The Journey of Blogging

I have so many posts started. Posts about really interesting things like what to consider before you get a Cavalier, an update to my One Little Word of 2012, updates about Maizey, stories about walks, oh you name it I’ve started a post about it. But as you know other than Wordless Wednesday I haven’t posted since April 22.

The truth is I’ve had some negative experiences with people I know may read here and my trust is shaken. I’m having a hard time being positive about being vulnerable in blogging. Do you find blogging to be an act of vulnerability? I do. And knowing I have some people out there who are not fans of mine or the people I’m fans of has shaken me. I over-evaluate every word, questioning how it will be received and interpreted.

Training professionally has changed my attitude towards writing too. I know some of my clients read here and I feel an obligation to keep it professional. But this is a personal blog and I’m tired of feeling stifled by fear of what other trainers will read and disapprove of or how customers will perceive my experience level, or lack thereof. This has always been a place for me to collect my day to day stories and experiences. It’s not a training blog. Oh sure, back when I started writing I thought I had something to share as far as training knowledge. That’s before I realized how much I had to learn and all I didn’t know. Now I know the value of my blog is in my journey of learning and the personality of this blog has changed to just be our thoughts and experiences.

I guess this is my disclaimer post. This is not a professional trainers blog, it’s a personal blog, a personal story. I have found some wonderful friends through blogging and I miss them. I miss logging on to see your comments and thoughts and encouragements. I miss sharing those comments on your blogs.

Then this morning I read Tomatoes In Heaven, Sara’s story about DAD. Then I read Dawn’s reminders to not miss a minute of life. I never read DAD’s blog, Dad’s Tomato Garden. Now I wish I had. I’m sure I’ll be wading through the archives catching up on what I missed. I already started and you know what I found? DAD’s blog is not a smooth, fancy layout with “professional” sounding tips (all the things I pressure myself about), it’s his thoughts and musings. It was what he found useful and thought would be helpful to share. It made me smile and enjoy seeing through this 90 something, kind man’s ideas. It reminded me what I love about blogging is the exchange of ideas with people we would never otherwise cross paths with.

DAD passed away yesterday. From the Sara and Dawns’ posts and from all the lovely comments it’s clear he’ll be missed. I extend my sympathy to all those grieving his loss today. Through his blog he lives on. DAD posted over 1000 posts. That’s a beautiful record of his thoughts and ideas. I’m sure his family and friends are glad to have it.

I started blogging for what I could bring to others. I grew into blogging for me and enjoying the input of others. Now I don’t blog because of others.

I used to blog in anonymity. My family, friends and not so friendly’s didn’t read. At least I didn’t know if they read. I know they do now and instead of worrying about what everyone thinks I invite you all to come out of the woodwork and comment. If you’re a customer I’d love your feedback. If you disagree with something you read, let me know. This has always been an open forum for discussion. If you are tied down by your own negativity I sympathize, I’m hiking through my own journey with positivity vs. negativity right now.

If you think this post is wacko, that’s okay too! It is a bit funny. But I feel better after posting it and will leave you with a little nonprofessional, personal Cavalier silliness from our last load up the suitcase session:

"I give you squinchy face at this suitcase trick!"

"Can you see me?"

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The Stroller Experimentation

The stroller experimentation continues. . .

Every once in a while you see your training pay off and so far this whole stroller thing seems to be that moment for Maizey and I. So far. I’m reserving total judgment until there’s more data, but I’m happy with what I’m seeing.

We’ve taken two good real walks with the stroller so far. Both times I saw just the reaction I thought I’d see at this point. Yesterday we headed out and as soon as I set up the stroller she hopped in. Good sign number one. I zipped the bonnet closed so I didn’t have to worry about her bailing out and she settled right in. She asked to get out a couple times and walked quite a bit, but when she started getting stressed and asked to be picked up I just offered her to get back in the stroller and she happily did that.

Today we walked farther than we have in weeks. She didn’t walk as much as yesterday since I was working with Magnus on how to walk on a nice loose leash next to the stroller. I want him to walk on the right so that’s a change as his default is my left side. He did wonderfully. He’s such an easy going boy and makes my life easy.

I’m very happy that she’s getting out and about with much lower stress in general. She has choices and she seems to sense that. There was so much less whining and barking. Her body language in general is more settled, slower, not as frantic. It’s like a little portable chill out spot that lets her decompress on the go. Her reaction after the walk is better too. Normally we’d have a while of pretty hyper zoomies after we got home, but both days she asked for her stroller to be set up as soon as we got in the house and then hopped in and took a nap.

I’m so relieved to have hope that she can get out more and have it not be so hard on both of us. The other day someone asked me what was stressful to her on a walk. I said, “Everything.” They said, “But what are her triggers?” I just laughed and said, “oh, the air.” Ha Ha Ha. People really don’t understand what it’s like to have a dog that isn’t just reactive, but has Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It’s called generalized, because the triggers start in the brain chemistry and the anxiety is caused by everything or nothing in the environment. So to have a safe space we can take anywhere is hugely relieving to both of us.

Did you see this post at Rollin’ With Rubi? It struck such a chord with me. In it she talks about how a trainer finally looked at her dog and saw the truth. He’s a dog full of fear and brave enough to work through it. She expresses how relieved she was to have someone finally see what she sees in her dog. Well, that was my take home message anyways. It’s a message I can well relate to. People look at Maizey and they see a “happy” “squirmy” “wiggling” little dog. They don’t know that’s not her normal self. That’s her out in the world anxious self and it doesn’t look that bad. It doesn’t look like a disorder.

In Home Depot the other day she was like that and when I picked her up she wanted to crawl into my face for reassurance. The lady I was chatting with said, “Oh she’s such a lover, what a snuggle bug.” Sure, except that’s not what’s making her do that. I’ve always said it would be easier to have a broken leg than an anxiety disorder. People don’t understand what they can’t see or haven’t experienced. If she had a bandage on people would get when I say you can’t pet her she’s sick.

I guess I didn’t even know that rant was in me today, but there it is. I guess that part matters to me because I’m really happy to have someplace that she can go to for safety. I’ve lost a bit of hope that she’ll ever live without fear and anxiety. I promise I’ll keep trying to find that for her, but in the mean time what I am able to do is provide whatever safety and reassurance I can. Isn’t that the best any of us can do for each other? We can’t fix it all, but we can sit in the space the other is in and keep them company. Acceptance and reassurance are the most we can offer sometimes. Giving Maizey a safe space to get out and enjoy the world in is the best I can do right now. I guess that’s today’s 4legged lesson: sit with each other in the space that you can’t change, even if that space is a doggy stroller.

Whew! I sure need to lighten up around her lately! Check back tomorrow for a rant free, silly Wordless Wednesday. Even I can’t make that serious!

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“Lord preserve me from smart, complicated dogs”

If you’ve been reading Ruffly Speaking this week you probably recognize that quote from Joanna. Although what Maizey and I face is nowhere related to what inspired Joanna to write that sentence I still relate the the sentiment. Plus it just made me laugh. (By the way, if you really want to know what goes into good breeding and the joys and terrors of whelping a litter you really must check out Ruffly Speaking.)

I love my “smart, complicated” Maizey, but she does push my limits sometimes. It’s good to be pushed though. When I think of the things I’d never understand if it weren’t for her I realize I’d never be the trainer I am today. I have insight into every fearful dog that walks in my classroom and empathy for their families. She’s pushed me out of my comfort zone in training, in relationships, in where and when we go where we go, in more ways than I can list. Her smart, complicated nature keeps me learning and growing.

But because I need some comic relief from her smart, complicatedness I’ve compiled my list of:

You know you live with a dog with Generalized Anxiety Disorder when. . .

  • The arousal level is so high she can’t stop barking to pee and thus has to bark and pee at the same time.
  • Your Google search history includes, “why dogs pee on themselves when anxious”. (Not surprisingly you found no answers.)
  • You’ve classified the consistency of her poop according to how high the stress level is.
  • The first thing you do on a Saturday morning is get up, dose the dog with Prozac, Composure Liquid, put on her Thundershirt and do two days worth of Relaxation Protocol THEN you make your coffee.
  • Waking up to maniacal barking 4 times a night is not a rare occurrence.
  • There are days you keep all the blinds closed to minimize the stimulation of windows.
  • Your little dog that never resource guards can’t relax long enough to eat her cow tail and instead hovers over it like a vulture guarding road kill.
  • There are days when your little dog has no impulse control whatsoever and risks her life to chase the meanest cat alive.
  • Driving 700 miles and paying hundreds of dollars to a veterinary behaviorist no longer seems insane.
  • Walking the dog really means carrying the dog which is now worth it since maybe you’ll only wake up to maniacal barking 2 times instead of 4.
  • Your neighbors think you’ve lost your mind since you’ve spent hours walking around in the front yard with a little anxious dog in a stroller learning to relax.

Do you have a smart complicated dog? Please share what makes them smart and complicated so Maizey and I know we’re in good company.

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My Dogs Are My Family

My dogs are my family. When you indicate I should find more “real” friends, you might as well say my mom, my sisters, my brothers and cousins, the kids I don’t have, my FAMILY are not good enough company and I need to find “real” friends to replace them. My dogs are my moms, sisters, brothers, kids and cousins. They are my family. They are my constant companions. They love me at 3am when I’m sick or sad. When you’re asleep in your bed, they’re asleep in mine, snuggling me. They lick away my tears and lay their soft warmth on my sore joints. Their antics are comic relief when I’m sad and giddy laughter when I’m not. They greet me with love and joy wether I’ve been gone two minutes or two weeks. They are happy to go wherever I go, whenever I go there. They are quiet with me when I’m quiet and raucous players when I want to be crazy. They exercise with me, eat with me, play with me and love me no matter what or when. Can you say that about your “real” friends? Can you say that about your family? If you widen your viewpoint and be open to finding love no matter how many legs it has you’ll be surprised how many “real” friends you’ll have.

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Enough With The Loose Dogs! And Relaxation Protocol Day 9

This was just one of those crazy days. My mom had foot surgery early this morning so I spent the day at the hospital and then helped her get settled at home. I took my part time pups, Charley and Chloe for a walk. I should be getting some good miles in this next month since she’ll be off her feet for a few weeks and those pups need some walkies!

So by the time I got home it was dark and my pups were going crazy. Magnus has been feeling better the last few days, I haven’t even seen a limp for four days, so even though it was dark I decided to take him for a quick walk. It turned out to be a bit more exciting than we would have liked.

There are four houses on my block that have two Pit Bulls. I know where they are, but I’ve never seen one loose before. I always cross the street just to put as much distance as I can between us and their fences. Tonight that almost wasn’t enough.

We were just walking along and the young Pitty came charging out of his yard. I heard him before I saw him and reacted before I even realized I had. I just freaked out yelling, “Get out of here! Go! Get!” I’m sure I said some other things that would have been equally useless if he was actually intent on attacking us. Magnus came in right between my legs and hunkered down. I’m really glad I didn’t stomp on him and after the first second I scooped him up and kept yelling at the Pitty. At that point I’m not sure who Magnus was more afraid of-the crazy dog or his Crazy-yelling-momlady!

The Pitty stayed in his yard and I’m so glad the old Pit that lives there didn’t come out. I just shudder to think the damage those dogs could have done. I just kept yelling even though he didn’t come back out of his fence. I don’t know if that was even the right thing to do, but it was instinctual more than anything. What would you have done?

I’m working hard on creating a quick recovery time for things that scare Magnus so even though I wanted to just yell, or cry, or both all the way home, as soon as I thought it was safe I put Magnus down and started happy chatter and C/T for everything. We jogged and played and shook it off. He seemed to recover fine, which is such a difference between him and my anxious Princessface.

Needless to say after two near misses in two weeks I won’t be walking in my neighborhood anymore. I’m also going to call animal control tomorrow and try to talk to the owner. I don’t have high hopes that it will help anything, but I’ll try.

So next to that Maizey’s RP seems quite uneventful. At :30 the neighbor dogs freak out and she stays calm.

At 5:06 she lays her chin down while I’m out of view again. And at 5:12 while her chin’s down she takes a pretty good deep breath. I take that as a good sign.

From 6:30-6:55 the neighbor dogs are freaking out and she barely twitches.

You really have to check out the look on her face at 7:08 when I touch my toes five times, it’s just priceless. If she thinks I’m this crazy I can’t wait to see what the neighbors think when I move this circus outside!

So after a day full of 4legged and 2legged activity I’m laying here with my pups tired and happy we all survived and now we can go to sleep!

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Here Nor There

We’re still here. I promise!

I’m sure it appears we have abandoned blogging for good, but we’re still our here learning the 4legged lessons each day has for us.

It seems when Real Life strikes it strikes with a vengeance and this time it seems have struck the words right out of me.

Please don’t give up on us, in time I’m sure we will be back to our usual, wordy, long, drawn out, normal posts. . . in time.

Meanwhile please enjoy this hello from the ‘M’ pups:

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Which Way is Up?

"My Crazymomlady says to tell you all she's sorry there haven't been too many good posts around here lately. Things are so crazy we can't even decide which end is up! She says things will be back to normal soon."

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