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Gift Cards - Good or Bad?

Most everyone seems to be strongly opined as to whether or not gift cards are a good idea. I recently read an article coined "Gift Cards are the Worst Possible Present to Buy Someone This Christmas". Evidently that person thinks buying someone a gift card for a present is nothing short of Satan worship.

Tsk, tsk.

It's fine to purchase a gift card for someone - within reason, of course.

Take, for example, my sister. She's the sort of person who buys people really creative gifts...BUT not always useful gifts :) Instead of "settling" for a gift card to a place she knows I shop, she'll go above and beyond to find a gift that's really neat - but I don't want/use/need.

On the other hand, a year or so back, she gave me a "gift" of sorts - she cleaned out her closet -and presented me with a sweatshirt I'd given to HER for Christmas one year when I was in college. So, what, now my college isn't good enough to wear on a sweatshirt? Her excuse: "Well, it's so BIG on me, and it's just not in style anymore." What? It's a sweatshirt!

Once, when I was younger (she's 5 years my senior; I think I was 13-ish) I gave her an abstract pencil drawing of a horse. The next day, when I saw it on her desk, it had been altered. Shocked, I asked her WHY she'd change my drawing - "you didn't get this part right" was her reply.

Guess what dear sister gets for gifts these days - GIFT CARDS. If she wants to buy something at Target and then give it to me a year later, great :)

Or, another example would be my father. He's a very hard person to buy gifts for - someone who likes really obscure things I'd have a hard time deciphering from the scant occasions we actually have a chat. So, the first year I got him a $100 gift card to Fleet Farm and he actually gasped, his eyes widened, and he blurted out, "THANK YOU!" I thought, we have a winner. I haven't gotten that reaction since, but of course it's because he gets one every year now. He can then do what he LOVES to do - go browse the "Man's Mall" for odd little knick-knacks.

Now, that being said, there are certainly times when a gift card is a cop-out gift. There are times when someone is purely lazy and doesn't want to take the time to pick something out, or leaves the gift purchase to the last minute and has "no choice" but to settle for the little plastic card.

Hey, at least when I buy gift cards, I make sure I know the person will like the store. Sister and Dad, for example, have their favorite haunts and it's quite simple to know they're just waiting for an excuse to walk in and catch sight of all the goodies lining the shelves (and have an excuse to purchase said items - "well, I have this gift card!").

So, this Christmas (or whichever holiday season you celebrate), keep in mind that there IS a time for gift cards...

Happy Purchasing!

Kozies Shepherds are NOT Family Dogs!

There lies a delicate balance between energy, intelligence, and calmness when you're deciding on a dog to bring into your home. Having been raised with German shepherds, I always knew my first dog would be this breed. As much as I don't like to tout the "sameness" of dogs within the same breed, there's something to be said about certain clichés holding true – shepherds are intelligent, high-energy dogs who need a "strong" owner. I.e., someone who'll take charge and be a leader.

Since I research everything before buying, I'm not sure how I let myself get suckered into buying a Kozies shepherd. As I've stated before, Mark Kozitza rubbed me the wrong way from day 1, but I persisted in gathering information about his dogs because they seemed – at a glance – to be just what I wanted. (Intelligent, energetic yet calm, and good-looking.)

However, a person who breeds "European working line German shepherds" and says he introduces every puppy to many things shouldn't also promote his dogs as "good with children" if he keeps it for you past 8 weeks. I didn't purchase my pup until she was 3 months old, and due to some circumstances I didn't bring her home from Kozies until she was 4 months of age. What I did NOT know was he had discontinued working with her to socialize her. Let's look at why it's important to continue that with puppies beyond 8 weeks of age:

"My breeding goal here at Kozies is to consistently produce dogs with the genetics and temperament to be a trustworthy family member (by that I mean living with children) and at the same time a strong working dog with solid nerves, good drives and is structurally sound with a rich dark pigment that is pleasing to the eye."

Let's see.

Genetics to be trustworthy? Possibly – although he's breeding "working line" sheperds...i.e., HIGH PREY DRIVE dogs.

Temperament to be trustworthy? Absolutely. Until one day that lovely temperament – with kids, no less – turns into a nasty debaucle between you and your family friends, because your dog with the good "genetics and temperament" just stalked, pounced upon, and bit the neighbor girl. With no warning. And in spite of being raised around different ages of children.

Strong working dogs? Absolutely. I knew that from the beginning – Zada can run ALL DAY LONG and actually NEEDS to in order to be content.

Solid nerves? Maybe. With some things, she's pretty solid. With most things, she's average. In brand-new situations, she's a coward, tucking her tail between her legs. (Yes, I realize this could be due to the way I handle things, but when there's a bag in the middle of the street and I don't even notice it; she's spooking at the end of the leash.)

Good drives? YES. In this category, Kozitza, I give you 5 stars. She definitely DOES have strong drives. Pronounced PREY DRIVES, that is, which started out "innocently" enough being focused on other dogs, and have evidently graduated to young children. The reason why she's intent on "dominating" other dogs? She's TERRIFIED of new dogs. This is most likely because this man kept her segregated in the whelping pen, away from all the other dogs, and when he'd let the adult dogs out of the barn, they'd all rush the fence and she became very afraid of approaching dogs. Mind you, I take this dog to obedience classes, and I have been working on this from Day 1. (5 years later, we're still working on introducing her to new dogs.)

Structurally sound? Not at all. Initially (when she was young), I thought she might have a stretched/mildly torn ACL, which COULD have just been from landing on it wrong, bending, twisting, etc. but it could also be a genetic defect in the knee. The vet said it wasn't enough of an issue to consider surgery (yet), but once something like that occurs, it normally doesn't return to its original state. She also started displaying signs early (around 2 years) of some problems in her elbows – although the X-rays came back clear, she was young yet AND I only did the front end; not her hips. She seems to favor a front leg after exercising; it also makes a clicking noise. This wouldn't normally concern me (as I have a hip tendon that "pops" occasionally) but since it's also the leg she favors, it makes me wonder why a dog bred for working goes lame after 20 minutes of running. Granted, it doesn't happen all the time, but it's been occurring with greater frequency lately. She was also diagnosed with (low grade) luxating patellas. That's right, BOTH of her "knees" are affected by this. She's been displaying progressive signs of this in the past year and I fear this genetic disease will create many problems for her in the future.

As of February 2012, she has also been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. That's right, my "structurally sound" German shepherd will now – at the age of 5 – have to be watched constantly for signs of pain in her right hip and will suffer arthritis as she gets older. Nice job, Kozitza.

And, lastly - rich, dark pigment which is pleasing to the eye? Again, yes. 5 stars on that. Thanks for delivering. She's wonderful to look at while she's either a) holding up her leg because it hurts, b) getting reprimanded for chasing after dogs (again), c) honing in to "stalk" a child/dog, or d) barking, terrified, at the neighbor dog across the road, whom she's seen since she's lived in this house...

The point with all this is, DO NOT BUY A KOZIES SHEPHERD after 8 weeks of age if you want a "family dog." And, if you do, always, ALWAYS watch the dog around kids and other dogs! Just yesterday, my sister and I were on a walk – with her dog, my dog and my niece – and at the end, we went to a small park to let Sophia out of the stroller to toddle around and let the dogs stretch their legs. I was throwing a "flippy-floppy" for the dogs and they were getting worn out.

After a while of being there, Sophia (my 2 1/2-year-old niece) started to trot off towards a different area of the park. Zada was near me (thank GOD), and when she saw that baby running, her ears perked, she got "the look" and started after her. She didn't get more than a few strides in before I recalled her (again, thank the Maker and obedience classes).

She'd NEVER done anything like that – which is why I trusted her with kids...but now neither I nor any member of my family will ever trust her again...and rightly so. She'll constantly need to be watched. To be honest, I think my sister breathed a sigh of relief when we left for the evening. I have an inkling she'll feel that way until the dog either dies of old age or I have to put her down due to failing health.

Let's hope I don't have to euthanize her because she attacks another child. If she does, that's the only course of action – she's already had her 1 "freebie".

Again, DON'T BUY A KOZIES SHEPHERD after 8 weeks old if you expect a kid-safe German shepherd! This is how he markets them, but if not socialized correctly they probably will NOT be safe around children! Zada was in a kennel by herself up until she was 4 months old, segregated from other dogs...which is why she has "fear aggession" issues with new dogs. You have to be ready and willing to have a dog that always needs to be watched around kids and you must devote a LOT of time to dog obedience/behavior classes, proper socialization, and numerous hours every day running/exercising, etc.

In fact, let's just cut right to the chase – with this new development of her hip dysplasia, don't buy a Kozies German shepherd AT ALL. He doesn't breed sound dogs, nor does he title his dogs...in short, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE for a well-bred German shepherd dog. You will not find it at Kozies shepherds.

Sigh. I'm writing this to inform; I've wasted enough time and energy defiling this man who sells these "strong drive" dogs as children-friendly (and structurally sound). I hope I can think on him no more. After all this, I'll always trust my gut feeling in the future when picking a dog breeder. And, of course, I'll NEVER recommend his dogs to anyone.

Vitamins

I've found two simple things are needed in order to maintain healthy hair/nails:


  • Drink milk
  • Take vitamins

P.S.: Watched "Walk the Line" for the first time last night...GREAT movie. I'm not even a Johnny Cash fan, but I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.

P.S.S.: Weird how the bullet points above actually LOOK like the One-A-Day Women's I take every day...

Ciao!

Oregon Trip Photos

Our Oregon trip in September was SO much fun. I touched on the highlights of it in my previous post about this topic, but didn't at the time have any photos saved to this computer (my laptop).


Here are a few images:






Waterfall Kiss

In order (left to right, top to bottom) they are as follows:
1) Clint & I at the coast
2) View of the coast driving up the mountain towards Mt. Hood
3) Multnomah Falls
4) Multnomah Falls view from the Trail
5) Our footprints on the beach
6) Mt. Hood
7) Cheesy Waterfall Kiss

Yes, we took a cheesy photo. Whaddaya do. Next time I'll bring my tripod and set it up properly - but this wasn't a bad job for having my camera teetering on a rock and hurrying up because there was a group of "tourons" that all of a sudden showed up and was waiting to photograph the falls.
All in all, it was a BLAST and we can't wait to go back - especially to the coast. It was gorgeous.
That's all for today - - -
TTFN!

More on Why NOT to Purchase a GSD from Kozie's Shepherds

In my previous post about why NOT to choose a Kozie's German shepherd, I might have touched on health issues, but that's another consideration with what the guy does wrong - in my opinion - in breeding the dogs he does.

Zada has been limping off and on over the summer - at first I thought it might be Lyme's, but she's not displaying the traditional characteristic with her limping...i.e., limping on different legs. Her problem seems to be coming from her left front elbow - where the clicking noise originates. Yup, a clicking sound - which has been getting progressively worse.

I've talked to 2 vets about this - and their first response was that it could be elbow dysplasia. This could be due to various factors, some of which include growth abnormalities (different growth development of the 3 bones comprising the elbow), trauma, nutrition (probably causing the growth discrepancies) or genetics.

Since she's been getting very good nutrition, and hasn't had any trauma to the leg, I'm banking on genetics. Oddly enough, her guarantee (from the breeder) mentions hip dysplasia only. VERY convenient. Which means a) he's breeding dogs that he knows could be prone to elbow dysplasia and/or b) he's not checking for this disease, which is VERY common in shepherds - even European working lines like he's trying to reproduce.

I just find this all so very frustrating after purposefully hunting down European GSD breeders for this very reason...to stay away from all the afflictions of the American-bred shepherds. What's even funnier is he was pretty adamant about telling me there's always a possibility the dog could wind up with some health problems... I realize no breeder can guarantee the dog won't have any problems, but you'd think he'd guarantee for dysplasia in general; not just hips.

The point is, I'm going to have to have her in to get tested for her front legs - most likely X-rayed - in addition to taking care of her stretched/torn ACL. Which is MOST likely a sports injury, but can also be genetic.

OH, and she also has skin allergies, but at least - so far! - they're pretty mild compared to what I've seen in other dogs. Plus, of course, all the GI issues she's had since I got her!

Bottom line - DO NOT spend the money on a Kozie's German shepherd. They're NOT worth the money, and they're going to be prone to MANY problems, obviously health-related as well as behavior-related. (i.e., stalking and pouncing on dogs AND children) If you're rich and don't care that you'll be spending wads of dough on surgeries and vet bills, and know that you'll have to watch the dog at all times (never trust them in any situation, even after you've worked with them on obedience), then by all means, go ahead.

Don't get me wrong, I love the dog - if I didn't she'd be LONG gone by now - but she's been the source of myriads of trouble in my life thus far. *SIGH* And she's only a year old.

The Oregon Coast, Mt. Hood & Portland IPAs

I'm writing from Portland, Oregon right now. We flew out Wednesday afternoon to Seattle, then rented a car (a silver Chrysler Seabring convertible) to drive down here. We stayed with Chris & Rachele that night, then Thursday morning took off for the coast to a B & B near Depoe Bay:


After seeing all we could see in 1 day, we took off yesterday morning for Mt. Hood - taking the scenic route - and after ~6 hours in the car, we arrived in Sandy at the other B & B:

We couldn't actually SEE the mountain from there, but it was a very pretty, rustic spot. It was a relatively short drive before we started wending our way up the twisting road to Mt. Hood this morning & we saw some pretty incredible views (no worries - a more lengthy description with pictures is yet to come).

Now we're back at Chris & Rachele's (after putting at least 1,000 miles on the rental car) drinking some IPA (India Pale Ale, for those of you who don't know good beer) and relaxing. Tonight we'll be heading to downtown Portland to eat, drink - more pale ale beers, since microbreweries abound here - and in general sightsee and have a good time. Chris & Rachel are super-cool people as well as excellent hosts, so we're having a good time just hanging out here.

Speaking of beer, this is probably the best place for me beerwise...now that I'm so picky with my brews and prefer a good ale to anything. For IPAs to date here I've had Long Hammer, Bridgeport Brewing Co., Terminal Gravity, Mirror Pond & Multnomah Falls; also we had Flying Dog Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale at Old Chicago (the first night) and so far it's my favorite!

We're looking forward to a night out with Chris & Rachele and I'll definitely write more about the trip once I get back and upload all my photos...I've only taken 497 thus far, which is crazy considering all we've seen!

TTFN,

DO NOT BUY A KOZIE'S GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG

When I first started researching European-bred German shepherds, I was amazed at how many breeders there are in the area - Minnesota as well as Wisconsin - so I had my work cut out for me to start looking into them.

Dani was also looking at the time, and we BOTH discounted Jeralyn Kennels in Wisconsin because the guy wouldn't even acknowledge that we wanted to do research before buying...he wouldn't even let us see any of his dogs! He said, "come back when you're serious about purchasing a puppy". It would seem he also runs a puppy mill - it's full of European-line GSDs, but it's a mill nonetheless. I'm not even sure that's the name of his outfit, since I can't even find the guy online so obviously he has no search marketing aptitude - that and the fact that his site is built with a flash entry page. But I digress.

I finally opted to purchase my pup - at 3 months of age - from Kozie's Shepherds in Mankato, MN. Although I wasn't crazy about the guy - Mark Kozitza - himself, the dogs were stellar (or so I thought at first) and the pup sounded perfect for what I wanted. He said that he exposes his pups to all sorts of stimuli at a young age, as well as people of all ages.

What bothered me was that she was in a separate kennel all by herself - away from all the other dogs - and she'd started to get scared when strange dogs would come up to the fence (i.e., when he got other juveniles in for training). I'm fairly positive he has no clue how to introduce new dogs into the "family", so in essence she learned to go berserk and bark uncontrollably whenever a new dog came around. And he did nothing to correct the situation.

I worked on that for a couple months after I got her, and she seemed to get over it. However, at the dog park she'll advance on another dog and if they run, she'll give chase. Then when she catches up, she barks intimidatingly and bites at the other dog's neck/back. If they retaliate, she quits; if not, she torments them until I can get her away.

Now, this might seem intuitively that it's my fault for letting her do this - but in the beginning, when she was 30-40 pounds, she mostly got nipped at and reprimanded by other dogs...which is what I wanted. Nowadays, she doesn't do it often - but if a dog starts running, she still will take off after them if I'm not right there to stop her. Again, the majority of the time, she's a great dog-park dog, and I have no problems, but sometimes she...almost "snaps".

Even more lately, she's started stalking other dogs - lying in wait and running at them - and then pouncing on them, while barking and biting. I've been trying to circumvent this...either by taking her the other way or just breaking her attention. I find if I can do that, she loses interest and merely runs up to the dog, but not in "stalk" mode.

Keep in mind that this dog gets a LOT of exercise. She's out for at least an hour and a half every day - which doesn't seem like much, but she's not hyper and actually is very calm. Most of the time :) Also, when we're at the dog park, we're there an average of 2 hours - so she gets plenty of running/walking time.

This is all leading up to this past weekend out at the Anderson Wisconsin Farm, where we had 8 dogs, 8 horses & 16 people...but 400 acres to run around in. Well, Zada was behaving pretty well, considering it was an entirely new situation, but she was stalking/pouncing on Tesa (which is normal, and Tesa can handle herself) but she was also doing it to an Aussie she'd never met until this weekend. They were playing somewhat rough, and when I was present I'd break it off because I don't want her doing that.

Well, needless to say, there were also 3 kids there - Sophia and 2 girls, aged 8 and 4. The 8-year-old was constantly running around, and whenever we were all in one area, Zada would be trotting behind her, normally with a stick in her mouth. At times I'd see the girl throwing a stick for the dogs - normally Zada & Tesa - but there was no fighting over the stick, and I'd watched them closely to be sure everyone was behaving. I didn't worry, since Zada loves kids and I trusted her implicitly with them.

That all changed on Saturday afternoon when she decided to stalk and then pounce on - while biting - the 8-year-old girl. I didn't see it, but I have eye witnesses who say that's what happened...plus Mom said she saw Zada stalking the girl earlier, but it broke off and she thought it was because of a fake goose by the girl. What broke her attention that time was Zada saw me walking a ways off, and came running to me (but didn't see it). The girl is fine - thank GOD! - Zada didn't break skin, in fact, I'm not sure she "bit", per se, but it was the same sort of "attack" she launches on other dogs.

SO. Now I have a dog that I cannot trust around kids - as well as some situations with dogs - so I called the breeder to talk about how to kill her prey drive around other dogs (I want to get rid of it in that situation, since I'm sure that's what led up to her jumping on the girl). Thing is, he didn't even sound very surprised when I told him what happened - when I asked if he'd ever heard of one of his dogs doing this before, he said, "well, not really". NOT REALLY??? He promotes his dogs as being kid-friendly and kid-safe, but the fact that he can't tell me "No, I've NEVER had a dog do that before" is VERY unnerving.

Also, on a side note, he says that he has a dog in each of the main police departments up here in the cities - St. Paul & Minneapolis - but I met a K-9 officer from the St. Paul PD, and he'd not only never heard of Kozie's, but he said they never get their dogs anywhere but directly from Europe. As in, they buy adult dogs and have them shipped. He does have a dog in the Minneapolis K-9 department, BUT, I'd be damn sure about information before I spout off about it to a prospective buyer.

The point is, I'm working with Z on the issues - had my dog instructor come out for a lengthy consultation...turns out there are things I can do better, such as mentally stimulate her more, that'll help with this. But, the fact remains - she's been bred for a high prey drive AND she's extremely dominant.

All in all, I'm very disappointed that I got bad vibes from this Kozie's guy from the get-go but didn't let that stop me. When purchasing a dog - especially one that's a working line, intelligent creature - you need to be ABSOLUTELY sure that you're comfortable with everything. He rubbed me the wrong way from Day 1, but again, I was so impressed (at first) with the dogs that I thought, "once I buy her, I'll never have to deal with him again".

Well, now I never will. I will never, EVER recommend Mark Kozitza to anyone - in fact, I'll steer people AWAY from him if they're in the market for a German shepherd. I'm keeping Zada, and will continue to work with her on this kid issue because, overall, she's a good dog and I do love her. BUT, if she ever shows a tendency towards children like she showed this past weekend, she's gone. PERIOD. No ifs, ands, or buts. The only reason I'm giving her "one chance" is because I want to believe she did it out of a false sense of "play". If she does it again, I'd thought about simply dropping her off with this Kozie's guy and leaving her so he can deal with her issues. But, I simply dislike him so much I don't ever want to see him again.

Long story short - if you're in the market for a European-line German shepherd, DO NOT BUY A DOG FROM KOZIE'S SHEPHERDS IN MANKATO.

Anniversary of Nascency

Q: On average, how many birthdays does a woman have?
A: One.


Q: On average, how many birthdays does a woman celebrate?

A: Hopefully more than 28.


Ha. That's my attempt at humor - which is pretty good, considering my blood sugar is rapidly plummeting. It's almost time to dive into the erstwhile-full bag of Jelly Bellies sitting at my desk. It's a vicious cycle, though, because you eat something, and you get all jacked up on sugar, but then you have that much farther to fall when you "come down". I should know better by now.

Anyway. So I'm turning 29 - though not until 8:05pm tonight. I'm enjoying my last precious hours on this earth as a mere 28-year-old. *Sigh* Who'm I kidding - this birthday is just like a myriad of others that don't "mean" anything.

Now, NEXT year, that'll be something else. I might have to be sedated to make it through the day. Kidding. Maybe.

Enough about me - Lil' Z's birthday was this past Tuesday...she's 1 year old! I still consider her a puppy, but I swear she's changed in the past week again to look more streamlined and mature. Keeps changing colors, too - some days I think she'll end up being dark, others she has almost a strawberry-blonde tone to her fur. It's weird.

Speaking of Zada, I can't believe I haven't updated her pictures yet...maybe tomorrow I'll take a portrait of the 2 of us - the birthday girls!

Hopefully the weather's nice tomorrow...supposed to be heading up in a hot air balloon over the St. Croix. Evidently it's tradition to have a glass of champagne when you land; I'm thinking I'm going to ask for it beforehand so I'm calmer. Not quite sure how I'll handle being WAAAY up in the air in a tiny basket! Fingers crossed that I can let go of whatever I'm clutching onto long enough to snap some photos. This is all if the weather cooperates, because there's only about a 20% chance we'll even be able to go - since they're pretty strict with wind speed and the like.

Well, I'd best get back to work...yes, I'm at WORK on my birthday. How sad that all my friends are here, so what'd be the point of taking a day off anyway?!

(PS: I'm thinking of you today, Kwistin!)




Random Thought

Why is it that of all the days to have an inner ear blockage, it has to be the day that the whole company will gather at Nicollet Island for an afternoon of drinking and conviviality? I.e., this morning, after I slunk out of bed at 4:47am and was making my bed, I almost fell twice, and later, while walking Z, I couldn't walk a straight line for the life of me. Not sure if it's the sinus cavities that're pressing on everything or some random head cold...either way, the equilibrium ain't what it normally is today.

Which circles me back to the point - I'm going to look like a drunken sailor at the work function, even though I won't have had a drop to drink. Now, this begs the question - do I go around telling everyone that I have an inner ear imbalance, or do I just not say anything?

Maybe a couple drinks will balance me out. Then again, maybe not.

Either way, I got 2 free T-shirts from the company for our event. Which is gouda.

Like the cheese.

The Great Clean-Up

It's almost time. I've been putting it off this morning, but the cleaning is about to commence. I've spent the greater part of this summer heading up north to the Bernier Spa & ranch to ride Ky and Joon in order to prepare for the 2 horseshows in which I participated the last 2 weekends. (Wow, that's one heckuva sentence.) Speaking of, here are a few images of me showing Ky ---

English:
Mom & I with our blues:
Western:

Re: clean-ups...notice the picture of my mother with ONE of her blue ribbons. Out of 3 classes, she took away a 2nd and TWO first-place ribbons. She rode well, had a blast, and cleaned house! I'm VERY proud of her :) Me, on the other hand...well, let's say I placed in all 4 of my classes. I walked away with a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Ironically, the western classes were my best performance-wise yet I WON my english pleasure class - in SPITE of Ky deciding he wanted to buck during the canter the first way. Evidently the judge missed that :)

Anyway, in short, I've been spending a lot of time NOT at my house on weekends while having fun horsing around. Which translates to NOT cleaning my house. For a long time. By "cleaning" I mean DEEP cleaning. I dust every nook & cranny (even on top of the doors/windows), then sweep (even under furniture), then mop, THEN I vacuum*. And, normally I do this every Saturday morning. EVERY SATURDAY.

Why on earth do I subject myself to this, one might ask. Well, it's my house, and I need it to be clean. Plus, before I had to because my roommate's dog was a Golden and shed like it was his job; now with Zada it's the same thing - only spread throughout the entire house is her ever-present German shepherd hair.

Needless to say, my little house is in for an overhaul cleaning day. Unfortunately for Z, who must remain outside while I clean, it's currently raining. Bummer for her. Oh well.

*I bought my first vacuum cleaner yesterday! It's a Bissell bagless - I'm pumped. Yes, my first one, by the way. Up until the last time I cleaned (I'm desperately trying to remember when that was...), I'd been using a borrowed vacuum - which, sadly, has finally "bit the dust" for the last time, so to speak. I'm going to have to tell OB that his little sucker is dead. I owe him a new one - if he even remembers he lent it to me in the fall of '03, when I moved into my first apartment :)

Well, that's about it for now. Hopefully the rain clears up...if it doesn't, I'll just have to walk Z in the rain. Pretty sure I won't melt.
Hasta la proxima vez - - -






A Breakthrough!

Since I've joined a gym, the dilemma has been getting home to let Z out and exercise her, then feed her, make sure she's done her "thing" and then bundle her back up again in the crate while I go work out.

I feel guilty having her in the crate all night (granted, she's sleeping), all day while I'm at work, then AGAIN while I'm at the gym. A couple times I've blocked her in the kitchen for short periods of time, but the last time I did it, I didn't think it through...took her down to Crystal Lake and threw a stick in the water for her for half an hour, then came back (she DID pee) and threw her in the kitchen. Well, when I got back she'd emptied her bladder on my floor - but, it was the linoleum floor so that was better than on the wood. Anyway, that put the kibosh on leaving her out for a while (even though it was my fault :).

Well, since my foot's been hurting (I accidentally did a 10K a couple weekends ago) I haven't been walking her; merely throwing the ball in the yard for her all the time...she didn't get much play-time in yesterday before it was time to head to the gym, and I was feeling guilty, so I left her in the kitchen - "blocked" in with 2 of my cheapy Ikea chairs. I took the rugs out and put her dishes up (the less the temptations the better) and left her a rawhide. I got back in an hour and a half to a busily chewing dog and a clean kitchen!

I was VERY proud of her. She is almost 11 months old (this Saturday marks the official date) but nonetheless, it's a bit nerve-wracking leaving a puppy out in the house - albeit a small part of the house - while I'm gone!

Anyway, I just realized I never posted her 10-month pictures, so before she turns a month older (and therefore I have new ones - yes, I'm "that mom") here are some images of my pretty girl...


European German Shepherd at 10 Months
European GSD Face
German Shepherd Eye Close-Up
(The last one is the image my mother thought HAD to be entered in the fair back home...so we'll see how it does. Yes, I realize it breaks the omnipresent Rule of Thirds - but let's be honest, rules are meant to be bent, if not completely broken, right?)

Horsin' Around...

While I watch one of the myriad of episodes featured on 2007's Shark Week, I'm sipping a beer and recovering from my gym workout today.

In addition to bench, flys (flies?), incline press, and abs today, I've added 2 new leg machines (for inner/outer thighs). Whew! Even with the addition of horseback riding into my exercise regime this summer, those things kicked my...legs...today.

Also, I'm working a lot harder (able to work harder?) on my arm muscles, so it's an all-over makeover :)

So, why all the working out - as well as the addition of the new machines - you might ask? Well, I need to strengthen everything for rehab in order to be able to run again...and the inner thigh machine is strictly for the 2 horse shows I have coming up in the next 2 weekends...well, ok, to be honest, if I'm working the outer thighs, I need to balance, but mostly I'd just like to have the leg strength to get good rides out of my mounts this weekend (and possibly next).

Yes, I'm riding TWO horses at the Crow Wing County Fair...my new horse, Ky, was so well-trained back in the day that even after sitting - unused - in a pasture for 4 years, he's doing VERY well with flexibility and collection. (Not to mention being steady as a rock and taking his leads consistently.)

I'll also be riding Joon, my mom's horse, even though it's been Mom who's been riding her for over a year and getting her in shape enough for me to even think about bringing her into 2 english classes. She's doing much better - still not consistent with giving me her leads right away, but I'm confident that even if we don't do everything correctly we'll still have a lot of fun.

The last time I did this much riding was the summer I came home from Spain and lived at Mom & Dad's while I job-hunted online(via dial-up, no less). It's a lot of driving, but it's fun and the weather's been great - so getting to relax on the lake isn't bad, either!

Hopefully I'll have plenty of non-geeky pictures to share after this weekend's events...oh, and another thing - Mom thought I needed to enter some photography as well. Should be interesting. I want to have fun and get back to my horsey roots, and then I'm looking forward to an Oof-da Taco (in essence, a walking taco on a fried flatbread-type shell). YUM.

Hasta la later -

A Horse! a horse, My Kingdom for a Horse!

Since even before last fall - when my horse was put down at the ripe old age of 27 ½ - I've felt horseless. I hadn't used Kamell (the old boy) in a few years because he was retired, had a bad leg, etc.

Well, the equine gods have smiled upon me and presented me with my very own, very LARGE new horse!


Appendix Quarter Horse

(This post has been interrupted by a very important team meeting...)

Time for Change...

As I alluded to in yesterday's post, times are a-changin'. I'm no longer 18 (insert mental humming of George Burns here) and my body tells me this every day; I'll be seeing my high school buddies in Crosby for my 10-year high school reunion next weekend...and I'm thinking of getting a tattoo.

Boy, I sure hope my grandma's not reading this blog...

While I was in Miami (at SES) a couple weeks ago, I visited Miami Ink - just to look around...well, also to see if those guys'd be willing to sell their art (in order for me to bring it back to MN to have some INFERIOR tat artist re-create it)...the answer was, of course, "No." Figured so, but thought I'd give it a whirl - the only reason I didn't get it done right then and there was because I just don't think a tattoo should be an impulse purchase.

*Sigh* Besides, Ami wasn't working that day :)

So, a diamond is forever...but it can at least be passed from person to person on down through the generations. Now, a tattoo, on the other hand, THAT'S forever - forever imprinted on YOUR body. Period. If in the back of your mind you're thinking "but I can always get it removed with that laser thingy if I get sick of it", think again. No one's going to do that - I hear it's a very painful, long process and there are no guarantees they can totally rid the skin of the ink.

Anyway. The point is - it's a permanent thing, and you better be damned sure what you want and that it's relevant to you today, tomorrow...forever.

For anyone who knows my mother (or if - God forbid - Mom, you're reading this) I'd say a) don't tell her and b) I'm merely CONSIDERING it. I've thought about it off and on over the years, but have never found anything I'd want imprinted on my body...but I think I've found "the one"; now it's just a matter of getting used to the idea of FOREVER.

To quote Mötley Crüe, "...nothing stays the same / now it's time for change / not tomorrow, but today..."

Of Legs, Life and Love

Random Thought: Remember when people used to keep diaries and keep them locked up in a safe, secure location so NO ONE could ever read their deepest, darkest secrets? I think I kept a "journal" while I was in Spain...every once in a while I'll take it out of the closet and re-read my thoughts, frustrations and ideas. Now I just put them out for anyone to see. My, how things change.

Speaking of change, I also remember the good old days of being able to lace up the Nikes and head out for a 5-mile run and not think a thing of it. Now I struggle to walk my dog 2 miles without my IT band sending stabbing pains up and down my leg. Very frustrating.

Oddly enough, Lil' Z has been favoring HER leg (her left front - just like me!) the last few days so we've both been taking it easy - yesterday she was doing much better but I took her to the park and threw the stick for her in the water for quite a while ... then forgot about why I was exercising her that way and threw it a couple times up on land - she came back limping. Dangit. Needless to say, between that and my chiropractor appointment yesterday we didn't go for a walk this morning. (And, because I can't NOT put a picture of her here:)



But, that's life. Children definitely DO get older, as Stevie Nicks pointed out. Other than the leg (and some obstacles I'm surmounting at work - no need to delve into that here) I'm pretty happy with my life right now. Things are, overall, VERY good!

I'm heading home (i.e., to visit the 'rents) tomorrow after work and won't return until the morning of the 4th...sounds backwards but I need to save vacation plus I wasn't sure about being there for over a week. The 10-year high school reunion is the following weekend -I'm actually looking forward to it - so I'll be heading back up for that. It'll be fun to talk about being single & carefree amidst all my married-with-kids friends :)

Some people might think, "Aren't you worried about what people will think of you still being single while everyone else is married?" I say, HELL NO! I wish they were all single like me so we could go back to having fun - no offense to those who have a) husbands / wives; b) kids; c) all of the above.

I just don't see myself getting into any of that for a while...I love my life just as it is too much right now! Maybe someday I'll change my tune; for now I'll bask in the warmth of being "selfish" and cruising through life without a (major) care in the world.

Until the next entry...

The World is my Bane

Ever have one of those days that's just the WORST DAY EVER but it's only 7:30am? Yeah, today's one of them.

Let's forget the fact that yesterday I had to head to the chiropractor's for a thorough working-over of my IT band / glute (which has left me bruised, battered, and in pain)...but around 3:30 this morning, Zada decided she wanted to be REALLY loud about getting comfy in her crate, which went on 'til 4am when I finally relented & got up to let her out. Turns out all she wanted to do was head outside and lick the grill. Awesome.

Then, the thermostat isn't working in my house - the blowers were on for HOURS last night (which I didn't notice) but the thermometer never moved even though it was FREEZING in there. So I'd shut it all down before going to bed- didn't want the system to overload or something. Regardless, at 4am it was hot in my room so I fiddled around with the damned thing and it finally seemed to be working.

That left approximately 30 minutes to toss and turn before the alarm. There's more but it's wearing me out even e-complaining about it all...when I got into work, one of my co-workers asked me the somewhat-rhetorical "how're you today?" and I answered in truth. His reply: "Well, the day can only get better from here."

I almost clocked him.

On a brighter note, it IS Wednesday, which means I'm halfway through the week and that much closer to relaxing. Wait. I have to mow my lawn, fold "bushels" of laundry and pack for Miami. *Sigh* Nevermind.

Bienvenido a Miami

At the behest of my team lead here at FindLaw, I'm speaking at a Search Engine Strategies conference in less than 2 weeks.

Well, I was accepted as a presenter after she sent them a mock-up of what I'd be talking about...but either way - whoa.

The place: Miami. The event: SES Latino '07. I went last year, too - the inaugural run - but as a mere attendee. This year, I get to wear a special badge and might even get to "hang out" with the likes of Nacho Hernandez from iHispanic Marketing Group.

Last year, it took me a while to warm up and start chatting away with everyone - in Spanish, of course - mostly over Googlitos (Google's version of Mojitos) at the big soirée, so hopefully this year I'll just jump right back in where I left off. Should be fun, to say the least! And...as much as I adore public speaking (NERD!), I'm uber-glad I'm presenting the 1st day so I don't have to drive myself nuts WAITING for my session.

Well, that's about it for right now - of course I'll write more about it when the time comes...in the meantime mediocre stories about my dog will have to suffice.

Proud Mama

Being a 'single mom' is hard work, and oftentimes frustrating (because of the amount of time involved and happy hours missed) but when it all comes together and your little one offers up a 5-star performance, it makes it all worthwhile. I'm referring, of course, to my furry baby, Zada (also fondly known as Lil' Z, Zadar or "Hey Buddy")...

Yesterday, I attended a couple of Memorial Day activities - brunch at my aunt/uncle's home in Circle Pines and dinner in Rosemount at a friend's house. I brought Z to both, and tied her out for the brunch (they live by a 2-lane road and I was nervous about her wandering) but the 2nd one (a housing development in a quiet area) I let her loose and they even let her in the house...she was SO good! She even outperformed the 8-year-old hunting Lab (highly trained, from what I was told). I was SO proud.

She had quite the day and was just as amicable as ever - plus I received many compliments on her impeccable behavior.

I'm short for time (lunch break!) but here are up-to-date images of her:





This was after about 2 hours' worth of ball-throwing at my friend's house...in the 80-degree humidity. She FINALLY laid down for a brief respite before dropping the ball at my feet again :)

Ciao for now!

I'm Sore from Kickball...

That's right. Sore from participating in a 3rd-grade schoolyard game - granted, I'm not 9 anymore (closer to 29, therefore officially OLD), but I shouldn't have to take a long, hot bath and then stretch for 30 minutes just to be able to take my dog for a walk!

Ok, it's not that bad...but I'm definitely feeling it. See, with me, the debilitating muscle pain sets in 2 days AFTER the activity. So, the day after kickball (yesterday) I thought, hey, not too shabby for an old gal...and then I attempted to get out of bed this morning. Wowzas.

Anyway. This is all in the forefront of my mind because in approximately 15 minutes I'm heading out for the Walk for Animals in Golden Valley. Every other year (this will be my 5th) I've run it - but not this year. Too out of shape, too many problems with the IT band (for you non-biology people out there, that means Iliotibial band, and you can read more about my symptoms of IT Band Syndrome), and now too dang sore from kickball.

(Of course, I was voted MVP for that game, so that's something I'll always have with me...)

Well, it's about that time - I raised enough money by walking around asking "do you have a dollar?" at work in order to get the T-shirt. Gotta love "free" T-shirts!

A random thought: I read my personal "tagline" on a napkin this morning - "Dare to be Feisty."

Love it!

Hasta la later - - - oh, and HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!

Puerto Vallarta Beachfront Condo

Puerto Vallarta Sailboat

Need the perfect winter get-away vacation? If you love the beach, then this oceanside condo rental in Puerto Vallarta, México, should be your destination. Whether you're planning a romantic honeymoon or a kid-friendly family vacation, this beachfront location has everything you're looking for.



Plaza Dorada Condo 406 Master Bedroom
Located just a 30-minute cab ride from the Jalisco Airport in the Romantic Zone (Zona Romántica), this beautiful 3-bedroom, 3-bath condo is ideally situated within walking distance to authentic restaurants, shopping, the Malecón and many other fun attractions.

Plaza Dorado Condo 406 Balcony

In addition to the 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, the Plaza Dorada condominium boasts a kitchen/dining room, living room, laundry (both washer and dryer) within the unit, a balcony overlooking the ocean and weekly maid services. The entire building - Plaza Dorada - is a "gated" community, with access strictly limited to registered guests.

Puerto Vallarta Sunset

This beach vacation rental is offered to you for your vacation stay by appointment through the owners only. Take a closer look and book early, the 'popular' winter months - December, January, February and March - fill up quickly!

For more information about the condo, please email us.

It's Finally Summer...?

It would seem that summer is here at last in Minnesota - maybe. Don't pack up all the winter clothes yet, because the last time we were teased with an 80-degree day, we ended up having an inch of snow a week later. I guess that's not true, since last Saturday was quite warm and we're still enjoying the nice weather.

One thing the warmth is good for is tiring out your dog. I can definitely tell when it's hot to be wearing a constant fur coat because Zada doesn't take very long to tire out. Dani and I took the dogs on the Helping Paws Run & Romp yesterday in Shoreview, and it was gorgeous for us but the dogs' tongues were lolling halfway to the ground. Again, with working line German shepherds (or any other high-energy dog) that's a good thing :)

She was very good with all the other dogs / people around, so that was a relief...she still doesn't listen very well or heel as nicely as I'd like, but overall, she's coming along nicely (and I'm a bit too demanding with an 8-month-old pup sometimes).

However, right now I'm debating on whether or not to take her and Hogan to the dog park this afternoon...last weekend, she started back on her rough/loud "attack play mode" again, and while it's not harming anyone, per se, it's not appropriate, either...plus people freak out when they see a 50-lb German shepherd puppy "coming after" their dog. I don't want to be THAT GIRL at the dog park...again :)

So, we'll see. Maybe we'll just go for a nice, long walk on the parkway and then park it under a tree somewhere and watch the world go by. That's nice to do, too.

No new pictures yet...I have a couple of her, but nothing important enough to make me head downstairs, get the camera, hook it up and load them. Feeling pretty lazy today, actually.

That's about it for now...I should probably get going and exercise my dog :)

Long Time no Blog...

Life continues on as usual in my neck of the woods...I seem to be distancing myself from blogging, so I'll try to make a conscience effort to spam the internet (as my team lead, Julie, would say, "make the internet cry") with more random, useless information.

Lil' Z (as I fondly call her) continues to grow and develop...my little furry baby is now 51.5 pounds as of last Wednesday (at dog obedience). She is not yet 8 months old...so I can only imagine at what weight she'll tip the scales when it's all said and done.

We started Level II of the obedience program I'm in - that was last Wed. There are 2 dogs (and 3 owners) in this class from my last one, and I thoroughly get a kick out of my friends, the couple with the English bulldog puppy. (Who, by the way, at 5 months old outweighs Z by 4 pounds!) We're going over some of the basics from Level I and honing the details...but Zada is coming along QUITE nicely, I must say. We're still working on "heel", but I hadn't been very consistent with that one so considering I just started knit-picking today, she was responding with excellence.

(Right now she's laying on the kitchen rug snoring away...)

I'll have to take some pictures to document her growth - also, her reverse-skunk stripe. It's gotten wider and darker, but I'm still awaiting the full-body takeover that eventually will mark her ascent into adulthood...I mean, in regards to color, that is :)

Kozie's Shepherds (where I got Zada) has 2 litters that should be ready to go in a couple weeks.

Tonight will be our 2nd night of Level II, and though I do enjoy going, it'd be nice if it was at a more "decent" hour - since I'm a grandma and like to be home and settling in around about the time I leave for class. Oh well.

Speaking of, it's about that time to start getting ready to head out.

Hasta la later - - -

PS - My new favorite group: The Fray

Dog Park Hangover

So I was the sober cab for a St. Patty's Day fiasco. Mind you, I had a few beers at the beginning of the evening (ahem, afternoon) but next year, I'm going to figure something else out and not put myself through that.

I ended up with a paper cut on my index finger (could've been from earlier in the day, but let me tell you, it started throbbing at the bar), a cut from a butter knife lower down on the same finger, a neckful of mardi-gras beads and a hickey. Yes, a hickey. Evidently Parker thought it would be funny to lean in for a kiss and instead give me something to remember him by...for the next 4 days. I will now have to wear turtlenecks to work this week. Thanks, honey.

Oh, and let me just say, the beads were purchased, not 'earned'.

Yesterday started out innocently enough - with a 5K run/walk (which I walked) with Dani and Tucker. (And Little Z, of course) I figured with a 3-mile walk and that much stimulation (people, dogs, sounds, strollers, etc) my pooch would be more than willing to sleep in her crate whilst I was out at the bar with friends.

Well, let's just say anytime I go out into a smoke-filled environment, I end up with some sort of a hangover - regardless of what I've consumed (or not). So, this morning I was feeling a bit groggy but a mile-long walk cleared the head - and the sinuses - sufficiently.

Today it was off to the dog park with Z - she was so much better today than last weekend. Again, Dani and Tucker were there and this time while we walked the trails numerous times, both dogs were a constant by our sides. Well, mostly :) Whereas last time I saw my dog approximately 30 minutes' worth of the 3 hours we were there, this time she only took off a few times. She was definitely much better with the recall and coming back even when I hadn't tried to locate her. Hopefully the shepherd loyalty is growing!

I even ran into another Crosby alum while I was there - Jessie Blanchard! Crazy. She even owns a shepherd puppy - hers is 4 months and as big as mine at 6 months so she'll have a behemoth on her hands when he's full grown. It was random, but fun.

Zada is currently outside before I put her to bed - she and I are both hitting the sack early tonight because we're beat. Me because who knows and her because of her doggy park hangover...she's been sleeping ever since she finished eating at 5pm. It'll take her another day to get back into puppy mode, but for now this is heaven.

Well, since my downstairs shower is broken, I'm forced to shower upstairs - there's no filter up here, so I'm not too enthused...plus I'll have to cart everything I need from down below so even the thought of it tires me more. (Parker's coming over tomorrow to fix whatever's wrong with the stupid one in my bathroom.)

Once more, I wish I was here again...

(Notice the abhorently crooked horizon line. I recently gave a presentation to my photo club, and this might've been one of the examples of how NOT to do it. But, other than that, I'd still like to be right there.)

Ciao - - -

Zzzzzz...

Let me tell you, it was hard getting out of bed this morning at 4:45. No, that wasn't earlier than usual for me - that's the time I get up EVERY MORNING. Ok, not so much on the weekends, but during the work week. Sometimes, I wake up before the alarm and LEAP out of bed. Those are good days.

Days like today drag on interminably and I think it has something to do with the attitude in which I leave my bed. If I even lay there for 1 minute after the alarm goes off, it can change the whole day. Oh well. This morning it was 5 minutes :)

Muddy season has started - i.e., my backyard is literally a SWAMP and Zada loves tromping right through the thickest puddles/mud. This means when she comes inside, I spend 2 minutes toweling her off, and an additional 2 following her around the house, wiping up smudgy, muddy puppy prints. Doesn't matter how much I clean her...here she is in my yard BEFORE the muck:


(I call the big ears her "Zadar"!)

We have obedience class tonight - I'm excited because she's really doing well with "sit" and "down". We're not using the commands yet; just getting them to do it through hand signals. She catches on quickly - especially when treats are involved.

Well, I'd best get to work. Since I no longer have internet access at home (temporarily but it feels like forever) I'm forced do blog at work. (Wogging?)
TTFN - - -

One Treat at a Time

At obedience class last night, I learned something very important. It's not HOW you give the treat, it's the actual TREAT YOU GIVE.

I'd been frustrated with Zada's lack of focus lately - ever since returning from vacation, I'd noticed that she was not paying attention to me very well. Our first class back from our hiatus was horrible - she was the worst dog in class!

Well, last night we got off to a rocky start, the instructor could make her do anything and she wouldn't even LOOK at me! I was beginning to think I had somehow ruined my dog. Then, the trainer gave me a handful of her treats - mini, cheddar Goldfish.

Instant focus. I mean, Zada was an entirely different dog. All of a sudden, she was the teacher's "pet" again - she was used as the demo dog throughout the class because she was doing every exercise beautifully. It was great.

Definitely MUCH easier and a lot less frustration to get your dog to do what you want when there is a high motivator. Granted, at some point we'll be weaning the dogs off the treats, but for right now, she's doing everything and is quick and enthusiastic about it. I guess it's going to be Goldfish from now on - until she gets sick of them, that is. (Another couple in class buys freeze-dried liver treats for their bulldog and they gave me some - another VERY good treat that she likes.)

On to other topics - my tan is fading. Alas, no one cares but me, but it's still disheartening to think that a couple weeks ago, at this time I was probably sitting on the balcony sipping coffee and watching people walk/run on the beach while listening to the waves. *Sigh*

Speaking of waves, here's my cousin, Drea, taking a break from shell-hunting to check them out:



Hasta la later - - -

Post-Vacation Stress Syndrome

This has been a long hiatus, but rightly so, since there was no way I was going to update this thing from the beach.

I got to see this every night for 2 weeks:

Puerto Vallarta Sunset Clouds

...and it was glorious. Mom, Dad, Parker and I headed down on Feb 9th to the new condo in Puerto Vallarta (PV) and didn't come back 'til the wee small hours of Feb 25th (in a blizzard). For the first week it was just us 4; the second week we were joined by my Aunt Cindy (otherwise known as "AntC", because she is), her friend, DJ, and my cousin, Drea.

It was very fun and having Drea down there to hang with was cool - seeing as how I can count the number of times I've seen her in the past 5 years on 1 hand. Using like 1 finger. She's the reason I now have a MySpace account, but I'm NOT a junkie. Although, I just got a cool background today :) I'm into animal prints nowadays

Well, since this has mainly been a Zada blog, I should give an update. She's doing well - back from her 2-week 'vacation' at the breeder's where he worked with her every day on basic stuff - leash-work, sit, down, recall, etc. She was GREAT with him; now not so great with me. But, we're working on it.

Took her to the dog park for her 2nd trip (we went before, only 3 weeks after I had her) and she was a bit wiggy at first, but then settled into running EVERYWHERE, chasing after dogs, playing somewhat rough (but mostly getting disciplined by the other dogs for it) and NOT listening to me when I'd call her. By the end of an hour and a half, she was ready to come to me.

Evidently she'd eaten her fair share of snow because she had no less than THREE accidents in the house the rest of the day (this was Sunday). I was very disappointed; I'd thought she was mostly potty-trained...meaning she knew to go to the door at least, but nope. We're back to square 1. Now I watch her constantly and am trying to be consistent and get her back into a routine. We'll be going to a different park this Saturday with Dani and Tucker so hopefully it' won't be a repeat with the peeing in the house afterwards.

This is getting long...but I do have to show this picture of my little girl helping me pack the night before I left on my trip:

German Shepherd Puppy Helping Me Pack Cute, eh?

Ciao for now...

Outpatient

I would like to report that Zada is doing wonderfully after her spay/microchip yesterday. She was a bit sleepy last night, and since they didn't want her to have a lot of water/food, she was pretty hungry today, too.

A breakthrough has been made with her medications - of course now that she's near the end of the course and there's only 1 left - I threw her antibiotic in with her food tonight, and in her utter haste to wolf down her food, she either chewed it hastily with the other kibble or it went right down. Jackpot!

She has pain pills for her spay, but they're "chewy" and "liver-flavored" so I give them to her as treats.

Here's what we learned up at the Bernier Ranch & Spa this past weekend:

The famous command is "On your bed!" and she's pretty good with it. (Yes, Mom, she does use the bed you gave her for Christmas :) Doesn't always want to stay there if I leave the room, but for a not-quite-5-month-old pup, she's VERY obedient! Also, especially now that she's got sutures and a healing scar, she's not supposed to interact with Mack (the roomie's dog) so whenever they come downstairs, she has to keep laying down, even if Mack comes over to sniff and want to play. She's very animatedly laying down, but she stays down! Very good girl.

Well, that's about it for today, seeing as how Parker's steaks are almost done and it's time for a glass of wine. We're going to be watching a couple of episodes of The Wire, which I got him for his birthday. He's very excited that I'm going to 'get hooked' on this show. I just don't see how something can replace Sex and the City, which, even tho' it's no longer on TV, is still my favorite show ever! Hmmm...a close rival would be The X Files, but I didn't like it when Mulder left.

Ok, that's major digressing...plus I've been informed I need to 'wrap it up,' because the steaks are done. (Hey, he's cooking, he can totally call the shots!)

Hasta la later - -- - OH, and speaking of hasta, one week from today I'm going to be FREAKING OUT because I'm leaving for Puerto Vallarta! Not 'til Friday the 9th, but I'll let myself get out-of-control excited next Wednesday.

The Spay

Today I take Zada in to the vet for a double procedure - she's going to get spayed and microchipped at Heritage Animal Hospital in Maple Grove. I never thought I'd be a person to microchip my dog, but let's be honest, the $45 is worth it if she ever gets lost and there's a better chance of me getting her back.

Tho' I did point out to Mom - who was a strong advocate of getting it done - if she does go missing in The Cities, it's MOST likely because someone kyped her and they're either going to a) sell her or b) use her for baiting a pit bull (or worse). But we won't think of either of those scenarios. (Especially since it'll be that much harder for someone to get into my yard come next week when my fence is finally (?) installed!)

Anyway. She was confused that she didn't get breakfast this morning, but evidently she got over it, since as I type she's curled up in her crate - of her own will, I might add.

This past weekend was her first trip up North to the Bernier Ranch & Spa...she LOVED it. Of course, Mom's Golden, Tesa, loved it, too. They ran and played and ate poop all weekend. Doggy paradise. The latest pictures:






I love the "er?" look.

Well, that's about it for now - tonight and the next few days I'm supposed to keep her "quiet" without much movement...so we'll see how that goes.

Unfortunately, she'll have to miss doggy obedience tonight, but the trainer said I can practice with her dog instead, which is a 4-month-old Mastiff. Should be interesting.

Ciao.

Blogger Killed the TiVo Star

As I sit here updating my iPod with my sister's CD collection (I'm on a run of '80s music - hence the title twist) I can't help but wonder...would I REALLY drive a million miles to be with you tonight?

I'm not sure. I don't have that kind of time OR gas money, let's be honest.

Or, the whole "I'd walk (500, 1,000) miles just to be at your side" idea. No one in their right mind would do that. I'm doing the Breast Cancer 3-Day this summer, and that's about it. And, don't forget that's 60 miles stretched over 3 days; it's not like I'm huffing and puffing my way through hundreds of miles just for a kiss.

.......................................................................................

Time has passed...it's now 7:48pm on Thursday, and I'm FINALLY sitting relaxing with my Bloody Mary (complete with TWO beef sticks) after a VERY long day.

I've been up since 3am, essentially. I don't fall back asleep once I'm awake, and little Zada had diarrhea again this morning - so woke me up to take her out (which is a good thing!). Tossed and turned 'til 5am, then hit snooze before taking her for an abbreviated walk. Fed, watered, etc, she was content to lay at my feet as usual while I got ready in the bathroom.

When I got home, however, it was the start of a whole other nightmare. I could smell it the moment I hit the kitchen - I approached her door with trepidation and as soon as it opened the stench hit me like a tsunami.

I changed my clothes first (I was in a skirt) and bundled up, and then carried her - crate and all - through the house and out into the yard. She had it on her, it was all over her towel, it was on the sides of the crate, the 2 toys left in there...it was horrendous.

Long story short, as I was starting to clean up she crouched to go poo and I noticed she was passing blood. Bundled her up in the car and we headed to the vet - AGAIN. After they waived the exam fee (since I'd just been there on Saturday) I "only" had to pay $60. More medication (and antibiotic to add to the Albon she's taking for coccidia), a bag of bland dog food and waterless shampoo.

Ugh.

Needless to say I've finally put her "new" crate up in place of the old, which is drying down in the basement. It's a Life Stages Wire Cage deal that's easily collapsible/portable. It also has a divider which you can move as the dog grows. So, it's time to switch over anyway :)

Hopefully all this new stuff helps and we can be RID of these problems. I'm just LOVING dog ownership right now. I'd say it can't get any worse but I'm afraid of Murphy's Law.

Well, it's definitely time to go vegg in front of the TV. Parker's coming over after bowling tonight, and I'm giving him his belated birthday gift - the first 2 seasons of The Wire, which he's evidently majorly hooked on these days. (He has no idea I have a blog, nor would he have time - or want to! - read it before said gift opening, hence my boldness.)

Toodles.

A Visit to the Vet

It's time for little Zada's first visit to the vet. She needs her rabies shot, plus I'm having them check out what's going on with her production of...soft serve. So, not only do I "get" to pay for said visit, shot, and any medication she might need, I'm also the lucky one who has to "collect a stool sample to bring in for analysis." Oh, goodie.

She DID cooperate this morning and left a nice one for me, but the thought of having it in my car is disgusting. I just picked it up in my hands and transferred it right to the front seat to get it over with. Kidding.

I guess I'm also one of "those people" that makes a list of all afflictions said dog is undergoing at the time so as not to forget to ask something once I get there. As of right now, besides needing the shot & the analysis of her BMs, she makes this "snarfing" noise sometimes...mostly after eating, so maybe she's not chewing all the way, or something. Also, she seems pretty itchy for a pup - fingers crossed that she doesn't end up with skin allergies like the last shepherd we had.

Also, I'll need to set up an appointment to get her spayed and microchipped (they do it at the same time, evidently the needle's pretty big for the microchip procedure), plus I need more of her dog food - they sell it there.

I feed her Solid Gold, which is what the breeder was feeding her and which is VERY expensive - $40 for a 33-lb bag! Once I get back from Mexico (the breeder's boarding her for those 2 weeks) I'm going to switch her over to Natural Choice, I think. It's still spendier than Purina or Iams, but I like the ingredients better and it's all natural (hence the name).

My mother and sister feed their dogs Purina Beneful, but the main ingredients in that are ground corn & chicken by-products, plus sugar, mega-preservatives and soy - which is a major factor in allergies for dogs. (Although the Natural Choice contains soybean OIL, which must not be bad?) Having a shepherd - they're prone to skin allergies; at least the American-bred ones are - makes me want to be very careful in what I choose to feed her because my old boy, at the end of his life, had skin problems so badly he'd lose almost all of his hair in the summer. Poor guy.

Anyway, it's time to get going...

Doggy Woes

Although I'm feeling much better (without the aid of alcohol, even) after the events of the evening - I've had time to cool down - I'm still a bit frustrated with the seemingly backward progress I've had with Zada.


She had 2 accidents in the house tonight - TWO! - when she hadn't had one (other than a little excitement pee) in 2 days. What's worse, we seem to be confusing each other with being consistent. She started going to the door and sitting by it, so I'd put her out. But, she wouldn't always do her business, plus sometimes I was going out with her and other times not. So, no, I wasn't consistent...but tonight I got fed up, didn't want to put on my coat/boots/hat and follow her out again, so I ignored her. Aaaaand she proceeded to let me know that wasn't a good idea by peeing on my rug. Of course, I didn't see her do it, so couldn't reprimand her.


After talking to my sister (ranting, actually) I'm going to do what she suggested: every time Zada goes and sits by the back door, she gets let out for 10-15 minutes. Even if, immediately upon entering the house, she returns to the door. I'm not going out with her anymore. Ugh. It's almost like a weight has been lifted.


So, after an hour of constant in and out, she's finally conked out by my chair like she normally is at this hour. I'm a BIT nervous about not going out with her for the evening potty trip...still considering doing that, just to make sure she goes or not. Oh well, I guess she didn't go last night when I went out with her, and she made it through the night...


I really, really don't want to get up at 3:15am again 'cause she can't hold it, but at the same time, I'm appreciative that she lets me know she has to go out because I'd rather get up butt-crack early than clean up a messy crate.


Ugh. This is tiring me just thinking about how much work potty training is. Let's talk about how she mauls my roommate's dog while they're "playing."


Since I don't have a fence, whenever either of the dogs (or both) go out, they're on the zip-cord. This creates a LOT of tanglement when they're both out and playing, of course. Can't wait for that fence. Anyway, Zada seems to think Mack wants her to pounce on him, bite him, growl at him, and drag him around by his NECK. He's a Golden, so he has oodles of patience and is so nice he never gets after her for playing too rough, which she does. At the same time, she's not hurting him, and they both get exercise so they play every couple days or so.


Inevitably when they're out together, this is the end result:




I.e., they're inextricably tangled (but in no harm) and Zada's the victor.

Hopefully by the end of next week, Alpine Fence will be here installing my new black, coated chain link and I won't have to deal with tangled cords and the dogs being confined to one area (as well as all their "presents")...we're waiting on the surveyor, evidently. Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly - and quickly.

Well, that's it for this evening. I need to get in a few minutes of relaxing reading before ... well, I just have a feeling I might be up really early tomorrow morning with this pup!

Life Changes

I can't believe I've not written for so many days. A lot has been happening, so I'll try to get myself caught up.

Zada and I just completed our first obedience class last night. I can't call it puppy class, as the age range is from ~10 weeks up to 10 years. I was looking for an animal "behaviorist," or someone that would help me teach my dog by being a leader and basically coming as close to the "Cesar method" as possible :) Well, I found her right in my own back yard. (Not literally)

Linda Brodzik is a canine behavior & training specialist who teaches owners/handlers how to be a LEADER for a dog - and be calm, confident, and in charge - while at the same time showing us how to communicate to our dog in a way they'll understand in order to receive desired behavior.

Last night we did a "targeting" exercise, sort of like "clicker training," but using the voice/body instead of a device. (As Linda points out, you might forget to bring a clicker somewhere but hopefully you'll always have your voice and body :) Zada was actually used as the "demo dog" to show the rest of the class the exercise. She caught on VERY quickly.

Obviously we're building up to a greater goal; Linda says we'll wean them off of needing a treat every time they perform a good behavior, but for right now our homework is to hone this training exercise. I'm excited to attend next week's session already!

This class is given at Heritage Animal Hospital in Maple Grove, which is only ~9 miles from my house. I decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and use this place for my vet clinic, as well. I have an appointment on Saturday for Zada's rabies shot...I'll also have them checking out whether or not she's got Giardia, which is an intestinal parasite (protozoan) that'll cause the symptoms she has, which, for the "cleanness" of this blog I shan't discuss here.

Just think DQ soft-serve...

I'm not sure that's what it is (Giardia, not soft serve) but from talking to others whose dogs have been treated for it, and based upon her latest hobby (coprophagia) that seems like the most possible culprit. We'll see on Saturday. We can only hope I have to start off with buying a bunch of expensive medicines, in addition to the cost of the dog herself, accoutrements, obedience class, a FENCE, dog food...

It's positively BALMY outside today - weather.com says it's sunny and 22 but with the wind it feels like 7. That's 7 degrees. Above zero, at least - and that's much better than the past couple of days with sub-zero temps + windchill.

Well, that's about it for now. Possibly more later (along with a picture, perhaps) ...

Ciao.

One Full Week and All's Well...

I just realized I haven't d'blogged (blogged about my dog) since Wednesday. That's a record for me.

Sadly, I also don't have any new pictures of my Ms. Zada...but maybe in the next couple of days I'll get some more. I don't really have a very good backdrop in my yard - since the snow's all dirty and trampled from where her zip-line is. That's where black & white images are nice - they hide some of that :)

She's doing well, settling into a routine more and more. She's MUCH better on the leash/Halti now, only pulls when we're in a new place or if she sees another dog. Today, we met several dogs - on the parkway and one in a park - and she has improved SO MUCH since I got her. She was "aggressive" towards the last 2 dogs we met, i.e., she was growling at them, but I was letting her know that wasn't acceptable. Plus, she'd never met 2 dogs at once before...at least, not with me, so I understand why she was nervous.

Oh, and she knows a command! "Sit." I didn't make her do it; just when she comes into the mudroom from outside, I don't unclip the cord from her collar until she sits down. So, I started saying "sit" every time she was already on her way down...then I'd scratch under her collar (she LOVES this) 'til I could get the clasp undone. 2 birds with one stone - she's calm while I'm unclipping her and she gets rewarded for having done something that I asked of her. Bingo.

I now ask her to sit before I put her food down, too - that'll keep her from rushing in while I'm bending over and jumping or whatnot...also makes her calm down before she eats. Let me tell you, she definitely doesn't mind working for food!

Right now, she's chilling outside on her cord while I'm in here typing away...sometimes she wants to go out and just hang out...sometimes not, but I check on her every 10 minutes and mostly she just lays on the steps and watches what's going on. She's pretty calm for a 4-month-old.

Also, she's very good with chewing on "approved" chew toys. Mostly. Sometimes it's hard for her to understand that not only am I off-limits, but my accoutrements are, as well :) She especially enjoys snuggling up to me on the floor and then oops, all of a sudden my moccasin shoelace is miraculously in her mouth...huh. She also tried chewing on my toilet lid the other day. I mean, I told her "no" but geez, I'd rather have her try that than my kitchen table/chairs/sofa/computer cords/clothes, etc.

My computer has become a very expensive radio. See, the PC is in my spare room/den/"office" and that's "her room" as well. Where she came from, there was a radio playing (country music, of COURSE) all day/night so since I listen to music while typing/surfing I just decided to leave it on for her. Wow. Maybe I'm humanizing her, but c'mon, I like to listen to music, and it can't hurt...

One more thing before I sign off...I haven't seen much of Parker since I got this pup. He's been busy, and so have I...but the kicker was yesterday on my way home from work when I was talking to him on the phone and he was mentioning that it seems like I'm busy with this puppy all the time...then he says, "It's like I'm dating a single mom."

All I could do was laugh and agree :)

Day 5 of the Rest of Her Life

So, I can't help but wonder...if I've had Zada for 5 days, and dog years are 7x that of human years - have I had her (in her mind) for 35 days? That would mean that by the end of next December, I'll have had her for a year (or 365 calendar days), but she'll have had ME for 2,556.75 days in her universe. Is her universe the same as ours?

Whoa. Nevermind.

Regardless, she's changed QUITE a bit since the first photo I ever saw of her (taken at 11 weeks and available for viewing in the posting labeled "Zada" below). The breeder says she'll get darker as she gets older...I think she's gotten darker since I picked her up on Saturday!


Yesterday was a trying day - for both of us - as we're both leaping over some hurdles. She's doing wonderfully for a pup who (before me) had never been walked on a leash, but in my mind I keep going over the same thing over and over...don't PULL me! I've switched from her choker to a Halti because I've seen it used/used it myself on numerous dogs and it's great. Growing up with horses you learn quickly - if you have control of an animal's nose, you have control of its body. Generally speaking, of course.

So she's MUCH better with the Halti, but still pulling...part of it is she wants to go faster than my power-walk, and part of it COULD be she's trying to assert herself as the "leader." Yeah, good luck with that. We'll see what the breeder can do with her for the 2 weeks I'm in Mexico (starting in ONE MONTH!) and then after that, I plan on enrolling her in a Level I puppy / obedience class.

Ideally, I'd win the lotto and have the time to badger Cesar Millan into taking me on as an apprentice, but oh well.

One thing about this dog - she's chock full of personality and fully loaded on 'tude. I wouldn't accept anything less :)


Miss Independent

As I'm listening to the song on my iPod I have to wonder...is being utterly independent a good thing? Mom says I was always "a joy" and I was "always entertaining." I think that's mother-speak for "you were a hard-headed, stubborn little thing and every day was a brand-new CHALLENGE!"

I think I turned out ok, but probably added to Mom's aging process significantly. Oh well - you've gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, right? Mmm...omelet.

Anyway, the point I'm circling around is this: I'm an independent female and put my mother through trying times. It's only poetic justice that the same fate shall befall me some day. Technically, since I don't plan on having kids in the near future, I shouldn't have to worry yet...but then along comes Zada and WHAM! there it is.

For a German shepherd puppy, she's pretty typical. She goes through phases of all the usual actions: chewing on appropriate toys, chewing inappropriate household goods, peeing outside, peeing inside, whining, barking, being cuddly, chewing on ME...but I can see she's going to be marching to the beat of her own drum someday.

Which is fine, but hopefully she learns the rules before she gets too big. She's improved 100% since I brought her home on Saturday - remember she'd been an outdoor dog her entire 4 months on Earth - she doesn't jump up (as often) on people or counters, is VERY good at not chewing on the myriad of dangling, low-hanging objects throughout the house (e.g. hairdryer cord), and is doing excellently on the leash, as well.

I've found that since she has no concept (yet) of what "no" means, the easiest way to discipline her is to be the alpha dog (amen, Cesar). The breeder would scold her in this way, too, and it works - I show my teeth, growl and/or bark at her. Think about it, dogs are hard-wired to be pack leaders or followers. If there's already a follower of the "pack," then they fulfill the follower role. Last night, she was sitting by my feet (I was on the couch) and I was leaning in, scratching her neck (she hates her collar) and she decided she wanted to try to chew on my hair. I showed my teeth and gave one loud, angry bark and she immediately stopped and put back her ears, then laid down with a sigh at my feet.

Hopefully tonight I'll get some more pictures of my "Miss Independent"...I think she's grown just since I got her 3 days ago!

Cheers!

A New Day

No new pictures yet, but it IS only 8:30am :)

I was wondering how it'd be putting Zada into her crate for the night...up until yesterday, she'd never been in one and here she was going back in for the night in a new place. She whined a little bit, but (as far as I know) never made a peep the whole night.

When I got up at 7, still no sound and since I'd been planning my course of action I set it in motion - put on my clothes, unlocked the back door, got my slip-on shoes ready, put my coat on, and went in to get her. I carried her out (wagging her tail the whole way), she said "hello", pottied, and I think I might've breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.

Next, she got fed and then I decided to take her on her first walk. Remember, up until yesterday she'd never worn a collar or been on a leash...so since she'd had time to get used to the zip-line, I figured it was time.

We had a bit of a battle going out of the yard into the alley, she balked and didn't want to go...I tried coercing her with food, but she didn't want it. Since I didn't have a ball/toy with me, I decided to just "Cesar Millan it" and started walking. She'd either fight me the whole way or get sick of being tugged by the collar and follow. Thankfully, she opted for the latter action.

By the time we were 2 blocks down the street, she'd gotten the hang of it...of course, every few blocks it was re-learned that she had to stay by my left side and not pull, but overall, she's a CHAMP and learns very quickly.

I took her out early so that she could see her surroundings but it would be quiet - not many folks out at 7:15am in Minneapolis. No cars passed us until we got to the parkway, but they were far away so she got a good look at them. They didn't seem to phase her.

The only thing we'll possibly have problems with is other dogs - we passed by on the other side of the street and a dog in a yard started barking at us...she didn't QUITE bark but was very intent on heading over that way but again I just kept walking and after several steps she went back to focusing on the walk. She definitely needs to be socialized.

That's all for now...we've had another successful potty outing, so hopefully we can keep the forward momentum!