I haven’t written in nearly 3 weeks, which is a long time for me. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, it’s just that we have been extremely busy. La Dolce Doggie has grown tremendously…and it has happened fast! At times last week, I forgot whether I was coming or going and where I was supposed to be next. This is a blessing and it has caused me to stretch myself mentally, physically and emotionally and this is all good..it just hasn’t left me with time for much else.
My last blog was about Hazel and us having adopted her. Since becoming a permanent part of the family, Hazel has really settled in…she has become a regular at the cat litter buffet, has a nap routine, a play routine and a naughty routine. Her day typically goes like this: get up (last one to wake), go potty and then paw at the gate to go back to bed, sleep a bit longer, wake up, chew on toys and then join us and attempt stealth attacks on the litter box (there is nothing stealth about it, BTW). After some snacks, she likes to lie by the front door, where Trixie tortures her in the special “I love you/ I hate you” way that she has. Then breakfast, maybe another nap, some toy chomping and then comes the naughty part of the day. This consists of Hazel looking at Paul or I with puppy eyes from underneath our desks. The goal is to get us to invite her onto our laps. It works. After a few minutes of what I call “schnuffling” (rolling her head around in our laps and generally being adorable), the nipping starts. Hazel is still young, and is still learning that play- nipping is not acceptable. I give her one warning and then time her out. I say “game over” and put her in the bedroom for a while (she follows right alongside me, no collar grabbing and she does not fight it at all) It is working, she is much less nippy with me. Paul tends to wait a bit longer to time her out, so, they still have some work to do! This is called negative punishment, and, with good timing can be very effective at reducing and eliminating behaviors. In my case, she gets one cue: “Hazel, no nipping” ( I should really say something like “gentle” or “easy”, but, I admit to lots of bad habits that need breaking) and if it continues, I say game over and she receives the consequence: the loss of her playmate. Usually, she goes and lays on the bed and works on one of her toys and when I let her back out, she is much calmer. I say usually, because sometimes she chooses not to come back out. This is an interesting thing about Hazel: she is very independent and likes her alone time. Much more so than any other dog I have known, she is very content to hang in the sun or on the bed by herself when everyone else is in the living room.
In addition to adopting Hazel, there is lots of other stuff going on: we are preparing to move into a house with my brother, La Dolce Doggie grows and grows and we are selling my father’s vacation home…which is hard, but, will allow us to move forward in many ways. Every time I get sad about letting go of the house and the memories, I hear my dad say something like, “Lori, be smart, sell the house and keeping moving forward.” And, he would have probably put some expletives in there, too. *One of my top criteria in looking for a house is that it have a place for cat litter where dogs can’t get to it* 😉 One of my brother’s top criteria is that he is able to finally get a golden retriever and Paul’s top criteria is that the house be “flat” aka- a rancher. I aim lower…just want the cats to have some space 🙂
Last weekend, I was able to squeeze in a quick trip to NYC to see some of my dog training friends. It was a great couple of hours and I was so glad I carved out the time to be with some brilliant, savvy and generally fantastic people! Thanks to Jean Donaldson and The Academy for Dog Trainers, I have gotten to know some of the coolest people I have ever met- including Jean herself, and I loved seeing her again. I finally got to meet The Great John Visconti, who through email and phone conversations, I felt like I knew forever and meeting him just made the feeling that much stronger. John reminds me so much of my dad and I am so happy to know him. I also got to spend time with Megan, who I had met in California, as well as meeting Matt, Amanda and Melani for the first time. It was fantastic and just increased my gratitude for Jean, not only for introducing me to a whole new way to look at dogs (science-based! force-free! teaching the dog to do the right thing instead of correcting him for not knowing what that is!), but, for giving me the opportunity to get to know some wonderful, smart and lovely people.
So, that’s the quick and dirty rundown. Lots happening….and, though I dare not get too far ahead of myself…I think the dark days of last year are finally behind me and my sense of optimism has returned. And…there might be a bit of joy and hope in there, too. Feels good. 🙂