Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Festivus

Happy Festivus!

We, the dogs of Married with Dawgs, would like to take this opportunity to air some grievances:

Sadie's Grievances

Mom & Dad: Diets Suck.  The vet is stupid and she doesn't know what she is talking about.  I have earned my pudge, thank you very much.  Also, the lack of indoor doggie plumbing is practically barbaric.  What? Do you think we are wild animals doing our business in the Great Wet Winter?  Please remedy this situation immediately.

Hurley:  Please stop eating my food and licking my bowl.  Sometimes a girl likes to lick her own bowl, ya know what I mean?  And sometimes I'd like to play tug with Mom too, OK?  That last one goes for you too Maggie.

Maggie's Grievances
Mom:  I would appreciate a little more sympathy for my recent pad injuries.  I have been investing a good amount of my nap time to making sure my paw heals nicely through thousands of tongue licks.  Yes, my tongue has extraordinary healing powers.  Please stop wrapping my paw and laughing at me. 

Dad:  Fetch once a week is six times not enough.

Hurley:  Seriously.  We all like to tug with Mom & Dad.  How 'bout taking turns, an equal number of turns?  It's really the fairest solution.  Also, would it kill you to let me win at tug every once in a while?  It's not befitting a dog of my stature to be dragged around the house like that.

Hurley's Grievances


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Puppy Man Cave

This is Hurley's Puppy Man Cave, also known as the space underneath my counter.

It makes him very happy.  I mean, really, what dog wouldn't be thrilled to have their very own puppy man cave? 

My hope is that having his very own cozy puppy man cave will help Hurley progress on his journey towards accepting other dogs in the shop.  Actually, he would totally accept them all, if they would all accept him charging at them like a wild beast & barking as soon as they entered the store.  If they're cool with that rude greeting, he calms down and then wants to play.  If they're not, well, you can imagine. 

So our focus has been creating his safe & cozy place & training him to remain in that safe & cozy place whenever a dog comes in.  To ensure that he stays, he's tethered and I have a barrier at the edge of the counter so that he can't see the other dog.  He's been doing great with this arrangement & I can see how content he is hanging out by my side.  He's even beginning to show that he understands that staying under the counter is his job when a dog comes in.  One step closer to a bark-and-charge-free zone!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The "Your Dog" Syndrome

We have the "Your Dog" Syndrome in our home.  One of the dogs Hurley gets into trouble and when I relate the incident to the Hubster (or vice versa), he is suddenly not 'my' dog and all 'your' dog.


When Hurley chewed up the somewhere around fifth pair of the Hubster's shoes in the past couple months


When Hurley busted out of his crate and went on a several hundred dollar destruction spree, otherwise known as Doggie Pick Up Sticks in the den


When Hurley got upset that Sadie was getting a walk and got himself stuck underneath our patio

This was cute as a puppy....not so much anymore

So I know if I receive an email, gchat, text or call  that starts with "Your Dog", it's 'cause this guy:

got himself into a little trouble.

Do you have the "Your Dog" Syndrome with your partner?

Friday, October 26, 2012

How My Pit Bull Changed My Life

Tomorrow is National Pit Bull Awareness Day and in honor of pit bull type dogs everywhere, here is the story of my Sadie and her impact on my life.  A celebration of the bond between girl and dog and how my pit bull mix changed my life.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might have picked up on a few details about my life.  I own a pet store in Portland, OR.  I have 3 dogs, who are my life, and one of them is a pit bull mix.

What you might not have gleaned from my stories & posts is how I got to be where I am.  You see, I wasn't always this dog-crazy person.  While I did have dogs throughout my life, before Sadie & Maggie I knew nothing about training, behavior, or nutrition.  I watched The Dog Whisperer, thought he was a fantastic trainer, and believed Iams to be a high quality pet food.  A lot has changed since those days!

We got Sadie from a family who needed to rehome her.  It was because they were moving, they said, their new apartment had weight restrictions.  These were also the people who advertised her as "Free Lab Mix to Good Home".  Their ad did not mention the pit bull part of her breed heritage.  It also did not mention the behavior problems that quickly arose once we took her home.  I do not resent nor judge them for how Sadie came to be with us; she is the one of the best things to happen to me and for that, I will always be grateful to fate for bringing together a family who needed someone like me to help a dog like her.

Sadie was a fearful dog.  She is the most sensitive soul I have ever met, canine, human or otherwise.  Sadie feels deeply.  She is intense.  She is also the most loving creature.  She is more than just one of my beloved pets. She is my heart dog and she is the driving force behind the person I have come to be.  And she wouldn't have been any of those things without also being a pit bull type dog.

From the moment I first saw the fear in Sadie's eyes, I knew we were meant to be.  I saw this dog who didn't know how to deal with the big, scary world and behind that fear, I saw an intense need to love and be loved.  Ask any pit bull owner and they will tell you the same thing : pit bulls love love.  They exist to please and to receive affection.  Her fear is not a typical pit bull characteristic, especially because it was people who scared her most.  But it is one characteristic that speaks to her as an individual; she was a product of her early life experiences, her breed heritage and her individual genetics.  And if there's one thing I would like to shout from the mountaintops, it is the wish that we could stop seeing pit bull type dogs as stereotypes and start seeing them as individual dogs with individual strengths & weaknesses. 

It took us years to help Sadie overcome her fears.  It took us months to even begin to get a clue on how to best deal with her challenges.   I am happy to say that she is no longer a fearful dog.  The gal who once would snap at every new person she met now seeks attention from strangers.  I never thought that she would be an ambassador for her breed but with each day, I continue to see a happy, well-adjusted girl who has left her fearful past behind her and I gain confidence in our ability to become a human-dog team who is capable of showing the world how wonderful pit bull type dogs can be.  She even spent her first day in the shop with me last week and was, dare I say, a better shop dog than Hurley!

Sadie changed my life by making me realize how fulfilling working with and for dogs is.  I consider her rehabilitation to be one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.  She inspired me to volunteer at our local Humane Society.  She showed me how dangerous punishment based training methods could be and led me to learn more about dog behavior and to embrace positive training methods.  She also showed me that it's not just about treats or clickers but about forming that relationship with your dog where a simple look or quiet no can achieve more than any jerk of the leash ever could.  And through all that, I started to become the person I am today - a proud pet professional whose mission is to give back, to foster a community of responsible dog owners and to share my knowledge and experiences to help others who may be going through similar challenges with their dogs.  One of the other greatest accomplishments of my life has been opening my business - and without Sadie, I don't know if that dream would ever have dared to be dreamed.

I am not alone.  I am surrounded by a community of pet bloggers who are inspired by the dogs who have made an impact on their lives.   I think by the time you get so dog-gone dog crazy that you become a pet blogger, you are already well into the realm of being a responsible pet owner but in the real world, it's often the pit bull owners that are the best, the most responsible, the ones who "get" canine behavior.  Pit Bull Awareness Day, to me, is not just about celebrating the dogs but also about shining the light on responsible Pit Bull owners.  I am one of them and we are the majority. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Three Ways to Enjoy a Frozen Treat

In our house, there are 3 ways to enjoy a nice, stuffed, frozen Kong or bone.

There is the butt in the air approach.

Or you can always enjoy your treat in style and comfort.

And lastly, the classic, take-it-to-the-privacy-of-the-backyard approach.

How do your dogs enjoy their special treats?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hurley, Puppy Protector Extraordinaire

As all truly great Hurley stories go, it happened on a trip to the dog park with the Hubster.

Hurley encounters a 10lb Shiba Inu puppy soon after arriving at our favorite dog park.  Hurley loves him some 10lb puppy but the dog's person initially freaks out, telling the Hubster that Hurley's too big and that he will hurt her.  Though we know that one of Hurley's best qualities is how gentle he is with small dogs and puppies, the Hubster calls Hurley to walk on, understanding that not everyone wants to play with a 90lb dog.  Hurley disobeys (because he loves him some small breed puppies) and after witnessing his gentle play bows, the Shiba's mom starts to relax.

Good thing she does because soon after, an altercation at the dog park breaks out.  Now, when fights happen at the dog park, Hurley's M.O. is to run and hide, usually behind our legs. He gets as far away from the fighting and as close to safety (us) as he possibly can.  This is another one of his best qualities.

But not today.  Today he crouches over his new-found friend.  He growls each time one of the dogs involved in the altercation gets too close.  He protects her.  The dog who normally gets as far away from confrontations as possible stays in the middle of a fight to protect his tiny new friend. 

So we now have a new nickname for our lil hero, Hurley the Puppy Protector. 

This week, instead of focusing on the Really, Hurley? moments (and he did have a couple doozies this week), I'm going to bask in the glow of Hurley's moment of heroism.  He's one helluva dog!

This dog = awesome!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday This n That

I've got small tidbits of thoughts today but no real post.  And since it's been a while since my last post, I thought it way past time to post something.  Hence, Friday This n That.  Hopefully my half-baked brain will return to normal status next week and you'll get some actual full posts out of me.

Dog Shaming

Without a doubt, Hurley could own the dogshaming tumblr.  Not only do I have loads of historical trouble but he continues to provide me with new material.  And for the record, I do think the site is sometimes hysterical and most times harmless.  Laughing at the antics of my dogs is something I do on a daily basis and it's vital to keeping my sanity.

But here's the issue:  Hurley is incapable of feeling shame.  Hurley Badger Don't Care.  So I have yet to do the whole dog shaming thing because I find it disingenuous to post a picture of him looking guilty as that would be totally false to who he is.  Dude couldn't even find it in him to be just a little bit ashamed when he busted out of a window screen (we weren't home and this bad mom forgot to check to make sure the window was closed) and ran next door to steal an ice cream cone from our 4 year old next door neighbor.  I'm sure he made her cry.  I'm sure he didn't care.  Luckily, we have amazing neighbors who laughed it off and put him in the backyard until we got home.  Now, this could go down as the best dog shaming yet.  Unfortunately, Hurley Badger Don't Care and shame's not his game.

What are your thoughts on the dog shaming site?  Hilarious? Harmless?  A sign that our society is doomed?

Shop Dog Hurley

It's been about 3 weeks since Hurley started coming back to the store with me.  Though we've had a few bad days, he is doing amazing!  He's graduated from staying in a kennel in the storage room to being in a kennel at the back of the shop.  I really thought he would struggle with being able to see dogs enter but not being able to greet them/warn them off (depending on his mood).  But he proved my worries groundless and, other than a bit of whining, he has been amazing with just observing the dogs in the store, seeing them get treats and attention from me and having NO ISSUE with it.  Of course, I liberally award treats and praise when another dog is in the store and I have also asked all customers to keep their dogs out of the aisle in front of his kennel so he has plenty of space.   The first week back, I definitely pushed him too far too fast and we had a bad day as a result.  So now I am taking extra, extra time with each step.  

Maggie Reactivity Progress!

Maggie made a huge leap in her leash reactivity last week.  I was walking her and Hurley, which tends to magnify any reactivity but she walked on the opposite side of the street as another dog without a reaction beyond raised hair.  Woot!  I was so so proud of her progress.  A lot of it was due to keeping Hurley distracted with the following blog tidbit:

Watch Me Replaces Leave It as Sarah's Mostest Favorite Command

Though Leave It has long enjoyed mostest favorite command status due to its versatility and its ability to help me help my dogs control their reactivity, my new favorite is Watch Me.  It's all due to Hurley.  He is a Watch Me Pro.  We are quickly turning Watch Me into his fail-safe command - that one which can get his attention no matter what.  I see him getting excited about seeing another dog on a walk and about to bark?  Watch Me!  His head turns to me ninja fast.  N-I-N-J-A fast.  Seriouslys.  He whips it around and he'll even run full speed towards me if he's not right by my side when I say it.  This has helped us tremendously both at the store seeing other dogs and on walks with his sisters.  He's so reliable about it that I can ask him for a Watch Me, tell the other dog to Leave It and we can walk by a dog-in-yard scenario with no one going craisins.  I'm super proud of him and am doing everything I can to continue to reinforce the command.  I wish I could take video of how quickly he whips his head around but it's most impressive when there are distractions around and that's exactly not the scenario where I'm going to waste any time whipping out a camera or phone.  

Them's the half-baked tidbits floating around in my brain today.  And your Married with Dawgs update for the week, jam-packed into one post.  I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The BEST News

Quincy is going to be OK!!!

As of my last update on yesterday's post, everyone was fairly certain that Q had the big C-word.  He was transferred to the cancer specialists he had previously seen for testing but all the prelim tests at his normal vet pointed in that direction.  We were all deeply saddened and terrified at the potential outcome.

But it turns out that Q has an enlarged spleen and pancreas but no signs of cancer on either.  He should bounce back with medication and care but may have to have his spleen removed at a later date. 

He is now at home with his Dad.

We couldn't be more relieved!  Thanks to everyone for your well wishes, kind words, healing thoughts & prayers.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Worst Case Scenario

Three or four weeks ago, one of our very good friends was in town for a quick visit.  Among the topics of discussion was an experience she had the previous week while dog sitting.  To make a long story short, her friend was out of town, the dog suffered a catastrophic injury, my friend was unable to reach her friend (who was out of the country) and had to make the terrible decision to put the dog to sleep.  Worst nightmare, right?

This was right before we embarked on our 3 week dog sitting adventure with Quincy, whose Dad was taking a trip overseas.  After hearing this story, there was much crossing of fingers and knocking on wood. While we are always more than happy to take care of our friends' pets, the worry of medical emergencies was foremost in our mind when Q's dad dropped him off.  Quincy's an old guy.  Happy, cancer-free (he lost one of his hind legs to cancer several years back) and other than being old, is in good health and great spirits.  But three weeks is a long time with a great dog who is undoubtedly in his twilight years.

Fast forward to last Sunday.  Q has been with us for 2 weeks at this point and while he's chilling out & warming up to my dogs, he is exhausted that particular morning.  He won't get up.  I think this is probably somewhat normal old 3-legged dog behavior who's spent the last 2 weeks moving around a lot more than normal in order to boss my trio around.  But I'm terrified when he turns up his nose at his kibble.  Q is nothing if not enthusiastic about food, especially for an old guy.  I help him outside to relieve himself, encourage him to drink a bit of water and pull out one of my many getting a dog to eat tricks: Honest Kitchen.  He eagerly laps it up, while still laying on his bed.  Kibble is still a no go until I figure out that eating from my hand makes it so much yummier and pretty soon he's finished his breakfast.  By mid-afternoon, Quincy was back to his normal self if hopping around with just a little less energy.  But he's himself enough to lick the side of the Monkey Bread we break out for dessert at our BBQ that evening.  In fact, he beat Hurley to licking/stealing any food.  Quincy's OK and I sigh with relief.

Until Wednesday morning.  When I get out of bed, Quincy's not moving.  He won't eat.  No kibble.  No canned.  No Honest Kitchen. No eating from my hands.  I help him outside.  No doing his business.  I help him back to his bed & officially start freaking the f*** out.

My only comfort is that Q's dad will be back the next day so I let him know that Q isn't feeling well and ask to schedule his pickup.  Crap!  I totally got his return date wrong and he won't be back until Saturday.  This is not good.

At this point, I'm trying to balance that tendency-to-overreact o' mine with an over abundance of caution.  It's so difficult to make decisions or even help a friend make their decisions remotely.  I don't know how much of this is Quincy being super worn out in a bit of pain versus seriously ill and I have no history with him to guide me.

I stop home mid-afternoon to check up on him.  He hasn't touched the food, won't get up and now he's got a goopey eye.  Triple f***!!! I had spent the entire morning telling myself he was going to be fine. Going to be his normal self when I checked on him. He wasn't.

Quincy's dad and I decided to go ahead and make an appointment for today. Q's only slurping liquids this morning but there's a lot of nutrition I can pack in a slurpy mess: chicken broth, greek yogurt, pumpkin, and more Honest Kitchen.  So long as it's slurpy and not solid, he'll at least eat a little of it.  And as he has done since his dad dropped him off, his tail is still wagging every time I talk to him.  It can't be that bad, right? 

Please keep Quincy in your thoughts today and maybe do some finger-crossing for us, K?  I'm super worried about this guy. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Lesson in Tolerance

This is Quincy.  Here's what you need to know about him:  12ish years young tripod Chessie.  Yes, he's adorable - in that stinky breath'd old geezer sort of way.  He's pretty much a breeze to dog sit except for a teensy issue:  he doesn't share well.  And we're dog sitting him for 3 weeks.

M-O-M, why doesn't he want to play with me?
Unfortunately for Hurley, Quincy mostly hates sharing Mom's attention with him.  See, Q spent the first week at our house doing everything in his power to not allow my dogs to receive any of my attention.  Laying in doorways to prevent them from entering?  Check.  Body blocking them from getting closer?  Check.  Bared teeth?  Check.  Snapping?  Check.  Having to spend lots of time separated from us due to his behavior?  Check.

Fortunately for Quincy, my three are being exceedingly respectful.  Maggie's told him what's what a few times but has been more tolerant than I would have ever expected.  For her to ignore a dog who is snarling in her general direction is huge progress!  Sadie plays the peacemaker, continuously trying to make friends with Q.  She can't comprehend why he doesn't want one of her famous tongue baths.  Hurley ignores him, whining and pouting about his sad lot in life.  Q enforces a strict no-fun policy in his presence - no wrestling, no chasing, no fetch, no toys, no fun. 

Quincy's starting to chill out halfway through his stay with us.  He's much better with the girls but still struggles to allow Hurley close to me.  Hurley gives Q the widest possible berth.  He won't look at him, won't play with the girls when Q's around, squeezes himself as close to the wall and as far away from Q as possible, has given up his regular spot at my feet and, due to all of the above, has been perfecting his pouty face.

Why doesn't he like me, M-O-M??

Poor Hurley, right?  Actually, I'm glad he's having this experience.  The girls let him get away with murder.  Seriously, he continues to murder my tomato plants!  Why don't they stop him?? sidetracked.

Hurley's learning a lot of things by being around Q.   Tolerance.  Patience.  Respecting one's elders.  Letting bossy dogs be bossy without getting all upset about it.  All good life lessons. 

Even if he won't stop giving me this look.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Am I The Only Dog Parent Who...

Am I the only dog parent who expects a higher understanding of action/consequence than is possible from her dogs? One who totally understands they're probably not going to get what I'm trying to lay out for them but doesn't care?

Let me set the scene.

I had chopped up some zucchini from my garden-with-a-squash-problem and realized, though I do love me some beer battered fried zucchini, that 2 whole large zucchinis' worth was probably a bit too much for me and the Hubster.

So I chop 'em up further for an impromptu, let's practice 3-dogs-taking-turns-with-commands training session.  I zucchini'd each of them for sitting in turn.  Then I zucchini'd Sadie for a high five (Hurley & Maggie also offered one up).  Then Hurley (got another high five offered from Sadie & Maggie - 3 dog training is going so well).  By the time it was Maggie's turn, she was pretty excited and her high five knocked half of the zucchini from my hand.

Hurley & Maggie hoovered the floor.  Sadie just maintained her sit & looked at me for permission (I had been telling the two who weren't supposed to be high five'ing to stay).  That's my girl!  So I slowly fed her every remaining zucchini in my hand as Hurley and Maggie watched. She got about twice as many the other two stole from the floor.  I actually said to them "Look at Sadie getting all the rest of the treats because she's good."  I did not add "neener, neener, neener" and for that I am proud. 

Am I the only dog parent who does this?   While it was powerful for Sadie as she was amply rewarded for her behavior, Maggie & Hurley were also rewarded by the food they scarfed up.  Probably more rewarded than they felt punished by not getting the rest of the zucchini.  I mean, it is only zucchini after all.  I don't think Hurley even drooled over it.

Am I the only pet parent who does this?  In the moment, my sole (and snarky) purpose to teach Maggie & Hurley a lesson but it was Sadie who got the most out of it (unintentionally).

I really hope they learned their lesson. Seriously.

And this girl?

She's Awesome!

Friday, August 17, 2012

He's Ba-a-ck!

While we've had some good times poking fun at the Hurley Badger over the summer, it has and continues to be my goal to get him back into shop dog shape.

Classic Hurley in the shop montage starts now!
Quite frankly, he was probably ready a month or two ago...right at the time the Hubster was starting his 6 weeks off during the summer (he's in education, anyone who's married to an educator knows the vacation jealousy that's suffered by spouses all over...sigh).  Anywho, the choice was to start Hurley back in the shop and relegate him to his kennel for most of the day to control his introductions and interactions with each entering dog; or I could, and did, leave him home for the summer to continue their male bonding and so that he could enjoy kennel-free days with the Hubster around the house. 

The boys had a great summer but it's back to work time...for both of them.

Big head on a little body!

Hurley started back at the shop today!

The plan is to go slow and have lots of patience.  I can't expect him to magically not react to every dog who comes in.  But what I can do is set him up for success.

Sweet puppy Hurley

It starts with spending the day in the kennel at the shop.  He's still kenneled when at home alone so this is not a huge change for him in terms of how he spends his day.  I've got the kennel just at the edge of my storage room so that I'll be able to click & treat calm behavior every time a dog enters the store.  We'll stay at this level until I feel that he's demonstrated not getting bothered over hearing/smelling a dog in his territory.

Can I haz treat?

Then we'll graduate to public kenneling, ie his kennel being out on the shop floor and not back in the storage room.  I anticipate this being a really hard step for him and plan on requiring customers to keep their dogs in the front half of the shop while his kennel is set up at the back so as to give him tons of space.  As he gets more comfortable and less excited by the dogs in the shop, we'll move him forward or allow them closer.  During this time, I will allow him to interact with the dogs he already knows and loves.  Slowly and surely, I'll let him out of his kennel to say hello as he demonstrates he's ready for that next step.

Fluffer nutter - also, can you believe Hurley was ever small enough to fit in a basket???

After that, he'll progress to being tethered to me or an area of the store floor where he's less likely to react. Hanging out with me behind the counter, performing any training not related to his acceptance of dogs and free rein of the shop are big no-no's for now.  I'll only use the clicker and treats in relation to the use of the crate and to reward calm behavior around other dogs.  No more training fun tricks during the day for us.  Maybe I'll be able to lift that rule in the future but for now, I want Hurley to be crystal clear that in the store, him accepting other dogs in his territory is the only way he can earn food.

Christmas decorating is boring business

Over the summer, Hurley's had multiple trips to the dog park, attended dog walks & street fairs and spent 4 days at our favorite boarding facility, which is more doggie camp than kennel.  He spent those days romping in fields with other dogs and got an A from the folks there when he left.  He still is influenced by his sisters' reactivity but is getting better.  I've noticed since we boarded him that there is much less joining in the barking at the window.  We've started using the Leave It command at home when the dogs get all riled up about a dog or person who walks by our house and this seems to especially hit home with Hurley.  I would call him a rock star Leave It'er at this point.  He listens to me 95% of the time when I tell him Leave It (his current obstacle is the hundreds of crab apples falling on the sidewalk from a neighbor's tree).  All in all, his canine interactions outside of the shop continue to be stellar.  The issues he had are steadily improving - while he will react to another dog who started reacting first, he and I are both getting better at seeing those dogs coming and ignoring them. All in all, he's demonstrated that he's ready to be given a second chance at shop dog.

My personal favorite: Dog in a box

I've missed that dog in a box.  I'm so glad he's back!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Great Pool Experiment

One of the things I was most looking forward to on our recent vacation was introducing the dogs to the pool.   I had predicted that Sadie would be the first in, last out and would fully embrace the pool with little hesitation.  I predicted that Maggie would struggle with the pool at first and not want to go in, but that her desire to fetch her ball would trump any uncertainty and she would gladly jump in.  I had no idea what to think about Hurley.  Would he show his Hurley Badger Don't Care personality and not let the deeper water bother him?  Or would he refuse to go in at all costs?

Here's how they did.

I love Sadie.  She's my sweet, wants to please type of girl.  Smart, she is not.  She loved the pool.  She just couldn't figure out how to get in or out by herself.  It started with the Hubster "helping" her in.  And by helping, he pretty much picked up and tossed.  She loved it!

Round in circles she swam.  We soon realized that she had no idea how to get out of the pool.  Thankfully, Maggie was there to show her the way.

Then she couldn't figure out how to get back in.  Round the pool she ran.  Bark, whine, crazy Sadie sounds?  Check.  Then she came up next to me, put her front paws in and looked back at me with an expression that definitely was asking "Please?"  I obliged and pushed her in with a laugh.  And for Sadie, that is apparently how to get into the pool.  Ask Mom or Dad for a little help. We tried and tried to encourage her to get in on her own but she was having none of it.  So pushed into the pool she was for the rest of the day.

Maggie was pretty predictable.  All it took was a ball.  She did take a little bit of time to warm up to the whole jumping in thing but quickly embraced the dive.

And Hurley?

Hurley Badger Don't Swim.  The Hubster was able to get ahold of him once to toss him in and after that, forgettaboutit.  He kept his distance from both of us (c'mon Hurley!  Mom didn't do anything except take pictures!) and would have nothing to do with it.

For the record, I would not advocate tossing your dogs into a pool to introduce them to it.  We knew Sadie's love of water and Maggie's love of ball would set us up for success with the pool so the tossing was mostly for our amusement. Hurley was never meant to be a swimmer - getting him in the pool that one time showed me that if he ever falls in somewhere, he can figure out how to swim and that was my only goal with the pool and Hurley.   

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vacationing with the Dawgs

Last week, the Hubster and I celebrated our anniversary with an Anniversi-cation (n. a vacation occurring around/on one's anniversary).  We rented a cabin on the Southern Oregon Coast and spent a few days exploring the beautiful coast line and the Redwoods.  It was a perfect few days away from Portland.  And we brought the dogs.

You may think I'm craisins for taking my rambunctious trio on a vacation including an 8-hour road trip. There were moments when I agreed with you.

But overall, we had a great trip with few issues.  Here are the keys to taking a wild pack o' dogs on vacation:

1.  Plan a stop to tire them out shortly into the roadtrip.  Don't stress it when the dogs are terribly behaved at the first stop.  Even if it elicits this expression from the Hubster.

This photo cracks me up.  And he only half-meant that expression.

Our dogs know that when we all pile into the car, they are about to have the time of their lives.  I'm happy to say that Maggie & Sadie seem to be calming down a bit in terms of their excitability.  Sadie actually sat and paid attention to me before I took her harness off and let her run free on the beach.  Hurley was a jerk an overly rambunctious teenage dog and developed an awesome new habit of barking out of control upon exiting the Jeep just for this road trip.  

In every picture I took, Hurley is at the back of the pack.  You are all welcome to make fun of the slow poke who can't keep up with his middle aged sisters.  He deserves it.

But that's OK - we won't ever see the 30 or so people on the beach who witnessed our dogs completely melting down on the walk to and from the parking lot.  Ever.  That's a good thing.  But our mission was accomplished and they were calmer the rest of the drive.

2.  Bring something to calm your dogs down while in the car.  Hurley does not like long car rides. Actually, I think he would be perfectly OK if he could sit in my lap the entire way but that's not gonna happen.  So I brought along an herbal calming remedy to help with the constant whining and drooling.  I also made him a little bed on top of our suitcase so he could be more at our level and able to rest his head in between our seats.  All in all, he did a fantastic job tolerating the long car ride.  Sadie & Maggie are great in the car and don't need any extra help chilling out.  Though Sadie does has this magical ability to get her seat belt attachment to her harness and a leash entwined about a bazillion times.  It's quite impressive.

3.  Rent an uber dog-friendly place.  If we had been hoteling it, we would never have considered taking all 3 of them.  The potty breaks, the worrying that they would bark and disturb neighbors?  No thank you!  Instead, we rented a dog-friendly cabin with a large fenced yard.  The dogs loved an extra large yard to romp in and had fun exploring the cabin.  We took 2 kennels to keep them in during the day when we took excursions that not all 3 went on.

4.  Give yourself a break and don't try and take the entire pack everywhere.  We decided before we left that our day trips would include only one dog.  Though there was lengthy debate on whether or not Hurley could be trusted not to bust out his kennel and destroy the cabin, ultimately we decided that it was Maggie & Sadie's turn to have some special time with us.  Sadie accompanied us on our trip to tour the Redwoods.

While Sadie enjoyed her day trip with us, I'm pretty sure she missed her sister.  Either that or she was bored with being in the car most the day. 

The next day we took Maggie on a short hike, some fetch at a Secret Beach (actual name of the place) and a tour of the highlights of the Oregon Coast right where we were staying. 

I don't think she missed either Sadie or Hurley - fetch is apparently more fun without all the tackling.

5.  Bring Vacation Bullies, Chews and Bones.  Besides just being a nice treat to make vacation even more enjoyable, these can be instrumental in calming your dogs down when you leave them in the car to take a picture at that gorgeous viewpoint (our dogs are barkers when we leave the car) or to give them right before you leave them in their kennels at a new place.  Hurley is the one most likely to freak out about being left in a new place and the special treats really helped distract him when we left him at the cabin.

6. Vacation is for breaking routines & rules.  Since we don't allow dogs on the couches at home, I immediately allowed them this luxury at the cabin.  It is vacation after all and that means some special rule breaking.

Hurley loved the new rule until he realized that it meant being our foot rest. 

7.  Take at least one picture of the 3 of them sitting nicely.  It surprisingly took us one try to get this picture.  And Hurley popped up the second the shutter snapped.  But they did it!  All three of them stopped romping for one second and humored the Mama. 

8.  Appreciate the ways in which vacation challenges you and your dogs.  We definitely learned where we need to pick it up in terms of training.  Hurley & Sadie need more practice exiting the vehicle calmly and all three need a Settle Down type command to remind them to keep calm during exciting adventures.  Our biggest challenge is their behavior as a pack - individually, they are awesome - but when Hurley's egging on the other two to get excited and not pay attention to us, it gets challenging. 

Hurley had to literally be put to bed like a baby by the Hubster on the first night.  We put them in the kennels at night so that they would be accustomed to being in them at the cabin when we had to leave them behind during the day.  This very much disturbed Hurley who cried and cried.  The Hubster had to tuck him in and sit by his kennel until he fell asleep the first night.  Dude is such a baby! 

One of the things I took away from this, our first real vacation with the dogs, is that they do not understand vacation.  The second day, when we took them to a beach close to the cabin, they were all remarkably calm in the car.  We realized they thought we were going home.  When we did get in the car to go home, they were all jacked up, thinking our vacation was just going to get even more awesome.  Vacation is confusing to dogs and though ours had a great time, I was sensitive to the ways in which it was also stressful for them.  We don't take awesome road trips encountering beach after beach and stay in a cool cabin with a pool and deer who run along the fence every day.  Maybe we should.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hurley Badger Don't Care: Laundry Basket Bed Demise

Our dogs have a funny habit:  preferring to nap in our laundry baskets rather than the nice, comfy beds we have for them.

I'm sure it's something 'bout being in our bedroom vs their bedroom, our scent being comforting and sometimes, warm laundry comfort.

It's been cute.  Up until the Hurley Badger started adopting this habit.

Unfortunately, Hurley Badger Don't Care that he's too big for a laundry basket.

RIP Laundry Basket.  We enjoyed you while you lasted but will be sticking to the plastic varieties from here on out.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Strut Your Mutt Walk

This September, Hurley and I will be walking in Best Friends Animal Society's nationwide Strut Your Mutt Walk.  We love Best Friends and all that they do to help homeless pets!  We also love our local rescues and have joined Born Again Pit Bull Rescue's team to raise moola for them specifically.

There are a bazillion reasons why supporting local animal rescue is important to me.  But there is one big reason why this walk, this rescue and walking with Hurley means so much.

When Hurley came into our home, boy did he add joy!  With him in our life, I will never go one day without bursting into laughter.  He's taught me so much about having a pack of dogs, training, and patience.  I've accomplished more with training him than I ever thought I was capable of and I'm still learning every day.  In short, he has been an amazing addition to our family and I am thankful for every day that I get to spend with him.

But when we added the third dog to our family, it took a very important spot in our house - the one for foster dogs, specifically Pit Bull type fosters.  As much as I would love to have continued fostering and adding dogs, there is only so much square footage in our little home and we are at capacity. 

Those who are new to the blog may not know this, but the whole reason I started blogging was to document my foster pups.  To have a place where they could be celebrated and as they went into their forever homes, a place where I could reminisce.  As any blogger knows, blogging becomes so much more than your initial reasons for starting up.  This blog has become mostly the Hurley Song & Dance Show (what can I say, he's quite the character) but I will never forget the reason why I started.  For the Love of Foster Dogs.

So while I can't foster right now, I can help out in other ways.  And one of those ways is to support and raise funds for two rescues who do a lot both locally and nationally to save pit bull type dogs.

If you are able, Hurley and I would love your support.  No amount is too small (nor too big for that matter!).  You can donate at (we're under NoPo Paws - I'm joining both blog and store together on this rare occasion to help me reach my goal of $500!) or by clicking on the Strut Your Mutt badge on the left side of this blog. 

The Strut Your Mutt walk is on Sept 29th and is coming to many cities around the nation.  If you're unable to help us reach our fundraising goal, joining a team in your neck of the woods is a great way to get involved.

Another way to help is to share this blog post.  We'd love some linky love or shares on Facebook to help us get the word out.

Thanks for all your support!  Hurley says he promises lots of Hurley Badger posts if we meet our goal!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hurley Badger Don't Care: To Mom's Advantage

Most of the times, Hurley's alter-ego Hurley Badger Don't Care means that he's getting into mischief.  Things like busting out of screen windows and destroying dog tents are par for the course around our house.

But there are times when the Hurley Badger's personality can be used to his parents' advantage.

Like with training gear.  Hurley Badger Don't Care about wearing harnesses, halters, packs.  Don't nothing bother Hurley Badger!

Until now, my walking gear of choice has been the Easy Walk Harness.  Back in the day, before I knew anything about training dogs, we tried almost every type of harness & training collar under the sun to get Maggie to walk nicely on a leash.  On that list was the Gentle Leader.  She hated it.  Hated it. HATED IT.  So much so that one day, she just chewed the darn thing up and that was the end of the Gentle Leader.

Then we found the front clip harness and our lives were forever changed.  Both Maggie & Sadie walk so well on it that I'd never considered using a different type of harness with Big Boy Hurley.

That is, until the front clip harness started losing its effectiveness.

We've been working so hard with Hurley walking with one of his sisters.  On his own, he's great on a leash.  Add in one of his siblings and you'd think the Dude had never walked loose leash style before.  It's a little bit jockeying for front position but mostly just trying to get to that thing on the ground that might be yummy before his sister can get to it.  And playing bitey face.  He really loves bitey face walks.  He's so strong nowadays that even with the Easy Walk, he can easily drag me down the sidewalk in his quest to reach a pine cone before Maggie. 

We are taking a vacation with all 3 dogs next week so getting them to walk nicely together is paramount to us enjoying our vacation and the dogs getting to explore places with us rather than being stuck in kennels at the rental cabin.

Earlier this week, the Hubster asked me to bring home the Gentle Leader head halter.  Recalling Maggie's hatred of this tool, I was a little skeptical that it would work for the Hurley Monster.  But when the Hubster asks and asks to use training gear that I have no strong objections to, I leap to obey. 

Home came the Gentle Leader.  Out came the clicker.  My only goal the first time was to get him to accept a loose loop around his snout for 5-10 seconds.  That's acceptable progress for the first time a head halter goes on a dog and many dogs take much longer to accept it.  (Maggie's hatred of it definitely stems from our lack of knowledge when she was a puppy and forcing the halter on her too quickly.)

2 minutes into it, Hurley was sitting nicely with the halter hanging loosely around his snout.  5 minutes into it, it was tightened and secured around the back of his neck.  8 minutes in, I left it on for 30 seconds and he didn't tried to get it off.

10 minutes after starting to introduce the halter to him, we went on a walk around our block.

Gentle Leader success!

Is it because Mom knows her stuff now?  Or is because Hurley Badger don't care 'bout no harness around his snout?

I'm going with the latter.

PS.  The Hubster was right about the Gentle Leader working for Hurley.  So far, he's amazing on walks.  Granted, it's only been 2 walks and the real test comes tomorrow morning when we add one of the girls to the walk but so far so good.  Enjoy being right, baby!  'Cause you know how often that happens. ;)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cutest Things: Sadie's Snout

My dogs are pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.  But sometimes they do things that are just the cutest and I have to share.

I love Sadie's snout.  It is the perfect length for bestowing kisses.

I think your snout is delicious too, Sadie!
Sadie does the cutest thing.  As I bend down to give her a kiss, she gently raises and extends her snout at perfect kissing height. Sometimes, she sneaks me a kiss after I've given her a smooch.  Sometimes, she just lifts her snout a little higher as if to say "one more, Mom?". 

It's the cutest thing.