Sunday, December 4, 2016

Barley and Rye: Day 1 (Part 2)

Yesterday, I wrote about the preparations for introducing my Barley girl to her new sister. Today is the actual introductions.

We brought Rye's crate out into the living room--a more neutral, open area than either of the bedrooms where the dogs sleep. We put Rye in the crate and then it was time to get Barley. Barley and I heeled down the stairs to keep her from coming out full speed and then we rounded the corner and they saw each other. Barley sat and wanted hot dogs and string cheese.

Rye lost her mind. That's right. Barley was the good dog.

Our trainer stood by the crate and when Rye calmed down, she'd get a treat. Barley got treats while she sat nicely and ignored the tiny terror.

Eventually, Rye calmed enough that we released Barley to go check out the crate. At first, Barley didn't want to go sniff her sister. She just wanted snacks. When I put my hands in my pockets, though, she walked over and sniffed Rye. Rye barked. Barley looked at her like she'd lost her mind. I called Barley back and gave her treats.

For a while, we just went on like that. Our trainer would give Rye snacks when she was calm, eventually waiting until Rye sat before giving her the treat. I'd give Barley treats for staying calm.

Every few minutes, we'd move Barley a little closer. Once I was close enough to give both dogs snacks, I'd give Barley one and then Rye one as long as she stayed calm.

When both dogs were to the point where they'd sit calmly and wait several seconds before treats were dispersed, we took them for a walk. Our trainer took Barley and a handful of snacks and I got the tiny terror.

Rye is still not good on leash--she's fine for going out to potty, but if we go past our yard, she pulls and leaps and circles and lunges at squirrels and leaves. We just got our Halti head collar yesterday, so I haven't had enough time to convince her it's awesome yet. With Barley with us, we had our best walk yet.

We walked on opposite sides of the street at first and Rye pulled a bit, but she kept looking at Barley and then looking back at me--which earned her a treat. Pretty soon she wasn't walking loosely, but she wasn't pulling so hard that she was wheezing, either.

Gradually, our trainer and Barley moved closer. Rye did a good job of checking in with me for treats after looking at Barley.

Once, Rye bounced a little too close to Barley and Barley does not tolerate nonsense--she knows that dogs are supposed to walk nicely and that was not good leash behavior--and she snapped at Rye. Rye was being playful, but Barley doesn't like bouncy play and corrected her. She didn't make contact and she backed away from Rye when Rye turned back to me, and our trainer said it was a perfectly appropriate response to Rye's silliness.

When we got home, we switched places so Barley was in the crate and Rye had a chance to come up to Barley freely. Nobody barked. Everyone sat and took treats nicely, so we upped the difficulty a bit. Both dogs had to down to get a treat. If I was looking at Rye for a down and Barley did it in the crate, she got a treat instead of Rye. Rye learned pretty quickly to get down fast.

Rye was stressed, but look at my Barley girl not even looking at her sister!

We'll be doing this in stages with their meals for a while. Rye will be in the crate and then we'll swap. Barley is always supposed to get the first treat (so Rye will fit into the pecking order with Soth being fed first, then Barley, then Rye).

We're also going to be practicing just being calm and ignoring each other while I relax and watch tv. One will be loose and the other in the crate with a cover. If the crated dog is quiet, they'll get to stay uncovered and get a treat. The other dog will get a treat for relaxing. If the crated dog loses her mind, she'll be covered and no treats until she's calm again.

When all that goes well, we'll be moving to the kitchen gate like we did with foster pup Sal (who is struggling with vertigo right now, so send his new mom some good thoughts!). Then we'll repeat everything with the gate between us. When we've got that down, our trainer will help us move on to the next step.

Barley catches on to things quickly--it only took her a week to fully master her first lessons in reactive dog training as a solo dog and Rye has been catching on to those same lessons in our solo training, too, so I'm hoping we get a chance to work with our trainer one more time before our holiday travels. Wish us luck--we will definitely keep you posted.

(And I'm sorry for the lack of pictures! Training two wild ones doesn't leave enough hands for taking pictures, so I could only take a picture after everyone had calmed down enough that I had a few seconds between feedings during homework).

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Barley and Rye: Day 1 (Part 1)

They say it takes a village to raise a child and I don't think it's any different with a dog. I think all of our blog friends at some point or another have posted about either the wonderful villages they belong to or the not-so-helpful villages that make raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted pups more difficult. Barley and I are lucky to have an amazing village of blog friends, family, friends, trainers, and classmates.

The first thing I did after bringing Rye home was email Barley's reactive dog trainer and her agility trainer to see if they could help us learn to co-habitate. I was in love with Rye from the second I met her, so I knew we needed to get off on the right foot if this was ever going to work. They both responded in a few hours and were more than willing to work with us--and our agility trainer was even willing to come to our house (a blessing because my car is small and the thought of having two dogs that have never seen each other in it--even if one of them was harnessed and the other was crated--gave me anxiety).

If only it were as easy as introducing these two.

Rye's quarantine period for kennel cough ended on Friday, so our trainer agreed to come over Saturday to help with introductions.

At first, I wasn't too worried about it because I had massive amounts of cleaning to do--like finding the top of my coffee table so that there was a place to set treats and vacuuming up all of the tiny bits of rope toy that Rye had left all over the carpet--so I was busy most of Friday. When the work was done, though, I started to feel barfy. The possibility that Barley would hate Rye was very real and that's not a reality I would want to deal with.

Our trainer had instructed me to make sure that both dogs were hungry before she arrived, so everyone only got half of their breakfast and Rye got a nice long indoor play session and Barley got a nice long walk. By the time we finished our walk and I ate some lunch, there was just enough time to get our treats together before our trainer arrived.

We started the session with Barley loose and Rye shut in her room. Barley loves our trainer, so I didn't want her to know that she was here and that she wasn't being allowed to say hi. We chatted for a few minutes while Barley got to be loved on. Then Barley went upstairs while our trainer met my tiny terror.

Rye showed off just how smart she is. We've been working on the "it's your choice" game for the past two weeks and she's caught on so quickly. Our trainer played with her for a few minutes to get to know her better.

Rye gets these kibbles when she makes eye contact with me instead.

Such a good puppy.

Then it was time for my two girls to see each other (although I'm pretty sure they've spied each other through windows before) for the first time.

That experience will probably require a whole book's worth of writing, so I'll save that for Part 2, but since I know you've all been sending us good thoughts, I will let you know that nobody (me) cried. Nobody ate anybody else. Nobody's head ended up in anybody else's mouth. It wasn't all pretty, but it was positive and I have hope that one day--maybe not soon, but one day--we will all be one big happy family.

Training is so tiring.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 1, Part 2.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


The original Toy Story came out when I was in 5th grade. My family and I went to see Andy pack up all of his toys and move to a new house just days before we did the same thing. I've always loved that movie, but the character of Sid--the little boy who mutilates toys and reattaches their body parts onto other toys--has always been deeply disturbing to me. 

For years, I have bragged that I got the good dog. Barley has never destroyed a toy. We still have the very first toy I ever bought her almost 6 years ago. It has a few stitched spots where it started to come apart at the seams and despite being washed, it's a gross color now, but otherwise it's perfect. She's very gentle. I've teased my sister about how her dog reminds me of Sid. All of my nephew dog's toys are missing limbs. 

I can't tease her anymore. Rye is the new Sid.

This puppy always has to be chewing on something. All. Day. Long. Thankfully, she's very good about only chewing on dog things, but the dog things are not going to last long at this rate.

This guy lost an ear and a tail.

This football is holding up well so far.

I've tried to find durable toys, but they do not make Rye-proof toys. She loves Benebones, but I worry about her chewing on hard things like that for too long. I might just be paranoid since Barley's gums bleed every time she uses hard chews and she hates non-edible chews anyway, so I'm not used to seeing a dog chew on them for long.

She uses her back teeth like little saws. She takes the edge, or an ear, or a tail, or a leg of a toy and just grinds her teeth back and forth until part of it comes off. I can hear her teeth scraping and it makes me cringe. 

In a matter of minutes, I have to go and pull body parts out of her mouth. I collected quite a collection of tail tips, wings, and ears on the coffee table while my sister and I watched the new episodes of Gilmore Girls last weekend. One day, I went to campus and went to pull my office keys out of my pocket and pulled out the tail of her Thanksgiving turkey toy that I'd fished out of her mouth and shoved in there to keep her from following me to the trash can and trying to pull it out. 

Most of the parts she's pulled off haven't left gaping holes, but I've had to stitch up a few where stuffing started oozing out. 

We've been working on a new command, "give it," so Rye easily gives me the toys when she starts to destroy them. I've also been trying to give her chews or a more durable ball when I start hearing the teeth grinding instead of letting her keep chewing on the plush toys, so maybe one day when she realizes that chewing means the toys go away, she'll stop destroying them--but I think I might have my very own little Sid.

Do your dogs destroy toys? Have you trained them to be gentle with their toys?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Eat, Sleep, and Be Thankful

The 18th was a big day at our house. Not only did we get Rye, the Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat we won from our friends at ZoePhee, and a delivery, we also got our November Pet Treater box! The theme for this box was Eat, Sleep, and Be Thankful. 

Rye and I opened the box right away--and she had so much fun with the contents that it took me over a week to be able to sit down to write our review! Rye is a very toy-motivated puppy. She likes food, but if she spots one of her toys in the middle of eating a meal, she will walk away from her dish to get the toy instead (I quickly learned that I can't put her toys back in the bin while she eats if I want to her to finish her food!). 

The first thing Rye and I discovered was a Kikkerland Elephant Dog Toy. The elephant is made out of cotton rope and is designed to promote healthy teeth and gums while pups chew on it.

Rye had no idea how to pose for a picture with the elephant (so many things for her big sister to teach her!), so I only got one picture of the elephant being cute and Rye being distracted before Rye pounced on him. She knew exactly what this toy was for!

Unfortunately, the poor elephant isn't looking so cute these days. His ears are completely unraveled and I keep finding bits of blue on the carpet. I'm not used to a dog that doesn't treat her toys gently! But Rye loves this guy--cute or not--and she gets very excited when I let her play with it when I can closely supervise her to make sure she's not having a mid-day elephant snack!

Barley also found a toy that was perfect for her! Barley loves treat dispensing toys and we got a PetZip Goody Ball. This one is a little different than the other treat balls we have--it's all one piece with a slit all the way around the middle to stuff treats in. The treats don't fall out as easily as they do with some of our others when it's just being rolled and Barley hasn't quite figured out that squeezing it helps them come out more quickly, so it's been the perfect entertainment when Barley's had to go in our room so Rye can get some love.

In addition to fun new toys, there were some edible goodies inside, too! The food item we're most excited about is Puppy Scoops Maple Bacon Ice Cream. Barley loves ice cream. With this container, you just add warm water to the mix, stir, and then freeze for at least 5 hours before serving. I had every intention of mixing this up while my nephew pup was here so the three dogs could eat ice cream while my sister and I devoured two different types of pie, but it didn't happen, so we're going to save it for a celebratory snack if we all survive our first training session this weekend.

There was also a turkey cookie from Emmy's Gourmet Canine Creations and I'm a sucker for cute seasonal snacks, so this was a big hit. Barley was bummed that I didn't let her swallow the whole cookie in one bite and broke it up so she could share with her baby sister. 

We also got a bag of Dingo Market Cuts Chicken and Sweet Potato Treats. They look awesome, but I'm still going to share these with the dogs at the shelter instead of using them here at home. We're going to be using so many soft training treats over the upcoming weeks as Rye is integrated into the family that nobody's going to have room in their diets for big treats like this.

The pups weren't the only ones who got fun things! I got a bar of sea salt and caramel milk chocolate (and I appreciate the "for your human" sticker on the front!), a I Love My Dog wall hook, and a picture frame for a photo of the pups! Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the frame yet because the glass inside was broken when it arrived and I had to quickly shove it in a closet where inquiry puppy mouths wouldn't find it until a time when I can safely discard the glass. Thankfully, Pet Treater wants all of their customers to be happy and in their FAQ they tell you how to contact them if an item arrives damaged. They might not be able to send you the exact same item since they have limited numbers of items, but they'll replace the item with a comparable product. 

Once again, Pet Treater impressed us with their variety and the quality of the items inside the box! There was something for everyone (kitty brother Soth says the peace and quiet the elephant provided when Rye quit chasing him was present enough for him!) and they were perfect products for my little family. 

If you're still looking for the perfect Christmas present for the dogs in your life, now is a great time to order a Pet Treater box. There are several codes available right now. With a 3, 6, or 12-month subscription, you can get a free dog bed with the code FREE-PTBED or the code LOVE-PT5 will take $5 off any subscription. Until Dec. 1, you can get a free treat launcher with PT-LAUNCH. You can only use one code, but no matter which one you choose, you can't go wrong!

DisclaimerWe were provided with a Pet Treater box in exchange for our honest review, but all opinions are my own and we only share information we think is relevant and valuable to our readers. Pet Treater is not responsible for the content of this post. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving preparations are extra easy this year. For Thanksgiving, it's just me and my sister--she doesn't really like turkey, so we're having chicken pot pie instead and the recipe I use is the best when it's frozen first, so I made the mini pot pies a few weeks ago and just have to pop them in the oven. We have a tradition of crockpot meals for Thanksgiving, so I'm trying a new crockpot mac and cheese recipe that requires minimal effort. All that leaves for me to do tomorrow is some easy bacon asparagus wraps.

I got turkey toys for Barley, Rye, and their cousin Maddux and we thought we were all set. Then our friends at sent us a package of Merrick's Thanksgiving Day Dinner! Now that Foster Pup Sal is in his forever home, wet food is just a special treat here--and I can't think of a better occasion for a special treat than Thanksgiving. 

Rye isn't a picky eater, but she's a distracted eater, so I let her be our official taste tester for these cans ahead of time. Rye likes her food, but if Soth walks by the room or a car starts outside or I open a door or she catches sight of a toy, she'll wander away from her bowl mid-meal to play instead. 

Merrick is a brand we really love at our house and we use a lot of their treats and some of their seasonal recipes for fun meals. It seemed like the perfect topper to give Rye to get her a little more excited about meal time.

Thanksgiving Day Dinner has great ingredients like Deboned Turkey, Turkey Broth, Chicken, Sweet Potato, Carrots, Green Beans, Apples, and Peas to name a few--lots of great fall ingredients (and a little overlap to what my sister and I will be eating in pot pie!).

Rye was happy to dig in when I offered her a spoonful, so I think she's going to be thrilled when she sees some on top of her breakfast tomorrow morning. Barley and Maddux live to eat, so I know they'll be happy with a little something special later in the day, too.

We hope that all of you have a day filled with family and good food! Happy Thanksgiving!

DisclaimerWe were provided with a case of Merrick Thanksgiving Day Dinner  from in exchange for our honest review, but all opinions are my own and we only share information we think is relevant and valuable to our readers. is not responsible for the content of this post. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I'm Not Sharing

On the same day that Barley's new sister Rye arrived, we got our item for our monthly review. Barley hasn't met Rye yet, but I don't think it's much of a mystery of which arrival Barley likes better.

This month, we're testing out ACANA Duck and Pear Singles treats. ACANA isn't a brand that we've tried before, so I did a little research before we tested them out. ACANA's a company that is focused on providing food and treats that are limited ingredient and biologically appropriate. According to their website: "Our mission represents a new standard in pet food, designed to nourish your dog and cat in two ways. First, according to its natural evolution to a meat and protein-rich diet. Second, using meats, poultry, eggs and fish that are sustainably ranched, farmed or fished by local suppliers and delivered to our kitchens fresh each day."

The ingredients in these treats are duck, pear, duck liver, sarsaparilla root, and mixed tocopherols (preservatives). It's always nice to be able to count the ingredients in treats on one hand. The package (and ACANA website) point out that the duck is raised free-run a farm in Kentucky and the pear and sarsaparilla root are also locally grown. 

Barley was very excited to get to dig into the treats, but she humored me and took a few pictures first.

We also did a little bit of self-control practice. Freeze-dried treats with few ingredients are high value treats around here, so it takes a lot of focus for Barley to wait until she's told to eat them. Working on self-control is also an important step to preparing Barley for meeting her sister when Rye's quarantine is up, so these treats gave us a great opportunity to practice.

The treats are small enough that they'd be a good reward as is, but they're also soft enough that they can be broken up into smaller bits, too. They get a little crumbly (as most freeze-dried treats do) when you break them up, so we won't be taking them to agility or on walks, but they are perfect for some in door training. 

When Barley was told she could have the treats, she dove in and inhaled them faster than my camera could snap a picture, so I think that means they are a hit. She thinks they're too good to share with her little sister, so we're keeping them hidden upstairs and using them for special Barley training sessions.

We highly recommend these treats! also has them in lamb and apple, mackerel and greens, and pork and squash--so if your dog has a sensitivity to one type of protein, there are other great options.

DisclaimerWe were provided with a bag of ACANA Singles from in exchange for our honest review, but all opinions are my own and we only share information we think is relevant and valuable to our readers. is not responsible for the content of this post. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Special Delivery

Friday was a big day with new things crossing our threshold. We got a package and a Pet Treater box for our upcoming reviews. We got a Snuffle Mat we won from our friends ZoePhee (it's a hit!).

We also got a new member of the family.

I grew up with two dogs and pretty much from the day I got Barley, I've dreamed about getting a second dog. When we lived in an apartment, that wasn't an option--there wasn't room and the lease didn't allow it. Ever since I bought my house, I've been thinking about it more seriously. One of the requirements when I was house-hunting was that there was room for two big crates.

Part of me hoped that foster pup Sal would become part of the family--I even picked out a new name for him--but it was immediately clear that he wasn't my dog. After Sal found his home, I was pretty sure that we would stay a single-dog home for a while--at least until summer vacation.

But then the shelter posted some Shar-Pei mix puppies on their Facebook page and I thought long and hard about going to meet them. They looked so much like one of my childhood dogs that I was pretty sure I needed one. Eventually, I decided none of those puppies would be quite the puppy I was looking for and I decided not to meet them.

The next week, though, they posted coonhound puppies and I love hound dogs. They wouldn't be available for a few days, so I had time to think about it. My mom said I was crazy. My friends said they loved puppies and wanted to have one to play with without having their own. My sister said they were cute and gave an enthusiastic yay when I told her I was going to meet them.

I went to the shelter and got there early, but there were already 9 other people in line ahead of me and only 4 puppies. I secured my spot in line and waited until the shelter opened. They let the first four approved applications in to meet the puppies, but said we could wait in case things didn't work out and then they'd move down the list. I decided that it wasn't meant to be and almost left, but I'd been talking to a woman outside who was looking for a cat and she encouraged me to come in and see which cat she ended up with. As we waited in the lobby, I saw a little dog in one of the crates.

The foster coordinator was reviewing applications at the front desk, so I asked her about the pup. She was an 8-month old puppy they had listed as a Border Collie Australian Shepherd mix. She'd been surrendered to the dog warden because her previous family couldn't take care of her any longer (they couldn't remember if it was because of an illness or financial issues), but they'd loved her and wanted the best for her.

I pet her through the cage. She licked me. I told the foster coordinator I wanted to change my application from the puppies to this little dog. Once they finished finalizing the puppy adoptions, it was my turn.

After writing a check and signing some papers, I had a puppy.

She doesn't quite have modeling down.

Like Sal, she has kennel cough, so she's in quarantine and hasn't met her big sister yet. We've already lined up training with her and Barley as soon as the quarantine period is over. I want to make sure that we do things right from the very beginning. Until then, we're back to splitting my time between the pets (it seems to be going more quickly this time--maybe I'm used to it) and spraying Lysol all over the place.

I struggled at coming up with a name for her--there were a couple varieties of hops I was considering and a literary name, but nothing felt right. My sister, her Aunt L (whose birthday is today!), came up with the name Rye. I thought about it for a few hours and the more I thought about it, the more right it was. 

She's also affectionally called my tiny terror--she's like a little tornado. Rye hops from one spot to the next, picking things up and dropping them off in new places just to start all over again somewhere new. 

She's never still. She's incredibly smart. She's terrible on leash. She's very small--only 27 pounds! The smallest dog I've ever had. The vet doesn't think she'll get much bigger than 30 pounds. 

We've started the relaxation protocol Barley and I did years ago and Rye's catching on quick. She's also easily distracted, so we've made no progress on loose leash walking because every time I get her attention a leaf blows by before the treat makes it to her mouth. We'll be starting some indoor work on that soon, but if anyone has harness recommendations, I'm considering that option for while we work on this and would love to know what's worked for you!

In about a week and a half, we'll start our training sessions with both dogs. Keep your fingers crossed that Barley loves her little sister half as much as I do. Our focus will probably be back to reactive dog training for the foreseeable future, so bear with us as we start this journey!