Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Merry Christmas in February!!

Today is Christmas in February! :)  As I previously mentioned, I want to keep that Christmas spirit going all throughout the year.  And as I also mentioned, I've been holding back the Christmas related pictures of the dogs for these specific posts so that I can spread them out.

December ushered in a somewhat confusing time for Miley.  Suddenly there were all these decorations getting brought out and put up.  And there was a robust tree that came to stay in the living room.  Each item was new and interesting and obviously in need of a thorough sniffing over.  Every.  Single.  Item.  Since she was so curious, I figured I might as well start getting her used to dressing up.  Thus started Miley's introduction to head gear.  In case you're wondering, she was not a fan.

Once she realized that she could in fact hold still as well as eat treats with it on, the head band became less annoying.  Little did she know that there was an entire tote devoted just to head gear....Mwahahahaha....I'm an evil mother. ;)

In the spirit of Christmas and the warm fuzzy feelings it brings out, I want to specifically focus on the beings in my life that bring me the greatest joy, my dogs.  While they are also capable of causing me frustrations, small amounts of stress and in some circumstances, the greatest sadness that I have known, I would not take back a single moment with them.  I can't imagine my life without them and I never want to.  Their presence has been a warm and welcome constant in my life, particularly during times that have been very uncertain and/or stressful.  No matter what bumps we come across, they have remained by my side.  I can never give back to them as much as they give to me, so all I can do is treat the best I know how and be thankful that I am so lucky to have these guys in my life.

For those interested, the cookie recipe from the above picture can be found here.  And the drink is the Grinch Spritzer.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Miley - November and December 2014

November and December were pretty busy months with the holiday season in full swing!  Work was also busy as we hustled to get the needs of various projects met by the end of the year.  This meant that, again, I wasn't taking a TON of pictures and video.  Though I was still trying to capture the dogs in various hilarious or adorable moments.  Wait.  Yeah, I guess for me that's just about all their moments. ;) First we have the adorable moments:

The hilarious moments require a little more explanation.  First we have Miley "helping" me to fold laundry.  She usually wants to be where ever I am.  And if I'm doing something rather boring (i.e. anything that doesn't involve interacting with her), she will usually find a way to keep herself occupied.  In this case, it involved checking out the world under the bed and finding a new toy in the bed ruffle that I stuffed under there because I just hadn't gotten around to throwing it out.

Then there are those times where she's just being Miley.  Rolling around on the carpet, doing whatever.....

At the beginning of December, Miley had her second dog show.  And her breeder was even there to see her.  Unfortunately it was about this time that Miley hit a growth spurt.  She got a little lankier and her front end got a bit narrow.  Yep, the princess is going through an "ugly duckling" phase (I use the " " because looking at that face, I find her anything but ugly).  It happens.  We'll ride it out and keep that pretty picture of the 8 week old puppy in mind.  Regardless, she continued to improve in the ring and I was pleased with how she took everything in.  I got to catch up with friends outside of the ring and there was even an ugly Christmas sweater contest going on as well as a crate decorating contest!  But I'll leave those pictures for one of my monthly Christmas posts. ;)

Also during December, Miley and Heffner got to be participants in another one of Bobbie's Train the Trainers workshops!  I will embarrassingly admit that I hadn't done a ton of core strengthening exercises with Miley up to that point.  We'd played around a little bit, but I was having a hard time being at all consistent with it.  So she was not as confident on the equipment as she is now.  But she was a good tool for the trainers to learn with.  Bobbie nabbed some pictures during the session. :)

As you might guess, Miley had a pretty great time. ;)

And not surprising, there was plenty of hiking to be had!

And as I already mentioned, I'm going to leave the Christmas related pictures for the monthly Christmas posts. ;0) We're almost all caught up with Miley moments!  Then I can get back to posts that don't involve trying to summarize a month or two at a time!  I'll leave you with a video of the random moments of the dogs throughout November and December.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!  I haven't really done a lot of posing Miley with props up until more recently.  She's sloooooowly getting used to it.  Though pretty much everything manages to go in her mouth first before it ends up on her.  That's also how she likes to put her coat on for her evening walks.....Heffner, meanwhile, is an old pro!

Painting toe nails is still, most definitely, out.  Heffner would totally cooperate, but Miley would have a really hard time staying still long enough for all of the nails to dry.  I'm just not feeling the whole abstract, nail polish on the carpet look.

Earlier this week, I undertook putting together a Valentine's Day card box.  You know, the kind that we used to make in grade school? ;)  The box was for a card exchange at work.  You might be a little skeptical, but I have to admit, I really like giving out Valentine's Day cards!  Some of us in the lab started doing this a few years back and we've continued on each year.  This year we added in the Valentine's Day boxes after doing some reminiscing from grade school days.  There's something that just feels good about giving out those cute cards.  Just a cute little note to people that conveys a warm message.  And they're also really well received if you give the kind with the temporary tattoos! ;)

Because I'm apparetly a glutton for punishment, I didn't gate the dogs out of the office/craft room where I was putting the box together.  The room that, aside from the bathrooms, is the smallest room in the house.  Naturally, they had to be in there with me.  And naturally they had to start wrestling in the small space available behind me.....(and naturally, I took some pictures.  There may have also been a little sake drinking before the crafting started.....just a smidge)

After the pictures and while the wrestling was finishing up, I was thinking to myself, it would be funny to capture that on video!  D'oh!  I obviously have a camera and a tripod!  After I got everything together and got it all set up, the dogs had settle down.  But they were still plenty interested in what exactly I was doing.  Heffner lost interest after a bit, but Miley wanted to see how things unfolded.  This video is the result:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Miley - September and October 2014

Spoiler alert:  I didn't dress the dogs up for Halloween. :( I got so busy that I didn't do any sort of holiday themed posing with them.  The pictures of Miley in the crab costume from the last post will have to do.
I actually didn't take a lot of pictures of the dogs during these two months.  It was getting to the point where it felt like I was taking the same pictures in the same settings.  Miley was just getting bigger.  It's not that I wasn't doing things with them, I was just taking a break from documenting it as much.  And as I mentioned, I was pretty busy in general, so time with the dogs was time to try and unplug.  One thing that I did capture a lot of was the love fest going on between these two!

Heffner had grown so tolerant of her and she was just eating it up!

In October, I took a week day off of work and took the dogs out to the coast for Miley's first taste of the beach!

Overall, it was a success.  However, we did have one little event that pissed Miley off.  You see, all water that Miley had had so much fun playing in had been not even up to her chest.  She had no concept of water that was deeper than that or that maybe she should try to get a read on the depth of a "puddle" before she romped right through it.  And as you can see from the pictures, the wet surface on the sand was pretty reflective and deceptive. Long story short, the ground went out from under Miley in a rather large "puddle" near the surf and she was insulted that the ocean had the nerve to pull such a nasty stunt.  There was much barking to be had and it took a fair bit of coaxing to get her back near the water...

As with everything, she got over it and there were some great beach moments to be had.

Also in October, Miley and I began private obedience lessons!  It was so awesome to get back into the swing of things with her.  I was excited, but I was also overwhelmed, intimidated and a little nervous about starting over with a puppy.  I have more experience this time around and I know what I'm getting into with this breed, but Miley is a whole unique little being.  Her attitude is different.  Her personality is different.  And her relationship with me is different.  I have this ever happy and raring to go little girl that I don't want to mess up with.  I don't want to make any mistakes with her.  I don't want to do anything that changes what she is or dampens her happy outlook on things.  Obviously, "mistakes" are inevitable.  It's just a matter of how I look at them and move forward from them.  Regardless, I these and many more thoughts going through my head leading up to our first lesson.  It's that anticipation of starting into something relatively unknown.  While I've been down this path with the other two, it's a whole new game with Miley.  Thankfully, once the lesson got under way, my anxieties were eased just by the act of doing something and starting down that path.  I have a great instructor who is also great at working with the goals that I have as well as working with the dog that I'm partnering with.  I'm happy, I'm happy, I'm comfortable and I feel that Miley and I are getting challenged to work better as a team.  Miley is happy, energetic and.....wait for it.....sassy!

The end of October saw Miley entered in her very first conformation show!  My expectations were appropriate.  We had gone to a few handling classes and practiced at home, but she was also a six month old puppy.  What I wanted most for her was a positive experience.  I've seen enough puppies in the ring with their tails plastered to their bellies because they're so terrified of the experience, that I wanted the complete opposite of that for my puppy.  Doesn't stack perfectly?  Eh, she's six months old.  Would rather make out with the judge and wag her tail so hard that her whole body was involved than stand rock steady for the inspection?  She's a six month old puppy.  Didn't really want me to hand stack her in the ring?  Did I mention that she was a six month old puppy at the time?  Did I also mention that I'm not expecting a six month puppy to behave like a special?  Cause I don't.  As I said, my expectations were appropriate.

What she did do fabulously was take in the experience like it was no big deal.  She wasn't phased by any of it!  There was her adoring public to greet.  There were things to sniff.  There were things to see.  And there was a floor to roll around on.  She wasn't stressed, she wasn't unhappy, she wasn't miserable.  She was having a good time!  You know what else she did well?  She moved like I hoped that she would.  She moved around that ring solidly, unperturbed, unimpressed, like it was no big deal.  Because it wasn't.  She was six months old.  She had an experience at her very first show that has lent itself positively to her continuing to be a happy dog inside and out of the show ring.  THAT was the important thing.  THAT makes her a great dog already.

I felt the need to say all of that because I think there are a lot of people out there who have really high expectations when their puppies enter the show ring.  Yes there are danes who finish their championship under a year old and that's incredibly exciting!  And a lot of those dogs' owners/handlers put a lot of time and effort into training them to be excellent conformation dogs from the get go.  That is just fine.  However, what I'm not okay with is people having the expectation that a puppy behave like a seasoned special and not put a foot wrong from six months on.  They are puppies.  They have plenty of time to finish their championships (or not).  Enjoy this time.  Make it fun for you both.  They're only this age once, so enjoy it!

With that being said, there was definitely some work that I needed to do with Miley.  It wasn't until we got to the show that first day that I realized I hadn't practiced the judges exam with her in at least a month.  Oops!  Naturally, when the judge approached, she thought it was just another person who wanted to love on her.  Admittedly, I'm perfectly okay with that attitude.  However, I hadn't quite appropriately prepared my puppy for the ring and I felt bad about that.  She did improve on the second day and she is now doing much better, but that first time was very wiggly!
And with that I'll wish you a happy hump day!