Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Home again, Home again

Hailey had a fantastic time away and, except for her first night where she kept the house up with her excitement, was wonderful.  She has seriously slept the whole time we have been home. She didn't even try and get into the dishwasher.

Here are some more pictures of her fun weekend away.

I love to run free on the beach! I am so glad the tourists are gone!

Bad wave, I must eat you!

Peace on the beach

All partied out

How am I going to keep both from the others?


 Just let me check my blind spot and we will be on our way. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 3 - I miss my friends

As yesterday was the Big Guy's birthday and a few neighbours were coming over for drinks, my mom decided to board her dogs for the night. For some reason she thought 3 dogs may be too much!

Lee completely disagrees. She cried and cried when they left. However she did have a good time on the beach with her people. Also, once the people were in the house and settled, she settled and didn't mind the party. She is now waiting patiently from her friends to return from jail.

This is great, a fountain for me on the beach!

Walking down the beach with my pack
Enjoying the beach

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 2 - That little one just won't sleep

After a restless night, the dogs had a very busy day.

After a 4 km walk to the lighthouse, the dogs:

Ran in the front yard (aka the beach)

Took a dip in Lake Huron (yes they were swimming on Nov.25)

Played in the house (Max, facing camera is saying "throw the ball")

And played and played. This is a video of Lee and Tendra

The dogs also had a an almost 2 km walk in the evening. My little muffin was so over stimulated that she had less than an hour sleep all day. Everyone else was exhausted but the energizer bunny kept going and going and going, and finally after dinner crashed.  We had a much better sleep and are now ready to take on today!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 1

I must say the car ride to the lake was much better than anticipated. For the most part Hailey just sat in the middle of the back seat. It actually felt more spacious then I had imagined (remember I have flown economy to Indonesia, so I know cramped!)

Just hanging with my Aunt C

Hailey did not enjoy her time with her Great Grandmother. She found the apartment boring. She kept asking to go out, and she had to bark at my Grandmother's china pig. She thinks it is alive for some reason.

Are we there yet?

As soon as we got to the top of the hill to come down to the Lake, Lee knew where she was (she has been her 2 times before). She was so excited. Then for the next 6 hours, the 3 puppies played. Then people tried to go to sleep and Miss Lee was up and down and around all night. She managed to basically keep the whole house up all night. I am not sure which two, but in the night often 2 of the 3 dogs were in my bed. My parents report Lee joining them as well. We have all voted that 3 dogs will be wearing socks tonight so we don't have to listen to the little footsteps on the hardwood.

This morning we are all back in play mode. Action pictures of all the puppy play to follow later today (once my camera has charged).  We are all hopeful for a nap this afternoon. The puppies are thrilled but the people all could use some more sleep!

Max checking Lee out

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An adventure

Today we are going on an adventure.
4 adults and Lee will be traveling nearly 700 km in my car, a Chevy HHR (similar to the one pictured below).
We will be stopping for lunch in Guelph to spend time with Lee's Great Grandmother (I am not sure my Grandmother would appreciate being called my dog's Great Grandmother, but oh well!).
Then we will be continuing to Grammie and the Big Guy's for the Big Guy's big birthday. Lee will get to play with Max and Tendra (both 3 year old black labs). She is very excited. She is also very excited to be getting Thanksgiving dinner today (she is originally from the States after all!)

Imagine us all in this car . . . .  it will be a fun adventure!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I hate my sweater - as told by Lee

Oh this morning I was so excited to be going on a walk with my lady. She was neglectful last week and didn't spend enough time with me (I know about the kittens, I could smell them all over her!), so I was extra thrilled. I was running around barking and then she pulled it out. The stupid sweater. She put it on me.  She told me I looked cute, but I know I looked ridiculous.

 I tried to show my distain by refusing to leave the house, but she made me. So I thought I would show her during our walk. I tried to walk extra fast to throw her off. I tried being very jumpy and actually almost got hit by a bike when I jumped in front of it. I don't know why a 17 year old was riding his bike down the sidewalk. I tried to be bad by finding a piece of toast under a bush and refusing to drop it and she had to pry it out of my mouth. I also tried being a bad walker. This is how I walked every time I was near grass:

But alas this behaviour didn't let me escape from the horrible sweater. She still made me wear it. I had to wear it until I was home. My lady told me I am lucky to have a Grammie who loves me enough to make me sweaters, but I don't feel lucky. I will tell Grammie on Thursday when I see her that this is mean.

I hope it is warmer tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Making Friends at Conroy

When we took Lee to Conroy Pit this weekend she did something neat, she actually tried to play with the other dogs. Often she is too busy hunting to take the time to make friends.

Here she is trying to get others to play (which for Lee means chase her).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kittens - in need of a good home

While Hailey is totally jealous and mad that not only do I smell like kittens, but I am writing a blog about kittens and not her, it has to be done.

This evening, our good friends (and vet) Woody (aka Dr. Wallar) and Jocelyn invited us over to see the kittens they have been fostering. 

The kittens were abandoned by their mother and have been being hand raised by Woody, Jocelyn and their kids, Matthew, Kathryn and Joseph, for the past month. I must say not only are they cute, they are so friendly. If I didn't think Hailey would eat one, I would have brought one home in my purse!

Here are some pictures of total cuteness!

Waking up from a nap

Kitten love
Look how small his paw is
Snuggle time

The only kind of creature I want to be bottle feeding!

3 of the 5 have homes, but 2 males are still looking for that perfect forever home. If anyone is interested please let me know or contact Dr. Wallar at the Ottawa Vet Hospital. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My house at 2 am

I had to do this crazy thing and get up around 2 to do a Skype consult with my client on the other side of the world. Normally we meet in the evening there time (our morning, but due to some special circumstances it was important to talk in the middle of their day, our night. To cause the least amount of disruption to my sleeping hubby I did the call in the living room and not my office. This is what I expected would happen:

This is more like what did happen.

Sorry for the stock photo but I wasn't up to new pictures at 2 am.

They were all so busy and loud. Apparently it sounded like I was eating. I had to keep muting my side of the conversation. I couldn't believe it.

Now that it is a reasonable time to get up they are all sleeping like angels. AHHHHH!

It may be a long day today, but at least when I went back to sleep so did all of them!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Personal Goal - Think about food more.

 I love food. I love to eat. This is something I inherited from my mom's side of the family. It is actually rather impressive the amount of food I can consume in a day (thank you Poppa!). I also have a wicked sweet tooth (thanks to my dad's side of the family too!). However,  unlike most people who love eating, I hate cooking. Several times a week my husband is out and I am forced to feed myself.  I have some simple staples I will make. The reality is that without a cook, I would probably starve.

One thing I have learned is that I don't think a lot about what I am putting in my own body, so it is really no surprise that I don't really think about what my pets are eating. My basic strategy is to do what the vets says, watch their weight and limit treats. However, from reading other blogs, I have realized that I need to be thinking more about what they eat. This is the problem with following other people's blogs, sometimes it gives you dog owner guilt! 

So my new goal is to start researching food. I see that Liz from the Ottawa Dog Blog makes all her own dog food. I don't think this is a good option for me. I think one should be able to feed oneself before they feed their dog! I have seen lots of posts about raw diet vs prepackaged foods and posts on what prepackaged foods are better. So I need to go back and look and figure out what my cats and dog should be having.

Hailey says she is all for this as long as I don't take her Greenies away. When presented with a Kong filled with peanut butter and treats and a Greenie, the Greenie always wins! 

Loki and his pizza. Loki LOVED pizza. In the last month of his life, we got him his very own pizza. He had no idea what to do with it. We had to cut it up for him. I know this is NOT a good example of how to feed your pet, but perhaps when you know their death is coming and there is nothing you can do to stop it, you might as well let them have what they love. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011


A very special thanks to Ali from Thorne Avenue for creating this beautiful new blog layout for us. We love it!

You can follow Ali's adventures with her rescued pal Barley at http://barleyandali.weebly.com/ or visit her design site at www.thorneavenue.com.

Thanks again Ali! 

Nail cut in the real world

I really wanted to wait to cut Hailey's nails, but they have been getting so sharp so although I know we are not there yet in terms of our program, we took her to get them cut.

What  went well:
She didn't scream. One of the people who works with pointed out that he didn't know she was there because he didn't hear her screaming (yes that is how well known we are).

What didn't go so well:
In the end they weren't able to cut all her nails (one of the front paws isn't done) because she was too anxious.

But this is a start to improvement so we will keep working on it and maybe someday she won't freak out when it gets done.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dog Walker Update

Lady: "Lee you have had over a month to get to know your dog walker, how are you enjoying your time with Stephanie?"

Lee: "Oh I love her! I am so excited to see her. I jump up and I want to kiss her. She is such a great person. She gives me so many treats! I don't love when she puts my harness on me though, but she gives me cookies for it, which you don't."

Lady: "How is learning to run going?"

Lee: "I don't love the running. I will tolerate jogging. When she makes me run it is hard to sniff and watch for evil squirrels."

Lady: "Running would be a good thing to learn to do. It would make you tired and sleep more during the day."

Lee: "I don't want to be tired and sleep through the day. If I do that, I will miss things. I don't want to miss things. I want to live my life. Lady, I love walking with you, but I love walking with Stephanie too. Thank you for getting her for me."

Lady: "You are welcome. Lee I love walking you too but it is nice to be able to put early morning appointments two times a week and not be rushed or have to get up at an insanely early hour."

Thanks Stephanie from Happy Homes Pet Care Solutions!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Feline Friday - Remember

I am the granddaughter of a WWII veteran, the great-grand daughter of two WWI veterans and the sister-in-law of a member of the Canadian Forces currently stationed in Afghanistan (who will hopefully return for duty safe and sound December 1).

I have the deepest respect for those who have been and are currently willing to risk their lives to try and make the world a better place. Without their sacrifices, I would not be able to sit on my couch snuggling with my pets, eating chips, with the biggest worry in my life being what am I going to watch on TV tonight.

Please take some time today to pay your respects  to those who have fought for peace, freedom and equality in the world.

Nin with Uncle Chris, believing he was making a sacrifice dressing up for this picture

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guess how long the carpets stayed clean?

I had my carpets cleaned yesterday. They stayed clean for approximately 2 hours. It was a beautiful day out and I had the door opened so my girl could go in and out and I could work. I didn't realize what she was into outside and she came racing in, and made muddy prints on my drying clean carpet. I tried scrubbing them out last night, but they wouldn't budge. I am hoping now that the carpets are dry I can remove the Lee trail! Sigh! 

"This bag is out here, it must be for me too play with."

"What? It I am helping."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Understanding Reinforcement

As I have mentioned several times, I have 2 loves in my life, my job and my dog. As for my job, I am a  behaviour analyst who works with individuals with autism and related disorders. My career path, studying and understanding behaviour and behaviour change principles, has given me an in depth knowledge of all the principles that govern behaviour in human and non-human species (a lot of research is still done with animals).

Given my unique background, I often forget that not everyone understands and uses reinforcement with their pets. I was reminded of this in one of my favourite blog's, Furry Four Legged Foster Friends http://www.furryfosters.net/, post yesterday. Mel talked about having a "life changing" moment when being at a talk that mentioned reinforcement. This has made me think I should write about reinforcement.

Reinforcement is anything that INCREASES the chances of the behaviour in the future.

There are 2 types of reinforcement:
Positive Reinforcement - adding something to the environment that increases the future of a behaviour in the future (in dog terms this likely is food, toys, pets, praise - for most of us it is $$$)
Negative Reinforcement - removing something from the environment that increases the future of a behaviour in the future (For my cat Bagheera, smacking Lee in the face when she comes to close allows him to stop/remove her butt sniffs - in human terms, the best example, is finally cleaning your room so your mom stops nagging you).

Punishment on the other hand is anything that DECREASES the chances of the behaviour in the future. (Again there is positive and negative, but I won't go into that now).

Common Challenges with Using Reinforcement:
1) You only know something is a reinforcer at another time in the future (do we see the behaviour increase later?) - just because the creature involved seems to enjoy it, it is only a reinforcer if later you see the behaviour increase.

2) Sometimes what we think are punishers actually are reinforcers: Sometimes (especially in my work with kids), we think we are punishing someone with a reprimand for example, but if the behaviour doesn't changes, or worse increases, well, the reprimand probably was a reinforcer!

3) Just because something is a reinforcer right now, it may not be in 2 minutes or tomorrow. The science explains the concepts of deprivation and satiation. Deprivation is when you haven't had something for a while and the value of it is much higher because you have been deprived (think about a long car ride and how reinforcing access to a bathroom is after it as compared to the bathroom's normal value). Satiation is when you have had too much of something and the reinforcing value of it declines (think of the value of food after a holiday dinner pig out).

4) New behaviours may need to have access to the reinforcer a different, undetermined number of times that you can't know before you start:) So giving your dog a cookie once when they sit doesn't mean they will sit in the future. They may need to be reinforced for this behaviour many times.

Hints for using reinforcement with your dog:
1) You need to reinforce any behaviour you want to see more of!

2) If you are seeing more of a behaviour you don't want to see, you need to figure out what is the reinforcer that is maintaining this behaviour and stop it! (Easier said then done!)

3) Have a variety of potential reinforcers/preferred items. By mixing it up, you can create deprivation and avoid satiation.  People laugh at the number of different treats/toys I have for Lee, but I do it to allow me to manipulate her motivation to get her to do what I want/need her to do.

4) Save the most powerful potential reinforcer/preferred items for specific behaviours.  Lee only gets access to her current favourite, beef liver, when I am doing her nail desensitization

5) Often very small pieces can be reinforcing. By using small pieces, you can reinforce more often without satiation.

6) Reinforce often!

Happy Reinforcing!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Does your pet have a song?

I sing to my pets a lot. Often they are made up songs to whatever tune is in my head and sometimes I sing real ones. My cats never have had a song, but my dogs have.

Loki's song was "the Difference", by Matchbox Twenty. The December we got him nearly 10 years ago, I spent many hours standing on the corner hoping he would pee. There is a line in the song that use to get stuck in my head in the middle of the night "Slow dancing on the boulevard in the quiet moments while the city's still dark." For the 8 years of his life, I sang this to him.

Gemi came around during our CSI phase, and her song was the Who's "Who are you?"  This became her song because she would get mad when we would sing the "who, who" part. She didn't like it. We thought it was funny. Poor girl! In her last year of life, she earned a second song "Fire Woman" by the Cult, so maybe this made up for her main song being one designed to annoy her:) She got this song because it was on in the car on the way to the park several times. She was sitting all regal like in the back seat, with the window partly opened, looking like a queen, and I thought it fit her.

I realized recently, Hailey does not have a song yet. While I sing to her, there is not one song that is "hers". She may argue that this is further proof that I don't love her and she is abused and neglected (I don't think anyone is going to believe that!).  So I am now on a mission to finder her a song.

Does your pet have a song?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Feline Friday - Almost play

This is as close to play and Hailey and Baggy are ever going to get. I must say I never thought I would live to see the day when Baggy (who is 16.5) would even play this much with a dog. The power of his "stick". (Playing "stick" has always been Baggy's favourite game.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nail cutting at week 1.5

I have been systematically desensitizing Lee to the nail clippers, so that nail cutting will become less traumatic for her. Last Monday, I showed a video of her on day one, in a post called Baseline Data.
Here we are now, 1.5 weeks later. We have made some progress!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Grief at Month 3

It is hard to believe that another Gemi-less month has passed. This month feels very similar to last month in terms of grief.

I had my first panic attack of the month over the weekend. We were at the dog park and a dog was playing rough with Lee. I had wicked flashbacks to the accident, I felt dizzy and sick and started to cry and I had to keep walking and leave my husband to deal with it. I just couldn't. So going to the park alone is still not a safe thing for me to do.

 It still remains a challenge to picture her alive and well. There is still a stab in my heart everything I talk about her (even if it is sharing a fun story about her).

I must admit at this point I am tired of having to tell the "Gemi is dead" story. When I thought I had told everyone in the world, I run across someone who doesn't know and I have to talk about it again. Clearly more people need to read my blog.

Recently, I was discussing grief with a friend who had complications of an ectopic pregnancy and lost the baby about a month before Gemi died. We had not discussed the actual manifestations of our grief. When you are in the early stages of grief, you can't talk about the feelings you are living, you just have to focus on continuing to live. We both describe the feeling as suffocating and both had the worst time while in the bath or shower. Funny how our physical reactions to two different losses were so similar.

This month will be challenging. I will be returning to the scene of the accident at the end of the month to celebrate the big guy's birthday. I try not to think about it and will just deal with it when it is time.

So I still go by day by day and hope tomorrow will be a little better than yesterday.

   Princess Gemi the day Loki died
My serious girl