How we’re helping Phoenix be a happier dog

The dog wins this round.

Despite what it may look like in the photo above our dog does not rule our roost.

After our two week trial period and we decided to adopt him it became clear that he’s reactive around some other dogs.

My vet recommended a couple of behaviourists and I got one out and she hung around for an hour or so giving me some tips for him when he sees other dogs, and some recommended training to do with him at home so he’ll stay calm. Of course he’s fine at home, and chucking food at him when he sees other dogs on our walks doesn’t always work. Sometimes a dog will just appear from around a corner and it’s too late to get the food to distract him, especially when I’m trying to hold him as he’s jumping around like a mad thing.

After a month or so of doing this I realised that it wasn’t really working and I wondered about the common sense in getting him not to react to other dogs by not letting him mix with other dogs. It doesn’t help our quality of life, or our dog.

We struggled along for a while and I’d pretty much resigned myself to this is how it is.

A couple of months ago JJ had the side gate open to get some wood and Phoenix got out and bit it. He ran across the road to a dog on the lead who probably hadn’t even looked at him. I don’t know as I was inside. He bit the dog and naturally the owner was upset and I got to pay the vet bill.

I did some more research about dog training methods and realised that there are differing schools of thought to approaching a dog’s behaviour.

It appears as though the behaviourist I got comes from the purely positive dog training and there’s a balanced approach as well where corrections are used. This sounded just like what we needed.

I spoke to a trainer who uses this method and he said to come along to one of his classes.

We got there and stayed well clear of all the puppies and adult dogs because of course Phoenix barked and lunged at them even though we weren’t that close.

I found the trainer and he came over with a choker chain and a long lead and took our dog. He walked over to some other dogs and when Phoenix started doing his lunge and bark he gave him a correction. After about two more of these he handed the lead back to us and Phoenix didn’t leave our side even though he was on a long leash. A little dog came near us but with a small correction Phoenix was fine.

We hung around for a while then joined in the socialisation component of the class and towards the end of it (with no more reactions from Phoenix) he was sat in the middle of a circle of dogs and was just fine.

I’ve since taken him to three more socialisation classes and we’ve been to three obedience classes. The previous behaviourist had not recommended Phoenix attend obedience training because being around the other dogs might flood him.

I’ve been doing some training with him at home and out on walks too. He sits as soon as I stop and now he drops on command 99.9% of the time. He’s even dropped at socialisation classes with all the other dogs around him.

He still pulls on the lead and as I took a break from socialisation the other day, the trainer asked me to come into the middle and put him into a drop. As I was doing this I didn’t have a hold on the lead properly and he got away because a German Shephard looked at him. They had a scuffle and then both got taken aside to do some socialisation with each other. I felt really bad because the German Shephard had been attacked by a dog when he was younger so my dog having a go at him wouldn’t help. Now I know why this dog is so reactive as well. Who knows, maybe the same thing happened to Phoenix.

And the car sickness? He’s been a lot better with that too. He still drools a bit but nowhere near as much as he used to. We even did a two hour car trip a few weeks ago and I dosed him with ginger tablets. The medication I got from the vet was $70 for four tablets and goodness knows what’s in that stuff. He hasn’t been sick in the car for a few months now.

So I’ll continue with obedience and training classes while I can. He’s definitely better out on walks now. Occasionally he’ll growl or lunge still, but overall he’s a lot calmer when we encounter another dog. Unfortunately I won’t ever feel comfortable taking him to an off-lead dog park but they’re not the be all and end all of a dog’s life anyway.

Just as well I love him ey?

 

Not all about hiking

Off on a hike and the backpack is heavy. Day 251/366. Off to the Branch Hike

On the weekend my beloved teenager went on a hiking camp with scouts. Two years ago he did the same thing as shown by the photos above.

I don’t often get a childfree weekend and it just so happened that a friend had a big party on the Saturday night. So I had an early to bed Friday night and prepared myself for the shindig on Saturday eve.

It was far enough away from home that made it hard to get home that same night, and there was room for camping so I borrowed the aforementioned teen’s tent and set it up at the party.

I didn’t know how long I’d last at the party because I’d not been feeling 100% all week but as I fell into bed around 4.30am Sunday morning, I quickly looked at my Fitbit and saw that I’d done 14,000 or so steps since midnight. Obviously I’d found my second and maybe my third wind. Dancing a lot will make those steps add up. My legs were already killing me and even after the paracetamol tablets I still couldn’t get comfortable.

But let’s rewind a bit.

The ex was at the party with his new girlfriend. I thought he might be attending and I’d heard on the grapevine that he was seeing someone. He didn’t go out of his way to talk to me apart from mentioning Rollng Stones coming up soon when he came across me and couldn’t avoid me. I wish I’d made an effort to ‘bump’ into him and see how he acted around me and his new squeeze. Afterall, this is the man that wouldn’t even introduce me to his ex-wife even when we were all standing together at a function once. But I was unmoved that he was there with her which I’m glad about. I can pretty much predict how their relationship will be and I don’t miss that at all.

So onto new pastures for me and in an effort to be on the lookout kept my eyes out and ended up dancing with a fella later on in the evening. He was becoming very friendly and it was nice to have some male attention. I was quite ready to go to bed earlier than I did but he kept hassling me to stay and I thought I would as I didn’t have to be up early the next day.

We moved outside and he told me I could call the shots. I could take that a lot of ways but I was thinking that my shots to be called would be that I was going to my tent by myself. As we stood there a girlfriend of mine joined us and casually asked him if his wife had gone to bed.

I was shocked that he was married as he’d been acting the way he was with me although I did then spy his wedding ring. She went on to say something along the lines of how inapprorpriately he was acting with me when he’s married. He said that he ‘just wanted to dance’. I told him that he was suggesting a lot more than dancing. He was still ‘apparently’ oblivious to his actions. Tosser!

I was annoyed with myself for being so trusting with someone. I was glad that it didn’t go any further. I was annoyed that I’d wasted my time on him at all! I felt sorry for his wife. I’m sure this isn’t the first time he’s ‘just danced’ with someone. But I’ve learned my lesson, that is if someone’s clearly flirting with me to suss out their situation.

I may as well have stayed up as I couldn’t sleep because of the noise and my sore legs but at least I got to lie down and rest.

I got home to a quiet house and enjoyed the peace until I picked up the dirty, tired teen.

We both had early nights and deep sleeps.

Who now Mrs Doubtfire?

You are a star.

On my way to work yesterday morning I was listening to the radio when I heard the news about Robin Williams. I gasped out loud. I didn’t know much about his private life and his struggle with depression. I only really knew what I saw of him in movies. I introduced my son to Mrs Doubtfire last year and he loved it. I also remember watching Mork and Mindy when I was a kid. He was a great comic, and entertained us all and I think when what you know of somebody is being funny, their death by apparent suicide is unexpected and sad.

My Facebook and Twitter stream has been full of other peoples thoughts about him too. He’s left a great legacy for us – his fans. We’re lucky.

I think suicide has touched us all at one time or another, some more than others.

I had a phone call from an ex manager one day to tell me about a colleague of ours who’d committed suicide. Apparently my manager became concerned when our work mate hadn’t come to work so went to his place to see if he was there. The door was propped open with a shoe and my manager found him – dead. I had no idea about my colleague’s private life, only that he had a young son and was divorced from his wife. I suspect that many of us are really good at hiding things. And I wonder how many people hide their depression in the workplace because they don’t want to be labelled.

I’ll never forget him because when I came back from my overseas holiday in the year 2000, he asked me – jokingly – if I’d come back pregnant. Unbeknown to him, I actually was pregnant and I nearly choked when he asked. I would have loved to have said, well, yes, I am pregnant actually,  just to see the look on his face, but I was standing in my boss’s office and that’s not how I wanted to break the news.

A few years later I bumped into another colleague and chatted to her, and offered my condolences about her daughter in law who was tragically killed in a traffic accident. She told me about a person that we’d both worked with who’d committed suicide recently. I didn’t know this person that well but had picked up that she was a bit highly strung. Again, I had no idea of her personal struggles.

I don’t know what it’s like to suffer with depression. I know I go through down periods but I know that it’s temporary and that in a day or so I’ll feel better. I’m lucky. I like to think that if any of my friends are depressed and they need someone to talk to or help with something that I could be that person.

While deaths of celebrities like Robin Williams are awful, it does highlight that depression is real, and not something that you just snap out of.

A bit fit

Walk the line. Day 244/366.

A few years ago I started running. A few months after that I stopped. However, during this process I was using Runkeeper to track how far I ran and I continued to use it after the running finished but I only tracked my walks and of course it wasn’t indicative of how far I walked each day.

I wanted to use a pedometer to track how far I walk each day so a couple of months ago I bought a Fitbit. On Shai’s advice I bought the Fitbit One.

My goal is to walk 10,000 steps per day and my morning walks only cover just over a third of that quota so I have to fit more in during the day. I suppose I could get up earlier and walk for longer. I know the dog would love me for that and maybe when it’s a bit warmer I’ll set the alarm for ten minutes earlier and just do it. I know excuses excuses.

The Fitbit One also tracks your sleep and I seem to average around 7 – 7.5 hours per night. That’s not too bad. I did wonder if wearing the Fitbit to bed those first few nights contributed to bad sleeps? I’ve found the wriststrap I put on to put the Fitbit in comes off during the night sometimes so I wonder how effective the sleep tracking component is.

But that aside, the steps tracking is great. I forgot to wear it to work the other day and as I’d had a few walks during the day and climbed lots of stairs I added that in manually based on a similar day. I pretty much wear it all the time and it’s become a competition with myself to see if I can reach the 10,000 steps per day. I think it’s equivalent of just over an hour of walking briskly but it’s amazing how much housework and supermarket shopping can bump up your steps.

I haven’t friended anyone in the Fitbit community and I may or may not but I’m good at being in competition with myself. If for some reason I don’t walk in the morning because it’s raining then I wonder how I’ll make up the steps I missed during the day.

Walking has great benefits and I’ve seen first hand the effects of not exercising enough. Mum doesn’t get much exercise and she’s been plagued with knee and hip problems and she’s overweight. I’ve vowed that I don’t want to be not as mobile as I get older and as running is off the table then walking it is. I do Pilates once a week for strengthening too and that’s made a difference I’m sure.

I chatted to a colleague recently and he’s been getting up at 6am before work each morning to walk for 6kms and he does more on the weekends. I asked if he’d noticed benefits and he said he’d lost 14kg since February when he started. He said he’d changed his diet a bit but for the most part, walking has helped with his weight loss.

Michael Moore has written about why he walks and it’s a great read. He doesn’t walk to lose weight, he walks to feel good. And it’s true. I know it helps clear my head and even getting up early to walk the dog before work helps wake me up and gives me a really good start to the day.

Do you get out walking? How does it make you feel?

Walking near work

There’s some great walking trails near where I work so we went for a drive recently to check it out. I managed to drag the teen and the dog along – not that the dog needed much persuading.

Phoenix

I think he enjoyed himself, and so did the lad – so much so that he’s keen to go back. When it suits him that is.

20140629-DSC00346

I do have quite the stubborn child. He’s always been stubborn and I know these teen years are going to be testing times for me as a parent.

I’ve given up nagging him every day about tidying his room. As he tells me, when I’m asking him to do something, it’s just blah blah blah to him. He now has to put his clothes away, I won’t go in there when the room’s messy and I can’t even get to his drawers. That seems to be working, and the last couple of weekends when I’ve given him a list of jobs including tidying his room, it’s been done.

I’d let the dog accompany him to bed but I managed to put a stop to that last night when I said that if he continued this practice that he’d be in charge of changing and washing his sheets. Dog hair sticks to flannelette sheets and there’s a doggy smell that lingers a bit when the dog’s been on his bed. I prefer bedrooms to be a no-go dog zone.

Took the dog to a dog training session the other day. Very interesting. That will be a separate post. This adopting a rescue dog has been quite the eye opener.

Winter flower

It’s about the stories

Sun in autumn

People want to hear stories. Stories make reading more interesting. My day job involves writing for the web and a web review of our website has suggested showing rather than telling, ie use stories. Rather than tell people what a fabulous organisation we are, let’s show them.

You know how when you’re thinking about something you notice a lot more about it. Say, you’re looking to buy a certain type of car. You’ve never noticed those cars on the road before until you want one and you notice heaps of them.

So it’s happened to me with storytelling. I’ve been thinking about stories, and thinking about writing more here – I go through stages – and what do you know? I’m not alone. Let me share some other people who are also thinking about stories, or telling good ones.

Leah Peterson tells stories – hers and yours. She’s currently doing a series of interviews with bloggers. It’s interesting reading and a great way to find out about new bloggers.

Neil Kramer writes stories and he’s also just started an experiment where he chats with people and puts the transcript up on his website. I’m interested to see where this goes.

Karen Walrond tells stories and takes amazing photos. Maybe one day we will meet and she’ll take an amazing photo of me. I love how she captures portraits. She also wrote a recent post called These people are nothing like me. If you’re looking for other bloggers she’s shared some there.

Because the above three are based in the US, here are a couple of Australians who tell great stories too.

Kirsty Rice is an expat living in Qatar but she’s originally a local gal who grew up in the country like me and does a great job of sharing what it’s like to be living overseas.

Anna Spargo Ryan is originally from Adelaide (where I live) but now lives in Melbourne. She shares a lot about her life and she also includes some of her writing.

I know there’s loads of other writers out there who tell stories and do an amazing job but these are just five.

Please tell me yours.

 

A renewed interest in crochet

Learning crochet

I used to crochet. I used to knit. I can’t remember when I last picked up a crochet hook, but stopping knitting was a bit more recent.

So when I got invited to a Nanna Skillz event put on by Yelp, I was pretty excited. I didn’t know what to expect but it involved dressing up, food, drink, nanna skills and croquet. How could I turn it down?

The dress code was white and I have an aversion to white, or it does to me. However, digging through my wardrobe, I found I have quite a bit of cream, including a cream crochet skirt with gold sparkles – an op shop purchase – and a beautiful vintage cardigan. I also dug up a cream crochet handbag that used to be my nana’s. Very appropriate I thought.

Crochet handbag and skirt

I had to drop my son off at a birthday party at a nearby indoor bowling place dressed like this when everyone else was a lot more casual. I just don’t care anymore but I would have been quite embarrassed a few years ago. When in doubt and a little bit nervous – strut. Surprisingly my son was okay with my getup until he saw the gold sparkles in the skirt.

It was a fun Sunday afternoon. I went by myself but caught up with people I’ve met on Twitter and in real life at other events. I love that Adelaide has a great Twitter community that extends into the meeting in person. I also met a few new people.

There was plenty of food to try and drinks to be had. I tasted cheese, salami, pickles, gnocchi, icecream, beer, whiskey and cofffee – all from locals. Luckily I hadn’t had time for a decent lunch prior.

The crochet ‘stall’ consisted of a couple of crochet rugs on the ground and some very helpful and patient crocheters. And once I put my glasses on I could actually see what I was doing better.

Now of course I’m all invigorated to try out crochet again. I’ve got some hooks and wool kicking around so I just might get cracking. I’ll have to relearn some more stitches and learn how to read patterns but I’m sure I can do that.

If I get good at it I wouldn’t mind making this crochet hat or this poncho.

crochet_hat_9 Fairy-Tale-Poncho-Collage