August 17th is Hermes' birthday and he will be 11 years old! Where does the time go??? This is the day that I let him pick out something fun from Woofs and Waves and then try and come up with a gift for my clients and future clients as well.
This year it's a Win-Win!
Some of you might know that I have been working with Dogs on Deployment for a few years now. Being in an active military family for 30+ years I feel that what they provide to military pet owners is something that you can not put a price on. Dogs on Deployment provides a database of fosters who are willing to board military pets while their owners are fulfilling military obligations, deployments being one of those situations. Because of Dogs on Deployment, military pet owners now have options other than having to give up their pet when duty calls.
Dogs on Deployment is sponsoring a "virtual race." Their 1st Annual Pet and Family Trot can be done with your dog, your family or friends or even your co-workers during lunch. You can run, walk, use the treadmill, bike, skate, pogo stick... whatever you want, wherever you want. (There will also be fun challenges for you and your dog throughout the month with prizes from two of their sponsors.)
During the month of August, when you and your dog both sign up to participate in the Pet and Family Trot you will both receive a medal from Dogs on Deployment, AND . . . You will also receive a free 8x10 (or smaller) desk print from me as a gift for your support. If you are a past client, you can choose an image from your previous session. If you are a new client, then an 8x10 will be complimentary with your booked session.
(If you are not able to participate in a virtual race, but would like to donate, that option is available as well and would result in the same gift of an image of your choice.)
To make things simple, Hermes has his own fundraising page where you can register or donate. If you'd like to create your own team, please do so! You can just let me know the name of your team.
Hermes (and Dash) and I look forward to running with you! (Ok, truthfully, there will be no running on our end, only walking... but then you won't really know that will you?) ;O)
*This birthday special is good for sessions that take place at any time, but they must be booked during the month of August.
Hermes and Dash are Italian greyhounds. That means they are very fast, very cute (biased dog mom here) and they have very little fur for warmth. The winter months do a number on us. These two are use to going for 2 or more walks a day during the Fall and then it all comes to a halt as soon as the first snow hits. Oh, we try, but the last two walks (before they give in completely) are less than a block and end in my carrying two limping, frozen dogs home in my arms.
Well, after a week or so of listening to the demands of these two (telling me to entertain them) I decided to do a little research and find a "job" for them. What I learned was that exercising the brain of a dog is just as effective as exercising them physically. It satisfies their need for attention, it stimulates their brain, and it can actually wear them out just like a walk outside can.
The first and most important thing that the dog must know before starting is the "stay" command. If they can't wait for you to tell them what to do then you are going to be exhausted and frustrated and your game will not be a tail wagger. (See Dash's back foot? Yeah, he lept forward as soon as I hit the shutter button, but he's learning.)
Dash has no clue what to do with a toy, a ball, or anyone who says, "wanna play?" I decided to start with a ball and see how he handled that.
At first he just stared at me.
So, I showed him the ball and said, "hit it" as I touched his nose with the ball. I immediately said, "good boy!" and gave him a treat. After 6 or 7 times he actually started tapping the ball with his nose when I said, "hit it." Yay! When I stopped and then started again a minute or so later he wasn't exactly sure what to do, so we started over with me tapping his nose again.
On the second day, Dash became confident with the game and he eagerly waited for me to say the words. Once he got that down I made him sit and I rolled the ball to him saying, "hit it." He would run towards the ball and stop it with his feet and nose and then quickly look at me as if to say, "like that?" I'd give him a treat and we'd do it over and over. Now, he will stop a bouncing ball in action, (kill it dead actually) and then run back to me for his treat.
Hermes has a different game to play. This one is a dog puzzle (Trixie Flip Board). He got it for Christmas and he loves it. Ok, yes he loves it because treats are involved, but at least he's getting some mental stimulation at the same time. The trick to this one is to teach them one part at a time. There are sliders, levers and lids. The sliders and levers are to be operated with the dog's nose to reveal the treat and the lids are to be removed with their mouth. (Hermes insists that those lids are to be dug out with both feet and I haven't figured out how to get him to use his mouth yet. If you have any ideas I'd love to hear them!)
These are the two games that we started with. I'm going to get a clicker trainer so that I can change things up so that they (ehem, I) don't get bored doing the same thing over and over and over and over and... I'll let you know as we find new winter games to play and I'd love it if you shared any that you like to play :O)
Enjoy your week!
So, . . . Last week THIS happened . . .
Isn't he just so handsome?!! Hermes is 9 now and Zoe has been gone for over 2 years. Hermes is active and he always seems happy enough, but sometimes I would look at him and I couldn't help think that he would be happier with another four-legged friend. I didn't go looking . . . but, one of the girls at doggie daycare sent me a link and said, "I thought of you and Hermes when I ran across this fella today." (Thanks, Brooke) ;O)
That was December 5th. A lot happened between that day and last week for this little guy and his owner. It can be heart wrenching trying to decide what is best for a pet that is part of the family with lots of pros and cons and decisions to be made. In the end Dash came to live with us.
Dash is an Italian Greyhound and our vet thinks he's about 10 years old. He weighs only 8 pounds making Hermes look huge! (Have you been working out, Hermes? )
I arranged for Dash and Hermes to
meet at doggie daycare.
I thought that Hermes' play place would be a great place to introduce the two since it would be neutral ground and they would be with other dogs. It didn't take long before Dash told Hermes, "I'm in charge." Hermes (not wanting to be rude or course) said, "How high do you want me to jump?" (Way to man up, Herms.)
Well, the next day went a little smoother once we let Hermes know that he didn't have to jump quite so high or even jump at all if he didn't want to. It was up to him.
By day 3 they were running around, playing, watching squirrels, and cuddling up on the couch. I think they may have called a truce of some sort because it looks like they've decided to share the role of dominant dog (for now anyway ).
Life is meant for
Good Friends & Great Adventures.
Welcome to the family, Dash!
"It's a dog party! A big dog party!" I always liked reading Dr. Seuss', Go Dog Go to my boys. Hermes isn't a big dog, and he didn't have a party, but I did make him his first ever birthday cake. I asked my son to help me get some pictures because with Hermes' reputation around food we knew we had only one chance at documenting it.
In true form, just like any two year old, Hermes didn't react like we thought he would. Was he nervous because we were all watching? Well, picture this . . . My son is leaning against the counter discussing the day's events with me while he is eating a slice of pizza. In an instant that pizza is snatched from his hand by a flash of white who is now behind the couch trying to swallow the thing whole. No, I don't think he care's who is watching.
Was it because it was unfamiliar? No, I don't think that's it either. One of the first things Hermes burgled when he was a puppy was a corn dog, and he tried to gulp it down, resembling an amazon python stick and all! So, I don't think that was it either. Maybe he was just trying to mind his manners. Ok, we'll go with that . . . for now . . . as a gift . . . because it's his birthday . . . (right, sure, ok) Ha!
Turns out, it was nothing unusual at all. . . My son had put a treat behind the candle and after looking at the images that popped up on my computer screen, it was obvious. . . it was all about the treat. Keep your eye on the prize, Hermes. :O)
To celebrate Hermes' 9th birthday
in a "big dog party" way,
we have a special birthday price for
sessions booked during his birthday week.
Me and Mine Session
Aug 17th through Aug 22nd*
To take advantage of this promotion simply fill out the contact form with
"Happy Birthday, Hermes!" somewhere in your message.
*(Sessions can be booked anytime through Dec 5, 2015. Session fee must be
paid in full in order to reserve your preferred date.)
I'm not sure what triggered it initially, but whenever Hermes hears something sizzling on the stove he panics and runs to the back door to be let out. It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside, he will not come back in as long as there is something on the stove. He doesn’t even wait for the sounds anymore, he runs straight to the door and jumps halfway up the glass trying to get out. I feel so bad for him because he’s obviously afraid, but I can’t help but laugh because he is so dang cute when he peeks in every now and then to see if it’s all clear.
This is really the only thing that seems to scare him. He's fine with the vacuum and loud noises, and the other day I even took the van through the car wash when he was with me. He just sat there turning his head slowly as he watched the water spray the windows all the way from the front to the back. (Ok, his eyes might have been bigger than usual, but it didn't seem to scare him.) In any case, I think I need to do some research on this scardy cat thing. I'm worse than a two year old when it comes to wanting to know, "why?"
I'll admit it . . . when I first heard about doggie day cares I immediately thought about people who REEEEALLY treated their pets like kids; the people who spoil their pets rotten, and lets face it, we're all tempted to. I've come to realize that there are so many reasons why doggie day care can be a good thing (and even a sanity saver) for a lot of pet owners.
Doggie daycares give pet owners a place where their dog can socialize with other dogs, socialize with other people, learn acceptable behavior when around other dogs and people, and get that much needed exercise that they require in order to stay happy and healthy. Pet owners can take their dog to play with other dogs once a week, twice a week or even 5 or 6 times a week. The exercise that dogs get when at day care is both physical and mental. Dogs need to have their mind exercised as well as their body. If there isn't enough stimulation, dogs can develop behavioral problems (some breeds more than others) that can become disruptive or even destructive to their every day well being.
Every Wednesday I drop Hermes off at doggie daycare on my way to volunteer at The Banquet. I started taking him once a week when Zoe got to where she couldn’t play with him anymore. He craves human contact, but I know he also needs that interaction and play time that only other dogs can give. Being that he has very little fur, winter is especially critical for these play dates so that he doesn't go completely bonkers being stuck indoors. He knows when it’s Wednesday and he starts jumping around like a kid who’s just been told he’s going to Disneyworld. Honestly, I have no clue how he knows it’s Wednesday, but he knows. On the way, Hermes settles down in the car . . . until we get within a mile of the place. How does he know??? He sits up straight as an arrow in the back seat and then starts to whine. Oh my gosh, it cracks me up every time. I swear he’s asking, “Are we there yet?” When I look in my rear view mirror and tell him, “We’re almost there” I see that he is shaking with anticipation. Sometimes I think it would be so great to be that excited about something on a weekly basis.
One time I picked Hermes up and the girl at the desk met me saying, “I’m so sorry he’s all wet.” He wasn’t just wet, he was soaking wet from head to toe. Before I could respond (because I figured that he had gotten into something and they gave him a bath) she said, “That dog over there (my friend’s big Golden Retriever) wouldn’t stop licking him. HA!
Hermes always has a great time at doggie daycare. I can tell because (1) he and all his friends come running to greet me at the gate and (2) he doesn’t last 2 minutes on the way home before he is asleep (usually, still in the sitting up position). On this particular afternoon, Hermes didn't make it two blocks before he was out.
We are two thirds of the way through January . . . that means that some people are into a nice routine now, and probably have a chance of success with their new year's resolutions . . . and some of us . . . hummmm.
I don't make new year's resolutions. I don't like adding things to my "have to" list. I do tell myself that I'm going to "try" and do this or that, and then I go along my merry way (and usually conveniently forget about it). Ok, well, I was doing yoga pretty regularly before Christmas and during the holidays got out of the habit. The plan was to get back into a routine because I really liked it (the vinyasa kind not the meditation kind - my mind is way to busy for that). Before I knew it, we were halfway through the month and I had no semblance of a routine at all. oops.
I got out my mat, and started up my online class. Guess who decided to join me? He acted like he'd never seen me do this before! I had to get out the pictures to show him that he had actually participated before in this bendy/stretchy practice.
This first photo is Hermes' version of downward facing dog (he always looks up). He usually follows this with his version of upward facing dog (which is really quite good considering his back doesn't really bend that way). The second photo . . . yeah, that's just him showing off.
This is the story (I'll try to keep the words to a minimum) of when Hermes became part of our family. This story starts with my youngest son, Mark, includes a "turtle" in the middle and ends with a little, white dog.
Mark was turning 13. It's a big deal to a kid, becoming a teenager and all. It's also a time that can be a little tricky since this age includes tweens and everything that goes along with being in middle school. Mark had a little extra thrown in on him, though. His two older brothers had left for their first year of college and they had taken with them 8 to 10 of their friends. These guys were Mark's pseudo-brothers. The entry way to the house had no fewer than 4 or 5 or 10 extra pairs of shoes in it at any give time, and the basement was always full of testosterone. I knew that when the boys left, Mark would experience an adjustment period (and so would I), but life decided to dump a little more on . . . and his dad left for Iraq.
So, Mark is turning 13, his brothers and their friends have left and his dad is deployed . . . the entry way now only contains 2 pairs of shoes and a border collie named Zoe. I had to do something. Over the past few years Mark would say to me that he wanted a dog. I would always say, "We have Zoe," and he would always reply, "Zoe is Nathan and Taylor's dog. I want a little dog." I think he threw the last part in because he thought he might have a chance if it didn't take up much room. When October came around, Mark started hinting about a birthday present . . . this time it was a turtle.
In my eyes this was perfect. I have always tried to make sure that my kids were at least somewhat surprised on their birthday and unwrapped something that they "forgot that they wanted." Well, Mark asked for a turtle . . . so I was getting him a dog! Ok, I'll wrap it up (the story, not the dog) . . . When Mark came home from school that day, there was a note on the door - "Roses are red, violets are purple, come on inside and meet your new . . . " He opened that door with such a grin on his face (I can still see it) and I think he had to stop himself from running across the room. He didn't notice the small kennel sitting on the coffee table at first, but when he did he just kept staring at it in disbelief. When he saw the puppy, he was truly speechless . . . there was a note, too . . . "Please don't call me Shelly." Happy birthday, Mark.
He finally did it. . . Hermes has been working on this one for almost a year now. Those Tuffy pet toys are TUFF! One of his favorite things to do is to disembowel stuffed animals, but with the Tuffy toys he’s met his match. He nibbles and nibbles at one little spot until he hits gold (stuffing). Then he pulls at it gingerly like he doesn’t want to hurt the poor thing (or, maybe it just feels funny in his teeth). Once he gets enough of the stuffing out, he paws at it until he finds the squeaker. From there it’s every dog/toy for himself. Hermes always wins in the end . . . and then I usually buy him another Tuffy (that makes it a win-win for him). It's funny though, he rips the toy apart, but when it comes to that squeaker, he treats it like a baby.
This morning Hermes and I participated in the Boxer Walk that was headed up by Northern Plains Boxer Rescue. It was a lot of fun and there were a lot of great faces there. Hermes was the smallest of the participants, but I don't think he even noticed. He was just happy to get to hang out with good company on a really nice day. . . and so was I.
There were some wonderful girls from Globe University at the event offering free nail trims. I jumped at the opportunity to provide Hermes with a much needed "pet"-icure. Thanks, NPBR for a wonderful day!
During all of the preparation for setting up my business (wow, there is so much more than people let on), I had a little setback . . . nerves! Of all things, I found myself worrying about some of the specifics of my photo taking abilities. (It's funny how your confidence drops when you venture into uncharted territory). I had a new camera, and as with any new toy you have to get use to some of the, well, newness. For starters, this camera was larger and heavier than my old camera. Turns out I have a steadier hand with the extra weight. Second, I had to figure out what settings were going to benefit me with my style of photography . . . you know, the fast moving, eye darting, slobbery subject kind of photography. After reading through what might just be the longest written manual ever, I started experimenting. I wasn't having instant success like I wanted, and I was getting a little discouraged about my progress with this new camera. So . . .
I decided to take Hermes out and photograph him and all his doggie goodness. I took him to our usual walking track to try and take a few photos. He was less than cooperative, and being that he was on a leash there really wasn't much I could do about it. At the end of the walk I took him to the middle of the field, scanned the area to see if there were any potential distractions, and looking him straight in the eye I said, "Hermes, please let me take some pictures of you. Please don't run away, just be good for a few minutes, that's all I ask . . . please, please, please and please." As soon as I unhooked his leash and he looked as though he was going to dart across the field, this happened . . .