Tag Archives: Bernese Mountain Dogs

Queen of Excuses

I am the queen of excuses.

Sometimes they are valid, but mostly they are just pathetic attempts to make myself feel better for being lazy/clumsy/fat/uninspired.

So yesterday, I finally kicked my own butt, and made an effort. I signed up to Livestrong Women and got the “MyPlate” app for my phone as well.

It has a calorie tracker. I set my current weight, my goal weight, my age, my sex, my height and my activity level and it told me how many calories I should try and consume a day to help me lose weight.

I thought – that looks easy! And then I started actually putting in the things I was eating and wow do those calories add up quickly! Luckily, I saw that a nice easy dog walk a few times a day helps a GREAT DEAL – so imagine how fat I would be if I didn’t have my girls to keep me active?!

So today, I am feeling much better about it all – I know I _can_ go through the day on the calories I have to consume, without feeling hungry, and as long as I keep up with the dog walking, I will manage to lose some weight. Of course, I need to get a scale to actually see if I’ve lost anything!

One of my many excuses for not running started out as a legitimate one: while at the dog park, one of the dogs (not Azzie, surprisingly!) slammed into my knees and popped my right knee back very hard. It was swollen and bruised for over 2 weeks and I could barely walk, much less run. So I gave it 4 weeks to heal. That was 6 weeks ago. So. No more excuses. I MUST RUN! If dog walking takes off anything from 97 to 170 calories, imagine what running can do?! Come on, biatch, get your fat butt in gear.

I must just ignore the guilt I feel for leaving behind two perfectly good dogs while I go off and do stuff on my own… right?

It’s hard. They do everything with me – they are with me nearly 24/7 (only times they are not is when I have to go into a shop etc, so I leave them at home – I don’t leave my dogs in the car if it’s even vaguely warm outside – and if it’s cold, I still only do it for maximum of 5 minutes) so it’s difficult to leave them behind and head out the door in my running shoes. I know it’s all me! They don’t care, as long as I come back! They were the only ones worried the one night that I went for a run late at night and got locked out of the gate I went through  and had to run an extra 4km to get home… I was gone nearly an hour… my husband had no idea, but the dogs went ballistic when I got home!

I love them so much, these two silly fluffy butts. They are just getting healthy again, after so many months (years, in Gina’s case) of being unhealthy and not quite “right” at all. They are (besides my husband) my everything in this world.

But it has to be done! I REFUSE to turn into a fatty before I’m 40! It’s no excuse! Sure I’m getting old, heading into middle age… but I know women who are twice my age and they run marathons, for goodness sake! I’m HEALTHY, got use of my legs my body my mind – I have NO  excuses left.

And the yoga, too – I need to do that more. The dogs settle after a few minutes of flopping all over me and climbing under my Downward Dog, so that’s not an excuse EITHER!

Vegetarian thing is going well – I’m settling in to my routine and menu nicely, even when tempted by other food that I loved before. I just think about where it came from, how it got there… and my mind is set. I feel healthy, despite the weight I’ve gained (and I know I have, thanks to the wobbly bits and the bits that fight me when I put on an old pair of jeans) I just need to drop the fat now, and tone the muscles that I know I have underneath!

Doing the 30 Day Ab Challenge (Livestrong Women) and I WILL FINISH IT. No giving up.

another hodgepodge

I’ve been doing all these “things” to try to (almost) force myself to blog more… I added myself to a website “circle” all about sewing, I added an author link on G+ and I linked my blog to some other web groups as well…

I’m also still trying to keep the “blogging tribe” experiment going… I did warn them that I am a sporadic blogger, but I really want to be a more consistent one. Not necessarily daily/scheduled but at least more than once a month!

Thing is, I don’t really have that much to blog about – my daily life is routine: get up, take dogs down, come back, make breakfast for dogs, me, husband, get dressed to go, walk dogs, come back, clean house, feed dogs, do laundry, walk dogs again, do more household Domestic Goddess stuff, feed dogs again, chill for a bit, walk dogs, make dinner, chill, take dogs down before bed, then off to bed… and the next day I do it all again.

Right now, husband is away for a few weeks, so I have even less to do, but I am trying to keep up the schedule, for the dogs and to stop myself from vegging out.

So I have set myself a few goals for these 3 weeks of “alone time” and I will do my best to both blog about it and also complete said goals. Or just blog about not completing them. Failure is always an option. I’m a starter, not a finisher.

This hodgepodge post is to “catch you up” to where I am right now: sitting at my awesome (and quite neat at this time) desk, with dogs lolling around in their spots, licking ice cream from their sweet white furry lips. All the fans are going, as it’s heating up already. Going to be pretty warm today (29C) despite the fact that it’s already August and it should be cooling down rapidly. *shrug* Germany has not exactly been “normal” as far as the weather goes, this year. We had snow and negative temperatures, in May, so I’m not really counting on this “summer” to end too soon. The whole week is going to be a scorcher. So husband left one of our air conditioners (the big one) up in the apartment for me, and of course there’s the kiddie pool downstairs and the bath upstairs, to keep the pooches cool. I really need to invest in those cooling mats. I think the dogs would like them. Or a cooling vest. They did well this morning on our walk, though – we stuck to the shade, took lots of little breathers under trees, and I gave them lots of water. Azzie is on the bed – it’s her new favourite place. I worry when it gets quiet though – she really is like a toddler… you’d rather there was noise… or you know they are up to something!  I’m going to go check on her in a second, when I am done with this post.

The Dog Food Adventure is going well. I’m going to bake some eggshells today, and grind them up – a major source of calcium and other nutrients – I’ve gathered quite a large amount. The girls LOVE their “meats” in their meals now. Gina loves the ground beef (93% lean) and Azzie loves her chicken. Azzie eats anything I put in her bowl, but I have to be sneaky with Gina. She has, however, been eating her veggies (carrots and green beans and a small amount of potato) in the stews I’ve made for them. I’ve also ordered something called “Longevity” by Springtime Inc. It’s a powder that you put on their food, once a day, which apparently is so good for them that there are now 19 year old herding dogs running around like 4 year old pooches, amongst other success stories. The Bernese Mountain Dog group that I am on swears by it – especially for big dogs like ours, so I am looking forward to that arriving. It helps to heal previous damage as well – so I am hoping it will help Gina’s back left leg to heal properly. I want to start running with both of them.

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As for my running – I ran a proper race! Only 5km, but it was my first actual race (for myself, not for my school) in over 20 years. I was pretty proud of myself. I ran 95% of the way – only walked (briskly!) up the very long, steep hills, and only for a minute each time. I finished in a time of 33 or 34 minutes (not too sure, as I was so excited about actually doing it that I forgot to start my stopwatch until I was at the end of the first street!) which was a pace of around 6:25 or 6:35… either way, I was pleased as punch for actually DOING IT!  My husband was proud of me too – but he laughed at my time :) That’s ok. My goal was to just FINISH it and finish strong. I sprinted to beat another runner, at the end. Unfortunately my husband didn’t see my epic finish, as he was standing off to the side with the dogs, because they were worried about me “running off” without them. Silly girls. Next time, I will take them with me! So we all need to get fit again. Apparently you can win a prize too, if you are the first to cross the line with your dog!

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My sewing has had a pause again – I did complete 95% of a black micro suede wiggle skirt, but I made a miscalculation on the amount of fabric I needed, so it was shorter than planned, and I have to still do the kick split at the back. I will post photos when that’s done. One of my goals in this “alone time” session is to make something new. So I’m looking at my patterns, and my fabric and trying to decide what. I might make a nice comfortable top, or maybe some yoga pants.

I haven’t done yoga in weeks and weeks. Makes me sad. It’s almost impossible to get down on the floor to do anything, without the dogs getting all excited and literally climbing all over me. Gina crawls under my Downward Dog, and Azzie thinks my Bridge pose is so she can sit on my chest. So it’s been complicated. I really do want to get back into it – and that’s another goal for these 3 weeks.

They are doing construction outside our buildings right now and since yesterday we’ve had to move our cars to parking places across the road and quite far down. Annoying, but hopefully it won’t be for long. Thankfully the buildings where I am parked are not full, so there are free spaces still. I left a note on my car windshield so that anyone whose bay I am in can come find me if they need me to move one of the cars. I’m polite like that. Can’t say the same for the rest of the people around here. There is a serious lack of respect for others, sometimes. And, as you know, don’t even get me started on the dogs stuck inside all day. *deep breath* *counts to ten*

So that’s a catch up, for now.

Our Dog Food Adventure

I am part of an excellent and highly informative group who all own Bernese Mountain Dogs. 95% of these people (breeders and just regular owners – not that you could call Berners “regular” dogs :) but that’s another story for another time) feed the BARF (or Raw diet) or what we call “human food” diets.
I’ve been wanting to try the Raw diet for my girls for a while, but it’s complicated and I’ve never really had the time to sit down and work it all out. Plus, being overseas, it would get very expensive, and we also don’t really have space in our freezer/fridge for all the extra meats etc.
However, I DO know that my Gina especially, LOVES eating _real_ food as opposed to dry dog food. We have them both on an excellent organic brand (Castor&Pollux Organix) which they have done well on, but Gina sometimes just leaves her food and doesn’t bother eating it. It bores her, I suppose. So I started trying to entice her back to her bowl by adding some chicken (cooked breasts) and rice (brown they don’t digest so well, but white seems fine) and she tucked in to her food with great enthusiasm… for a while… I still added about half the amount of dry food that I would normally feed, and made up the rest of the meal with chicken and rice. She loves it, Azzie devours it (I have to hand feed her sometimes when she’s really hungry, as she just sucks it all up like a vacuum cleaner) and they both seemed happy like that.
Then a while back we had a braai (bbq/cookout – whatever your culture wants to call it) and I bought them each a large juicy steak. My husband cooked them on the fire (no salt no added anything) and made sure they were rare.
I chopped up the steak into small cubes and fed them each about 5 or 7 pieces in their food.
Gina’s reaction was almost COMICAL in her zeal. She licked her bowl CLEAN. It was wonderful!
So for the next few days they had little bits of steak in their bowls and they were super happy… I thought this was a good time to start thinking about either a Raw diet, or what I’ve read about – the whole food diet.

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Carefully balanced meals (“stews” and other things) for your dogs weight and calorie needs, made from “human food”
I downloaded a book on my Kindle – with much recommendation from people in my BMD group – called “Feed Your Best Friend Better” by Rick Woodford.
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So today: our adventure begins…
With their “lunch” (half a bowl of rice and chicken, usually) I added some scrambled eggs (no salt or pepper or anything else) – just a small amount, to see how their stomachs react, and also to test out their eating reaction :)
Gina, of course, sniffed her bowl and each piece of egg before eating it, but she also finished her bowl and licked it clean (with only chicken and rice, no steak!) and of course Azzie went back to double check there was nothing left over…
Now they are both snoozing in their spots – happy pups.

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A good start!

I love my dogs and I want to be sure they are getting a balanced diet filled with all the nutrients and good stuff they need – and I want them to be HAPPY about food time as well. We share everything else with our dogs, why not our (good!) food?
I will be doing my best to keep this adventure updated… so if you are at all interested in feeding your dog Raw/wholefood instead of commercial kibble… keep an eye on this story!

Mohawks, robots, suits, hairy dogs and country roads.

Thought I’d do an update post as I’ve done lots in the last few weeks.

Firstly – I shaved myself a Mohawk  Why? Because I can. It’s hair, it grows back – and mine grows like a weed :) Plus I thought it would look cool with the blond ends and dark roots…

Here’s the process: Did it all myself with no mirror, so it was a little hectic. At one point I asked my husband for help (as he is the one who kept suggesting the hair cut!) but when he started clipping and then stopped and said “I have no idea what I just did…” I said thanks, but I’ll take it from here :)

 

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Secondly: I completed TWO sewing projects successfully!

I finished the entire 1940’s suit (jacket, pants, skirt and blouse) and sent it off to the client – she LOVES it and is very happy with it! I was so relieved as it was my first major project for someone!

 

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I also finished the skirt for another client – 1950’s style soft pleated skirt. Buttery soft linen, which she chose, from a pattern that she also sent me.

It took me only 3 days – and that’s because of various interruptions. I could probably complete one of those in 2 days if I worked flat out.

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I was pretty proud of myself – and pleased with my work.  I would have worn any of the pieces, so I think that’s a sign that they are well made, as I am very critical of my own stuff.

Waiting on word from the lady who ordered the skirt… but she has been very busy recently, so I am sure she will let me know when it arrives!

 

Thirdly, we got a Roomba! We’ve waited a long time and did lots of research on which one to get, and finally Ronald arrived last week.

He has been put to work and is diligently dealing with dog hair and bird seed – he gets cleaned every time he is used and, as they state in their guidelines, kept on power when not in use.

He’s awesome :)

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Fourthly – Spring/Summer has finally arrived in Germany (in our area, anyway – floods everywhere else :/)

It went from 3C/12C to 23C/35C in a matter of days. The dogs are shedding like mad to cope, so we are grooming almost daily and the fur just keeps coming…

Also trying to find a combination of tick collar/tick spray/drops to counter the rather nasty ticks they have here in our area. We have lots of forest and natural undergrowth, plus lots of deer and other wild animals… so the ticks are rampant, no matter where you go.

Even sticking to the roads and just letting the dogs sniff the edges, I still find ticks on them – despite having tick collars and (natural) spot drops on them. So now I am going to try the tick collar combined with a tick spray that will hopefully sit in their fur and stop the ticks from staying on.

We tried a tick/flea shampoo as well – didn’t work. I don’t WANT to use the nasty chemical ones, but clearly that’s all that works on these mean little suckers!

We did discover two gorgeous new and interesting walks in our attempts to avoid the long grass etc – so that’s a bonus. We also sorted their kiddie pool out – although Gina managed to make a hole or two in the sides, so the water doesn’t really stay in for long!

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Furry mom moment #656372

We got up at some terribly early hour this morning and got everyone ready to go.

Azzie was THRILLED to go for a car ride – Gina was her usual serene self.

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Open windows for the slow parts of the ride and then we were on the autobahn and on our way.

It’s about a 35 to 40 minute drive and Azzie was finally settled by the time we were 5 minutes out, of course :)

She’s my wild child.

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So we got there early (as suggested) and waited for them to open the doors. Got in first, first in line, so we sat in the waiting room and filled out forms and Azzie and Gina said hi to the other waiting patients and then _kinda_ settled a bit.

I was then asked to go to the exam room with Azzie for her quick vitals check. Gina gave her a nose kiss before she headed off.

Azzie calmed down enough for the tech to check her pulse, but her heart was still pounding from all the excitement. I did tell them she gets very excited and they just need to give her a moment to settle…

I said they need to do all the finicky stuff when she’s out, otherwise they will have a crazy little bear on their hands!

Only thing they can’t do while she is sedated is taking blood… Good luck with that, I told them.

Luckily, they are true professionals with years of experience and the vet herself was taking the blood, so I am not worried. Hopefully they can give her something to calm her before they start all that kind of stuff.

The vet finally arrived (she had been stuck in traffic) and she checked Azzie over quickly and explained what she was going to do, etc.

Azzie was very respectful of Dr Gundel – a little unsure as well. But I have heard great things about the Dr and I was very happy to hear we would have her as our vet. Then Dr G said it was time for me to go and for them to go take blood and get Azzie ready for her surgery. My heart nearly squished its way out of my mouth I had such a sudden rush of fear/worry/anxiety for my precious little furry child. Is that what moms feel like? As Dr G led her away and I walked off down the corridor I felt like crying! It was crazy! I felt so bad for the poor little tyke – head down, tail down, slinking along. She went semi-willingly – there was no lead tugging – so I am hoping she is not too traumatised. My poor baby.

So today I will be keeping my phone close, but hoping that I hear nothing – because that means it’s all good.

We will see her again later this afternoon.

Hope she forgives us!

 

 

 

Quiet days

My husband and I have spent today waiting… the story of what we were waiting for is too long and complicated to go into, so I will just leave it at that. Let me just add: I hate bullies.

We put off a whole bunch of things – just in case we were called. It annoys me when people who should be more responsible about time just brush it off. My husband and I are very serious about being prompt and on time. Usually, we are early for everything.

But anyway…

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While we waited,and during the quiet hours of the quiet day, we played games with the dogs – we just finished a game of “find it”, where my husband hides some pieces of chicken (or any other “high value treat” that your dog loves) around the house, while I kept the dogs focused on me in the kitchen…

It took Azzie a few tries, but she got the idea pretty quickly. Gina, of course, is a seasoned professional at the search game :)

It’s excellent for their minds and it really tires them out. It’s great for when you can’t get out to take them for a long walk, or play outside.

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Gina is already in bed… our bed.

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Azzie is fast asleep here in the lounge with my husband and I. She never strays too far from us these days. These dogs really are “family” dogs. She started out very insecure – not surprising with the way she went from foster home to foster home – but she is growing into a confident, happy young dog now that she feels safe with us. I think she is realising that we are not going to send her to someone else. We are her forever home.
She’s come such a long way.

I would not give either of my beautiful Berners up. There would be violence against anyone who tried to take them from me.

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Jetlag, notions, exciting times ahead

I have to say I am so incredibly excited about what’s to come in my business life…

Just before we left on our holiday, a wonderful lady got in touch with me via my Etsy shop saying that she had found my shop and was very keen to strike up a mutually beneficial relationship: seamstress and serious client.

She is looking to get one or two new items every season, and LOVES the idea of her garments being tailored to her exact measurements (she struggles to find well fitted items, just like I do, for our “vintage” body shapes) and even better: SHE LOVES VINTAGE!!!

So we’re in the process of ironing out the details and I am going to complete the dress I started (before Azzie arrived and put everything on pause while we trained her and settled her in with our beautiful Gina) a while back and start putting up photos of it (with images of the detail work, as best as I can show it) on my Etsy site and this website. She is busy purchasing vintage patterns for things she wants made, and is also sourcing fabric and notions for them all. She’s also had some interest from other people she knows and they will see how our first collaboration turns out…

I am so nervous, but so thrilled that this chance has happened! It’s exactly what I was hoping for, dreaming of, and I am keen to get started and show my skills and attention to detail and my meticulous nature at work…

In other news:

Azzie has settled in nicely, and her training is coming along very well. Gina has taught her some very good lessons in behaviour and strangely, Azzie has even managed to show Gina some things (not all bad, either!) as well. The time they spent together at the pet hotel (2 weeks) has also brought them a little closer together, and you can see they are starting to form a good bond: Azzie just needs to learn to calm down, as Gina does not like a “stressed” or overexcited dog. No dogs do, really. Azzie has, however, come a long way and we are very proud of her. They have both stuck by our sides since we picked them on Monday and you can feel the love (and relief I suppose – I think perhaps Azzie thought she had been dropped off yet again, at another foster home, so she was even happier to see us than Gina – if that’s possible!) coming from their big beautiful eyes. You can tell that Azzie is doing her absolute best to be on good behaviour, and please us as best she can. She’s growing up into a sweet dog. Gina has grown up in a matter of weeks too… It was her 4th birthday on the 27th February (a few days before we picked them up) and she’s definitely left the “pup” days (even for a Berner) behind her. Luckily, Azzie is still keeping her a happy girl by forcing her to react in a puppy like way to her antics.

They were pretty unfit so we’ve been trying to take it easy, but also get them back into a routine for their walks. So they are both pretty exhausted the last couple of days…

 

End of the world? Just as we know it?

Woke up this morning and had REM’s song “It’s the end of the world as we know it” running through my mind :)

21st December 2012. (21.12.2012 in normal usage… 12.21.2012 for the Americans)

I’m hoping the “end of the world” just means an end to the bad and a start of a new age – enlightenment sounds so cliche and hippy, but I mean it in the best possible way. A new age of reason, logic, peace… maybe?

Azzie is coming along nicely – a few accidents along the way (like today… but we will not speak of it)  – and we even left her and Gina alone for 4 hours yesterday afternoon (it was after lunch for them too!) and there were no accidents, or silliness when we got home!

We were so proud!

She also sleeps all through the night now – from bed time to wake up time… sometimes she gets us up a little early, but 45 minutes maybe… nothing major. We get up anyway!

She’s also behaving a lot better on her leash (on harness or collar) and responding very well to commands (especially “come” and “sit”) and she even learned “down” and does it easily, as long as you have a treat in your hand :)

The snow melted unfortunately, but it came down briefly yesterday and we had a nice covering for the dogs to play in :)

We’ve had rain mostly, for the last week or so… and more to come, I believe.

So things are moving along… I am hoping to get back to my sewing as well, now that I know I can trust her alone for a little while.

Need to make some space on the dining room table! See if I can move my laptop over a bit perhaps.

I’ll work it out.

 

 

 

Clean slate, fresh start.

Due to some technical issues, I have unfortunately kinda “lost” my old posts and media.

My techno-whiz friend Vanessa (of The Vanessa Macleod Creative Agency ) has done what she can to save my archives (all the way back to 2006!) and they will be available as she gets the chance to import them.

But for now…

It begins again, from here.

 

So this is my first “proper” post on my new host.

A small update, I suppose, as I try and remember what I last posted about and what has happened since then!

First things first – just over a week ago (Saturday 24 November 2012) my husband and I made the decision to adopt/rescue another Bernese Mountain Dog. She was being moved from foster to foster and was already 7 months old and we wanted to give her a good home.

Her name is Azerenka Victoria – we call her Azzie.

She is a gorgeous girl with enormous paws (larger than a Great Dane’s, actually) and lots of puppy manic energy.

She’s learning fast – very intelligent, like the rest of her breed – but we are in the middle of house training her. Yes, 7 months old and not house trained. She’s from a litter of 11 so she was initially used to fighting for every scrap of food or treat or anything, and she never had her own toys.

She’s come a long way in the week or more that we’ve had  her – no more hoarding of toys, no more snapping at Gina when it came to food, no more panicked hoovering of her food to the point where she can hardly breathe.

She’s calmed down, has learned “sit” and “wait” and “uh uh” and “no” and “good girl” and is happily going in to her crate at night.

She has, quite understandably, quite severe separation issues, but we will work on those once we get her house trained – she’s growing DAILY, literally, and soon she will be too large for her crate, so we need to work on the house training first! Right now my husband are exhausted, as we have to take 2 hour shifts to take her downstairs to pee or poop (or both!)  – slowly extending the time by a few minutes each night. But it’s slow going – we don’t want to have any accidents, so we go backward in our training with her.

Gina has bonded quite well with her – after the initial posturing and figuring out who is in charge – G is starting to stand up for herself (a lot of that confidence is from playing tug of war with my husband – he goes on hands and knees and uses his teeth like a dog) and there is no more tension between them. Sometimes Azzie oversteps a bit, she’s a puppy – but Gina very clearly and quickly puts her back in place, without drama. She’s a gentle soul, our G-Girl, and she’s being every bit the “big sister” – including bad habits! But we’re working on that too.

One thing at a time, and baby steps!

Secondly – SNOW! SNOW SNOW AND MORE SNOW!!! It’s WONDERFUL!!! Bloody cold at night, when husband and I do our shifts taking Azzie down… but I’m still enjoying it immensely! My only issue is that my snow boots don’t do well with lots of water – they handle snow fine – so I get soaked, cold feet when we walk out in the slush, or in the wet grass. Meh. So I’m going through a lot of socks!

 

Thirdly – due to the new puppy and our tiring schedules with her, husband and I have not been swimming, and I have not been running since we got her :( We can’t leave her on her own yet, as she barks (LOUDLY! She has a HUGE bark) and we don’t want her to be a nuisance. We’ll work on that later. I told husband he needs to go though, on his own. I will give him his training schedule and he must just do it. However, with all the snow and icy weather, the roads (especially the very long, steep hill up to the swimming pool) are pretty dangerous, and Helga sometimes gets so cold she doesn’t want to close her door… Plus, husband is so tired from our up and downs at night that he is just not up for it.

We’re hoping that as we get the time extended between pee breaks, for Azzie, we can start finding a bit more energy for other things!