A certain cat with a reputation of believing that cats are at the top of hierarchy of the 24 Paws of Love or Muttville as he calls it, is caught loving all over Silver. (Silver's always been kind of mama to him. bol!)
You can hide behind Zappa and Boxer but I know where you live!
So after yesterday's post and how I thought I had to start all over with teaching the dogs to walk on their leashes; I gathered all my wits, took the advice of Houndstooth from Tales and Tails and Pamela from Something Wagging This Way Comes, took a deep breath and walked the Back Dogs one at a time to the corner and back. For some strange reason I didn't have much problem at all. Imagine that! It really IS my husband who turns the dogs into psycho walkers.
Of course there still needs to be some work on pulling and consistency, but overall they did great! And using Houndstooth's suggestion about doing some commands before the walk as well as stopping during the walk and doing them was a gem. All the dogs loved it, including Brut, which is a miracle because he doesn't like to stop. Of course a pocket full of goodies helped to keep his attention. I've been practicing with Brut wearing a no pull head halter, (like a Gentle Leader) which I'd still like to try with him because it works good for Brut around people and other dogs. So he had a full dose of mental stimulation before I even decided to walk everybody.
Zappa is so cute. We played 'find' it by throwing a treat just ahead of him and just short of the leash length. It kept his attention on me without pulling and because he's too wiggly to sit down for long. I thought of Pamela's post: Know your limits and Zappa has always had a hard time doing commands that involve him in one spot for too long. So 'find it' really worked for us, as with Fiona as it is sometimes hard for her to sit on the ice with her bad hips.
So all in all we had a great time and it was fun for me too. Talk about having to engage my brain as well. I was wiped out by the fourth dog, which was why Chance and Blaze will have to wait until today for their turn. And just that little added bonus of stopping and making them sit, lay down, roll over, turn around, find it and give me five all made for 4 tired dogs and one tired owner.
Can't believe I actually thought I had to start all over....damn husband!! :)
Don't miss the first lesson of Boxer's new human apprentice...in Lesson One-the Perfect Lap
We've missed out on a couple of weeks of dog sledding. The weekend before last we took a break from it and then this weekend the snow was too heavy and thick to run through even with two dogs. So instead I came up with the "brilliant" idea to pair up a Front Dog and a Back Dog for a walk and see how things go.
It was a complete disaster! The dogs were fine, no fights, scraps or contact, but walking them with my husband was a whole different story. See my husband lets the dogs walk any way they see fit. And for the last year I haven't been able to walk the dogs very much due to some physical problems. Which means most of my training, especially with Chance and Blaze has went right off the leash. Even walking a dog while walking with my husband, the dogs feel they have the right to walk how ever they please. And when Chance wouldn't stop hauling me down the road, I thought I was going scream or cry. He's never done that to me before regardless that we were walking him with Fiona. It was beyond ridiculous. It was down right miserable.
So I had to cut my husband off from walking any dogs with him. I will have to start all the way at step one and try to train the dogs all over again. It isn't all my husband's fault, but they are definitely worse when he is around. I really struggle with consistency and flexing back and forth with what is acceptable walk, tension and speed. Some of you may remember that I've been in this same spot before. I don't know why this issue is so difficult and daunting for me, but I will try, try again. If anyone has ANY tips, I would love to hear them.
Here are some of my obstacles:
-want some tension, but not to pull (is this possible) and not knowing where to draw line. Tolerance level is different some days than others. PLUS, I tend to not pay attention when there is tension on line because I'm so used to it.
-Consistency (see above)
-have no pull head halters, use for a while then feel guilty for using, or don't train right the first time and dogs still pull using it.
-Dogs know I will eventually give up. A week, a month, a season, a year, I eventually go back to old ways
-Pulling dogs. I taught them to pull almost at the same time they were learning to walk on leash, there's not much a difference between the two.
-Strong willed dogs. I've given them every reason because I will eventually cave so they push it to the limit. Especially Brut, he definitely knows my weak points.
-My biggest setback is that I want to go for a walk. Not train. I really want to walk with dogs and training takes too long. This is when I start slipping and giving in.
-My method has been when dogs pull, I stop and wait for them to sit and give eye contact. Then I give walk command. They will still pull and I may or may not stop them again.
-I feel guilty for having to train the dogs at all. I never had to train Silver, she just did it. So I really don't have a lot of practice. We both want to go for a walk and if training we may be stuck in the driveway or on the road in front of the house.
-I mentally and physically can't take it anymore. I've doing it this way for so long when I was handed my first dog leash that I don't know any other way.
So I am asking you please, any suggestions, advice, ideas, ANYTHING you can give me would be much greatly appreciated. Lay it on me. I need a fresh approach.
Such interesting and positive comments on the last post! Thank you to all that responded. I have always wanted to talk open and freely about the fact that Brut and Blaze are oh natural but was scared for the criticism I thought I would get if I did. So I've been censoring myself from talking about some the things that happen around here, especially when Blaze goes into heat.
I know many wouldn't understand why I've left them two intact and I've been afraid to explain. Not that I need to explain, but that I would like to for the sake of sharing.
Blaze is the only female out of the litter that is able to have puppies. And there are many reasons I'd like to have a litter from her, but the one that stands out the most is that she has the best dog sledding/racing genes that I would like to harness and create my own sled team. While I only dog sled for a hobby, I think with the right dogs, set up and training I would like to start competing. Even if it is only locally. Brut comes from sled lines and by far Blaze has everything I am looking for with those lines. I'd like to find a good stud with a similar background and everything that makes a sled dog. For those who may be wondering, no I will not breed her with Brut. I don't believe in inbreeding. Although I wouldn't mind saving some of his sperm for later on down the road, if we find the right female that will add to the team.
And while they are all thoughts, wishes and dreams, they are just that right now. We are looking at a couple years down the road from now and if you've followed for a while you'll know we have many issues to contend with before something like that was to happen. Not only for the dogs, but we would need a bigger house and land in which to practice and train. Sledding is really what I love to do. I don't know how much of it is in the future or what the chances are of getting from point A to B, but it would be a dream come true if it were to happened.
Thank you for being so open and honest with me. I appreciate letting me stand on our decision with our dogs and not judging. I know it is not the route many would take as far as spaying and neutering but I am grateful for giving us the freedom to be who we are, even when we don't agree. And thank for those of you who believe I am being responsible because I was so afraid I was going to get shot down with how irresponsible I am being. Believe me if there is anything you learn when you don't spay or neuter, there is added responsibility that I take very seriously.
Like is it morally wrong if my dog isn't neuter or spayed?
Who makes that call anyways?
What right do they have to do so?
Can a person be considered responsible with an intact male and/or female dog?
Who decides that? And what is the criteria?
If you have a male and female dog with their sex organs, does that make you a backyard breeder?
If so, what's their argument?
Is it possible to have an intact female and male and not have them breed?
Does one litter of pups make you a backyard breeder?
Who says so?
Should I be living in shame for having an intact male and female who had a litter of pups who did everything with the utmost responsibility of caring for all said dogs involved for the rest of their lives and might want to do it again later on in the future?
When do I get the choice of my life and dogs and what I think is best for them without being labeled?
What are your thoughts? When do you draw a line and where?
It has been almost four months since I last touched and said good bye to Angel and it is hard to believe that time has kept moving on, despite how it might feel. Whenever a dog dies that is close to me, a song will start playing through my head over and over and it becomes their song. Angel's song is Bill Withers, Ain't No Sunshine. Tonight after having to deal with some things I put on the back burner because of her death and finally catching up with them, her song started playing through my head. And I just sat here, still numb that she is gone, forever. And even though she's closer to my heart than ever before I'll never forget holding her the day when Silver plopped her in my hands when she gave birth to Angel. And now I can only touch her spirit deep in my heart. Forever is lost holding her in my hands again. And my hands ache for her thick black fur. And my eyes are sore for those dancing, mischievous eyes of hers that lit up anytime we were near. A life taken much too soon. A life that will be forever missed.
Just once more I wish I could hold Angel again and share my love with her.
If I'm alright with myself, then I'm alright with everyone else
If I'm not OK with me, then I can find fault with everyone
For as long as I can remember I've never wanted to be me. I wanted to be someone else, anyone but who I was. For years and years I was taught I wasn't good enough, smart enough, or worthy of love. It has been a very slow and painful journey to grasps the straws like self worth and self love that hold the keys to my self-acceptance.
My struggle with my self worth and love transfer to my dogs as well. A friend sent me a video about a female lab gently communicating with a very young boy with Down Syndrome. You can see video HERE. The last message on the video was God Doesn't Make Mistakes. And I cried. Not only for myself but for my dogs as well. They could never be thatdog who was so tender and understanding with this boy. Logically I know that they are not meant to bethat dog, but in those moments I wish they could.
And so because of my own infliction I instantly discredited myself , our dogs and our entire relationship because we are different. And it is in this inner conflict where I gain my strength from the dogs that I have the right to be who I am, just as I was designed at the core of me.
For as much as I may wish Brut or Zappa or any of them to be like so-and-so they have taught me at a depth that no one else could teach me about self value and worth. For they are the very essence of being true to their being and being who they are. It has taken all of their flaws to keep holding that chord that I am not perfect (another one of my character defects), but that I can make mistakes and still be worthy of their love and mine.
For it is in those moments when our true self arises, whether it is with one dog or all six that they show me again and again, I am worth it. And since I believe every relationship with my dogs whether in part or as a whole is a two way street, then I must have shown them that they are worth it too as we reflect this worth back and forth between us.
And so the journey continues. Deep in the paws of love and the eyes that reflect my soul. For I need no mirror, just need to look deeply into their pools of love to open my heart to my own.
For those of you who might have guessed it, the second video in yesterday's post was Chance and Blaze. And that is all thanks to my wonderful husband who has a way with the dogs that I can not compare to and has the magic to make things work.
I've been working with happy, positive reinforcement with getting Chance and Blaze comfortable with their sledding harness and taking it very slow and steady. We are making great progress. Chance and Blaze have both been watching Zappa and Silver take off on the sled and I know it is driving them crazy to sled. So my husband surprised me after our run and just put on Chance and Blaze's harness, calm, cool, and assertive and off we went! Just like that, they had them on and were ready to go. No fear, no anxiety, no freezing up. Daddy is magical that way. :)
To warn you the video is 10 minutes long. I ran them up and down the road a couple of times, just to work out some of that pent up frustration that you see Chance giving Blaze when we first take off. He was probably letting her know that he is lead dog and not to crowd him. He is used to running alone.
The camera is off a little (sorry for the view!) but there's no mistaking the speed or power these two have together. They know each other in and out and become quite a mental and physical powerhouse when they are paired.
The speed is incredible. When I ride with these two I can not imagine having 2, 4, or 6 more dogs hooked up! It's a little bit scarier and I tend to be a little more high strung with Chance and Blaze than I am with Zappa and Silver.
Didn't they do great for their first time out this year? I'm so proud of them for being willing to try and doing such a great job!
And my wonderful husband who made it all happen is having a birthday today! He'll be turning 28 again! BOL!!
We had a great weekend of dog sledding and Zappa and Silver were flying even faster today. It had warmed up to just above freezing and the road was soft enough for gripping and just slick enough for some real speed. Other than the straight away the rest of the ride was a mess of stopping and untangling. Here's a quick video of Zappa and Silver kicking ass again! Plus we thought you might like to see their faces every so often! :)
If you've been following our sledding practices, you'll note that we've only taken out Zappa and Silver, well...do we have a treat for you! Not only did we get to take them out, but two other dogs as well. Not at the same time, bol, I've hardly reached that level. See if you can guess who our new racers are. This super short video is just a preview for the video I have for tomorrow where I'll put you back in the musher's seat and show the real speed and power of these two dogs pulling a sled. It will blow you away!
Make sure you check back for another ride of a lifetime!
I don't know about anybody else in the Northern Hemisphere, but I'm hitting my breaking point with winter. We're just starting to hit the mid-way point (fingers crossed) and I've really been struggling with the winter blahs. It sucks being inside too long as well as outside. I don't know what happened in the last few years as winter used to be my favorite season and it was summer that I dreaded, now it's the exact opposite.
So were doing the best we can to survive. Dog sledding and walks help, but it can be so limiting. So to try and pass the time, I've been working with Fiona and Zappa on some behavior training. Especially "Leave It." Seeing as the last time we worked on it was when they were like five months old and Daddy has "trained" Fiona to steal his food anytime he leaves the couch, I figured it was a good place to start.
So every night after dinner when it is just the two of them in the living room we practice. I place a treat in front of them, tell them "leave it" and then when they give me eye contact they get a different treat than the one I placed down. Zappa is so adorable to watch. He works so hard not to look at the treat and get his eyes up to mine that he bobbles his head up and down as if physically trying to lift his eye up to meet my gaze. It is hilarious.
They are both catching on quickly, but I am still working on being able to walk away from treat while in front of them. That one is a little too tempting. So I scaled it back to just standing up and sitting back down again. It's hard to catch them sometimes before they eat the treat, the little buggers are quick!
But I'm already seeing results, especially with Fiona and Daddy's snack time. Which is quite a bonus for just a little bit of work. And Zappa who likes to try and steal my juice cups. I've been saying it when I leave the room whether they know there is anything or not and if they are in the same spots, I reward them.
I never had enough time to really work with Zappa and Fiona when Chance and Blaze were returned. Between Brut, Chance and Blaze the three took up almost all my time. So it is always a treat and sweet reward for me to be able to really work with them as we continue on this journey of getting to know each other a little better. And the more the household settles down and gets in routine the more Zappa and Fiona are enjoying the extra and well deserved attention they are getting.
So how do you and your dog get through the winter blahs?
Hello readers! Due to technical problems our dog sledding update from this weekend was delayed until today and what a time it was! I am still reeling from it. From start to finish the whole run ran smoothly with only one stop and no tangles. It was great! Zappa and Silver were kicking on this run, not like last weekend when they ran like they just woke up and the snow was slow. The road was faster than last weekend, which makes a big difference when there is a good smooth base. We shaved about 3 minutes off of last week's time. See if you can tell the difference.
They almost look like they know what they are doing! I'm quite stunned by the whole adventure and at how well all three of us did together. I'm so proud of them. Silver is really digging it and Zappa is loving having a partner to cruise with. I never tire of this experience. It is just a joy and privilege to have dogs that love it as much as I do.
Well they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions and my entire weekend was spent on just that. Our weekend sledding update has been delayed because of technical problems (#@!!#&*@#!!), so hopefully tomorrow we'll have the video up and running for you to show off my little team of Zappa and Silver's sledding skills and speed. I don't want to give too much away, but they were AWESOME!
So we'll take this time to answer some readers questions about dog sledding.
Collie222 from All things Collie asked: if I ever run more than two dogs? Working with two is a challenge enough and we are still beginners. For a long time I only ran with one, usually Chance. I hope to be able to make it up to 3 dogs and then 4, but with more dogs, more problems. Working with two dogs has been a big step for me, but a comfortable one this year. Zappa and Silver are quite compatible in many ways and they work together well, which makes running with them much easier.
She also asked if the dogs ever get cold with their thinner coat? Since all the dogs are part Husky, they all have that thick Husky undercoat that keeps them well protected. And we usually run when them between 18-32F (-7.7-0C)depending on the wind chill. If it's too cold for me, it's too cold for them is our motto. :)
Emily from It All Started With a Pitbull asked: If all the dogs like to pull? Yes, they do. Chance and Blaze were my top dogs for sledding when we got them back and they still love it, but I rushed into getting them used to their harnesses and they've never been comfortable with them. Once we got running they forgot about it, but from the point of putting it on until we would actually go made them both anxious. Neither of them like things on their back, so I am starting all over from the beginning making the harness a friendly tool and one they won't mind wearing so they can run again.
Brut likes to pull, but he is no good at being a sled dog. For one he thinks he's completely the boss when he's pulling out in front of me, plus he takes like he's on a walk, stopping every fifteen seconds to mark. But one thing he is great at is pulling firewood, it is our own little game and I think he just loves the Mommy and me time he gets with no one else around. :)
Fiona loves it as well, but has bad hips to be able to do it. Which is a real bummer because she would make a great lead dog, she loves to run and is smart and fast.
Thank you for the great questions and if anyone else has questions please feel free to ask. I will answer to the best of my ability or find the answer for you.
Be sure to check back tomorrow to watch our latest sled video!
I was rolling around some pictures when I came upon some of Angel and Grumpy. (our two homed pups from Brut and Silver's litter who died last October) and it still shakes me. Both deaths were tragic, unexpected, and quick. It is still hard to believe that I won't see either of them again or feel their fluffy fur or hug them again. It has been hard to miss them knowing this.
At some point when I started this blog with the six dogs, I remember the impact I felt when other bloggers lost their dogs. And that too was difficult as well. I wrotethis post back then about it. ALL of my pets are close to the same age with the exception of Silver is 9 years old. Brut is six, and the four kids are 5 years old. Then there are the cats, Boxer is 7, Leia is 6 and Luigi the duck is 11 years old.
God willing they all live to their full age, they will all be dying around the same time. From Brut to Luigi they could go one after another, assuming Silver goes first.
When I wrote that post I remember thinking that the heartbreak that will happen in this house will be devastating when that time comes. Now once that happens and they finally feel I'm safe to be reinstated from the funny farm, I have three different ideas what I would do.
1) Travel. Our home will be unbearable so empty and I figure two years on the road to explore the world while help in the grieving process. These 6 dogs are so precious and I've never been without a dog in my life, I think that I will need the physical and mental break in order to survive.
2) Rescue dogs. I will have a place to rescue and take in those unwanted dogs and cats that I have missed being able to do with my bunch being here.
3) Breed Blaze, have and keep all the puppies to keep the 24 Paws of Love genes going while giving me an opportunity to build my dream sled dog team. Which will obviously happen before she dies and will help with the impending grieving that will come when her and the others die.
Out of all of them #3 is the most likely to happen. Although the rescue dogs is likely to happen as well. And maybe I'll be traveling as well. Who knows!
Sorry for the morbid piece, but this wasn't what I'd planned on writing about. After seeing those pics of Angel and Grumpy though it just all fell out.
Have you ever thought about what you will do when your pet dies?