Monday, January 30, 2012

More about Gozer

Our sweet little Gozer girl is definitely more comfortable in our house. She's started to play in the backyard- and she's definitely trying to communicate things to us.

Over the last few weeks she's spent a lot of time looking out the patio doors. Now she actually wants to go into the backyard to play and she's been spending some time there on her own (under our supervision). She loves to chase the birds out of the trees and then run circles around the lawn. When she's allowed to go up to the garden patch, she especially loves to go and sniff at the dead cabbage plants. One time I thought she was going to roll around in one of them! Last night when I took her out for her pre-bedtime pee she waded her way through four inches of snow (sans booties) to pee right in front of the gate. All the dogs now know that the backyard belongs to her.
She's also been telling us, in her own subtle way, that she doesn't like her booties. Over the last few days she'd been walking backwards after her booties were put on her feet but of course we kept putting them on her. This evening as soon as I tried to put one bootie on, she laid down and went limp. Do you know how difficult it is to put a sock-style booties on a completely limp foot? I got them on but one came off during the walk.

We clearly aren't getting the message from her that she doesn't like the booties, so I wonder what Gozer will do to communicate this message? I know that the booties hurt her dew claws - and it doesn't help that her claws need trimming - but when there's four inches of uncleared snow out there she has to wear them. She is getting her claws trimmed, along with some of her fur, at her first grooming appointment on Wednesday so hopefully the booties will be more comfortable after that.

I'm still on the lookout for other booties for her that are easier to put on and that don't hurt her dew claws. There are some available on the interwebs but I want to check out a couple of stores in town here before I order something. I'd rather see them in-person so that I can examine them to see how they look and feel and to check their construction. Dog booties are expensive and I don't want to spend a lot more money on booties that don't work or are uncomfortable on her feet.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

SAG Awards show

I watched part of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards tonight. I couldn't see part of the second hour because we were recording two things and I had to take the dog out for her walk but I enjoyed the rest of the show, mostly.

This is one of those award shows that has no host or emcee for the viewers although I think there was an announcer for the audience. I find that I miss someone telling jokes and keeping everything together; without that person, the award show devolves into an unrelenting speech after award after speech after award after speech after award pattern with only commercials to break things up.

It also seems that there isn't much in the way of rehearsals for the main event because many of the people were wooden in the way they read the teleprompter. You wouldn't have known that acting paid their bills for them. Balancing this out was that there were no limits on the length of the acceptance speeches. I especially loved the skit that the cast of Modern Family did during their acceptance speech :)

I wonder if winning a SAG award is somewhat more meaningful than winning some other awards because the winners are chosen solely by their peers who (for the most part) really understand what it is they. In my head I figure that the public is more swayed by who wins an Academy Award or an Emmy - and winning one of those awards is obviously a big deal - but I wonder if the actors themselves are more honoured by the recognition from other actors via the SAG award. They might think that the awards is lame, for all I know.

There was no red carpet coverage so I didn't see many dresses but I was impressed with the ones that I saw on-stage. I'll have a red carpet post up in the next few days; hopefully it won't take as long to finish the post as it did the last one!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sore back

The weather has been crazy here: yesterday we got four to six inches of snow yesterday morning and all of it melted by yesterday evening. Then the temperature dropped overnight, freezing up the melted snow, and it snowed again - that heavy, wet, slushy snow - on top of the ice. The walking is treacherous out there so we didn't take Gozer on an afternoon walk.

While yesterday was kind of extreme, weather-wise, we've had other days where the temperature has risen and dropped and there's been ice everywhere. Walking has definitely been tricky and I think I managed to do something to my back. I don't know exactly what's wrong but I think it's muscle-related because a hot bath makes it feel better. It's on the "mostly good" side of my back and it's very painful so I'm walking with my cane - even in the house!

I hope that whatever is causing my back to hurt heals itself soon because being in pain isn't so much fun. It's also hard to feel positive when I'm in pain so I'm a little cranky and a little more depressed than usual. Knowing that I react this way, I'm trying to rest and do things that make me happy. So I've been thinking about little boxes and jewelry and I've been looking at pretty stones on the interwebs and thinking about what I could do with them.

I'll be taking my cane with me to tomorrow's dog training class. Gozer isn't bothered by the cane at all but we have no idea how the other dogs will react to the cane. It'll be an interesting class :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Denosumab and metalsmithing

Here I thought that metalsmithing started today but it actually started last week. I don't know how I got that wrong because I thought I put the start date in the calendar right after I decided to take the class. I must have got confused. Of course it turned out ok. I was able to pick up last week's and this week's the projects fairly easily and I've started working on something new.

It turns out that we'll be learning a new stone setting technique. It isn't the one I was interested in learning but I like it anyways and can see how it could be used. This session we're also going to be doing a lot with casting which is something new for me. We're going to start with doing some lost-wax casting of natural objects like flowers, seeds, and leaves. I have to find one and then figure out what to do with it - it's no good just making the mold and using up the silver to cast them. Silver isn't free so I don't want to waste it.

I asked my instructor about synclastic and anticlastic raising and making spiculums and she said, "those techniques require a lot of hammering." There are ten or so students in the class and if everyone were hammering metal the noise would be unbearable. Some people are good at hammering and others are very, very, very loud normally - imagine if they had to hammer this much! While I'd love to learn these techniques, that studio isn't soundproofed enough to make learning them pleasurable so I'll explore them on my own.

I also spoke to my instructor about my compulsion to make little boxes, even though I know very little about how to actually make them. She's fine with me using some of the techniques we're learning to make little boxes, if I want. I ordered a book on how to make boxes today and I'm looking forward to working through it.

In addition to being metalsmithing day, it was also denosumab day. They were running late at the cancer center so I was late to metalsmithing today. My nurse was running a half-hour late and then my bloodwork came back with elevated phosphorus. Fortunately, my calcium levels were normal. The nurse contacted the pharmacist who contacted my oncologist who said that she'd investigate this and to go ahead with the denosumab.

Calcium and phosphorus work together and there could be all kinds of things causing the elevated phosphorus (also known as hyperphosphatemia). My instincts say that it's related to last month's low calcium  levels even though this month's calcium levels were normal. High phosphorus can also be caused by kidney problems, which I don't think I have, or bone mets, which I do have but which are supposed to be stable.

This denosumab was supposed to be my last one at the cancer center and the last bloodwork for the denosumab. However, it would make sense for my oncologist to want me to do the bloodwork again next month and maybe some other tests. For example, if we're concerned about bone met activity then it might be a good idea to see what my tumour markers are doing. There may be other blood tests that she wants to do as well. I spoke with the nurse about this and she was going to contact my oncologist about whether I should come in for more bloodwork next month.

It was definitely a big day. I'm enjoying lazing around and relaxing with Ian and Gozer

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Metalsmithing tomorrow!

Metalsmithing classes start tomorrow! It's been too long since I've been in the studio. I have no idea what we'll be learning this time around although I have some ideas about what I want to see.

I have an urge to make little boxes out of metal but I don't know how to make hinges (even though I think I have a good idea of how it's done) or how to make the lid fit properly on the bottom. I could probably figure it out, I know, but it's easier to be taught how to do things.

I'm also interested in using forging stakes to make synclastic and anticlastic forms and to make things like a spiculum (hollow sinuous curves, or tube-like things that are smaller at one or both ends) as I find the shapes interesting and beautiful. I mean, look at this bracelet:

Spiculum Bracelet by Genevieve Flynn

Gorgeous, yes? Oh, yes. Smaller spiculums (spiculae?) can be used in earrings or as accents. They're amazing when done properly.

There are also some other stone-setting techniques I'd like to learn as well. I can work with what I already know but there are a couple of techniques that I've seen used that I think I could do.

We'll see what we end up doing in class. I've barely even scratched the surface on metalsmithing techniques and I'm sure that there are things that I'd love to learn that I've never heard of and know nothing about.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Walking with my cane

I don't think I've mentioned before that I'm walking with the cane again. When Gozer pulls at the leash I go off balance and that's been putting strain on my back which in turn has been making my hip and leg hurt. Of course even when I'm not walking Gozer I've slipped or skidded on ice and that's put strain on my back, too.

Walking with Gozer and my cane hasn't been as fun as you might think. I prefer to walk with her on my right side but that's where the cane goes so I have to put her on my left. Unfortunately, she has a tendency to drift to the right when she's walking with me. She also likes to go from side to side if she gets half a chance. She's only tripped me once so far... but that was one time too many for my liking.

Yesterday was super-warm and gorgeous and then overnight the temperature dropped, leaving a thin film of ice over much of the sidewalk. Gozer was pulling on the leash a lot which didn't make walking over the ice any easier even though I did have my cane. I sort of felt bad for her because every time I'd slip I'd kind of pull the leash back. Then again, if she'd been walking like a good girl with slack on the leash, the leash pulling back wouldn't have been so bad.

Even when Gozer is walking like a good girl and the sidewalks are clear, walking Gozer with the cane poses other problems. My nose runs a lot when I'm doing any kind of exercise or when I'm cold, you see. Letting my nose run isn't an option and sniffing only works for so long so I end up blowing my nose a lot. When I first got the cane I learned how to blow my nose with one hand so that I could keep walking while blowing my nose. With Gozer's leash being controlled by the non-cane hand, there's no free hand I can use to blow my nose. I have to either stop or drop the leash to blow my nose and both interrupt the flow of the walk.

I am grateful that I can walk Gozer by myself, even if I have to use the cane. Still, I'd love it if I could walk without the cane at all, especially when I'm walking our little furchild.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Training and walking Gozer

There's never a dull day with Gozer around!

At training we're learning how to get our dogs to come to us. Each owner tried out the command individually by showing the dog a treat, walking some distance away, and then saying "Come!" followed by a stream of chatter to keep the dog running towards their voice. We were told that we could say anything except the dog's name and the word "come" in that stream of chatter.

When I did it the first time, I kept in mind that I was supposed to say anything but "Gozer" and "come" and ended up saying "Come Gozer girl Gozer Gozer Gozer come come come come Gozer come!" Yep, I said exactly - and almost only - the words I was specifically told not to say. It was like being told not to think about white elephants and only thinking about them.

We discovered that Gozer responds very well to strong male voices. Every time a male called "come" to his dog, she started forward. it was pretty cute to see :)

We got a bunch of snow over the weekend so Gozer was wearing her booties. While I liked the look of the Muttluks, they really haven't held up well. The serging on the inside is coming off and the toes are wearing out. They're also not waterproof and they take a while to dry out. As well, we've discovered that the velcro that keeps them closed tightens across her front dew claws, making her a little uncomfortable. We need a new solution.

I've looked into the idea of the creams that can be put on the dog's feet to prevent cracking and to create a physical barrier against salt and snow. However, she doesn't seem to have problems with her pads cracking and I don't really see how the cream could prevent snow- or ice-ball formation between her pads. Therefore, I don't see the cream as really being the best option for her and I think we need to find new booties. I'm currently doing research to try and find some that will work better for her.

I never thought that I'd be the kind of furparent who would do research on dog booties for her dog. Clearly, that's who I am. I do it because I want my furbaby to be happy and comfortable and well-trained. If she can look stylish, so much the better.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

2012 Golden Globes red carpet, Part 2

Here are the rest of the red carpet outfits from the 2012 Golden Globes red carpet. It took a lot longer to get through them than I thought it would; I guess I'm out of practice.

Interestingly, there weren't many black dresses at this event. There were more nude colours than black and even more jewel tones than nude colours. I think blue in its many shades were the most popular colour although green and red were well-represented. Even yellow showed up on this red carpet!

While there were a few all-sequin dresses, most dresses had only a small number of sequinned embellishments, if any at all. Lace is still making a showing but there weren't as many lace dresses as I'd expected.

There were a number of rather ugly dresses making an appearance which I don't understand at all. I also don't understand the trend of doing nothing with your hair and leaving it all scraggly. I know that this event is a bit of a fun party but that doesn't mean that you can skip combing your hair before you arrive.

Enough of my comments; let's get to the dresses. Enjoy them after the jump.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Training our dog

I've been very lazy today with respect to the red carpet post. I have been working on it but I haven't done enough to post. So instead I'll write about our sweet little doggie. She's doing so well.

She's loving having her squeaky toys lying around waiting for her to pick them up. She calms down more quickly when she can put a plush toy in her mouth and squeak it than without the toys. She's starting to properly play with her toys, too, batting them around and kind of throwing them up and catching them as though they were alive. Best of all, when we throw the plush ball she goes to get it and then brings it back and drops it in front of us. It's a proper fetch game!

We gave Gozer a bath yesterday and it went much better than it had the last few times. I'd spent the last week or so trying to get her to go into the bathroom where she gets her baths and it's paid off. The first few days I had to lure her into the bathroom by putting treats on the floor leading into the bathroom, after which I gave her lots and lots of treats. When she would come into the bathroom on her own, I started throwing treats into the tub and when she jumped in after them, I fed her more treats. When she got to that point, I turned the water on and let the water trickle out of the wand, just as it would when she had baths.

During her bath we fed her treats until she was too scared to take more of them. She doesn't like getting wet and she really doesn't like being shampooed so she trembled through that. once we started rinsing off the shampoo she took the treats again. She's gone back in there to eat some leftover treats so we know she'll go in there again. She does look beautiful with her snowy-white fur when it's clean and all brushed out so all that work is worth it.

Training is not going quite so well. We're doing a command where we say "watch", take out a treat, let her smell it, bring the treat up to our nose, wait for some amount of time, say "yes", and give her the treat. The goal is to get her to look at us and she does that. She also starts barking. She wants the treat RIGHT NOW and if she doesn't get it right away, right after it touches our nose, and she demands it. I don't want to reward her for barking but that's what we kind of end up doing when she gets the treat. I'll talk to the trainer on Sunday and see how to handle this situation.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012 Golden Globes Red Carpet, part 1

There are a lot of these red carpet photos! I'm still working through them but I wanted to post what I've finished so far so that you can get your red carpet fix.

I'm going to save the full analysis of the outfits until all of them have been posted. I figure the analysis will mean more when you can see all of the pictures.

Enjoy the pictures after the jump.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My mom's estate

I'm still working on the red carpet post for the Golden Globes; it's coming along fairly well. It used to be that it was difficult to find the designers for some of the less-known attendees. These days, more and more stylists and designers are  twittering their work, including which celebrity wore which dress. If I wanted, I could include some of the jewelry designers, too, because their names also show up occasionally. However, there aren't always good pictures of the jewelry so I figure there's not much point in including that information.

My mom's estate is pretty much wrapped up now. I received my share of the pension money yesterday and deposited into the bank today. It turns out that the pension amount was close to four times what we thought it would be so we each got more than we expected. The fact that the pension was so much larger than we thought explains why they wanted us to have a named administrator and stuff. Had the pension been the expected amount, all that rigmarole wouldn't have been needed because the estate would have been considered small.

Since the pension, and therefore the estate, is larger than we thought it would be, we have to confirm that there are no more taxes owed on the estate. While the government did take taxes off of the pension monies before they were disbursed, the lawyer has held back some of the pension money just in case we owe any more taxes. Unfortunately, that tax situation won't be settled for another year or so, which means the estate won't be fully settled until then. For now I'm happy to call the estate "mostly settled". Hopefully no more taxes will be owed and we'll get a nice little present next year.

Having the estate mostly settled leaves me a little sad. It means her life is even more over, if that makes sense. These days I'm feeling a bit sad. My psychologist and I are starting to delve into my past which is bringing up all sorts of emotions as well. Of course those emotions were already there buried under the surface so really we're just dealing with what's there. Based on how things are going, I think the emotions are going to get a bit stronger before they get better. At least I can pay for a lot of therapy (retail and otherwise) with the pension money.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Golden Globes

Award season has begun! The Golden Globes are tonight and I'm watching them as I write this. I have to say that Ricky Gervais, the host, is doing so much better this year than he did the last time he hosted an award show. His jokes are funny instead of awkward this year, as are the jokes of the various people giving out the awards.

It helps that the crowd is more raucous this year and I can't help but think that perhaps they've been plied with more champagne than usual. There are a lot of audience members whooping and whistling and clapping through acceptance speeches and the introductions. There's definitely a light, party feel to this event and everyone seems to be having fun. This award show seems to be not taking itself too seriously and I rather like that because it's fun to watch. Gozer can't figure out why I've been laughing so hard through the whole show.

Of course I don't just watch this show to see who gets which award. I haven't seen all of the movies or the tv shows so I don't really care who wins or loses. As you know, I care most about what people are wearing and boy, have there been some interesting outfits. Some of the dresses have been gaspingly gorgeous and others have been amazingly hideous. Some have dressed themselves well and others I wondered if they left before looking in a mirror... or if their stylists hated them. It might take me a couple of days to get the red carpet post up but don't worry, it's on its way.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dogs, booties, and leashes

Remember when Gozer got new booties and I said that watching her with them was hilarious? Ian recorded her walking in her booties for the second time that day. I think you'll agree that watching her is pretty funny:

She's super-cute, isn't she? I bet you all wish you could have a cutie like her.

Speaking of dogs, I read an article in the paper today about a woman whose dog was killed by a coyote in a nearby conservation area. The dog (along with the other two dogs with her and her friend) were off-leash even though the rules for the area are that dogs must be kept on-leash. This woman wants signs to be posted noting that coyotes are in the area. She says that if she had known that coyotes were there, she would have put her dogs on leashes.

I'm sad that the dog died because I hate to think of an animal dying and this was a senseless death. At the same time I'm angry at this dog's owner because the dog's death was totally preventable. Had the dog been leashed, it would not have died. There are even signs saying that dogs must be leashed in the park! Deciding whether or not to leash one's dog should not be dependent on whether or not coyotes are present in the park; the decision should be based on the law.

The article also mentions another dog that was killed by a coyote after the dog's owners let the dog out into their unfenced yard at night without a leash. I know that the leash laws might not apply to private properties, so let's look at this from a common-sense point of view. Let's see. You have an unfenced property and it's dark outside. Even if you know that your dog will stay on your property, you have no control over any other animals. Raccoons, skunks, other dogs, and maybe even coyotes are more than happy to wander on your property. Is there any way other than a leash that will protect your dog from these intruders? No.

Obviously I have some very passionate feelings on this subject. Aside from the fact that there are leash laws in place, leashing your dog just makes sense. To not do it could have disastrous consequences. We do keep Gozer on a leash during walks and at night although she can run free in our backyard during the day. I couldn't imagine risking her life by letting her run free. Of course I don't think she'd run free while wearing those booties because all the other dogs might laugh at her.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Toys for Gozer

Because our cleaner was here today and it was so nice out this afternoon, Gozer and I went for a long walk. We went to the nearby pet store to wander around and see what was there. In a clearance bin I found a plush squeaky dog and when I squeezed it, Gozer perked right up. I figured that since she responded to the sound, I'd buy it for her. I also dropped a squeaky ball that's part of a puzzle thing and she started playing the ball and carrying it around the store. I bought that toy, too.

It turns out that the squeaky dog squeaks unlike any squeaky toy I've ever heard squeak. It has different squeaks depending on how hard and where it's squeezed and Gozer loves it. She left it upstairs when we came down to watch tv and before sitting down she had to run up and get it.

She doesn't just squeak the dog: she sleeps with it in her mouth. She's done that with all of her plush squeaky toys when they're given to her. It seems like it would be really uncomfortable because for a couple of these toys, she has to keep her mouth open fairly wide. She seems to like it, however. Her mouth does get very dry when she wakes up, which is kind of funny to watch.

I've looked up this behaviour on the interwebs and there are dogs out there that love to sleep with a blanket or plush toy in their mouths (squeaky or otherwise). Apparently once the behaviour has developed it's there for good. They'll give up the object when they have to but as soon as they have the opportunity they're sleeping with it in their mouths again. No one seems to know why some dogs do this but some seem to think it happens when dogs are taken from their mothers too soon (especially if they knead the object, which Gozer does not do), or have had more than one owner, or were rescue dogs.

We don't usually allow Gozer to have a plush toy in her kennel at night - she only gets one when we're going out - but I wonder if she would be happier with a regular kennel plush toy and a special one when we go out. She's been good in her kennel overnight so a regular plush toy probably isn't strictly necessary... although I do want her to be as happy as possible.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Finding a purse

My current purse appears to be on its last legs. The top zipper is coming apart from the panel and some of the binding is starting to come undone. It really looks shabby and I'm starting to feel a bit embarrassed bringing it out. I've been searching for a replacement purse for quite a while and I just haven't been able to find one that I like in my price range. If I was willing to spend a couple of thousand dollars my search would be over but I'm not prepared to spend that much.

I want a top-handled purse that's wider than it is tall and that also has a shoulder strap that I can wear across my body. It needs to have a top zipper, possibly covered by a flap, and at least one big compartment (two is better) as well as at least one small zippered compartment and some interior patch pockets. I'd prefer it to be black, grey, or burgundy/oxblood with silvertone, gunmetal, pewter, or black hardware that isn't too flashy.

For some reason I don't think that it should be hard to find a purse that meets my requirements but it turns out that this quest is next to impossible. I bought one online but it's way too big and looks like a piece of luggage. At this point I'm wondering whether or not I should try to make one. I've thought about trying to buy some leather and making it out of that... but I've never worked with leather before. Making a leather purse might not be all that smart, especially since I don't have a purse pattern ready.

I do have some heavier fabrics and I know I can get some coatings, faux leather or suede, and specialty hardware. I'm thinking that it might be worthwhile to try my hand at making my own purse. We'll see... I'm still thinking it over. Every time I search and cannot find the purse I want, the idea of making my own purse is more and more appealing.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Our first day of training

Our first dog training session is over. There were about eleven other dogs there with three trainers which seemed like a good ratio. 

We were happy to see that Gozer wasn't the only barky dog there - she wasn't even one of the worst! We had some trouble controlling her barking at first and the owner of the place came over and helped us. She tried to correct Gozer's barking and realized quite quickly that correcting Gozer with a regular leash pop just doesn't work. She's got a super-long neck so the leash doesn't fall in the right place, no matter how much we tighten the martingale collar, and we end up pulling against her shoulders, which are very strong.

She asked if we'd be willing to try a Gentle Leader head collar and at this point we're ready to try just about anything to correct the barking. These collars have one strap that goes over the muzzle and another that goes behind the head with the leash ring underneath the muzzle. When the dog is corrected with a leash pop, the dogs head turns towards the person holding the leash so the dog can't continue to pull forward. 

The trainer put the collar on her and it was like night and day with respect to leash correction. Before, we couldn't correct her at all or stop her from barking and suddenly she was responding to the correction. She stopped barking right away and hardly barked through the rest of the hour even though the dogs on either side of us were barkier than she is. This wonderful behaviour came at a price, however: she does not like that collar at all. She tried to pull it off her muzzle with her paws which of course wouldn't work. 

We took the collar home and I used it on tonight's walk. She hated it again and would paw at it by taking both of her paws and trying to pull off the muzzle strap. It was adorably cute when she did it but it's not something we can allow so I had to stop her. If I caught her soon enough I could just pull her along but if not I'd have to stop and pull her paws away from the muzzle. After a while she got used to the collar and walked normally. I kept the walk easy and let her sniff as we went along so that she'd enjoy the experience.

Anyways, back to the training. I know we did seven different things but I don't remember all of them - it kind of went by in a blur. I found it quite tiring because I had to learn to do things differently than I currently do. For example, the praise word the trainer is teaching us is "yes" and I usually use "good girl". I'm also not very coordinated so I had some trouble figuring out which hand to use to hold the leash and the treat and when to say what.

For all that, it was a very productive session and I enjoyed it. I felt comfortable in the environment and with the trainers. This training will be quite a time commitment because we have lots to practice this week but I have high hopes that by the time we're done we'll have a reasonably well-trained dog. 

Friday, January 06, 2012

Looking forward to training

We walked our neighbour's dogs for the last time this afternoon and both of us felt a huge weight lift off our shoulders when we took them home. As much as I enjoy spending time with those two - and I do, because they're super-cute when in their own home - I'm tired of walking them. Gozer needs so much attention right now that walking two other dogs along with her is just too much.

Speaking of Gozer, we gave her a bath today because it's melting outside and her belly was filthy. Poor girl! As soon as we took her into the main bathroom where she gets her baths, she started trembling because she was so scared. She wouldn't even take a yummy treat. We went ahead with the bath anyways and she was definitely not adverse to treats when we were done. I'm happy to report that the red bumps that were on her tummy are completely gone and the sores she had from worrying at her belly are almost gone. Yay!

We're going to spend some time taking Gozer into the main bathroom so that she doesn't get so scared going in there. So far we've only taken her in there for baths and I guess we need to play in there with her favourite toys.

Owing a dog is harder than owning a cat because cats don't need to be trained in the same way that dogs do. There's so much work involved in training a dog because you have to be consistent all the time - and Ian and I need to be consistent, too, which is hard. For example, when putting on Gozer's booties, I touch her paw, say "Paw" while I'm touching it, and lift it. I heard Ian doing things differently so I stopped him so that we could figure out which specific steps we would do. That's only one small thing; there are many more.

Life will be easier for all of us once Gozer's had more training - and we've learned how to train her properly. Because it isn't just about training the dog, is it? It's about training the human to communicate with the dog effectively. I hope I'm a good learner.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Yesterday's walk

I don't know if I've mentioned but Gozer is a bit of a barky dog. She's quiet in the house but if she sees another dog she starts lunging and barking like crazy. I don't know how to stop her doing this yet (we start the training on Sunday) so on walks where we encounter other dogs I end up practically dragging this barking dog away from the other dog.

Over the last week we've been walking our next-door neighbour's shih-tzu dogs Misty and Mya. Misty is all of about 8 pounds and is quite calm and easygoing. Mya is about 15 pounds and is stubborn and a bit lazy. She usually doesn't like going out on walks and tends to drag her feet for the first bit so that she has to be pulled along a bit. We'd noticed when doing this that her collar was loose and that she could probably wriggle out of it but she's not our dog so we figured we'd work with it.

Yesterday Ian had to work in the afternoon so I had the three dogs. We'd generally been going out with them together as it's easier to deal with them and their leavings if there are two of us. However, things had been going well so we figured it wouldn't be a big deal for me to have them on my own.

We started off just fine with Gozer and Misty taking the lead and Mya dragging behind. As we reached the end of the part that adjoins our property, Gozer started lunging. There's a house there that had a small brown dog there that had never, ever been there before along with about six kids between about six and eight years old. I tried to correct Gozer and she started barking (Rrawrf rrawrf rawf rawf). As did the other dog (ARF arf arf arf).

Just then, I felt the resistance that had previously been Mya suddenly disappear because she had wriggled free of her collar. Gozer was still barking, as was the other dog, and Misty was being calm while I tried to catch Mya. She seemed to think that we were having a great game of chase as she waddled from sniff spot to sniff spot. I managed to catch her jacket a little ways away, pull her back to me, and clamp her between my legs.

I knew if I didn't shorten the collar that she'd just wriggle out again because she's stubborn, not stupid. So I pulled my gloves off and frantically started fiddling with the collar to tighten it. Meanwhile, the kids also started yelling at the dog to stop barking and the adult in the house started yelling at the kids to move the dog away from the fence.

So there I was, trying to get this collar tightened with this dog clamped between my legs, and I'm surrounded by this wall of sound:

RRAwrf! RRawrf! ARF arf arf arf! Stop! RRRAWRF rrawrf rrawrf rawf! Barking! ARF ARF ARF! Get the DOG! RRRAWRF rrrawrf rawrf rawf! AWAY! arf arf arf! from the FENCE! RRRAWRF rawrf rrawrf! arf arf arf! FENCE! Barking! Rawrf!

All I could think is, "instead of moving the damn dog away from the damn fence, why don't you take it inside?" but I was trying not to get frustrated or annoyed while listening to this noise. Finally I got the collar shortened and on Mya; I checked it and I could slip two fingers under the collar so we were good to go. I kneeled down in front of Gozer, stared her down, and said NO. She settled down a bit so we started away.

Unfortunately, we had to go past the house because there's nowhere else to go. Naturally Gozer started barking again, only this time I was actively pulling her along. Mya had just noticed the other dog (maybe she is a little stupid, at that) and started lunging towards it as well. I ended up kind of half-dragging both of them along with Gozer's bark sounding more like "Rrawacgh" than "Rrawrf". I could hear the kids whispering to each other that I was choking those dogs. If they weren't lunging, they wouldn't be choking... although maybe the dogs aren't smart enough to figure it out.

Once we were well down the sidewalk, all the dogs calmed down and we had a relatively uneventful walk. Tomorrow is the last day that we have to walk these two dogs. I hope that we can train Gozer to not bark at other dogs before we have to go out with those two again.... although I'm not eager to take these three out on my own again.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Winter for Gozer

We received about six or eight inches of snow just before the temperature dropped to -15C (below -20C with the wind chill). None of us are used to the cold yet, although my long down coat definitely keeps me warm. Ian can look after himself but Gozer has been having a tough time in the cold. She's been getting huge snow- and ice-balls between the pads of her feet during her walks that have clearly been making her uncomfortable. She was holding up different paws when there was too much ice and walking more slowly, which we took to mean that she wasn't happy.

We'd bought her this lovely 3-in-1 coat with a detachable double-fleece lining and waterproof exterior a few weeks back that has been keeping her body warm enough.
She looks positively stylish in this coat, I have to say. It also comes in huge dog sizes of up to 30" length and 32-38" girth so dogs of every size can look awesome. Unfortunately, this coat doesn't cover Gozer's little feets so today we went out and bought her these fleece-lined muttluk booties in red to match her coat:

They had all-weather ones without the fleece lining but they only came in yellow in her size and Ian felt that the yellow would clash too much with her red coat. The red ones match her coat perfectly. We're now the kind of people that dress up our dog in matching clothes and booties.

There is just about nothing funnier than watching a dog try to walk in booties for the first time. The booties are unfamiliar and feel funny so the dog tries to find a way not to put all four paws on the ground, which of course is impossible. Gozer tolerated the front booties pretty well and ended up doing this crazy back step-kick thing with her back paws. We spent some time inside with the treats we bought for Sunday's training class getting her to walk from one of us to the other and back.

After about five or ten minutes on her evening walk she was walking in her booties as though she'd always worn them. I'm really impressed with her ability to adapt to this new situation: at no time did she lie on the ground looking pathetic or try to bite the booties off and although she was slow at the start of the walk, she didn't pull backwards on her leash.

If it gets a lot colder out, we could always buy Gozer a reversible snowsuit. Ian disagrees with me (mostly because they look silly) but I figure that it can still get a lot colder out there. Until she learns to do her business in the backyard, she's going to have to walk two or three times a day in the cold. While I'd like to think that she's smart enough to get the idea that if she does her thing in the yard she won't have to be out in the cold for as long, I'm not sure that's the case.

At least Gozer is well-prepared for current weather conditions and looks stylish, if a little silly. Hopefully the other dogs won't laugh at her booties and matching coat.

Monday, January 02, 2012

The new year has begun

It feels more like winter out there now, what with all the snow, wind, and dropping temperatures. Not that I minded a rainy start to the new year but this is supposed to be winter.

Ian's off on vacation this week and while he's spending some of his time playing video games, he's also doing a lot of work around the house. We mudded and taped the drywall in the sewing room the other day and Ian sanded and mudded a second coat today. I'm going to have a sewing room soon! I have to pick out a paint colour so that we can paint the room this week after the drywall stuff is done and the room has been primed.

I'm excited because I can start looking at furnishing and tailoring my sewing room again. I'd been looking into these things before but since the room still needed work there was no point in doing too much planning. Now that the room will be painted soon I need to do some planning.

I can hardly wait to have a functional sewing room again. There have been times that I want to sew and I have lots of fabric that I'd love to use but my current setup isn't good for sewing. I'd also like to have an area in the room for sketching so that I can use it for metalsmithing ideas, too. This is definitely a great way to start the new year!