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!

some things I’ve noticed

Just a few things I’ve noticed recently: Azzie is growing up. Her birthday was 2 weeks ago, and she turned 3. It’s actually quite dramatic how turning three, and reaching Berner “maturity” changes a puppy-like dog into a “I’m almost a grown up” youngster. She grumbles hardly ever – only when she really needs me to take her out, or she’s very hungry – and when she does it’s very quiet and very polite now. Even my husband noticed that! She also doesn’t eat as much (or grumble as often FOR food as she did) or as often and sometimes leaves food in her bowl as well. She pays attention to me (generally – except of course if there’s an over-excited dog on the horizon, but we’re working on that) and has learned a whole bunch of new commands and still knows all her old ones. She’s polite, she doesn’t stand on me or my feet nearly as much and she’s calming down a lot faster if she DOES get over-excited. It’s absolutely wonderful. I’m not sure if it’s just her growing up, or if it’s also to do with all the hard work I’ve put in, and my change in attitude (yes, still harping on about the conversation with my friend Nicole and the “eureka!” moment I had after that) that has done it, or maybe combination of all of it. Whatever it is, long may it continue and I hope it extends over to Odin as well. His training has barely begun and while he has some strange quirks we need to get under control, I think he will catch on quickly.

I want my relationship with my dogs to be awesome – and it’s really getting there. I want to be their “mama” but in the correct way. I want them to trust me in all things. That I can handle being “leader” of this nutty pack, and that I will keep my cool under duress. I think that’s important to them all. Especially Gina.

 

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A gorgeous morning walk and a little Odin update

A gorgeous morning – still cool enough that the dogs could enjoy themselves, but the sun was out and it warmed up slowly. By the time we got back to the car, it was starting to get quite warm, so we were just in time.

We discovered a NEW section of the Bahrenbach Pfad! (The Bear River Path) and took a wander down that to explore, but didn’t get too far as Odin started to whine a little bit as his leg started to get sore.
Dogs were _awesome_ on the walk! So well behaved. Odin met the horses for the first time, in the paddock near the parking area and he was scared at first, but then when he saw Gina being peaceful and calm and relaxed with them (sniffing noses and being nuzzled softly) he came close enough to sniff and be sniffed and it was awesome. Azzie did well too – she does get SO excited though and wants to play… luckily these are two elderly boys (the horses) and so they weren’t easily spooked by her play bows and huffs. But they all did well and I was very pleased. They also all three waited beautifully while a lady with a very feisty and large Labrador went by down the other path. The lady thanked us profusely for our patience and calm, which was pretty cool :) No barking, no silliness. They sat (well Odin stood – he’s still too wobbly/sore to sit properly) and watched and Gina even wagged her tail. I gave them treats, they watched me. It was brilliant.
Same thing when we got to the car – another lady was parked there and she came up another path behind us a few seconds after us…
Dogs didn’t bark, even when they were in the car and the dog came and sniffed the car before heading to his car. I was SUPER proud of them :)

Azzie was a little anxious as there was medium loudness kabooms coming from the range, so I put her back on her lead and she felt a bit “safer” and enjoyed herself more. But she was not in the mood to play, despite Odin’s best efforts (he even did a yoga stretch out on the open field, expecting her to want to play and chase him around – but she didn’t want to) to engage her.
Odin’s tummy not so great this morning – maybe too much food again (I upped it a little last night as he seemed VERY hungry) or maybe still ruminating on the marrow bones. He perhaps needs a smaller one :) I forget he’s not as big as the girls, sometimes.
All in all, a lovely walk!

Here are some photos:

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Odin is coming along really well – gaining weight, putting on muscle and he can go further and further on the walks now. He is a happy boy. He has a few quirks we need to work on – but nothing major (so far) that causes concern. He is a gentle boy, still, and I am hoping he remains that way. He and Azzie play so nicely together – nice and gently, the way Azzie likes – and even Gina gets in on the dog piles now. She did lose her temper a bit this morning and put him in his place, but I think he accidentally stood on her tail while they were wrestling. He wasn’t phased – just left her alone for a few minutes and then went back for more when she calmed down. She happily played some more, so she was fine too.

On other good news notes: I lost another pound! I’m well pleased with myself – only one more to go until I reach my (first) goal weight! It’s been a long, difficult haul for me, but worth it. I think I’m looking ok for a (nearly – just a few months away) 40 year old.

I have trouble letting go

Say you picture in your mind, just for interest sake, a thread or piece of string. Then you picture a pair of scissors cutting that piece of string or thread… can you SEE the thread being cut and the two separate pieces? If you can, you’re normal.

I cannot. Even if I think REALLY REALLY hard, and concentrate until my head hurts… even if it’s something that I THINK OF MYSELF, just to see how I am doing that day – I can NOT picture that damn piece of thread being separated. I cannot see it letting go.. it always.. “sticks” together, or “sticks” to the scissors or knife, or somehow remains in one piece. I simply CANNOT make my brain break it in half, or simply just make it two separate pieces. When I dream, the same thing happens… things stretch, bend, or miraculously join back together before I can see them apart – they NEVER separate.

I just can’t LET GO of the string. I know it’s a metaphor for a lot of things in my head, I know it’s weird, but I’ve been like that my WHOLE life.

If I physically cut a piece of thread, or a string, or anything that can be cut, broken or snipped.. it’s fine. I see it, I have no problem with it. But if I imagine it in my mind… it doesn’t happen.

Weird huh?

And going with that theme: I finally made the decision (after talking to my husband about it) to cancel my cell phone contract back home in South Africa.

It was a very hard one for me. I’ve had that same contract, with the same service provider, and the same number, for over 15 years. For someone like me, who has trouble letting go… doing this is a very big thing. But since we have no real idea when we will be returning to South Africa, it’s silly to keep it going “just in case”. Rather a new number, a new start, when we do go back. That way, I’m not paying for it every month and not using it in any way. It will be one less thing to worry about. And when it comes to worrying, I’m a Big One. So this is a good thing. Just waiting for a response from the service provider.

 

On another note! An update on our Little Man, Odin.

He is doing VERY well! Putting on weight, putting on a bit of muscle over his once very skinny body. He is so chilled and so happy that it’s like he’s a new dog. On Friday evening my husband and I, and two of my husband’s fellow soldiers (one of whom knew Odin where he was rescued from as he was stationed with my husband) went for a lovely long easy hike through the “Grunewald” (the “green forest”) with the dogs. It had been a very warm day, so it was nice to go out in the relative cool of the forest in the evening.
Odin and the girls had an absolute BLAST! The soldier who knew Odin before he came here could NOT believe how different he was. He says he is SO happy and so energetic and bouncy and MAN can he run!

It was nice to hear that they could all see the good changes in him after just such a short time with us :)

Here are some photos.

Day Fourteen and it’s all good

Today is the last of the daily postings on the Gina, Azzie and Odin adventure – I think people are all caught up now and a weekly progress report will be more dramatic in terms of his body changes etc.

We went for a “long” morning walk and we showed daddy one of the many new paths we’d discovered up near the Grunewald Blick.

We took him on one of the shorter loops – so that we didn’t overtax Odin and because it’s a bit warm this morning so I didn’t want to overheat the girls either.

A nice easy stroll. Beautiful weather, lots of bird song and a gentle breeze.

Lovely.

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Day Thirteen and it just gets better

So I decided to just blog daily for the first two weeks of Odin’s adventure with us and then after that I will blog every few days which is back to my “usual” schedule – I think that’s a good length of time for people to see the changes in him and his life with us and my girls and their relationship with him.

 

I will keep everyone updated on his training and progress, and my girls as well – because we’re ALWAYS in training, right?

This morning the dogs and I decided to show daddy another one of our “new” paths – our long walk in the farmlands across the busy road. He was a little nervous about crossing the road with Odin, but we showed him that Odin and the girls are totally fine and we zip across the road and then head out on a LOVELY walk. We just have to wait for a “quiet” moment and then we run!

So we did this, and had a great walk with daddy – Odin was off lead the WHOLE WALK and he listened beautifully. As did Azzie and Gina (of course!)

Here are some photos!

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And here are some videos!

Day Twelve is a quiet day

Decided on a nice easy gentle stroll after yesterday morning’s very energetic morning fun and headed out for a “short” one around the pool off post.

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Dogs were awesome. No poopage this morning from any of them – but they had a very small breakfast (Azzie didn’t eat anything – not unusual in the mornings these days) as I’ve cut their portion sizes down a lot (his is still more than he would normally get, but we’re trying to put weight on him still) to help G and Az lose some weight.

Even though it was a nice quiet one, the dogs are still pretty tired and they are all chilling (G and Odin too tired to eat, but Azzie is now eating her breakfast) in their various favourite spots.

 

It’s going to be a nice quiet Sunday I think.

Have a good one, people.

 

 

 

Day Eleven and the Gang’s All Here

Last night my husband finally returned home after just on 5 months away.

I really wish I’d thought of recording his home-coming welcome with the dogs because it was eye-watering sweetness :)

Azzie and Gina went completely berserk with happiness and Odin was beside himself with joy :) I’ve never seen him wag his tail that much and have such a happy smile on his face. He definitely remembered my husband as his rescuer. It was heart-warming.

We spent a few minutes outside so the dogs could get all their happy bouncy out and then we headed back to the apartment.

Every time my husband sat down or was on the floor (taking his boots off etc) they piled on top of him with glee – even Odin!

This morning saw a very cold wind blowing, but the sun was out (mostly) so we headed out to show “daddy” some of the new paths we’d discovered in his absence. He was quite wowed by the huge expanses of land just down the way from the secret pond and while we didn’t really explore that far in to the new paths we wanted to show him, he and the dogs had an ABSOLUTE BLAST racing around and chasing each other on the grass fields. The dogs were completely exhausted by the time we got back to the car – swims in the pond included.

Odin didn’t want to get out of the car for my husband, when we got home, as I think he was thinking “oh no, where has he taken me now” because almost every time (except for the days my husband visited him at the vet) he would see my husband while he was over there, it was to be taken somewhere else for something else to happen to him. But once he got out he was fine – he recognised we were “home” not somewhere new. Will take a lot more car rides with daddy to get him over that worry!

Here are some photos from our awesome walk this morning:

(You can find lots more photos, and some videos too, here)

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