Thursday, October 29, 2009


Halloween is just around the corner! The kids are all excited, everyone is decorating their houses and carving pumpkins.

There are some things Oak is enjoying about this time of year, and some things he's not. Our daily walks, although still fun and enjoyable are also scary. He doesn't understand what those unmoving figures (scarecrows)on that guys lawn are. They probably shouldn't be there, so he barks, and backs away from them and looks nervously around for the next 5 minutes just in case they are going to follow us! Then there are those big white heads with the dark eyes(skulls), they definitely shouldn't be in that garden. Walks have gotten so dangerous!
Then on top of that, the funny costumes come out of hiding. This is his friend Jewels, her Mommy dressed her up as a Bumble Bee!

And this is Katie, she doesn't look to thrilled to be a pirate... Ahoy Matey!!

Last year Oak had to try on a few costumes (they were Jewels' and he was tiny, so he still fit in them).
Which was better, Oak as a witch!

Or, Oak as a clown :)

I'm pretty sure I have a cowboy costume in the closet that I used to dress Phoenix up in, hmmm, where did I out it:)
He'll be so much happier when Halloween is over and Christmas is coming. Snow and presents, his two favourite things!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Pet Postcard Project

The Pet Postcard Project is a really neat idea created by Nikki Moustaki. For every handmade pet postcard they receive, a shelter will get 1 pound of dog food. The site does not make any money from the project. It's all about raising food and awareness for shelter animals. Not only that, the postcards are entered in monthly contests to win prizes. You just can't beat it! You have fun creating a card, when your card is sent in to the Pet Postcard Project a shelter receives one pound of food, and to top it all off, you can win prizes! There are different categories to enter your cards in: your pet can be giving advice, confessions, wishes, excuses or "you know you love your pet when..."
So, I made my postcards, sent them in, and won three prizes! These are my winning postcards:

Now, since I'm in Canada and the sponsors are in the US, I was afraid I wouldn't actually get my prizes, but I did receive 2 out of 3, so that's not bad.
I won a Springer from Springer America. It is a device you can attach to your bicycle, then attach your dog to it, and he can run along beside your bike. It's already too cold for biking here, so the test run will have to wait until spring.

We also won a Puppy Pinata. This is Lulu:

Isn't she cute? She came filled with treats and the dog is supposed find the secret pocket, open it and remove the treats. Now Oak can be very destructive when it comes to stuffies, so I didn't figure Lulu would last too long in his paws. For this reason, I took her picture before I gave her to Oak.

This is Oak playing with Lulu.

This is Oak, trying to tear Lulu to shreds(he already has the treats out!).

This is the end of poor little Lulu :(

All I can say is Oak really enjoyed playing with Lulu while she lasted, and I really enjoyed making the postcards and winning prizes. Has anyone else sent postcards to the Pet Postcard Project? If you haven't, you really should. The shelter animals need the food and it's an enjoying way to pass an evening!

As a quick side note: Please use caution if you are not from the USA. I had assumed I would be asked if I wanted to pay customs and shipping any the prizes before they were sent. One company did phone and ask, I said thanks, but no thanks. Springer America on the other hand sent the item without asking first and today (Nov 19) I received a surprising bill for $25.82. Not a happy way to celebrate winning a contest :(

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dog Training 101 - From a Layman's Point of View

As many of you may, or may not know, Oak and I have been in training since he was about 3 months old. We, as a family, have always (for the last 15 years) taken our dogs to the same school for training. I’ve used the same methods, followed the same rules, and came away with a well behaved dog. These methods don’t seem to be consistently working this time. Oak has some commands he will complete automatically, with no thought involved. And other commands he completely ignores. I didn’t want him jumping up and trying to steal his food from my hand before I was able to put the dish down, so from a young age I taught him to wait until I say “alright”. No matter how hungry he is, he sits and waits. One time, I accidently said “Hello” instead of “Alright” (which is our release word) and he looked at me like I was crazy, but he didn’t start eating his food. If I could just figure out the best method to get him to obey the rest of the commands everything would be perfect! So I decided to investigate other methods of training. Maybe they know something new that our trainer didn't know about. What I discovered is that although different trainers may have different methods, they still all follow eight basic rules:

Rule #1:
You are the alpha and you must make sure your dog believes it to be true. This of course is the most important rule and the basis of all other training.

Rule #2:
Training should be fun. A happy and excited dog is more likely to pay attention and learn.

You must first guide the dog through the exercise. It is easier for a dog to learn a command if they understand what you are trying to get them to do.

A correction is needed if the command is not followed. The correction should not be harsh, but should catch the dog's attention and encourage him to listen.

A reward is needed for following the command. Whether is be food, praise, petting or to play.

Repetition! I have read some books that say you need to repeat a lesson a few thousand times before response becomes conditioned and automatic.

Consistency. You must be consistent with the body language, commands, corrections and even praise that you use.

Rule #8
You need to have a release word to tell your dog he may move.

Any training method you choose should work, if you follow these basic rules.

Friday, October 9, 2009