Steps Forward – An Update

Steps Forward

I felt it was time to have a little update on life in the “milburbs” and things happening.

First off – Odin has made some remarkable progress with meeting new dogs and making friends. Besides our friend Max, who is his absolute BEST BUDDY EVER, he has now made friends with some other dogs – including some WHITE dogs (which he had issue with before) and some very excitable dogs (which he also had issue with before) and while we are still careful with the meet-and-greet process (Even at the dog park) he has made some really awesome steps forward in his behaviour. Dealing with dogs on our walks has also become more manageable (not totally great yet, but getting there) now that he’s got Max in his life, and we often meet them and walk with them (walk bonding is the best way to get dogs to calm and become friends) on long walks and he used to get silly about seeing a dog in the distance, now he wiggles his butt and barks (but that’s also the influence of Azzie and Gina, who bark even when they know the dog as well!) and when he knows it’s Max he is SO HAPPY he leaps about and wiggles and smiles and pokes all his friends with his nose.

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My husband got to see how far he had come (because he’s not there for the day-to-day work that I do with them) on 2 occasions now – once at the beach when he met a couple of VERY energetic and noisy dogs for the first time (a friend of his from work brought her two) and again at the dog park (when he met another dog for the first time, who belonged to a friend of my husband’s)

The dogs had an absolute BLAST at the beach, as well – their first ever time. They ran and ran and dug in the sand and swam and were utterly exhausted by the end of the morning. They made new friends, and found a new place to be wild and free and happy. It was a magical morning.

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In other, slightly more worrying news.

Ever since we got Gina, she has had a slightly elevated protein level – kidneys/liver were the main culprits. In Germany, one of the reasons the vets suggested she be spayed (She was still intact when we adopted her, age 3) was because the levels climbed and she started having hormonal issues and multiple “heats” in a row and they were scared it would lead to pyometra or something cancerous (Bernese are prone to cancers, unfortunately) so we had that done and while the levels dropped, they were still just SLIGHTLY above average.

We went to various vets in Germany (due to moving, not due to any issues) and each one gave us the same diagnosis and suggested a medication that could help. In the EU it is called “Fortekor 28” and it was very expensive, but we put her on it and it helped a great deal to keep her levels regulated. Still slightly above average, but never dangerous.

Then, upon moving to the USA, the new vets (both military and civilian) said they wouldn’t put her on the medication (which we eventually found had a nice well-priced generic version) until they had done their own tests… so when she had to have blood tests done to check that the Lyme disease (which she had picked up in Germany thanks to the diabolical ticks there) was all cleared out of her system, they indicated higher levels than she had previously, because she had not been on the tablets since we left Germany. The vet (who we settled on) said not to worry and we could wait and see until her annual heartworm tests were done. So, a few months ago when the heartworm tests were done (negative!) they also drew extra to test her levels.. they were quite high (in the 800’s when they SHOULD be under 100 – as that’s where her levels had been before, when I checked on her previous labs from Germany) but unfortunately the vet who we were working with had a family emergency and left the practice where he worked! A few weeks later, we knew we had to bring her in for her “senior” panel (As she is now over 7 years old) and asked them to test again. They did and this time her levels in her liver were dangerously high (over 1000…. ) so tomorrow we go to the vet to get an ultrasound of her liver/kidneys to check for masses.

I am trying to be calm, trying to be positive – hoping they find nothing and we can just put her back on the fortekor (or generic alternative) and it will bring them back down to good levels again.

She’s our First Fur Kid, and to lose her would be devastating on so many levels.

Time for another update

Time for another update

I thought it was well passed time for another update, as things have happened, and changed and other things are still ticking along.

Dogs are doing well – I’ve now taken all of them to St Francis Animal Hospital at one point or another in the last few weeks and I have to say I have been very happy with the service and the people there. Odin had an ongoing issue with his tummy, and I finally gave up on trying to fix it myself (it was a losing battle!) and the vet found he had multiple types of worms (not eradicated by their usual monthly dose of heartworm tablets, which does kill some types, but not these, clearly!) and she said that after moving from lovely cold Washington, she’d found from experience that Georgia is a “cesspool of bugs, parasites and protozoa of all kinds” – her words, not mine. She says that you have to be vigilant and most DEFINITELY keep up the heartworm medication, as they are rife here.

Gina got her Previcox, finally, and she is doing SUPER well on it. She’s full of bounce and energy again and comes with on 99% of the walks. She sometimes decides to stay home if it’s late evening, she’s already been to the loo on the previous walk and most importantly, daddy is home.

Azzie’s hotspot cleared up very nicely and I’m keeping an eye on her for any others that might appear.

With this hot, humid weather (Georgia is rolling out the spring/summer carpet already) there are ticks and fleas, but I’m finding the BravEcto is working very well. I’m the only one who gets bitten, now!

We also clipped down Azzie and Gina a few weeks ago – it was just starting to get SO hot that we couldn’t leave it any longer. All the groomers we tried were booked up, so we just got some good clippers and we did it ourselves. We made a few mess-ups (especially with Azzie, as she WRIGGLES like mad and it’s hard to keep her still enough to work on certain parts of her body!) but it came out looking pretty good and the girls were feeling much lighter and cooler. We didn’t shave them down, just clipped their very long fur down to about an inch or so. Probably more, as we didn’t want to go too close, just yet. We’ll try again in a few weeks, armed with this experience!

 

An update on my school work: I wrote my theory exam 2 weeks ago and I did VERY well. Much better than I thought I would! That was also with minimal “working off page” and I felt pretty proud of myself! Now the theory is done, I’m starting into actual practical work – actual transcription! It’s very exciting, to me. Sometimes the accents and the Americanising…. ZING… of the words gets on my nerves a bit, but it just makes it more of a challenge, and will help me when I step out into the REAL world to begin working.  I’d really like to work with psychology reports and things, but I don’t think you get much choice. I just want to get working, so I can start earning and contributing.

I also want to get my school work done so I can start responding to all the people who have asked for my help with their dogs! A few evening ago, while walking the chickens, a lady came up to me and starting talking to me about the dogs, her dogs, my dogs, etc, and asked what my website was for my training. I explained that i only do it for myself and I’ve done it that way – I don’t have any professional accreditation. I do have a partial degree in animal behaviour, but it’s more aimed toward horses! I didn’t mention that though. But she was determined, this lady, and said that she’s seen me walking my dogs and how wonderfully well behaved (I laughed, but let her carry on) they were and all that, and wanted my help with her dogs. My first question was how much exercise they got and she gave me the usual American answer “Well, they have a back yard to play in, so I don’t walk them.” So me, being the polite person I am, simply said “Well, that’s a start.” And she took my name said she would look me up on Facebook. I won’t hold my breath, but I will certainly go walking that way again when I am done with school, and see if she still wants my help. I will have time then, and her dogs don’t suffer in the heat like mine do, so I will have during the day to work on them, after walking mine.

Our Bird Bar, as we call it, is in full swing. We’re getting all sorts of new kinds of birds every day, including a hummingbird!! We bought a feeder for them, and I made some “nectar” syrup from scratch. No colourants etc. We had a couple of them coming by quite often for a few days, but then the HUGE ants found the feeder and I keep having to clean it out because they keep DROWNING in it! And I’m sure the hummingbirds don’t want to drink dead ants. Very annoying! I’ve tried moving the feeder further along the branch, but they keep finding it!

There’s also a family of SIX squirrels who come down to the yard from the tree in the front. I call one of them Blinky, as she initially had a very closed up, swollen eye and I thought she might lose it. But she’s bounced back and it’s just a little bit odd looking now and her little ear is a bit wonky, but that’s it. She’s still recognisable though.

I’ve seen loads more fauna around here (foxes, deer, and even a RABBIT the other morning!) and I am slowly starting to recognise local plants and trees. I still have to work out what kind of tree we have in the back yard here, and clarify what the huge one in the front is too. When I finish my school, I will start with the proper Herbology and crafting of salves and lotions and potions and tinctures. I just don’t have the time right now to focus too heavily on that side of my life. I am looking forward to it though!

My good friend from South Africa – an amazing photographer – has launched a project called Running With Dogs and even though I am far away, he wanted to include me in it! I was thrilled, and honoured, and SO flattered! I’m the only guest photographer, as far as I know. I sent him quite a few photos, after a lovely shoot with my husband and our pooches in the forest. He selected his favourites and he will include one of them in the calendar! I’m so excited!

What else? Oh, I made some peach crumble from scratch (Except for the peaches – they had no fresh ones at the commissary when we went, unfortunately) and bread too. I’ve made my chocolate cake a few times as well now. I’m trying to get out of my lazy rut and get my baking skills in gear, but my brain is usually so tired/burned out from school work that I can barely concentrate for more than 10 minutes sometimes! But I shall persevere! It’s getting easier now, with just the practicum modules, but still mind-intensive.

Our garden is doing WELL! We harvested our first batch of Arugula the other day! It’s so delicious! It just tastes so good, knowing we grew it ourselves! Now just waiting for the other herbs and plants to catch up and give me a harvest. Hopefully it will only be once I’m done with school! I’ve got Sage, Chives, Chamomile, Echinacea, and all sorts of wonderful things coming up! Our garlic is doing nicely too. The mint plants in the front are flourishing! We use them to make Mojitos 😀 I am trying to find things to make with the Chocolate Mint, as it is spreading all over the place! I might have to replant her into a pot by herself if she keeps this up!

 

Otherwise, we are doing well. Things are settling into a routine and we’re finding our way.

 

One Year Ago Today

One year ago, today, our Odin arrived at Frankfurt airport. 

He was incredibly timid and nervous and wide eyed and rather overwhelmed by everything happening around him – but he was gentle, and quite trusting and when he heard his nickname that my husband used constantly before he sent him on his way he relaxed just a smidgen.  It was our ONLY connection at that point and we both used it to the max.

My friend Ciara was there, every step, to help me stay calm and to help take care of Odin while I filled out paperwork and paid for things. She also helped me navigate the German autobahn, in my little orange car.

When we got home, she stayed with us to help with the introductions to the girls – she got scraped knees and torn leggings and a very bruised hand thanks to their enthusiasm.

Just a momentary growl from Odin made Gina back off a little bit (she can be a bit dominant when she meets new dogs) and after that it was wags and sniffing and Azzie and Odin clicked instantly. We then went for a little “bonding” walk with the new pack, before we took them upstairs to the apartment. Ciara was invaluable in all of this. I could NOT (quite literally) have done this on my own. It would have been a nightmare, logistically. I was also emotionally exhausted and physically too – it was a long drive there, long drive back and nerve-wracking waiting for him to be brought out to us, and wondering how he would react to me.

 

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A year later, he has come SUCH a long way. Physically (his leg is all healed, he’s over 20 kg/ 40 lbs heavier) and emotionally (he’s much braver all round, and he’s SLOWLY getting over his overreaction tendency and learning to trust me and respect me) he’s come leaps and bounds since that day. I could not see our life without him, now. He’s bonded completely with Azzie, despite her craziness (he’s not generally keen on over excited dogs, and she is very much easily over excited) and has become quite close to Gina (she’s aloof anyway – never really bonded with Azzie like she did with Odin) and enjoys her calm company. He trusts me and does a little more every day. He still sees my husband as his rescuer, and that means he tends to treat him like an “equal” more than the one in charge – but that’s fine as long as he remembers that _I_ am in charge.

My little hunter... Odin
My little hunter… Odin

He’s taught me a lot – about myself and about my relationship with my dogs – my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve taken steps to learn to meditate and control my temper and keep my energy in check – it seems to be helping.

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All in all – he’s an awesome Little Dude and I am incredibly glad that he is in my life – our lives.

 

Happy rescueversary, Odin.

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A little update

A little update

I thought it was time for a little update, as I have been absent for a couple of weeks now.

I had plans, but my plans were as usual, rearranged and postponed and dropped from my lists due to circumstances not under my control.

This little update is about the NEW plans I’ve made because of all these changes that have occurred.

The dog walking idea was pushed way back to the basement of my list, because the housing facilitators here on post decided that our (very nice) temporary (no dig) fence from Lowe’s did not “fit the aesthetic” of the post and so instead of our nice and easy back yard fence, they said if we wanted a fence it had to be exactly like the others on post (chain link, horrible looking things) so that it fit in. We would also pay for it ourselves and it would have to be PUT IN PROFESSIONALLY and permanently… which means digging, which means a dig permit from the Georgia land council. Plus, when we move out of here, we have TO PAY TO GET IT REMOVED. How completely bizarre is that? We offered a no dig, temporary fence we could remove with barely any trace… and we could do it ourselves, and it was a very nice looking fence…. and they said NO because it wasn’t “like the other” fences and it had to be permanent. It really boggles the mind. *shrug*

So there went all my ideas of walking my three dogs, just three times a day and being able to walk other people’s dogs the rest of the day. There are a couple of people I might still reach out to… because I feel so awful for their poor dogs (one, chained to a tree in the back yard) that I cannot bring myself to just let the idea go completely. But for now… it’s back burner for that idea.

Husband and I were then trying to think of ways to create a “yard boundary” that wasn’t a fence, but that we could use as a deterrent for young Odin and keep Azzie and Gina from straying into the neighbours yard area.

We decided on an elevated stake and line for Odin, when we are outside with him and the girls. Even if we had managed to put in a fence, I would never leave my dogs unattended out there. We also went to Lowe’s garden section and bought some very big planters and some soil and some seeds (husband said “go nuts!” so I did!) and we will space those out around the boundary area of our “yard” and that should keep Azzie and Gina from straying too far. Of course we’ll have to roll them out the way when the landscape people come to mow etc, but that’s small price to pay for the creation of “our space” for us and the dogs. I love our dogs.

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I can’t wait for early spring so I can start planting! I have so many beautiful things to grow! Useful, beautiful, herbs and plants and flowers. I definitely inherited my mother’s green thumb and love of gardens.

 

The online boutique is slow and as my friend said, perhaps selling other people’s stuff is just not for me… so I took the initiative and gathered some things together and have begun making hand made jewelry items as well. I think th20160115_120232is is the right direction, as I have already sold 2, and have 4 orders pending on one item and 2 on another! I sell in various groups on FB, and I have created an etsy shop as well (link is in the sidebar, if you are interested)  – I have to say that actually CREATING things using my hands and imagination is far superior to selling someone else’s stuff… as pretty as it might be. I think I have found my excellent hobby which, depending on various elements, could turn into something more serious.

 

I have ALSO bitten the New Year bullet and signed up for a Medical Transcription and Editing course – via the military tuition and assistance people. I begin the course in February I think (could be late January) and it’s all online, including the exams, and when I have completed the course and passed the exams, I will be helped with finding employment – which is ALSO all online so I can work from home! I can earn a good supplemental income and will finally feel like I’m contributing to our family. This means a lot to me, as you might have noticed.

I am also still going to complete my security/IT courses and see where that leads me.

I also want to continue my Russian language learning, and perhaps branch out into Spanish as well (since we are in the USA and Spanish is the second most spoken language) while we live here.

So my life is full and there are BIG plans and while they are not all the plans I had last year, I think they will work for me now.

I’ve been meditating and doing mental gymnastics to get my head in order and I think it’s starting to work. The decisions I have been making, after consideration of course (I am a Libra and I am me, after all), have all felt Right. Like I made the right choice and I have no regrets about them. This is a good feeling for me. Long may it continue.

Enjoy this Peacock ore – yes, those are the natural colours! Isn’t it beautiful? It makes me happy, looking at it.

I have some of this of my own. It really is such a happy stone.

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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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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.

Day Ten of the adventure

This morning we decided to head across the busy road this time, to our favourite long farm walk.

Gina, Azzie and Odin had a zoomie session on the one plowed area and then I popped Odin back on his lead as he then spotted something in the grass and had a think about chasing it (might have been a rabbit – there were quite a few around today)

He was super good though while off lead – listened when I called etc.

Nice and crisp and cold out there this morning, thankfully – so we walked at a good pace (Odin kept up just fine: in fact he was an eager boy and was ahead most of the way)
Lots of ticks *shudder* and I’m just hoping the fact that I could SEE them and they were walking around on the dogs and not hiding, that it means the stuff I put on is working… because I’ve found a couple biting the girls, but they have been there a while – so not sure if they were attached before I put anti-tick stuff on.
Put stuff on Odin yesterday too.

A good walk. All dogs pooped – all EXCELLENT 🙂

When we got home, I was picking ticks off Azzie’s fur  – I HATE TICKS. So now I feel like I have them walking all over me. *squirm*

 

In theory, husband might be home today. Not holding my breath, and I won’t get excited until I see him standing in front of me. I know the dogs will be over the moon. It’s been a very long time since they saw daddy, and Odin will be totally ecstatic, as my husband is his rescuer 🙂

 

Here are a couple of photos of our lovely walk:

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And here are a couple of videos of G, Az and Ods doing zoomies and playing 🙂

I lost another half a pound this morning…. I’m pretty excited. This portion control thing really works.

 

I was going to go to the shops straight away after our walk this morning but I was firstly too damn hungry (so I had my toast and tea) and I am tired from the walk too. So I’ll chill a little bit, and then head off.

Odin is the only one who ate “second” breakfast – despite Azzie not eating her breakfast this morning either. She eats later now, I’ve noticed. I also don’t think she’s keen on the salmon oil that I put on their food in the mornings. :/ It’s so good for them, but maybe I’ll swap hers to the evening rather.

What took me so long?

Since I started walking Azzie, I have had issues with her pulling on the lead and dragging me off in various directions randomly, leaping around. On occasion she has nearly dislocated my shoulder, bowled me over and twisted my fingers until I thought they would snap… all the while dragging Gina around by the neck as well.

I tried various things: the whole stop-and-wait method, when that didn’t work (doesn’t work when you have two dogs to deal with and one is tentative already :/) I tried the gentle pull – I didn’t want to hurt her neck. That didn’t work at all as she is so big she barely notices my weight. I tried to remain calm and to not yank on her – it’s bad for them when they are young – but I could not get through to her. So I switched to her harness, but unfortunately this just made it worse, as she is built like a tank and all her strength (like most big dogs) is in her shoulders and front legs…

I was getting to the point where I didn’t want to walk her anymore – it was just too exhausting, frustrating and annoying. I was aggravated and fuming every time we walked. This upset Gina as well, as she picks up on my mood/body language very quickly. I also didn’t want to “ruin” Azzie as a young, exuberant pup! She’s a darling, just… large and doesn’t know her own strength. She doesn’t do things to make me mad, she does it because she is still learning and testing boundaries and her breed are very slow to mature (we have years of this to look forward to :))

I had a thought, two days ago. Apparently these “easy walk” harnesses work wonders. Not too clear on the exact mechanics of them, but I know that it removes all the force/pull from their neck and shoulders, as they are basically pulling on themselves to a certain extent. Since I didn’t have one of these harnesses handy, I thought let me try make my own…

I put her normal harness on, but attached the leash to the loop on the front, on her chest.

You want instant results, then try it yourself.

I cannot even begin to explain how my dog transformed. I do not know HOW it works – I didn’t pull on her and she didn’t pull on me, at all – but it works.

Every walk we’ve had since then has been an absolute pleasure!

I can’t believe it took me so long!!

Azzie is a happy puppy – still full of bounce and puppy silliness, but no longer being hissed at, or yanked on by me – and Gina is a happy dog – her tail remains up the whole walk now, instead of slowly drooping down at her back legs as she gets more and more upset by my bad mood – and I am a SUPER HAPPY OWNER!!

easy walk harness