Reflection of Positivity

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

With all of the emotional challenges I have faced recently, I have to keep focusing on the positives. I focus on how much good I do, and I also face the grim truth: We can’t save them all. But, the ones we are able to save will live on with better lives. I have to think positively.

So, this week’s blog is about my successes this year with my business and personal gains. At the beginning of the year, I had set goals.  Goals I had to accomplish in order to make a huge life change. To take a leap of faith, to make the jump. It all comes down to that decision.

My biggest goal was to get my certification. I have been talking to the owner of K9 Lifeline for quite some time (starting over a year ago) about taking her certification course. At the time, it was around $3,000 and 2 weeks long. Well, that means I needed the money, and I also needed 10 days of PTO. It takes a full month for me to earn 1 day. So, that was 10 months of absolutely no sick days, no vacations, and no ½ days for my own personal sanity. I started saving up my time last year around November. I had a few days saved, so if I didn’t take a day off for Christmas or any other holiday, or get sick, or have an emergency, I could take the course in July.

I had the time, but the Difficult Dog Workshop was in June, and I JUST HAD to go. Which cost me 3 days. That’s 3 more months of no sick days or vacation. I can do it, I know I can. That means I can take my certification in October, and to play it safe, let’s plan on November.

Then, I found out the eTouch Workshop was coming in October with another very reputable trainer. Ok, that’s another 2 days. Which means I’m looking at Dec/Jan. Ah man… at this rate, I’ll never get it. And I’ll never take a vacation!

Then I heard from another trainer that the course is a little cheaper, and is only 6 days, instead of 10, but I get the same amount of material. WHAT?!  Really?! I can take it now! So, the plan is in motion, and I hope to get my certification at the end of August! YAY!

Pack Walk 6/28/13

Pack Walk 6/28/13 (Click to enlarge)

I have also started doing my pack walks. This wasn’t a requirement, but it is a success, and I’m proud I have been able to organize this event. Every time I do them, they get a little easier, I gain a little more confidence, and more people show up for them!

I am now offering a nutritional workshop (hopefully twice a year) because so many clients have been interested in what is the best dog food or I’m interested in raw, I’m just feeding chicken, is that ok? I want to educate and help people do what is right for their dog. Wow, another big event, planned. Hook. Line. Sinker.

I have attended a few nutritional workshops, watched online seminars, increased my training network and made some awesome friends as well. I have read so many books, it sometimes feels I’m reading the same things over and over again. But, if I attend a seminar, read a book, or meet with new people at a workshop, and I learn ONE new thing, it was completely worth it. If I learn a lot, that knowledge is invaluable because I will build on that and learn more new things and become an even better trainer.

I have been asked to help during my trainer friend’s Saturday Socials, and I feel I am becoming more and more confident each week.  This was huge for me, because eventually, I want to run these. I have run a small social in my backyard with 11 dogs (specifically picked out who would be able to come) and I was pretty confident (but so nervous too!). I am more confident and assertive when I am by myself because I sometimes feel I am such a baby in this field, so when I am around someone with more experience, I tend to freeze up a little or my heart starts pounding. I have only been ‘on my own’ training for 2 years. I worked at Petsmart and did simple sit/stay training with my dogs in high school, but not like this.  I will someday be as awesome as these trainers. I can do it, and I am well on my way!

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

I have started boarding in my own home. This was a scary move, but overall, I really enjoy it. The dogs are kept safe, get plenty of attention and stimulation and are in a loving environment. And I get to experience what handling more dogs feels like in a safe way. I try to only board dogs I know for this reason. Sometimes, I board dogs I haven’t met before, and it can go either way. I had a crazy dog I boarded in the beginning that was a disaster, but right now, I’m boarding 2 that I had never before. Both are sweethearts, and I’m happy to have them! I get to practice some of my own techniques, I get to practice reading dogs I don’t know, and I get to practice walking multiple dogs at the same time. Sometimes this is a huge challenge because I’ll be walking 4 dogs at once, and only one knows how to walk on a leash nicely. So, we take an hour to go around the block. But that’s just it – I get to practice!

I have actually started making money, and even though I won’t show a profit this year (which is actually a good thing for taxes, of course), I will next year. This year, I attended 2 workshops (so far, and plan to attend another) and my certification course, which weren’t cheap. So, I made money, and then spent it all on workshops.

I have plans in the making to get a better ‘dog car’ as mine is really taking a beating with all the dogs coming and going in it. This may not happen next year, but the year after. In the meantime, I need to find a way to keep my seats intact! Even Napoleon’s kennel won’t fit in my backseat.

We have plans about our location for when I get more serious about doing this. Either having a facility on my own lot, or leasing/purchasing a facility in the future. This is WAY in the future, just a dream right now, but it’s something.

The biggest success, if you can call it that, would be the decision the family and I had to make about their dog, Ryder. You can follow his whole story here. He was a very special Merle Great Dane who had an unpredictable streak. He could be loving on you and playing, and then turn and bite someone. Unfortunately, these are some of the hardest dogs to work with because you can’t find a trigger. We thought it was men, hats, uniforms, etc – but, he wouldn’t go after the same person twice, or the same hat, and if you switched the hat with another person, he would be fine. 95% of the time, he was manageable and just needed training. The other 5% of the time, he was unpredictable and could seriously hurt someone. He was hard to adopt out, and we didn’t find the right home. So, we made the decision to euthanize him. We didn’t come to this decision lightly and it was months of talking about options. I won’t get into everything again, but this was the right thing. I cried pretty much the whole week, I was emotionally exhausted, I didn’t want to talk about it anymore, I wanted a miracle to show up on my doorstep and be the perfect place for him, or I wanted Best Friends to take him. Neither happened. But now, I am at peace with this decision and I am still sad of the outcome – it won’t ever be a ‘happy ending’. But, I know he is running free and will be happy now, without having to worry about anything. I had to make this decision and it has made me a better trainer. This was a turning point in my career. I’m sad it had to be him, but I’m happy he is free and healthy now.

Most of all, I can’t ‘count’ how much I have learned this year, but I have really taken an initiative on learning as much as I can, and sacrificing so much to do this. I have also learned so much about myself, and I feel more complete because of what I have accomplished.  I don’t have the constant stress feeling of ‘Am I doing this right?’ or ‘I’m going to fail, what if I fail?’ feelings. If I fail, I get up and try again. If I get bit or kicked in the teeth, I put a band-aid on and try again. I won’t let other trainers, dogs, people, or my mistakes stop me from continuing on. I will learn from them and be a better trainer for them. I’m happy to take constructive criticism and coaching, but please – no need to be an asshat about it. I want to learn, and I can admit I don’t know everything.

I work in the dog industry, a bite is bound to happen. Not that I want it to, but just like working in construction, it’s inevitable. It’s not if, it’s when.

I’m happy, and I see an end to these 100 hour workweeks. I see a light, and I’m excited to see what happens. Scared, but excited.

I can do this.

Hiking Adventures

My husband was informed that a very close friend was coming into town, and would only be here for a few days. We found this out on Thursday, so we planned to do something with them while they were in town.  Well, I’m still getting over strep throat, so no matter what I did, I would have to deal with the coughing from an irritated throat.

Napoleon is soaking wet, tired, and happy after playing in the water

Napoleon is soaking wet, tired, and happy after playing in the water

Anyway, we decided to go on a hike Sunday morning, and take Napoleon with us. He loved it! And it was a great opportunity to practice off leash work around distractions. A new place, new smells, possibly other dogs, and other people… and especially water – he loves water.

Now, just like when you are hiking by yourself, you take things like band-aids, extra water, snacks, etc. Well, I did the same for my dog. I brought treats, extra water, and a doggie first aid kit. This included tweezers, hydrogen peroxide, animal bandages, Neosporin, and frankincense essential oils (never leave home without it!). I also brought a washcloth. This has many uses – cleaning something off, wiping him down after the walk, or getting it wet and using it to cool him off in case of overheating.

I was taking preventative measures for heatstroke as it was, but never hurts to be prepared. I put a drop of peppermint in his water, and on the bottom of his feet, and on the tips of his ears. We took frequent breaks for water and to rest, and I monitored his breathing the whole time. No heatstroke, he did great!

Anyway, back to the hike. We staflowerrted in the parking lot, and I let him off leash. He, as we have worked on, stayed by my side as we started walking. Perfect! So, I gave him the command to go up ahead of us a bit. He was never beyond 20 feet ahead, and kept checking on the rest of us. Awesome! When I noticed lots of twisty turns, or places where I couldn’t see ahead, I called him back and put him behind me (‘Get behind me’ command). He did, and complied perfectly. I also used this command when I saw people or other off-leash dogs. I put him behind me, put him in a sit, and blocked off the new dog so he couldn’t get to Napoleon.

All those encounters went well until we met a dog who didn’t do well with other dogs, and he was being awfully pushy to get to Napoleon. I pushed him back and then gave Napoleon the ‘Get Back’ command to go to the back of our ‘human pack’. We had 5 people total, so he went to the back and waited. Yay! Perfect obedience! We handled the other dog, and the other person apologized and said they didn’t realize there were people/dogs up ahead or she would have leashed him.  Yes, she should have been more aware, but it was all good. No fights, I handled it with my mad skills, and we were fine. Continuing on…

We got to a part where you had to climb up some rocks and there was no room for Napoleon and I to walk side by side, so I sent him up ahead to go first through the rocks. I was a little worried he might slip, so I wanted to be behind him to catch him if I needed to. He did slip a bit, but he was able to catch himself and all was just dandy.

waterfallWe made it to the waterfall, and I released him so he could play. He went after sticks, played in the water, though he was unsure about the waterfall. It was loud and the current was pretty strong right around it.  I threw some sticks for him, and he wanted to get THE BIG STICK, of course! He was getting frustrated with not being able to get the big one, so I called him off and we went to find something that he could get… like a smaller stick!

We stopped for rest, snacks, water, and watched my husband climb up a big, steep dirt hill to sit on a big rock at the top. Napoleon realized he couldn’t see my husband, and spotted him on the top of the rock. He looked at me and I released him to go uphill and meet him. He struggled up the hill, as it was really steep. He made it and sat triumphantly at the top! Then came bounding right down again. I was nervous, as he looked like he was either going to face plant, or run right into a big rock. Nah, he just jumped over it, like super dog! Way to go, buddy!

Napoleon in the waterfallOn our way back, we were all tired. Napoleon wasn’t running up ahead anymore, and needed to stop more for water breaks. It seemed easier on the way back, but since we were tired, it was just as challenging. I had to really watch Napoleon, as he slipped when the path was narrow. So, he stayed next to me on my left as much as possible, and we slowed down a bit.

Finally we made it back and he earned a few more treats (to keep the energy up), and a little more water. He crashed on the way home and slept the whole way.

Today was the day I noticed how old my boy is… he laid down on his bed when we got home and was out cold. When he tried to get up, he was really struggling. I know I was sore, I can imagine he was too. He had trouble getting up, sitting down, and going up/down our stairs. So, today, he gets plenty of kennel time and rest time, and I have decided to put him on Pentosan for his joints. The doctor is coming on Saturday.

It was overall a really fun day, but heartbreaking to see my boy isn’t as young as he used to be. I’m hoping to see positive results from the Pentosan.

Off-Leash Excursion

Sorry for the late post, this was from last week… Been busy with boarding, classes, and extra training hours…

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As you know, Napoleon has been enrolled in a boot camp for the last few weeks. We have been putting him through some more strenuous training with distractions and teaching him more impulse control, along with psychological exercises throughout the day.

On Wednesday, we had a successful training session, that lasted about an hour long. Didn’t mean for it to be that long, but my neighbor decided to walk with me, and we ended up at the park, so we trained there – with distractions, of course.

Napoleon and meThe walk started on leash, and Napoleon has to be in a loose-leash heel position. I am very relaxed on this particular command-he can be a little ahead of me, as long as he isn’t pulling or lunging out in front of me. He is not allowed to sniff, mark, say hello, or pull on the leash, however. He was doing fabulous, with minor corrections.

My neighbor (he’s 12), was on a bike, and riding around us in on the sidewalk and the street. He was in front sometimes, beside Napoleon, in the street, or behind us. I used him as a distraction and worked on Stays (sitting, standing, laying down) while I went about 20 feet in front of him with a long lead. He did great! He’s so used to this now, that he didn’t even try to get up at all. Great!

We see small children, a cat, and someone on a skateboard who was being pulled by his pit bull. *Gulp!* Napoleon has a thing about this last scenario and usually ends up lunging, barking, and whining, trying to get to the person on the skateboard.  This time, he was anxious, lip flicking, and the hair on his hackles raised up, but he was still in a Stay position. Improvement, but we still have to work to do around this situation. He did wonderful around all other distractions.

Now, to the park. I took off the leash, let him relieve himself, and sniff around a bit, and then got his attention back to me. We practiced getting on the play equipment, and having him in a Stay while I ran around, and children were playing all around him. Some kids even played with him – all the while, he was in a stay. Good boy! I called him down, and he came right to me, sat in front of me, and then I put him back in a heel position. We walked around, and I taught him how to go down the slides. He was too big, so he ended up just jumping down the whole thing, silly boy!

Now, on the way back, we ran into more kids, cars, scooters, another off-leash dog, and a cat. He was awesome, and off-leash the entire time. I put him in a stay, and walked about a block down the street, while a dog across the street (off leash) was barking at him. He stayed perfectly. Eventually, we made it back home, and his reward – dinner and then time to rest.

I wanted to count out successes today:

-Great stays
-Successful polite leash-walking
-Successful  off-leash heeling
-Never strayed from me the whole time he was off leash
-Wonderful distraction and impulse work
-Calm demeanor for almost the entire training session (except for the skateboard)

I can’t wait to see how he does on our next training session when we go out again for training! So proud of all the work he’s put in. He still has his moments, but overall, he is making progress, and it’s been mostly uphill.  What training have you done with your dog lately?

Success Story

Since I haven’t posted in over a week, I wanted to start out with a few random thoughts of the day. First of all, I was looking at my all time top search phrase, and the number 1 top search phrase was ‘sexwoman’. 40 views were made from this phrase. The next top phrase was ‘gay marriage’ with 8 views. Wow… I didn’t know I sexualized my blog so much, but yay for me, I guess!

Secondly, I just passed 2,000 views on my blog. Again, yay me! I started my blog in February, and haven’t tried to boost my traffic at all. This is an informative blog that I have shared with my facebook account, and to gain support in my journey with my new business and my mental illness. I’m quite proud to say I think I have helped people realize what is going on in my head, and helped them understand a bit more about being bipolar.

IMG_1636Thirdly, I have a success story to share. Napoleon and I have been working on long-distance stays and distraction/impulse control training. We have implemented a lot more ‘rest time’ into his schedule, and done 30 minutes of vigorous training in one session, and then plenty of down time afterwards. I have noticed such a difference, that sometimes I think I have a whole new dog!

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Napoleon had an opportunity to train around A LOT of distractions. I had my family come over, and they normally love to give him attention. We practiced a long-distance down-stay while I was in the kitchen making lunch, as my 3year old niece was running around playing and screaming. We were also babysitting a puppy, and my dad had the puppy on a leash so she wouldn’t get away and run around the house. So, my dog had to down-stay while I was making food ( a HUGE challenge for him is impulse control around food), a loud child, a puppy, and having new people in the house.

What was our result?! SUCCESS!! He stayed in a down for about 15 minutes around all the distractions. I then broke his stay with a recall, and then put him closer to the distractions and tried again. The puppy got away from my dad and wanted to play with Napoleon. He got up after about 5 minutes of abuse from this mouthy poodle/pointer mix. Then, I put him back in a stay in the hallway for about 10 minutes and then kenneled him so he could learn everything we practiced. He did AWESOME! I was so proud! This was a huge milestone for him. Usually, when there are people around, food, and the excitement levels are high, he really struggles, and my anxiety levels sky rocket. When I’m anxious, it is not the time to train. He really helped me that day because he was completely awesome the entire time.

Productive Weekend

PupsWell, even though I didn’t get a lot of down time this weekend, I had a blast! I hired my friend’s son to come out and help with some yard work, had some adult drinks, and had plenty of puppy play time on Saturday and Sunday!

Raven

Friday, after I came home from training, I got all caught up on paperwork, brushed the kitties, and then headed to bed early. I had an early start the next day. Even though there was no social class on Saturday, I had a ton of yard work to do. Winter cleanup always hits me hard, and I just can’t seem to catch up. So, I hired a teenager to come do the dirty work. My friend brought her 2 furkids over to play with Napoleon, and we ended up helping and digging out a dead pine tree out of my yard. We were fabulous!

PlaydateWe worked for four and a ½ hours, and ended the day getting about 75% of the yard done, a nice sunburn, and some tired pooches. I was really happy to make a new friend, and get to know her and her son a little better. We’ll have to have a BBQ or go up to the creek to have the dogs play a bit sometime. It was really fun.

On Sunday, they came back to help me finish the yard, and have our furkids play again. I had another friend come over with her Newfie puppy and it was like a small dog park in my yard for about an hour. Well, as I have mentioned previously, I have a problem with my dog mounting. Saturday, we pretty much took care of the problem, but Sunday – he started mounting the puppy in full force.

NapoleonBeau

I try to catch this before it happens, but sometimes, he is pretty quick. I can catch it about 80-90% of the time before he actually does the mount. When he does successfully jump on the other dog, I have tried saying his name sternly/loudly to get his attention, spray bottle/vinegar to the face, pet convincer, pulling him off and then tethering him for ‘calm down’ time, tethering him to me, and completely separating him from the other dog (having him kenneled or put somewhere else – out of eyesight. I have started kneeing him hard in the chest when I catch up right before he mounts. All of these things sometimes work, but are not 100% reliable. If he is really adrenalized, he stares at me and does it anyway. I don’t feel this is a leadership issue, as we don’t have any of the other problems with challenging, pulling on the leash, not listening, jumping, etc. He is a high energy, over-adrenalized dog. I can put all of this problems into that one category, and I have enlisted the help of another trainer on this problem, as what I know isn’t working. We start an obedience course that will also cover this problem on Saturday.

Playdate2I think my last option to handle this behavior is an eCollar. We have tried everything else, and this is one behavior I have yet to be able to curb. So, we’ll be working on this in full force. I will be purchasing a Tri Tronic bark collar  soon.  I will need to speak to my local trainer about which one is right for my needs with Napoleon, but I’m excited to try a new approach with him. I will need to learn more about the eCollar in the meantime. As soon as I take my Certification program from K9 Lifeline, I will be Certified in eTouch (using eCollars and the like). I don’t feel comfortable teaching this to clients until then. I want to make sure I know what I’m talking about before I go and introduce a new tool.

Anyway, we finished up the lawn, had a great weekend with some puppies, and at the end of the day on Sunday, I finished it off by watching some Scrubs. My second favorite show. My first favorite is Grey’s Anatomy.

How did you spend your weekend?Chaco

Doggy-Sitting with a Pittie

PittienapoleonThis last week we had the opportunity to watch my friend’s dog. A sweet pit bull named (for the sake of protection, we’ll call him ‘Pittie’). He was a love, but there were some adjustments that needed to be made. He wasn’t used to our house rules, so we quickly did a bit of ‘house training’. No, not potty training, but actual HOUSE RULE training. He caught on, and we were patient with him.

However, first night was a little rough. Pittie was anxious and needed some time by himself before we could let him out of the kennel. Spray bottle, verbal corrections, or ignoring him didn’t really work. Ok, let’s put those training skills to work! Blanket over the crate? Check. Essential oils? Check. Did they help? YES! After putting some lavender on him, it only took him about 5 minutes to settle down in his crate and go back to sleep.

Still anxious the rest of the night and the next day however (he was lip licking, pacing, whining, eyes darting around). So, again, he was ignored until he calmed down. Finally found a spot on the comfy carpet that felt nice, and curled up quietly. Then and only then, he got attention. He’s a love! Kisses and snuggles! It just took some time to realize he’s not home, and things are a little different.  After the first original day, he settled in, and was just completely wonderful!

Pittie3Napoleon and Pittie had some things to figure out, however. Napoleon is still learning his doggie manners when he is around other dogs, and as I have said before: he is over-adrenalized. He kept getting in Pittie’s face. Luckily, Pittie is a good ‘teacher’, and Napoleon is learning what is acceptable and what is not.  Pittie is very dominant, and Napoleon is not. So, after he realized Pittie was going to correct him on everything, he just submitted. This took about a day to work everything out.

Now, as for Pittie and the cats: Pittie was showing signs of over-interest in the cats on the first introduction. Cats were not so sure about this new dog. I wrapped Mia in a towel first, and then had Pittie sniff her in the towel. She eventually had enough, hissed, swiped, and then ran away. Pretty much same thing happened with Max. Whatever, that’s fine, they’ll come around, right?  After that, Pittie was very fixated on my cats. So, we did small introductions throughout every day, with Pittie tethered to the banister, and had the cats eat about 6 feet away. Max ate, Mia didn’t. So, I put Mia behind a wall, so she still knew Pittie was there, but couldn’t see him. She ate. Each meal got a little closer. Pittie was put in the cat’s room so he could sniff everything, and the kitties were put in his crate to smell him. Every day, small introductions. Finally, on Monday, the cats were brave enough to approach Pittie.

PittieThe approach was fine, and even though they didn’t sniff, they walked away peacefully. However, we started to trust Pittie a little more, and when he was around the cats, we weren’t tethering him anymore. He seemed interested, but still able to respond to commands. But when we were far enough away, he started chasing them, and they ran up the blinds , basically near the ceiling. That was enough to scare both my husband, and my cats. That was it – no more introductions for kitties and Pittie. However, it was a comfort to know the kitties were fine eventually with a new dog, since we are planning on fostering. He was just way to adrenalized. So, kitties stayed upstairs, and the dogs stayed downstairs. No biggie.

Now, Napoleon and Pittie have been fine together for the most part.  Until a bone was introduced. Well, Pittie found it. I got another bone for Napoleon, and set them up on either side of the room, just in case one had a fit or something. We have had Pittie for a few days at this point, and everything was going fine, so I just let them be. I was working on my computer, and I notice Pittie get up and walk over to Napoleon while he’s chewing on it. Napoleon gets up, and tries to walk away with the bone. Pittie didn’t like that. He air snapped and Napoleon. Normally, he would have just submitted and given Pittie the bone. I think at this point, he had had enough of the corrections from Pittie. Napoleon snapped back, and it turned into a fight. I broke it up fairly quickly, and the fight lasted about 3 seconds total. They were separated then so they could calm down-both were pretty adrenalized after that. Once they stopped licking themselves, and stopped panting, I checked them both out to make sure there wasn’t any damage. Pittie was fine, and Napoleon walked away with a cut in his ear. More blood, than actual damage. He’ll be fine. After they were both calmed down, and the adrenaline had subsided, I introduced them again. Napoleon submitted immediately. We went on a ‘pack walk’ later that evening, and no issues at all.

Pittie2So, I was able to get some experience with a very dominant dog, introducing resident cats to a new dog,  pit bull experience, and re-introducing some dogs after a dog fight. I wish the dog fight didn’t happen, but it was good to get some experience. Afterwards, Pittie realized what I say is law and we didn’t have any more problems after that.

 

 

 

Thinking about the fight, I think there were a few factors that contributed:

-Food/resource.
Pittie being dominant
Pittie being in a new environment, and possibly having some stress
-Napoleon having enough of Pittie’s dominance
-I wasn’t watching closely enough

Good experience overall for me. I’m so happy I was able to experience this, and I hope I’ll be able to doggie sit him again!