Saturday, December 3, 2016

4 Years with Nova

It is hard to believe we have had Nova for 4 years.  The day I picked her up from the rescue's vet they warned me not to take her home.  She had been living feral, scavenging food behind a tire store for at least six months.  She had two puppies who both died a few weeks before she was trapped, was malnourished, upset and her first interaction with people directly was being trapped then going through surgery.  She was scared and skinny and it was hard to say what kind of dog was under all that scared.  It turns out now, 4 years later, she is actually a really amazing little chihuahua.  She is very smart, cuddly (with me), and she has great dog skills.

Her life isn't exactly the normal that a lot of other dogs experience.  She won't voluntarily let anyone but me touch her, however she will let me hold her for someone else to trim her nails and just a few weeks ago she made it peacefully through a vet exam and a rabies shot.  Nova does things on her schedule, so we try to concentrate on the important stuff and everything else comes with time.  

Most of Nova's day is spent wrestling with Kerrigan, throwing toys in Kerrigan's face and sleeping cuddled up next to her.  Those two are the best of friends, it is hard to imagine how we would have gotten Nova through these four years without Kerri.  Nova is still wary of new things, you should check out our facebook live video from her cake eating this morning.  The cake was new, and the setup was new so as you can see she is pretty unsure what to do.  Eventually she realized the new object is food and she calms down.  Letting her work through things that in return are self rewarding has been a great strategy for helping Nova learn to live in our house.

Most of her day to day life is actually very joyful.  When she is comfortable (which is most of the time) she is a fun, silly dog.  She wakes me up in the morning by bouncing on the bed, play bowing and jumping around.  As I mentioned she throws toys around to play, loves to cuddle and gets very, very excited when she sees her clicker.  Learning clicker tricks has given her a lot of confidence and is one of the things that has really helped us bond.  Giving her some control over her own life, and learning new things through positive reinforcement has been the key to her success.  It has been a long journey and sometimes it took weeks just to get to the next little step, but me and Nova worked together to get her where she is today. 

After our rather chaotic Facebook video this morning I decided to grab an interview with Nova.  She is in a much more comfortable enviroment in this video and the clicker is in my pocket.  I think it captures a little more of the excited and happy essence that is the real Nova I get to see every day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We Are Back

Hello Everybody!

I am here to say we are coming back and sticking around.  Over the last couple of years this blog has fallen a bit to the side.  2017 is the year we come back!  Next week we are going to be celebrating a certain little chihuahuas four year adoption day and that will be our first regular post.  In the meanwhile please, please follow us on our social media Facebook and Instagram!  We are on twitter too but I can't make any promises there.

This blog got a little stale for me for a few reasons.  Mostly because I felt like I wasn't really filling a spot in the dog blogosphere.  I don't blog from my dogs point of view, my dogs are cute but not the Tuna Melts my Heart kind of cute.  For a lot of pet products I am not very advertiser friendly because I vocally feed a home made raw diet, but for hardcore raw people I am useless because I vaccinate my dogs and believe in veterinary science.  

In the end I think this blog can have a voice going forward.  It just might take a little exploring to find that again.  In the meanwhile here is a preview from our holiday card shoot.  The photo is by our good friend @ladylockoff

Thursday, February 25, 2016

We Gave Up on "Dog" Water Bottles

Instead of a long post about me falling way behind with this blog- let's just get back into the swing of things shall we?

If you have been reading for a while you would know we are outdoors people.  Not just casual, stroll at a big park people, but we camp, hike, backpack and generally spend a lot of our time in the wilderness.  Since most of that wilderness is in a desert water is a major consideration.  We have been through many different water packing methods for us and the dogs through our years out west and finally have settled on what works for us: the dogs just drink out of wide mouth Nalgene bottles.  On long hikes we will refill them out of the large water bladder we carry just like our own Nalgene.  For a long time we carried the Gulpy.  It is a fine piece of gear and for daily walks I do really like it.  The problem with the Gulpy is similar to every other method we have tried, that once you squeeze the water in the bowl portion it is there forever.  You have to squeeze out enough for the dog to lap up then you end up pouring out more water than your dog drank.  Let me tell you that on an overnight backpacking trip in the desert where you are lugging every ounce of water you have on your back the idea of pouring water out on the ground is extremely demoralizing.  The other issue with the  Gulpy is filling it with our water bladder.  Any dog water carrier out there has a lot of extra "stuff" on it as compared to a regular bottle and when you are looking to save weight on your back carrying several is not really an option.  This leaves you out in the woods trying to fill a tiny hole with water from a bladder meant to flow into large mouth nalgene bottles.  This is both not fun and a recipe to waste water.  Since our dogs are so small their faces can fit into a nalgene comfortably to drink it just started happening because it was the easiest thing to do in a pinch.  We even got Kerri a cute little nalgene that has a nice wide mouth but only holds a chihuahua sized amount of water.  Copley still needs the full size because his face is a little bigger, but he is going on less and less hikes in his older age so it is not a huge deal.

So now, after years of doing this or that we have settled on the dogs doing the exact same thing we do.  For the record I don't share water with the dogs, they do get their own nalgenes, but my husband I believe is not nearly as picky.  I try not to think about that- it is really gross.  I am curious what people with "full size" dogs do on backpacking trips.  A nalgene only would be comfortable for the little guys or maybe a hound with a long skinny muzzle as far as I can see.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015

5 Years With Copley!

 I am a few days late with this posting, but Copley's 5 year adoption day was also my 4 year wedding anniversary so I tend to get a little busy.  He doesn't mind sharing his big day with our anniversary though, he likes the visitors we get in town, the trips we take and the general fact that he is not the center of attention.  Better late than never here is a little look back at the last five years with my best buddy, Copley.

That is our very first road trip and vacation together.  It was only about 3 weeks after we adopted him from Henderson Animal Control where he had been for 29 days.  Was it a great idea to take a dog on vacation who had not even been out of the shelter for as long as he was in it?  Maybe not, but we travel a LOT and we figured our dog needed to get used to it.  He loved everything about that trip except maybe two border collies at the friends house we stayed at.

Copley tolerates other polite dogs and often will play with them, but there are a very few out there that he really loves.  Two of them are our other dogs Kerri and Nova.  Kerri won him over as a puppy by pulling maneuvers like this.  Nova he just loves, she could get away with anything when it comes to Copley.

 Copley loves being outside, as long as he doesn't have to get his feet wet...
 Over the years as the blog has grown and as we started our own business dealing in dog stuff Copley has done a lot of product reviews.  From the treats he gets for good sit-stays with the camera to the toys he gets to pull out of the box he is pretty happy with the job.

Copley is a very serious dog.  Most other people don't see that, because the moments of glee in his life mostly happen when he sees other people.  His favorite thing in the world is meeting new people and having guests come over to the house.  The rest of the time he is very on task.  When we are on walks he is dedicated to getting from point "a" to point "b."  When we are eating he sits nearby in his serious pose until we are done.  From other dogs he demands manners; a paw to his face, a rambunctious puppy knocking into him or any other less than polite activity results in a curled lip.  Strangely enough this seriousness is why I didn't try to compete in any obedience with him.  At class he was so happy, his butt always wiggled and he gleefully jumped at the idea of doing anything for me.  That kind of ruined his sits and his heels, but I just wasn't willing to fix that.  For a dog like him I never have felt like stopping the little moments of happiness he has, even if they are occasionally inappropriate for the setting, and I wasn't about to train it out of him.  Here is a picture that really captures his goofy side.

That is my Copley!  He is the best dog a person like us could ask for.  He lived through so much of our learning and being brand new dog owners in those early days.  With his tolerant, people-loving attitude he took our mistakes in stride.  The different training methods, the different crates, the many foods we struggled with before we went for the good stuff, the roller coaster of vets and those few times I thought dog parks were a good idea for him.  He took all the growing pains of a first dog so that one day when we get that basenji puppy I've always wanted I will have a chance of training it right.*  We love you Copley!
*That was kind of a joke.  I love basenji but I don't think even I am crazy enough to get one.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

My Musings on Jurassic Park

A few weeks ago, after seeing Jurassic World, I posted this on facebook:
I thought that movie was going to give me "Chris Pratt, raptor whisperer" but instead it gave me something even better "Chris Pratt, positive reinforcement raptor clicker trainer." Swoon.

Now I have seen the movie a second time and have a more solid opinion formed.  I would like to expand on that Facebook post a little bit.  Last month, in anticipation of seeing Jurassic World, I sat down and watched all 3 of the other Jurassic Park movies.  Me and my husband are such big fans, I was way, way, into dinosaurs when the first one came out and I remember going to see it in the theater and thinking it was just the coolest thing.  I am so glad we re-watched them going into Jurassic World, not because any of that previous plot really mattered in regards to this new movie, but because it really made me think about how far we have come when it comes to how the scientific community views animals.

I had seen the previews of Chris Pratt hunting bigger dinosaurs with a pack of velociraptors and jumping into their pen pulling a move that I expected to be Caesar Milan like in his control of the dinosaurs.  I was excited for that more than anything else really.  Little did I know that the movie really was going to deliver something even better.  When I saw a movie star pull out a clicker and a bucket of meat I just about died of excitement.  Did I really just watch someone look cool controlling large, dangerous predators with POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT?  I did.  I did see that.  I also like that they almost ate him a few times, but that didn't really shake his trust of them.  He was always worried they were going to eat him so it wasn't much of a surprise.  Obviously there were a lot of inaccurate things because well, this IS Jurassic Park after all.  Besides the fact that there are dinosaurs walking around there were other things like the actual execution of the clicker training being a little off, also they do reinforce the alpha thing a little bit, I'm not sure that is totally inaccurate based on the imaginary group structure they gave the animals, but whatever.  As I walked out of the movie a friend of mine said "Maybe now people will think clicker training is totally bad-ass."  I hope so.

It seems to me that despite lots and lots of scientific evidence in the other direction that trainers alpha rolling dogs is getting more and more popular.  I am not saying I am beyond using whatever works for your particular dog, or there is only one way to train, but lets base these methods in modern, scientific fact.  As a positive reinforcement trainer I know I get criticized because in limited situations I am not beyond interrupting a behavior with something like a spray bottle, but that is a far cry from this constant punishment crap.  Come on people, every behavior is not explained with "they are trying to be your alpha" in fact most are not!  Even if your dog thinks they run your house alpha rolling them is not going to convince them otherwise.  Can't we see that positive reinforcement works?  Just yesterday me and my husband spent twenty minutes defending our position that Nova does not in fact think she is our "alpha."  Also Copley does not like rolling over at all, but I assure you the last thing he imagines is that he is my boss.  He dislikes being on his back because he has messed up sinuses from being a poorly thought out cross between a flat faced breed and who knows what else and whenever he is on his back he sneezes violently. The bottom line is we need more positive methods in the pop culture and this movie does that for sure.

One other thing I am curious about is wither the film makers were trying to make a connection to the Navy's dolphin program.  Owen, the trainer played by Chris Pratt, had recently come out of the Navy.  Were they implying that he had come from the dolphin program?  Also the raptor head pieces were very reminiscent of the ones that movies tend to portray on dolphins.  If that is the case it is very interesting to me that Owen was so against the militarization and exploitation of his raptors.  Food for thought for sure.