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When I decided to put Lizzie into Obedience Training I had to convince the trainer that she could skip beginner class and go right into intermediate class.  I went on and on about how she already knows all the basic commands and would just be bored with the beginners.  So, with a bit of hesitation, the trainer agreed to try her in intermediate with the disclaimer that he will make the final decision after the first class and if need be, he reserved the right to put her in the beginner class.  That’s a lot of pressure, but I agreed.  I was told to bring a bag of her favorite treats.  I bought brand new treats for her just for class.

Last night was Lizzie’s first class.  We showed up a few minutes early and the class ahead of us wasn’t done yet so we waited outside.  We greeted the members of our class one by one as they showed up and were forced to wait in the parking lot as well until the classroom was available.  Lizzie made friends and played with all the dogs, sniffing out the one that would soon be her new BFF.   She landed on a black German Shepherd, named Zevra (or something like that after a TV show character).  Within seconds they were playing hard and panting.  Within minutes they had to be separated.  There were six dogs in the class, including Lizzie.  A Pit Bull, German Shepherd, Boxer, and two little fu-fu dogs.  The trainer called Lizzie and I into his office and had the others go in the classroom.  Since he knew the other dogs, he was monitoring Lizzie’s behavior from inside to see how she interacted with the other dogs.  He had her all sized up in minutes.  He told me she was an Alpha Dog and to notice that she pees like a male when dominant dogs are around.  Alone she pees like a female (ohh, that’s why she does that!). He went on to tell me of her stance and structure around each dog (he got all that from the window?).  He liked that she was playful and friendly.  It was a good place to start.  He said to keep her opposite the Boxer at all times as he is very aggressive and wants them to have plenty of time to get to know each other before putting them side by side.  He had me notice that the Boxer was the only dog required to wear a double pinch collar (I did notice he had a lot of bling around his neck).  All the other dogs just had choke collars, which is what he gave Lizzie as well.   He also said she wouldn’t be near her new BFF because they’d just play and be distracted and distracting the whole class.  He paired her with the Pit Bull.  Pit Bull’s get such a bad rap as being awful dogs.  This dog was a cream-puff.  Sweet and loving… and obedient.

The first command was sit.  Oh, we’ve got this in the bag.  She’s a good sitter.  LIZZIE SIT!  nothing…  LIZZIE… SIT!  nothing… I pull out one of the new treats and she didn’t like them!  What???  Why didn’t I try them on her first?  What a doof!  Now what? She doesn’t like the treats and I have a whole bag of them.  Of course by now all the other dogs are sitting and everyone’s waiting for me and Lizzie.  I was so embarrassed trying to pick up the collection of treats Lizzie spit out all over the floor.  The trainer came across the floor towards Lizzie and locked eyes with her. She was defiant as she stood her ground.  He stood in front of her and didn’t say a word.  He pulled out one of his treats and gave her the sit hand signal command, still without saying a word.  It was a staring contest and then, just like that, she sat.  He never said a word.  He gave her the treat (yeah sure, she ate his treats), rubbed her belly, and simply said good-girl.  She was all over him.  She got up and sat down, got up and sat down.  She was trying to please him.  He looked at me and said she knew how to do it all along, she just needed to know who was boss.  Clearly, it was him.  I smiled nervously and he said “now show her who’s boss” as he handed me a fistful of treats.   That’s when it became clear who the training was really for… me.  Crap.

From that moment on Lizzie sat, stayed and laid down on command.  As her and her new BFF made googly eyes across the room, the Boxer was now beginning to show aggression towards Lizzie.  I don’t think the Boxer liked all the attention Lizzie was getting from the Trainer.  We learned a few hand signals and how do deal with different behaviors.  Then the Trainer said he was going to bring out a perfectly trained dog to show us all how it’s done.  He brought out Roxy, another little fu-fu dog.  Roxy was indeed the most perfectly trained dog I’d ever seen.  She never missed a command, never missed a beat.  I asked how long she’s been training.  Five days!  No kidding… this dog has been boarding with him during school vacation and he put her in class every day.  I couldn’t believe it.  He said she’s had no previous training and was wild when she came in.  Wow, I was so impressed.  Lizzie has potential.

On our morning walk today, I used the choke collar and leather training leash.  I used the commands heel, sit and stay.  Lizzie did exceptional.  She turned with me instead of against me and whenever she got distracted I gave her a good yank and got her attention.  At one point I was sure I heard her say “what the hell?” but I kept hearing the Trainer’s words to keep eye contact and remember dogs learn by body language and vibes.  Do not give in to her, she will never train if you do. One good yank is all you need to get her attention.  It won’t hurt her, it will just get her attention.  Most importantly he said, a dog that serves it’s master well, is a happy dog.  The love to serve.

Next week I’ll be sure to have treats she likes…



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After spending the entire afternoon with the Podiatrist yesterday for a bone spur, he tells me the pain I’m experiencing isn’t from the bone spur at all.  In fact, it’s from a stretched, almost torn, ligament, probably from hiking every weekend with the dog.  He pulled out an ultrasound machine and performed picture magic in front of my eyes.  He babbled on and on with medical terms and looked up to ask me if “I follow”.  I had to be honest and said he lost me after “Does this hurt?”

He fitted my high arch for a custom brace pad thingy that I’m to wear all day and night except to bed and prescribed Prednisone.  I’ve never taken the drug, but I’ve never heard good things about it.  I asked the Doctor what the side effects were.  After giving me the pros and cons, he was basically saying either live with the pain and don’t take the drug, or take the drug and be pain-free.  Thanks, Doc.

I’m such a baby with drugs and side effects.  I can hardly take an aspirin without getting nausea so I reached out to a few friends and family.  It was interesting to see how strongly people either objected or promoted the drug.  Next, I decided to research it on-line.  It only took me a split second to make up my mind after reading this one tiny paragraph from Drugs.com:

“Prednisone – All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor side effects.  Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome when using Prednisone:  Difficulty sleeping; feeling of whirling motion; increased appetite; increased sweating; indigestion; mood changes; nervousness.”

I sleep like a rock now, don’t need an increased appetite (are you kidding me?) or increased sweating (geez). As for indigestion, whirling motion and nervousness… don’t need any more of that crap than I already have.  It was the mood changes that sealed the deal.  My gawd, there are times I fly off the handle from zero to 60 in less than a split second.  Mood changes, that can’t be good.

So, I will ice the heel, wear the brace and not take the steroid to remain the happy, peaceful, pleasant, perfect flower that I am… ha ha (I see you rolling your eyes!)


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What are the odds, at 25,  you’ll go to sleep and never wake up?  What are the odds your dog will be diagnosed with bone cancer?  What are the odds you get the news on the same day?  A bazillion to one, I think… but here it is.

Yesterday, my brother shared sad news that his dog Flash has bone cancer with 1 – 2 months to live.  I could feel the sadness hanging in his heart and his animal-loving home.  This won’t be easy for any of them, and no matter what they choose to do, the outcome will be the same.  It’s such a painful decision.  I wished I could help as I thought about the outcome.   The memory of putting a beloved dog down is still very fresh in my mind. 

Ten minutes later…..

I learned a co-worker’s 25-year-old daughter went to sleep and never woke up.  I was (am) shocked and saddened with the news.  I knew this girl.  I worked for her mom for years and still work with her now.  Her only child was a 3rd year law school student with a bright future.  So many questions, so little answers.

You just never know when your time is up…


The New Dawn

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Every morning while Lizzie and I walk down the street, there is a man putting flags on his flagpole and raising them high.  We exchange random hello’s, but we don’t talk.  I learned months ago, when I first started noticing him, that his morning ritual is very personal and it takes him back to a place where it all began.  The look on his face, the care that he takes, the respect in handling and carefully unfolding the flags is worth watching over and over again.  I imagine a man in uniform, about 50 years younger taking the same time and effort in hanging flags.  The American Flag is first.  The second flag looks to be some kind of military flag, perhaps his own regime from years past in the military.  Although I’ve never seen him take the flags off the pole, I watch him as he meticulously and perfectly unfolds each flag before hanging them every single morning.  He hangs them in record time, takes a quick second to admire them, then goes in the house.  I always wonder if he says a silent prayer to buddies lost, or for the men and women that have served after him.  Perhaps on this day he is praying for the Chief of Police who lost his life last week in a drug bust.  He seems totally engaged in his morning ritual and I never want to ruin it for him by talking.  Some mornings, he just gives me an acknowledging nod while I wave as to not break the silence.  He likes that I get it and don’t crowd him with ridiculous morning chatter.  He always gives Lizzie a glance, but nothing more.  She seems OK with it.

He’s the hero that gives back silently, every day.  The raising of the flags is a daily reminder that every day is a gift, wrapped up in stars and stripes.

Small Doses

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It just goes to show that things can change when you least expect it…

Besides the fact the boats weren’t in the water yet, the weekend was stellar, nonetheless.  I started digging a new fire pit, which I think will be awesome when finished.  A great dinner party was held with lots of food, friends and laughs.  My guard was up before I went to the party.  I’d been warned in advance that a woman I can’t stand would be there, but I certainly wouldn’t not go anywhere because of her.  I’d just keep plenty of space between us, which was the plan.  I arrived first and her a little bit later.  I didn’t get up when she came in behind me, but I was prepared to extend pleasantries when I had to.  She came over and gave me a hello hug and I responded.  Usually confrontational and adamant, this particular night she was neither.  In fact, to my amazement, she was downright pleasant and easy to be around.  Clearly she has been replaced with a pleasant Pod Person look-alike.  As the night wore on, we even shared a laugh or two.  Don’t get me wrong, she was pleasant to me, but she was nipping at someone else.  I chuckled to myself as she was sinking quickly by being put in her place by the person she was nipping at.  Everyone knows she makes stuff up and this night was no different.  She’s not a smart girl, nor does she have any social etiquette at all, however she stood her ground trying to defend something we all knew she had made up.  That’s when it occurred to me that she was on good behavior towards me, but she couldn’t resist chewing on someone else.  She picked the wrong person to chew on as she was sliced up and served on a platter in a matter of just a few seconds.  I turned my head to chuckle because I didn’t want to stir the pot.  She was going down, and rightfully so.  I also know how she operates and didn’t want her to turn to me to start a new conversation to get out of being cornered with her made up story.  Hell no, I wasn’t going on her side.  I wasn’t leaving the side of the Queen who had the honor of slicing.  HA!

Sometimes you’re the pea, sometimes you’re the dish…

Friday The 13th

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Friday the 13th in itself is a day of mystique, superstition and awareness.  All you need is a full moon and you can blame the day for anything that goes wrong.  I always have this vision of witches and goblins, smokey clouds shadowing the moon and a wolf howling in the background to set the mood.  It just seems fitting that today would be mom’s birthday.  She adds candor and humor to the balance and somehow still manages to fit right in.

For the second time this week, we will celebrate mom’s birthday.  Easter Sunday we had a cake and gifts and even sang happy birthday to mom.  Of course it was unacceptable to think we could get away with a celebration six days early, so tonight we celebrate again by taking mom out to the restaurant of her choice, which happens to be Chinese food.  Once again we will shower her with cards, gifts, cake and sing another round of Happy Birthday To You.  In true mom fashion, she will glow with clothes, makeup, jewelry and hair as she makes her entrance into the restaurant.  I will call ahead to see if they could possibly lay down the red carpet for her arrival.  She will blush with delight and fake surprise as we make asses out of ourselves in the restaurant for her benefit.  Silently, when she thinks no one is looking, she will thank her beloved Saints for another year under her belt.   Ahhh, the things we do for love.

Happy Birthday Mom!!









As the excitement continues to build, I feel the ripple of emotions going through me.  It’s exciting and scary.  It’s anxious and appealing.  I’ve been talking about my own business for quite a while now.  Yesterday I got a business license.  This is my retirement plan… working for myself at something I love to do.  I realize it’ll take a while to get up and running, even make money, but I’ve been in the planning stages for so long, I’ve finally taken the first step from planning to doing.  I’ve been jacked about it all day.  Yeah, it’s time to make serious changes in my life.

Last week, my son and I were having dinner.  He made a comment that stayed with me long after dinner was over.  He said “I don’t want to be one of those people who talks about starting their own business and thirty years later still hasn’t done anything about it.”  He could have easily been talking about me.  The raw truth of his statement hit me in the face like a 2 x 4.  I knew it was time to get my plan off the ground.

Step one is usually the hardest part.  I called my friend in CA who’s been nudging me, no pushing me, to get going for a year now.  She about fell off her chair that I actually did it.  They’ll be growing pains, the operative word being ‘growing’, but if I want to really retire and have a small income to sustain, I need to make this work.  I will make this work. 

Now that I’ve started, I want to jump right in.  I’m working on my website, business cards, etc.  I will make this happen, and this will make me happen.  It’s as good as time as any, and the first door has been opened.  Come on in, I’m almost open for business.

I’m making changes, just you wait and see…….


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