Monday, July 31, 2017

Adventure Awaits

Before we moved (and before Rye), I wrote about how many unique things we saw in our neighborhood on a regular basis. In our new neighborhood, we still get to see plenty of interesting things.

This weekend, the replica ships of the Niña and the Pinta were docked in our neighborhood. The ships are traveling museums that are used to educate people about the caravel ships that were used during Christopher Columbus' time.

Since Rye had a playdate scheduled on Friday evening, I took Barley down to see them by herself that morning. As always, my good girl was excited for the chance to pose with something new.


She almost sat on this guy!


I toured the boats when I was younger (although according to the ships' website, the Pinta wasn't built until 2005, so maybe I only saw the Niña?), but it was fun to see them up close. 

I didn't want to deprive my sweet potato Rye of the chance to see the ships, so once we'd recovered from our playdate, we took a stroll down to see the ships again.




Rye wasn't quite as impressed with the idea of a sea-faring life as Barley was, but that might have something to do with all of the food smells on the ground after a wine festival in the harbor over the weekend. That little hound nose will choose smells over cool sights any day.

We're excited to see what other adventures will find us before summer vacation is over!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Snacks Too Good to Share from Chewy.com

I knew it would happen one day. I knew that one day I would turn my back for a second and one of the dogs would eat all of our #ChewyInfluencer snacks before we had a chance to take any pictures for our review. The girls are always excited about the arrival of Chewy boxes--even when they don't contain anything but kitty litter--and they gnaw on the corners of the boxes until I either open the package or find someplace to hide it until I have time to put everything inside away, so it was bound to happen one day.

One day has arrived. 


I'd opened our box from Chewy.com and set our Caru Soft 'n Tasty treats and our Rachael Ray Nutrish Burger Bites on the top shelf of our living room bookshelf until we were ready to test them out for our review.  We'd never tried the Caru treats before, so those were up first. I figured we'd save the Burger Bites for a day I was grilling and take some cute pictures in front of the grill while the cover was still off, so I left the Burger Bites on the shelf--for days.

Something cute like this--but with the Burger Bites involved.

For days, Barley thought about those Burger Bites. I went down to the basement to change the laundry from the washer to the dryer and Barley came down the stairs with me. Then she wasn't beside me anymore. By the time I made it back upstairs, the Burger Bites were gone. How she got them down without disturbing the mountain of things I've set up there to keep them out of Rye's reach, I don't know, but my stealthy dog managed to grab the bag without knocking a single thing off the shelf.

Luckily, we love the Rachael Ray Nutrish Burger Bites, so we always have some on hand and we could still take some pictures for our review (just not pictures of a nice, pretty, unopened bag). 


There are a lot of reasons we love the Burger Bites. We've been eating Rachael Ray Nutrish food for years, so I know that this is a brand that I trust to use safe, quality ingredients and create a tasty snack for my girls.

The Burger Bites look just like little mini burgers. There are even little grill marks on them!

The treats also break up into lots of smaller pieces easily. They can be a bit crumbly, so I don't usually break them up before tossing them in my pocket because they break up on their own as we walk. I had no trouble getting each Burger Bite into at least 10 little pieces.

Expect little burger crumbs on your floor if you break them up.

With ingredients including beef and bison, these are high value treats for my girls. What I like best about them is that these are the only treats Rye would take when we went to new places in our early days together. When we first started going on adventures after obedience class, she would self-soothe with her nose to the ground and her tail never came out from between her legs. When I offered her treats, she would either ignore them or take them and spit them out--until I gave her Burger Bites. They were instrumental in getting her to refocus on me and helping her gain confidence on walks without Barley.


Thanks to Chewy.com and their wide selection of high quality treats and fast shipping, we never heave to worry about having a shortage of great snacks like Rachael Ray Nutrish Burger Bites.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fly Away With(out) Me

This morning, I woke up and realized I'd forgotten to shut my laptop. That gave Soth the opportunity to do a little research.


My computer deciphered his long string as characters as an attempt to search for VFR and turned up three results: an electronic artist on Apple Music, a website for an internet service provider in California, and the Wikipedia page for Visual Flight Rules.

I determined the Visual Flight Rules page must be what he was looking for since Soth hasn't had a lot of alone time lately. On Thursday, I was sitting on the couch drinking my coffee when I noticed that Soth went to his downstairs litter box, scratched around, got out and then went upstairs and repeated those actions. Then he came back downstairs, squatted in front of the window and only a tiny dribble came out on the carpet. Immediately, I ran to the litter boxes that had just been scooped and there was nothing in either one and I panicked. With Soth's FLUTD, a blockage can happen easily and that can be fatal.

Since Soth was able to get a little dribble out, I knew he wasn't blocked, but I was worried he could be soon. He was definitely straining to urinate and I knew he was in pain. I followed him around every time he went to one of his litter boxes to see if he'd been able to go. The girls followed him around wherever he went, too.



Our vet is closed on Thursdays, so I sat and stared at Soth and willed him to tell me if he needed me to take him to the ER vet. Thankfully, we had one dose of pain medicine left from the last time we had this struggle and after I tackled him and got the pain meds in his system, he was able to urinate more normally and we could wait to call our vet on Friday morning. Right now, he's on more pain medicine to give him a chance to flush out his bladder on his own and if this continues, we'll do more x-rays to see if there are big crystals irritating his bladder.

According to the Wikipedia page Soth found, Visual Flight Rules are the rules governing visibility for pilots with things like cloud distance to be able to control a plane's altitude and avoid obstacles. I think Soth must have been feeling smothered, so he has decided to fly away.


He's going to be so disappointed when I tell him that they don't let you fly aircraft when you're taking pain medication.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Snacks Made for Sharing from Chewy.com

From the moment our #ChewyInfluencer package arrived this month, Rye was trying to sink her teeth into it. She was not amused when I told her that we had to take some pictures before she could try them.


This month, our friends at Chewy.com sent us a bag of Caru Soft 'n Tasty Baked Bites in their duck recipe. The girls knew right away that these were going to be tasty and based on the packaging, I was sure the girls would love them, too, because according to the description on the back Caru means "to love" in Welsh.

The treats are small squares and are made of high quality ingredients like duck, cranberries, and blueberries. 



Each square contains 14 calories, but they easily break up into smaller pieces, which makes them perfect for training. I was able to break them into at least 4 pieces and even had some luck breaking a few squares into 6 (with two dogs, you always have to have even numbers!).

Rye was so excited to dive in that her tail kept making the curtains move.

The treats were a little dryer than I expected from the word soft in their name, so there was a definite snapping sound when I broke them up, but they weren't crumbly at all. I stuck a few squares in my pocket before we headed out for our walk and there were no crumbs in my pocket when we got home.

Another great feature of the Caru Soft 'n Tasty treats is that in addition to the duck recipe, there are several other proteins available, including rabbit, wild boar, and alligator, so there's something for every dog!

Barley and Rye think these treats are the perfect treats for sisters to share--but they'd probably both prefer to keep the whole bag to themselves. These treats will definitely be finding their way into our future Chewy.com orders!

Disclaimer: We were provided one page of Caru Soft 'n Tasty treats in the duck recipe in exchange for our honest review as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program.





Monday, July 10, 2017

The Importance of Failure

This month as part of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, we're sharing our best kept training secrets. Our secret is failure.

I'm sure I've shared the story of when Barley's first agility trainer stopped me and said, "In agility, you will fail more times than you will succeed" (this was possibly said on the same night Barley chose to jump on the cart used to move the tunnel's sandbags and skateboarded across the room instead of going over the jump I asked her to go over). That was a lightbulb moment for me.

Failure is not easy for me to embrace. Growing up, when I brought up a quiz with a 95 on it, I'd hear "Uh oh. What happened?" until about the time I got to Algebra 2 and WWIII almost broke out each night when I sat down to do my homework. With the exception of math, school always came easy to me and I expected perfection. Nothing made me crazier than when my 10th grade English teacher told us that she never gave a 100% on an essay because there was always room for improvement.


When our trainer told me that failure was expected in agility, things changed for Barley and me. We'd gotten to the point where we weren't having as much fun with agility because I was getting frustrated and then she'd get crazier and I'd get more frustrated. Once we had permission to fail, we learned a lot more.

Barley's current trainer stresses the importance of failure in learning. If a dog does something perfect the first time and gets a treat when they're done, they don't necessarily know why they got that treat. Similarly, if my students write an essay with every comma in the correct spot and get full credit for the grammar and mechanics part of their grade, they don't necessarily know why the commas they used were correct. However, if a dog gets something wrong and doesn't get a treat and hears a quick "Nope. Try again" or a student sees a comma circled and a comment about comma splices, they learn something.

Most recently, we put this into use when Rye and I were doing some agility in the backyard. I set up a line of three jumps and I wanted to be able to lead out past the third jump before Rye went over all three (because let's be honest, the only way I'll ever be able to keep up with her on a course is if I can get a big head start). I set her up in front of the first jump and she held her stay beautifully--but when I asked her to jump she skipped the middle jump.


We tried again and it happened again, so I learned a couple things from that failure:

  • Rye didn't know what I wanted. She's only had 8 weeks of agility class, so she's still learning how to read lines. If the jumps had been set up directly in front of each other, she would have had no problem jumping all three, but since they were set up on a diagonal line, she was unsure. 
  • I didn't set her up at the best angle. Even though it seemed obvious to me that there were three jumps, the first spot I set her put her at an angle where she saw the first and third jump clearly, but the second jump wasn't quite in her direct line of sight.
Because we hadn't quite done it right the first two times, I knew what we needed to do to fix it. First, I had to set her at a better angle so she could see all three jumps more clearly. That involved a lot of squatting down to be at her level and testing out different views before I set her up. Then we had to shape the behavior I wanted by breaking things down a bit. I set her up in the right spot and then went out to the second jump. I made sure to stop and treat her after the second jump every time so that she knew taking that jump after the first jump was exactly what she was supposed to do. Once we had that down, we did the first few jumps and then I ran with her to the third jump. Finally, I set her up and l walked out past the third jump--when she got the second jump, I made sure to give her an enthusiastic "yes" before saying jump a third time. When she got it all right, she got showered with treats after the third jump. 

If we wouldn't have failed the first time, neither one of us would have learned as much. Failure can teach us just as much with our other training, too. If one of the dogs has a bad reaction to another dog on our walk, I ask myself questions to try to understand why that happened and what I can do to prevent it from happening in the future. If every walk goes perfectly smoothly, we get too comfortable and our training suffers from that. 

"You mean it's ok that I didn't hold my stay because we can learn from this? Oh boy!"
Be sure to check out all of the other great blogs linking up with us--including our co-hosts Wag 'n Woof Pets and Tenacious Little Terrier--for the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop that (usually) starts on the first Monday of the month and lasts all week.


Friday, July 7, 2017

When Rye Grows Up

Our friend Jodi over at Heart Like a Dog had a cute post a couple weeks ago about her response to the question "If your pet had a job, what would it be?" A few years ago, I sent my sister's kindergarten class a book called Calico Dorsey about a real-life border collie who helped deliver the mail. The kids wrote Barley adorable letters about what they wanted to be when they grew up--everything ranging from teachers to ninjas to hamster trainers--and then asked Barley what job she would like to have.


The obvious answer would be a model. (Although in the letter she wrote back to the kids that was the one job she said she wouldn't want.) This dog lives for being in front of the camera. In fact, a few weeks ago, we were out walking by the lake and saw a young man taking pictures of his girlfriend. The girlfriend asked if she could say hi to Barley, who immediately locked onto the man's camera, and the man started taking pictures of the woman and Barley together. 


One of the many jobs Barley said she'd like to have is a P.E. teacher since she loves to spend time at the gym. I know from personal experience that she's a good personal trainer--she doesn't put up with any excuses for not moving! 

Would you say no to something this face told you to do in gym?

When I read Jodi's post, I started wondering what job my little Rye would have. It didn't take long for me to realize that Rye wouldn't just want a specific career, she'd want to be a specific person--Chip Gaines from HGTV's Fixer Upper.

This puppy lives for DEMO DAY! And in Rye's world, every day is demo day.



She will do anything for attention, no matter how goofy she looks. (She'd probably also be willing to eat cockroaches and other bugs found while showing a house to people.)


Landscaping? No problem. She loves to help in the yard.




She also loves home improvement projects. She motivated me to finally remove the last of the wallpaper in our house by grabbing a tiny part that had been peeling off before we moved in.

She was very proud of the corner she peeled off above the vent.

She was obsessed with my painter's tape when I was preparing to paint the walls.


And she couldn't believe that I finally told her it was ok to pull the tape off the baseboards. 



So, move over Chip and Jo--Rye's ready to take over the next season of Fixer Upper

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Adventures with Rye

When Rye and I were in a Saturday morning obedience class, we went on an adventure every week after class unless it was cold and rainy. Rye is not very confident in nature unless Barley is with her--and even then, she's not very sure she likes it--but we did find one park in our post-obedience adventures that Rye loves. Now that we're in a late-night agility class, we haven't had any solo adventures in almost 2 months! 

Rye and I have gone on some solo neighborhood walks, but we hadn't been anywhere fun since obedience class ended. For my mileage goal of 1000 miles for the year, only walks with Barley count so between rain and warmer weather, it can be hard to find the extra time to get Rye out by herself for a good adventure.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up and it was in the 50s (is it really July today?). When I checked the forecast, it wasn't supposed to get out of the 60s all day, so I decided it was the perfect day for Rye and I to adventure.

Rye was so happy as soon as we pulled into the parking lot at her park. 

Look at that loose leash!

This park has a sculpture garden, so we spent a little time reviewing sit-stays and working on some balance work in the sculpture garden.


Why does my puppy have such a disproportionately long tongue? 

She's getting better at this modeling thing.




My original plan was to take Rye down to the beach to let her play a little bit. The lake is a lot higher than usual, so when we got to the stairs to the beach it was clear there wasn't much beach to play on. Since it was chilly, I was wearing jeans and spending the rest of the afternoon in wet jeans didn't sound like a good plan to me, so we settled for just watching the waves for a few minutes. 



Barley and I used to visit this park a lot, but it wasn't until Rye and I went that we discovered a little nook with a cool curved bench and a little stream. It's green and shady and cool, so we took a little break there. 



On our way back to the car, we even found a couple treasures and they were painted as dogs, so it was perfect! 



Our fun adventures didn't stop there. We stopped by a new pet store that opened in town where Rye got to pick out a new toy and a new toy for Barley and for Soth. They had a few kittens up for adoption and Rye wasn't sure what to make of them. I don't know if it was because she'd never seen a cat that small or if it was because they weren't her cat, but she couldn't decide if she should hide from them or growl at them. She settled for a combination of both.

We ended our adventure with a stop at Tractor Supply Company where Rye made a new friend.


It was so fun to have a few hours of fun with my sweet potato Rye. She's really come a long way with  her obedience, focus, and confidence when she's out on her own and I'm so enjoying her company.