Sunday, July 27, 2014

IAADP Weekly Training Requirements Week of 7/21/14

Age: 5 months
Week of: July 21 - 27, 2014  Total Hours (5 hrs on Site) + (1.5 hrs Outings)

Last week I wasn't doing well at all.  I don't have any explanation for how I managed not to keep up with the training, but I don't have the log for 7/14-7/20

- Got ill from the Petsafe Indigo Chews that came in her barkbox. She was better a couple of days later. They're sending a toy to make up for the fact she got so sick. I love those people...
- Elsa had excessive eye boogers from Sunday til Wednesday... they are still there, but the vet says it is allergies so we are just treating with benadryl
- Wednesday we went to the vet for a checkup.  She's 5 months, 1 week, and 36 pounds!!

- Recently Elsa isn't receptive to her poop command and it caused her to poop in Petco!! I had given her the command before we went in and she just refused to listen.
- Still some nipping, but this seems to be getting better

- Petco - 45 minutes

- Idgie our foster dog came.  The two of them seem happy enough with each other.  Elsa rarely is bothered by other dogs.
- We went to the Hoover dog park twice

- Lots of time is being spent polishing recall.

Service Dog Tasks: 
- We worked putting her paws on my chest from several different angles.  I can have her to either side or front of me and I will put my hand on my chest in a fist and she puts her paws up!  This is going to be her fake potty signal since she has taken to it so easily.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Meet Idgie!!!

As some of you who are closer to me are aware, I applied through Bama Bully Rescue to foster a dog.  I was nervous about it since I live in a smaller space, but they approved me and the home visit went well!  I was impressed with the way the group is run and I'm super excited to be a part of this.
I'm not allowed to have pitties where I am staying (I'm still confused about this since Elsa is a half-pitbull...), so instead of the girl I initially applied for, they placed Idgie with me.  She's a bull terrier about the same size as Elsa and Britta, has a high energy level that will match them well, and gets along with dogs and children really well. 
I have spent all week studying what you should be doing as a foster parent.  Socialization, training, marketing, etc...

Yeah, I was nesting...

So, Friday the 25th rolls around... I've bought a slo-feeder bowl that is slightly different from my baby's but it seems like a good one, I've bought a couple of toys, more have been ordered online, she's signed up for a BarkBox, and they're even sending her a toy ahead of time!  I've talked with her last foster family a few times and know how fantastic she is.  I'm going through the typically pointless nervous thought process I have, "Will she like me?  What if she just hates living with me?  What if she doesn't like my neighborhood?  What if she hates the food I have?  What if Elsa gets upset that she's here? What if Elsa likes her but Britta doesn't?!...". I'm ready to hunker down for the two week shut-down/bonding period that we are expected to go through as foster parents and it is time to go pick Idgie up.
I met Bethany (her last foster mom) in Pelham to pick her up.  Idgie is a lot less shy than I was expecting!!!  She jumped straight into my vehicle and was obviously excited about getting to go on a car ride.  She was comfortable with the harness I used to strap her in, and she seemed to enjoy the ride home.  She panicked slightly when Bethany and her family drove off, but quickly recovered.

Idgie seemed to handle the new surroundings pretty well.  We had a few moments of panic with the crate, but with some basic crate instruction (a.k.a. bribing with treats for short times in the crate), she seems to have calmed down and accepted it, albeit reluctantly.

There was some concern that Nick would make her uncomfortable. Despite her being startled when he walked in the door (he IS 6'2" and built like a definsive end after all...), she took to him almost instantly!!!

Elsa was overexcited, so we let them meet under very supervised playtime. They did well!

Idgie is a complete snuggle bunny!!  I was so surprised to find out she loves to curl up with you on the couch. =)  She has no problems with me scratching her ears or rubbing her belly or patting her tail.  She comes to you anytime she hears her name.  I'm already in love and it has been only 24 hours!!!

Anyone who is interested in Idgie can apply at  Look for future updates on the blog!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

BarkBox Review: July 2014 Box "Day at the Beach"

Another month has flown by and here we are opening up BarkBoxes again!! This month we got two of the same box, so this will be the only review. As I said before, I enjoyed getting two different boxes last month. However, it is kind of neat to be able to have the same things for both the girls.

For those of you who do not know, BarkBox is a monthly subscription service starting at $29 that has a few treats and 1-2 toys a month inside.  You can buy a 3,6, or 12 month subscription at a discounted rate.  I also encourage you to use my referral link and get 10% off!  You can also add on an extra toy for $9/month if your dog is really toy oriented.

BarkBox has the absolute best customer service of any group I've ever met.  Every question I have is quickly answered, every concern I have is thoroughly addressed, and I never feel like they're brushing me off.  They also make it really easy to unsubscribe if you just decide it isn't working out for you.

It was really rainy this week, so we opened it inside!

Our "unboxing":

Elsa really enjoyed the pizzle stick.

These were really, really, really, really yummy.

I saved these for a day that they had gone running at the dog park for awhile.  They love frozen treats and these were gone impressively quickly. 

She hasn't figured out the shark has a squeaker in it yet, but she still prances around with it like it's the best thing EVER!!

Petsafe Indigo Triple Chew - $11
These chews didn't set well with our puppies' stomachs. They got pretty sick, and it made me very nervous. Elsa recovered pretty fast. Britta had a harder time. I emailed BarkBox and they are sent us both replacement toys and even a new toy for my foster pup who should be here Friday, Idgie!

In conclusion, we pay $19/month for the boxes (I strongly urge you to buy a subscription and save up to $11/mo), and the box's contents are valued around $37.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Puppy Photos Week of 7/13

Morning Dog Park Fun

Britta loves my tub faucet.

Meet Idgie!  She is going to be my first foster dog... hopefully she will be here Friday!

Buying Idgie and Elsa Silly Bums.  Britta already has one that came in her BarkBox and Elsa always loves to play with it, so I decded it was time for her to have one too.

Winding down after a long day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Support Your Local Animal Charity: the Easy Way

While nervously awaiting Elsa's new cousin (a.k.a. my new foster dog), I've been researching different ways to support local charities.  Now that I will have a second furbaby, I am going to be limited in the money that I can donate outright.  I will continue to volunteer at the Humane Society, but I also started researching simple ways to support the rescue I am fostering through.  Here are a few really easy tips for giving back without investing a large portion of your time or

1. Amazon Smile: When shopping on Amazon, use and choose your favorite charity through their site.  Each purchase you make, they donate 10% to the charity you pick.

2. Woof Trax: Download the Walk for a Dog app and choose your local shelter.  Every mile you walk, they donate a certain amount.

3. Keep a shelter donations box: Old towels and blankets, bowls, newspaper, papertowels, coupons for pet items... there are a thousand different items that your local shelter can use that you would have otherwise thrown away.

4. BOGO and other sales: watch Publix and other stores with really good sales.  Every once in awhile they will put cat and dog food, treats, or toys on a very good sale.  Pickup a bag of food or a toy to add to your shelter box.

5. Follow them on social media: start "liking" and sharing their posts.  Invite friends to their fundraising events.  Share a post with a newly adoptable animal.

6. Bookmark GoodSearch: use Goodsearch every time you search for something online and gain a penny for your rescue each time!  They also have surveys and other things you can use to raise money.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

IAADP Training Requirements: Weekly Training Overview

Week of:
July 7 - 13, 2014  Total Hours (5 hrs on Site) + (2 hrs Outings)

- Her ears smelled really bad a few days ago.  I was afraid it was a yeast infection, but the smell has gone away.  I will continue to monitor for a repeat.

- Some anxiety is cropping back up.

- We Talk Dog daycare all day Monday!  They work with her on not jumping and appropriate socialization.
- Wednesday evening Elsa went with daddy and Britta to his game night/puppy playdate.
- Saturday we went to Hoover Dog Park then after to Brusters for puppy sundaes!

- Basic tasks covered while eating dinner each night

Service Dog Tasks: 
- Working on deep pressure this week.  Elsa doesn't like to sit too long, but she is doing better each time.

- Nipping is an issue again
- She got excited and tried to herd my face when we went walking the other day.  It was nervewracking, but supposedly a puppy thing.

- There's some new anxiety that I think is cropping up because I'm not doing enough with Elsa away from Britta.  We've had them together way too much recently.  I will be working with Elsa more and not letting Britta stay with us as much.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Puppy photos! Week of 7/7

We just found out Brusters does puppy sundaes!!

Mommy, I think it's a little too tight...

Got a Kong wobbler this week to keep things varied and interesting at mealtime. 

New Kong! Donated the old one to the humane society. :)

I wanna pump gas too!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Service Dog Tasks in Puppy Play

Recently, I've had comments about how I must be working Elsa too hard.  I must be teaching her too much and she will burn out before the training is over.  My precious little puppy is four and a half months old and I'm pushing too much onto her and making things serious too fast.
At first, the comments frustrated me.  Now, I just choose to appreciate the concern that people have for making sure my puppy's training stays humane.
Anyone who is around is aware that I spend more time playing with her than "training" in an official sense.  However, the playing is carefully constructed to teach her to be comfortable with things that she will encounter as part of her tasks.  Some days are more structured than others based on how much I've worked at my other job, weather, and other weird factors.

Below, I have listed several things that can be used to keep play going in a useful, yet fun, manner. I hope others will comment with their ideas to help me expand!!
- One meal a day is spent going over basic commands.  This way they work for the kibble, practice basic obedience consistently, and don't even notice it happening.
- We have puzzle toys that sometimes come out for different meals.  They help with staying entertained and I've noticed after we bought a couple that had Elsa using her paws, she's become more interested in utilizing them like little hands.
- Hide and Seek: this can be helpful if one has a fear of coming home to intruders.  It's possible to teach them to bark once they've found you.  You can upgrade to friends hiding when you're out for a walk and then you can come home and have them find the person and bark for a treat.  Eventually that becomes habit to check.
- Mini agility toys: certain things like a mini see saw plank or a hula hoop can be useful to teach agility basics without getting serious too fast.
- Fetch: this easily reinforces bring it and drop it.  Here there is also an opportunity for object recognition reinforcement.  Elsa has become really efficient with "bring it" without much formal training because of this game.
- Biking: Really, any activity can be a bonding exercise.  This one is really helpful to teach her to constantly be focused on me.
- Waking up: When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, immediately give your pup a treat.  They will begin to expect the treat at the sound of the alarm and this can be really helpful during a depressive phase if you're not wanting to get out of bed and your puppy is licking your face.  Eventually, we will refine this and it will become one of Elsa's tasks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dog Treats: Weekly Experimental Baking Post!

I want to start selling homemade dog treats and toys on Etsy, so I am going to be doing some experimental recipes that I will record on here and send out samples to a few loyal readers for feedback. I've got a few friends who will try the recipes out, but I also want some other people to try the products out.

This week, I am working on the beginnings of a trail mix for pups.  I'm testing a mix of dried chicken, dried blueberries, and cinnamon-honey-roasted peanuts.

The dried chicken is easy: take it out of a can, rinse off the extra fat, and put the small pieces of chicken in the oven for around four hours at 175 °F.

The blueberries are a bit more involved.  Begin by boiling the blueberries for around a minute to split the skins. 

Then put them in cold water to cool off quickly...

On the side, I added a bit of honey and boiled the juice down for a bit. Then, I stuck the concoction in an ice tray. The pups now have blueberry honey pops!

Take the blueberries out of the cold water and lay them out to dry off.

Then, into the oven at 200 degrees for four hours, stirring every half an hour to help them dry evenly.

Elsa and Britta are both just crazy about the chicken and blueberries.  I tasted one of the blueberries and it is really bitter.  I have NO IDEA why they're so crazy about it!!!  I'm not brave enough to try the chicken now, hahaha.

Onto the peanuts.  On a low temperature, put some cinnamon in the pan.  Then add honey and stir.  (I tried a recipe the first time that called for butter and they just burned in the oven.)

Once you've coated the peanuts, stick them in the oven at 200 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every fifteen.  Elsa isn't as crazy about these as the blueberries and the chicken, but she will eat them anyway.  Britta seems to like them pretty well. Personally, I like them but am thinking about adding a bit of vanilla flavoring to the mix next time to see how that goes.

In conclusion, of COURSE my pups love these treats, hahaha.  They love EVERYTHING!  To help determine how the treats REALLY are, I'm going to make a big batch of these treats to send out to friends later next week.  Once they've sent their reviews in, I'll post them here!!!

Are you interested in reviewing my treats?  Comment below with an email!  I will be in touch with a few people to review  

Monday, July 7, 2014

DIY Budget Dog Toys

Someone was talking about trying to get toys on a budget for their dog.  I will always and forever recommend BarkBox to anyone who will listen, but I understand sometimes that $20/month may not be feasible, whether unexpected vet bills came into the picture or whatnot.

So here are some ideas for dog toys that can be useful:

1. Water Bottle (with no cap!) inside of a Sock.  I up the ante on this one and put a little kibble in the bottle.  The rattle and crinkle sounds are fantastic.

2. Rope Toys.  As long as you use the correct kind (no flame retardants!), paracord can be woven into fantastic rope toys for pups.  There are a lot of knot designs for rope toys.  Here is one that is a ball that is amazingly fun!

3. Tennis Balls.  There are a thousand things you can do with tennis balls.  I like to take old dishrags, cut holes in the ball, and push the rag through.  It makes a great tug toy!  You can also use them for makeshift puzzle toys.

4. UN-stuffed animals.  Go to goodwill.  Buy a stuffed animal and open it along a seam.  Pull out the stuffing (add a squeaker or some cellophane for crackle noises?) and sew up the toy.

5. Stuffed fabric scraps. Jeans are a good choice for this.  Sew edges together with a thick thread (like embroidery) and stuff it with other scraps or stuffing.

6. Mini see-saw. All it takes is a piece of PVC pipe nailed to a wooden board.  This can be fun if you do agility or want to get your puppy used to some basic agility equipment.

7. PVC pipe. A few pieces of this can make a puzzle toy or several different types of agility equipment.

Remember: always supervise your dog when playing with toys!  Especially if they are heavy chewers.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

IAADP Training Requirements: Weekly Training Overview

Age: 4 Months
Week of: June 30 - July 6, 2014  Total Hours (3 hrs on Site) + (2 hrs Outings)

- Brushed Thursday
- Trimmed nails Saturday 
- Elsa got a bath on Sunday afternoon

- There has been some improvement on the mouthing.  I think her teething is beginning to slow down!

- Tuesday evening daddy took Elsa and Britta to his game group and they got to play with those dogs
- The fireworks definitely didn't bother Elsa as much as I expected and now I have another idea for desensitization outings: taking the pups to the park next to the baseball field on nights they are going to have fireworks.  She wasn't bothered at all by the fireworks and I want to keep it that way!  As soon as I have earplugs (or whatever our vet recommends), we will start this tradition.

- Hoover Dog Park Friday afternoon

- As usual, we've spent once a day working on basic commands while eating
- We are slowly dragging out "stay"

Service Dog Tasks: 
- Beginner task games were practiced, as usual.  Not much will change until she is a bit older.

Puppy Photos!

Excitement about momma's new peanut butter treats!!!  It was all I could do to get her to wait and get this photo!

Crashed out after a nice, long walk on the 4th!

Meeting smaller friends at the dog park!

Elsa and Britta's reactions to the fireworks... "zzzzzzz!!"

Overall, we stayed pretty chill this week.  The heat was rough several days so we didn't have as many opportunities to get cute pics.  More next week! =)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Service Dogs for Adults

Adults with psychiatric disabilities need assistance too!

Somehow in our quest to make sure every child with special needs grows up in the best environment possible, we have forgotten the harsh reality that hits when they hit 18-20 years old: now they are an adult.  Not only do they have to go through a lot of the same changes other young adults are facing, they have an entire list of extra struggles that they are dealing with.

A lot of the help and support they received growing up is gone.  Fewer people are understanding of their condition; fewer organizations are there to support them into this sudden transition; fewer options are available to assist them with their necessary accommodations.  It's a terribly scary world out there when everything is going your way... and when things aren't lining up for you, the adult world can be devastating.

We need to start a second wave of these special needs organizations for young post-secondary aged special needs students.  Service dog, education, job training, etc.  Special needs doesn't mean incapable and the world needs to begin seeing that.  The more we help those who need accommodations, the better everyone's lives will be!

Friday, July 4, 2014

How to get (Play)Dates for Your Dog

Elsa and I have a variety of friends that she hangs out with.  We work to have play-dates with several different types of dogs and I have really had to overcome my social anxieties to make sure she continues to meet new pups.

Here is a list of ways you can expand your doggy social circle:

1. Dog Classes: whether it is obedience, agility, or any other specialty, you can meet dog owners who are striving toward the same thing with their dogs.  This can be nice because it will give you something specific to talk about with the other human while your dogs interact.
2. Dog Park: did your dog get along extremely well with one of the other pups?  Try to set up a time to meet at the park again!
3. Local Dog Events: here in Birmingham, we have Doo Dah Day.  We also have other dog-friendly events throughout the year.  These are awesome opportunities to find like-minded dogs for your baby.
4. Just Ask Friends: your friends probably have dogs and probably need playmates.  They may feel awkward about asking, they may not have ever taken the time to think about getting your pups together, or they may not realize you are open to the idea!
5. Volunteer with a Local Animal Group: do you have a local humane society or shelter, a local therapy dog group, or other dog-related group that you can volunteer with?  Get involved and find some like-minded doggy parents who want to get together!

ALWAYS REMEMBER: safety first!!  Make sure you are careful about your privacy and always respect someone else if they are uncomfortable giving out any private information.

What other items would you add to this list?  Let me know in the comments! I'm always looking for new ways to get my dog some playmates.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Practicing Grooming/First Aid Habits

I started working Elsa from day one to become used to me touching her face, legs, and tail.  Anything I thought she might be uncomfortable with later on, I eased her into.  Some things were easy, like leave it and roll over, but here is a list of things we do together weekly in an attempt to help her be ready for grooming and care that doesn't come from every day play.

- Brush her teeth once a week.  She is a big dog and is still young, but we practice this once a week because I don't want to hit a point down the road where she needs dental cleanings at home and she isn't comfortable.
- Have comfortable friends check her teeth. This was pointed out on reddit by user expibotou as an important skill for pups to have.  Elsa may be comfortable with me checking, but not the vet or another stranger checking her mouth.
- File her nails a couple of times a week.  Her nails are growing FAST!  Even with outdoor activities, we still need to trim a little bit.  She knows "shake" and "other" and that helps with the process as well.
- Pick her up in her "easy carry" position.  Usually, she will sit on one of my arms while the other helps her balance, but a few times a week I will pick her up with my arms wrapped around her so that her legs dangle down.  If she is injured, this position may be easier/safer to carry her in (depending on the injury).
- Learn to wear a muzzle even though she's not the least bit aggressive. In case of an injury, a muzzle may be useful to keep her from lashing out at caretakers.  Learning about the muzzle in a happy, comfortable environment allows her to not have added anxiety at the introduction of a muzzle if a high stress situation arises later.
- Wash her ears with witch hazel to help stave off ear infections and get her used to strange sensations in her ear in case she ever needs eardrops/cleaning for infection. (thanks to reddit user whitewhitewine for this one)

What other items would you add to this list?