Friday, September 30, 2011

Ramses The Great

Ramses is 15 weeks old, and he's learning and changing so much. This week, we spent a lot of time at the park since the weather has been beautiful. When we're there we work on recalls, retrieving, and listening to whoever is directing him while people and dogs wander by.

All I can say is this puppy is FAST! Today, we were at a baseball field playing, and the other 2 dogs were exhausted, while Ramses was still running laps. You can tell he's leaving baby puppyhood behind. The nap thing definitely doesn't happen as much! But along with that comes sleeping through the night, and knowing what he can and can't chew on - at least a little bit!

This weekend we're going to have fun playing games, but I also want to get some spinning and knitting done. There is a situation brewing where the kids are going to have a massive need for warm clothing. I'll tell you about it later, but let's just say it's a situation involving outdoors, and November.Scarves and hats are in the works, along with my poor spinning which has been languishing on my wheel. I swear I will have that finished up by Sunday, no matter how tempting it is to play with the puppy! And speaking of, here are the weekly puppy pictures.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Paint Shop Pro

Looks like mother nature is hitting up some Paint Shop Pro action again. I love the fall. I just wish it wasn't followed by that 4 letter word.. I took these photos a couple days ago on a walk to the river. I'll take some more soon, as already the trees color palette has changed again.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Six Months Of Loaves and Fish

Or eating Pescetarian rather.

A little over six months ago, my sister was diagnosed with MS. And a little over six months ago, I gave up all meat except for fish and started to drastically cut down on Saturated fats.

How has it been? The easiest part for me, has been the meat. Only once have I eaten a meal with any meat in it, and that due to being a guest at someone's home. Every other situation I have managed to avoid it, whether or not I was left with eating simply side dishes. I went from eating fish 2-3 times a week, to maybe once a week at the most.

In the past 6 months, I've noticed that I have more energy, our food bills have dropped, and I definitely feel better. I often tell people giving up meat was the best decision I made.

On the negative side, I can not eat fat and grease the way I used to. The other evening I had to eat at a banquet. I ate the vegetables, the salad, and the bread and got extremely sick later that night. I just can't handle processed, greasy, fatty food any more.

In the last few weeks, I have been researching vegan cooking. I discovered and her cookbook, and I was really intrigued by her recipes and how low fat they were. It also made me start researching more on Saturated fats. I am now even more determined to cut down saturated fats.

I am reminding myself again, that eating a mostly plant based diet, doesn't mean I can never have another slice of gruyere cheese, or have to give up salmon at Ivars. Instead it means eating deliberately and reasonably. Now, eating deliberately over the past 6 months has made me leave meat far behind, and that may be the case here too, but if not, I know I am still drastically improving my health.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Puppy Love

Can I say how much I love this puppy? He is so much fun, so enthusiastic, and so, so smart!
Brush ME? I don't think so!

Today we went to the park for the first time. I believe socializing is best done in stages, so he has been carried a lot of places but walking is a new experience. So was playing fetch out of the house or backyard, and being off leash practicing recalls. He is one super tired puppy tonight!
Look how long his legs are getting

Best buddies, and tired buddies

I believe in purely positive training, and detest the new-old Dog Whisperer style of training. It may get results I mean if I hit you with a 2X4 while screaming in a foreign language you'd really quickly realize what in the world you were doing wrong. But you wouldn't like me very well - or what to do instead to make you happy. On the other hand, if I give you a treat, a smile, and make a big deal over when you do something right, you're going to love me, and repeat that behavior. Even if it's all in a foreign language. If you want to watch a great dog trainer at work, check out Victoria Stilwell and It's Me or the Dog on Animal Planet. Her methods are amazing, and she truly cares about the relationship between dog and human. Afterall, at it's core that is what training is, improving the relationship and friendship a dog gives you.

It has been so much fun for me, working with a puppy who is so open to things. Ramses is really sensitive, and wouldn't handle corrections well, but he is thriving with the treats, a clicker and plenty of fun. The past 2 weeks we have been working almost exclusively on recalls, the most important thing a puppy can learn. Today at the park, it was all about coming to front and sitting for turkey. This was so exciting for him and he generalized it really quickly.

I start by working in the house with few distractions. When the puppy comes I say good come, and give a treat. Next I call the puppy in an excited voice and back up so he's chasing me, then have him sit and treat. Once he's familiar with the word in the house we move outside. IF the puppy is less than 16 weeks old, I start off lead right away, and start playing chasing games. I call the puppy run the opposite way then treat and praise when they catch up. If they're older than 16 weeks I attach a light line and do the same thing. Why the age?? Most puppies older than 16 weeks are independent enough they may decide to go off on their own. Before 16 weeks they're fairly sure they need to stay by you. In my case, when I have an adult dog with a good recall, he added to the excitement by running to me for the treat too. Eventually we have races, to see who gets to me first to get the bigger treat. The entire point is to make it so much fun, and so exciting to come that doing the opposite isn't nearly as enticing. I NEVER call and leash them up and end the fun, and I NEVER EVER EVER call and correct a puppy or dog. Also never chasing a dog who is running away will keep them from finding out that chase works the opposite way.
Stop with the pictures and let us sleep!

From now on till the snow flies my goal is to get Ramses to a park every day to work on training. In addition to the recall, he needs to learn to generalize sit and down, and we're also working on generalizing retrieves since he has such a strong retrieve. Of course meeting people, dogs, and hearing lots of noises are also really important. And as a plus, he's so tired that he put himself to bed an hour early tonight. A tired puppy is a good puppy :).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wild Ride on the Crazy Mouse

When we were at the fair a few weeks ago, the kids wanted to ride the Wild Mouse. They made it around once, jumped back into line, when the mouse stalled. What follows is a photo story of what happens when a roller coaster gets stuck. No one was injured - at least to my knowledge.

There were 2 cars stuck in total. First red shirt dude came up and wandered around for awhile.

He seemed fascinated by the pink car, and I'm assuming the brakes.

I don't think the passengers were amused.

He pushed the entire thing down to a flat area.

Where he was joined by red shirt #2

Trying to fix the brakes or whatever. I think this appears dangerous.

Finally they led the purple car people away.

Then pushed pink car back up.

And led them down.

Then 3 guys pushed the purple car free, and took them both for repairs.
Believe it or not, they fixed it, and the kids managed to ride it that evening.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekend Whirlwind

As I sit here typing I have mock Benihana Onion soup simmering on the stove (I'll post the recipe if it's any good - not vegetarian though, it's for the Benihana loving kid), and the dogs are chewing new beef bones enthusiastically. In other words, it's a lovely, lovely afternoon.

The weekend was a lot of fun, but it sure went fast. Kevin's sister Richelle got married in a lovely ceremony in his hometown, so Saturday was spent up there. Actually my Saturday was spent first at the annual St Helena's Days Parade where Cory was playing the drums, and then in the car. When I stopped at a gas station to change into wedding appropriate clothes (very different from parade appropriate clothes), I got caught by another guest there "Oh you're going to that wedding too?" It could only happen to me.

And then at the reception, I was knitting a shawl before the start, and had a nun compliment me on how industrious I was. That, could only happen to me too. (and probably only happen at a Minnesota wedding. I don't recall nuns at the coast weddings I have been to).

It also laid to rest the fact that they really, seriously do polka at weddings here. This made me wish that I had brought my camera to record the event, just to prove to everyone that people still polka. Unfortunately I'd left it in the car that had dropped me off at the door 10 minutes before the ceremony. It was however, much better to leave that in the car than the present.

And what was the present? I. Knitted. A. Throw. By hand! By myself! YES! I DID IT! This monumental task now lays behind me as an achievement of my knitting career. A real throw, big enough to use. In a lovely feather and fan pattern with purling in it even. And I mean real purling not the 'I think I'm purling' purling that I tended to do in the past while really not purling. Nope. Not a stitch when unpurled, not a feather went unfanned. It was a glorious thing. And I have no proof, since I forgot to take a picture of it, preblocking, after blocking, or artistically strewn over something like the piano. Oops. But take my word for it, it was quite lovely. This was also the first thing that I've knitted and given away. Typically by the time I am done with something, I've put so much work into it that I get overly attached and worry that they won't like it and it will live unloved. But this one I managed to push aside the thoughts they'd hate it and packaged it up anyway. Hopefully they loved it, and understood the work and thought that went into it all.

So that's the weekend at a glance, Parade. Driving. Wedding. Reception. Dancing. Driving. Sleeping. Oh, and there was a considerable amount of knitting in there too, in hopes to get a shawl done in time for the wedding. Which didn't happen. But the shawl is actually progressing pretty well, I'm developing fairly good speed knitting skills.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011


"Where is the puppy at? Did he go away finally?"

"Are you nuts? I'm not going to go see!"

"Fine! I'll go see where he is, I'm a gentleman - er cat"

"It's like having a tornado with teeth living here"

"Who, Me??"

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Beginnings

There's no way to break it gently. Brace yourself..

We got a puppy. Yes, you read that right, we got a puppy. This has been something on the planner for 2 years. For one thing, the other dogs are almost 6 and 8. They won't live forever, which sounds like a morbid thought but to me, is a valid one. I like to space my dogs out so that the older one can help raise the younger, so they kind of live on in a strange way. I don't want to start from scratch with a new baby.

It was more a matter of when, and what. We had decided either this fall, or next spring would be the best time. We're moving in June, moving with another dog isn't a big deal, but training in a brand new house can be. I prefer fall puppies as the weather is good for several months to work on housetraining. There's a lot of new experiences while they're young (fall leaves, snow, Christmas lights), and the diseases are fewer. School activities also are great socialization.

The what was much more difficult. I wanted a puppy this time, and so that meant most like a purebred, unless I happened upon the right litter of mixed breeds. I was strongly leaning toward a German Shepherd Dog, or cross again, but there were 2 things that changed my mind: A - Lance has been blowing coat like he's moving to Death Valley all summer. B - With the move coming up, I wanted something a little smaller.

So the criteria were: smart, high drive, wanting to play ball, something with some hair, and ready to go. Medium size. I also am a firm believer in herding dog, or sporting dogs. In my experiences, I knew I favored border collies, collies, shelties, shepherds, and the like. I also love a few sporting breeds, including poodles. Yes, poodles are a sporting breed.

So who did we end up with? Well... Meet Ramses. He is a miniature poodle, about 5 pounds now, he'll probably end up around 14 pounds and 14 inches tall. Everyone is having so much fun with him! He already is 99% housetrained, knows sit, down, stay, recalls to front, and even knows the illusive cue "What do you have now" the signal to race off with his contraband and hide.. And the name?? We let the kids name him. They wanted a pharaoh's names. I like Ramses, it reminds me of the character in the Elizabeth Peters books. He's startlingly like him in personality.

Yes he is a purebred miniature poodle - you don't have to trim them to look like one.
He's 9 weeks old in this picture.

He may be a little toy crazy.

He loves big brother Lance

And sleeping on pillows.

Playing tug

Cuddling up with Neptune (and beating up Mercury -
Bella controls him with a death stare.

Looking adorable

Playing with any ball.

Even little ones.

Cute little poodle tail :).

In reality, I temperament tested 11 puppies to find him. He was the 2nd to last one.
I wasn't going to take any of the others, but he retrieved, focused on me, sat at my feet
and wanted a job. He is simply perfect!

He's gonna be a frisbee dog someday, don't let that size fool you!

But he leaves the pom alone.

With his stash.

After his first bath.

Playing in the grass.