Friday, October 21, 2016

Barley Reviews Pet Treater

October has been a long month for us. Between weird weather and endless paper grading, the pets have been feeling a little neglected. It was a pleasant surprise for them when Barley and I went to leave for a walk and there was a huge package just for them on the font step.

We'd been sent our first Pet Treater box to review. Barley seems to know when the mail is for her and it took some convincing to get her to go on the walk with me before we dove into the box.

I'm a sucker for themed pet products and this month's Pet Treater box was the perfect theme for us! It was a Barktoberfest theme--and if you've been with us a while, you know that Barley got her name because I love craft beer. The box came with an envelope addressed to Barley and Sal, but we had to take turns looking at the items since Barley gets too excited about new things to be loose with Sal for that kind of thing.

The first thing we pulled out of the box were two packages of Petsafe Indigo Smokehouse Strips in bacon and chicken flavors. This was the item Barley was most excited about, so we opened them up immediately. 

Barley was very patient and let me take a couple of pictures before we tore into them, but once the package was open, she was not happy about being taunted with them while I took a picture of the actual treats.

These were great treats--we've only tried the bacon flavor so far, but as soon as I opened the package, the room filled with the scent of bacon. I almost wanted to try them myself, but I have learned that dog treats never taste as good as they smell, so I let Barley be the official taste tester.

The strips break into small pieces very easily, so they make great training treats. That's a big plus since we we go through a lot of treats a day, so treats that can be torn up and make Barley think she's getting more snacks are always great.

Sal thought these snacks were great, too. He could smell them in my pocket when I went to take him outside and was so excited that he didn't even want to sit still long enough to get his leash on until he'd gotten to try one. He had much more pep in his step when I took him out and was excited to come back inside to try a couple more.

My two favorite items in the box were a Drinking Buddy bandana and a bottle of Bowser Beer Porky Pug Porter. We haven't tried the porter before, but we've tried one of the other styles of Bowser Beer in the past. I'm saving her porter for a nice, crisp fall night when I pour a Great Lakes Brewing Company porter for myself--maybe on Tuesday when we're cheering the Indians on in Game 1 of the World Series. The bandana just makes me smile--it probably won't be one she's wearing outside of the house (unless she goes on another brewery visit), but we'll definitely have fun taking pictures in it around the house.

There were also two cute toys in our box. The first one was a stuffed bone with a breast cancer ribbon on it from Bow-Wow Pet. There wasn't a squeaker inside, so it's not a toy Barley would be interested in. Luckily, there's another pup in the house who just likes toys that he can chase whether or not they have squeakers. Sal loved the bone and couldn't understand why I would take time out from throwing it to take his picture.

There was also a bat toy from Grriggles that Barley laid claim to--although Sal was pretty sure he should have that one, too. Barley was too busy sniffing and nibbling on the bat to pose nicely for a picture, so I think it must be a good one! 

There were even some goodies in the box for me. There was an over the door pet organizer. It's a really great organizer with quality materials that would really hold up well to holding lots of toys, snacks, and a leash. There's even a little picture frame at the top to put a picture of your dog.  

I really like this organizer. It's much higher quality than most over the door organizers I've seen--for people or pet products. I haven't decided if I'm going to use it or donate it to the shelter to use in a basket for their charity auction. I want to keep it, but all of my closet doors are sliding doors, so it won't work with them and in Barley's crate room, there's a mirror attached to the back of the door. It could work on the door to the laundry room where Barley's shower is, so I might use it for her shampoos and to pick up toys that make their way down to the laundry room with us. 
There was also a little pumpkin silicone muffin tray with a spatula. I never have enough spatulas, so that was great! I'll definitely be using that year round. I don't bake very often, but the tray is really cute and if I can remember I have it next time I bake, I know I'll love having cute fall-shaped goodies! 

There was really only one product in the box that we won't use. It was a beef knuckle, which is not something that I let Barley have. She would love it, but hard chews like that make her gums bleed almost immediately. Sal's bad teeth would keep him from chewing on this, so next time we take donations to the shelter, this will be going to them. 

There was something for everyone in this box--even Soth. Pet Treater has a code to get a free dog bed with your first box of a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription plan, so they included a bed for us to try out, too.

The bed we were sent is also from Bow-Wow pets and matches Sal's bone. Soth didn't waste any time claiming this for himself.

We were sent a medium bed--it's a round bed that's size 23" x 6"--and it's a little small for Barley who is at the top of the medium dog range on Pet Treater's size chart, but it would be perfect for Sal if he wasn't a sprawler. Barley loves curling up in small beds, though, and has been known to take over cat beds, so she's still enjoying this little bed when her brother isn't occupying it. 

The free pet bed code only works on your first 3, 6, or 12 month subscription plan, but if you want to try a month-to-month subscription, you can use the code LOVE-PT5 to get $5 off your first box. If you don't want your pets to feel left out while you're chowing down on Thanksgiving goodies, November would be a great time to get a Pet Treater box!

If you choose a month-to-month subscription, it's only $24.99 a month and the price per box goes down if you choose a 3, 6, or 12 month option instead. You can also try a one time box without a subscription for $34.99. Also, for each box Pet Treater sends, they provide a dog or cat in a local shelter with a new treat, toy, or blanket, so you can feel even better about spoiling your own pet!

We've tried other subscription boxes and Pet Treater had many more items inside and they were all high quality products. We'd highly recommend Pet Treater to anyone who wants to make sure their pups get something fun in the mail every now and then! 

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. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Barley is the New Poetry (Part 2)

Those of you who have been with us for a long time may remember that time I told a long sad story about how I used to write poetry but that life with a reactive dog had drained my poetic energy. That was a year and a half ago--and I tried to write after that post.

I started being inspired by a lot of things: the Orioles playing baseball in an empty stadium, the way Barley's pawprints looked in the sand, the wiggle of Soth's nose when he watches chipmunks. I took pages and pages of notes. But I didn't write a single poem.

Then on July 23-24, the Litsy app hosted a 24in48 readathon where participants read for 24 hours in the 48 hour time period. Obviously, reading for 24 hours in a two day time period is not something Barley would ever tolerate, but Litsy had lots of different photo contests to participate in throughout the weekend.

One of the contests was Spine Poetry where you pull books off your shelves and stack them on top of each other in a way that makes a poem. I had been snuggling in bed with Bar and a book when I saw the challenge, so I turned to my shelves in the bedroom: the dog books and the poetry books. I pulled out some of my favorites, played around with them a bit, and fell in love. I submitted it and didn't win, but I'd used Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones in the poem and she liked the poem when I tweeted it and started following me, so that's even better than winning in my book.

The poem stuck with me and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I was also taking a 4-week poetry class through and around that same time we had to submit a form poem. I'm 100% a free verse kind of girl, so I was dreading the assignment. However, one of the options was a Japanese tanka, a form similar to haiku but with 5 lines following the syllable count of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7. I started playing around with my spine poetry and rearranged some words, added some words, deleted some words, added some line breaks and pretty soon I had two stanzas that almost fit into the tanka form (one line has an extra syllable).

Still, the poem stuck with me. For most literary journals, it's common practice to submit 3-5 poems for consideration for publication. At that point, I just didn't have them unless I went back to my really old stuff that just wasn't speaking to me. I started searching for different dog publications to see if maybe there was some place the poem could find a home. I came across The Bark magazine. They had a statement that specifically said: "We do accept poetry, but do not have space for all of the poems that we would like to publish. But the shorter the poem, the more likely we might be to find space for it." 

I prepared myself for rejection and sent in my poem anyway. Twelve hours later, I got an email saying they would love to publish the poem and would be in touch when they knew which issue they'd be able to make room in for it.

When I shared the news with one of my poet friends, he mentioned that he'd been in a writing slump, too, so we decided to keep my momentum going and try to get him out of his slump by doing a month-long writing challenge together. For the month of September, we sent each other a couple poems each week, critiqued them, and went back to writing.

I'm happy to say that thanks to Litsy, Coursera, my friend Casey, and Barley, I'm out of my slump. I've been taking advantage of the voice-to-text feature in my phone to jot down ideas while Barley and I walk (or to Barley's chagrin, making her stop in parks and sit on a bench while I type one out). Right now, they're all either about dog walking or have a dog somewhere in them, so I like to think of them as the lovechild of Ted Kooser's Winter Morning Walks and Mary Oliver's Dog Songs.

My editor thinks there should be more cat poems.

The only downside to this is that we haven't been able to find a copy of the fall issue of The Bark in stores--I was sent a copy, so I have my poem in a magazine, but I haven't been able to see it on a shelf! If you happen to be in PetSmart, Barnes and Noble, or other stores where they sell magazines and you see The Bark on the shelf, send us a picture!

P.s. There are some other great articles in the magazine (my personal favorite is a decorating piece from Trading Spaces designer Vern Yip), so it's worth picking up even if you don't love poetry.

Monday, October 10, 2016

That's Why You Always Ask

On Friday, Barley and I went to the arboretum for my annual "birthday party" where we go look at the Scarecrow Row and other displays being set up for the Goblins in the Garden event. 

Usually, there aren't many people there, but with the new canopy walk, I guess we just have to get used to higher traffic on any nice fall day. 

For some reason, there were a lot of school groups, which is one of our worst nightmares. They are loud. They are unruly. They're never well supervised. 

As we made our way back towards the car, we stopped to take a picture of a cute pumpkin patch. I was getting ready to back away from Bar to get the photo when a couple moms started unclipping their toddlers from strollers and saying, "Let's take your picture here!" 

I decided to give up and leave, but as we made our way back to the trail, a large school group was heading our way. We pulled back off the trail and sat to wait for them to go by. Barley sat nicely and was taking treats and staying focused on me while the kids trickled by on the trail. Of course, one of the teachers or chaperones noticed the pumpkin patch near us and said, "Oh, well we obviously have to take a picture with this!" and started herding the kids right towards us. The toddlers and strollers were still to one side of us and there were shrubs behind us, so we were stuck. I had to step in front of Barley and say, "She doesn't like kids." The woman looked annoyed, but she changed their path slightly and Barley and I were able to sidestep over onto the trail.

We also passed a family with an energetic girl, probably about 4, walking in front of her dad. I switched the side Barley was on and got a handful of treats ready and we kept walking. As we got closer the dad stopped and said, "Excuse me, but can we pet your dog?" I told them that she was scared of kids but thanked them for asking. As we walked away, the little girl's mom said, "See, Mere, that's why you always ask before running up to a dog."

Barley and I are very thankful for parents like this little girl's who are teaching her to interact with dogs responsibly. Maybe when she gets to school she can help teach her classmates those lessons, too. 

Even if we didn't get a pumpkin patch picture, we still got some fun pictures.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Barley Reviews Grow Young with Your Dog

When Barley and I were asked to review Mary Debono's book Grow Young with Your Dog, we were intrigued. Exercising is something I prefer to do with Barley, but we haven't had much luck with different exercise programs that incorporate work for dogs and humans. We can't go to boot camp classes because Barley's too reactive for me to be able to break focus on her. When I downloaded a Doga book, Barley looked at me like I was crazy when I started trying some of the moves. I have some stretching DVDs and yoga programs, but even though they help with my creaky joints, it's hard to find time for them when I'm trying to keep Barley active.

Grow Young with Your Dog seemed like it might be just the book for us. In her introduction, Mary Debono talks about how she had suffered aches and pains in her 20s and felt like she had to just accept those pains as part of the aging process. Then she began to learn more about moving and aging and realized that there are ways people can begin to feel younger by making changes to their habits and types of movements. As a dog lover, naturally Mary wanted to help dogs feel younger, too, and Debono Moves was born.

Mary explains that her approach "combines the science of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to overcome injury or disease by forming new neural pathways, with the healing power of love." Some of the goals of her program are to reduce stress and anxiety, minimize the risk of injury, and lessen the effects of arthritis, hip dysplasia, and aging. While Barley hasn't suffered from injuries or arthritis yet, I want to make sure that she doesn't have those problems anytime soon, so we were more than willing to review this book.

The Good
Grow Young with Your Dog has lots of stories about dogs who have been helped by the different movements in this book. Mary knew how much I love border collies and agility, so she made sure to point out that Chapter Six focuses on a border collie, Emma, who suffered from hip dysplasia. Her humans, Akiko and Michael, were sure her future in agility was over before it even started. Akiko asked Mary for help. Mary helped Emma to change the way she used her paws, which changed the ways her hips were affected when she moved. Mary paid close attention to all of Emma's body to make sure that additional strain was relived. Combined with holistic veterinary care and proper nutrition, Emma's hips eventually earned a good rating and she was able to begin agility training.  Each chapter has different stories like this one and then Mary includes human exercises and dog exercises in each chapter. In this particular chapter, she provides human exercises that help loosen tight hips. I gave these a try and I definitely felt relief as I stretched out my joints and muscles following Mary's instructions.

The companion website provides videos and audio that help walk you through the steps. It can be hard to hold open a book to look at pictures or read directions when you're trying to keep a dog still and relaxed on the floor in front of you, so I really appreciate the fact that the book comes with a code that allows you to access those resources. Even without the additional resources, Grow Young with Your Dog is filled with pictures that illustrate different exercises and let you see the progress the dogs who have used the Debono Moves method have made.

Throughout the book and the companion website, Mary's passion for helping people and their dogs shines through. Her patience and willingness to help a dog relax and make adjustments to her methods to help anxious dogs is evident throughout the book. Mary tells the story of a lab named Blossom who was so anxious around strangers that she wouldn't stay still if Mary looked at her--Mary ended up starting their session with her back towards Blossom and went at Blossom's pace to gradually work up to being able to face her. As the owner of a reactive dog, I love hearing about people who are willing to meet dogs in their comfort zones and then help them break out of those zones.

The Truth
As of right now, we haven't had much luck performing the dog exercises. This isn't the fault of the book or the Debono Moves program, though. Barley just thinks it's weird when I try these different exercises on her--and anyone who knows Barley knows that it takes her a while to adjust to new things. If I sit on the floor for some of them, she thinks she is supposed to crawl into my lap and smother me with kisses. We'll keep trying, but so far Barley hasn't really figured out what she's supposed to do--and when Barley doesn't understand what I'm asking, she makes up her own rules.

I think foster pup Sal could benefit from a lot of this, too. There are sections on flexibility and arthritis and I think his older joints would really benefit from that. But he's the opposite of Barley. We're still building up trust. He's just getting to the point where he lies on his side and exposes any of his belly to me. He gets scared if I pet his neck. The first time I tried to pick up a paw to wipe it off, he bolted away from me like I'd kicked him. We're not quite to the point yet where he'll completely relax and let me try most of these things, so we'll have to make adjustments and go at his pace--which I know is something Mary would support from the stories she told.

As a book for humans, though, I really like this book! The exercises are simple but effective and help stretch out muscles and joints--something that I can never get enough of. Mary presents ideas in easy-to-follow directions and pictures, which I appreciate. She also makes some really interesting observations about how our habits can contribute to feeling old--both for humans and dogs--and it's made me want to add more variety to my life and break up some routines a bit more to keep me feeling young.

If you want to learn more about Mary and Debono Moves or buy your own copy of Grow Young with Your Dog, you can visit Mary's website here.

Disclaimer: We were provided a copy of Grow Young with Your Dog by Mary Debono in exchange for our honest review, but all ideas and opinions are my own and we only share information relevant to our readers. Neither Mary Debono nor her publisher is responsible for the content of this review. Always be sure to consult with your vet before beginning new exercise programs with your dog.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Rediscovering Lake Erie Bluffs

Way back in 2012, Barley and I took my cousin to the Lake Metroparks Lake Erie Bluffs park. We hadn't had the blog long then and our visit wasn't even exciting enough to warrant a blog post. It was a beautiful place, but at that point, there was about a half mile of trail and it was far enough away that it didn't make sense to drive that far to walk so little.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to decide if we should walk after agility so we could get some more mileage towards our resolution goal. If we waited to walk in our neighborhood, it would be dark, so that meant we needed to go to a park. Our usual park with our deer friends was far enough away that we wouldn't get much of a walk there, but then I remembered that Lake Erie Bluffs was closer and on the way home so we could do a few loops and get at least half the mileage we hope for each day. 

We were surprised to see that there were now several miles of trail and a new observation tower. We weren't able to explore much because of the fast approaching sunset, but I decided we'd have to come back soon.

Last Friday seemed like the perfect time. I had a coupon for a free chicken biscuit at Chick-fil-a and Soth needed some more food, so I decided Barley and I should make a day of it.

Of course, as soon as we pulled into the parking lot at the park, it started raining, but it had been doing that off and on all morning, so we sat in the car for a few minutes and the rain was over in a few minutes.

I was trying to get a good Banned Books Week picture in my The Metamorphosis shirt--I look weird, but I love how Barley looks at me.

We were so impressed with how much the park has grown since we were last there. There were a couple miles of paved/gravel trails an then several grassy trails through the woods.

We didn't venture up the observation tower because there were small children listening to their voices echo as they shouted off the top and they made Barley nervous, so we just admired it from a far.

There were also a lot of wildflowers (weeds?) growing along the trail that made the grey day a little more colorful.

There weren't many people there, so we didn't have to worry about finding off-leash dogs on the beach (there's one tiny part of the beach that's an off-leash swim area, but we have seen off-leash dogs in other areas on our few evening visits). 

For some reason, every time we go on the beach, Barley loses her mind and has to fight with her leash. I don't know if there's something about having her feet in the sand that gets her amped up or what, but I always enjoy watching her tangle herself and then untangle herself and kick up lots of sand in the process. 

Grey days are always my favorite for visiting the beach because of the way the water looks against the sky.

But Barley was less enthusiastic about the bigger waves that grey days usually bring.

Leaves are starting to change colors, so we took some pictures with the lovely fall colors, too.

And we made a new friend.

In addition to the observation tower, they've added in a few overlook platforms and some nice spots with benches to stop and enjoy the views by the lake.

This will probably be stunning in a couple weeks.

We couldn't believe how much the park had changed since our first visit. It's a really lovely place to walk and we're looking forward to many more visits.

We ended up exploring most of the park and getting in our daily three miles. Barley and I highly recommend visiting Lake Erie Bluffs if you ever find yourself in our area!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Foster Pup Sal Update

It's hard to believe that Foster Pup Sal has been with us for over a month now.  After a long two weeks of quarantine, we've entered a long three weeks of figuring out how to cohabitate now that there's no medical reason to be separated. Despite the struggles, Sal's come a long way in the 5+ weeks that we've been together.

He's no longer the scrawny little dude I brought home. His hip bones are still too prominent, but you can't see his ribs anymore and his back end is filling out. There are still spots--especially on his sides (you can see that in the Week 5 picture) where he's mostly undercoat, but the top coat he does have isn't dull and coarse anymore. Some of it even has a shine and the longer parts are nice and soft.

He's terrified of his foster cat brother. My 13-pound cat strikes fear in Sal's heart. Many a times, we stand in the doorway for over 5 minutes because Soth is standing there looking at him. It takes a lot of coaxing to convince Sal to come back inside when Soth is visible. (Note: Soth has never even swatted at Sal and this fear--unlike his fear of Barley--is unwarranted.)

He likes to know where everyone is and keep an eye on things. In typical border collie fashion, he likes to keep an eye on the flock. Since he's scared of Barley and Soth, that flock is a flock of 1--me. He's not brave enough to go down the basement stairs (which is fine with me because I couldn't carry him back up if he decided he couldn't make it back up), but when I go down, he sits at the top and waits until I come back. 

He enjoys slow, short walks. The day I had him, he couldn't even walk 1/10 of a mile and back. We had to start our walks by going one house down from ours and turning around, then the next day we'd go two houses down and turn around, until eventually we got to the end of the street and could make it back. The first time we walked a full mile, it took us 45 minutes (for perspective, Barley and I walk an 18 minute mile when we're talking our time and enjoying the scenery). Now, a couple times a week, we walk about a 1.3 miles. We still mostly stick to one or two 3/4-mile loops a day, but Sal does enjoy slightly longer walks, so we occasionally walk down to the lake .

For the first few weeks, Sal wasn't very alert on walks. But now he is noticing squirrels and paying attention to the world around him. 

He has also gotten stronger--the first few weeks, he couldn't stand with his front feet on the curb and his back feet on the road--he'd wobble and lose his balance. Now, he's much more stable and I was so happy he could stand like this that I let him sniff far longer than I usually do.

He's cleaner. He came to me pretty stinky with that shelter scent on his fur--but he was so weak that I didn't want to put him in the tub, even with the the non-slip mat we use. When he wandered upstairs in the house one day, I figured he was strong enough for a bath. His first bath was disgusting--the water was so brown. But he got another bath yesterday with some recommended shampoo to help with itchy, dandruffy skin and the water was just normal bath water when we were done. He smells much nicer now!

He's learning what beds are for. The first couple weeks he was here, he was too weak to step on his bed--it was new and poofy and if he stepped on it, he fell over. He would rest his head on it, but that was it. Usually, I'd come into the room to see him just sleeping in a ball in the corner of the room. Now, most days, I walk in and he's sprawled on top of the bed.
I accidentally ruined the cover in the wash--oops.

He loves toys. The second day he was here, I saw his eyes light up with a puppy-like glee when I brought out a ball. He couldn't go after it fast or for very long, but he wanted nothing more than to play with that ball. He will try to tug on soft toys, but ball-like toys are his very favorites. Barley and I picked up a pumpkin toy for him and he even plays with that one by himself.

He still has bad teeth, which makes it hard for him to tug on toys or to carry a ball for long, but the pumpkin seems to be something that doesn't give him any trouble at all. We don't have any updates on if/when his teeth will be extracted and cleaned. That may be something that happens after his adoption. He's still able to eat fine--kibble and wet food--so other than stinky breath and not being able to play tug, he doesn't seem bothered by his teeth right now.

He's cute and he knows it. Now that he's put on weight and has gotten clean, he knows that he's a cutie pie and he expects the world to acknowledge that, too. He's mastered the head tilt for photos and is also very effective at using it against me when he wants snacks or petting.

He's a really fun little dog with a lot of personality. If you or someone you know is interested in giving Sal a home, information about adopting him can be found here.

Teaching My Reactive Dog to Cohabitate

Barley can live with other dogs. She adores my parents' dog. She tolerates my sister's dog and a friend's dog. But she's also very selective about the dogs she shares her space with. I knew that the biggest challenge with bringing Sal into our house would be convincing Barley he was allowed to be here. 

The first two weeks Sal was here, he was in quarantine, so while there were some challenges as far as giving everyone enough time, cohabitating wasn't one of them. I had high hopes that it would go well. Barley actually introduced herself to Sal during the quarantine period--I didn't know that the bedroom door where he was staying didn't actually latch and Barley shoved the door open and let herself in. I didn't even know it had happened until I saw Sal wander by the kitchen where I was working. I marched him back to his room, herded Barley out of it, and set up a barrier to make sure she didn't expose herself to him any longer than necessary. 

After the quarantine ended, we took things really slowly. Sal is still working on building up strength, so I didn't want him to be overwhelmed by Barley's enthusiasm. I started out keeping Barley on leash. When she's on leash, she knows she's working and she stays focused and listens to commands. Sal would come close enough that I could give them both treats, and Barley was interested, but under control.

I'd pay attention to her body language and when her ears started going into weird positions or her eyes started wandering, we'd increase the space between them until she relaxed more. Or, we'd end the session on a positive note and everyone would go back to their separate spaces.

We started using our gate to help with training, too. Barley is fine with Sal when he's on the opposite side of the gate. They can sit just inches apart on opposite sides and I can pet the both at the same time and no problems.

Freedom has been more challenging. Honestly, I didn't really know where to begin. We started off staying leashed inside--I could have them on either side of me while I sat on the couch and as long as the treats were frequent, they were fine, but I didn't know where to go next.

Then one day, I put Barley in the kitchen, shut the gate, and took Sal out for a quick walk. I didn't plan to go any farther than the end of our street and back, or I would have crated Bar, but my best friend called while we were walking, Sal was eager to go farther, and it was nice out, so we kept walking. When we got back, Barley met as at the door. I was sure she'd jumped the gate (she hadn't), and I knew that we had to figure out how we could all be in the same space at the same time.

That night, we started with some mat work (Sal has no idea what a mat is, but somehow he ended up on one, too). We spent a few minutes giving everybody treats for staying down and being calm. Then I put them in separate space and gave them lots of individual love. 

Then we moved to another room and tried again. We kept sessions short and sweet so they always ended positively.

Gradually, we worked up to sitting on (by) the couch with both dogs off leash. I was afraid to breathe in case I broke the spell they were under. (String cheese and hot dogs have strong powers, but I wasn't sure just how long those powers lasted.)

Ignore my messy coffee table.

For days, we practiced in different locations, in sits and downs, with varying distances between them. As long as I had snacks, Barley didn't care that Sal was there. Sal was always unsure about Barley, but he likes snacks.

Sal wasn't worried--he was licking hot dog off the carpet.

Then we took a few steps back. Earlier this week, I thought maybe we could all watch a tv show together. For the first part of the show, everyone was fine. They happily munched on string cheese and hot dogs. As the show went on, though, Barley getting more interested in Sal. I was able to redirect her and was proud of her for leaving him alone. And then all of the sudden, Sal's head was in her mouth--which is how Barley offers corrections to other dogs--she wasn't hurting him and as soon as I touched her, she let go and moved away from him, but Sal was traumatized. Bar took a time out upstairs and I got some of my Burt's Bees for dog wipes and cleaned the slobber off Sal and snuggled him for a bit. 

Now we're back to baby steps. We're back to spending time on opposite sides of the gate where they can see each other. We do a few little sessions in the same room again. I'm paying more attention to Barley's body language so that when she starts getting testy I can separate them again before things escalate. I'm letting Sal decide how much space he needs from her and if that means I have to walk several steps back and forth between them to give them both snacks, that's ok. 

It's a long, slow process and patience has never been one of my strong suits, but I'm hopeful that maybe one day we'll be able to make it through a whole tv show with all three of us relaxing.