Sunday, November 06, 2005

My "Special" Needs Class

So I started a new group class at your local large pet chain type place. It has turned out to be a bit of a strange class. In almost every class there is one student and/or dog who just isn't really paying attention. In this class no one is paying attention. NO ONE!

There is a large Golden/Lab mix, a Mastiff pup and a Chihuahua/Pomeranian mix. Now you wouldn't expect any trouble from a Lab/Golden mix but he is verrrry territorial large and frankly a bit scary. The Mastiff is so big, clumsy and lazy that he's kind of like the fat kid that got picked last in P.E. (I can say that being a picked last type myself) and the Pom/Chihuahua mix is.... how should I say it? Ummmmmmm.....mean and spoiled!

Now the owners (in the same order as their dogs) are a family "horribly concerned" about the Lab/Goldens aggression, but find it hysterically funny when he cowers in fear from lack of socialization. The owners of the Mastiff are spoiling the dog so badly that they are going to have a very large (180 lbs+), untrained and spoiled beast in their bed. The Pom/Chihuahua owner knew her dog LOVED the treats I was doling out but found out you had to cut them yourself, sniffed, said "I don't cut up anything" and turned tail with her Louis Vuitton dog carrier and left.

Sigh........usually there are one or maybe on a bad night two in a class but all of them!! I resorted to the last trick in my bag...........tricks. Told them all how to get their dogs to sit up and sent them home. Maybe next week they'll be ready to learn.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


My twenty year reunion was this past weekend. I went to the bar night but not the actual reunion, it cost too much. I resisted up until the very last moment. I bought the outfit and was all ready but refused to commit until that very day. I didn't want to all. I was on the "lost" list even though I live downstairs from a "found" member of my class. I wouldn't let her rat me out and give away my secret location.

I thought it would be the very same as High School all the "Princesses" holding court. I looked up the website with all the information and sure enough there they all were, the planners of the reunion. Nope, just did not want to go. Still the new outfit was pretty cute and when the heck would I have an opportunity to wear it again (I never get taken out) so I went.

We got to the bar where it was held and lo and behold they were trying to charge $60.00 for the priviledge of standing with former classmates. No free drinks or food or even a band! What was this $60.00 for? The princesses tanning sessions? Hmmmm, had to find out so we snuck in.

I immediately wanted to run, but then started to look around. All the men were bald. Some simply thinning, but most totally bald! Like they just gave up the comb over and shaved. Okay this is good, I like it when a man admits his baldness and lets it go. And there they were the princesses...all anorexic and tanorexic. It's funny how those two maladies seem to go hand in hand, hmmm. So me and my weirdo farmers tan ventured further in...

I saw a classmate I used to hang with...Kelly, we had two free periods together and would go drive around and smoke. She was still very cool and harboring an old grudge with someone across the room. Interesting...I'm not the only fool who still can't stand that girl who stole my boyfriend when I was sixteen. Feeling emboldened I ventured further in....

Several hours and several drinks later I found myself in the bathroom with some friends. Some I still hang out with and some from High School. We were standing at one mirror and the princesses were holding court at the other. Even twenty years later we are still separating ourselves. So I whispered I was going to go over, say "Hi" and introduce myself. "NO" they all shrilled at me....but I tend to be a little contrary and I went. I was fully expecting another social snub twenty years later... and it came. But not from all, hmmmm. One girl turned and was completely unlike her high school self, Monica. DAMNIT! She broke all my previous held beliefs about the princesses!! But then again would I have walked over to them in high school? Probably not. So she changed and so did I. Don't get me wrong most were still awful but the one gave me hope.

Later I talked to another friend who had also gone and she said she felt weird about still feeling resentful. We decided that the reason we never got over those teenage "slights" and still can't stand those people was because we never met their adult selfs. We were stuck in all that selfish teenage angst and given the chance to know most as adults it would be different. Monica proved that to me. Although I would still like to give the princesses a sandwich.....

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


I took my dog Lola to the vet last week for her yearly shots and check up. I always swore I would never buy a dog from a pet store, but I did. I saw an ad in the paper four years ago when I was thinking about getting a new dog, it was for a Schnoodle. I had no idea what that was so I called. The woman who answered the phone told me she sold the dog but that she had seen one at her local pet store. So off I went to look.

She weighed all of four pounds and was in a cage with a Weiner dog. She trembled, was so shy, and just didn't interact with me much at all. She was the cutest thing I had ever seen. I knew I didn't want a dog that shy, so I left her there. The next week I went back. She was a little bit better but still very shy and thin (I think Mr Weiner was hogging all the food, typical) so I left again. The next week I went again and she greeted me with a big lick, I was hooked. She left with me.

Since then she has had to have knee surgery and extra teeth removed. She has severe food allergies, chronic gastritis, goopy eyes, ear infections, and the dryest skin I have ever seen.

That brings me back to our vet appoinment. He looked at her and we got talking about her dry skin. He suggested that I try fish oil. Now I had tried that for myself for health reasons (not being a big fish fan) and was horrified to find myself smelling like a mackrel. For that reason I no longer take fish oil. I asked him about that and he said that's why he recommends a particular type of capsule, no smell. Great so I spent 20.00 for the supplement trusting my fabulous vets opinion.

We all know dogs can smell pretty bad sometimes. Well this morning I realized my smelly dog had a new odor, fish! Not only did she smell like dog but dog who had been rolling around with a big old salmon. So I called the vet and told him that now not only is my dry skinned dog scaly she smells fishy too.

My doggie of the sea is getting a good bath....

Monday, September 05, 2005


I just recently had a "Doggie Social" to try and build up my business and it went very well except for one thing... My roommates were there with a camera. They just emailed the results to me and I'm not happy. For one thing dog photography is an art, you have to work hard get them when they are still. So none of the pictures really came out. The other thing that doesn't make me happy is...there are pictures of me. Dear Lord I look like my mother.

I got old and matronly when I wasn't looking. I hate these pictures...HATE THEM. I have a man in my life who shall remain nameless (see hon told ya) and he tells me I'm cute and sexy all the time. Most of the time I believe him. He sees something that is still there. So okay maybe it was just a bad shot..wait there are like ten shots...and I hate them all. What's really funny is that she doesn't appear in my mirror, this woman, only in photographs. Hmmmmmm, where did she come from?

I recently quit smoking (in the last 7 months) and went on the pill. Neither one of those things are doing anything for my girlish (HA) figure, but I'll be damned if I give in to this mother thing.
I called a friend of mine last night who is always a source of good thoughts for me. He usually can always build me up. This time he said " you think that's bad, wait until you're forty" Noooooooo, I won't do it, I won't believe it, I won't accept it. I don't want to be my mother or look like her yet. She's not unattractive by any means I'm just not ready

What about Demi Moore and Michelle Pfeffier? They aren't you, oh..... better genes maybe? Better plastic surgeon? Whatever I WILL NOT give in to this. So starting as of two days ago I have decided to fight it, rail against everything I can. My former "good thoughts" friend told me to give up (he's not really former I'm just ticked at him) but I'm just getting started. Read this and believe me I am just getting started and I am going to make that matronly woman in the picture go least until I'm 70 or so.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


I used to work in a Home Decor store. Stuff meant a lot to me. I would do all the buying for the store and it was like Christmas with someone else's money. I have Christmas ornaments that all told probably are worth thousands. I have a lot of stuff.

Now I'm trying to start my own business and it's hard. I sit in my room and contemplate my stuff. It means nothing to me now. All I see are all those dollars I could use now to put towards advertising or supplies or just basic living expenses now that my standard of living is taken a HUGE downward turn. Everyday I consider selling it all. I don't need any of it. That cute candle holder, it irritates me that it's there. The oh so adorable musical waterball with the kissing fish and the glitter that falls when I shake it? What the hell was I thinking? I want it all out gone and I want my money back!

This whole thing with hurricane Katrina has me thinking about it even more. Those people had stuff too and now it's gone. Not sold like I intend to do but gone. They are starting over with nothing. I would never want to be forced in a situation like that it's horrible, but the thought of a totally blank slate appeals to me. My stuff is closing in on me. I talk almost daily about making a change, moving somewhere new. Maybe it's about time I did it. Or just have that garage sale and get rid of some of this crap!!

Friday, September 02, 2005


Recently I have come across several instances where people think, no expect, dogs act like humans. I had a client once who told me that they were going to train their two Min Pins, but they decided not to because the trainer they spoke to told them that dogs don't think like humans. "Oh no" they said "our dogs are part of our family". Well this can be completely true but the bottom line is they are critters...critters with teeth. You do them and you a huge disservice either refusing to accept this or not believing it.

I know of a family in my neighborhood who have two large Labs. They are sweet dogs and very well trained. They were however, not raised with small children. On the fourth of July the neighborhood had a block party. Somehow a three year old decided that the dogs dinner looked good to him and went for it. The dog snapped and a scratch appeared on the surprised childs face. Pandemonium ensued, the police were called and the neighborhood was evenly split. Some for dog, some for child. Now while I would never say it's good that the dog got his teeth anywhere near a child's face, I also have to question the wisdom of a parent allowing a small child to get near an eating dog. My theory on children and dogs is unless you have a dog raised from a puppy with the child, is to treat them all as if they might bite. Before the child has reason and logic, keep that child away from any unknown dog. When the child can understand and reason teach them him never to approach an unknown dog. NEVER.

The other instance was from a message board. A family moved to a new neighborhood and their Wheaten Terrier somehow got loose. In the cul de sac they moved to there was a three year wandering alone. The dog barked at this seemingly unknown critter (my dog does the same sometimes to small people. She seems to not understand short people) a teenage boy went to intervene and was nipped. No blood was drawn but again, not good. Another uproar and threats from the father to go after the dog with a baseball bat.

What I know for sure is that dogs aren't like people. They don't have logic and reason. They have reaction and instinct. You can never assume because it knows this little person, that it will be okay with that little person. Dogs generalization skills suck. Both of these situations seem to me to be a immediate reaction from the dogs. It may have gone like this...

Lab...Yummm food...not sure if this will ever happen fast...hey small thing trying to get food...protect food.

Wheaten... Loose, yipee...ohhh, new strange place...scary...small unfamiliar human type thing screaming...bark to scare screaming thing....larger human thing lunging at me...cornered...bite to protect.

I would never defend a vicious dog. I may suggest a behaviorist if the owner was motivated enough but mean is mean. Neither one of these situations had mean awful untrained dogs. Circumstances came together with not tragic but not good results. What I would suggest is for parents of small children keep a eye on their kids. I don't have kids and I don't think I intend to have them. I do have an eighteen month old buddy who plays with my Schnoodle. My Schnoodle is well trained and sweet. I am still right there when they interact and I do mean right there with my hands on the dog. The child is bigger than the dog and could inadvertently hurt the dog. If that happened I am not 100% sure she wouldn't bite out of fear or pain. I will not take the chance, ever.

Repeat after me...
A dog is a critter
A critter with teeth

Remember they aren't human, they have no reason or logic. That isn't a bad thing (contary to what my Min Pin client thinks)they don't hold grudges, talk back, talk behind your back, tell you you're gaining weight...I could go on and on

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I think I believe in Karma . There are too many terms for it to not believe: poetic justice, just desserts, you reap what you sow, and what goes around comes around. All of these are true to me. What I can't figure out is it Karma? Or simply Irony? Possibly coincidence?

I have an ex-boyfriend who treated me quite badly. In all fairness to him I allowed him to do it. I have no excuses other than I was young, it was my first serious relationship...blah, blah blah. Anyhoo, his MO was date me for awhile and then dump me for someone...his words here...more passionate. In other words crazy. Not just a little crazy but hanging from the rafters, lock her up in the attic crazy. Then when "Passion" got to be too tedious he'd come back to me. Sometimes while he was still dating the loon we'd become "friends" and hang out. Well he's gone, moved to another state now, but we still communicate via email and are truly just friends now. He got a new girlfriend that he pulled his same crap on...dumped her and then wanted her back. Only this one (god bless her) said no that she had moved on, but "gosh they can be friends". Now is this karma that just finally reared it's sensible head or is it simply ironic that he got the same treatment finally? Coincidence? I don't believe that.

My biggest pet peeve in life is lateness and unreliablity. Hate it! I am surrounded by late and unreliable people. I have been for twenty years. Not just sort of late people but hours and hours late. All my best friends, my family, employees, everyone. Am I paying back a cosmic debt? Was I a greek goddess (shut up) who made her subjects wait intermittably? Or is it simply ironic that I am constantly subjected to the behavior I detest? This is definitely NOT coincidence!

Lastly, I have a friend and former co-worker who is completely intolerant of fat people. She is a bone. She makes fun of them and thinks that they are the laziest humans on the planet. I'm convinced she would rather hang out with a serial killer than a fat person. She also has several grandchildren...all fat. Not just a little fat either but positively roly poly. Once again does she owe the universe something or is it merely ironic? Again could it be coincidental?

I like the concept of having to work things out until you are done with them. The religion I was raised in doesn't really have a place you go when you die, no heaven or hell. You simply move on and continue to work out all your earthly issues before you ascend to that place of perfection, whatever it may be for you. If it all is just ironic or coincidental there isn't really any reason for it and I like reasons. I like things to have purpose. It makes all our earthly pains seem worth it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Things I want to do before I'm forty (but probably won't)

Have someone say to me "you're too thin, you need to gain some weight"
Have a body I can put in a bikini
Move to a new city
Make a living off my own business
Go to Hong Kong, Africa and Italy
Write a book (about what I don't know)
Sing in front of a crowd unselfconsciously
Find a man who...
-Likes me as much twenty years from now as he did in the first twenty days
-Is strong enough to deal with me (ignores my loony periods)
-Sends me flowers
-Is actually good at gift giving (money not the issue, thoughtfulness is what it's all about)
-Doesn't snore
-Loves my dog
-Likes me to cook but will take me out sometimes
-Reads as much as I do
-Takes my side every time, even when I'm wrong
-Thinks I'm beautiful and tells me so
Ahhh how did this end up about men? I like to pretend they aren't important but alas they are. He may be right in front of me, who knows? That and the bikini body:)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Big Scary Water Dish

Before I made the change to dog trainer I was a retail manager. Now I wasn't supposed to take my pup to work with me but I did. She would hang out behind the counter of the store I worked in and greet "her" customers. She was with me 24-7. Now since I changed jobs she has had to spend more time home alone.

We've had a long period of time here in the Northwest with hot weather, 80's and 90's, that's hot for us. I've come home several times in these last few weeks to find a completely dry water bowl... I felt like a bad mother. So I went to a local pet store and bought her a new water dish. You know the ones...they look like the kind of water bottles you see in offices? With the big blue bottle? I brought it home a couple of days ago.

The only tile floor I have is in the bathroom so she eats and drinks in there. She has a knee injury so she doesn't like slippery floors so her dish is kind of blocking the doorway. I filled the bottle and put it down. The bottle drains out to a certain level in a little dish, great! So there you go pooch, have at it. She walks up sniffs, takes a big long drink and I think all is good my dog won't dry up and blow away. Then comes...the bubble. You know how those big water bottles make the bloop sound and a big bubble rises to the top? Same thing with the little ones. Well my pup shot across the room and under the bed at the sight and sound. Crap! So I spent another day coaxing her to use the dish..all went well for awhile. Then...another bloop and under the bed she went.

So now I have no idea if she's drinking out of the damn thing. She has a couple of times all stretched out practically flat with her body as far away as possible. She will only go into the bathroom by pressing her little body up against the doorjamb to avoid getting near it and once she's in there? She lays down on the bath mat and growls at it. Sigh, all I'm trying to do is be a good dogmother:)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Okay I'll admit it...I'm furious! I will also admit to being a bit "green" in the dog training biz. Some things I can't handle. I have had two cases that I took on that I shouldn't have...a Blue Heeler who bit me the moment he met me and I little Shih Tzu who was a example of terrible breeding.

The Shih Tzu was an adorable six pound ball of black fur. So completely cute! Then as you looked a little closer things started to look a little like the "Island of Dr. Moreau"..creepy. The dog was the only surviving pup of her litter, her mother rejected her, she had a herniated umbilical cord, she had an extra row of teeth, extra toes and was reactive to everything...Everything!! These things showed up slowly but surely over the course of our six weeks together. It got to the point where I was afraid to part her fur for fear of finding an extra eye looking out at me.

We worked hard to get her over her reactivity. Well... I worked hard. I explained that the way to help the dog to not flip her little furry cookie was to expose her to the things that frightened her slowly and at level she could tolerate. So if small children were a source of anxiety, present the child at a 100 feet, then 75 and so on...rewarding for any and all good normal behavior. Eventually the dog should enjoy having these things around her because she knows good things happen when they there. I'll admit not a low effort process, but once done it is high pay-off. Initially the owner would put the dog down in a huge group of dogs and be confused why the little thing went bananas but as we talked I thought the owner was with me...

I got an email last week saying she sent the dog off to "camp" and they had cured her! Wow I said, how? Well now the dog has a pinch collar and a shock collar so when she reacts to something the owner just yanks or shocks the bejeezus out of this six pound dog. I wanted to weep for this dog.

I guess the moral to the story has three parts.
1. Do NOT take on the poor sickly puppy because you want to save it. I feel maybe the pup's mother knew something we didn't. Unless you are a very experienced dog owner you have no idea what you're getting into.
2.People want a quick fix most times and I need to be clearer from the beginning that some problems aren't going to have a fast solution and sometimes there may not be a solution. You may spend the rest of the dog's life loving it in your home away from outside influences.
3.There are actual human beings out there who think a shock/pinch collar is appropriate for a six pound scared dog. Bull Shih!
Who Would You Choose?

I had a conversation awhile back with a friend who swore if he had to make a decision between saving his dog and saving a person, he'd save his dog. We argued over this silly question for quite awhile. My thing was when would you possibly stumble into this scenario? All of a sudden you look out your balcony...lo' and behold your mother and your Schnauzer are hanging side by side by their fingertips?? There is no time to save both...who would it be? Okay yes silly but we all have those goofy conversations. So my brillant answer depends on who the person was. My mother? Annoying most times, but she'd win this contest. Ted Bundy? Nope let him sail to the ground. A boyfriend? Hmmm, I guess I'd have to see who I thought would be around longer, him or the dog.

So that conversation went largely forgotten for awhile. Then I went to a off-leash park with the nine year old child of a friend. We were walking through a large group of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. They were very nice dogs but sounded just awful during play...snarling, barking and growling. My little eighteen pound dog was there too. Suddenly this large group of dogs felt menacing, very scary. My immediate reaction was to grab the child, pull her from the area and then look for my dog...sigh. I love my dog dearly but I guess I still appreciate the value of humans too. Most humans....some of you? And you know who you are...well don't hang from a balcony with my dog.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


10. Hands always smell like cheese or turkey weenies
9. They know what a real "bully stick" looks like
8. Plastic bags are always suspicious
7. Their dogs? Not very well trained
6. It's not fun getting clicked in bed
5. The collar and leash do tend to chafe
4. That damned bell and the drooling
3. You can't always "come when called"
2. You're never sure if you've made a decision or were you shaped, lured or prompted?

and number one.......

1. Before you know it you're put on variable reinforcement schedule :)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

You know how when you're a kid and you want to be a fireman or a rock star? I always wanted to be a zookeeper. I ended up a retail manager, for seventeen years.

In the past I have tended to be a little stagnant...same job, same boyfriend, same life. I never really liked any of them but change was hard for me. Recently I have had a lot of career, new boyfriend, new life. I like them all but change is still hard for me.

I am now a dog trainer and with this title came the new career, new boyfriend, new life. I never imagined it would be so hard to start over with a new business. I am utterly broke and more than a little bit crazy (sorry new boyfriend) but when I am working with the pups or with the new guy I absolutely know I've done the right thing.

I have been doing this for about a year now and am bursting with stories about the people and pets I've met along the way. The animals just do what they do and it's amusing...the people? Well they can be even more amusing and a bit more complicated. I felt the need for a outlet. It may be because it's all so funny I have to share or it may be so frustrating or infuriating I need to vent...we'll see