RIP Coba

Merry Christmas. The holidays are sometimes hard for people. I don’t normally get depressed around the holidays. This year, I did. I failed. I did everything I could. I caught up by writing back logs for this year, but I didn’t write about this. A confidence crusher. A mistake.

Project K9 Heather Rose CobaI got a call from a guy who got my number from a friend of a guy who adopted a dog from me a few months previously. Yeah, I know. Complicated. Anyway, he called me to surrender a puppy to me. A little black and white pitbull puppy. I took him in and realized shortly after I began training this kid that there were serious problems. He would seem perfectly fine, playing with other dogs, and then would escalate and try to latch on and attack the other dog he was playing with. If you gave him any sort of correction, he would redirect on you. That’s not all though. Even when I kept him calm and below his threshold, he couldn’t handle pressure from the leash, so no way was I going to use spatial pressure on this dog. He was responsive to the whip… when he wasn’t redirecting on it and trying to attack it. Same with the pet convincer. This guy was 3 months old when I got him.

Those are the more serious behaviors. He didn’t have a name, so I gave him one. Coba. Like the steps of Coba in Mexico. I had gone to Cancun earlier in the year, and the ruins of Coba resonated with me. I named him Coba because I wanted to climb to the top with this dog and find him a good home. I tried. I really did. He also had some minor behaviors as well. Like jumping, barking at you for attention, pulling on the leash, barking in the kennel, destroying crates, and a super fun one: eating other dogs’ shit. And then throwing it up and eating it again. Nice, huh?

So, I started him on the strict boot camp, working with him 3-5x a day on socialization, obedience, leash work, calm state of mind, tie back training, place, perception modification, pressure/release, ecollar, halti work (he tried to eat me), prong collar work, treadmill (again, tried to eat me), etc. He would be totally 100% doing wonderful, and then a feeling would change. No warning signs, just a feeling. And he would go after another dog, a toy, or a person. Aggression: Wanting to cause harm. He wanted this. He went from happy go lucky/calm state of mind to snarling, biting, snapping, and baring teeth. I kept at it, working with him, being patient, and waiting until we got to a better state of mind before finishing the session.

A lot of the smaller issues had been improving immensely, and I was hopeful I could get this kid into a home. But I had doubts. For one thing, placing dogs with any MINOR issues can be harder. Let’s add the fact he’s a pitbull on top of that. Oh yeah, and he sometimes tries to bite dogs and people. So.. I was hesitant to place him in a home with other dogs or kids. We’re in Utah. Good luck with that. Oh, I also needed to find someone who was willing to continue bringing him to socials and who would continue doing training. Probably for a long time. Someone who could understand treats and love could not help this kid. He needed much more than that.  Anyway, I was advertising him, but I was thinking about other options. I had to make a decision… I normally adopt fosters out a few days to a month after  they are surrendered to me. This guy, I had for 11 weeks..I needed to do something. Training wasn’t making a difference. He didn’t have a home to go to, I was spending my time working with a dog who wasn’t showing any progress. In the time I worked with him, I could have saved 2-3 other fosters. I’m thinking of all these things, as I continue to stall to make a decision.

Project K9 Heather Rose CobaThe final straw was when I was working on a ‘place’ command with him. This is a ‘get on your bed’ equivalent, where you control the space, and teach the dog to calm down without moving from a particular place. This is a psychological exercise. Anyway, he was doing great and laying calmly on the bed. I was ready to release him, so I walked over calmly and kneeled down to give him some calm affection. He had soft, loose body language, and I pet him on the chin and the side of his face. He seemed to be doing well, so I reached down to get the leash and he lunged at me, snapped at my face. I stepped on the leash at the last second, and prevented him from biting my face. He kept snapping and lunging at me, while snarling and baring teeth. I can’t correct at this point, so I just waited him out by applying pressure on the leash while I was standing on it. Eventually, he stopped, and was panting. Worn out from trying to attack me. I waited until I was calm to put him back in the crate. End on a … decent.. note, I guess.

Later, I let dogs out of the kennels like I always do for potty time. I had been working with him for 11 weeks at this point. Never in that time had he ever gone after a smaller dog. Usually it was when they were playing and it got too rough. This day, he grabbed my chihuahua and shook him. I yelled at him, grabbed him, and he let go. But there was no warning before that incident occurred.

I made the call. I decided I could not rehome this dog. I couldn’t surrender him to a shelter or a rescue and be honest with them. They would just put him down. And if that was the case, I would just do it myself. So I made the call. I made the appointment. He was to be put down the day after Christmas. I was on the fence about the decision for so, so long. I know this sometimes happens, but this doesn’t make it any easier.

It was not this dog’s fault. I felt there was something going on in this guy’s head. A mental issue. I don’t believe he deserved to be killed, but in the training world, we see it as a kindness. He wasn’t physically sick, but mentally, his brain had something wrong with it. It never gets easier. Coba was around 6 months when I sent him to the land of eternal dreams. I felt I killed a puppy. But now, I think I saved him.

The feeling of loss, and then the feeling of release. Like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Then guilt, because I feel better. And then I feel worse because I’m thinking about my feelings, and not mourning the loss of this puppy. I hate this feeling. It hurts. I’m starting to get used to hurt. Seems it’s a recurring theme in my life.

I hope you are healthy now.

RIP Coba. June 2014-Dec 2014

RIP Mamma 2006-2015 (click here for her memorial)

Project K9 Heather Rose Mamma Coba

Rest in peace, Coba and Mamma

 

Added a small dog to our PK9 pack!

project_k9_chihuahuas_our_packMarshall was a dog I trained a few months ago, around June/July. I fell in love with this little guy when he was here. He was PERFECT when he went home. Originally, his issues included marking, humping, barking, running away, and pottying in the house randomly. Basically, I just needed to work on leadership issues with him, E-collar, and some potty training. This guy was golden when he went home. During the go home, I mentioned if for any reason they couldn’t keep him anymore, to let me know. There was something about this pup.

Anyway, about a week ago, I receive a call from the owners saying they want to surrender Marshall to me because they are moving. I tell them to let me think on it for a couple days before I make a decision. I end up saying yes, and that if he ends up not being a good fit (I doubted it), that I could adopt him out. He doesn’t really have any issues, so he would be easy to place if I needed to.

project_k9_chihuahuas_pitbullsHe’s younger, but has a very good, even temperament and delivers perfect corrections. He is controlled, and very dominant. I like that, and I loved what he did to my pack. There was a bit more play than normal in the beginning whilst they were figuring things out. Now, he is the most dominant dog in my pack, and keeps everyone in line. He rocks at energy control.

I wasn’t planning on expanding my pack so quickly after getting Mamma, but hey-it happens, right? And he’s little, does he really count as a whole dog? Ok, maybe I’m in denial. *wink* He really does add a good balance, and I use him quite regularly with puppies and dogs who are rude. Not your average, run of the mill chihuahua here. He’s a stud, and quite the calm little guy. He doesn’t bark at the doorbell, or when he does, I tell him to hush and he’s usually done. He responds to corrections easily, keeps the pack in order, and really does contribute quite a bit.

Welcome to the family, kid!

project_k9_utah_dog_training_chihuahua_pack

 

One Day at a Time

Emotions. Why do we even have them? What’s the point? They just create unstable, unbalanced feelings that we act on, and then make decisions based on what we are feeling in that moment. Had a good day? Great, reward yourself with a high calorie, sweet treat from the ice cream store. Because that just makes things even better. Feeling depressed? To the bottle, yay! Feeling frustrated? Start a fight in a bar! Overwhelmed? Just throw your arms up and give up on life. Feeling sad? Mope and watch sappy, stupid movies while eating chocolate and drinking wine.. Alone.

Alright, maybe not everyone does those exact things, but I’m just saying we act on them. So, because when I’m overwhelmed, and possibly turning my entire life around AGAIN (yeah, I know. Sounds like me, right?), I take on a foster dog. I really like this kid, and if he fits in well in a month or so, he may just join my pack. I don’t know yet though. So far, he’s shown quite a bit of improvement in just a couple days. I’m on a roller coaster, and I can’t get off. So many things, so many situations, so many decisions. I can handle it, I can’t handle it. I’ll be ok, I’m going to puke. I think I’m almost off, then we start to go up again. And I wait for the fall. When does this end?! Overwhelmed, frustrated.

End of My Leash great Danes Aggressive

Haven and Tank (Boarding School clients)

I also just had a de ja vu experience with a great dane (yeah, another one. This has nothing to do with the breed, I promise) who reminded me a lot of Ryder’s situation. Her name is Haven. She is a beautiful black dane who is unpredictable around dogs, people, and sometimes food. When the owners were talking to me about her, I had a sinking feeling that reminded me of Ryder. It’s been almost a year since I put him to sleep. This new dog had similar traits that sent up red flags and made me take a step back. I observed, I did an evaluation on her, and still had a feeling about her. During the eval, she gave me absolutely no reason to feel like I couldn’t handle her. She was responsive, sensitive, and showed zero aggression towards me or the other dogs. I asked for advice from more experienced trainers, and I was told to let the past go, learn from it, and give her a shot. Try her out for a week. I still had a feeling about this, but it was only because of what the family was telling me. Feelings of … caution.

Anyway, I took her as a Boarding School client, and we started training. Two weeks (out of the four weeks she is supposed to be here) go by without an incident, and she is responding to training beautifully. One day, as I was letting the dogs out, our streak was broken. Over the course of two days, she went after four different dogs. The only warning I had was a feeling I had before letting her out of the kennel. No real warning signs that I could see. It isn’t like I haven’t handled ‘aggression’ before, but this is different. I wasn’t comfortable. And I was emotionally attached, and saw Ryder, not Haven. I called my trainer friend and explained the situation and said I couldn’t work with her – she was too much dog for me. I cannot begin to explain how guilty I felt. Thoughts of failure, guilt, sadness, loss, and how I had let down Ryder flooded me. I was again overwhelmed with a sense of complete failure. I couldn’t help this dog. I have been told time and time again I cannot save them all. It sucks when this happens, but it does happen. I know that, but it doesn’t suck any less, and I’m too fucking sensitive for my own good. So, feeling of heartbreak.

Project K9 Pitbull Foster Dogs

This is Rocko

Last time, I chose to continue working with Ryder, even though he was quite a bit of dog for me then. This time, I asked the owners to pick her up, and referred to another trainer. I handled it the best I could for the situation. It’s messy, and I feel like again – I couldn’t help. What if I had been training for 40 years, or if I was the best? Feelings of doubt.

So, now I’m here. Thinking about all of it again. Overanalyzing. Learning. Advancing. Yes, I have high standards, and for some reason, I feel like emotions make us weak.

So, I’m choosing another emotion. Numb. Let’s try that one for a while.

The Cesar Millan Experience

Exciting news! I had a very rare, unexpected opportunity to attend one of the Training Cesar’s Way workshops this year. I had a strict budget for workshops this year, and my mentor asked me if I could swing this one. How could I not?!Heather Hamilton Cesar Millan Project K9

I went with my mentor, Heather Beck from K9 Lifeline, and my friend Bethany Tracy from Wasatch Canine Camp. I was so excited, I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was going to train under the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan! I wonder what he would be like in person!

I had no idea what to expect. When we got there for the arrival dinner, there was a crew asking for interviews. Basically, just asking about we expected from the workshop. I had no idea, but I know I wanted to learn how to be a more stable, calm and assertive pack leader. No matter how long you have been training, you can always learn something new.  My super duper end goal is to handle any dog, and work with any issue. For now, I want to be able to walk a big pack, as well as to feel like a strong pack leader working with or without dogs.

Cesar Millan Project K9 Wasatch Canine Camp Dog Psychology CenterIt was a very small group, and we had a chance to talk before we headed to bed that night. I met some interesting people. Some of the ladies were even from out of the country. Germany and The Netherlands!! Everyone had different experience levels, and came from different backgrounds. Veterinarians, rescue folks, trainers (positive only, and some balanced trainers, all with different levels of experience), and even some people who were just there to learn more about handling their own dogs!

Finally, the day has come! We drive to the Dog Psychology Center to meet Cesar and learn some brand new, amazing material. We pull up and it’s better than I could have imagined! It is 42 acres of peaceful, serene land that Cesar has transformed into a zen-like dog park where dogs can be rehabilitated, and owners can learn to be all they can be for their dogs. It’s all about balance, and achieving harmony. He thought of everything, and is still expanding the center.

Heather Hamilton Cesar Millan Project K9 pack WalkWe started our day with a pack walk with Cesar! As we were walking, I realized, he was just a normal guy, who wants to help people with their dogs. His energy was so calm, inviting, and almost helped you be a calm assertive pack leader. He made you feel safe without any judgment. He gave each person a turn over the course of the week to walk his pack. By watching others handle the pack, you could see the energy of each person change the energy of the pack. You could see if that person was tense, scared, or not confident within the first few seconds of handling the pack. Not being judgmental at all, Cesar pointed this out, and helped each person achieve balance while walking. It was a powerful thing to watch each person overcome their own personal struggles and get a little closer to becoming that strong leader.

Cesar Millan Project K9 Dog Psychology Center Serene

Serene waterfall at the DPC

Every day, after our pack walk, we went into a tent to listen to Cesar lecture and teach us about his principles and theories. Almost all of it were concepts I have heard before, but didn’t quite GET until now. I had the building blocks set before I came, and this workshop was the mortar to build something great. Each new concept he discussed built upon the last. We had hands on experience working with each section, and had plenty of time to ask any questions we wanted. Cesar spent as much time as necessary to explain it in a way where the person asking could understand and explain it back to him to make sure he understood. I learned so much by just listening to other’s questions. Since everyone had different experience levels, some of the questions were coming from an ‘owner’ point of view, instead of a ‘dog professional’ point of view. However, they were not bad questions. It was really interesting to hear how everyone interpreted what Cesar was saying in their own way. Seeing these people grow, and the light switch coming on was rewarding in itself.

I’m the type of person who loves to see other people succeed, change, and grow into something spectacular. There was a lot of that going on in this workshop. I was watching a few people in particular, because I saw some of my own challenges in them. Everyone has roadblocks preventing them from moving forward or growing. Some of them were pretty obvious, and some were so big, you felt it yourself when they started to get close to the top of climbing that wall. Heather Beck is one of Cesar’s top trainers, as well as the owner of K9 Lifeline, and he said it best: You aren’t trying to fix anyone. You just want to plant the seed. I used to be that person – She planted a seed in me, and I have grown into a better trainer. I will always be a seedling, but I’m a little taller than I was last year. These people will also be a little taller next year.

Cesar Millan Project K9 Sheep HerdingOne of my favorite events of the whole workshop was sheep herding. There were many different types of breeds of dogs here. I don’t know much about sheep herding, so I was excited to learn the rules, what you are trying to accomplish, what to look for, how prey drive comes into play, etc. There were german shepherds, shih tzus, pitbulls, labs, dobermans, pointers, shiba inus, etc. We all knew the German Shepherds would do great. The main sheep herder man was hesitant to let a pitbull in with his sheep, but Cesar insisted. Blake, a nervous pittie came in, not sure what to think of everything at first. The sheep herding trainer got her prey drive up and got her excited, and once she learned what to do, she ROCKED IT! She was the best of the whole group! It was amazing to see this nervous, shy girl come out of her shell and absolutely KILL IT when she was herding. It really made me want to do some herding with Jinx to see if we could get her drive going. Honestly, I would love to do it just for fun, but I don’t know what the herding instructors would think if I brought a pittie in to herd! Bah, she’d do awesome!

On the last day of the workshop, right before we all left to go to graduation, I had a question. A question that I was itching to ask the whole workshop. It had to do with Holly and Cesar’s Worst Bite, along with the experience I had with Ryder. My question felt complicated, and it took a minute to ask what I wanted to ask. I couldn’t leave this workshop without asking him. I would regret it. After I formed the question I was trying to ask, it finally came out as “How do you know when enough is enough? How do you know when it is the right move to let them go?” He said back to me “Well, look at Holly. She is a part of my pack now. She isn’t rehabilitated, but she’s better, and I can feed her, and my trainers can feed her. But she cannot be in a home with children. If she were to stay there, she would be dead. She’s happy here.”Not all of us have dog psychology centers”, I said. “We can’t all be Cesar Millan right off the bat, and we can’t rescue everyone. How do you know?” And he said “I wouldn’t know because I have never euthanized a dog because of aggression. It’s a hard thing.”

Cesar Millan Graduation Certification project K9I didn’t know it at the time, but I was looking for closure. I was looking for someone to tell me it was ok. I was looking for HIM to tell me it was ok. He wasn’t intentionally not giving me that closure, but he couldn’t. He is a humble, honest person, but he is good at what he does. My decision was right for this situation. Still doesn’t make it go away, and I’m still working at completely getting past it. I was able to give the family closure and peace in knowing this was right. That was what they wanted. They wanted permission to let go. Who gives me permission to let go? When do I feel that peace? Why do I hold on to this so much, that it feels like it is holding me back? What is it that I need to do to move on? To feel the closure I feel I deserve?

One of the MONUMENTAL things that started to make more sense while I was here was being a pack leader. What this means, and how to implement it. It’s not about the dog. Ever. It’s about the handler. Are they anxious, nervous, angry, heavy-handed? How do they act in their day to day activities? How do they handle stress? To be a calm-assertive pack leader, you have to balance out your entire life and learn to live in the moment and handle things calmly. If you get emotional, or over think things, you ruin that moment, and you are not being a strong leader. All of it starts here. Not with the dog. Once you can master the calm energy in yourself, you can handle a pack of 30 dogs no problem. This was a gigantic moment for me, as I was just starting to comprehend this concept, but this workshop made it so much clearer.

Cesar Millan Graduation project K9At graduation dinner, we took pictures with Cesar, said our goodbyes to all our new friends, danced, drank, ate, and had a great time. It was a wonderful week, full of new memories, new material to study and learn, and an experience of a lifetime. I am so happy I had this opportunity to hang out with Cesar for a week and learn from him. It was truly one of the highlights of my life. He is a normal person, who loves to hang out, loves food, loves dogs, and loves to help people understand how to build a better relationship with their dog. Now, I can also help people build better relationships as well with everything I learned.

I hope someday I can come back and see the expansions he will make on his new center. It is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to, and I won’t forget the feelings I felt there, or the things I learned. Such a life changing experience.

Cesar Millan Project K9

Cesar, giving us the tour of his center

 

Miracle of Life

My friend, Bethany Tracy from Wasatch Canine Camp, and WCC’s Berners invited me to experience something incredible. It was a very cool day, but a night full of waiting. Yep, I got to see a puppy brought into this world. It truly was something I will remember forever.C-Section on Luna, Wasatch Canine Camp, WCC Berners

I was just at home, hanging out with some friends, while training some dogs around distractions. I get a text from my friend saying that her dog, Luna, might be having her puppy (yeah, singleton puppy) tonight. I immediately said I would be right over and sent my friends home, and packed up some overnight essentials to head over. Of course, this just included kit-kats, graham crackers, and m&m’s. I’m serious about overnight essentials. 😉

What was truly amazing was that this particular bitch was bred around 2 months ago, and 2 ultrasounds later said no puppies. Pregnancy didn’t take. So, we were not expecting a litter at this time. About a week ago, Beth saw something moving in Luna’s abdomen while she was laying on her back. It was either something out of Alien, or this dog was indeed pregnant. She took her in for an xray, and sure enough – she was pregnant with one puppy!

C-Section on Luna, Wasatch Canine Camp, WCC Berners

This little life is brought into the world!

Anyway, I head over to her house, and we camp out, waiting for Luna to go into labor. We were seeing signs of her starting to get ready, but still no puppy. Around 1:30, she was starting to get awfully uncomfortable, but again – still no puppy. Heavy panting, eyes darting, wanting to snuggle constantly, and couldn’t get comfortable. We were looking for our her to ‘nest’ in her birthing pool (where she would shred the sheets and blankets in there) or at least a contraction. Nothing. We fall in and out of sleep, as the sound of Luna’s panting waking us from time to time. She didn’t sleep either.

She had an appointment to get a c-section at 9:00 in the morning. We were really hoping for a naturally born puppy, but that doesn’t always work out. Beth said that normally, she would just wait for the puppies to be born, but with singleton puppies, you have to be careful not to put too much stress on them. So, I went home, let my dogs outside to potty, fed them breakfast, and then we headed to the vet.

C-Section on Luna, Wasatch Canine Camp, WCC BernersWe were really hoping there may have been more puppies in there, that we just couldn’t see in the xray. We impatiently wait in the waiting room to get Luna prepped and ready for her procedure. We see many dogs come and go, and finally she is ready. We get to watch the c-section, and see this puppy be born!

We go back into the room where she is under anesthesia already, and the vet makes the first cut into her abdomen. It happened so fast! First, Luna was on the table, and they were asking us if we were ready. Then,  A PUPPY! A little boy was born into the world.

They got him out of his sac, and then the vet tech cleaned out his throat and nose, and there he was. A healthy little boy weighing 1.2lbs. He was so small, and cute, and just figuring out how to breathe.C-Section on Luna, Wasatch Canine Camp, WCC Berners

I was able to hold him the whole way home. Luna was a little nervous at first, but figured out he was her puppy soon enough. He figured out how to nurse, and she figured out how to clean him. One of Beth’s other dogs, Sasha also had puppies a long time ago. She was a great helper! It was like she wanted to be a mom all over again. She hovered over the little guy, cleaning him every once in a while, and was very concerned about his well being.

I didn’t get to see a natural birth, but this was just as awesome.  It was so awesome, that I wanted to share it with all of you!

C-Section on Luna, Wasatch Canine Camp, WCC Berners

Welcome to the world, little man! Click me to find out more about me, and see more pictures of me!

I’m Alive!

Sorry I haven’t updated in so long! With building my business, the holidays, and taking some much needed time to myself, I am back in the game.

Heather Hamilton blog Project K9 Dante cropped earsLet’s see.. I already told you about my little puppy, Dante. Well, he’s not so little anymore. I can barely pick him up now. He’s all legs, and reminds me a baby goat! He’s clumsy, but wants to run super fast, so he runs into everything.  After the first month or so with him, we have adjusted and learned more about him. We have learned his good and bad behaviors. He is a little shit in the crate sometimes (was horribly when we first got him), but he’s learning and is getting better every day. He is trained on Halti now, and we go on nice walks around the neighborhood every day. He has experienced seeing cows, goats, donkeys, ducks, etc. We are still working on socialization, so I’m not so concerned with obedience. That’s the easy stuff that can come later. He has already learned absolutely no nipping ever, and the jumping up has gotten 1000x better. He is well on his way to making himself be a wonderful member of society.

Heather Hamilton blog Project K9 DogsJinx is progressing in her training as well. She is super comfortable at home, and is off-leash reliable for the most part. We are working on off-leash reliability around people now. According to Marc Goldberg, ‘eCollar fixes everything. Except for when it doesn’t. But it usually does.’ We are finding this to be true. She loves her eCollar, and she is making improvements. Over New Years, we had my in-laws in town, and we had some changes in her that we haven’t seen before. She has moved a little from avoidance/flight stages to avoidance/fight. Which, is actually progress. Now, I want to move her into avoidance/acceptance. As we knew when we got her, she is a project, but she couldn’t be in a better place. We are giving her the training, understanding, and love she needs to be successful, and get over all her fears.

As for Napoleon, he is getting older. I notice it every day. He’s not anywhere near close to being done with this life, but I do still notice it. He has become quite the helper with all my training dogs. He’s not great at social queues, but he is damn near perfect at house rules, and a great example of walking nicely on and off leash. He has calmed down quite a bit in the last year. I think taking him to clients’ houses and expecting a 1-2 hour ‘place’ command has really helped.

Well, that’s it for my kids. How about my board and train dogs? Well, in the last few months, we have had 3. A shih tzu/schnauzer mix puppy, a chocolate lab, and a boxer. All did wonderfully with their training. The lab and the puppy were both residency programs, but my boxer is here for the full boarding school. She came to us for dog aggression, which turned out to be excitement and adrenaline. We have been working on calming commands, rest, and learning to be calm when she would normally go straight to excitement.  She is doing great, and progressing every day. We received some wonderful pictures of the chocolate lab for Christmas. He was doing a perfect ‘place’ with 15 people, and an excited energy around the house. Wonderful! The little puppy came to us all the way from Oregon, and unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time with this kid. He was super jumpy and sensitive. Didn’t really like being touched or handled too much, but was a champ around other dogs. The family had children, and it wasn’t a good fit, so he was rehomed into a different family. However, they are continuing his training and it sounds like it is working out a little better for the dog.

Heather Hamilton Blog Project K9 Calm Dogs

Please excuse the mess, lol.

I have so many plans for this year, I just need to get the ball rolling and take initiative. This week, I have been working at K9 Lifeline for some extra experience. I have helped run a social with them, did some daycare, kennel tech stuff, and worked with a few tricky dogs. It has been a really good experience for me, and I learned a lot from the staff there. My little Dante found a bigger Dante to play with while we were there. MY Dante made friends with a blind pit/bulldog (I think) mix. His name was George, and I kind of fell in love with him. Unfortunately, I just went from 1 to 3 dogs fairly quickly, and I don’t think we should do another one so soon. Hubby and I discussed fostering him, but I just feel I’m a little busy trying to get my feet on the ground still, so maybe later this year.

Speaking of fostering, I want to foster a pregnant mom this year. I want to do the delivery, and rear the puppies until they are 8 weeks old and ready to go to new homes. That is the biggest project/experience I want this year.  Hubby is like ‘OMG NO!’… but I’m sure I can convince him once our puppy gets a little older. I just attended a ‘Proper Socialization and Natural Rearing of a Litter’ seminar through WCC Bernese Mountain Dogs. Bethany Tracy is one of a kind with the way she raises her puppies. With all of her experience in training and breeding, I take her advice above anyone else’s when it comes to how to raise a litter. That’s why I took this seminar: So I could be ready this year when we foster our mamma and have puppies. I learned so much more about puppy development and behavior. I was exhausted after the seminar! So glad I had this opportunity!

Whew, ok, I think that’s enough for now.

Catching up

Heather Hamilton and Hubby as Fix It Felix and Vaneloope Von SchweetsHalloween came and went, and as most of you know, I love Halloween.  My husband and I dressed up as Fix It Felix and Vanellope von Schweets from Wreck it Ralph. Our costumes were great, I was very happy with the turnout!  My hubs made a GREAT Fix-It Felix, too! Good day filled with chocolate, excess calories, unproductive behavior, and awesome costumes! We had a party at his office, and it was really fun. Haunted House, cotton candy machines, popcorn, candy, costumes, kids, etc. It was really fun.

Heather Hamilton Project K9 Blog Dog Training Pitbulls, JinxWe have had our newest addition for 3 weeks now, and I love her. She is PERFECT once she gets comfortable. She’s super playful, has that pittie spunk, and rocks the ‘place’ command, sit/stays, and we are working on down/stays along with eCollar work. She loves her eCollar and is just doing great. She understands the concepts, responds well when I tap her, and she is just fabulous at come when called. When she gets super excited, it only takes a gentle reminder to calm her down. There is a time and a place for high-energy play, and it is not when we are inside, nor when we are trying to train. We still have some work to, and her biggest issue (people shyness) is coming along nicely, as she meets about 10 new people a week. If I can have people pet her, that’s even better. She warmed up to my family, and they spent some quality time together and fed her peanut butter.  She is also transitioning to a raw diet and is eating a pound of meat some tripe, fish oil, and a raw eggs. She loves tripe! She is a whole different dog than when we brought her home.

Tiny little improvements are still improvements. She doesn’t like crowds, but does great in a pack of dogs. She is starting to approach the front gate when we have people come over, rather than running away down the stairs. No accidents, and she loves her kennel now. She is putting on weight, learning to be respectful, and not to jump on the furniture. She is just doing so well! Again, we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m happy to say she is making improvements. It may be a few months before I am able to use her for work though.

I attended my Force-Free method workshop at K9 Lifeline and watched Marc Goldberg work some dogs using his method. It was great to see, but also refreshing to know I’m on the right track. I’m not perfect, and I’m still learning, but I’m doing it right. I have a ways to go before my body language is crystal clear like his, or before I start working dogs with aggressive tenancies. I’m in no hurry. In fact, after having a few reality checks, and seeing some recent injuries  to some highly qualified, talented trainers, I’m going to take them when I feel ready. I know what to do and how to work them, but I don’t quite have that balanced pack yet, nor the confidence to know how to handle any situation.Heather Hamilton Project K9 Blog Dog Training Pitbulls, Jinx

Napoleon is considered a ‘difficult dog’ because he makes not-so-great decisions when he gets excited. He is a confident, silly, poster-child of a lab: happy go lucky. He is a great demo dog for on and off leash walks, obedience, and using him as a ‘rude example’ because he is a rude dog. Jinx isn’t rude. She has a dominant personality (after she warms up) and will administer corrections if needed. I have seen her correct Napoleon, and a few of our board dogs when they get a little too crazy while playing. She’s the ‘fun police’, however she can have a good time too. She’s calm, but not great with people. Awesome with other dogs, though. I need one more to add to ‘balance’ my pack (though it may be a while) and I’ll know it when I see it. So, we are still looking, but not actively.  If I meet the right one, I’m bringing it home.

We are planning on going on vacation soon (obviously not posting dates on the internet), which is also exciting. We weren’t planning on having one this year, as we are preparing for a change (which I have yet to announce) and financially didn’t know if it was going to happen. I’ll post pictures and post the story after we get back.  It will be nice to leave for a bit and take some time off work.

Anyway, just wanted to give everyone an update of the last week or so’s adventures.