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Moving through the grief

Fishing with Miss Mae

Still moving through the grief of  letting Sadie Mae go.
6 weeks since I’ve become dogLESS.  Taking 1 day at a time as I’ve done with the passing of all my dogs.   However, the most notable difference this time:  no other dog to distract me. No excited greetings when I come through the door. No whining, shoe carrying, wiggly butt to greet me.

I’ve resorted to implementing my self prescribed coping method.  Just as it is with a good dog training program, I execute with consistency; self preservation as my motivation:
Come into the house and keep moving…
Turn on the music to drown out the terrible silence and keep moving…
No lingering thoughts of what is not there

Its an effective plan…most days.  

Today, I watched video of us working together.  Seeing her moving, working with me, demonstrating our team work and trust built over 9 yrs. I felt sad and yet, so, so grateful.
And talking about her, talking to those that didn’t know she was gone, evokes emotion.  Kindness and expressions of sympathy helps.

I know I’m not alone, its just ‘my turn’.

Deer bones in Peachland

From Beau, my childhood dog of 13yrs., to Sadie Mae, its another chapter closed when I loose a dog.  Within that chapter resides my memories of our time together:
The town I lived in and my job.
Our holidays together.
The person I was.
The life teachings I learned from them and much more.

Each dog leaves their impression…a mark.
The mark that is a new awareness that comes by their presence alone.
An awareness that wasn’t there before they arrived.
Layering personalities.
All of them making a better me as they come and go through my life.

All of it is linked to them; The good in my life and the hard parts too.

This is how I’ll track my memories of my life: by the dogs that I’ve shared it with.

Some have children.  I’ll have my dogs.


Puppy Nipping: Normal & Not Personal Pt.2

In my last post, I talked about how to get proactive to help yourself and your puppy get through the nipping stage that ALL puppies go through.

This stage in a pups life is a very short one but getting through it can tax even the most patient person so setting yourself up for success just makes sense and involves preparation and patience.

In this post, I’m going to give you another tip to help you with puppy nipping. If you practice this small but significant change in tandem with my practical suggestions, you’ll be home free through the nipping stage.

What is that change?

#2 Check your EGO!

I’m not talking about your your loud ego but the small and quiet one; That part of you that you don’t even realize is actually your ego talking. It can talk allot in our day and it can certainly rise up with our puppies. Doubt me?

Have you lost patience and hit your puppy or put your puppy back in his crate, roughly?
Have you yelled at your puppy when the nipping got too hard and physically hurtful?
Have you gotten angry because the puppy seems to bite you more than anyone else?
Have you cried because your puppy doesn’t’ seem to realize you’ve had a long day and you don’t like the nipping?
Have you resented your puppy, on one occasion, just a little bit?

That was your ego!

You’re having that feeling because on some level, be it a very small one, you’re making the nipping about you:

She’s doing this on purpose or
Why me? I feed you and play with you and walk you etc.

Its not about you!

What it IS is a puppy learning and exploring and trying to engage with you.  Let go of ideas that her nipping is about YOU  because dogs don’t carry personal agendas towards humans.  I guarantee you that if I was there, your puppy would be nipping me. I’ve experienced the pain of nipping and the lack of patience it can generate but I know getting angry isn’t fair to the dog.  When I felt my patience waining or when I wasn’t up for long play periods, I made sure I was prepared or had my husband spell me off for a break.

Remember, that lovely puppy your falling in love with is falling in love with you too.  She doesn’t’ mean to hurt you and she isn’t singling you out.  She wants to engage the only way she knows how and sometimes that includes her mouth.

Puppyhood is over so quickly. Be prepared and be proactive! Consider my tips to keep her mouth busy and help yourself enjoy your puppy.

Have you got other tips to get through the nipping period of puppyhood? Let me know in the comments below.

Puppy Nipping: Normal & Not Personal Pt. 1

Something you need to know before you get a puppy:  They Bite!

They can bite hard.
It can hurt.
It can look like aggressive behavior (its not).
It can be very frustrating if your not prepared and ready for it.

Whether you call it nipping or biting, the fact is that all puppies do it. Some nip harder than others but it’s not a sign of aggression. Nipping is a very natural behavior for puppies and it’s going to last for a few months, until your puppy matures and grows out of using his mouth to explore your flesh.

So let me share with you some tips to getting through the nipping phase of puppyhood while still enjoying your puppy:

#1. Be Proactive. Be Prepared.

Being prepared sets YOU up for success too! By implementing these tips, you can be ready when toys are boring and skin is tempting.

  • Prepare multiple small Kong’s filled and frozen with tasty, soft rewards (liverwurst, broth, sweet potato, yogurt etc).
  • Rotate toys to keep their value. Removing access to all the toys makes them more valuable when you need them the most.
  • Use soft toys that puppy can sink his/her teeth into. Provide something soft like a frozen wash cloth to chew on OR ‘Puppy Nyla Bone’ which is specifically for puppies. Its malleable and not meant for adult dogs for this reason.
  • Redirect your puppy by putting those toys he hasn’t seen for a couple of days, in his mouth instead of your fingers and hands and pant legs.

  • Puzzles or sniffing games are easy  and exhaust the brain. Hide smelly treats in a towel and encourage puppy to search for them. (This also is a starter for ‘find it’ and other search games that come later).
  • A slow feeder either home made or purchased that spills food/treats only after puppy works for them. Again, brain game keeps puppy focused and brain engaged.
  • TRAINING!   Using your food reinforcers, work puppy on his basic obedience of Sit, Down, Touch/Targeting, Stay.
  • If there is more than one of you, support each other and spell each other off when puppy starts to get mouthy.  This helps when you’re lacking patience.

  • Play hide-n-seek around the house. Get your puppies’ mind OFF of you and engaged in something that requires movement and searching.
  • Go outside and allow him to engage in something more powerful than you: the outside world, which is your competitor on most days.
  • Expen for breaks when all else fails. Place puppy in here with a Kong or other occupier.

Expect your puppy to nip and bite and remember that nipping, at its worst, tends to be when your pup is very tired.  Be ready!

Next: An unknown secret to handle biting when it feels personal.  I’ll talk about that in part 2.