Our first real walk

I’ve been watching Cesar Millan’s show for quite a long time, but never fully “got” how it worked until I watched the last few episodes where he explained how to find the _actual_ instigator of trouble – the one with the over excited energy, usually – and correct them first (and usually if you correct them the other members of your pack don’t need to be)
Well, I’ve always thought it was Odin, or even Gina – but I’ve been observing them all for the last few days when I walk them, trying to figure it out… and it’s Azzie (I had an idea, but I never really _saw_)
I finally saw it! I corrected her – basically ignored the other two… and wow. She back talked me, as she does, but I was calm, in charge, corrected her again more firmly… and bamm. Sorted. We saw the two little Daschunds that caused her (and then of course Odin) to go completely berserk before… and we walked by them, even with them (the weiners) prancing around at the end of their leads, trying to get their owners’ attention.
I have also discovered the correct _pace_ to walk at, and that they sniff when i say so, and I am in control now.
Long story short – I FINALLY HAD A PROPER WALK! A REAL pack walk. I feel… amazing… it’s like exercise endorphin… i’m HAPPY, elated… but I feel… powerful. It was so COOL! I walked, they walked next to me (or behind me, as Gina does) and there was NO tangling leads or twisting around me or standing in front of me etc… we just… WALKED!
I did “picture it” first, before I even put their leads on… and it works. It really works.
*beam*
Of course we will still have our bad days, nothing is an instant fix and it’s a mental state I have to keep all the time, but if I can just remember this feeling, and go back to that state of mind… things are going to get so much better for my whole pack. :)

 

This morning’s long walk was a little more trying, but I did see traces of _something_ happening… but we were not quite there yet – Odin fought with me to stay next to me (he wanted to go ahead all the time) and Azzie kept barging over as well. I almost lost my cool, but stopped and took a breath and we carried on.

We had a lovely swim session in the secret pond as well – happy dogs :)

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Progress

Just wanted to update everyone on Odin’s progress with settling in. We just got back from an AWESOME dog training session – he mingled with other dogs, with no issue except with a very dominant over excited young German Shepherd named Delta and when Punchen arrived (the deaf Great Dane puppy – the size of a small horse already) the excitement levels in the ring went a bit over his comfort zone, so we quietly slipped out. He also had a bit of an issue with Buddy (a stray/rescue from Spain) but I think that’s because Buddy is so unbalanced (waivers between terrified/anxious and dominant/over excited) and Odin is actually a very balanced dog, since he had to be a real dog his whole life. He had quite a calming influence over a crazy, dominant German Hunting dog called Nina as we went for a short walk together (he needed to poop, and he doesn’t like doing it in front of all the other dogs, weirdly enough) and by the end of it she was much calmer. Still a feisty little thing, but much more relaxed around him.  Odin did the rally course (obedience course) twice and was near perfect – seriously: his only mistake was when I asked him to “wait” and I walked around him, he lay down instead of standing. That was it. Otherwise – BEAUTIFUL! Stephanie (Punchen’s owner, and the one who supervises the rally course) was so impressed by him and how far he’s come.

We also did a little bit of agility – he walked the raised ramp, even did the see-saw (raised up to a normal height, with a little help from the instructor) and I started him getting used to the weave poles: he’s a little wary of the plastic mounts for the poles. We also did some jumps (the instructor even raised them to give him a little challenge) and he did them really well :)
I was so proud!

On our walk this morning we also encountered a military working dog at the main gate and he was quite calm (calmer than Azzie, who I had to correct: but she also behaved after that) and I had no issues with him.

 

It was a good day. Long may it continue!

 

And there it is

So, people – there it is. Goal weight. Or should I say _initial_ goal weight (I still want to lose a little more, but this was my first goal to reach, to keep me motivated)

I wasn’t expecting it, as I’ve been feeling a bit meh the last few days (headache, etc) but still eating (nothing stops me eating – not even food poisoning – I’m African) and running with Odin (who is doing superbly, by the way) and of course all the walks with the pack. It was a nice surprise, I have to say! I was expecting maybe 1 pound less than yesterday ( I did acknowledge that I’d been pretty good about my portion control since the weekend, when I binged on pizza and beer with my husband) but instead I found 2.5 pounds dropped off. It’s a good feeling. Now I just need to maintain, and/or drop a little more and then I am going to start weights, and get some tone to my jiggly bits.

Yay me! Of course, waking up this morning my knees were incredibly sore :/ Just my body reminding me that I turn 40 in a few months – another reason I wanted to reach this goal weight before that day. Psychological barrier and all that.

40. Quite honestly I never thought I’d make it to forty, much less be married to an American and living in a foreign country. I couldn’t “see” my life passed around 25. That was my “I am a grown up now” age, when I was a young girl. 25 was OLD. 25 was a “real grown up with a job and stuff” but I never wanted kids or to be married – I was never one of “those” girls who planned my wedding and picked my dress out before I’d even turned 14. I played with dolls, but I made them do crazy stuff like bungee jump and ride motorbikes and do karate. I never gave it a thought, really. I was too busy playing “Thundercats” and climbing mountains and riding around on my bicycle (while I had one, anyway – it was called Lightning and I pretended she was a horse) until the street lights came on and I headed home to read books until much later than I was meant to be up, and eat peanut butter toast.

Life has been… interesting and a challenge at times. I’ve been through some hectic sh*t, but I’m stronger each time I come out the other side. A bit more worn and dirty and cynical and jaded, but much stronger for sure. I have many scars – both physical and emotional – and while I do try to be open-minded and easygoing, I DO have certain things that rile me up no matter how hard I try not to let them. But I’m not ashamed of that, or any of my scars. My life is my life. It’s made me who I am and what I am. If I was not who I was at the time, I would never have made the decision to break out of IT and get into photography, quit my job and start riding horses all over the place. I would never have met my husband, because I wouldn’t have been house/dog sitting so much.

So many paths taken that have led me here. Nearly 40 and living in Germany, on an American military post, with my gorgeous husband and 3 beautiful furry children.

Life, huh? It’s cray-cray.

 

 

just some waffle, no cream

Odin and I went for our third run together last night. It was great. A little warm, but not too bad for him (or me) and he kept up nicely even after racing around in circles on the grass while I chased him earlier that evening. He had to stop and piddle a couple of times, and a little girl wanted to pat him as she’d “read all about him” apparently… not sure where, as I am not on Facebook and I don’t really post about my life anywhere but here… *shrug* but he was too “in the zone” by that point and he wasn’t interested in being petted by anyone (except me of course, because I have the treats in my pocket)

But otherwise, a really nice run. I felt good. Knee hurt like a bugger when we stopped though, and walking up the stairs was a killer. But I’ll push on through.

He keeps me going, and keeps me steady in my pace. I feel like I can for longer, and farther when he’s trotting along beside me. It’s a nice feeling. I do feel bad leaving the girls behind, but they just aren’t up for it, and Azzie gets WAY too distracted.

 

Had a bit of a silly incident yesterday morning – Odin lost his marbles for a few minutes (cat, small dogs, cars racing by on the road, barking Azzie, growling Gina… just general chaos) but it’s all good now. Was a bit heartsore afterward, as it showed me that we still have very far to go with Odin’s behaviour – thought we’d come quite a way, but progress is subtle I guess.

Still on my weight plateau. But I’m feeling in control, especially now that I am running again. Tried on some clothes that I got from a friend a while ago – when I was larger – and they all fit me so much better now. It’s great looking in the mirror and seeing the changes I’ve worked so hard to make. Started up my yoga too – I do it in the other room, while the dogs snooze after their long morning walk, usually. Taking it easy on the knee-intensive positions, as my knee really does take strain when I do certain moves, but otherwise, all good. I can do 10 push ups, too, and hold plank for 1 minute. Working on that.

What else did I want to waffle about?

I forget right now.

 

Oh yes! Our dates are set, tickets are booked, kennels are bought… Just have to collect them today – will be a tight squeeze, as it’s a GIANT sized kennel for Azzie! Now we just have some other arrangements to make, some things to cancel closer to the time we leave, and begin deciding what will go with us on the plane and what will be shipped (and be unavailable for 3 months) to our new duty station. I really want to get out of here (many reasons) and I know my husband can’t wait to get away from this awful unit. He’s got some friends, but even they know that it’s better to get out than stay here and wither away. Going to the States is a double edged blade, really. Conveniences, a proper address, I can work, but there’s the whole “it’s filled with Americans and on the verge of either collapse or civil war” thing… *shrug*

Where we’re moving is VERY hot and excessively humid pretty much all year round, so we’ll be shaving the dogs down – not to the skin, because I know that’s bad for double coated dogs, but just shorter, so it’s easier to manage, and easier for them to cool down. Thankfully, there will be air conditioning in the houses.

 

What else? Oh! I got to bust out my dusty sewing machine and skillz, to make a Peter Pan collar to attach to her store bought dress, for a photo shoot she did with her husband. That was cool. I felt useful. It came out very well and I was pretty pleased with myself.

 

 

A running buddy is made, and a small epiphany

I’ve been procrastinating for a couple of weeks now, making excuses for myself and for Odin – but this evening I finally kicked my own butt (it takes skill… and balance) and Odin and I headed out for our first run together, and my first run in a few weeks.
It was GREAT! It’s like Odin was BORN to do this – he got it RIGHT away. Within a few seconds he was trotting along next to me and wasn’t even distracted by cats or children or a loud car… he just trotted along. He DID pause to scratch an itch that he felt was not going to go away on its own, and he did stop to pee, twice – but otherwise, it was a LOVELY run.
I then thought I’d take Az and G out on their own little jog too… more walking than jogging, but that was fine. It was nice to spend some bonding time with my girls on their own. However, my husband said Odin was NOT HAPPY about me taking his Azzie away from him and he stood on the balcony and howled the entire time we were out. So that’s not going to work. It’s ok though, I only really did it to see how Odin fared, and he was good on the run, so I’m a happy fur mom and running woman. He makes a good running buddy. I’m sure the girls won’t be TOO jealous if they know what we’re doing – they are not the running types :) I did run with Gina every second weekday morning, when we lived in Wiesbaden, but that was back when she was thinner and younger and before she injured her shoulder. It’s a bit warm now for the girls, as well. All in all – I think Odin will be just fine as a fitness partner, and it will help us bond a little more.
I’ve got no excuses now, not to head out the door in the evenings, because Odin is raring to go, and he is definitely strong enough to handle it. He keeps me at a nice pace, too – I didn’t overdo it like I sometimes do when I run on my own on the street (that’s one thing I like about the treadmill – it’s a set pace and you can’t be stupid and race off at the start unless you purposely set it at a fast pace) and then tire myself out before I even hit the hill…

As for my small epiphany… let me start at the beginning: my mother has had some health issues and a scare recently, and had to have some surgery and it made me realise, firstly, how much I love her, and secondly… that life is short and anything can happen at any time, to anyone… so SEIZE THE DAY, DAMNIT! Stop lollygagging, stop procrastinating, and for goodness sake – STOP SAVING THINGS FOR A RAINY DAY!
I went to my bottom drawer in my closet and pulled out my “stash” of jewelry and hair accessories, and I’ve decided I’m going to wear something different EVERY DAY – just for fun. I have beautiful earrings that have never been worn out, a gorgeous necklace that my husband gave me (a black pearl, from Hawaii) that I’ve worn only a few times because I was too “scared” to wear it… but now, I’m not scared anymore.
Life is life and it needs to be LIVED! So that’s what I want to do and what I plan to try and do from now on.

I want to wake up every morning and think “What awesome things am I going to do today?!” and have a full day. I started learning Russian yesterday. Just because I CAN! And I am plowing through my VPN courses with extra oomph. I just feel like I need to LIVE, not just exist, day to day. I don’t want to look back regret the time I wasted doing _nothing_ when I could have been doing SOMETHING. I have so much opportunity – I live a life of leisure, basically! – I have no excuses.

Oh and here are a few photos from our super cool road trip down to Wiesbaden this weekend. And some shots from our lovely walk in the countryside the other morning.
My dogs are gorgeous. The cutest things EVER – check it out.

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well pleased

This last weekend was our second attempt at dog obedience/training classes.
We took Odin on his own on Saturday, but unfortunately due to staffing issues, the trainer couldn’t stay and had to return to OR to man the desk/counter, so instead I sent Odin and husband off to walk with the only other people who pitched up: Punchen (not sure how to spell it) the deaf, albino Great Dane pup (only 7 months old and he is over 130lbs) and his owner, Stephanie. Initially Odin was very wary of the big lug, but my husband said that as they walked, he got over it, and eventually they were walking side by side for quite a bit of the walk. That’s awesome news.
And then Sunday, the trainer suggested we take Odin early, on his own, for the “puppy play class” just so he could chill and watch and see how things went without worrying about Azzie. He didn’t have to do anything (but he did go into the agility arena for a walk around with the other pups) and he just chilled, while the puppies ran around and played together. My husband said he was very good – just a few “moments” but much better.
Then I arrived with Az and G, and this time around I let Azzie greet all the dogs (on her own) and she was 99% better. She’s a social dog and likes to meet everyone, which is my main issue: when the dog doesn’t WANT to meet Azzie she still wants to go say hi – so I thought that letting her say hi and interact a bit with the others would put her more at ease… and it WORKED!!
I was so proud of her! The only barking/craziness came when she was playing with husband and Ods in the “time out” area (it’s enclosed, so he took them in there for them to play when we got there – as Odin desperately wanted to play with his big sister, after watching all the other dogs play together) even though they weren’t in time out, while I took Gina into the agility arena and ran her through that. Gina was AWESOME!! Everyone was so impressed. She didn’t do the raised walking thing, or the rigid tunnel (it was set up in a curve, so she couldn’t see the other side, and she’s never done it before so the trainer said don’t worry about it this time) and she did a shortened version of the soft tunnel, but she jumped everything, and even did the see-saw and BOTH sets of weave poles :) I was so pleased with her! She was also very pleased with herself! She LOVES to do that stuff!
Now that Odin knows some of the commands (he does, however lay down for “sit” and for “down” and for “relax” and for “gentle” – but we’re working on getting him to tell the difference) I took him through the rally course (obedience course) and while he was a little wary of the pieces of laminated plastic attached to the cones, he did really well :) He really is a smart dog, and is coming along so nicely. Everyone noted his progress, just as everyone commented on how good Azzie was this time around too.
Next week, I want to take Azzie through the agility course, and maybe even Odin… and then impress everyone with Gina on the rally course 😀

All in all, a really good weekend with them. A huge relief after the hell-hounds of last time.

Dog Training – The First Time

My husband signed “us” up for dog training and last week we went to check it all out, sans dogs. This week, we decided to go on the Sunday (the class runs Saturday and Sunday, every weekend and you can choose to go to both or just one) as we had things we needed to get done on the Saturday. Now, I’m not going to pretend that I was expecting anything amazing to happen in terms of how they behaved, but it’s still a little disappointing how crazy Azzie got. She was the main issue. Completely beside herself with excitement. And Odin needs a lot of work with socialising with other dogs (big or small – he doesn’t just have issues with small dogs, apparently) so every time he so much as twitched a whisker, Azzie would explode with barking and craziness. She wanted to step up and take charge of ANY situation where Odin felt uncomfortable – while I’m glad that they have bonded as a pack (well, Gina still feels Odin is on probation) I really need to split them up to keep them from hyping each other up to that point where nothing goes into their brains except OMG DOGS BARKING MUST BARK RUN JUMP GO CRAZY BE STUPID. It was not fun. Luckily, this time I had my husband with me to help (he held Odin and Gina while I wrestled with Azzie) but next weekend I will be on my own (as usual) so we’re thinking about how to do it. I think Odin only on Saturday – let him get more adjusted and comfortable without Azzie going ballistic every time Odin so much as sniffs another dog. And then maybe all three Sunday. I can’t leave Odin on his own (he already goes bananas if I take ONE of the girls down without him – leaving him on his own would be a nightmare, I think) and just let Gina chill and do what she wants – she’s a sweetheart: she behaves and listens, no matter what.
The GOOD parts were that they walked beautifully on our “group walk” and Odin did very well when my husband worked with him through the obedience course.
By the time it was my turn to try it with Azzie she was totally over the top and didn’t stop whining or behaving like the world was ending. So the instructor brought out his spare large-sized gentle-leader. Shoowee Azzie was NOT amused. He said that “most dogs” stop fighting after a short time…. I said Azzie is not “most dogs” and he heartily agreed. So we’ll just keep putting it on her for short periods and then removing it. Nothing attached.
Luckily it didn’t get TOO hot out there – but we were there for way too long, as my husband got the start time wrong for the class and we arrived early for that time, so we were there an extra hour or so.
And much to horror of the dogs – we ran out of treats!! Just when we needed them (for the actual training times!) I thought I was prepared (had plenty of water and poop bags) but clearly we need more next time, with 3 dogs being trained.
As I said – I wasn’t _expecting_ perfection, but it was still a bit disappointing to be proved so right :/ And no, I wasn’t “embarrassed” – I don’t really care what other people think when they see me struggling with my pooches – I was just disappointed, but also focused on fixing it all. I’m a perfectionist, so when things don’t work RIGHT, I get quite pissed off with myself.
HOWEVER, one very bright light during the whole thing: Gina :) My gorgeous Genius.
She was awesome, the whole time. Never put a foot wrong and was laid back and patient.
Next time I’ll get someone to hold the idiot, and Odin, while I show off with Gina on the obedience course! 😀

And there it goes again

Hello Universe, it’s me, the crow. Not feeling very harmonious right now.

Could I ask a little question? Why? Why this time? Why now? When we were _so_ close to actually getting what we wanted. So close to the dream job. So close to the career path that would finally make him happy? Why shut it all down? Why slam the door in his face? Why let those idiots get the upper hand, once again? It was all on track. It was all go and things were finally looking up. Never mind the moving around, or the uncertainty of where we would end up – we didn’t care! We were just happy that it was finally coming together, finally on the right road, finally heading somewhere promising. The light wasn’t a train, it was the sunshine of a promising future at the end of a very, very dark tunnel that he’s (we’ve, really) been struggling through for years and years with this petty unit… but oh, no, wait, is that a whistle? Yeah. It was a train. And we have to dive for safety once again.
Not even going to go in to what this cryptic (to those who don’t know me/us/our lives) post is about – just needed to rant and vent and shake my proverbial fists at it all.

It hurts me right down to the bone. It breaks my heart to see how he finally let himself be positive, to believe it was all going to go right for a change… only to have it taken from him, one more time, thanks to incompetence and idiocy and sheer sneering small-minded crap from this unit. And human resources too… one moment it’s all go, the next it’s “oh no, it’s over” and that’s that.
So that’s it, Universe. We’re moving on from the whole idea. We’re setting our sights on what’s next, where to next, how we can get over this and through this and wash all the sh*t off from this whole experience. I’m still gnashing my teeth though. I’m angry for him. Angry at the Army. Angry at those who chose their own careers over helping someone who helps them (and everyone else) without any regard for what he gets out of it. Someone who tries his hardest at _everything_ he is given to do – whether he enjoys it or not. There’s no 20% with my man, he is 100% all the time for everything. And they just left him hanging, over and over again, because it didn’t advance them where they wanted it to. Only one person has tried to help and he has washed up against that brick wall of pettiness over and over again – but he keeps trying. He knows how amazing my husband is. What a great soldier he is. A great person. He knows how they have screwed him over so many times that any lesser man would have lost all measure of his own worth. But my husband gets up, brushes himself off, and says, “Is that the best you can do?” and puts his hands up again.
He’s a fighter – he never quits.
But he’s not stupid, and we now know that we’ve exhausted all avenues and jumped through every burning hoop and slashed our way through every red tape forest that was put in our path. We are moving on. Upward and onward. To better things.

Better things. Please.

A morning deer escapade

Well it started out lovely – nice and cold, with a few sprinkles of rain on and off and a brisk cold breeze blowing…. and then it just went CRAZY!
I let Odin off his lead to play with Azzie, and they were having a GREAT time – running around, chasing each other, wrestling, etc… and then we headed down the steep hill toward the trees that were chopped down and there was a loud CRACK, as a deer SHOT from the trees to our right and RACED off across the open grass…
And of course, Little Man thought he could get it. And he came VERY close…
He chased off after it and in half a second they were GONE! Out of sight completely over the hill. I called and while Azzie did initially chase after them, she realised she had no chance of catching either of them and she came back to me – what a good girl. Gina of course knows her limits and just came and ran beside me (she was also too busy eating grass to even notice all the action at first!) So Azzie, G and I half ran half walked around calling for Odin and looking for him. Then I stopped and thought – where would the deer run to? Cover, for sure, so we headed down to the thick tree line back toward the path where we started… called some more and out popped Odin from the thick forest… he watched me – I think he was checking it was me, and then i called him and he came running back to me, all excited and totally RAMPED UP on adrenalin! Holy crap that dog can run. Sweet jeebus. We thought he was fast before, but wow when he has “incentive” he is 10 times as fast. And that’s with the wobbly back end, still. Azzie felt it was her duty to tell him what’s what and let him know that we DON’T DO THAT! And Gina also stepped up to give him whatfor for a few seconds… but I couldn’t reprimand him, as he did come to me when I called. But he definitely went back on his lead for the rest of the walk!!
He was still amped up and wanted to race Azzie – but she was like NUH UH, not a good time, dude! She kept looking at me to make sure everything was ok – but I wasn’t angry, I was just relieved he hadn’t chased the deer down to the road! I would never have seen him again, or he would have gotten hit by a car, and the deer too :(
So we all calmed down a bit, and then carried on on our walk. He STILL had energy and kept checking tree lines for more deer, and bashing himself into Gina or Azzie, hoping for them to play and run with him… little rascal. Daddy is DEFINITELY going to have to go running or cycling with Odin when he is healed up properly. This little dude has MAJOR energy. I am 100% sure he has Galgo or some sort of greyhound mix in him. He is unbelievably fast.
Thankfully, he is totally tuckered out now and fast asleep on his bed, snoring away and growling and huffing in his sleep, with his little paws twitching like crazy. Probably dreaming of chasing deer!
I saw two huge rabbits or hares when we first got onto the forest path, but the dogs didn’t see them, and Odin was still on his lead at the time, thankfully, because he could smell them.
Wow what a walk :)I was too amazed and astounded at Odin’s speed, and proud of Azzie (and Gina of course) for being so good despite all the action, to get upset/angry about it all.

Otherwise – the dogs were great. Azzie on her best behaviour. Gina eating grass, as she had some glurks (hair or something stuck in her throat – or so she thinks, and the world is ending until she can gobble down a bucket load of grass) and they all pooped and it was all good.

Update: Watching Azzie sleeping and she is now also “running” in her dreams… also chasing deer!

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