Saturday, June 29, 2013

Big Bear Trip Part 2

If you have been around these parts for a while you know we LOVE to visit Big Bear Lake California!  Check out one of our previous trips here.  This time we brought some friends and had a BLAST.  The cabins we stay at are very dog friendly.  The owner has two dogs and unlike a lot of other "dog friendly" places- you don't feel strange hanging out with your dog here.  We had a boxer a few doors down, two border collies next door and the owner was always happy to see our little guys.  If you are ever staying in Big Bear I could not recommend Cabins for Less any more.  They are the best place to stay- you certainly should check them out.

The other great thing about Cabins 4 Less is that they have super cheap kayaks if you are staying there!  We took Copley and Kerri out on two and it was a lot of fun.  We started with both dogs in our Kayak, but as you can see Copley soon decided we were boring and spent most of his trip on the other Kayak.  You can see him sitting with our friend Paul looking very majestic.  Kerri- in her typical undecisive manner wanted to get over on the other kayak- then when we got too far away from each other she wanted back.  Then she wanted back to the kayak Copley was on.  Since we try not to let our dogs be totally insane around guests we made her stay on our kayak and calm down.  Eventually she got the picture.

One thing that surprised me is that a lot of people commented on the dogs life vests.  In fact more than one person said "what, dog's can't swim these days?"  It was a little annoying to hear over and over that we were crazy to put life jackets on our dogs.  The thing is our dogs can swim.  Without a life vest they can actually swim pretty well.  But these are tiny dogs in a huge lake.  Even if they were great swimmers- if there was an emergency would they really be able to find where shore is and make it all the way there?  Also Kerri is literally the color of lake water- so without a life vets how would I find her if we were separated.  Maybe the passer byes were right- and I am some crazy dog lady.  I tend to think that life vests are a good idea for pets, children, and any other person who can't make it to shore immediately if we were to be dumped in the water.  Maybe that makes me nuts- you decide.

Now I know I am nuts because I always get the dogs an ice cream at the gas station on the way there.  It is our typical road trip tradition.  This time they got to lick the vanilla center out of a ice cream sandwich.  Nova enjoyed some too but preferred to stay in her carrier at the busy gas station.

I admit this is not very healthy- and my dogs would not get ice cream every day.  Also yes it is possible Copley ate a chip or two- but two milk chocolate chips are not going to kill him.  Seeing as my dogs are not overweight and the ingredients in human grade vanilla ice cream are way better for you than a lot of the sugar and beef byproduct filled commercial dog treats out there I don't feel bad about giving it to them once a year at a hot gas station.

Here is the closest thing I got to both dogs looking at the camera this weekend.  What can I say, there were a lot of chipmunks.  Those bandanas are soaked in cedarwood oil for pest control.  We don't have fleas, ticks, mosquitoes or really much of anything in the Vegas Valley so our dogs are not on any sort of topical preventative.  Up in Big Bear this time of year there are not really many bugs either but there are a few so our holistic vet suggested using something like this.  When we go to actual bug infested areas I am curious to see if it does anything.  There is so little of a bug problem in Big Bear I can't really tell of cedarwood scented bandanas are at all effective.

To give you an idea of the landscape check out this shot from my first chair lift ride ever (girls from Miami don't ski- so I never had a real opportunity to ride one before).  The dogs of course could not ride the chair lift but that was OK.  They were pooped by the end of the weekend.  Lots of new smells and animals and people to check out.  Plus we did a lot of walking down to the fishing hole and looking at ducks.  It was mostly just nice to get out of the heat.  Now that we are back in this heatwave Vegas is looking at 116 degree highs for the next five days.  The poor guys won't be leaving the house until at least the 5th!

Also one more thing- I am the featured blogger of the week on Pet Blogs United!  Check out the post and all the other bloggers on PBU by clicking on the button-


Friday, June 28, 2013

To Big Bear again- Nova's First Vacation

That right there is a picture of the first time I ever saw Nova pant because she was hot/happy/exhausted.  Not because she was so stressed out she was foaming at the mouth.  So the short version of this vacation is that Nova was with us, and had a good time.  I could not ask for anything better in my life right now than this little dog enjoying herself.

The long version is that as with all things Nova it was a little more complicated than that, and the rest of us had a BLAST!  Lets stick to the Nova part for this post and I will give you all the great vacation pictures tomorrow- sound good?

I was a little worried about taking Nova with us.  The few times we have left for one and two night camping trips I had people stop in on her here at the house.  We went on one week long vacation and Nova's favorite people (who are some of my favorite people too) stayed at the house with her.  When we got Nova me and Ben agreed she was going to just have to live our life with us.  Just because we had a timid and scared dog did not mean we would stop camping and going away for weekends, or having dinner parties and people over for game night.  It might mean that sometimes Nova stays here, and is a little lonely, or that sometimes she has less freedom than the other dogs, but either way we were going to keep living our life.  That is not to say that we would not make accommodation for her.  Believe me- I feel like my whole life is turned upside down accommodating her sometimes- but it means we were not going to let the rest of the family suffer because she was around.  Overall she has adapted pretty good to living here.  Pushing her (gently) to participate in family activities has only yielded good results so far.  So I loaded her pen and bed into the car, put her in the car bag, and toted the little thing off to a cabin in the woods with us.

My decision to take her was helped by the fact that we were traveling with the previously mentioned "Nova's favorite people".  Or should I say Nova's favorite person and his girlfriend who Nova also likes a little more than most people.  In the higherarchy of people in Nova's brain it goes a little something like this.

#1 Favorite Person on the Planet- Annie (me)
#2 Favorite Person, only person she ever liked the first time she met him- Paul
#3 Person who she will cuddle with in a pinch- Missy (Paul's Lady)
Everyone Else On The Planet
#1 Most Hated Person- Ben (Mr.DogInTheDesert)
Both of my chihuahuas love Paul for some reason.  I don't really know what it is but I think he needs a T-shirt that says "Chihuahuas Love Me."  I can't really blame the dogs for loving these fine folks- the humans in the house think they are pretty cool too- I just don't really know what it is about Paul in particular that Nova finds so appealing.  What I really don't know is why Nova HATES Ben so much.  But that will have to be another post entirely.  We are here to talk about Nova's vacation.

She did great.  I think in the end she actually liked seeing some new stuff.  For the most part she hung out in the cabin.  At night we would sit around the barbecue grill cooking and Nova had a good time coming out and chilling with me.  Mostly I held her and she perked up a little bit, looked around, and chilled out.  She got so relaxed she decided to take a selfie with my front facing camera but *someone* had to photbomb it.  Thanks for being creepy Paul.  Maybe that's why Nova loves him so much- he has her strange sense of what is socially appropriate.

When we went off for the day she stayed in her pen with her bed from home.  She didn't seem to mind much- and actually we spent a lot of time chilling in the cabin- so most of her weekend looked like this.

When Ben was not around it looked like that except that she was not staring at him.  She is getting better and better with him, but still always wants to know where he is.

Overall I am glad I brought Nova.  She was getting a little bored and under-stimulated sitting around the house all the time.  A change of scenery seemed to do exactly what I hoped it would- challenge her, interest her, and get her out of her shell a little bit.  Living with us she is going to be in for new adventures so getting her used to it now- and slowly- is what needs done.  I was prepared to sit in the cabin with her the whole week if I had to.  There was a possibility that this would be less vacation and more dog training in the woods, but I was ready for that.  Like everything with Nova so far she surprised me, stepped up to the plate, and while she was timid about everything new she did manage to find a safe space and enjoy herself a little bit.  If you told me she would be on vacation in June when I met her in December I would not have believed you.  Now knowing her abilities and tenacity I wouldn't be surprised if she is doing obedience in a room full of people next year.

Be sure to check out our next post about how fun Big Bear was.  Here is a little taste of how amazing of a weekend we had-

More to come everyone.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Happy 3 Year Adoption Day Copley!

There has been a lot going on around here lately- and expect a few blog posts about our recent travels!  I just wanted to take a quick minute today to wish Copley a happy day.  Not only is today my 2nd wedding anniversary- it is also the 3 year anniversary of the day we got Copley.

He is the coolest, best, most amazing dog I could ever have asked for (but maybe I am biased).  His adoption day does usually coincides with a long weekend for Ben, so unlike Kerri he doesn't get a party, he usually gets a fun trip!  Last year we were in Utah-

This year we took a trip with some friends to our favorite vacation spot- Big Bear Lake, California-

That's all I got time for today- but look for lots of GREAT Big Bear adventures soon.  FYI- it includes Kayaking, Nova's first vacation, and an adult person photo-bombing a chihuahua's selfie.  Exciting stuff.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Easy Dehydrator Treats

Nova and Kerri have been eating a lot of treats lately- Kerri for agility and trick training and Nova because.... well not every post can be about Nova, feel free to read the rest of the blog for her story.  I have been looking for a variety of high value treats that are small enough for a chihuahua.  The problem with nearly all commercial treats is that besides being full of not so healthy stuff they are huge for chihuahuas.  When you weigh 6 lbs every bit of food you eat counts!  I pulled out the dehydrator and whipped these guys up in only a few hours.  Just one warning though- even though these are healthy treats- everything should be done in moderation.  I account for the treats my dogs eat by reducing the veggie portion of their dinner- and also by giving a variety of different treats.  Too many of these and your dog might get a little stopped up in the poop department.  They are made out of pumpkin after all.

First I took all my ingredients- 2 cans of pumpkin, a dash of tumerick and a few tablespoons of coconut oil- and I mixed them up in a bowl.

I spooned the mixture into a bag (you could use a pastry bag but I couldn't find mine so I used a sandwich bag) then piped it onto the dehydrator trays.

I dehydrated for about 2 and a half hours at 135 degrees.  Then I broke them up into tiny pieces like this-

They ended up just like I hoped they would- semi soft and tiny.  The dogs LOVED them- which is good because I was looking for a higher value treat.  Here is Copley politely sitting for a treat and ever bolder Nova being totally impolite.  It is something we are working on.

Have a great day everybody!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Socalizing a Puppy- In Slow Motion

There are no books or resources out there about rehabilitating a dog like Nova.  Everything about dogs who are total wrecks talk about teaching them to trust AGAIN.  Helping a dog who was failed by people, abused, who LOST her owners, who was ABANDONED by people.  Or a dog who was LOCKED UP in a puppy mill by people, or who was STARVED by someone.

Nova can not learn to trust AGAIN when she did not do it in the first place.  She didn't LOOSE people, she never had them.  To be ABANDONED you need someone to abandon you.  Being STARVED implies it was done to her, she was starving because she was on her own.  It was a state of being not something a person imposed on her.

I grasped at straws when we got her.  I tried to read more books, talk to every dog trainer in my life (and in my circles there are quite a few) and while they were helpful to a point- no one had a real solution.  This has been a learn as you go process for everyone.  Nova must feel like she was abducted and is now on an alien planet.  All she knew was living on the streets, eating cockroaches, doing all she could to survive.  While we do not really know what happened to her as a puppy I strongly suspect she was either born on the street, or dumped there at 8-12 weeks.  How does such a little puppy survive out there like that?  If you met Nova you would know.  She is smart, cunning (a trait I previously thought dogs were not capable of), strong, brave and resilient.  That is what makes me so sad about her puppies- she must have tried so hard to keep them alive.  I try not to anthropomorphize dogs, so I really don't think I am by saying this- but loosing that battle had to have been hard for her.  But for all that hardship there was no abuse.  She has no memories of bad people.  So often it is a struggle for me.  

Do I push her in this situation?  Do I hold back in that one?  From a training standpoint it is not exactly easy to make a game plan here.  That is until I figured it out.  I am socializing her for the first time.  I don't need to get rid of bad habits and experiences- for the most part I need to just add new ones!  As far as living in the human world she is a blank slate.  So I am going about socializing a puppy.  Just in SSSSLLLLLOOOOOWWWWWWW motion.  Her brain is developed, so she is not as open to new experiences as a puppy is, but she is young, and for the most part game for new things, so there you go.  Since gaining this new perspective Nova has made leaps and bounds.  In my next post I will get into what exactly we are doing with her.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Copley- Statue, Square, Subway Station, Dog

We are on vacation without the dogs, so I apoligise for my absence but there has been nothing dog or desert related b in my life since we went on vacation...except for one thing!  Copley square! 

It is a little strange now that we are back in Boston that we have a dog named Copley.  When we lived here we went through the Copley Square T station daily.  We worked gigs at Copley Square, and we looked at paintings painted by John Singleton Copley.  Now I yell "Copley come here" for recall and "Copley don't eat that" when I leave food unattended.

How things change.

Enjoy the pictures, this is my first try at the new Blogger app, so I can't guarantee they will be formatted in any way that makes sense!  One is of Copley with the modernized entrance to the T, one of the John Copley statue in Copley Square and one of the recently restored origional T stop.

P.S. Copley the dog is named after the subway stop, not the painter.