Friday, July 30, 2010

Train your kids

I have been having an interesting Facebook conversation with several other 'dog people' in regards to kids and dog bites. More specifically, how kids who hang, hug, drape and flop over dogs and the parents who allow it. I recently had a family who came to puppy class with their 8 week old golden puppy. Mom, dad and 2 kids (a 7 year old girl and a 5 year old boy) arrived to class with the puppy they just picked up from the breeder. During my lecture piece of the class, the little boy kept popping out of his chair and hugging the puppy. I repeatedly asked the boy to not hug, while mom and dad kept nagging him to stay in his seat. I spoke in detail to the family about dog safety and to not allow the boy to hug the puppy. The response I received was 'he is just really excited' (ugh...)

After the class ended the family decided to have me do in home lessons instead. So fast forward a few weeks the puppy is now about 10 weeks old. The boy is still obsessively hugging. But now the puppy is starting to snap at his face. The parent ask me to 'parent' him on not hugging the dog...what?? 10 years ago I would have shook my head and walked away. But after having numerous nieces and nephews drift into my dog life, I am more comfortable talking to young kids about dog safety. However, I always had parents who were there to back up my words. These parents were clueless. Typical overworked people who needed a Golden Retriever to complete the idyllic picture-esque life in their upper class zip code, with no idea that Golden's are dogs and have the ability to bite just like any other dog. The puppy will never be allowed in any other room than the kitchen, and will be ignored in its beautifully manicured yard surrounded by an invisible fence. They cancelled the second visit as they were going out of town for 4 weeks and will contact me once they return. I cringe the day I get that call, but as numb as these people are, they are the ones who need the most help.

According to the CDC the rate of dog bite–related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, and children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites. So Parents... please train your kids to respect dogs and to be dog savvy! I don't want to see this (or any) dog come to the shelter for biting when it was the people who set the dog up to fail from the get-go.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Doggie visitor

For the next 2 weeks we are watching my friends dog Copley, an 8 moth old show golden. I feel honored that I was asked to watch such a fine pup. Jill almost sent him to show dog camp, but chose Camp Robinson instead! Besides his show career, she also plans to work him in rally & obedience so she asked me to work on recalls fronts, finishes and focus.

Jill started out as my student in a CGC class with her golden Tally 3 years ago and never before entered the obedience ring. She has surpassed me as Tally has earned is Rally Excellent, CDX and is working on utility.

We quickly became friends and she has become my inspiration. She encouraged me to work on Gimlis RN (we need 1 more leg) and we just found a fantastic trainer to help us with our CD. Prior to Jill, anything AKC gave me anxiety. Not sure why, maybe it was the high test agility personalities I trained with. Or maybe its the reputation that AKC has as being stuffy and old school. I would compete in agility in any venue except AKC. I guess I am mellowing out in my old age! And Jill makes it fun! She always trains and competes with a smile, and is always a cheering section for our friends. I am lucky to have such a supportive friend who pushes me out of my comfort zone.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oh....My Aching Back!

This morning I took the dogs to this fantastic trail in North Yarmouth. It was hot...really hot, and the 3 of us needed a cool down. My good friend Jill showed me this trail a few weeks ago and as it goes, I did a lot of gabbing and not a lot of paying attention of where we were going. She led me to this off shoot trail into the woods that led to this beautiful pool of river water and waterfall. It looked like something out of a Tolkien book... simply breathtaking. I didn't find that trail...I took a different trail but it led to a similar looking spot on the river. I stripped my feet of sneakers and socks and dipped my feet into the water. The boys were tooling around in the cool water, and we were enjoying the quiet of nature. Then I had a brilliant idea of walking down the river on the rocks. Mossy covered rocks. I felt like a kid taking going on a rogue adventure (I did have my cellphone...just in case). As I was jocking from one rock to another it happened. In slow wet bare foot hit a slippery mossy rock. I flew up, and hit hard. I laid there for a minute staring at the trees above. I thought I broke my glasses. They were OK..just a little more crooked now than before. Everything else was fine too. I got up, shook off, and thought 'Wow.....I am doing alright. I hit the ground pretty hard but here I am ready to continue my hike. ' Fast forward 4 hours...I am in pain. Everything hurts and it SUCKS.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

If I wasn't a dog trainer, I would be a chef. I love everything about cooking. Visiting farmers markets, food specialty stores, fancy cookware, high end appliances, cookbooks, being in the kitchen, chopping, stirring...all of it. Cooking is a form of meditation...baking is even worse (which is why I only bake in the winter). Time falls away when I am engrossed in a recipe.

My kitchen is far from fancy and I don't have anything high end. But I do have a love for cookbooks. I read cookbooks like some people study for exams. Completely focused and I tune everything out.

Today was a great day of food. Bill and I went to the Greek Festival in Saco and snacked on gyros and loukoumades, which considering all the food they had, was pretty mild for us. We are trying hard to be frugal these days and festival food can deplete a wallet pretty quickly.

We left the festival and went to one of our favorite places, Borders bookstore and I went to visit my porn section...the cookbooks. I found one that almost had an angelic glow surrounding it. It was called My New Orleans: The Cookbook by John Besh. We visited New Orleans this past spring, and I cant wait to get back. Its food lovers mecca.

I opened the book and landed on a simple recipe for a crawfish boil. Similar to a lobster bake...but the mud bugs, corn, potatoes, garlic, sausage and spices are all boiled together and then dumped on table covered with newspaper where your guests pick out what they want. I went to a shrimp boil once and it was pretty much the same, and pretty fantastic. I took the 5 lb book and sat among other store patrons and found myself making low ...mmmm...ohhhh...ahhh. sounds. At least I didn't drool, that would have been weird.

I left the book at the store (at $45...its a splurge I am not ready for). But came home with some inspiration. I think I am going to make a pot of jambalaya this week.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cat Counselor? Didnt see that coming

This time of year is a busy one for local shelters...especially with the over abundance of cats. Last week the shelter adopted out 14 cats while 11 more came in (strays or surrenders). During the adoption frenzy I jumped in to help the cat counseling team match cats with adopters. The next thing I knew, it was decided that I would be trained as a 'cat counselor'. Today was my first day of training, and let me tell you...its not as easy as it sounds.

My trainer Karen is incredibly patient and is just about the nicest person I have ever met. Each prospective adopter fills out a Meet Your Match survey and, depending on their answers, are matched with a cat whose behavior has been tested. The color/description the cat is assigned to (purple, green or orange) depends on the outcome of the behavior test. And thus, a feline-ality is born. But then there are other considerations. Such as the people having kids (and ages), other pets, if they want an indoor or outdoor cat...etc

Since my vet tech days many moons ago I never thought I would ever work with cats so closely. Don't get me wrong, I love cats! I have one. Isaac is 15 and, unfortunately, his kidneys are not well. A sign of old age. But I think I am going to enjoy the kitties as a nice change of pace from the dogs I train and the volunteers I coordinate. There is no 'cat wrangling' here, just matching nice people with nice cats. The picture is of my pal Julie who is too sensitive for the adoption floor and lives in our office. She is looking for a home with no other cats and a person who will forgive her idiosyncrasies and accept her for who she is.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Its so hot....

...that the new casters are telling 'its so hot' I wont try to be clever and out do whats been done (over and over). David Letterman once called Maine 'deep south up north'. That just about sums up how hot it is. But should we really complain? Unless you are laying asphalt for a living or putting shingles on a roof ...I think we should just shut it and enjoy our extremely short summer. Heat and all. Just like in a 3 day 'Nor Easter..this heat should just make everyone slow down a bit. Check on your elderly neighbors, visit a Beals Ice Cream stand watch a movie, read a book and enjoy the fact that you can do it wearing shorts.

Winter will be here soon enough and we will all be complaining about why we live in a place where the thermometer dangles around the freezing mark for 3 months. So instead of bellyaching about the heat, embrace Maines inner 'down south'. Sit on your porch in a big floppy sun hat, eat key lime pie and sip a tall glass of sweet tea.