out what this meant.  I don't know if it was part of hunting for grubs and slugs or if he was just overly happy.  To me it looked like he was dancing.  So cute!

Every so often wild ducks would fly overhead, quacking and Luigi would answer with a completely different sound that he only saved for the wild ducks.  It was very few and far between that he would answer them, but when he did it was more of a throaty quack.  Very interesting.

He wasn't very social with us except in the winter time when he was always glad to see me with water and food.  He would come running up to me and get quite close, but he never let me touch him.  As we bonded with food, I decided to teach him to eat out of my hand, using the same techniques I would use with my dogs to get close to me.  The success with having him eat out of my hand never ceased to amazed me.  Eventually he let me get even closer and so I could touch him, like with the slip of my hand without running away.  Each time was a like a miracle and I couldn't wait to tell my husband, Mark, about our latest encounter.  It was so beautiful.

And that was how it ended.  Eventually the only way I could get him to eat was out of my hands and when he became so sick, I was finally able to stoke those long, soft feathers on his back and wings.  We came full circle.  Luigi and me.  We became fully encircled.    

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Paw Art- The Royal Crown


More Paw Art to See:

Paw Art,  Half Heart Paw Art,  Paw Art 3,  Paw Art 4-Where's the Birdie,  Paw Art the Winter Version

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Pee.S.  Thank you so much for your heart felt comments and condolenses about the loss of Luigi.  It is still difficult and sad to know he is gone.  I never realized how much I thought about him and that he was so integrated in my day until he died.  He was as much a part of my day as the dogs and cats and everytime I look outside I think of my little ducky.    

Sunday, January 4, 2015

B/W Sunday-Goodbye My Little Buddy


It's been a week ago today since Luigi died and I have tried to write a memorial, but I can't.  I am still grieving over his surprise death.

Sunflower seeds killed him.  Ducks can eat some, but too many makes it hard for them to digest and screws up their system.  Obviously shutting it down and killing them.  I didn't know this until Luigi had already eaten on them for a day and a half.  He's eaten many greens out of the above patch that was his and never had a problem.  And it was odd for him to come out of his pen in December, even with the mild weather to his little fenced splice of heaven.  Very odd.  But he wanted out badly, so I let him, never thinking twice about it.  And what were the chances that he would eat the seeds that I just started putting out for the wild birds for the first time in several years.

 It was a coincidence:  An act of God who wishes to remain anonymous.   

It is the only reason I know for why he would die from eating sunflower seeds that I never had before out there...God wanted him back and probably his ducky girlfriend Mojo who had preceded him 11 years before. 

I had the color version of this picture, one of the last took this past summer of Luigi, on my computer wallpaper and had just changed it before he got sick.  It is one of my favorites of him.  Something must have been telling me even then.  

I hope Luigi is having the pool party of his life!  I never loved a duck like him and I don't know if I ever will again.  He taught me ducky language and I engaged his love for water with a pool, a bath, and flooding his pens for the marshy feel.  Having a duck was one of the best experiences of my life and one I wouldn't have had if it weren't for my husband, Mark, having one as a kid and wanting to do it with me.  It was odd at first but soon became natural thing.  Luigi took me for one wild ride after another and I wouldn't trade that for the world.  He was a one of a kind duck.

Farewell Luigi!
Until we meet again! 


Friday, January 2, 2015

Power of Ten 7th Birthday

 We called our puppy litter the "Power of Ten."  A litter created by Silver and Brut that had been planned for several years before taking action.  And now 7 years later it is their birthday and I still can't believe the gifts they have given me of memories, teachings, life lessons and all about unconditional love.

A Little Background:
Ten puppies were born on January 2, 2008 in the wee hours of the morning and lasted until 9am that same morning.  We kept two, the first born, Zappa and the last born Fiona.  We found homes for all of the rest.  At 7 months old Blaze was returned after being kicked and shot at by pellet guns.  She was a wounded soul, but strong willed.  Four months later Chance was also returned to us with his ribs almost showing.  It worked out as Blaze and Chance owners were related and were the best of friends.  Which was good because Brut, Silver, Zappa and Fiona (Back Pack) wouldn't accept Blaze and Chance (Front Pack) into their pack and it was how the two packs were created.

Some people might think that we didn't deserve to breed, but having Zappa and Fiona showed me what life was like being loved from the beginning of their life.  Something I hold close to my heart, teaching me I could love.

Some people might also think about the consequences we bred when Chance and Blaze both came from abused homes.  Never a question to take them back they have taught me about undying gratitude and a resilence that is unmatch.  Not to mention what love can do.



Some people might say that breeding Silver and Brut was all wrong when you find out that two of
 "Power of Ten" pups are dead.  Angel was hit by a car and Grumpy's owner put him down both at five years old.  I believe there is a reason for everything, even that which is sad and scary and horrible.  Angel and Grumpy taught me those lesson and I love them dearly for it.

Some people again might say that this litter didn't deserve to be here, after all were are not professional breeders, when I tell you we haven't seen two of the pups, Red and Rocket, since they were 6 months to a year old.  The owners signed a contract for us to see the puppies grow and they defaulted on their end.  Over and over we tried to no avail.  I don't even know if they have the pups anymore, but we haven't given up hope.  Red and Rocket have taught me that.

The two last remaininig pups are still with their original owners and doing well.  Jack and V-girl are the last two dogs we have remained in contact with.  V-girl recently moved out of state, but Jack is still here not knowing how much it really means to us to be able to see and touch him and know he is OK.  V-girl and Jack taught me there are people who just love their puppies and they are part of their owners life.  Maybe all owners are jerks after all.  They teach me to keep the faith.

And some people might not be judging me or my puppies, or our circumstances.  Or maybe they are.  I don't know.  Maybe it is me who is ridding my own judgements on myself.  Or maybe it is just a way to realize the impact any animal can make on your life when you realize the gift of unconditional love is real and exist.  That no matter the distance or years or death, you can never be seperated from such true, pure love.

That is the "Power of Ten"



Happy 7th Birthday kids.  We love you!  



  pee.s.  Luigi's memorial was postpone for the birthday pups.