Friday, April 30, 2010

All About Meeka

Sometimes it seems our "challenges" get the lions share of our attention, both mental and physical. 

"Who you callin a 'challenge?"

And though I wouldn't say Maizey is a challenge per say, she certainly is the one of my pups I spend the most thought on. But today was Meeka's day to walk and as we did our 1.8 miles together I was reminded again just what a great friend she is.

Ever since Meeka had Melanoma removed last year we have been watching her very carefully for signs the cancer had spread. Thankfully it hasn't thus far. But about six months ago we started seeing some very tricky symptoms appearing. Back to the vet we went. Between both of  Maizey's knee surgeries, Meeka's Melanoma, diagnosing and then treating and losing my Little Man to Cushings Disease, it feels like we have lived at the vet over the last year or so. Thankfully we think our vet is a very great guy!

These have proven to be "tricky" symptoms because diagnosis has been just that, tricky and it wasn't until the beginning of the month that our vet told us we should start learning about Degenerative Myelopathy. Back to Google I went.LOL Still, we aren't sure if she has it, its a wait and see type of situation. But at the same visit he started her on a stronger pain med for arthritis she suffers from. I didn't think it was making any difference until our walk today.

Today was the first day in at least six months that Meeka has walked much more than a mile. Normally it is just too far, but today she seemed much her normal peppy self. It was glorious, I just reveled in it.

I titled our walk: "What I Love About Meeka" And thus I give you:

She thinks 80lbs of Rottweiler is small.

The best, "huh crazymomlady? did you say 'Are you hungry?" look ever.

She loves all things pink. . .

fuzzy. . .

and soft.

She's not afraid of anything. Not even playing in the snow in the dark. . .

or showing her softer side to the world.

She loved Little Man too.

Since there is no way I could cover everything I love about Meeka at once stay tuned for updates!

So Pig In a Blanket IS Easier To Say. . .

We took a wonderful walk today. 3.5 miles! Yes I know it isn't impressive for everyone, but for us with gimpy knees, no matter how many of them we have, 3.5 miles in a stretch is cause for a pat on the back.

Turns out there is beauty in the city as our walk showed us. We woke up to snow and while I normally am a huge fair weather walker, that darn clock is ticking down. . .down. . .down. And turns out the 30 miles down walk them selves-I actually have to do it! But back to the beauty in the city. We rousted out between flurries and it was a beautiful time to walk.

Steam on the river walk-proof this weather just can't make up its mind, is it warm? Is it Cold? Who knows?

With the melting snow dripping from the trees it was just glowing green.

Can you see what I see?

"Lets go crazymomlady! 3.5 miles is nothin'!"

"Uuhhggg. . .3.5 miles is a long way! Are you crazy or somthin' crazymomlady?"

So sure its easier to say "pig in a blanket", but "Cavalier King Charles Spaniel In A Blanket" is so much cuter!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Finally! Maizey's Level 1 Video

I finally got around to putting together Maizey's L1 tests into a video. We got some help on the filming and a great place to train when we took our training marathon trip south. Thanks to all who helped there!

And with out further ado her is her video:(just a note, it seems to play smoother if you click it and watch it at YouTube. Not sure why this technical difficulty, but if any of you training video guru's out there can tell me I'd be glad to know!)

Maizey actually completed L1 back on April 1, 2010 when she could finally work her recalls after her last knee surgery. For an example of how quick it can be to work through the levels I took a look back at her training journal. Of course every dog is going to be unique in their progress and how fast you work through the levels depends on many factors in both the handler and the pup, but the individual working nature of the Training Levels is one of the many things that makes it so great!

We started Training Levels on February 9, 2010. She passed her L1 sit test on February 14, 2010. Then L1 down was passed on February 18, 2010. Zen was next on February 20, 2010. Target was a completely new behavior for both of us so we took our time, but she passed fairly soon on March 5, 2010. At that point she could have passed L1 come, but again that knee. . .

I think its a pretty good testament to Maizey, and the Training Levels for her to test out 5 behaviors 1 of which was completely new in less than two months!

Already she has passed some L2 tests and we continue to work on it, there are many new behaviors and we aren't in a rush, but just enjoying the learning process. One thing for sure-she certainly learns faster than me!

Migraines Don't Motivate Me But My Girls Sure Do!

I been down with the sickly migraine so things have been really quiet around here. It's times like this, when I am feeling like laying low, that I'm thankful I have two such low laying girls to hang with me! And times that make me highly question my thoughts of getting a "higher drive" dog for our next four legged friend.

Of course the reverse proves true too. On our recent jaunt down south, during a chat about what motivates me to get out and train, my friend looked at Maizey laying upside down in my arms snoring away and commented, "well she's really not much help!" So true! It's much harder to roust out when they are content to curl up with me where ever I am. A pup that needed more activity would definitely drive me to give them just that.

This got me thinking about what really does motivate me to train and exercise my pups. The number one thing on the list would definitely be their needs. After two days of laying as still as possible and moaning about my head Maizey just couldn't take it anymore and made it clear we really must walk today. (That GIANT clock some sadistic maniac planted on my blog that is so clearly mocking me by screaming, "You are running out of time in your 30 miles in 30 days challenge" also helped!) And so out we went.

So the "What Motivates Me To Work With My Four Legged Friends" list:

1.) They are so much happier with regular mental and physical exercise
2.) I am so much happier when I regularly mentally and physically exercise with them.
3.) I am so much happier when they are happier!
4.) When I am irregular in working with Maizey it seems to be a "two steps forward, one step back" situation. Meaning: she doesn't lose her skills, but for example on a walk it takes her much longer to work out "the wigglies" and get down to paying attention and doing dome good work if its been a couple of days since she walked.
5.) I stay so much more organized if we work a little everyday, so our work time is much more productive.
6.). . .7.). . .8.). . .

And so the list will continue. I would love any hints as to what keeps everyone else motivated to keep teaching and learning those "4 legged lessons."

My 4 legged lesson of the day?

Turns out walking helps migraines much more than moaning! Thank you girls!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Maizey and Me Walk In The Rain

Yesterday it rained. I don't mean the kind of slight gray drizzle that just discourages a stroll down the block, but the kind of outright downpour we rarely see in the desert. The kind of rain that has the pups shaking out the drench before you hit the end of the driveway and the neighbors whose house backs the park, saying, "Yeah Mildred, there's some girl out there with a little dog making the dog lay down and stuff. . .Yes its dumping rain!. . .No I don't know why she's out there!" It was the kind of rain that when we put big brother  charleycharley's sweater on and let him out for our walk he made it to the end of the garage before he hit the solid sheet of rain, came to a skidding halt and rooted himself to the spot with that, "Are you totally nuts? It raining you know?" look. Big brother Charleycharley didn't go for a walk in the rain. It was the the kind of storm that when you look outside you are actually justified in saying, "Uh. . .no four legged walk today."

But there are some benefits to having a pup who throws herself into every puddle of water or snow she sees-she is a willing walking companion in the drenching rain. So we did our mile to the park and then we did recalls, sits, downs, stays, even some distance "go-rounds" with 4 perfect successes!(insert me cheering!) And it rained. And rained. Every time we started shivering we just started doing chase recalls and got warm again. It was great!

The four legged lessons learned? Maizey needs to learn to "down" on cold wet grass. And my four legged lesson? Learn how to shake the rain off like Maizeydoes you stay a lot drier!LOL

In his defense big brother charleycharley does love to go for a good run when its not raining:  

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Eras Just Keep Ending

As posted before we put our jeep up for sale that we have had for 13 years. I thought that was of the end an era, but this morning we ended another era. It was the era of Edie.

I haven't written much about her, she was my calm girl who never made any trouble. My sleepy scaredy kitty who never wanted bothered unless she wanted to bother me at 2:00am for a drink of water fresh from the faucet.LOL

She was this tiny 6 week old kitty @ Petsmart, where I was not supposed to be as I was on a break from work and short on time, but I was kitty hungry and they had kitties, so guess where I was? Yep, checking out the rescue kitties, and which one grabbed my hart? Not the rambunctious three legged yellow tabby who was desperate to play with me, not the little boy who only wanted to snuggle. No, I fall in love with this beautiful, blue eyed, white fluff ball who is cowering in the back of the cage, terrified and wanting nothing more than to be left alone.

It took me all day and all night but I begged my new mehusbandy into getting our first "together" four legged friend. I took her home, set up the litter box, gave her toys, and blankets, and food and water. . .and spent the next three weeks dragging her out from under the bed to use said toys, litter box, etc. She always was my scared girl! After the three weeks we did make progress we gradually moved to dragging her out from under the couch, the desk, and anything else she could hide under. I loved every second of her.

But today it was the day for her to find relief. She has been sickly most her life, and gradually going down hill over the last few months and today just became the day. She went peacefully, more so than me. She was a beauty and our first "together" furry kid. She will be in my heart and always in my memory.

Oh yeah, and last night? We sold the Jeep.

The eras just keep on ending.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"No Crazymomlady, That's Wrong. . .You have to Explain It To Me This Way!"

We are home from our 'training trip marathon' and now trying to assimilate everything we learned. I'm not sure who learned more-Maizey or me! But one thing is for sure when you give Maizey good information she is a hard worker who can and will figure out what you're asking her for. Now I just need to get good enough at giving her the right information at the right time.

It is absolutely amazing to me how in training its the littlest things that can make the biggest difference in getting the behavior you are asking for. For instance one of the new behaviors we worked on was L2 Stand. I have never taught this before so my friend was a great help in explaining it to me. During our second session I got two really good stands out of Maizey, but then on the next two she would stand and immediately sit down. Since 'stand' is a duration behavior that leads to L2 'stand-stay' the sit is something I certainly don't want to reinforce. Well I tried a few more times, but kept getting the immediate sit following the stand. So I asked my friend about it and she reminded me of one to the fundamentals of clicker training:

Treat while in position, and where you treat is key to reinforcing the behavior you want. Turns out the way I was positioning my cue was leading her head up to grab the treat which of course when her head goes up her hind end goes down producing the instant sit. Another example of this is when we walked up the canyon to take some photos of the pups. Of course I would position her to sit and and wait but of course in a new environment with lots of distractions it was hard for her so she kept breaking the wait very early. The solution? Again treat in the position you want. If I wanted her in a sit-wait I had to be fast to get back to her to c/t and reinforce the sit-wait while she was still sitting and waiting.

So for me it worked like this:
Put her in position, cue: "sit, wait!"C/T

 "Hmmm that treat was good!"

 Then walk straight backwards several steps.
Our furthest distance was about 10' back.

Then walk back to her and while she is still in position waiting C/T and have a party!

Eventually with enough practice and the help of a good friend with a nice camera you can get a really pretty "sit-wait" photo-op!

 Maizey loved all of this training because of course she get really good training treats! We used everthing from 'chicken liver cheerios' to turkey hot dogs and of course we always use her breakfast and dinner kibble for the easy behaviors she already knows. I think we need to switch up her treats and one I have been wanting to try is the Zukes salmon flavored treats. I thought they would work easier for us since Meeka can't have the chicken or the turkey and it gets hard to keep the "Meeka treats" and "Maizey treats" separate. Salmon is something they could both have! Plus I've read you can use these to "marinate" with cheerios and get "salmon cheerios!"LOL

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fun In The Mountains, Fun In The Country, Fun on the Farm

We had so much fun on our trip I decided to make a whole post of the fun stuff before we get into the intense mind boggling(for me) training we did.

We did some formal training, but mostly we did fun things, with training mixed in. I might need some new training equipment for pets to use with all of the new experiences and pets she saw! This Billy Goat was just one of the exciting animals she saw out at the farm.

Of course we had to take her to the lake for some swimming. She was a little timid since there wasn't too much beach and the water was very deep, but she got wet enough to need a good roll in the dirt to dry off! I wrapped her in her blanket to try to dry her off and keep some of the mud off me, but of course the dirt roll left me needing a lot of new pets grooming supplies!
"Uggg crazymomlady this water doesn't taste too good!"

"Look out, I'm wet and about to get muddy!"

"Ohhh ya. . .that dirt feels sooo good!"

In between the walks in the country, the hikes in the mountains, the swimming in the lake, and of course the mud rolling, we did take time to just relax and kick back. Of course all of the dogs have their own beds and tons of blankets but Lucy and Penny, the two biggest of the girls, really seemed to enjoy Maizey's crate the best. Maybe I'll suggest to my friend she invest in some new blankets and beds for her pets just to keep them happy until I bring Maizey's stuff back!LOL
The best dog bed in the house is always the couch!

"Ahhh. . . .Maizey's crate is so nice and cozy"

Everything said and done it was a wonderful trip. Many four legged lessons were learned and even more two legged lessons! I want to thank our two legged friends for letting us come and stay and Maizey wants to thank Penny, Lucy, Zoe, Raven, Twist, Dare and of course her favorite buddy Layla for all the good times they had.

And Meeka wants to lodge an official complaint that she didn't get to share in the fun this time!
"Next time I get to go, okay crazymomlady?"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On The Road With Four Busy Legs

We finally did get on the road on Monday. I'm not sure why but it always seems to take me forever to get out the door when we take a trip. For one thing I am a compulsive over packer, especially when it comes to the dogs. Maizey finally put an end to that though. 
 "That's enough mom! No more packing!"

So we did finally get the car packed. You know the kind of thing like loading the carseat, making sure we had all of the essentials like treats, clicker, water, travel bowls and it goes on and on . . . and of course we had to explain to Meeka that she had to stay home.

 "Comeon I'm all ready to go!"

"The hugs good crazymomlady but staying home really stinks!"
Then the drive commenced. It's less than three hours when you don't have four busy legs pitching a fit 'cause she has decided that today she hates her carseat!
"You are evil and mean for putting me in here!"

If you have that then the drive is oh. . . about 300 hours because then you spend half of the time training carseat zen instead of actually driving. You stop and take 16 walks instead of the normal one walk when you stop to get gas and perhaps one more because crazy mom lady has to "go poddy."LOL

 "Pleeeaaase let me out of this torture chamber!"

But it was all good because I promised myself that no matter what happened on this trip the whole trip was strictly for training. Well and the part where I get to get out of the city and actually breathe in the beauty of color and space. So we took our time and worked with the car seat. She finally went to sleep I thought she had it down.
 Insert crazymomlady having the illusion she actually taught the princessface something.LOL

However I hate to admit that ultimately the busy four legs won and crazymomlady lost. Twenty minutes from our friends house and as soon as I got on the freeway where of course I couldn't pull over easily she actually pulled herself out of her harness and escaped to lay in the back window of the car! 

So car seat zen, park-it and settle are all going to get a lot more work at our house. It's strange she had such an issue with it though because she has traveled in that seat many times before, and we have been working it in the house. But since we can't use a crate in the car we have now we will be working with the car seat some more. Hopefully the drive home will go more smooth!

Monday, April 12, 2010

4 Of Our Legs Go Traveling, But 4 Of Our Legs Have To Stay Home

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Maizey and I decided to take a little road trip today, but since Meeka's not feeling well she has to stay home with mehusbandy. Maizey and I are going to see Dare, Layla, Twist, Lucy, Penny, Raven, and Zoe. Of course we aren't expecting Zoe to jump up and down w/ glee at the social opportunity of spending time with us.LOL

We are at point where we really need some input into Maizey's training. She has passed all of her L1 tests and she is ready to pass a few of her L2 behaviors. I also want to do a lot of filming of the things she has got down pat, and Marie has much better space to do that than I do. So really we are just going to use Marie and all her dog training talent.

The things we will test or just film are again all L1 behaviors, which are come, sit, down, target, and zen. Then with L2 I hope we can get her down, sit, handling and perhaps go to mat tested and filmed.

There are several behaviors that are new to both of us and we really hope to take advantage of Marie's knowledge to teach me some lessons so I can teach them right from the start. A few are: target, distance, and stay. So it should be a lesson filled trip, and we are anxious to get on the road.

I know some will say its odd for me to take off on a social trip!LOL Of course it is for the dogs which is the same reason I joined SocialSpark It is a great site to help you browse networks, various opportunities and a lot of different blogs. They have a great Code of Ethics and the Sign up for SocialSpark process was simple and Lessons From and For 4 legs was approved very promptly which was nice. If you are looking to network or monetize your blog this is a great company to use.
Visit my sponsor: I Signed Up for SocialSpark!

So off we go! We still need to take our walk this morning since we can't take a vacation from our 30 miles challenge and of course we all know a tired puppy travels best!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Meeka and Maizeys 30 Miles in 30 days Challenge

Why would two mellow, calm, nap loving dogs want to challenge their admittedly activity-challenged 2 legged friend to 30 miles of movement in 30 days?

Obviously they are concerned for my health! Also obviously there is no more peaceful sleep than this:
 or this:
or this:
or especially this:

And that is what the sleep of the truly tired looks like, so while I give them credit for their concern over my lack of ever wanting to exercise I know that they are just smarter than me and know how much fun it is to get out there and move a little!

Thus on April 2, 2010 we started our 30 miles in 30 days challenge. And as you've seen from past posts we are having a blast! Maizey is doing so well with her L2 LLW and we are finding new places to walk, each with their own set of distractions to help fill in the holes of the training they are solid on.

We have had so much support in people joining our challenge and cheering us on that we want to invite any who would like to join our challenge. Maizey, Meeka and I have been tracking our mileage in the sidebar and will continue to do so, along with regular updates in posts. If your 4 legged friends are dragging you out and about and would like to brag up how well your doing drop me a comment with your names and your mileage and anything else you would like and I will add you to our challenge list. If you would like to share your records with us but participate as an anonymous secret agent email me and I will add you and your sneaky 4 legged friends to the secret agent list.

Of course we have already started and there are only 24 days left in our 30 day challenge so if you want to join now its not to late! Just pro-rate your miles to what ever day you join. Cynthia at Tip Tail started with us today and already has done a mile and three-quarters! Really what ever number your four legged friends set for you is good by us, we just want everyone to have as much fun as we are!

So May 1, 2010 is our deadline folks. After we have all worked hard to get out there and get moving I will add up our cumulative total miles and post that for us all to do a victory dance over! It might look something like:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Our Favorite Walks

With all of the walking we have been doing lately I have been trying to find new places and routes to walk.

I'm a country girl. True, I have lived in the city for more than half my life, but the country is in my heart. Blue skies, blindingly bright sunshine, the soft green of new grass coming up in wide open fields where there is nothing in your view but the mountains and the soft smell of sage brush. So in the area of favorite walks, that would be my ideal. This is what the ideal looks like:

Ahh. . .but alas I am a city living girl so it is my constant goal to find places to walk that give me glimmer of my ideal. One place we are really enjoying is the Jordan River Parkway. It is a paved trail that runs along the Jordan River. It is a peaceful place and of course the girls love it for the abundance of sniffs and ducks and geese to chase.

There is one draw back in that the river is part of the cities water treatment plan and sometimes it sniffs not so pretty! Maybe they could use N-Viro International Corporations.( To avoid wasting energy and forge ahead in renewable and alternative energy sources N-Viro converts wastewater sludge into opportunity fuels, clean coal, and many other market rich applications.( For more information check out:

So I guess even though I live in the city there are many opportunities to find: "Beauty In The City."

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Lessons From and For 4 Legs has moved to a new address: Where we will continue to learn life's lessons from my little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's, Maizey and Magnus. Don't miss Meeka's lessons too, by checking the archives of my big girl rescue Rottie. They all teach me so much!