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.

_RAC1071 _RAC1164 _RAC1163 _RAC1135

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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Some more steps forward – PCS Stress and how to handle it

Tick tock… the time draws closer. PCS stress is no laughing matter! Moving is a crazy time – moving continents and countries is even harder – especially with three big dogs in tow.

Yesterday was a very stressful and tiring day for all of us. The moving people came and took away 99% of our “stuff” (HHG – for the military inclined)
Dogs were pretty darn well behaved – just a few “outbursts” from Gina, which of course set Odin and Azzie off. They spent the first hour on the balcony, just so that they could get used to the moving guys traipsing around the apartment and carrying boxes and the sound of tape being used and things being dismantled and boxed up. Then they got to come out and greet the movers (who loved them, despite Gina’s gold fish memory when they were going in and out of the door, carrying and fetching) and they then relaxed with us in one corner. Husband and I took turns sitting with them, or going and Doing Things, or just taking a little break and stretching our legs.
I took them for a couple of walks (including a 30 minute walk in the early morning before the movers arrived) during the day, and one drive in the car in the BUCKETING rain – just to get them out, as they couldn’t stay on the balcony in that weather! The roads were rivers! I had my wipers on at their fastest setting and it was still almost impossible to see! It was scary, but strangely fun too. Dogs were great, except that when that stormed rolled in, there was violent lightning and thunder and Azzie was a complete wreck. She actually scratched at the balcony door and was shaking and whining and drooling in terror. 🙁 That’s when I took them for the drive – just so they could relax in the car (Azzie and Odin love my car: they feel safe) and get away from the stress of the apartment for a little bit. After that storm, even though it was calm again (just a little bit of rain) Azzie REFUSED (threw a complete tantrum) to go back onto the balcony, even if I sat with them. Eventually, around 7pm, the last box was taken down to the truck and we could close our door and settle in to the very bare and minimal apartment.
We kept the dog beds, and our bed linens, so the dogs had those familiar things to relax on and that helped with their stress levels. I couldn’t find their Rescue Remedy though! I am going to unpack my suitcase and backpack today and look for it. I know it’s there somewhere! I did pack it!

Otherwise, I am quite enjoying the minimal lifestyle that we are now living before the REST of our stuff gets packed (the stuff that flies over, so it SHOULD be there before the HHG) and then it’s just backpacks and suitcases for a few months!

I’m sitting here quietly, on the couch with my laptop on the coffee table, trying to be very quiet while the dogs snooze. There was very loud and constant range fire this morning on our long walk, and Azzie was once again a complete wet blanket. Poor thing. I think with all the stress of yesterday, and then the loud kabooms of today, she just couldn’t manage. She HURLED herself forward from the car and the whole way around and back to the car. Nearly pulled my arm out of the socket numerous times. She’s a strong girl and when she is scared/stressed she is even stronger! I’m not coddling her though – I know that just makes it worse for her – but I am trying to be “gentle”, with a all of them, after yesterday. They were really good, so I’m trying to be calm, serene, in charge for them today.

I really need another cup of tea though… and the loo!
I just don’t want to disturb Azzie, who is finally sleeping properly (no heavy breathing and drooling and shaking) after I closed the balcony door to stop her hearing the explosions from the range.

Ah, there we go.. she has stirred softly… now’s my chance!

Anyhoo – that was just a small update of things so far.

Some things

The training is coming along. Still trying to find my “calm-assertive” side. I tend to not lose my temper, but I get frustrated/annoyed and I am more forceful than necessary (or so it seems to me) – I don’t mean physically (I don’t hurt my dogs – never would, never have) I just mean… I over do the … tone? Trying to find that balance. Sometimes I get it, and it works, and I get instant results, so I just need to keep at it and keep consistent. I’m trying different “people” to “channel” for the right idea on the attitude… but so far Cleopatra hasn’t worked (I have no idea how a queen would act, much less an Egyptian one) and I don’t see Oprah Winfrey as much of a role model I’m afraid (and before anyone harps on about racism, that’s got nothing to do with it – it’s more like I don’t see her as a role model to copy for the attitude I am trying to convey for my DOGS) and I’ve looked at male attitude role models too but I can’t seem to “hold on” to the tone/energy/attitude if something happens on the walk. If nothing happens, sure – we do fine. But if there’s a cat following us, or a loud child wanting to PAT MY DOGS THEY’RE SO FLUFFY I WANT TO TOUCH THEM NOW NOW NOW, or a dog walking in the reasonably close vicinity, or Odin picks up a scent (rabbit, cat, dog, deer, crow – it doesn’t matter, as he just locks on and that’s that) or Gina wants to go home because she thinks my husband will be there (she’s very focused on his scent and can pick it up even if he DROVE BY over 30 minutes before we pass the area) then it all goes back to square one.  I’m trying to visualise as well… but my scattered brain can’t hold on to a positive image either. Negative, sure! Easy! But positive? It’s like the whole thread cutting thing I spoke about in a previous post. Can’t let it go.

I want to get a martingale collar for Odin as well as he finds it way too easy to slip out of his skull and cross bones cloth/cotton/whatever it is collar. He also pulls so much that it stretches out and slides off even more easily. That’s just dangerous when it comes to him, because if he slips that collar and chases off after a cat/deer/rabbit/dog … there’s no stopping him. He doesn’t have any road sense (except to be scared of noisy cars and big trucks, but that’s about it) and once he’s locked on, his ears turn off.  *sigh*

We’ve had some really good walks together recently, though, the four of us. So I need to just focus on the good ones. And in terms of him listening to me when we’re at home, he’s come a long way as well. He’s allowed to bark, just like the girls are, but when I say “enough” that means stop. And 99% of the time, he now listens. Sometimes he gives me a last word, because that’s him – but mostly, it’s good. And he and the girls are also much better at the front door, if someone knocks or if my husband comes home. They’re learning to give space and wait patiently. Gina is actually the worst culprit when it comes to disobeying the rules. She thinks they don’t apply because she’s daddy’s girl and he lets her get away with everything.

Husband is off again on another mission soon. Thankfully not months this time – because that would be pretty hectic considering we leave Germany soon!

The dogs and I have been training with the dens (we’re calling them dens, not crates or boxes) and all three of the dogs are doing SO beautifully with it. Azzie goes in on her own, without a word from me, and even Gina is getting the idea now. They lie down, wait patiently for me to let them out, no stressing, no worrying. Odin rushes in a bit, but he’s fine once he’s in. He lies down and waits. Lots of treats and praise and it’s all going well. Only thing is that despite measuring Gina many times, I realised that she’s too big for the XL den, and will also need a giant one, like Azzie’s. So I took the XL back and put in an order for another giant, but there’s a waiting list for them and we’re right at the bottom of the list. For now, I’ll just train her in Azzie’s and hopefully we can get her own one asap. I’m still training them with no door on the den, and one at a time, so it’s fine. But when I start putting them in for a few minutes, with the door closed, then it’s going to be more complicated.  I am very proud though, of all three of them. I was positive and up beat and pictured what I wanted and they complied. I was very pleased.

 

We’ve had some pretty hot weather the last week or so – in the 40’s (Celsius) for a few days in a row, dropping into the high and mid 30’s.  A while back my husband and I bought them a pool (made for dogs – nice and tough vinyl and it can be folded up) and I decided to put it on the balcony for them on some of the hot days – they LOVED it! Eventually Odin even lay down in it to cool down! They all love it and they squash together and splash around in it. I put towels and large dog blankets (made of cotton) down so they can dry their feet off when they come back inside, without making a huge slippery mess everywhere.

 

We’ve also been down to the secret pond a LOT and Odin is getting so brave now that he goes right up to his neck and wants to swim, but hasn’t gotten up the nerve JUST yet – which is probably a good thing, as I feel a bit unsafe on my own there with just me if something should go wrong.

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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