Category Archives: Family

Shh! Amber is Napping!

Sweet puppy Amber is taking a very rare nap. Even though her eyes seem open, her legs are moving in dreams and she’s snoring lightly. She was very hyper this morning, teeing off Molly, our ‘old lady’ white dog, and the cats, Abby and Smoke, all in the space of a minute or two on bursting through the porch door after she ate.

When she wouldn’t settle with us in the office, after each of us played with her for a time, she ‘won a trip back to the porch’ for a few minutes. I let her in again and she was much better. Now I’m getting a reprieve that I know won’t last long. I’ll enjoy every second!

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Our Training Continues

Pinterest

Amber is making progress in getting us to do what she wants, but she gets truly frustrated with how very slow we are to learn.

For example, she wants to play Tug of War with her toys.  She goes and gets a toy, brings it to her humans, and very clearly wants us to grab the other end – the other side – and fight with enthusiasm – in the end letting her win. She is letting us know lately how dumb we are. When she brings the toy, we won’t even TRY to take it out of her mouth. We ACT like we’re going to play, but the minute we meet resistance, we let go, over and over until she finally drops the toy into our laps in disgust. Just as she’s leaving, we throw the toy!  The game is on again until the humans refuse to take their end of the toy. AND her humans get mad when teeth run into skin, yelling and running into the kitchen to wash the wounds off and wrap them with band-aids. Hummmmppph!

Her humans HAVE learned to arm themselves each morning, making SURE they have a pocketful of treats. Amber has taught us to give her treats in all parts of the ‘taking-care-o-business’ process, when she sits, when she comes, when she lies down, when she goes to her place…. all day long – finishing up with going into her crate. This takes a LOT of treats. We routinely get somewhere out in public, one pocket bulging with dog treats.

Amber realizes that getting her people trained will take time, patience, and lots and lots of effort. She’s encouraged that we’re better than we were when she first came to live with us in May.

She’s looking at me, distinctly saying, “Really? You want me to get up?”

 

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Nice Way to Start the Day

When my husband came in from taking Amber out for a second time this morning, he handed me this nice hydrangea bloom. He hugged me and said, “I love you. Can I live with you forever?”  And THAT, in a nutshell, is why we’ve been married 48 years and counting. :0)

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Eating and Chewing

Eating and chewing. Chewing and Eating, Our lab puppy, Amber, lives for these two things. She would LIKE to have US for chew toys, too, but we’re discouraging that. We have to watch her like a hawk, catching her when she makes it through to the stuffing or the squeaker, and trying to eat those. I won’t buy any more toys with a lot of stuffing, but the squeakers are a particular joy in life to her, so those will continue. You can see a favorite hollow plastic bone in this picture. One end is fine, but the other end has collapsed, having a tear in it. She hasn’t been able to pull bits off yet, so it will remain in the toy box (at least some of the time.) *

 

This is a plastic ball with small plastic soft nubs sticking out all over it. It has a squeaker and Amber loves it. She WANTS to play tug of war with everything. She is slowly figuring out that, if she wants us to participate, she has to give us the toy first. It’s more fun when we throw it. So even though she wants to pull and tug, she’s starting to actually give us the ball (or other toy) occasionally.

 

She likes playing with several toys at once. I have a toy box in the corner of the office where at least once a day I throw all the toys. If she’s inside, that lasts approximately a minute. We’re learning to watch where we step. Here she’s chewing on the softer bone while keeping the harder KONG bone in reserve….

She’s spending more and more time inside with us. She really likes being with her people. She’ll happily stay in the office with us, or stay in her PLACE on the big dog bed in the living room, as long as both of us are there. We don’t have to be interacting with her – just there.

The other animals are becoming more resigned to the onslaught of Amber at least a couple of times per day. Thankfully, her exuberant behavior doesn’t last quite as long these days, so our family is beginning to meld.

*While I was typing, she started pulling off bits of the orange bone. I don’t THINK she ate any of them from the number of pieces on the floor. That toy is now history, but it lasted about 3 months – a record for a new toy for Amber.

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Fast Fish

I have decided that it’s almost impossible for me to get pictures of my aquarium AND the fish so you can see both well. My sister-in-law, Mary Lou, mentioned the fish today and wanted to see more pics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the best I could do, Mary Lou!

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Learning What NOT to Buy as Toys for Amber

We’re learning a lot about what toys are NOT good for Amber.

Take the football above. It lasted 30 seconds before Amber started biting chunks of foam and trying to eat them. I bought a sweet Lambchop type stuffed toy last week. Amber was pulling the stuffing out and eating it within a minute or two. Both ended up in the trash.

She LOVES anything that squeaks or makes weird noises. The unstuffed animals toys are good, particularly if they squeak. The KONG bone is now good – after all the tennis ball type felt and the stretchy rubbber thingie that went all the way around the bone were removed (by both the dog and me). Heavy rope tug of war toys are good. We have a large plastic ball that has an irregular service and makes really weird noises as it rolls. Amber really likes it.

There is a stuffed long, green, weird animal with ears that she likes. I have to sew it together to keep the stuffing in, but she’s not bad about getting the stuffing out, so for the moment, it’s still in her toy box.

Each time we buy a toy, we’re getting a bit smarter. Since labs are supposed to be ‘puppies’ for a couple of years, maybe we’ll start getting it right more often before she grows too old for toys…

 

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New Highs

This dog may LOOK innocent, but she’s plotting her next move as you look at her.

We feed Amber on the back porch after she goes out and takes care of business each morning. Today I went to let her in. As I opened the door, she was jumping DOWN from the porch table!

My husband had pulled out the one chair we have down, sitting in it to rub a towel over her, since it was raining heavily this morning. She apparently first chewed part of the mesh of the chair off (GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!) and then jumped up onto the table to try to get at the other stacked chairs, water jug, and umbrella in the corner.

I reminded my husband that he wasn’t supposed to leave the chair away from the table and that it was now partially destroyed.  Sweet Amber has reached new highs on destruction and being able to get places she couldn’t get to before.

We’re supposed to be smarter than our pets, aren’t we?

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A Perfect Marriage?

Crafty Morning

My husband and I have been married 48 years. We agree we have a good start now and hope to celebrate many more anniversaries.

We are DEFINITELY two imperfect people. After sharing life for this many years, we know each other well. We know each of our strengths and weaknesses and have long agreed that the two of us are much stronger together than either of us is by ourself. We compliment each other amazingly.

  • My husband is as tactful as Attila the Hun.  We agree that he should never apply as a greeter at WalMart, should not be a party planner, guidance counselor, or U.N. representative.
  • I consider much of the world magic. I have no clue how to fix most things. I’m a reasonable go-fer, but I’m amazed that my husband can look at something, figure out how it works, and many times buy or make a part that gives whatever it is new life.
  • Since we’re retired, my husband has decided that he no longer needs to worry about what day it is, what time it is, or have any responsibility for what we need to do at any given time. Since one of my strong suits is organization, I am in charge of the communal to-do list, calendar, reminder-in-chief, and the person who sets an alarm so we leave at the proper time to make appointments, etc.

When we married, both sets of parents were against it. Each of them felt my husband-to-be was too much of a bad boy with a bad attitude and were afraid I was making a big mistake. That helped us, I think, make it work. My husband is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He also works tirelessly to provide for his family, tries to foresee possible problems and be proactive in doing what we can to address them. He has been an almost perfect father for our son, who also lives ‘outside the box,’ doing his own thing. We ended up, somehow, with a son who is smarter than both of us together, kind and compassionate to those around him to the point he brings tears to ours eyes, who loves his parents very much.

We annoy each other at times to the point I chase him around with a flyswatter, raising my voice. We know each other’s ‘buttons’ and have no problem pushing them once in a while. There is no one who can make me angrier, more hurt, or melt into a puddle – often in one day’s time!

It’s the two of us against the world. We decided years ago we wanted to share our lives. It has been really challenging, rewarding, and never boring. I recommend marriage highly to those really ready to make the commitment and make it work.

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Amber at 5 Months

Amber – 5 mos old, 52.5 pounds

Amber was 5 months old Monday, August 7th. She now weighs over 52 pounds. We had her spayed on Monday and she is back to her usual, robust self, getting into everything, enjoying life to the fullest, wearing out her family, although we are very glad to have her back at home.

We knew she had gotten larger, but even WE were shocked when we looked at a few of the pics we took when we first brought her home at 10 weeks old, 16 pounds mid-May.

Amber – 10 weeks – 16 pounds

We have finally come up with a way to start training her to fetch. She does the first part quite readily – jumping up to go get the toy. She even brings it back to you much of the time, but won’t give it to you. She wants you to play tug of war with whatever the toy is – to your peril because she has sharp teeth and cheats.

Since she is food-driven, when she brings it back, we now say, “Give it to me” and offer her a treat. She has to let go of the toy in order to get the treat. We’ll see if this continues to work well.

Two days ago we noticed the shock collar we bought to use with our leash quit working. My husband turned it up a notch to see if that would make any difference. Still nothing. He changed the battery. Nothing. He emailed the company, telling ME that it either “worked or it didn’t, ” and that he wanted me to handle any calls about it.

(We love this collar. The dog controls whether she is shocked or not. If she pulls hard enough on the leash, she is mildly shocked. If she quits pulling, it stops shocking her. She responded immediately. Since she needs a lot of repetition, we put the collar on her in the morning, using it each time we take her out, and then remove it at night. )

A man named Fred called us in answer to the email, complimented us on our custom phone answering system (asking if we had put it on the market :0) ) and said a tech would call us back. The guy called us, talked to my husband, had him do a couple of things and it worked!  Sheepishly, my husband admitted that he had apparently changed things to a position that made the collar not function. Anyway, it’s fixed now and works beautifully again. If you’re interested in checking out the collar, go to Trail Blazin’ Innovations.  

Great product and great customer service!

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Big Day for Amber

Today Amber is 5 months old.

We took her to the vet this morning to be spayed. She weighs 52.5 pounds!  The office called a bit after noon, telling me that she had come through the procedure fine, was awake, and was walking around a bit. We can pick her up after 3:30.

My husband has spent most of the day in the shop, working on creating a rifle rest. He came in just a few minutes ago and we’ve now had some lunch.

I finally had a weather window where it seems we have a chance of 48 hours without rain, so I mixed up the KillsAll weed killer and sprayed it “off the edge of our world,” beyond what we refer to as the civilized part of our back yard, where Foy Brown came and cleared as much as possible with his brush hog recently. I’m trying to kill the rest of the old weed trees, plus the new ones already sprouting, plus other un-mow-able greenery.

It’ll probably take several sessions of spraying and then some time to see where we are on the project. I spent an hour out there today, and I was super hot and tired when I finished spraying the 2 gallons I mixed up. I’m hoping the weather will allow for me to continue my efforts tomorrow. I’d like to go farther down the hill where the big weed trees in the rocks are. I’m hopeful that the combination of Foy planning to brush hog twice a year and my efforts with the weed killer and loppers will keep that area under much better control, keep our view of the valley opened up, and keep our fire break.

As I was doing chores, I kept noticing how QUIET it is. I got up and refilled my coffee cup without having to juggle things carefully, open and close gates, balance coffee cup and put it up high on the file cabinet before coming in again and then moving carefully, avoiding getting mowed down.

I realized that I may be becoming addicted to Amber.

She is a LOT of trouble. I sport many more band-aids than I’ve ever worn in my life due to her sharp little bitty teeth. I have to plan ahead and CONCENTRATE to do the simplest things without mishap. I need to keep track of time to be sure I’ve taken her out and we’ve had a walk recently. I’m exhausted when we put her in her crate for the night, asleep almost before my head hits the pillow. We have to get up at a reasonable hour, rather than being able to sleep in, because we need to get the puppy out. We need to pay attention to where Molly and the cats are so they don’t get dive-bombed, etc., etc., etc.

At the bottom of it, though, is our lives are much richer. Amber filled the hole of our losing our pit bull, Bambi, after almost 14 years of sharing our lives with him. She forced us, not only to reach out to her, but allow her into our lives, changing every aspect of what we do every day in order to meet her needs. In doing that, we’ve gained a wonderfully rambunctious, affectionate family member. The other animals are finally calming down. There is still hissing and spitting from the cats, but they seem to realize she doesn’t intend to hurt them. Molly doesn’t like to be dive-bombed, but she knows we’re watching and making sure it doesn’t go too far. She still gets her share of our love and attention.

Since we’re older than dirt, we tend to get set in our ways. Amber has played fruit-basket-upset with that, making us rethink everything we do, and that’s a really nice gift. We are truly rich in our animal family, with Molly and Amber, Abby and Smoke, and the four bright gold fish. I find I miss the chaos Amber causes. Have I lost my mind?

 

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New Favorite Toy

My husband made this toy for our pit bull, Bambi, years ago. I had forgotten we even had it, but my husband suddenly remembered it and found it in the garage. Tug of War is Amber’s favorite thing to do. She’ll bring us toy after toy, wanting you to grab the other end (if you dare with her sharp puppy teeth). She cheats, though, changing her bite and trying to grab YOUR end.

This toy is heavy nylon rope threaded through a length of PVC pipe. The rope is knotted, so it stays where it is. You hold the other end, shielded from the puppy’s teeth. Both of you get LOTS of exercise in short order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amber really loves it. She had more energy than my husband, but a good time was had by all.

 

The is Amber with one of the two KONG bones I got for her recently. She is 5 months old today, 52-1/2 pounds, and is at the vet’s getting spayed this morning. It’s very quiet in the house. It’s almost eerie…

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“Thing One and Thing Two”

Amber loves squeaky bones. She has one that is a thin vinyl with large ‘ball’ shapes on the end that has begun to split. She still carries it around and wants to play Tug-O’War with it, but its days are numbered.

I found two large KONG bones on Chewy.com and ordered them. As usual, practically before I put in the order, I got an email that they had shipped and we got them the very next day. :0)

 

THING ONE:

 

Kong AirDog – Chewy.com

I chose this one because it’s supposed to help puppies who are teething. It has a felt type cover on it and is supposed to be easier on young gums. My husband gave it to her this morning while we were altogether in the office. She absolutely LOVED it. She carried it around and then went to work on it, much as our pit bull, Bambi, attacked any type of toy – discovering its weakness and proceeding to destroy the toy. Being a KONG toy, she won’t be able to ‘destroy it,’ but the felt cover is quickly being removed. I’ve been letting her work at it awhile, then getting up and cutting off the biggest parts of the now loose felt and throwing them away. I think the cover will all be gone by the end of the day. It squeaks, and she loves that, although she hasn’t personally made it squeak yet. I don’t know if she’ll like it as much once the felt is gone…

 

THING TWO:

 

iSqueakBonejw – Chewy.com

 

This IS a virtually indestructible bone. Amber immediately accepted it, carrying it around and chewing on it. It’s made for the largest dogs, so I don’t actually know if she’s able to make it squeak yet or not, She LOVES anything that makes a noise, so this is bound to last a good long time. I’m also thinking this will make a good toy to throw for her to fetch and hopefully bring back to us…

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Impromptu Play Date

Yesterday afternoon our good friend, Carla, brought her dog, Nikki, over for an impromptu play date with Amber.

I have to admit it bothered me a bit to let Amber off the leash and off any kind of string. Amber was her usual crazy, exuberant self while meeting Nikki, who is a very well-behaved, sweet fuzzy dog about Amber’s size. A couple of times Nikki had more than her fill of Amber’s rudeness and growled a bit. The hair on Amber’s back stood straight up and she came running to sit under my husband’s chair as we sat on the deck. (Guess who’s “Daddy’s Girl?”) They chased each other around the back yard, ending up lying on the deck.

It was a really good experience for Amber, who hasn’t really interacted with another dog, other than our Molly, who is a crotchety old-lady dog of 12 and is barely staying in the same room with her.  We asked Carla to please bring Nikki back soon so that Amber can continue learning good manners, PLUS have someone to run around the yard with! :0)

Aside –  Amber actually ‘oozed’ up to Molly this morning under my chair to where Molly was lying in her bed under the computer area. Amber was actually sweet for several minutes. Then she started to try to paw Molly and things went downhill from there, but it was a good couple of minutes.

 

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“No Teeth!”

I told you recently that we’re making progress in a lot of areas in training our labrador retriever puppy, Amber. She’ll be 5 months old on Monday, and we’ve had her since she was 10 weeks old.

One thing we’re not making enough progress on is her habit of swinging her head with her mouth open. That doesn’t sound like much on the surface, but the reality is that when we are putting her leash on, for example, she turns her head, catches one arm or the other in her open mouth. I’m learning not to jerk my arm out because that results in more band-aids. I’m learning to say, “NO TEETH!” firmly and hold my arm still.

She’s not trying to ‘bite.’ She just moves quickly side to side with an open mouth, lots of enthusiasm, and sharp puppy teeth. Right now I have two punctures on my left hand, with a nice looking bruise on my left forearm, and two band-aids on my right forearm. Needless to say, I’m not a fast learner, and I’m supposed to be smarter than she is.

We’ll keep working on this, trying to get her NOT to open her mouth when arms and hands are near. It’s a good thing we have a good supply of band-aids…

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Making Progress

We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel in a lot of areas with our training. We’re still not completely sure who is training WHOM, but we’re having an easier time.

  • Pulling on the Leash – The training collar we use with the leash has made the biggest difference. We’re old and not as spry as we used to be. Amber may be close to 50 lbs now, and she’s very strong. When she gets excited, she can easily pull us down, even when we think we’re paying close attention. The small shock she gets from the collar when she pulls sufficiently gets her attention. In fact, she hasn’t been pulling at all the last few days. She’s also transferring this to being on the dog run. She spent a happy half an hour on the run yesterday while we were working in the yard.
  • Waiting to be Fed – she now sits automatically when we have bowl in hand, ready to feed her. We put the bowl down, hesitate a moment or two, and then say, “OKAY!” And this way we can feed her without her jumping up on us or dive-bombing us when we’re trying to put the bowl down.
  • Sit – she is getting pretty consistent about doing this when we ask – at least, in the house.
  • Place – she is good about staying on the dog bed in the living room even when a cat – or Molly – comes in. She is also transferring this to the bed in the office.
  • Come – She is definitely beginning to do this, although it’s not consistent yet.
  • “Hurry Up” – she knows that this means getting business taken care of, particularly since she knows treats are involved. This is particularly good when the weather is not pleasant and we don’t want to be standing around for a long time waiting for her to find the perfect spot.
  • Off – she still jumps up, putting her feet on the top of the pet gate, which we’re trying to discourage her from doing, but when she does and we say, “Off!” she gets down.

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We’re still working on a lot of things. She manages to catch me with an open-mouthed toss of her head and give me another reason for yet another band-aid. In fact, I’m trying to sell this as a new fashion statement, since people remark on my ‘decorations’ when we’re out. There is also still the initial run-and-jump-on-Molly problem. We’re discouraging this, and it’s over pretty quickly, but we really wish she would stop.

My favorite times of the day with her remain when she’s in her place and I go over to sit on the floor by the couch and her bed. She comes right over, nuzzling and licking me furiously. We hug and I stroke her. We laugh and smile at each other. We play with toys. We both enjoy it, and my husband smiles from across the room.

Inviting a lab puppy into your home is no small decision, but it’s one we’re finding very rewarding, band-aids and all.

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Idea

Linda Meyers – Begin with Yes

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Hooray! It’s Sprinkling!!!

Daily Express

We’re having a wonderful afternoon.

First, it rained overnight and it’s sprinkling again now. We’re thankful for every drop.

My husband is on the driveway pad working on drilling holes in the antenna spokes for the ham radio tower and running a new length of wire around it. He says the sprinkling rain feels super good. :0)

I just came in from doing three things:

Thing One: 

I harvested two of my first-ever spaghetti squash!

 

When I bought one from the store, I washed the seeds and dried them. This spring I planted a couple of seeds in the house in small pots just to see if they would sprout. Not only did they sprout, they did well enough I transferred the plants into my raised bed square foot garden. The plants continued to do well, making yellow blooms and vines. As the other things in the garden came out, I just let the vines go where they wanted to in the squares. I harvested these two today. They’re almost as large as the ones I buy at the store. I have at least three more in the garden, and this was from TWO seeds!  I also got a handful of ripe grape tomatoes to add to my stash. :0)

Thing Two:

My husband and I took Amber with us out to the garden and then into the shop. She was wearing the new electronic collar. The whole time we were out – from the house out to the garden (waiting while I harvested), then to the shop – waiting while we painted – and then  back to the house, passing one of the cats – she was zapped twice. It’s as if we have a different dog! It’s becoming a pleasure to walk with her, rather than a “paying- attention-every-second-trying-to-anticipate, second-guess, and retain-control-whatever-happens” time.

Thing Three:

We went out to the shop to experiment with the air brush in the redoing of our sun/moon metal wall hanging. I felt really intimidated, since I’ve never used an air brush before. This made me determined to at least TRY it. I used paint thinner to make sure that the air brush and tube in the bottle were clean and ready to use. The other end of the tube is attached to a compressed air bottle. We then switched the bottle to a black paint for the shading we were trying to do. I practiced on a cardboard box until I was achieving a reasonably uniform, light spray. I had used tracing paper to mask some areas I didn’t want any shading on. I was able to achieve a darker shading around the sun face and along one side of the moon, with lighter shading on the flames of the sun. My husband and I looked at the picture on the computer together, deciding where the next shading should be.

Tomorrow we’ll look at what we’ve done, decide if we need more shading, or if I can move to a repaint of masked areas.

So far, I think the air brush is really fun. I’ve seen some beautiful things done with an air brush. If I can just get a subtle shading technique, I’ll be happy as a clam!

I’ll take pics of the metal wall hanging soon and post them.

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family, Gardening, Lewis Art, Lewis projects, metal art, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Solving the Pulling on the Leash Problem

I’ve read several articles on ways to stop dogs from pulling on the leash. Amber is food/rewards driven, but she’s so intent on getting rewards for taking care of business and sitting that I don’t think that option is viable for us right now.

My husband ordered an electronic collar that is one he’s been looking for a long time. It doesn’t come with a ‘remote.’ The collar IS the training aid. It’s called, an “Eltrex Walk’r”. It’s made by a company called, “Trail Blazin’ Innovations. The collar has a ‘stimulator’ built in. You attach the collar so the stimulator is in the front and the D ring is directly opposite on the back. When the dog pulls, she receives a small stimulation or shock. When she stops pulling, the shock stops (or several seconds, whichever comes first.

 

I’m usually averse to this type of training, but for a large puppy with no brain who is growing while we watch, it’s necessary. We got it today and put the collar on her. We took her for a walk, and she immediately started pulling. She got shocked, yipped, got upset, pulled a bit more, and then suddenly sat down. It was as if an epiphany occurred. We walked together (the three of us) out to the shop to turn on the a/c, got her a biscuit inside, and then walked back. We had her sit a couple of times and then start walking again. She didn’t pull once! We will keep doing short walks, giving rewards at the end of the time, but this looks like a miracle in the making. This is on the lowest setting, and it got her attention and she altered her behavior – already!

I reminded my husband that using it around the house and family is one thing. It’ll be like starting over if someone comes to the house or we’re out in public with lots of wonderful distractions.

We’re delighted. She may take several lessons for this to sink in, but it looks like, thanks to this innovation, we have a good start.

 

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Melding a Pet Family is Difficult

Melding our pet family has been challenging.

When we had only Bambi, our pit bull,

we felt he needed to lighten up. So we got Molly

to be his friend and make him laugh. It took quite awhile for them to accept each other. Molly was intimidated by Bambi’s size and demeanor. He ‘put up with her’ for the most part, in the beginning. Then they became fast friends.  We live on a ridge line so we can just let our animals out, rather than always having to have them on a leash. We learned the hard way to let out one dog at a time. If we did this, they basically stayed on our property. If we forgot, they formed a ‘pack,’ and had wonderful adventures, exploring. Sometimes they would be gone an hour or so before coming home, many times filthy and stinking, needing baths. :0(

After quite awhile, we added Abby to the mix.

We found her through an ad in the paper for a ‘lap kitty.’ She was slow to warm up to us, but is, now, indeed, true to the ad.

Then, I fell in love with a kitten at the vet’s that was up for adoption. My husband and I agreed that we didn’t need another animal. I kept thinking of her. I dreamed of her and named her Smoke. We went back and got her.

She’s headstrong. She and Abby fought for a while, hissing and spitting and swiping at each other. They finally accepted each other.  Smoke also freaked out at the doggies for a while. She finally realized they weren’t going to chase her or try to hurt her.

Then, several years later, Bambi suddenly went downhill fast. He was almost 14 years old, pretty rare for a pit. We had to have him put to sleep. We were all really sad, though we had known the day would come. We had thought about what we would do. We have learned over the years that getting another animal right away is good for us. It doesn’t lessen the hurt of the loss, but forces us to reach out to meet a sweet animal’s needs, occupying our time and keeping us from shutting down and imploding in our grief.

So we adopted Amber.

We’re almost too old for this challenge. Even though we plan ahead, things don’t go smoothly very often these days.

For example, I decided to let Amber in to the office with us for a while before we go to Lunch Bunch. She ran right over the top of Molly, knocking her down. She then ran into the office and I shut the gate door behind her. Suddenly she got quiet. She had apparently stood up, put her feet on the file cabinet, and got down a purple silk flower up there. She was busy trying to eat the parts…. Just now I had to bite my husband verbally for sitting in his chair watching her trying to eat a sheet of bubble wrap!  Next, he decided it would be good to let her chew a cardboard box into little bits. NOW he says ‘he’ll clean it up next time…’

_______________

Things are beginning to calm down now (other than the latest incident with Molly). The cats hide, go outside, or get up somewhere Amber has trouble reaching them. Molly either goes off by herself, or MAY allow Amber to nose her a bit, or sit on the bed in the living room with her. She can curl up in her bed under my feet in the office with Amber only bothering her a little bit.

The fish aren’t bothered by the dogs or the cats.

Amber is learning to co-exist with us, even though we’re old and slower than she would like. She enjoys being inside with us, and is learning to calm down (for a puppy).

We need a lot of patience, but things are starting to come together in melding our sweet pet family. I’ll be glad when most of the ‘drama’ of it passes. Otherwise, I may need a rubber room… :0)

 

 

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‘Destructo-Dog’ Strikes Again

After I fixed us lunch, I fell asleep. I think I got too hot and too stressed with our tower raising this morning.  I’m still feeling a bit as though I’ve been run over by a truck.

My husband, the Energizer Bunny, has been out and in and out and in again, taking measurements of the rotator and antenna with his analyzer. So far, he says it resonates at the wrong frequency. He thinks it was set up for a CB radio, rather than ham. He thinks he’ll need to make a part, though I really have no clue. With the heat index at 106 degrees F. right now, I’m encouraging my husband to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

When I got up from my nap to check on him, he was in the side yard and our puppy, Amber, was in the office. I checked the back porch and she had been busy –

  • I had left water in her bowl. She had played in it, pawing it all over the porch. It was wetter than usual, though, so, in checking around, I found she had knocked the water container we keep on the table, on top of her food canister, off, and had spilled most of THAT, too.
  • My husband’s work gloves had been pulled off the table, too, and had received their share of toothful attention
  • Every toy in her laundry basket was on the floor.
  • She had pulled the towels in her crate out through the holes and they were now on the floor, as well.

It’s amazing, when she has been out for walks two or three times today, plus spent time on her dog run, and in her kiddie pool, that she had time to do all that.

Lesson to us – nothing is sacred even in the middle of the table. We’ll have to move the food canister (a heavy-duty food grade canister with a heavy lid that screws on) into the pantry, since she’ll have it off the table, spilled onto the floor (if possible!) next…

“Destructo-Dog!”

 

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“Place” – 2

Teaching Amber “Place!” has been a lifesaver for us. Left to her own devices, Amber leaps around hounding poor Molly, making cats jump, hiss, and spit, and generally causing havoc. She is doing remarkably well now – after an initial “HOORAY! I’M HERE!” run around. Being in her place allows her to spend a lot more time inside, getting away from the heat, and being inside with the other animals and the people. She has several toys on the bed, and seems content to watch what’s happening around her. We all get a bit of quiet time – a very welcome thing.

I’m really amazed that, other than a few lapses, she stays on the bed, even though a cat may come in the room and meow to get up in my husband’s lap, or Molly goes in and out, etc. She knows this will be strictly enforced, but the being included in the family seems to outweigh leaping around limits.

I also make it a point to go to the corner of the bed, where I can get down on the floor beside her, with the aid of the couch. She knows that it’s then okay to come sit in my lap, bring a toy, love the mama. A happy time for us, to be sure. :0)

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The Miracle of Kong Toys

We got one of these for our pit bull, Bambi, years ago. He didn’t think much of it because he couldn’t destroy it, which was his big thing with toys. He wanted to find the weakness, exploit it, and demolish the toy. Even when I put treats in there, he wasn’t interested.

Now that we have our labrador retriever puppy, Amber, we live in a whole new world. She LOVES toys, though her attention span is the length of flea spit. I tried the Kong toy with her, filled with treats and peanut butter soon after we brought her home. She looked at it for a couple of seconds and went on to something else.

My sister-in-law suggested these again. I decided, ‘why not?’ and filled it with peanut butter and biscuits today. Amber went nuts over it this time, avidly trying to get the goodies inside.

When we were on the porch talking to Foy when he had finished brush hogging today, we heard a big noise from the porch. It was Amber, playing with the Kong toy. She was picking it up and throwing it against the screen door. It was bouncing from there to the floor, and she jumped after it. :0)

If you haven’t tried one, it might be something your pet will really enjoy.

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Skirmish

In this corner – Amber, yellow labrador retriever, 4-1/2 months old, 41+ pounds, no brain.

vs

 

 

Smoke, 1 year old cat who loves to taunt Amber, shown lying on my calendar beside me as I type on the computer.

Amber was warned not to mess with the cat – a couple of times, the second time with fly swatter shown. She seemed to take it seriously, lying down in Molly’s bed under my feet. She oozed out to my left while I was concentrating on other things. I admonished her and got her to lie down beside my chair.

Suddenly Amber’s nose was on my right, attached to bright eyes and lively dog, plus teed off cat. Smoke hissed, jumped up and whacked Amber in the face. Amber got even more excited. I jumped up and tried to pick up the cat, with the idea of putting her on the other side of the office pet gate.

End result:

  • Smoke is out
  • Amber is on the back porch
  • I have new band-aids on both arms from where Smoke dug in her claws.

Lesson –

Either let them fight it out or use something other than my body to try to break up future altercations. Am looking for a whole-body band-aid or body armor…

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Detente’

I caught this picture of Molly (left)  and Amber (right) last night. It didn’t last long, but it shows the sweet doggies are learning to tolerate one another – at least for short periods of time.

Molly would prefer to be on the rug now while Amber is in her “place,” but progress is being made.

Smoke continues to taunt Amber – confident she can leap up or sprint out of range. Abby continues to hiss really loudly, but isn’t frantic to get outside now.

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Christmas in July

Yesterday morning my husband walked in while I was laboriously cleaning our 2-gallon wheel-shaped fish bowl.  I was on one side of the bowl trying to capture the fish with my one cup metal measuring cup. I caught each one, put my hand over the top of the cup, walked around to the other side of the divider, poured the fish and water into a larger bowl and then covered the top of that bowl.

My husband said, “You need a fish net.”  He asked why I didn’t move the fish bowl into the kitchen sink. I told him that with the water in it, it was too heavy for me to do that. I needed to get the fish out, use a tall plastic glass to remove about half of the water, then move the bowl into the sink to clean.

He said, that’s a lot of work when you have to do it every few days to keep the water clear. I simply said, “I love fish.” He said, we haven’t had an aquarium in a long time. Why don’t we go get a small one and that’ll save you a lot of work.” Not a stupid lady, I said, “Hooray! I’d love it!”

My husband said later, “I’m antsy. Why don’t we go to town and get the aquarium.” And so I enjoyed Christmas in July. :0)

We got a 5 gallon aquarium, air pump, air filter, gravel, some decorations and greenery, and extra filter pads. By the time we got home, it was 8:00 in the evening and we just piled the boxes in the dining area, fed animals, fed ourselves, and watched a movie.

We just finished putting the aquarium together. It took us awhile to arrange an electrical strip for all the plug-ins and then to clean things up, but the fish are swimming all around exploring their new home. We got a siphon type cleaner to clean debris from the gravel, and I’ll read up on when to change the filter pad, etc., but now that it’s altogether, it looks like it’ll be a lot less work for me and a nicer home for the fish.

They’re already swimming through the holes in the decorations. It has LED lights and a quieter air pump than we had in the bowl. We corralled all the wiring as much as possible.

I keep finding another reason to go back to the kitchen/dining area so I can look at the aquarium again. I love Christmas in July!

 

 

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The Caterpillar Disintegrated

At least, I THINK it was a caterpillar. It came from the exclusive emporium of WalMart. It was bilious pink with knobby things all up and down its length. It had yellow feet, a head sporting a smile with very white teeth, yellow ears, and squeakies in both ends. Amber loved it.

It lived to go through the wash twice. Amber got one squeaky out, but the other one was still in.

Amber was here in the office with me. She moved from one toy to the next and then came through my legs to get to the bed under the counter, and then out again, over and over. She then got quiet.

I should have known that wasn’t good, but I was so happy she had settled for a bit that I didn’t pay enough attention. The next time I looked, the pink caterpillar had lost about half of its length in bits and pieces all over the carpet. I spent the next minutes with the whisk broom, trying to gather the shreds, threads, and balls of pink ‘stuff’ that used to be a toy. I have now disposed of the caterpillar (thank goodness the squeaky is NOT inside Amber!).

Amber won a trip out to the back porch so that I could clean things up. The threads were everywhere. I used a whisk broom, the vacuum cleaner, the whisk broom again, and the vacuum again before things were good again.

I don’t think Amber learned any lessons from this, but “I” did. I’ve learned to pay better attention when the soft toys start getting raggedy.

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Blowing Bubbles

onsecrethunt.com via http://www.wallpapersxl.com

Blowing bubbles is one of my favorite things. I loved it all through my childhood, and used our son as an excuse to always have some on hand as he was growing up. Now he’s across the world from us and I still have some on hand.

 

 

zen to zany via cathy ruggiero

Now, when my husband and I are cooking outside on the grill, we turn on the rope LED lights that we strung around the top of the deck cover and I bring out my bubbles. My husband looks at me as if I probably have brain damage of some kind. These were never an attraction for him. The only ones he got into was when they came out with a humongous wand that generated HUGE bubbles.

I’m content to use my ‘ordinary’ bubbles and wand – happily remembering wonderful things I can share with him as we enjoy the smell of the charcoal and the sizzling beef.

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Poor Amber Wants to Play

Poor Amber tried to get Molly to play with her this morning. She was relatively sweet about it, too, taking one toy after another under my chair to make her way to Molly’s bed in the space beside my feet at the computer desk. She was serially rebuffed by Molly, who had no interest at all in Amber or her toys. I defended Molly, and then played tug of war and fetch the plastic squeaky bone for about 20 minutes. Amber was just getting started!

She switched to the rawhide, taking it to Molly, then to my husband across the room, then to me. I threw it for her several times, but it wasn’t enough. We went through the stuffed caterpillar with the squeaky, the heavy glass paperweight, the teddy bear, the indestructible weird ring with knobs on it, an empty plastic bottle, all getting a small share of time and attention, but it wasn’t enough.

I finally took her for a walk just now. We walked out to where the greenhouse is, and the new ham radio tower will be, all around the edge of the civilized part of the yard in the back, out to the garden and around it, back to the front yard, out to the kiddie pool. She jumped in, splashed all around, drank a bunch of it, and jumped back out. I finally left her on the porch for a while.

We’re heading for Lunch Bunch in a few minutes, and then all of this will start again….

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Amber at 4-1/2 Months

Amber has decided she likes Molly’s bed under my computer counter. She goes in and out over and over, stepping on my feet, making my chair swivel, squeaky toy in her mouth. She thinks it’s a great game.

I think we’re over the hump on her digestive problem now. She has remained playful and happy throughout, but is now almost completely back to normal. I’m going to start giving her a bit of puppy food again and we’ll see if that’s a problem or not.

She is spending more and more time with us inside. We taught her “PLACE” (the big bed in the living room) and she either plays contently or goes to sleep, over and over.  She and Molly sit together on the bed, or Molly chooses to sit elsewhere, but isn’t freaking out. Amber is dive-bombing her less over time.

One of her favorite things now is for either my husband or me to come over and sit on the floor beside her ‘place.’  She knows it’s then okay to come sit with us, play, and love – and we do a lot of that.

This morning we worked on “DOWN.” She didn’t want to cooperate at first, but changed her mind when she discovered she got a cookie if she was down.  We’re working on SO many things all at the same time. One of the important things now is to take food from our hands without teeth. I’ve found that if I touch her eat, she will take the treat more gently. Who knew?

We keep reminding ourselves, one day at a time.

Meanwhile, I’m making sure that a couple of times a day, Molly and I sit together. She’s my lap dog, and she loves it. I don’t want her to feel she’s getting lost in the shuffle of training the new puppy.

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Interesting Situation

Right now, our friend Foy Brown is using his tractor and brush hog to try to get the area where the greenhouse and tower base are, plus trying to clear some of the land in the back as a good fire break. He’s having his lumps not getting stuck. My husband is monitoring, to be there in case there are questions or problems.

Amber

He just brought Amber in from the deck and dumped her into the office with me. That’s no problem, but Molly is under my feet in her bed, and Abby, the cat, is sprawled out on my husband’s chair.

Molly

 

Abby

 

It will be interesting to see if we can all co-exist for awhile together, or if I’ll need to leap up and let Molly and the cat out….

Smoke is outside somewhere, so she’s missing out on the possible excitement.

 

Smoke

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Amber Update

$251.22 later, we have discovered that Amber

  • Doesn’t have worms or parasites
  • Doesn’t have any type of blockage
  • Looks great to our wonderful vet

She DOES have

  • A slight fever
  • An obvious gastrointestinal upset
  • May be really sensitive to food (though she eats anything and everything she can find with great relish)

As of this morning, we’ve switched from feeding her half a can of the easy-on-the-tummy dog food we keep on hand to a whole can twice a day mixed with a combination of probiotics to help her get her regularity back and metronidazole for the fever, which signals a mild infection.

While we were there, we weighed her. She now weighs 41.6 pounds. We got two cases of the special cans of dog food, a 6 pack of Sentinel, since she’ll be in the 50 – 100 lb zone the rest of her life. I just fed her, using a can of the special food, plus the two kinds of probiotic and the crushed up antibiotic. She ate it all quickly with relish.

The vet was really happy with how HAPPY she seems, even at the vet’s. She wanted to play with a little girl while we were there, and also another dog. She didn’t do a great job on the leash and didn’t calm down until she was up on the table in the vet’s office, but he was smiling at how affectionate she is.

Unless we have continuing problems with her digestion, our next appointment is August 7th, when we take her in to be spayed.

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