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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Should we go over an update AND Reading work of Al Parr’s book on ‘’Training Dogs Cesar’s Way?”

Should we go over an update AND Reading work of Al Parr’s book on ‘’Training Dogs Cesar’s Way?”

Greetings!  It’s me again on a Friday afternoon.  I talked to Katherine earlier this week.  It seems that Dakota has missed the problem with the Kennel cough at the Rescue place run by Marie and her husband, but he has gained an infection problem with his neutering, so had to work that off.  The word is that Katherine might meet Marie for a drop-off sometime next week, we’re not sure when.  I am worrying about when we’ll be able to get Dakota … first, because we don’t know how much training time he’ll need with Katherine, and second, is that we don’t know when we’ll be able to get the scooter or HoverRound.  The HoverRound is going to depend on what Medicare makes out of my medical records – we saw our doctor a couple of weeks ago.  We either may or may not get the HoverRound and we just have to wait for that.  Even though we can’t walk or stand for over 5-6 minutes, it may not be enough because I think their intent is to give them to people who have trouble with ANY walking within the house.  I can get up for these brief times and go chair to chair – so the decision will just depend on their criteria.

The Scooter however is ours for sure.  It is my mother’s and she doesn’t use it anymore.  But, we aren’t planning on being up in Minnesota where we can pick it up until July 24th through July 28th.  That’s about ten weeks away.  I don’t know if Katherine was intending to keep the dog that long.  The trip to South Dakota would have to be after that.  And, as an aside – we have until about that time to purchase some kind of ramp for the scooter.  We were looking at the Ramp King.  I think the Ramp King Elite is the one we want and sells for $160 at Amazon.  We’ve got more time and need to find out if we could get the HoverRound and its size dimensions.  We’re arguing in our head about whether we should have one OR two machines, we know we have the one, but if Medicare and our supplementary could buy the second it would be newer and better shape.  One is more for internal within a building while the other is external for being outside.  I’d like the option of being able to bring it in a store with Dakota.  We’ll have to wait and see.  I also liked the idea of Rich going on walks with us, but he said he wouldn’t use either machine.  So, maybe what we’re talking here is a back-up.  Just have to wait it out.  It could be another couple of weeks before we hear.
We did this week go in for our MRI as was part of the doctor’s evaluation.  The last MRI was done 8 years ago.  It doesn’t seem like that long, but I guess it was.  We talked over the results of the MRI with Dr. Marvin on Thursday, and he said that we should expect a call from our regular physician within a week and she’ll talk over the results too – with a little more authority on the subject.  Psychiatrists have to be medical doctors first, but since they don’t practice or specialize in medical, they aren’t the best resource for checking on these things – THOUGH he does have access to the test results and he DID share them with me.  I might need to spend some time on the Internet really understanding the terms.  We’ll give you a brief idea where we’re at.  Hmm, doctor might call us back Monday – we just checked.
The lumbar spine is normal alignment without any fractures.  There seems to be a fatty change in the L4 and L5 endplates which is progressive since the 2006 exam.  I think the fatty changes make treatment less successful.  There is progressive loss of disc height at L4-L5 and L5-S1.  It seems that my posterior spinal and bilateral psoas muscles (loin muscle) have fatty atrophy which means that there has been a gradual loss of muscle or flesh usually because of disease or lack of use.  I have had a progression of bone disease – arthritis in L1-L2, L2-L3, L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1.  I have a disc protrusion (bulge that cuts off nerves) in the right paracentral disc and right posterolateral disk.  Stenosis is present in three places – L4-L5 mild spinal canal stenosis, moderate right neuroforaminal stenosis and mild left neuroforaminal stenosis.  In the L5-S1 I have a mild diffuse disc bulge with some bilateral stenosis.  My understanding of stenosis is that it’s a narrowing or constriction of the spinal canal – which could pinch nerves.
Hmm, that was pretty heavy and we’re still not sure what it all means as to treatability … we could get some cortisone shots I think, could go through physical therapy, and then if those two failed we could go through fusion surgery … but, most likely we’re going to be told that weight loss will help take pressure off the parts that carry so much pain, so that’s where the rest of the appointment with Dr. Marvin and us was focused.  I think we were in a depressed mode throughout and it didn’t get better until after we left.  One of the first lines of defense he’s drawing is that we should be recording everything we eat.  So that’s where we’ve been the last 24 hours or so.  We weighed in today at 293 and we’ve used our phone app recorder to note the food and drinks we’ve been having.  Most of that has been uploaded to Dropbox, so then the question will be if we can dictate it if we want to.  I think half the punishment of noting what you’re eating is that if you eat anything you HAVE to mark it down and nobody really wants to hear that they’ve gone off-course.  Of course it could work in the opposite too, but less likely because we’re not all that positive about it.
Of course, we know that exercise and weight loss has been all along a part of getting a dog.  It is to get us out there in the world and more active.  Just at this moment we’re feeling the heaviness of our commitments AND we added to that the REAL problems that are happening in our back that prevents us from doing any of the above without pain.  It’s just hard.
BUT, then again … we know we have to move on so that’s where we are right now.  We told you about the first book we read by Cesar Millan, but then we read a second book by Al Parr (2014) on Cesar’s training methods, and since then we’ve started another book again from Cesar directly.  I think the last (third) book is “Cesar Rules.”  Earlier today though we focused on the 2nd book by Al Parr – It is called, “Train Dogs Cesar’s Way; Cesar Millan:  His Life, Techniques and even Case Histories.”  All three books are on Kindle.  For Parr’s book, we skimmed the whole thing and took some pretty serious notes on things that really interested me.  It is now an eight page outline of the material he covered.  I was surprised by the number of things he took explicitly from Cesar’s philosophies.  It’s kind of an outline of them.  I did also read the case studies, but I wasn’t interested in them while we were taking notes.
I think the next best thing I can do is to re-summarize the notes more briefly than I had last time.  I’m going through a process of trying to internalize the notes.  Everything fits in what we’ve heard of Cesar AND Katherine before.  I think Katherine has a lot of good ideas specifically and can help us with ACTUAL training, but Millan does a lot more writing so he’s the one we’re gravitating to right now while we wait out the literal training that is going to take place with Katherine.  Some of the things that Parr says, we skipped because we’d heard them so often, but some of his basics, we recorded just because we wanted to get the gist of what was being said in an outlined form. So without further ado we’re going to jump in from the start.  Again, this is Parr, writing about Cesar Millan’s methods, and we are condensing the material into bite size bits that work for us.  Hehehe Kibble if you will!
The first thing that is always said is that we as the people who own or train dogs are the Pack Leaders.  This is REALLY familiar!  We are then asked not to humanize the dogs because it leads to stress and anxiety for them and it is better to understand their psychology which is understood from their point of view.  The goal is to have balance people, dogs and relationships.  Millan underscores as noted in the first book that first think in achieving balance is exercise, then discipline (setting rules, boundaries, and limitations), and only then adding affection.  He states as leaders, we are always responsible for projecting calm-assertive energy and we should place the dog’s needs first.
He gives us ideas on how to become the pack leader which always follows the format just noted.  We should do things like claim the dog’s favorite spot as ours; claim his favorite food, his favorite toy and the door coming in and out of our houses.  In general you block the dog until he is calm and submissive and then YOU as the owner of these things can share with the dog, but he has to understand they are all yours as the leader of the pack.  He also discusses being leader as you walk by walking at least 45 min in the morning using a leash, not talking to the dog as you walk, having the dog beside or in back of you – not letting him lead, commanding the dog through body language and giving him quick sideways jerks on his short leash until he corrects his walking behavior and is relaxed again.  You want to in general create a “zone of walking where you can both enjoy the process.”
One other thing he notes here is to say that you are ALWAYS conditioning the dog voluntarily, or involuntarily.  Voluntary control is the times you mean to be training the dog, and involuntary control is training that just happens as the dog pays attention to you and your behavior without you intending to be teaching him.  And, as a leader you always have to assert calm and firm dominance, establish rules of the dog staying submissive, learn to give affection after they have earned it and are calm and submissive, and that you need to avoid the dog being dominant.  Things that you can do for the dog are to control your voice – clear and strong without yelling, show calm assertive energy for the dog to be healthy and secure and to give your dog a social role which leads them to his sense of purpose.
I didn’t record all the axioms that were listed, but some of my favorites were:
  • Living in the present – in the moment (not past or future)
  • Take responsibility for leadership of the dog
  • Understand that in 10 seconds a dog can change from follower to leader or back again
  • Dogs lead with their senses – first nose, then eyes, and then ears
  • All dogs need to spend time “waiting”
  • Imagine and visualize positive and don’t nurture the dogs fears and instabilities
  • Challenge his mind and work for affection (after calm and submissive)
  • Realize the dog needs on-time AND off-time
  • Let the dog earn food and water and experience in the world by walking which will stimulate their mind and exercise his body
  • Dogs need to work (activity) for food and water to feel fulfilled
  • Packs help to accomplish balance
Parr then went into talking about conditioning.  He established pre-conditioning with Pavlov’s dogs by its salivating, next ringing the bell before being fed, and then letting the dog eat uninterrupted.  Conditioning was then the repetition and reinforcement of the above pre-conditioned behavior – usually 2-3 times a day for several days.  And then, Post-conditioning is the measuring of the saliva; ringing the bell without the dog being fed to see how much the dog learned to salivate.  He stated the basic components to classic conditioning were the unconditioned stimulus – that which elicits the normal response (food), unconditioned response – natural reaction to the unconditioned stimulus (salivating), the conditioned stimulus – that which “comes to elicit” the target response (bell), and the conditioned response – which is the natural reaction to conditioned stimulus (salivating due to the bell).  He states that a dog is conditioned when he “learns” to “respond” automatically to some sort of “stimulus” with fear, joy, excitement, or anticipation.
The next thing Parr does is discuss conditioning the dog – our service dog if you will.  He states that it can be done with both voice and hand signals, but we should always use one-word commands with the same tone and inflection after we say the dog’s name to get his attention.  With conditioning it is better to move slow and practice one thing at a time.  He explained the optimal hand signal space as being in front of the dog’s head and that it is a good idea to wean him of the verbal commands.
He describes rewards and punishments by explaining the word “mark” as something you use when the dog does something right (could be devises such as bells, whistles or keys to generate unique sounds).  Contrary is “no-mark” which should be used when the dog does something wrong.  Each mark or no-mark is independently created by the trainer/owner, but things used as marks include food treats, positive reinforcement like pats on the head or back of pet, praise, or a favorite toy.  He states we need to ALWAYS reinforce behavior only if the dog is calm and submissive – not over excited or over-stimulated.  To reward the dog with food he suggests placing it within two fingers and a thumb and let the dog sniff and as he’s sniffing slowly lift the treat above the nose height and gradually over the head and then slightly back toward the shoulders until the butt naturally touches the floor.  If he jumps at the hand – take away the treat and repeat the exercise.  When he sits calmly and easily we can give him the treat.  No-mark on the other hand is a matter of saying “Tsch” and poking him with two fingers in the area of his neck or chest.  You can also block him or use your foot to gently tap his flank.  If the dog doesn’t respond then he should have a consequence of being taken away, or giving him a time out, or taking away a valuable resource.  The two finger poke is like his mother poking him with her nose and used to “snap” a dog out of his current behavior.
There are other important factors to training like the “No contact rule” which means “no talk, no touch and no eye contact.”  It is used for meeting a new dog or calming a dog down who is overly excited or seeking attention.  When the dog is in a calm submissive state you can pet or praise him as a reward, but always ignore bad behavior.  Time outs are places with low stimulus until he calms down, and before you leave him you should tell him what to do by commanding he sits or lies down.  Light leash jerks are to help the dog concentrate on walking and not focus on surroundings or other dogs.  You have to get his attention “back in place.”  Parr states that training takes real time to see improvements and suggested we set home boundaries, but we need to have unwavering mental strength and confidence to gain the dog’s trust and respect during the training sessions – it’s never too late to work on training with yourself or other pack members.  He states it is easier to start the dog when young then when older and the dog is in need of rehabilitation
For training new tricks in specific, Parr suggests that the Pack leader always has to be firm and secure and remember his marks for good behavior and no-marks for bad behavior.  The dog has to be paying 100% attention; the lessons should be kept short, we are to speak firmly, but never with anger or frustration, and end the session on a positive note.  It’s important not to overload the dog, because it will cause him stress if we ask him to remember too much or don’t consolidate the lessons with him.  We’re supposed to know the dog’s personal limits and to train in careful stages to keep the dog’s confidence high and to set him up for further success.  Rewards are good and we keep the motivation high and the dogs receptive, if they are first knowledgeable about the desired reward.
Parr then explains a few myths that people have over Cesar’s philosophy and suggests better understanding them to get the most out of the relationship with the dog.
Myth #1 – The first myth is that you only train him during training times.  This is false because you are training the dog constantly as he picks up verbal and nonverbal cues.  Parr gives a list of key words and explains their value in training.
  • Bonding or building rapport – is the quality time you spend with the dog talking, playing and taking him for long walks and this helps to achieve a responsive and attentive bond.
  • Consistency – the dog’s thinking should be built on black and white thinking rather than gray – so we are to use the same commands with all family members while training, praising and reprimanding.
  • Timing – This is the amount of time between dog’s actions (non-actions) and corresponding praise (or reprimand).  There should be no more than 2-3 seconds for him to associate words with his actions.   Do not reprimand actions in the past because the dog lives in the present and he might associate being told off by the action of him coming toward you.  We’re to ALWAYS praise a dog for coming toward us.
  • Repetition – Dogs are creatures of habit and repetition, so for things to be automatic, he needs refreshers throughout his life so he does not lose the conditioned responses.  It is easier to prevent than have to make a correction later.
  • Session length – We are to keep the sessions short and enjoyable to maintain good concentration.  It is always quality over quantity and we need to end the training session on a positive note.
  • Attitude – We need to be responsible in our expectations.  It takes time for the desired results.   It is best to take a long walk to settle him down before the learning session.
  • Praise – We need to praise the dog as SOON as he correctly completes the exercise.  When praising, we have to look directly in his eyes so he understands the connection between our voice or touch and his action.  We can again praise with our voice or patting/stroking, but we shouldn’t over-chatter to confuse him and disrupt his concentration.  We shouldn’t rely heavily on food and instead alternate it with displays of affection – this will especially overcome problems.
  • Eye contact – Eye content is more important than verbal and when there is a close bond, we will find he looks into our eyes and will try to read our intent.
  • Hand Signals – First we work with hand and verbal, and then we wean off vocal.  When using our hands we should keep them in front of and above the dog’s head as that is their best vision
  • Voice Signals – Use one command per one action and use the same tone and inflection – and always say the dog’s name before stating a command to catch his attention.
Myth #2 – You need to understand and communicate in “dog language.”  This is wrong.  You CAN read dog’s body language and need to understand different reasons your dog whines or barks, but as to speaking to them in THEIR language?  Dogs are intelligent animals and understand you are not a dog.
  • Use of the body to communicate
o   If his backside is in the air and tail wagging – he is keen to play and have fun
o   Tail right behind the back legs – he is scared of something or someone
o   Wagging tail (loosely) – he is feeling friendly and happy, if his tail is relaxed and still, he is feeling content, but if his tail is high up and wagging rapidly, it could mean aggression
o   Raised hackles – means he is frightened or ready for battle
o   Rolling over – is a sign of submission
o   Sniffing – the dog sniffs when he is trying to figure out something.  He will sniff to identify a person or other animal.  If sniffing the outside floor, fence, or lamppost, he’s caught the scent of another dog that has marked the territory, and if he’s inside sniffing the floor, plus pacing or circling, he may need to relieve himself.
o   Tense posture – When he tenses and is slightly lowered, he is indicating anxiety (also his tail will be partially lowered).
o   Crouching – he is ready to pounce.  This is a predatory position for both squeaky toy and intruder.
o   Prancing – back and forth with a tail wagging usually means he’s feeling happy
  • Use of head and face for communication
o   Ears – ears close to head pointing back or forwards indicates aggression, perked up ears with head turning from side to side indicates that he is alert, slightly flattened and partially back indicates he feels anxious, perked up and pointing forward means curious or excited (or ready to start a predatory chase), straight up might display a degree of dominance, ears flattened and laid back against head usually indicate fear
o   Eyes – narrowed eyes indicate aggression and challenging behavior, slightly narrowed eyes couple with partially back ears indicate anxiety, wide open and staring coupled with dominant posture and ears straight to convey his dominance, eyes narrowed with lots of white showing indicates fear or submissive, wide open sparkly ready for game or fun, wide open intently focused on something – part of predatory behavior
o   Mouth – lips drawn back to expose teeth coupled with snarling indicates aggression, closed or slightly open indicates alertness of dominance depending on his posture, slightly open mouth makes him look as though he is grinning can actually indicate anxiety, open mouth coupled with panting can indicate excitement and curiosity, mouth open to expose teeth with drawn back lips indicate fear, relaxed mouth slightly open is normally a friendly and relaxed gesture, slightly open mouth with bared teeth indicates that dog ins on guard, open mouth coupled with excited panting can indicate playfulness and eagerness
Myth #3 – The “Dog Whisperer” methods are superior because it’s the most gentle and human.  Wrong!  His methods include quite a bit, but the different methods and techniques are not the most “gentle.”
Myth #4 – A dog that chews things is either terribly bored or simply trying to be vindictive – Wrong!  Dogs naturally chew when they are alone – it is just what they do.  Chewing helps to maintain healthy teeth and gums and achieves for the dog good jaw strength.  Puppies chew to teeth and it’s only a problem if the chewing is destructive to objects.  They need to be taught constructive chewing.  To prevent, we need to dog proof our homes such as moveable things can be sprayed with scents they don’t like (bitter apple).  If we find them chewing on the wrong thing, teach them to “drop it” or “leave it” as you are taking the object from their mouth.  Redirect – actively teach them while you are with them by trading an inappropriate chew object with an appropriate one, especially one good for their teeth and gums such as dental chew ropes and active toys like the “Kong Balls” which can be stuffed with food like peanut butter.  Lastly, give the dog praise for chewing on good objects.  One last thing is to take your dog for a long walk, but don’t “chew him out!”
Myth #5 – A crate is basically a dog cage that is like a prison for our dogs.  Wrong!  Confinement is different from dogs than humans.  In the crate the dog realizes he doesn’t have to do anything like protecting and alerting, or keeping us company.  Because he doesn’t have to make decisions he is hugely relieved.  Crates are nice safe areas for rest or peace and quiet.  They should be comfortable with soft bedding and toys.  If you need to keep your dog or puppy out of mischief, you can crate him for short periods of time, or when you go out.
There are at least five reasons to bond with your dog.  Building a strong relationship with pets is good for pet owners improving physical and mental health and keeping waist lines slim.  Focus on your pet with love and attention and indulge them with playtime and exercise to create a strong, healthy relationship.  A relationship with a dog will take focus, but will relieve emotional or physical stress as the bond is formed.
o   First – Improve emotional and psychological state of being, build coping mechanisms, and stop from feeling lonely by receiving a non-judgmental relationship.
o   Second – Dogs are good for physical health as is the health of your family members.  The relationship lowers heart disease, lowers doctor services, and reduces risk of asthma and allergies, and assists in making friends and improving relationships.
o   Third – Lose weight and improve moods.
o   Fourth – By having a well behaved dog your stress will be reduced.  If they have a strong connection to you, they will crave your attention which makes training easier and less stressful.
o   Fifth – Touching a dog will reduce human stress levels and can even lower cholesterol.  It releases “feel good” hormones including serotonin along with reducing the stress hormone – cortisol, which in addition regulates appetite and cravings for carbohydrates
Remember that affection is helpful to bonding, but it needs to be given at the right time.  Giving attention always reinforces the behavior directly before it, so share affection after a dog has exercised and eaten, and worked through discipline issues such as changing an unwanted behavior into a behavior you asked for, or he responded to a rule or command, or he entered a calm-submissive state.  Dogs WILL improve the quality of our lives, and if a dog were to talk to you he would say, “Affection and food are good, but what we like most is adventure.  Let’s get moving!”
That is it of our summary of Al Parr’s book.  It was a very easy book to read and there are other corresponding books to this one.  He seems to “stay very true” to Cesar Millan’s training methods and philosophies.  As to our own reading experience, we seem to be picking books right now that help us learn the right and wrong ways to handle our human/dog relationship with Dakota.  We’re hoping he is pre-reading too!  *Giggle* I know, I know … animals aren’t people!  I am looking for human checks and balances with Katherine to see if she validates our interpretations of dog training.  We want to know what really works and why.  I like that Cesar’s work gives a complete, but easy to understand dog psychology.  I have a BA in Psychology and have been interested in it for a very long time.  We are especially looking forward to looking into our dog’s eyes.  They say through the eyes we see the soul.  Good Dakota!  Good Dog!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Is as Happy Does!

Friday, May 09, 2014 @ 10:55 am

Good morning … we are just stretching out our fingers here.  We’ve been working on being more conscious of our time and we’ve reinstated doing the household routines again.  I’ve got a few things left for this morning and it’s almost 11 am, but still considering that “Pretty” good just not great yet.  It took me until about 9:30 am to start … We’re still looking for a 7-8 am start, but not feeling the love there yet.  *sigh*.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve been sharing our blog space lately with entries double posted not only in OUR blog, but as well posted at Katherine’s blog for her Animal Psychology Center (APC).  Not all our posts will go to APC, but the one’s concerning our adventure with the new dog will be there.  We’ve got three posts there already.  Maybe we’ll do another early next week if not some time on Sunday.  We’ll see.

We might talk more about these posts later as a summary, but not quite yet.  We’re just sitting down and getting used to the keyboard again.  I know - I know … I am ALWAYS on the keyboard?  Well … it IS different doing a blog entry versus messing around with whatever and what not.  Who knows, right?

We have been working this week since we posted the last dog blog entry on maintaining the routine we have had in the mind map.  This is a bit of a challenge, but it looks good.  So far we have showered, dressed, made bed, taken medicine, picked up surfaces, done dishes, and checked dirty clothes.  I still have the litter box, garbage and steaming for the morning chores, and then for the afternoon, we have FLOOR CHORES!  Ok, that exclamation mark might have been a little sarcastic.  BOOO-BOOO…

Afternoon is really about maintaining mood set from the morning PLUS the addition of floors, but I have to tell you I am grateful now of the nice breeze coming in from the front.  WooHOO!  It should make things better.  I think I’m going in the order of sitting room, kitchen, living room, sunroom and then bedroom.  I also have to add on guest bath … that be the good Gramma thing.  The think about this all is that I SHOULD also be cleaning the kitchen floor meaning using the Shark to wash and shine the floor.  I’ve always got this vision of Austin in his socks sliding across it … he does this thing where he is like riding a wave.  *Giggle* I don’t want him to get stuck!  That be a BAD Gramma thing J

I wish I could think of something particularly interesting for him this weekend, but I haven’t been able to figure it out.  We’re going to have to wait til late before he comes over because Rich has a birthday party with his 50+ year buddies.  Fortunately, it starts at 3 pm, so will end earlier and he’ll stop by on the way and pick-up Austin around 7-7:30 pm tonight.  I don’t worry about Rich drinking … he ALWAYS has diet cokes.

Most the time we’re with Austin there is not a real lot of outside things happening and most the time and attention goes to talking or being on the computer.  We did cheat a little and get a Kentucky Fried Chicken lunch out for tomorrow, but I don’t know where I could take him that would be fun for him and something within my ability range.  I’m not sure if he’s riding his bike anymore, but I think it’s probably not going to happen.  Last time it was a no go.  Maybe if we could … mean the weather is fine … we could just sit out for a while on the front patio WITH our computers THAT might almost count as an outing.  Just guessing neither he NOR I really get outside too much.  I think it’s going to be raining now until Tuesday, but over the weekend the temps are 75 – 77 degrees.  Monday is a little warmer, nice on Tues. and FREEZING on Wed at 59 degrees BLAH!

Just that when it’s raining it isn’t always raining and the patio stays relatively dry.  The second alternative would be to spend some computer time in the sunroom.  Pretty much both Austin and I don’t sit down without some kind of computer.  My chrome book bit the dust this week, and when Austin finds out he’ll say, “Naturally, it was a crummy computer!”  I do know THAT much about Austin!  He was right of course last time he told me, but now I’m just making his case … BOOO…  So over the last couple of days we’ve really been leaning on either our phone OR Rich’s Kindle.  I know not the same thing, but in a pinch it will work, and FORTUNATELY I still have the old standby STANDUP computer – WITH/Two screens.  Yup-yup the screens seem more of the computer than anything, then keyboard, then mouse, and then I like NEVER think of the CPU unless we have to plus something in with the USB.  Ok, yes we’re into obsessive detail already.  Maybe I better go do the next task, BRB.

AHA!  More crossed off the list.  We at lunch, made tea for Rich, opened a few more windows, and then we did the kitty litter and garbage.  Since it is twenty minutes to noon, we decided to move steaming clothes over to the afternoon tasks so I could see them all together.  I know, I know … is she loony?  Most likely … votes in I just don’t choose to look!  Good-good - just added wet dusting living room.  It takes the worst beating because of the field across the street AND the fact we like to leave our front door open.  No harm.

I think the stuff we got done SOOOO far has been our EASY cleaning.  What are we going to do next … the hard stuff?  Have to choose between vacuuming or steaming.  Probably going with the vacuuming because there is so much of that to do … and our back hasn’t been pushed too hard yet this morning.  Ok, done thought.

The weather today is a REALLY nice 66 degrees.  I’m not sure if it’s going to rain or not, but apparently Don didn’t think it was wet enough with this morning’s rain to miss the grass cutting.  He told Rich yesterday he’d do it today … it will be interesting to see how soggy grass cuts.  Hmm maybe Rich should have spelled that out a little better.  We ran into Don on the way out to dinner last night.  I’d seen him take his walk and Rich needed to talk about the lawn.  But, we always get in some good conversation otherwise.  I didn’t realize it – must have been gone or buried the day it happened, but Don said it was about 1 ½ months ago that the new mobile home got inserted in the park.  Rich had thought something was moved in and it was easy to guess the old looking trailer without the skirt was the new one.  WOW!  My powers of observation are pretty cool, hmm?  Don said that the new neighbors somehow got the place for $1000 and they told someone they were going to have it fixed up in three months, but he said maybe inside, but there’s no show of improvement on the outside.  Shoot, sure do wish I’d seen them moving in an entire trailer!  It’s single-wide, but still cool to move houses!

I know something that happened too last night.  After we got home from the restaurant, I actually did a TINY amount of gardening.  All I did was pull of the dying daffodils, but I felt pretty proud of myself … it’s something that Joe would have done.  He’s the neighbor to the North where Don is the neighbor to the south.  I KNOW I’ve said that before so sorry for repeating … just doing my “job” Hehehe.  Hmm, did a couple numbers too … just now … don’t know what it has to do with daffodils, but I just checked my site hits for this blog and the other … That is what the (55,274/11,912) is all about at the end of the blog.  It seems over the last 20 days, we’ve gotten about 100 hits a day to this blog, and about 20 hits to the NEWS blog.  Wow!  Wouldn’t that be something if we managed to get all that part of our life together too?

I know that we’ve been really heavy on getting Dakota lately, but there’s so much else we used to do as well.  I don’t think it was a LONG time of doing it, but several starts/stops.  I don’t know if we’ll ever get better than that especially with the Multiplicity, but I like the idea of getting back to routines and having things accomplished that I can feel proud of.  Yup-yup … even emptying the kitty litter is something I can appreciate being done.  Now I know what was being said through the dog blog entry yesterday … We’d noted through Katherine and Cesar Millan – that our dog had to do work.  Part of his thing is to walk several times a day, and part of it, is to learn things to make him a good service dog, and the other part is just well really play not work.  I sure hope he and I are going to be good partners.  I will be his People!

Ok, back … noon!  We just finished the sitting room, little hall, and spot-cleaned the guest room and sewing room – NOT TOO much there, but at least we’re happy.  I moved the cord so we could get to the dining area, computer area, and kitchen.  We figured THEN we’ll do the sunroom, THEN the living room, and THEN the bedroom, and THEN we’ll get out the Shark and THEN wash the floor, and then WAX the floor … SO how many ups is that?  Hmm, 7 MORE up AND we still have to do the steaming.  So we’ll take that to be EIGHT ups.  That’s an idea.  We could just spend as a goal the next 4 hours then on doing this.  That would mean we’d start each task on the half hour.  That would be a good deal.  Plenty of time to rest AND since Austin isn’t being picked-up until 7 pm, then we’re ALL good … we can have a leisure dinner AND do some reading.  That’s what’s on the table today.  We also should get in the sewing stuff, but hoping Rich will help with that maybe by Sunday.  Good deal.  Should be almost LEISURELY cleaning then PLUS we are then giving ourselves permission to write.  NOOOOO didn’t say we had anything to write about, just that we can make it last that long Hehehe.

Did I tell you when we did the garbage we took out the storm window in the transom over the door to the breezeway?  Who woulda known?  Rich pointed out that we HAD transom’s on both real doors going into the sunroom and he did his best to explain cross breezes.  Basically if we leave the breezeway door open, and windows open on the West side (including the 2nd breezeway door), AND we leave open the slider from the sunroom to the dining area AND open the kitchen window, AND we leave on the fan in-between that window and the front door … well WALLAH!  NICE BREEZE!  Yes, we’re still having air checked this next week, but today is really pleasant.  Think yesterday was in the 80’s not so pleasant, but today!?? It is a Good day to vacuum. Hehehe  Oh about the breezeway … it’s a really terrible looking thing like a white dragon, but it has FOUR doors facing one of each direction west, south, north and east Cool-cool.

OMG who’s being the silly one?  But wouldn’t it be cool to paint it looking like a submarine – with doors and portholes?  It has nothing but wall, ceiling, crummy floor, 4 doors and 2 windows.  Make a really-really NICE submarine!  It’s just a tube room now.

Hmm, Missy just scooted by … she’s not liking the vacuum schedule.  We still have ten minutes.  What’s NEXT to talk about? We might have to consider some of the stuff that’s been happening over the last three weeks.  Think that’s how long since the last regular blog entry.  Last time seems to be April 19th, and at that it had been after a LONG hiatus of not writing.  Now it seems one of the most important things we do again.  We also noticed in scrolling we’ve only made 11 entries since the beginning of the year … that’s like averaging about twice a month.  Not such a good statistic - in 2013, we blogged an average of twice weekly.  Ok, you know the whittle storm that happens in our head … no matter how much we write, we never seem to figure it all out … sometimes though, there is an illusion of having figured something out at least temporarily.  Just something that’s going to keep happening right?

The last time we wrote, we talked about Chief dying, being around the family, going out sewing with the girls – AHA that’s new, we just went out with the girls again!  We’ll write about that in a few.  We had done Easter, Rich’s surgery was over, I’d done a bang-up job on finishing COMPLETELY the scrap quilt, we started thinking about outside stuff like getting done with the roof – hmm, update there too.  Not sure what’s happening in Dr. Marvin’s direction – though he’s been pretty close to us with the things happening with Dakota.  Hey, did you even know that’s OUR dog’s NAME?!!!  Yup-yup, something Katherine helped me put in place.  YAY!!!  Hmm, Rich is definitely in gear again – he’s also FISHING!  This week he DID do work, but he went fishing with Bob TWICE!  Will go again on Saturday, then he played cards on Wednesday and going to a birthday party tonight.  He’s really feeling MUCH better getting around though is not 100% yet.  You also knew last time about him getting a new contract and how much that has helped.  Not too much happening with the piano playing because we’re not practicing enough … OK MARK THAT DOWN on the calendar TODAY! 

I think that’s mostly what got talked about OTHER than about our dog J  AND, if you’ve read down – you’d find three articles updating you there.  Hmm, Missy went up to the kitchen table – nothing on it.  Why is she up there?  Is she appreciating the cross breeze too?  OHHHH I see, somebody was going to vacuum so we put her toy mouse on the chair.  Hope it doesn’t get sucked up in the vacuum because she hid it under the table again Grrr … Cats what can you do?!

Hmm, a little late on that round … did the desk/dining area and half way around the kitchen, plus we did the laundry room.  Maybe we can use the wand next to do the area under the other side of the cabinets, then go around and get the spaces in the living room UNDER the bar stools.  Then maybe add the decorative carpet after doing the bedroom.  Yup or something like that … did we just bump the sunroom?  WHY is this soooo difficult for us – not only physically, but mentally?  We just have the hardest time getting a scope on it.  Ok, nothing new here folks, move along…

I’m thinking 5 ½ out of 9 rooms done.  We get to count Rich’s room because nothing ever happens there … status quo … windows and doors always shut. 

ARGH those two times were too close together, but we have now 25 minutes to rest YAY!!!!  We did as planned and finished the kitchen and bar stool area.  I think somewhere today I swept up Missy’s mouse REALLY by accident and there seems to be a pen in there too.  Maybe Rich can do something with it, but at least it’s still picking up.  Getting there … we put away the new tea stuff and got some more ice water.  It’s one of THOSE kinds of days.  We checked out FB and the email too.  My sister amongst 9 others was by our page this morning AND we saw that Joe had spent the day in some of his kindergarten students’ classrooms.  Pretty sure he was just being Ninja Joe.  He really is good with that sort of stuff.  I’m so happy his spirit has opportunities to rise to the occasion.  I’ve got some REALLY good kids!

So, 6 out of the 9 rooms done!  We’re really moving along here!  If it weren’t for our back, I’d really like chasing dust balls around my furniture legs.  But, WOW!  What happened to that kitchen floor … it has some disgusting stuff on it.  Better fill up an ENTIRE bottle of cleaner … we’re going to need it!

Oh man it is almost time to do another room!  Time is going VERY quickly.  We have to remember we’re late on taking medicine this time.  BUT, we skimmed through this note and took a few more notes on stuff we should mention just in clearing topics.  This is our list so far of what’s going to come up next, but not in any particular order.

Sewing Weekend
Outside Garden stuff
Dr. Marvin
Summary of Dakota
Number of Days Rich is fishing
And, is it too early to discuss July birthday?

That should be a good start.  But, it’s time … we have to make the big decision … I think we’re going with the bedroom because the vacuum is closer to that direction.  Ok girls – go!

Really good … we got the master bed/bath done AND we finished the living room …  the desk part of the living room goes with the dining room, and the bar stool area goes with the 2nd half of kitchen, so then the area carpet part goes with the bedroom.  Since it’s the biggest room in the house it really makes sense to do it that way, but I hadn’t even thought of what was happening.  HEY … I’m getting pretty damn good at this!  We got the library area in back of the desk area done too.  Lots a good Ann’s!  The library area had the BIGGEST dust bunnies!

One last room to vacuum – the sunroom, and then we’re ALL GOOD!  Happy-happy!  If you’re keeping up with it it’s 1:40 PM now AND we got in our medicine.  Doing GREAT!  Think we’ll need to use the extra vacuum time we just earned in the washing/buffing of the kitchen.  It’s ok.  We have 3-4 hours extra where we can just walk around in our nice clean house YAY.  HEY … did you know that we were cleaning yesterday too?  That time was just picking up the normal stuff that gathers and we did a few extra things like going through paperwork and doing 3 loads of laundry.  There was a BIG mess in the kitchen to clean up … Boy had to roll up the sleeves there.  Usually what happens is that someone gets LAZY and doesn’t empty the dishwasher and then there you go … dishes AND pots and pans start growing on the counter and sink.  It’s nice to get past THAT problem!

Hmm, wonder if I should take a little break … Maybe after the carpets are done.  It just feels like the air is so exciting.  I can hear the little blind knobs being pushed against the wall by the wind, it rustling through our front door and the sun seems to be out again.  I can’t spend ALL this day inside – that would be like withering away.  What would it take to get us out that door?  Hmm – it just sounds so pleasant.  We haven’t had any music or TV on for a while now - maybe weeks?  Think about it … what kind of excuse would we need to get all of us into one body and out the door?  Probably need to sit, so we’d go to the covered patio, and then?  Stands to reason we’d bring the kindle, but really don’t feel like reading now.  Could we at least make it LOOK like we’re reading so we could go outside?  What else do people do there? 

YARD WORK!  BLAH!  That be TOO much!  HEY I know what we might be able to do with Austin!  Maybe we could try a little cooking!  Just thinking of that Rhubarb … shoot can’t do that … Rich reminded us that he wants strawberry rhubarb pie.  Hmm, that means going to my mother for the direction maybe from my Grandmother’s recipes.  It was the very best!  It had nice custard to it.  Don’t really want to set off my mother, but need the recipe.  HEY – we don’t even know if the rhubarb is BIG enough yet!  Suppose we could look?  Maybe we could look in another 5 minutes when we go out that way to vacuum?  Yeah, ok, that sounds like a plan.  You know what else would be nice?  If we could just plant ONE thing, that would be Austin’s?  I love that place we went with Rich … I think it’s called Red Bud AHA!  It’s called Redbud Creek Farm.  Hmm just thinking over our space?  I liked the flowers that Rich got us last year for the half barrel thing on the outside of our garage.  Maybe we could get something for that?

I’m thinking it would take both Austin and us outside our comfort zone.  But, it is a nice REGULAR place to visit with him when he’s here.  It’s really just 2-3 miles down the road.  Interesting … we still need to get money and permission form Rich, but we could then BRIBE Austin Hehehe Gramma’s are like that too!  But if we took him to KFC, then he’d have to go to the flower center with ME!  We could just a have a couple of plans on what to do there and see what would work.  I would have to get the sewing machine out of the car and we WOULD have to use the walker.  I don’t think their paths are very straight, but we’d manage.  Hmm, don’t we have another huge half barrel like thing in the back-back yard?  I’m thinking something was higher, but it just had weeds last year.  THAT be a nice AUSTIN adventure.  ONE plant can’t be too bad, right?

Back!  Shoot!  That was a hard one.  Usually the sunroom carpet has the most obvious things that have to be vacuumed.  Lots of stuff brought in from the outside goes there – like grass and dirt.  We got it PRETTY good.  It’s not perfect though because I didn’t take the nozzle and edge it.  I’ll have to think if I still want to do that before we put away the vacuum.  I’m thinking not because we still have a floor to mop AND we’ve got clothes to steam AND we’re going to need to continue working over the next 2 ½ hours until 5 pm.  Just I was unrealistic how far we could go.  Both mopping and waxing are going to take two times up EACH, then maybe two sessions with the steamer … that put us like 5:30 PM.  We’d still be doing great as to planning our time and it take us right up to dinner, but for sure we’re not going to be able to take a break in-between times and unloading the car would be TOO hard!  3-4 hours of vacuuming really does number on us … even though in REAL terms it’s just not THAT much vacuuming.  I really hate our back sometimes. 

WHAT-WHAT!??  Is there dissention in the ranks?  What’s happening here?  I know it just seems like a lot of work.  But, you know the reward!??  Austin will feel more comfortable in a NICE place rather than a mess.  OH and don’t forget to wet wash furniture in the LR.  And, you want to hear something else?  The rhubarb is HUGE!!!!

WooHOO!!!  Now it is much later.  It’s about 7 PM - better take my medicine.  Done!

OMG – Getting a little excited.  Rich called about 15 minutes ago and said he was five minutes from picking up Austin.  SOOO, we’re thinking by now he’s got Austin and he said it would about an hour and he’d be home.  I don’t know how to calm down.  I have to retrace a few things as to what we were doing … I remember eating a grapefruit, and then we took a nap from about 5:30 – 6:30 PM, and we caught up on our e-stuff and I’m not sure what else.  OHHH somewhere in there we talked to Linda for a while.  We ALSO got done with the kitchen floor.  We were right it took two turns for each task, BUT we didn’t get to steaming clothes.  Somewhere in there I think we figured we better get in a nap because Austin will probably be up late.  We do aim to accommodate Hehehe.

Hmm, that was another break … we stopped to watch Toddler VS Toddler Videos from Drew and Jonathon the Property Brothers.  Have to admit it’s good video!  YAY!!!  You can find it here!

There are six 3-4 minute episodes and I LOVED it!  Of course we’re going through a little something something about Drew and Jonathan.  LOVE THOSE GUYS!

I think there is not too much to be saying.  We’re having a hard time concentrating because we’re so excited.  I think we’re then going to post now and then chill off in the sunroom.  Yup yup … happy is as happy does!


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Patience Grasshopper Ann!

Patience Grasshopper Ann!

Hi hi … it’s still morning and we have time to write – SCORE!!!  Biggest news of the day is that we got a chance to talk to Katherine this morning.  YAY!!!  We might get to talk to her again tomorrow while we work together on her web site.  She is wonderfully accepting of our assistance as we seem to be helping one another.  It’s a GREAT relationship!
As to new news with Dakota, the dog we are going to receive from Katherine … he has gone through its vet experience and they are waiting for the well-health certificate.  Unfortunately, where he is at they are going through kennel cough.  I think they’ve separated him from the dogs that have it, but Katherine explained to me that it is like a cold and even if he does get it – it’s not all bad because it might help the dog build a resistance.  I guess after the dog gets it … it takes about a week to wear itself through.  The most important thing to me seems to be preventing Katherine’s dogs from getting it unnecessarily by bringing Dakota in before he is clear of it.  So we’ve taken off our invisible “due to arrive at Katherine’s date stamp,” so we can be more flexible as to waiting for the right time.  This is really MY problem not that of the others.  I seem to have patience issues.  Good time to practice.  I’m thoroughly at ease with the care he’s getting in the meantime.  They seem (Marie and her husband Dave) to be very good people.
In other news, WHILE waiting we finished one of Cesar Millan’s books, “Cesar Millan’s Short Guide to a Happy Dog: 98 Essential Tips and Techniques” (2013).  We read it over a couple days and feel really much better about his program … we didn’t feel bad, but we were missing holes by just watching his videos.  We talked to Katherine for a while about their similar methods.  Katherine was already practicing pack leadership before Cesar had started his show so it was a “GOOD find” for her too.  I in no way believe that reading or watching Cesar could benefit more than having Katherine’s hands-on training with our dog, but we figure that we need to educate ourselves while our dog is getting HIS primary education.  We want to make sure we can present to Dakota as a “well-balanced Ann.”  Besides, we can’t leave ALL the work on Katherine – she’d never get through her busy schedule!
Next, we would like to mention a few key elements in Cesar’s book.  One of the first things he seems to have said was that a dog’s brain was much different than a human brain – and as Katherine says it’s all about communicating to the dog on its level.  With this understanding everyone knows its roles and responsibilities.  Millan talks about then understanding a dog’s natural energy and instincts so that it can be re-channeled into behavior that satisfies him AND its person – for example, Dakota being part Golden Retriever might need specific work on retrieving which would sooth both his energy and instincts.  It seems easy enough to come up with 100’s of things he can retrieve.  As to his Collie portion – not so sure of where we are going to find things to herd OTHER than our cat Missy!  BUT, something will be thought of.  In almost everything that Katherine and Cesar empathize their largest priorities of training seem to be giving their dogs “Exercise, Discipline, and then Affection.”  In actuality, it seems that most of the behaviors that Cesar wrote about in this book are about walking the dog – always going back to exercise.  It is like an ancient past behavior of going through the woods full forward within a wolf pack.  It seems to re-balance their energy.  Both Katherine and Cesar state you have to be very good at draining some of the dog's energy, and then, we will need to give the dog something that will interest or challenge him.  It’s important to the dog that he has a job – which will be some of the things he learns in being a good service dog for me. I would think this could also be considered Dakota AND us being content at the end of the day.

As a Multiple we know we need another internal conversation about this ... Ok, we've been over this before. We know we should be walking our dog a couple of times a day.  We told Katherine during the first call that we couldn’t walk more than five minutes (That's an OVER-stated given!); she told us that we should bring our chair when we came to bond with the dog.  We hadn’t had one recently!  We just stay in.  It hadn’t really occurred to us until then that the dog was going to require we re-learn to move – in our case with an electronic wheel chair or motorized scooter – MORE than five minutes at a time.  This is a major life change - or shift.  Which strangely enough is one of the things we WANTED the dog to do is to get us outside our home more frequently. This is going to have to be a "SYSTEM" Change! We still have to work on the part of exercising us as well as exercising the dog which isn’t really happening when we’re sitting in a chair.  But just to get out and be “around.” How wonderful that will be!  I see your point and that will be our real motivation.  BUT, Hopefully, we’ll get the literal exercise part too by using the walker for longer and longer trips and in playing during Dakota’s free time.  Right?  Ok, not meaning to scare anybody ...
Excuse us ... re-balancing.  Ready?

Ok, next ... Cesar has nine principles he follows which include energy and being present and honest.  He also talks about seeing the world from the viewpoint of the dog which means how he “senses” his environment.  Humans don’t do it in this order but the first sense a dog uses is nose, followed by eyes, and then ears.  Other things Cesar talks about with his core principles are pack position and being/creating the “calm, submissive state.”
I guess my summary of all this part of his book would be that for one we’re going to have to do a better job of staying in the present.  We had hoped that was one of the skills that Dakota could help us with … like at XX time each day, could he break us from whatever we may have obsessed in, and for example, we could go throw balls for him?  He’s like right here, right now – we tend to forget ourselves in the moment. As to sensing his environment – it’s taken a stretch of our imagination.  I know that when Rich is cooking something very good like an apple pie, then that’s where our attention is.  A dog seems to find that kind of enjoyment through his nose wherever he goes – whatever he smells.  It’s really an interesting concept!

Cesar would say his priorities as a pack member are around finding shelter, food and procreating.  What must that be like every day you leave the house?  It explains better why Katherine says we need to walk and WORK the dog before he’s given his breakfast.  That’s part of his instinctual process – to do what it takes to get to the food.  We had already been learning about most the dogs being submissive in the pack and that we were supposed to be the pack leader, but the one thing it seemed that was important to each side of the coin was that both sides learned the calm and submissive behavior and projecting calm, assertive energy.  To me … now … it seems like being in a Zen contemplative position where you are placing yourself and pack in the best position to be relaxed and totally tuned into the environment – free of emotions and distress, and even free of thoughts.  I remember in psychology learning about “I am.”  I think that’s what Cesar is talking about.  Back in “our day” we used to call it “hugging trees!”  If I am open, then we are receptive to learning and experiencing whatever life gives us next - in REAL TIME!
It also excited me that parts of Cesar’s concepts were about rules, boundaries and limitations.  This seems to be something that is also of natural interest to us.  As an incest survivor, natural rules were broken, boundaries exceeded and expectations drawn way out of proportion.  So a great part of the work we do with Dr. Marvin is to put all those “lines” safely back into our environment.  He isn’t the enforcer of our boundaries though.  That is our job. And, as a leader of OUR pack it will be in part up to us to help our dog define his space.  Like one of the things we have to do is teach Dakota that he comes in after me – so he is coming into OUR house not the other way around.  I think in the end, it goes along with goals and self-determination of doing the things that you intend to do, or of what is a natural order.  That’s really hard for us as a Multiple because we have different parts with different interests and goals.  Ok, what this means is … I should probably go start the washing machine before I continue; some of us are being complainy.  Hold on.
There … done!  Took until 11 am to start today … shoot!  A better start would have been about 8 am.  Being in the present means that things we intend to do during the day like being a Domestic Goddess has an underlying priority for us … I think too that’s about how Cesar uses the term discipline.  AHA I found an important spot in the book, Cesar says, “A Zen psychologist recently noted that the definition of discipline is “remembering exactly what you want.”  I would take that back to another level we’d been learning about before through other work in being in the present and being able to set up activities to meet responsibilities, goals and objectives.  Do you remember the work we’d been doing when we were working with our mind maps?  Do you remember David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done?”  It is like being able to see the forest through the trees.  He described his outline for lining life aerodynamically by imagining there was a runway (current actions), 10,000 feet altitude (current projects), 20,000 feet altitude (areas of responsibility), 30,000 feet altitude (1-2 Year Goals), 40,000 feet altitude (3-5 year Goals), and then 50,000 feet altitude (Life – like what is the purpose of our life).  At each of these levels we’d previously written out what we wanted, but the Zen part was remembering what we want while all the other life stuff is happening.  That part has been in the background for a while.  I haven’t even finished Paul Dell’s book on Dissociation!
What a tremendous rush of insight.  Is this the key to getting back into a space where we had been doing much better.  I don’t know where we sidetracked over last several months, but maybe already Dakota is helping us focus!  Thank you Katherine for your call today and in keeping the dream alive – AND thank you Cesar Millan.  We figure there is a grand truth out there … and when all the pieces start connecting – that is when you know that you are on the right path and that it is all in order.  How exciting everything is!  Katherine said this morning, “so patience my dear!  We’re thinking ok … but, it might be one blog post at a time!  AND, how does this relate to not practicing the piano this week?  3 pm lesson?!?

Hey because we are a Multiple, does it mean our pack is about twenty deep?  Cesar Millan says every person in the household is a pack leader!  AND, could someone remember to ask Dr. Marvin, how are we ever to get out of pjs to walk the dog first thing in the morning ... 3 pm?  REALITY ALARM
*But, otherwise giggling to beat the band*
Happy Happy!
Posted in By AnnTrainingWorking with Katherine at the Animal Psychology Center