Monday, December 17, 2012

Monster Has A Bad Day

I have a headache. Monster gets bored because I sit and sulk.

I haven't slept. Monster gets away with things he normally wouldn't, because I'm too woozy to react.

The house is a mess and I don't have the energy to do anything about it. Monster hates the mess too, and gets upset about things not being in their right place.

Christmas shopping isn't done yet. No presents for Monster either.

Going for walks is an absolute pain, as the sudden thaw has covered all roads in slick ice - even wearing ice cleats doesn't help. Nor do his claws help Monster.

There's been a death in the family. Monster doesn't know, though. So I guess that's something, at least.


Merry Christmas, and so on.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Monster Turkey

Yesterday I cooked a 14 pound turkey I'd bought a while back. It's been lying in the freezer looking at me every time I opened it, but I've managed to ignore it for a while. I bought the giant thing for Monster on a whim, when it was on sale, but I've been putting off cooking it... For one thing, it's gross! Seriously, dog food and treats are bad enough, but putting a giant corpse in the oven to steam and stink all over the house is just, well, yeah, gross. When I win the lottery (relax Mom, it's just a figure of speech, I don't gamble!), I'm getting a house with two kitchens. One for human (vegetarian) food, and one for dog food. But until that day, I have to accept that we only have the one oven, so I'm either going to have to share or I can't make special treats for Monster... Sharing it is, then.

That's right!

I grew up on a farm. My parents actually used to raise and sell turkeys once, but by the time I came along they'd moved on to sheep. And in all the years in my mother's house I never tasted turkey. No turkey came into our kitchen, ever. I'm not sure what those birds did to her to piss her off, but I'm thinking it must have been pretty bad... Although, now that I think about it, once we moved on to raising cattle instead of sheep (when I was around 6-7 years old I think), we never ate mutton again. And believe me, we ate a lot before then. Did the sheep piss Mom off too, and that's why one day they were out of the picture...? No idea. Although I do remember a rather vicious ram. Maybe he made a mistake he would soon regret? Anyway, what I'm getting at is I have zero experience in cooking turkey. Did you know it takes a whole day!? Did you know how they smell!? Did you know the damn thing is impossible to turn over inside the oven!?

Do. Not. Care. So worth it!

And do you know how long it takes to take it apart, cut it up into small treat sized pieces, packaging it, and freezing it? I went to bed at two in the morning! Which was when the real fun started... I have a special sheet pan for Monster cooking, and once I've used it he gets to clean it. So as I went to bed I put the (gross) pan down for Monster. I've cooked dog treats on it before, but turkey juice (combined with the long cooking time, I suspect) seems to be a very special kind of mess. I don't know when Monster came to bed, but I woke up around four in the morning and I could still hear him licking that pan downstairs... Which means, this has been Monster all day today:


I may have to throw the sheet pan away though. It's still full of turkey remains, and if hours and hours of Monster working on it can't get it out I'm not confident it can be cleaned. Still, very content Monster. I may just buy another turkey in the future...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pure Nonsense

To further reveal my obsession with Korean TV, I will now share with you a wonderful discovery: Dramabeans has recaps of Kim Sam Soon, written last year! This is a luxury which will be taken advantage of - time to dig up a classic, and rewatch Kim Sam Soon!

Today's Cloud

Monster is having real problems with the cold. I don't know why this cold spell is so difficult for him, but he's really not dealing with it well. Going for walks is a real problem, since after about 5-10 minutes his paws start to cramp up from the cold. Unfortunately he needs at least a 30 minute walk before he can even begin to start thinking about doing his business... Meaning I've got a frozen dog, frantic from the lack of exercise, with a serious blockage going on. Yesterday he first stopped walking on his rear left leg, and soon stopped and lifted his front left leg off the ground too (it looked hilarious, although I realize I'm headed for hell for laughing at him when he was suffering real physical discomfort - still, I wish I'd had a camera with me). He stood like that for a little while (I didn't even know he could do that!), and then he tried to walk. Needless to say, he fell over. Poor guy.

I don't recall giving you permission to tell this story...?

I meant to go get him some shoes. But it turns out Tin Can doesn't appreciate the cold either, and won't start. I tried putting some of my own socks on Monster, but a) he won't walk with them on, and b) when I force him to walk anyway the socks fall off... Fortunately the cold is set to break tomorrow. Hopefully I can persuade Tin Can to start, so I can make some preparations for the rest of this winter...

Today's Sunshine

I may be a bit rusty? Or I simply can't think of anything because nothing good happened today? That seems unlikely, though: nothing good happened? How bad would a day need to be for that to be true?

Dunno... Bad?

Let's see... I was woken up repeatedly last night, because Monster was asking to be let under the bed covers with me - it may not be good, strictly speaking, but it's kind of charming, right? See, my house isn't what you'd call well insulated. In fact, during this cold spell there have been icicles forming around the front door... And my bedroom window isn't one of those fancy models which actually, you know, close. So, in a way, it may be fair to say it gets slightly chilly in here at times.

Chilly. Freezing cold. It's all nuances, right?

So Monster wants to sleep not only in my bed (seriously, why did I spend money on a bed just for him, he wants to sleep crowded), but now also under the covers. Which is fine by me, I know it's cold, I'm not unreasonable. But, I practically run a fever when I sleep. Meaning, after about half an hour, Monster needs a bit of fresh air to cool off, and some water. But soon he's cold again, and wants back under the covers. And so goes our nights. It may not be what you'd really call "good news". But you'll have to settle for "charming" while I warm back up to blogging. (Or, if you're my mother, you'll have to settle for "revolting"...)

I wish it was summer again. No one kicks me when I sleep on the couch...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Monster Vs. The Stick

Hello. It's cold outside.

No freaking kidding...

Honestly it's not too warm indoors either.

Hey, at least there aren't icicles in my eyebrows in the house!

I usually mock the southern winters, but this time I'm keeping my mouth shut. Not that it's really all that cold, or all that much snow... But a little honestly goes a long way down here! Monster, who looooooves snow, is getting over the initial excitement too. This morning out on a walk he actually started showing discomfort at the cold, trying to walk on three legs and being unable to stand still. Time to find some winter clothes for him too...

While I do that, you can watch this video from back before the cold came. Impulse control training with Monster:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Miracle Cure For Grumpiness

I've been feeling kind of down lately, which you may have suspected since I've shown a pattern of completely abandoning the blog when I'm at my most whiny. What can I say, I'm pathetic, etc...

But, I'm now getting back on track! And I thought I'd kick off by sharing my newly discovered Cure For The Grumpies: if you're feeling down, watch 불량가족 (Bad Family)! If you can get past the first (dull) episode, there's no way you can hang on to a foul mood. I certainly couldn't! I even cleaned the bathroom drain today, which is my own personal mood barometer.

Oh, Monster? Yeah, he's fine too... He may be a little annoyed that I've tried changing some of his cues to Korean, but overall my sudden perkiness is paying off for him too - he wasn't getting as ignored as the drain, but he was surely feeling the cloud of grump all the same.

(Yes, I'm aware this is complete nonsense. No, I'm not drunk. I might be insane, but if so I probably wouldn't know it anyway, right?)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Mouse And The Monster

I've been having a mouse problem in my home lately. I discovered it one evening when I noticed Monster sitting kind of oddly, staring into a corner of the living room, seemingly doing nothing. So I went over to see if he'd finally gone round the bend completely, and as I approach I see a small dark shadow scuttle off along the wall, with a little fffffrrrrrrttt pitter-patter of horrible little paws... A mouse! And it was under my couch! Monster seemed mildly concerned that his new little friend had run off, but soon forgot about it - while I was sitting on a chair with my feet up, all lamps on, more or less waiting for dawn so I could manage to start cleaning!

I don't get it... What's the problem?

About an hour later, the little horror comes back out from under the couch and races back toward the corner where Monster first discovered it. Monster gets up (alerted by my gasp for air) and follows it, startling it and making it stop halfway. At this point I'm half horrified at the thought of a mouse slaughter in my living room, and half delighted - yay, Monster's prey drive finally turns out to be useful for something! But no. Once he'd "caught" it, he just sat down about a foot away and started staring at it again... Eventually I get up and try to figure something to catch the thing in, but when I move the mouse finds its legs again and scuttles off. Whereupon Monster turns to me with this reproachful look, like "Look what you did!"

Well, seriously...

Next day I went out and bought mouse traps, baited them with everything (cat food, smoked turkey, cheese, chocolate, apple, sunflower seeds, raisins, peanut butter, and some sort of synthetic bait goop), and put them down in every room, five of them in the living room, and put some in the basement too. And the mice? Ignored them completely. A couple of days later another mouse (or the same one?) scuttled through the living room again and back under the couch - aaaaauuugh! On its way it must have passed about seven different traps, depending on where it got in, and none of them even tempted it.

But! Today, as I'm checking on the oven, I hear some rustling from under the sink... I quickly yank open the door, terrified - with no idea of what I'm going to do if there really is a mouse there! At first I don't see one, but as I'm standing there looking, the rustling starts up again, and I can pinpoint it to an empty pot scrubber bag that's fallen down between two containers. In it: The Mouse! The rustling is coming from it trying to get back up the slippery plastic, and not quite making it. I stand there staring at it for a while, wondering what the heck I'm supposed to do, but eventually I realize I have to get it out of there - I can hardly leave it to starve to death under my sink, and I certainly don't want it to manage to get free eventually! So, displaying great bravery (anyone claiming it took me about five minutes, with me yanking my hand back every time the mouse moved, would be lying - lying, I tell you), I reach in and carefully pinch the plastic closed and then lift the thing out. But then what? I can't kill it - using traps is frankly almost too much for me, if it wasn't for the hygiene issue I could never have managed even that - but I also can't let it go. As I'm standing there Monster comes over, curious about what I'm doing and why I'm holding something out as far away from me as I can. He looks at the mouse through the clear plastic and goes to sniff it, making the mouse rustle around again - and Monster panics, racing away from the scary thing, body low and claws scrabbling to find traction on the floor!

What?!? You should have seen the teeth on that thing!

Monster's fear managed to breathe some courage into me, so I maneuver myself into shoes and a jacket - still carefully holding the bag closed - and drive about a mile off to set the mouse free. Terrified the whole time that I'd manage to drop it and it would get loose in my car! But all goes well, and the mouse is now - hopefully - far, far away. I'm aware you shouldn't release them, as they supposedly just return, but this one will have to cross a couple of roads and (more importantly) pass about 15 cats to get to my house. Hopefully we're safe! But before I left for my heroic quest, I managed to document the event. So, here's the scary, scary beast:


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Monster Vs The Bike

I haven't managed to make any daily Sunshine/Cloud posts lately, since whatever I try to write about winds up a 30 page essay on whether or not it means something in regards to the pain meds - he did this, it must mean that, only no, actually, it must mean the complete opposite, except now that I think about it it's got no meaning whatsoever, only... It gets quite repetitive, dull and circular so the backspace button's been getting quite a bit of exercise!

But I got a new (well... sort of new) camera the other day, and I thought I'd delight you all with a horrible attempt at a Monster video - made even worse by my bungling of the editing. This is Monster encountering a bike on our walk, and a view of what he looks like when he's being a good boy. Enjoy!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Today's... Something

I'm putting Monster on painkillers. I can't keep worrying about whether or not he's in pain and I can't put him through a traumatic vet check for no better reason than "maybe"... So, now he'll be on pain meds as a diagnostic tool: if his behavior is affected he's most likely in pain (and needs to be checked out thoroughly), if nothing changes he's most likely physically fine (and I'll hopefully be able to let go of any nagging worries). So far:


The medicine isn't supposed to be a sedative, not even as a possible side effect, but Monster is sleeeeepy... Most likely it's pure coincidence, we just started the meds after all, but I'm frantically over analyzing everything right now. I don't even know which result I'm hoping for, so I'm all over the place. Hopefully I'll calm down and at least sort of try to be a little bit rational in my evaluation soon... But it's hard!

Calm down... Here, come share my blankie... Zzzzzzz...

Missing People (non-English)

This is just related to local news, nothing Monstery...

Vilken lättnad att den saknade flickan blev hittad inatt! Jag vill bara uttrycka min uppskattning för Missing People, än en gång gör de en fantastisk insats och lyckas den här gången till och med hitta kidnapparen! Annas familj är säkert oerhört lättade att ha fått tillbaka henne (vad hon än varit med om), något som kanske inte hänt utan Missing Peoples insats. Jag kan inte hjälpa att jag önskar att den organisationen funnits längre, kanske hade vi åtminstone fått veta vad som hänt min kusin om vi kunnat be dem om hjälp då, men varje framgång de når idag är ändå fantastiskt glädjande. Bra jobbat!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Today's Cloud

I bought a new phone today, after weeks without one (remember, I dropped my phone and stepped on it back when I was feverish and severely unlucky). Yay, great! Except I turned my back, heard a crunching sound, turned around, aaaannndd... Monster was eating my brand new phone!

What? What's yours is mine, right? Plus, I was just getting it for you! And, err, right, checking that it was safe!
(It totally wasn't by the way. Do we have any dental floss?)

Woohoo. More expenses. But who needs a phone anyway, right?

Today's Sunshine

Monster and I had a breakthrough with heeling today! For the first time while out on a walk I managed to interest him in cooperating with me and training rather than sniffing, watching, and listening (not to mention reacting) to everything around us. We worked on the heel position, with alternated pace, sudden turns, diagonals, stops, starts, running, slooooooow walking, and even halts and sits (while I move away), for about 10 minutes! Out in the real world! I'm sure your dogs are all much more impressive (Don't listen to that, Monster, I'm just lying to make them feel better!)
You'd better be...

but for Monster and me this is really great. I honestly think it's the best heeling training we've managed ever, even at home. He was 100% focused on me, keeping eye contact, giant grin on his face. Sure, positionwise he could have been a bit tighter, and the angles on his sits were frankly horrible, but all that can be worked on! What can't be worked on (or at least, is a lot more difficult to work on) is him being completely uninterested in training. Once he wants to train, even when we're not at-boring-home, things become so much more fun!

Fun!? I work for pay, dammit! Fork over the carrots!

Admittedly, at the end he was having so much fun he lost the plot a little and jumped up at me and clawed my shirt to shreds... I may have overdone the excited praise a bit... Still, worth it!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Today's Cloud

I shouted at Monster today. On our first walk in the morning I told Monster to stop and he completely ignored me - and I snapped and shouted at him. Sure, he stopped, but he spent the rest of the walk as far away from me as the leash would allow and didn't lift his eyes to me once. Not worth it, not even close...

Are you mad at me, Mom?

I think I was still upset about his behavior last night, when he first had such a big reaction to the man and dog and then nearly pulled us into the road in front of a car. I must have held on to some frustration from that without realizing it, because I don't normally lose my temper just because Monster wants to sniff a bush more than he wants to do as I say. Sure, it really is frustrating when we have a sudden (and in this case slightly frightening) backslide - especially when it comes out of the blue like that (from my perspective that is, no doubt there was something that caused it but I have no idea what it was). But making my dog want to avoid me because I'm scary and unpredictable is not exactly the solution to our problems.

Yeah... I don't like it when you do that...

Today's Sunshine


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Today's Cloud

This evening Monster and I met a man walking his dog. I immediately turned off the road into a field, but Monster wasn't having it. He fixated completely on the man and/or the dog, rushing, lunging, jumping, barking and growling. Once they'd moved out of sight we headed back toward the road, and a car drove by. We were perhaps 100-150 feet away from the road, but Monster just went for it. He made a rush from slightly behind me, just putting everything he had into reaching the car, and nearly managed to drag us into the road... Monster is a strong guy, with very little sense. Monstermom is dejected and sore, with very little fight left.

One-nil me! Up and at 'em, tomorrow's a brand new day and the game starts again!


Today's Sunshine

My mother spent the day cleaning my house (which is code for "criticizing me and moving everything around so it'll take me months to find anything again"), while The Kid parked himself on the couch and ran the TV so loud I was worried he was going to bust the speakers. Monster revved up a little at first, but after just a few minutes he calmed down and went off to find a peaceful spot for a nap. Monster choosing to calm himself down instead of winding himself up over everything from the vacuum cleaner, via moved things, to loud TV, is a wonderful, wonderful thing!

Thank Dog Mom's mom turned up to clean! I was starting to worry the dust bears were planning a coup!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Today's Cloud

I had to leave Monster alone for too long today, running errands for my sister and spending time with my visiting mother. Monster's been getting better with being home alone, but taking it too far is of course counter productive. He hadn't destroyed anything when I got home, but he had been dragging some things around and he was violently hysterical (jumping, clawing, boxing, head butting, climbing, etc) in his greetings for about 15 minutes... Poor little guy!

I don't like being alone, respect that!

Today's Sunshine

This evening Monster spotted two people (one child) with a dog walking toward us on a side street. Monster stopped and looked at them, but as I stopped beside him to give him time to decide what to do he just looked back up at me and walked on, completely ignoring the approaching triggers. Nice!

That's right, I'm a good boy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Today's Cloud

Monster whimpers and whines, morning to evening. I don't know what's wrong, he doesn't seem to be in pain and he's not acting like there's a bitch in heat nearby. Maybe he's protesting neglect? I try to challenge him and work with him, but I've been sick since the day after we got back home and I just can't function at 100%... Clearly something is going to have to give though. If I'm not better after the weekend I'm going to go see about some of the more aggressive asthma meds - I hate taking them because they give me a four day migraine from hell, but by now it seems like that might be worth it.


Today's Sunshine

We're still alive. Let's go with that.

Speak for yourself...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No Bloody Weather, All Right

I'm so bloody tired. I've been getting something like 3-4 hours of sleep a night in the last few weeks. My house is a mess, my head hurts (bloody, bloody sinusitis, may you die a thousand painful and humiliating deaths!), my mother's turned up for a sudden visit, next week The Kid is going in for a week long medical exam, I have a ton of apples rotting on the lawn, there is still no fence around the yard, I've run out of clean clothes because bending down to fill the washer makes my brain implode from the pressure and run out my nose, Tin Can is making a very discouraging noise when you drive over 40, and that bloody mouse gnawing on the walls just will not die!

Right, yeah, poor you, I'm really concerned, etc...

So excuse me if I don't make any bloody Sunshine/Cloud report of our day, and instead go and set my hair on fire just to have something else to think about, OK?

Yeah... What can I tell you - she's whiny and nuts, nothing new.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Today's Cloud

Aaaaaand, nothing lasts for ever, right? On that same walk (Sunshine post), just a couple of minutes away from home, Monster and I met a couple of boys. They were perhaps 10 years old, presumably heading home from school. Monster and I didn't spot them in time to avoid the meeting, but I thought we had a chance to make it without Monster going full monster on us (I was probably high from the truck-success, cue eye roll). But as they were getting closer they started a little playful scuffle, raising their voices and waving jackets and bags around. Monster = monster...

OK, you're starting to hurt my feelings now...

He lunged toward the boys, snarling and growling, hackles up... I held him as the boys walked past us, apologizing to them and telling them to not worry - he's just playing silly buggers. Fortunately they didn't seem the least bit worried, one of them never even looked at us or stopped talking to his friend, and the other just glanced at us and looked slightly confused about all the fuss before moving on. It's not OK to scare children!

Awww! I just wanted to play!

As I said, we got lucky. Those boys could just as easily have been terrified... No more getting close to children, even if that means climbing over a hedge into someone's garden.

Today's Sunshine

Today on a walk we first met a moving van. It was backing out into the road right in front of us, on a steep hill, and then drove right past us. Meaning it was doing a lot of things Monster doesn't handle very well when it comes to cars. To begin with, it was rather large - that on its own can be enough to set Monster off. Secondly, it went from cold to running with us right there - also an almost certain trigger. Next, it was behaving erratically (going one way then another, stopping, starting, etc) - yet another thing to make Monster lose his mind. And the sharp incline and heavy load meant the driver was revving the engine quite a bit - in case you haven't yet spotted the pattern this is also a sure thing for Monster Madness.

I don't get it...? Are you questioning my sanity? Why?!?

But nothing happened. Monster did watch the truck rather curiously as it was passing (body slightly arched, ears forward, mouth nearly closed and so on), but made no attempt to kill neither me nor the truck!

Me? Kill???

But then! Another truck! This one a giant DHL trailer, turning onto the road far down the hill, meaning Monster had almost a minute of solid staring time! Considering whatever tension he'd already built up with the first truck, considering we'd only just started our walk so he was pretty wound up to begin with, considering there were cars parked in the road so the truck would have to pass us on our side of the road, and considering there is no chance we'd get lucky a second time, I started looking for a way out. Unfortunately there was a woman with a child approaching us from the side road and a couple with a dog coming up behind us. No way out! Since trucks are a lot harder to terrify than people and dogs, we kept walking - the lesser evil, you know. And Monster did fixate on the approaching truck (fortunately he hadn't spotted the other triggers), shortening his steps, closing his mouth, and raising his head. Uh-oh. And as the truck Monster tensed up, pulled forward - and took a step to the side, away from the truck, and calmly watched it pass! How awesome was that!?! Pretty awesome, people.

Uh-huh. First she insults me, then she compliments me. No wonder I'm all messed up.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Today's Cloud

Today we've been training distance targeting, which is a struggle for me. I find myself expecting Monster to more or less think like a human, and I can't seem to snap out of it. I know dogs don't generalize things the same way we do, but I can't seem to wrap my head around it in this particular exercise.

I keep telling people she's stupid, maybe now you'll believe me...

We're working with a mouse pad as a paw target. I put it down, Monster steps on it, click, treat. No problem. I move the target so he'll have to walk away from me to target it - he has no idea what to do. He starts experimenting with anything else he can find and completely ignores the mouse pad. We move closer to it again, Monster targets, click, treat. I leave the target where it is and walk away myself to create distance. If I move more than three steps away (give or take), Monster again has no clue what to do. We move back to the mouse pad, I begin sloooowly moving it, just a few inches between each repetition (which is of course what I should have done from the start, but as I say I seem to have some sort of weird, unshakable expectation Monster'll think like a human in this exercise), which goes fine. Until, that is, we reach an invisible border where Monster yet again can not figure out what the exercise is about. I try waiting him out - eventually he'll stumble on the target if he keeps trying anything he can spot, right. Oh, he does. He does indeed... He focuses on the mouse pad, makes the connection that this is an item to be targeted, picks it up with his mouth, carries it back to where it was when we started, puts it down, and proudly, with great emphasis, targets it...

Done! Fork over the goodies!

The thing is, this is kind of brilliant in its own way, right? It's just not what you'd expect - or at least not what I'd expect. And it's not at all the result I'm going for. It's not right, sure, but it's also not exactly wrong. He is targeting it, after all.

Exactly! I earned this carrot.

Now, my point isn't "Oh, woe is me, I have such a stooopid dog!". No, Monster is just fine - the cloud this post is about is my stubborn difficulty to understand that Monster can't think of things the way I do. I keep getting surprised when "problems" like this turn up, and I can't figure out why that is. Why do I expect him to think of the target the same way when it's in a different place, or when we're approaching it from a different angle or distance? What else am I looking at this way without even being aware of it...?

Today's Sunshine

Got nothing really positive to report. Today's been a dark, wet, cold and windy day - we've not spent much time outdoors, and neither has anyone else in the village, meaning there have been zero trigger events.

I'm bored...

Hey, maybe that's sunshine in itself!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Today's Cloud

Today as we were leaving the yard some people with another dog turned up behind a hedge. They were walking past us / away from us when we spotted them, but Monster still lost it. He had his hackles up, he was bouncing and lounging, yodeling and growling, air snapping and shaking... We had to wait for them to move about 150 yards away before he could stop focusing and follow without losing his marbles all over again.

I'm gonna get you!

I know you have to expect setbacks, believe me! But it's still disappointing when they happen.

Today's Sunshine

Today my sister dropped by while Monster and I were outside. I'm still not feeling very well, but we were out in the garden with Monster on a long line and me staggering around trying to do something about the tons of fallen apples on the lawn (armed with a snow shovel). I was wheezing and coughing and generally disoriented and had decided to give up and go back inside, and when I went to put the tools away I discovered my sister was in the garage. Now, I hadn't heard her but obviously Monster had - but he hadn't raised any fuss about it! Further, as we were walking around the garden (looking at the massive amount of work I've left undone) we of course got within reach of Monster, but all he did was calmly sniff my sister, look at what we were doing, and generally be a really good boy!

Of course I am.

Again this may not sound like anything to brag about for those of you with... simpler dogs, but Monster's tendencies to wind himself up beyond reason, guard our home from people entering (although I will say he's very good once people are actually across the "border"), greet people by head butting them, and generally make him difficult to have around people - including people we already know - are not only hard to deal with but also a symptom of the general problem. Him dealing very well with an unexpected visit from my sister is something great, and shall be so commemorated here. So say we all.

Yeeeaaahhh... Did I ever tell you Mom's a total nerd..?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Today's Cloud

Today on a walk I'd been revving Monster up pretty good with the tug toy. A little distance ahead of us a person left their house wearing a ginormous fur hat and carrying a backpack, to get into their car parked in the road. Monster fixated slightly on this, but we were still pretty far away and I judged that we could safely keep walking as the car would be long gone by the time we got there. Parked just ahead of us was another car, this one with tinted windows. As Monster was weaving around to find a good view of the weirdo (his word, not mine!) with the hunchback and the fuzzy head, he must have spotted our reflection in the dark windows of the car we were approaching and he switched focus. Suddenly, he wanted to rear up against this car and look inside - at the same Fur Hat had gotten into their car and was driving toward us. I veered out into the road away from the parked car Monster was focusing on, in order to pass it without leaving Monster claw gouges in it (I'm broke enough already, thank you). This meant we were trapped between the parked car and the passing car as Fur Hat drove by... The road could easily accommodate both dog and pedestrian, and passing car. Not so easy when the situation was Monster, Monstermom (I'm specifying myself as other than generic pedestrian, because clearly I'm exceptionally stupid!), and passing car.

Something is getting a talking to, right now!

Already wound up from our play, further tightened from the weirdo and the reflecting car, Monster had zero chance of not lunging for the car as it passed so close by us... Why did I do that? Why not just stop and wait for Fur Hat to pass before walking by the parked car? Even if Monster tends to get more reactive when asked to stay in one place (nothing to do, nowhere to put his focus), at least there would have been much more space. There was plenty of room to walk past the parked car while meeting another car. Not so much for trying to control a hundred pounds of lunging Monster.

Yeah, that car was cloooose... Why was that, Mom?

As per usual: I suck.

Today's Sunshine

Today we've been working more on impulse control, and I think I'm starting to see some payoff!

Nah, I'm just messing with her. But shhh, don't tell her...

While Monster still isn't a marvel of focus when we're out walking, he has been showing some improvement. There's not much in the way of spontaneous contact, but he'll snap out of his personal reverie much easier when asked. That's progress! (I think...)

Hee, hee, hee! This is going to be the funnest reveal ever!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Today's Cloud

Today we spent about 90 minutes standing out in the field in the middle of the village, doing some relaxation training. Back inside, Monster is more sensitive than ever to the sounds of life around us. Anything from a car passing on the road, a door closing four houses down, a child laughing, will set off a barking fit. I'm going to have to rethink this approach I think.

Huh? Why? Weren't we out here claiming territory?

And as an added bonus, I have sinusitis. Cheers all around, I think I'll just stay sick until spring comes around - then my pollen allergies can take over for a while.

Yeah, yeah, she's whining, what else is new? At least you don't have to live with her...

Today's Sunshine

Today's been a difficult day... I suppose it was at least partly sunny when we encountered a Great Dane, a stroller, some sort of really tiny dog, and a small child around a corner. Monster stared, pulled a bit, and went up on his hind legs (not in a lunge, but in a meerkat position - balancing upright, front paws tucked in T-Rex style, scouting the action), but while that's not ideal it's not a full scale Monster Meltdown.

I'm such a good boy!

Of course, once they moved out of sight he did throw a wobbler... Still, it's something, right?

What? But I couldn't see them anymore! They could've been up to anything!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Today's Cloud

Today everyone in the neighborhood seems to want to mess with me! I've made note of the activity patterns around here long ago, finding the best times to walk Monster with as few triggers around as possible. But today lots of people who shouldn't be out at that time have been walking their dogs when we've been out. I don't know what's changed or why, but it's stressful.

Yeah, for you and me both!

I hope it's only a temporary aberrance, I'm worried we'll be in for a hard backslide if we can't find more space than today in the future. Monster did pretty well all things considered, but these things pile on and I don't think he can handle much more now...