Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Follow Us We're Moving!


Lessons From and For 4 Legs is moving! 

to be forwarded to Lessons From and For 4 Legs new address.

There are many things we have enjoyed while blogging here at Blogger- the most enjoyable being all of our wonderful readers! We hope you will all follow us to our new home at: http://www.lessonsfrom4legs.com/

Lessons From and For 4 Legs will maintain many of the same features we have always had, but at our new address we will have more flexibility to add even more features to our pages. So be sure to hop over and keep track of us.

A new feature worth not missing on our front page is the slide show, which we will be changing and adding to frequently. Soon I will add an updated and hopefully more user friendly 4Legged  Full Life Harmony page.

So follow us now to read the first post at our new address: Both Our 4Legged Girls Went Traveling

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mayhem, Confusion, and Insanity

Okay that may be a slight exaggeration.

Okay so its really a complete and total exaggeration. But its so much more exciting a title than "Trying To Figure Out What In The World We Are Doing. . . Again."

Plus I figure you are all tired of hearing me blather about plans, contrivances and purpose. I did get the 4Legged Full Life Harmony page up and running. It's not completely how I would like it but its a work in progress, I am still figuring out the whole google calendar thing, but eventually I might get it is visible to all.

We have been very busy with training. We had another lesson with our trainer to help with Maizey's reactivity and our tool bag of tricks to calm reactivity is filling up.

We have travels to tell of and tests to record as passed and big plans for the future, but for tonight it will have to suffice that we are still moving along in learning all our lessons and will tell the tale to all. . . someday.

Until then please let Maizey express our true feelings on the late night rambling:
"I give you all squinchy face at this insanity!"

And please also allow Meeka to reassure you we will fill in all the details as soon as possible!
"Do not despair of this rambling inefficiency, my crazymomlady will get things back on track soon. Until then 'keep your eyes facing forward' like me!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More Than Just A Name: Maizey

Yuba Lake 6/2010

The story of Maizeys' name is not nearly as interesting as the story behind Meekas' name, but as mentioned it is dear to my heart.

The story of her name starts long before Maizey was ever Maizey. It starts when I fell in love with Cavaliers. It was a long time ago, but we had all the animals we could care for at the time so she became my dream dog.

After almost two years of looking, researching and dreaming,  it was me and mehusbandies 10th wedding anniversary. We were talking about dogs. (Big shocker I know!) And after a while he said, "okay if it means that much to you, you should start looking for breeders."

We were driving down the highway at the time or I would have leapt for joy. Instead I settled for a, "Are you being serious? Your not kidding? Cause that would not be funny!" He laughed and said he was serious. This was followed by several miles of squealing, clapping and celebrating, all of which was at a decibel level that I think may have made him change his mind a bit!

We were on the way to Dare and Zoe's house and the internet search started as soon as we got there! For several long months after that the search was on in earnest and my puppy dreaming started being more of the vocal kind not just the hiding inside my head kind.

Part of the puppy dreaming was our own name game. The "What do you think of this name. . .?" One after another got shot down by one of us but amongst one of our many name game conversations mehusbandy threw out Daisy. "Too common!" was my immediate response. He returned with "How about Maizey?"

Instant fit. Form that day on it was Maizey. Of course it has morphed into many other versions and nick-names since then, but legally she is Maizey. It is the perfect nomiker  for her and especially special since it was chosen by the man in my life who really wasn't the first one to jump on the 'add another dog to our household band wagon'!

apx 6 months old
 "Why do you think this stick is too big for me-

its only as long as I am?

weber canyon 7/10
"Yeah, your right this stick is much more my size!"

Dare and Zoes' House 6/5
7/2010 baby garden
My Maizey MayMay

Thanks to The Teacher's Pets for letting me know this whole name game was started at Frankly Speaking, not sure thats where I saw it, but its a great idea, thanks for getting it started!

So all of you 2legged friends with the heavy duty of naming your 4 legged friends-what's your name game story?

Friday, July 9, 2010

More Than Just A Name: Meeka


Usually when strolling through blogs "window shopping" if something really strikes me I bookmark it for proper credit given, alas, this time I did not. I'm sure Meeka would never have been so irresponsible.

Thus I hope to not step on any toes as I copy an idea that grabbed me on another blog. If this came from any of your posts please let me know and I will make proper amendments and commendations. They say imitation is the best form of flattery. . . or plagiarism. . . something like that.

(Yes, yes I know, a "they say" and a cliche  in the same sentence. As much as I shy away from both it seems the innocuous "They" and cliches do come in handy!)

The idea that struck me and stayed with me was to tell the story behind my 4legged friends name.

Meeka has the best story, although Maizeys' story is one that warms my heart. 

When I wanted to adopt Meeka she was being fostered about three hours from here. Mehusbandy and I went to check her out and make sure we could give her the best home. Once he met her it was an instant fit and we started talking names. We even got online and went through a bunch of those name lists, but I already had an idea. 

Synonyms for meek include: gentle, peaceful, patient. But in ancient greek the word meek has the connotation of being teachable. This was one of the first things I noticed about my Meeka- her teachableness. Little did I know that she would end up teaching me far more about composure and confidence, gentleness and peacefulness than I would ever teach her.
"Me teachable? I just The Big Goof!" 

My Meek-a Rottie

A note: the recently unveiled 4Legged Full Life Harmony feature of Lessons From and For 4 Legs is under construction and will return at a later date to a page tab near you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Kind of Vehicle Does Your 4Legged Friend Drive?

Maybe one reason I always feel so disorganized in my training is reflected in the last few weeks posts-they seem to be all over the place in subject, as I am in life. (sighs)

But to keep with that theme today is think about new car day. Our car is getting quite old and has many miles on it, but having no payment is always appealing to us so we keep driving it. It has so many miles on it that we have already replaced the timing belt along with other repairs, however it has a new shimmy to it that doesn't belong on any car and has sent me looking for mechanics to be my auto repair pals.

If I was in San Francisco I could understand this new vibration, apparently all of the hills are hard on car suspensions. As it is I think my car is just old.

Along with looking into repairs I have decided its time to start shopping for a new car. I have always had sedans, my first cool car, at least to me, was a Honda Accord. It had those flip up head lights, and I thought I was the coolest thing on the road. (Cut me some slack, it was the '90's and my first car was a brown Oldsmobile, lovingly purchased by my mom, but not good on the high school image!)

But this time I would like to buy a wagon. With Meeka getting older and being in more pain I think hopping into the back of a smaller hatchback would be much better for her. I also think with any future dogs in mind something where the seats fold down and have room for crates is the best idea.

So Today's 4legged lesson is how interesting it is that how over time our priorities are changed by our pups and what would be best for them. Never did I think to find myself dreaming of wagons and hatchbacks in the car department! I was the Jeep girl you know?

So what does everyone else drive to accomodate their 4legged friends? Better yet, what is your dream vehicle for you and your 4legged friends? Inspire me and maybe I will make it through this latest bout of car repairs by dreaming of that perfect 4legged friends car.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Introducing A New Feature of Lessons From and For 4 Legs

I have noticed lately while browsing some of my favorite blogs that many people who are making progress in their training have some sort of written goal system. A couple I really appreciate are Kathleens' curriculum for Zachary and Beau at BZ Dog and Crystals' Prime Directive at Reactive Champion.

Thus I have been working on having more organization to my "Plans, Contrivances, and Projects". So far I am calling it 4legged Full Life Harmony. Along with my posts on goals being under the label, "Plans, Contrivances, and Projects" there will now be a "4legged Full Life Harmony" page. As this may be something that makes sense only in my own head an introduction to this new feature of Lessons From and For 4 legs may be helpful.

It will be a place for me to keep track of my training goals. This will be a page where I can set and track the goals I have for my pups to help them live a fuller life in harmony with their 2legged community. Eventually it will be this, maybe. For now it is more a running list of the vision I have for me and my 4legged friends.

Inspired by Unit Studies at BZ Training I have so far chosen 7 units for us to work on: day to day skills, trouble spots, exercise, record keeping, fun and games, sports, and travels.

I'm going to try not to be too rigid in this as usually the more complicated I get with something the less I actually do it. But hopefully having more of an organized record for me to refer to will help me apply my plans. And maybe one day these baby plans will grow up to look like one of the fantastic grown-up goal plans cited in the beginning.

Oh, and one more thing as author and master of this blog I reserve the right to rescind any aspect of this contrivance if not functioning in harmony with my vision.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I've Got My Eye On You!

In the absence of time and brain cells this is an "almost wordless Sunday" of funny puppy pics.

 "I've got my eye on you crazymomlady!"

(charleycharley our part time boy)

"And I'm happy as always!"

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What is Dog Reactivity Part 3- Anecdotal Evidence Illustrates Maizey's Reactivity

On Tuesday everything from a moose to a squirrel taught us a lot about reactivity.

Tuesday was "take your dogs to work day" for us and we were working far up one of the local canyons. In the afternoon we were on an upper deck of a cabin and in the meadow below us was a moose.

Absolutely amazing! Not 40 feet from us was this huge, wonderful 4legged friend. Well at least I wanted to be friends. Maizey hit 8/10 on the reactive maymay scale. She took about four to five minutes to calm down and even reached the point of just chilling on the chair. I was very proud of her.
"Moose are sooo boring! They don't bark back or anything! And all crazymomlady does is work-booooring!"

Fast forwarding into the day about an hour I saw a squirrel out of the window. Curious to see what she would do I showed her. There were about 5 barks that measured maybe a 4/10 on the reactive maymay scale. I cued "stop it" and she immediately switched from true reacting to pretend reacting. She gave me a beautiful whiplash turn, sit and watch. I in turn asked for a touch (nose touch to hand) and a tag (foot touch to hand) and released her with a "okay check it out."

As part of not rewarding her pretend reactivity when she offers me the watch I started asking for other very simple behaviors she can do easily when not stressed. This was suggested by a great trainer we had a session with not long ago. So when she pretend reacts barks and offers me a watch, I in turn thank her and ask for a sit, down, touch etc. then just let her go back to hanging out. If she continues the pattern we do a calming stop (more to come on that) and then again ask for alternate behaviors.

Here enters her brilliance, yesterday she back chained sit-down-sit-touch-tag all on cue from me and immediately went back to pretend reacting at the squirrel. Not sure where we are going with that one, but she is such a smart little girl! We are hopefully having another lesson next week and crazymomlady will get some more direction on how to keep up with brilliant princessface.

Every experience teaches us something. This 4legged lesson taught me Maizey really does not like moose but is learning to calm herself, with a little help from me. 4legged lesson #2: she still thinks I'm stupid enough to manipulate into rewarding pretend reactivity. It also taught me I still have a lot to learn!

Post Script:
In a comment from the previous post I was asked what Meeka's alarmed, or worried bark sounds like. I thought a picture could better describe it so this is Meeka reacting to the moose:
"Hmm. . . thats one big animal out there. Looks pretty harmless, guess I'll go and take a nap."

Translation: she doesn't react. Rottweiler people will tell you a sign a good Rottie is their "wait and see attitude." In other words, "I'll wait and see if this is something I need to react to, otherwise I'm not going to waste the energy." Meeka personifies that definition of a good Rottie.
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Lessons From and For 4 Legs has moved to a new address: http://www.lessonsfrom4legs.com. 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!