Monday, March 31, 2014

Oh My Stay...

Well this month kind of got away from me - no surprise there with everything that is going on at the moment. But now I feel like a slacker. Luckily, Monday doesn't really care :).

I went back and started at the very beginning with Monday and also decided to change my stay verbal cue to avoid any further confusion. Since I was a horrible trainer this month, we are still working on Stay at a very short distance.


She is MUCH better on the movement distractions which is what killed us before. So we are building {my} movement at a short distance with varying duration and hopefully eventually I will be able to walk all the way around the ring with her staying in a sit position in the center. Goals - we have Goals!! :)

Ironically, she is fine with me doing a regular Novice level stay - where you leave your dog and walk about 30 feet away and turn and face them for a minute. It's the whole walking all the way around the ring thing that scares her. I imagine she thinks I am going to leave her in the middle of the ring - now I don't know what she is really thinking but that is what her facial expressions say :(.

Here is one of our early practice sessions, you can see how in tune to my movement she is. I lean one way and she mirrors me, which is great in some circumstances but not so much for the stay. For these sessions I am still clicking and rewarding her even though she moves her front feet and a few times she scoots. As she understands the exercise more I will tighten up my criteria. This is still TONS better than the first time we practiced lol. This is such a hard exercise for her.

The next two videos are also from the same training session and you can see there is some progress with her keeping her butt planted. In these I am only introducing my feet moving a few steps, I have to be careful when I move my arms because those have been cues for targeting and jumping (which she LOVES and it is a high value behavior for her).

I also need to work on making sure I actually tighten my criteria. If I took the time to plan a training session before I started I would be much better at this. But that is something I am still working on :).

Friday, March 28, 2014

Foster Dog Update: The Mingling Has Commenced

The River is everywhere. ~Hermann Hesse

That is a pretty true statement at our house. River is quite active for being 5-years young and generally seems to be everywhere. He's got a curiosity streak like a 2-year old and uses his nose to poke EVERYTHING. We've had to puppy/baby proof the house for this man, and while it can get exasperating at times trying to keep an eye on him, it's also quite comical to watch his discoveries unfold.

Aren't I a handsome man? :)
River has been settling in great at our house. He still gets nervous about Nicholas entering a room he is already in and also when walking by his crate, but that is a work in progress and has gotten better. He is now fully mingled with the crew but they just aren't sure about him. Monday doesn't like him because he is always trying to be the closest to me and that is obviously her job. Luckily she is playing nice so far and just ignoring him with a few dagger looks thrown in for good measure.

Monday practicing her dirty look for the camera :).
Vito, as predicted, just pretends he doesn't exist. They have had a few moments of exchanged play bows but for the most part River overwhelms Vito. What's really funny is they have the same frantic play style it's just a bit more exaggerated in River because he is so large. Oh Vito, sometimes you get what you didn't know you asked for!

Vito practicing his sad face...he is really convincing!
Makes you want to cuddle him doesn't it? He's hard to resist!
Bourbon was actually the last one of the crew to meet River. I wasn't sure how they would get along since River is very awkward in his dog social skills area and while Bourbon loves to play with other dogs, he's getting a bit old and doesn't play as hard as he used to. They have done the whole sniff your butt dance and everything has been fine. Luckily, River likes to play with toys more than he likes to play with other dogs so there hasn't much miscommunication :).

Bourbon says "Really mom?!? Couldn't you have brought home
a laid-back senior this time?"
And finally, Rookie. Rookie was the first one to be fully mingled with River because he is super easy going and not pushy. Which is great for River, but frustrating sometimes for Rookie. See River likes Rookie's toys just as much as Rookie does, and River will just take them from him when he decides he wants something that Rookie is playing with. I keep a careful on eye on them, not because I think they are going to fight over something but because I don't want Rookie continually getting bullied. So I make sure to have special Rookie time for playing with his toys and I make sure there are plenty of toys scattered in all the rooms so there is always something for everyone.

Rookie trying to be incognito in the corner so he can chew his bone.
River is more interested in playing with me and the toys than he is with other dogs. Which can be rather annoying for me :). But we do have plenty of toys around that he 'self-plays' with. Currently, he is fascinated with the jolly ball. Apparently it's very frustrating that he can't fit the whole thing in his mouth LOL.

His mouth is not quite wide enough :).
I think my dogs will be much happier when River finds his forever home. Not every foster dog fits in perfect and that is okay. They aren't with us long enough (usually!) to impact the house dynamics too much. And if my dogs start showing signs of being truly uncomfortable (instead of it just being inconvenienced) than we will reevaluate the situation.

Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere. ~Emma Smith

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Individuality Vs. Breed

Every dog is an individual

Everyone has heard that statement, especially lately with all the Animal Farm Foundation (AFF) media. And I absolutely agree - every dog is an individual. BUT...and here is the but everybody wants to argue with...breeds do matter. You can't just wish that all away. In all the years that I have been doing Doberman rescue and had tens of Dobermans in and out of my house, no two have been exactly alike but they all have shared general breed characteristics. And I would be remiss if I just ignored that fact.

I understand where AFF is coming from because today's pitbull (and I use that term loosely) isn't a breed, it's a conglomeration of breeds all judged on physical appearance. But all that aside, we have the breeds of dogs we have today because of selective breeding (good and bad) and those breeds were bred for specific purposes that require certain skills (good and bad, LOL). Taking those characteristics into account when picking a canine companion for your family will certainly help you make a correct and lasting match. Sadly, most people bring a companion home based solely on their looks.

Monday and Vito are both 'pitbulls' in the eyes of the public - but have two
very different breed backgrounds.

Behavior is complex, no denying that, and there are no easy answers when it comes to modifying behavior and explaining problems related to learning. Individual characteristics, variables in the way they are trained, and breed differences all play important parts in successfully teaching new behaviors or changing the existing behaviors of any dog.

Breeds - They Really Are Different

Making generalizations about any breed of dog is sure to seriously offend someone :). If you say sporting dogs are active, someone will undoubtedly say that their Weimaraner is a calm couch potato. If you talk about the general tendency of terriers to be tenacious, someone will surely describe theirs as an easy, go-with-the-flow kind of dog. While there are exceptions to every rule, the truth of the matter is that different breeds have developed as a result of hundreds of years of selective breeding for specific characteristics and temperament. Maintaining and preserving common characteristics within a breed is the whole point of purebred dogs.

Now obviously heredity affects a number of traits and genetics is mostly a crap shoot for the average person, which is where you will get the differences in individual personality. But, for the most part, it is important that dog owners understand the histories of breeds and specific breed characteristics if they want to fully understand the animal they are living with.

It's All Relative

Because there are individual differences within breeds and one dog may not behave exactly as the breed was intended to, you can benefit from interacting with knowledgeable breeders before acquiring a canine companion. Especially if you have specific goals you want to accomplish with your dog. A word to the wise, all the backyard breeding is ruining our purebred characteristics. You will see much more variation in individual dogs from these unscrupulous (although sometimes well-meaning) breeding practices. Please do your research to make sure you are interacting with a responsible breeder. Responsible, experienced breeders can tell you what is normal for the breed and what the range of variation might be.

Mixed Breeds

Mixed breeds are a whole different ball game :). Sometimes, knowing the breeds that contributed to your dog's ancestry will provide some valuable information, but generally you don't have that luxury. And that's okay! Canine behavior principles still apply, so training your dog shouldn't be any issue - you just won't have the ease of any background understanding on breed characteristics. But breed characteristics aren't everything, they are just one piece of the whole puzzle, and give you an edge when selecting reinforcers and training methods that best suit your dog. There are DNA tests that you can submit to find out what breeds are in your dog's history, however there have been interesting and varying results with these.


It's important to remember that ALL dogs are trainable, regardless of breed. When operant conditioning techniques are applied correctly, all dogs can learn :). As I said before: Individual characteristics, variables in the way they are trained, and breed differences all play important parts in successfully teaching new behaviors or changing the existing behaviors of any dog.

If you have a purebred dog, do they have certain breed characteristics you were expecting? Mixed breed owners, if you have guessed at the breed history of your dog does it display any of the expected characteristics?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Happy Birthday To The Other Human In The House!

Happy Birthday Nicholas!

The dogs were a little put out that we were both off work but did nothing with them :). I think they'll get over it...

Friday, March 21, 2014

AtoZ Challenge: Blog Theme Reveal!

This year's theme is apparently Challenges. From February's photo challenge on the blog to my personal career challenge in May, it seems only fitting to add a challenge in April :).


I'm participating in the AtoZ blog challenge! Wahoo!!!  

You might have noticed the badges on my sidebar :), looks like fun, huh?!? Definitely fun but loads of work. I am charged with the challenge of posting everyday Monday-Saturday (we get Sundays off for good behavior!) and each day addressing the next letter of the alphabet. I'm already having troubles coming with X :). The end of the alphabet is going to be hard!

And today not only am I officially announcing that I am participating, but I'm also revealing my THEME.

Yes, so not only am I going to try to post a blog entry for each letter but I'm also going to relate it all to a main theme. Just thinking about it makes my brain hurt :). But what fun would a challenge be if it wasn't hard?!?

And my theme is...

The Building Blocks of Effective Dog Training

Make sure to check out all my fun topics :).

This a huge blog hop of sorts - can you believe I am number 394 out of 1425 (and counting!). There are 12 more days to sign up so if you feel like a challenge check out the AtoZ Challenge website and sign-up!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pawprints of Katrina {book review}

Pawprints of Katrina
by Cathy Scott

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many animals had to fend for themselves because their owners lost them or were unable to care for them. In Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned, Cathy Scott documents her experience working with the Best Friends Animal Society triage center to rescue lost animals and reunite them with their owners. Over two hundred stories with accompanying photos describe dramatic and challenging rescue cases with details about the rescues, the examinations, treatment, and follow-up care by the selfless volunteers who worked to save beloved best friends. Heartbreaking and heartwarming, it conveys the depth of the tragedy, more importantly, it celebrates the indomitable spirit of the volunteers who refused to give up, the determined pets who survived, and the owner (original and adoptive) who love these animals today.

My Thoughts
About a year ago I wrote about Bourbon's story - he was a Hurricane Katrina evacuee so this topic is near and dear to my heart. If you notice from a picture in that post, I've had this book for a year and just now found time to read it! Shh, I am a bit behind on my piles of books, LOL.

I found this book completely absorbing and the stories were amazing but it was a bit confusing at times and organized in a disjointed way. These accounts are important social documentaries though and I really consider it a must-read. The rescue stories are both sad and beautiful, and admittedly I cried at the end of about every chapter - happy tears :). But not every story had a happy ending and that is okay. It was a time of great tragedy for both humans and animals so not everything can be unicorns and rainbows :).

This book celebrates the compassion of countless human volunteers, the survival instincts of our pets, and above all the human/animal bond. The inside look at the actual events really brings home how great the tragedy was for Southern residents and what needs to be changed in order to be prepared if there is a next time. I definitely recommend it to fellow readers.

Check out the book's Facebook Page

Check out the other books I've reviewed:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Training Tuesday: Yerkish

Yes, Yerkish is actually a word. I know, surprised the hell outta me to, but it's legit. This training segment will be a twist on what I usually cover as we are not talking about dogs today :). This weekend I had a chance to visit/tour the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary (IPLS) in Des Moines. It was very interesting but also sad to see such beautiful animals in captivity.

IPLS is a 'green', concrete building located on more than 200 acres.
Yerkish is the artificial language that employs a keyboard whose keys contain lexigrams (symbols) that correspond to objects or ideas. This language was developed for use by non-human primates and is used at IPLS. Lexigrams can be confusing for us (humans) as they represent words but are not necessarily indicative of the object referenced by the word. The IPLS has a great interactive webpage consisting of the lexigrams their primates know. Check it out HERE.

At IPLS they have six Bonobos (part of the Great Apes species, most closely related to Chimpanzees) that are housed in a state-of-the-art facility that has many indoor spaces and two outdoor spaces. Their most notable bonobo is Kanzi, who started learning the lexigrams by accompanying another bonobo, Matata, to her training sessions. Kanzi has far surpassed everyone's expectations though and knows more than 300 lexigrams. He is relatively famous, having appeared on Oprah and played piano with Paul McCartney :). Kanzi also knows some sign language and understands more than 3,000 spoken English words. Pretty freaking remarkable! I can't even imagine the process you would have to go through to set-up this training. During our tour, Kanzi demonstrated several words and showed us one of his favorite games. I would definitely recommend signing up for a tour at IPLS if you are in the area.

I don't think teaching lexigrams would work with the dogs since they are two-dimensional on a computer screen, but I would equate this same level of learning to teaching service dogs to pick up things by name or teaching your dog names for their toys. We all know they understand concept words as well - go outside, go for walk, car ride, go potty, etc. :) I think our dogs are ahead of the curve!

Do your dogs know objects or toys by name? 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cleaning Leather Collars

I was going through the plethora of collars that belong to my dogs this weekend and came across three old leather ones that were in desperate need of cleaning. I've never actually cleaned any of my leather when in doubt, google that shit. Apparently, it's pretty easy, I can do easy!

For cleaning these collars, I just used saddle soap
and a damp cloth
Collars tend to be odorous, but luckily mine didn't smell bad - they just looked bad! I think nylon collars hold odors more than leather ones. At least in my experience that has been the case.

I scrubbed these collars with the damp cloth to remove the dirt and grime sitting on the surface. Then I took a clean, slightly dampened cloth and dipped it into the saddle soap. I rubbed that into the leather and allowed it to dry on the collar. And finally, I 'buffed' the collars with a clean soft collar.

Once you have the collar cleaned to your standards, it's a good idea to condition the leather. Using another soft, clean cloth apply a small amount of leather conditioner. Then buff the collar to a shine. Disclaimer: I did not do this step :). Mostly because I didn't have leather conditioner and didn't have time to run to the store. I have put it on the 'to-get' list though and will do this in the future.

These are the original Dober-duds that IDR+ used to send out with foster dogs. One was Bourbon's, one was Baron's, and I'm not actually sure why I have a third one, my bad! The top two collars have been cleaned - compare that to the gross one on the bottom! 

My collars were pretty bad so they probably won't ever be perfect again but they are tons better after cleaning.

Do your dogs wear leather collars? Have you cleaned them this way?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Confessions of a Dog Trainer - 7

I seem to have a lot to confess, darn it I am ruining my perfect image! :)

Well here's a doozy for you, something that goes against the 'traditional' nonsense that gets spewed by certain National Geographic TV show watchers...

My dogs get fed first AND go out the door first!

Shut the front door!! O.M.G. - I must have total anarchy at my house!! My dogs must be totally dominant over me and think they rule the roost!! How can we live like this!?!


Bourbon certainly looks like a dictator :).
I'm so over all the 'rules' that come along with the alpha dog mindset or leader of the pack gibberish that you overhear everywhere. Why do I need to go to such lengths to show my dog's who's boss? That's too much work for me :).

In my house we do what works for the dogs and what works for us. Easy peasy. So yes my dogs eat breakfast before I've even thought about food - mostly because our routine is to feed and then potty. After pottying is done, then I get ready for work and generally eat breakfast at the office - which is about the time I start to get hungry :).

Dinner is roughly the same story - my dogs eat when I get home from work because that is the best routine for our situation. So I get home and feed them and then potty them, and then I start to think about what we humans are going to have to make for dinner. That seems to work really well for us, especially since lots of nights we don't even eat until 9:00 pm. I think the dogs would have hunger pukes if I started not giving them dinner until 10 pm!!

Has this changed my dogs for the worse? Are they actively plotting to take over the world?
"Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?"
"The same thing we do every night, Pinky -  try to take over the world!"
Definitely not :). But having this consistent schedule has really helped them know what to expect and it aides greatly in house-training! They don't care when they eat, they just want to eat :).

Vito is apparently ready to go out!
Dogs are wired to do what works for them, which is such a great attribute to latch onto in training. So dogs going out the door before you is just merely them getting really excited to do something that is reinforcing for them. It generally has nothing to do with you at all and everything to do with what goes on outside (sniffing, running, going for a walk or car ride, squirrel chasing, etc.). Going outside is VERY reinforcing for dogs.

So while my dogs do go outside before me, I did take the time to teach them to wait at the door until I say it's okay to go through. This is an important skill that every dog should acquire. But once I release them, they don't care who goes out the door first as long as we actually go out the door.

Forget about all the should/always/never advice that is everywhere on the internet and just keep in mind what works for your family.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Meet the New Foster Dog River!

It's been a while since we have had a foster dog in the house - sometimes you forget how much work it is! I picked up River Sunday night and I believe he is finally settled in and getting used to the household routine. He actually caught on fairly quick, usually it takes about 2 weeks for them to fully assimilate to their new living arrangements. He is in my two week shutdown program and it's really helping him get comfortable and trust us.

Trust in humans is a big issue for River. He came through the animal control in Detroit and was slated for rescue because he had an 'iffy' temperament test result. Nothing aggressive, but he would freeze up and act unsure about people. So when he came into Illinois Doberman Rescue Plus I volunteered to foster him so he could be further assessed. He will have two caveats on his adoption - no children and must attend obedience classes.

So far he has been great with me but more standoffish with Nicholas. We are working on that and River is warming up to him, however there are still some moments when it's clear River doesn't trust him. So far Nicholas has been instructed to treat River every single time he enters the room that River is in and treat him every single time he walks by River's crate if he is in it. We're hoping to build up lots of positive associations with his appearance so that River starts to anticipate him and look forward to him coming into the room. We'll keep you updated on his progress!

River is great on short walks (we don't venture too far but the yard is a mess while it's thawing so we have to do potty walks). He is non-reactive to other dogs and the people we sometimes see. Having a non-reactive dog is SO NICE. Bourbon needs to take some lessons on this subject! :) River has also been great through the barriers with my dogs. After several days of having the house divided, my dogs are pretty much over the fact that there is a new dog in the house which is exactly what I want. I'm hoping to introduce him to Vito and Rookie (one at a time) this weekend since they've been doing so well through the baby gates and ex-pens. I have a feeling River isn't very adept at doggie communication so it should be interesting if him and Bourbon ever get to meet.

The resident dog's side of the kitchen. I suppose that could be a bit intimidating for a new dog :).
River's side! He's always trying to sneak onto their side :).
River is a very beautiful Doberman but he is going to need a pretty experienced home. He has a fantastic personality once he decides you are friends. For being five-years-young, he is VERY playful and loves toys (much to Rookie's dismay as now he has to share). River is also super curious about everything. In typical Doberman fashion he pokes everything with his nose and sticks that honker EVERYWHERE. It's actually quiet cute to watch him investigate things but it also means he has a hard time staying off the counter. We are working on that particular skill but it will certainly take some time.

He loves that Nylabone.
If you are interested in learning more about River please fill out an application from Illinois Doberman Rescue! He would love to become part of your family :).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday Training: Stay

Monday and I are still working on Sit Pretty - building up those specific leg muscles to help keep her steady. I think we'll have it soon though :).

But this month our new goal will actually be revisiting something that Monday needs some help understanding. The dreaded STAY. She really doesn't like this exercise and I'm not quite sure she totally understands it either. So we are going to put in some major effort on it this month and are basically going to start at ground zero.

I really like these two instructional videos on teaching the stay:

Stay the Kikopup way


Do your dogs have rock-solid stay? Did you find it hard to teach?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Oh Majestic...

This weekend was Majestic's birthday - I celebrated by picking up a foster dog (more on him later). I think she would have approved :).

I love her smiley face. This is one of my favorite pictures of her :)
It's been several years since we lost her and like everything else, time dulls the pain. She also doesn't pop into my thoughts as much which makes me sad when I think about it. Her memories seem to come in waves and sometimes I even catch myself calling Monday by Majestic's name. Hey they are both M's, sometimes it can get confusing :). Monday doesn't seem to mind - after all Majestic is the reason Monday found her way into my life.

Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, Filling an emptiness we don't even know we have. ~Thom Jones

I still haven't finished (or even really started) the scrapbook I had planned for her. I should really sit down one of these days and work on that. I have at least gathered all the photos:). 

Do you do something special for beloved pets to help savor their memories?

...what we have enjoyed, we can never lose...all that we love deeply becomes a part of us. ~Helen Keller

Friday, March 7, 2014

Little Boy Blue {book review}

Little Boy Blue
by Kim Kavin

When journalist Kim Kavin decided that she wanted a puppy, she did what millions of people do every year: clicked on an online photo and submitted an application. She had no idea that the adorable brindle - advertised as healthy and near her home in New Jersey - was actually a last-minute rescue from a gas-chamber shelter in North Carolina.

Blue was happy and friendly, but he seemed to have endured some unusual albeit unknown ordeal. The dog's manner prompted Kavin to trace his history all the way back to a long row of cages where Blue had been tagged to be put down in just three more days. Little Boy Blue is the true story of one sweet puppy's journey of survival and an inspiring story of the grass-roots rescue network that has exploded across the nation in recent years. It's also a shocking expose that describes a brutal ongoing reality inside some of this country's taxpayer-funded shelters.

My Thoughts

Sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly while still keeping us entertained the tale of Blue's life, Kavin manages to present numerous facts and statistics that read like a mystery instead of a technical article. It was very upsetting to read about the inefficacies of the taxpayer-funded shelter systems that still utilize gas chambers as a method of euthanasia, but on the other hand it was very encouraging to read about so many people and organizations working to change this and get adoptable dogs into good homes.

The book is engrossing and inspirational - it gives us a call to take action and help out however you can (financially, fostering, adopting, etc.). If you've ever considered purchasing a dog from a backyard breeder (most breeders the public knows about) or walked into a pet store during your search - you have to read this book and understand why your decision makes a difference in the lives of thousands of dogs who need homes. And really, everyone that loves dogs should read this book.

A portion of the proceeds goes to the Petfinder Foundation :).

Thursday, March 6, 2014 Article - Plants That Are Poisonous For Your Pets

I know I am ready for Spring and I'm sure many of you are as well (especially those living in the Midwest and dealing with all this snow and sub-arctic temperatures!). Just the thought of flowers makes me smile at this point <here I am smiling now> but come to find out - some of my favorite flowers are considered poisonous plants for pets. I had no idea those beautiful tulips that I get so ecstatic about every year are toxic to the dogs. Good thing they've never tried to eat them before! But now I will monitor them a bit more closely this Spring.

Without further ado, find out what other fun plants are actually toxic to your pet...

Pet Owners: Avoid Poisonous Plants When Preparing Your Yard For Spring

Spring is just around the corner, and we're all eager to brighten our day with colorful flowers and green grass. But the pet owners among us need to take a few precautions to make sure our spring blooms and gardening products aren't poisonous for our pets. A good time to evaluate our yards is during National Poison Prevention Week, which this year is March 16-22.
To continue reading click here

Please check it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tuesday Training: Sit Pretty Still a Work-In-Progress

Monday is still having some difficulty with Sit Pretty. I'm pretty sure it's mostly my fault because sources have confirmed my dog is smarter than me. But we are trying to persevere :).

She is a total nutball for targeting and that is playing into a little bit of over arousal when I give her my cue for sit pretty (a fist held out). She knows it means pick up her front legs but she gets excited about touching my hand and tends to stand up instead of keeping her butt planted on the floor.

This tells me that I need to be more careful about where I place my hand (closer to her head to keep her from wanting to stand up to reach my hand) and how I place it out there for her to touch.

In this first video I have the treats in my hand -

Here I don't have treats in my hand (I have them on a table next to me) and that helps with her arousal level some -

If we were able to balance some of these training sessions with outside exercise that would help more as well. Too bad this weather isn't cooperating :(. We are so ready for Spring temperatures (although we wouldn't mind missing out on the mud!!). We will definitely be working on this trick some more and I obviously need to work on my communication skills, lol.

Next week I will share our March trick, I'm going to aim for something a bit easier :).

Monday, March 3, 2014

Whoa Erin Where Have You Been? {life update}

February was full of photos but not much content (hey, I managed to post about the start of Monday's trick!!). The photo challenge actually came at the perfect time for me as there is lots going on behind the scenes and so it gave me a nice excuse to be lax on here for awhile. Although I must say, taking a picture everyday for a theme is a different kind of hard work! I only cheated twice. :)

So here's a peek behind the scenes:

First, we found an acreage we thought was mostly perfect. We put in an offer but sadly they went with someone else, who, I would assume, paid them more :(. They didn't even give us a chance to re-offer. That is a bummer as it was close to Ames and had almost everything we were looking for in a property. But things will work out and I'm sure our perfect place is coming up soon. We are ready to move and have more space!!

Second, and a major life change, I am losing my job at the end of April. I am getting laid off due to my job being outsourced to Singapore. I've been with Wiley for 9 years now so I suppose I am ready for a change ;). But I still wish it hadn't happened this way. So now I am looking for a job - a part-time job so that I have time to do number 3 below. If anybody knows of anything - please throw it my way!!

Third, and another life change, I officially started my own business! :) I've been training for a long time and helping people on the side - well it was time to do something about it. So now I've just decided to put it all together and go for it. I'm obviously still in the development stage but big things are hopefully coming! Stay tuned this month for further updates :)
My logo :).
Fourth, I have started contributing to I know, I know - I am not a parent. But I am writing about pets and families and that is something that I have knowledge about. Luckily, I have experience with all kinds of pets - not just dogs - so the articles will be varied :). It's been a long time since I have written for a 'professional' medium, lol. Wish me luck!

Big changes are on the way for this year and I don't really have a plan. The journey should be interesting and I am ready to let go of some of my 'control' even though it's a lot scary :). We'll just have to see where this year takes us! And hopefully, you'll join us :).