Thursday, November 28, 2013


I'm thankful that I get to wake up to this...

I'm thankful that we can open our home to others...

I'm thankful for my little squeaker...

I'm thankful when we try new things...

I'm thankful when we meet new people...

I'm thankful for cousin pups...

And this elder-pup...

I'm thankful for our health...

I'm thankful when you make me laugh...

I'm thankful for our family...

I'm thankful for the amazing places we get to visit...

I'm thankful for the little things...

I'm thankful for the quiet times... 

I'm thankful for the crazy times...

I'm thankful for these faces...

I'm so thankful that I get to spend every day with you...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Related Posts:
Thanksgiving: Kaya & Norman Style
Holiday Craze
Throwback Thursday: How We Do Labor Day

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Last weekend my brother was finally home on leave from the Navy and so with my parents in town, we decided to have a big brunch. My brother and sister-in-law brought Motlie and Kaylie over to enjoy some always fun cousin time.

Kaya, Norman and Motlie play pretty rough but it works for them. It's funny because if Kaya and Norman played this way with a random dog at the park, it would make me nervous but they know each other so well that it's no big deal. They may look pretty evenly matched in the video but it's only because Kaya is helping Norman get Motlie, otherwise Motlie always trumps Norman and we usually tell her to cool it. But Norman never cares, I actually think he likes it because he always comes back for more. As rough as they play, they have never had so much as a scuffle or snarl. It gets them so exhausted!

When they take a break from play, it is obvious that Motlie and Kaya get way more excited than Norman. They all appear to be putting in the same amounts of effort during play, but afterwards Kaya and Motlie are always panting away and dying of thirst while Norman stands there, not panting at all and waiting for them to get back to the action.

Kaylie stayed inside to avoid being trampled. She is such a cute little sausage dog.

Later on, we all went to the park. The dogs had so much fun and it was beautiful as always. We were even able to bring Zoey!

My parents posed for a nice picture while Norman did some posing of his own in the background...

And I was able to get some great pictures of Motlie at sunset. 

What did you do this weekend? I hope it was fun!

Related Posts:
Swimming and Cousins and Tennis Balls...Oh My!
Family Outing!
Hike w/ Motlie & Zoey!
Kaya & Norman Show Motlie a Good Time

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I have no idea why some of my pets have a million nicknames while others have virtually none. Kaya, for example, has no nicknames. Even as a puppy she didn't really have nicknames. Zoey has no nicknames either, by me or my parents.

Norman, on the other hand, has a running list of about 5 to 10 nicknames at a time. The list seems to morph, change and grow over time. I use his nicknames so much that I rarely use his actual name except for recall.

Norman's retired nicknames are: Wiggles, Monkey, Chubs, Chubbie Wub Wubs, Wubbies and My Wubs. His current nicknames are: Bubba, Bubba Boo, Boo Boo, My Bubs, Boo Boo Bear and Bear.

In trying to figure out why I have conjured up so many nicknames for Norman and not for Kaya, I've come to a bit of a conclusion. I think it's because Kaya is so smart and confident, even as a puppy she looked more like a mini-dog than a squishy gangly pup and she has always been so clever and cool. In short, Kaya's too cool for nicknames.

I was joking with friends recently and said that I think of Kaya as more of a peer than my kid like most other pets. Norman, in life, has needed so much more encouragement, coaxing and protecting. He still acts very confused and concerned at times, while Kaya is always on the ball(often literally:) Kaya is also a very excitable dog and so I've learned to tone things down around her, using minimal words in training and using a quiet voice to connect with her, otherwise it's spazz city.

Gina also has plenty of nicknames. Her retired nicknames are: Squeaky-G, Sweet Baby G, G-Kitty, Squeaky Deaky, Fuzzy and Meow Mix. Her current nicknames are: Squeaker, Squeakies, Meow, Meowy, Little Meowy Cat, Da Kee, Kee Kat and Fuzzy Bear.

Both Gina and Norman respond to all their nicknames, which just shows me how much I use them!

I even have a nickname for Motlie and she is not even my dog! I call her Motliesauce...kind of a play on Mott's applesauce. My brother and sister-in-law call her Mots, Motzerella, Piglet and a bunch of other names.

Shaka only had one nickname, Honeybee, though I used it almost exclusively instead of her real name.

Though Kaya and Zoey don't have nicknames, they do each have phrases that I say to them often. To Kaya I say, "Kaya's a Kaya" or "Kaya so cute" or "Ilovekaya" - kind of like helloKaya with a weird accent. Why?! Who knows. And Zoey gets, "What Zoey says, Zoey?" or just "What Zoey says." Again, don't ask me why.

But lately I have tried out a few on Zoey, like Granny, Mamacita and Momma Bear. I don't use them a lot but they do make me laugh when I think of it. Maybe nicknameless Kaya will inherit them when she's an old lady.

Do your pets have nicknames? Some more than others?

Related Posts:
When They Hear a Nickname
Gina: aka Sweet Baby G, Squeaker, G-Kitty
Norman's Adoption Story

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Back in September, I posted about working on sharpening up our training skills that had been slacking all summer. So far so good! I've amended some of the steps and I've added another step so here's the rundown...

Step 1 is morning training walks. Well, they haven't always been in the morning but we have been going on leash walks around the neighborhood almost every day! We do these in addition to our hikes so they are more for training than exercise. I was going to walk the dogs separately but it has been going well walking them together so I didn't need to. Something helpful I've learned is to make sure I have treats in either pocket since they walk on either side of me because I was giving Norman treats from across my body and he was learning to sort of walk in front of me and look back at me instead of next to me. Giving him his treats from the side he walks on has helped a ton!

Step 2 is heel. I was going to teach them a true "heel" but instead I have worked a lot on strengthening their "here" command which is like a soft heel. When I say "here" they know they have to walk closely by my side and not venture off 'til I give them the go ahead. They should be paying attention enough to turn with me and stop when I stop, preferably with a sit and eye contact. They already know this but it wasn't going very well. But after a lot of practice they are now better at it than ever! Norman is even learning how to get himself into position without a food lure! Though I'd still like to teach them a true heel some day.

Step 3 is recall. Recall practice is going awesome. Since they spend so much time off leash, their recall really has to be sharp. Kaya's recall has always been good but it's even better now. We've been seeing plenty of deer lately on our hikes and sometimes she'll run off on a high speed chase into the woods but with just one "Kaya come" she will make a flyball style turn and come running back to me. Norman's recall has never been as good but he's improving a lot.

I should mention that they do not need recall because they might run off or lose me. We can go on a 2 hour hike without me saying a word to them. It's more for immediate distractions like calling them away from people who are afraid of them, barbeques they are not invited to, stuff they shouldn't sniff or eat and dogs they shouldn't meet. Along with set up recalls like the one in the video, I also practice in practical situations with distractions.

Step 4 is learn a new trick. The new trick I decided to teach them is to go between my legs and sit positioned underneath me. I've worked with them several times on it and it's been a lot of fun. Kaya of course is really getting the hang of it and Norman has no clue but he enjoys getting treats. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be because it is such an odd position for them to be in but it's really fun and the dogs love it. I'll try to make a video soon!

Step 5 is Kaya's relaxation. This is one that I've added to the list and perhaps spent the most time on. Kaya has just been way too excitable in our new house and ignoring all my pleas to cool it so I came up with a system to help calm her down. I've made some posts about it so I won't get into the details but I'm so proud of her! Of all the amazing tricks and skills she has, this is the hardest thing for her.

I feel so much better now that I've jumped on all these things. Their lack of response to me had really become one of those niggling things that was really getting to me but I knew I never had the right to get mad at them being that I was the one who was not reinforcing and practicing these things with them. They are doing so great that we often get comments from random people on hikes, around the neighborhood and my own contractors are impressed! But most of all, I feel like our connection is so much stronger and I can trust them in situations that before would have been chaos.

I've learned that it's better to have goals that you're aiming for and maybe never quite reach than to walk around wishing things were different but not doing anything about it!

Has anyone else been working on refreshing their training skills now that summer's over?

Related Posts:
Boot Camp 
You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
A Bad Influence?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


A few Sundays ago we had the most amazing time at Fort Funston in San Francisco. Our only previous trip to this beach ended quickly with the wind blowing so much sand in our eyes, we could barely see. We never even made it down to the beach! This time the weather was perfect, wind-free, fog-free and sunny in the upper 70's...a huge rarity for the Northern California coastline. The entire park is more than 50 acres which includes the beach and miles and miles of hiking trails up above. We stuck to the beach this time and after several hours of walking along the water, we had probably not even covered half of it. Here are some highlights of our visit...

the descent

kaya in action 

norman inaction

horses, dogs & crabs!

kaya & norman


the ascent

Do your dogs love the beach?

Related Posts:
The Government Can't Shut Down Our Fun
Throwback Thursday (Video Edition): Fort Funston Fun
Sunday @ the Beach!
Family Outing!