Monday, September 30, 2013


While Zoey's here, we've got a 4 pet household. In the house, Zoey has to be separated from Gina. Outside, Gina knows to steer clear of the backyard when Zoey is out there. So when I bring Zoey in at night (she prefers to be outside as much as possible) I have to think about their arrangement. Luckily our new house has a door to the kitchen that can be shut so as long as you also close the door to the front bedroom, the front part of the house can be shut off from the back part and downstairs.

So since Zoey prefers peace and quiet at night, she hangs out downstairs and Gina hangs out upstairs in the living room area where I usually am. Even if she is outside before I bring Zoey in, she only has access through the windows to the front rooms so she will be safe when she comes in.

So that leaves Kaya and Norman. Luckily, they are in 2 minds about their evening activities so it works out perfectly! Kaya likes to sleep on my bed in the evening so she keeps Zoey company, who always lies on the floor next to my bed. Zoey likes both Kaya and Norman but Kaya is her favorite because they play fetch together, so it's fitting that Kaya is her evening partner.

And Norman is a nighttime couch potato so he likes to be upstairs with Gina and I.

This is perfect for Gina because though she likes both dogs, Norman is her true love. I often leave the room with both of them sleeping away next to each other and return to find Gina a purring mess, draped over Norman, nursing at his lips and kneading the side of his face (while he continues to sleep soundly). Yes, the nursing and kneading drives me nuts so I make her stop but she continues to purr away which is very cute.

So that's our nightly routine and it works out pretty well so that no one is lonely. When it's finally time for bed, Zoey has to go to my parents room because Gina will meow her little head off if I leave her in the living room but she will also meow her little head off if I keep her in or out of my room so basically she needs the whole house at night. Someone is spoiled! Luckily Zoey doesn't mind and I think she gets annoyed when I stay up late on my laptop anyways.

Does anyone else with multiple pets find there are pairs who favor each other for some reason? Of course the closest pair out of the 4 is always Kaya and Norman but this evening routine seems to suit them just fine.

Related Posts:
Wordless Wednesday: My Boo
Norman's Love Affair
Sleeping In

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I recently came across this collection of photos I took on Norman's first night with us. I think I have been hesitant in the past to post them because of the horrible quality, but on second thought, they are too cute not to share!

1st picture I ever took of him!

When I went to meet Norman for the first time it was evening by the time I got there. I think I dilly-dallied all day because in the back of my mind, I was trying to give myself a chance to back out. I knew it was a crazy move to bring another puppy into the mix when Kaya was already such a handful and I only lived in a tiny studio. The logical part of my brain was telling me I was being impulsive and insane, but the wishful part of my brain was telling me this could be the best thing for us. Luckily, dreams ruled over logic and I showed up to meet my little dreamboat. It was love at first sight for both me and Kaya.

The two of them played and played and played until I plonked them in the back of the Jeep and they slept next to each other all the way home. As I drove, I tried to prepare myself mentally for the idea of having another puppy in the house and the mayhem that may ensue. But it never came. Norman was easy as can be from the get go. While when she was his age, Kaya took a couple weeks of training not to be mouthy, Norman never once even tried. He was just all kisses and cuddles.

It was like having an older dog in the house with all the adorable cuteness of a puppy. He didn't try to get into any mischief and he didn't have any accidents in the house. He adored and admired Kaya's every move. I think I expected them to be non-stop wrestling but instead they did stuff like this...

He met the cat. Marty was already a dog fan and Norman was happy to meet another species. Even when he saw Marty dart back and forth across the yard in the dark, instead of wanting to chase and play, he stood there wagging his tail and gave Marty a kiss when he ran over.

And for some reason, his left ear stood up for those first couple weeks. It was too much!

That rogue ear...

I braced myself that first morning for a burst of puppy energy and activity, but all I saw was little cuddle monster, ready for another hour or so in bed:)

Puppy did your first night go?

Related Posts:
Throwback Thursday (Video Edition): The Puppy Way
Norman's Adoption Story
Puppy 101: How to Hold a Bone

Monday, September 23, 2013


A few months ago, me, my mom and my sister-in-law took all the dogs on a cool hike. Zoey and Motlie have only interacted once last year when she was a puppy and so it went pretty well! 

We weren't sure how it would go considering Motlie is a rambunctious uber-friendly youngster and Zoey is not very fond of dogs getting in her space but it turned out that Motlie pretty much ignored Zoey and was focused on Kaya and Norman. Motlie is actually pretty good about keeping to herself when other dogs aren't interested in her, but when she picks up speed, she takes out anything and anyone in her path. A couple times Zoey was the subject to that and she let out a growl, understandably, but that was the end of it.

I'm not sure who was more overwhelmed with their level of play, my mom or Zoey, but at some point my mom tried to get them to run with her instead of playing with each other. It was pretty funny.

Apart from that, we enjoyed the new hiking spot. It had a beautiful trail surrounded by tall eucalyptus trees leading up to an area with breathtaking views of Oakland, the bay and San Francisco.

Related Posts:
6 Dog Hike
Adventures with Motlie
Kaya & Norman Show Motlie a Good Time


I've been taking care of my parent's German Shepherd, Zoey, on and off since June and now she is with us for 6 weeks straight while my parents are back East. Zoey is a good dog but she, um...does whatever she wants. On her own, I would call her super easy. She is 10 years old now and so it doesn't take much to make her happy and comfortable. But she's got quite a few habits that I don't love and I worry it is rubbing off on Kaya and Norman either directly from watching her behavior in just as a sort of energy. Zoey can be so sweet and sensitive but she can also be insecure, protective and dominant.

I always say Zoey is a good dog who is poorly trained. Why is she a good dog? She is sweet, gentle, calm(usually), trustworthy with any human interactions, loyal and endlessly housebroken.

So what does she do wrong? She does not listen. Not even a little bit. She looks for zero feedback from me to know what we're doing or where we're going. She always has to be first or she'll do whatever it takes to get there. She jumps in and out of the car right away so you always have to be prepared when you open the door. Her sit and stay only last for a second no matter where we are. She will run after any animal and not come back until she's somehow defeated it or lunge at it if she's on a leash. She pulls like hell on the leash and zig zags all over the place. You have to basically drag her away from something she really likes sniffing and she'd pulls me down random streets if she wants to go a certain way.

She's better now that she's older but she cannot be trusted with most other dogs. She used to want to attack any dog in sight but now she mostly just tolerates them. She barks back and forth with the neighbor's dog constantly and she'll only stop if you're standing there. The second you turn around, she'll go back to it. Luckily Kaya and Norman have yet to start barking along with her, but I can't help but to think it is rubbing off on them somehow. Oh, and she wants to murder my cat.

So how does this effect my dogs? Norman especially has gotten into chasing squirrels in the yard with her. I think most people would not see this as a big deal and yes, it is normal dog behavior so why does it upset me? For one, he never used to do it so he's clearly taking cues from Zoey and acting out in ways he wouldn't otherwise. Also, I've always taught Kaya and Norman not to chase wildlife, in the yard and when we're out so I would hate for him to start now.

Kaya I think is particularly influenced by Zoey's lack of patience. Working with her on these things recently has made me realize that she is really amped about jumping on Zoey's bandwagon and ignoring my commands. I don't know if she wants to challenge Zoey for that top spot or just keep up with her but either way it leaves me in the dust. Even though Zoey is not that hyper herself, she adds a lot of excitement for Kaya because they like to play fetch together and so Kaya sees Zoey's every move as an opportunity to play.

So I'm weighing my options. Do I work with Zoey on the same rules that Kaya and Norman have to follow or do I leave her to it and show Kaya and Norman that they have to follow the rules irregardless? Maybe it will be a good teaching tool to get them to stay on track not matter what the distractions are. Or maybe it's a recipe for disaster to continue having them around her unless I get them all on the same page.

Does anyone else have an older dog that sort of rules the roost?

Related Posts:
Boot Camp
The Next Generation
Thinking of You

Friday, September 20, 2013


Norman is smitten...with the couch. He just can't get enough.

Granted it is a very comfortable couch. It's positioned under the window, it gets great sunlight during the morning hours and it's covered in a soft blanket. It even has a dip in the middle that he loves to slide his butt into. Norman has always loved a comfy spot but he really really loves this couch, as opposed to the other couches in his life, including the one on the other side of the room.

Sometimes he wakes up in the morning and while Kaya and Zoey are eager to go outside, Norman wanders upstairs and goes back to sleep on the couch.

And as much as he loves to eat, sometimes he can barely get himself up and off the couch at dinnertime, even with lots of encouragement on my part.

When people come over, he greets them happily, licks them and wags his tail at their feet but unless they continue to deliver cuddles and scratches, he goes and plants himself back on the squishy cushions and snoozes away while the humans mingle.

And after a long hot hike, Kaya likes to find a cool spot on the hard floor. But not Norman. No matter how warm he is, he makes a beeline for his beloved couch.

And every night it is a huge struggle to get him off the couch to come to bed. If I don't feel like calling his name a million times over like an excited school girl, I have to completely lift him up and off the couch to get him to relocate. And he lies there like a dead weight the whole time. I swear he can find a way to double his body weight when he's tired. Sometimes I shimmy his front end off and he'll stand there endlessly with his front end off and his hind end on.

And again, he won't budge until I clap my hands and call his name excitedly over and over. After he's safely removed from the couch, he stands there in a stupor, wondering how he was just in such a wondrous heaven and now's he's standing on the floor like a poor lost puppy. Again, I have to encourage him to follow me to the bedroom and I'd better keep checking behind me or else he may sleepwalk right back to the couch...

Though the other night, I made a surprising discovery. Norman and I walked into the living room together and for whatever reason, I decided to sit on the other couch. Norman walked around to his couch and looked at it and then back at me like he was asking permission. So I told him it's okay, good boy, go ahead. He looked back at the couch and sighed and then back at me. He was clearly torn or confused or something. Then he came over to me wagging his tail. His choice was clear. So I shimmied over and he planted himself next to me and then conveniently on my lap where my laptop once was. At least he still picks me over the couch! Just to proof it, he did the same thing again the next day.

Sometimes I am just too tired to make him get off the couch to come to bed at night so I just leave him there and I always wake up the find him on my bed in the morning. But not yesterday morning. I didn't get up 'til 9 and went upstairs to find him looking at me proudly on the sunlit couch.

I gave him a long cuddle and belly rub and left to make coffee, etc. He didn't get up until 11. That means he didn't feel the need to get up to say hi to the contractors who arrive at 7 (who he loves), he didn't get up when he heard the other dogs go out, he didn't get up after we cuddled and he didn't even get up to eat breakfast for an extra hour after I put it out! Silly guy...I think that couch has a narcotic effect:)

And to think, I was going to let my friend take it when she moved out because hey, it's kind of ugly and the cushions are sagging and the stuffing is coming out and it needs new upholstery, but then I thought to myself...Norman really loves that couch. And so it stayed...for now.

Does your dog have a favorite place to snooze?

Related Posts:
Norman Switches Teams
Throwback Thursday: How We Do Labor Day
Sleeping In

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Kaya, Norman and I kicked off September with our version of doggy boot camp. It had been a summer of slacking for us and their obedience had definitely been falling by the wayside. So I finally decided to do something about it since summer has finally started calming down. After getting a roommate, moving into a new house, having houseguests, going out of town, remodeling and having my parents plus Zoey here all the time, our structure has fallen apart a bit. Their recall is not what is used to be, their heel is wavering and their wait is also pretty sloppy lately. These are all super important as nearly all of our outings are off leash.

Plus Kaya's house manners are not great so far. She is a little saint when it's just me around but between my parents being here half the time, my roommate and guys working on the house, she is pretty excited with all the commotion. Something that has always been important to me is having the dogs be calm and respectful in the house which means no running, no playing and waiting patiently to go through doors, up the stairs and generally not being underfoot. Norman is naturally calm so it's easy for him but Kaya is always troubled by these rules. My mom tends to shout when she doesn't listen and she likes to praise with an excited, high-pitched tone but with an energetic dog these are the last things you should do. The best method for Kaya is body language, hand signals or quiet commands with eye contact. And to praise her just pet her calmly and allow her to get up and move only once she's calmed down. But these things are easier said than done!

To top it all off, whenever my mom is here, Zoey is too. My mom hates to hear it but I always say, Zoey is a good dog but not a well-trained one. She is sweet, loyal and mostly easy-going but she does not listen, she drags you on the leash, she barges through doorways, she barks all the time and she won't even come in from the yard when you call her. And of course my dogs are influenced by her so it's an added challenge. It's been a struggle to get everyone on board with getting all the dogs on the same page but now that my parents are away for at least 6 weeks, I have the dogs to myself to get everything more settled.

Of course, it's not going to be as horrible as the term boot camp sounds. We just need a refresher course. And to me it's more like getting back to the way we were doing things before and maybe even improving a bit! So here's the goals I've made for us...

Step 1 is morning training walks. For the first time, I will be taking Kaya and Norman out separately for a short morning leash walk. I will be arming myself with treats and the primary purpose is to have no leash pulling or loss of focus. They need to stay right by my side the whole time and sit/make eye contact whenever I stop walking.

Step 2 is heel. I found some awesome videos on youtube to train a proper heel. I've always wanted to teach them this. My idea is to keep the sessions short and fun. I am not worried if it takes a very long time to teach this as long as they are doing to right and enjoying it.

Step 3 is recall. I'm starting and ending every hike or park outing with some recall practice.

Step 4 is learn a new trick. To add some fun to all this, I've decided to teach them something new and fun. I haven't decided what yet!

So I'll post our progress soon and break down some of the steps, hopefully with videos! I think this is going to help all of us sleep a little better at night...

Has anyone else ever tried to set up a list of training goals and did it work out?

Related Posts:
Sophie Update
On Training Dogs vs Training People
Wordless Wednesday: C-, D, A+, A