Monthly Archives: March 2019

Thank You My Friend

I had forgotten what a beautiful thing it is to have a dog that you communicate with on a personal level. It takes years of working together to achieve such a bond. I haven’t had it since my dog Duncan passed in 2013. I noticed recently that I have reached this point with Shelby.

She watches me and is generally able to anticipate what I want from her. I have had Shelby for about 7 years now. She is 9 years old and has been a certified therapy dog for 5 1/2 of those years. I was without a therapy dog after Duncan’s passing so had to train Shelby with no one for her to learn the ropes from. She learned the basic behaviors quickly and passed the test with no problem. The trusting working bond is not something you can teach though. It is something that is built, something earned. This takes time and experiences.

Shelby and her sister from another mother

It dawned on me recently that I now have this with Shelby. She is my go to dog whenever I need assistance on a job, or a reliable partner. Shelby has worked numerous public events with me including some with hundreds of people petting her. She has assisted me at county fair demonstrations. She has taught two (so far) therapy dog training classes with me at the vocational school. She has helped me test potential new therapy dog and handler teams for 5 years.

Shelby and I have put in many trips to visit at nursing facilities. She has earned the title TDIA (Therapy Dogs International Active) and is well on her way to the next title. She will “go visit” on command. She will hold a sit-stay will I put chairs away after a visit. We have done reading to kindergarteners, we have visited with college students to de-stress.

Shelby is a happy worker. She loves to work. In fact if I don’t give her a job, she will find one. Such as barking at extra cars through the window until they go away. Or stopping the cats from too much roughhousing. I can trust Shelby to do a job and do it well. I always watch her when we are working though. Unexpected situations do arise and I am her protector.

This level of relationship is rare. My hope for you is that you are able to experience it. It is a blessing and a gift.

Spring Is Here!

Zeke, Cassius, Baxter, and Paisley

This is what dogs do on a sunny spring day! It’s still only 42 degrees but the sun made it feel a little warmer. The sheltie girls, Shelby and Nikki, supervised from the sidelines. Shelby takes her job seriously and barks and chases the others for a short distance telling them to get it right. Nikki just sleeps.

All four of the dogs pictured above have been known to catch the frisbee, but mostly it’s Paisley and Baxter, each getting it about 50% of the time. They catch it and bring it back, over and over. Paisley is a tough little girl. She got rolled in the mud yesterday but still keeps trying for the frisbee every time. She weighs only 22 lbs. to Baxter’s 62, but she’s fast and agile. She’s also two years old to Baxter’s ten.

Here is what the dogs look like in action. You can even see Shelby playing referee from the sidelines. Their just happy to spend more time outside again.

Lights Out

This evening was our last class of Therapy Dog Training for this school year. It’s nice to have that evening free now, but I’ll miss my students.

In fact, I was debating if I wanted to make that kind of time commitment again, but I so enjoyed the students, and especially the dogs, that I think I will. Especially since the goal is so worthwhile.

Shelby is posing with one of the class props that the Animal Science kids use. This was just before our final “lights out “.

The Olive Tree

Even in the off season for gardening, we have things growing. These are future olives. We have an olive tree that my daughter gifted my husband with for Father’s Day last year. It resides in our spare bedroom right now, along with a gardenia that we are wintering over.

We don’t know whether these are flower buds or actual olives. Either way, they will eventually result in olives. It was an exciting day when we found these little orbs. Gardeners can go through a form of withdrawal when nothing is green or growing outside. These indoor plants help.

As for myself, I am happy in the spring when plants resume growing again. But I am also happy (relieved) when frost comes. After a spring and summer’s worth of planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting, I am tired. I enjoy the best of both these worlds.

So, will we get olives? Only time will tell.

My Student

We just completed Week 5 of 6 sessions of the Therapy Dog training class that I am teaching. All of the dog and handler teams have shown improvement. I was so happy this evening to see the dogs performing their sits, downs, and stays.

Most importantly, they have all got the idea that they should pay attention to their handlers. This is such a big step. You can’t teach your dog anything if he won’t pay attention to you.

There is more work to be done, but this group of dogs will get there. The improvement from the first class to now is notable. As with anything, you proceed forward step by step, with an occasional step backwards. Persistence is the key to reaching your goals.

Above is my student, Remy. I just love him! I am sure he is capable of reaching his training goals. For now, I have the pleasure of spending time with him during class. What a lovable dog!

A Tired Dog Is a Good Dog

Zekie had a great couple of weeks. He has a job now and it suits him. He is my husband’s shop dog. Every day he’s been heading across the driveway with my husband in the morning when it’s time to start work.

My husband paints, runs the saw, and uses the automatic staple gun. Zeke lays under the plywood sheets on the sawhorses or under a workbench and supervises from there. The noises don’t concern him too much. He doesn’t really like them but they are a small price to pay to be near one of his humans.

If my husband doesn’t get out to the shop early enough, Zeke sits by the door and gives him the look. Come on dad, we have work to do. He even went across the driveway with my husband one Saturday when I was home! Work calls.

My husband is taking the pellet stove out of the shop and one day last week he pulled out the old flue pipe which left a hole in the side of the building. As soon as the hole was visible, so was Zekie’s head. He shoved his head through the hole in the building to see where my husband had gone and what he was doing.

That Zekie. Always on the job!

Having a job tires Zekie out. Burning up some energy is a good thing. A tired dog is a good dog. And Zeke needs all the help he can get.

The Time Keeper

This is an excellent book. I would highly recommend it to my literary-minded friends. It held my interest the entire time. It has an interesting plot, character development, and is fast paced enough to keep you intrigued. The description on the dust jacket does not clue you in to the empathy and attachment you will feel for the characters.

Simple Pleasures

It took me no time at all to know what to write down under the heading “Simple Pleasures” in my planner/journal.

Each day when I get home from work the first thing I do is greet my spouse and all the dogs. Then I put on water for afternoon tea. My husband and I catch up from the day while the dogs lounge around us. If we have a snack, the dogs beg and are usually successful.

After a while we may take the dogs for a walk or throw the frisbee for them. Their frisbee games involve Baxter repeatedly catching the frisbee while the other dogs bark at him. Once in awhile Cassius will grab the frisbee before Baxter and gallop around. Or Zeke may get to it first and then a game of keep away ensues.

Then, in cold weather like this, my husband will go about his business and I will often read for a while before beginning the rest of my evening. Of course I nearly always read again later too.

These are things that I enjoy every day. I am truly blessed.