Thursday, September 26, 2013

Things have been Crazy!

Head on over to to find out. That's my new blog. It's updated on a regular basis and more fun than this blog!

Friday, August 30, 2013

New Blog Update & Pictures of Ranger

I know I said the new blog will be up and running by September 12th, but it might be sooner. I'm having an easier time figuring out how to set it up than I thought I would. I think that by next Friday the new blog can go live!

Ranger and I have been having fun lately, just hanging out in the sun and shade and enjoying the beautiful New England weather. Here are a few pictures from the past week:

(Above: Ranger has his own space in the garage for when we're all out there hanging out or working on the trucks. All but one of his toys ended up in the garage. And that one other toy is in the backyard. He has been so happy since we moved to New Hampshire!)

 (Above: I was trying to take a few photos of my old Kodak Vigilant Junior and Ranger decided he wanted in on the action. Yes - he got jealous of a camera.)
 (Above: "Do I see a cat in that window?! Ranger loooooves kitties! All he wants to do is play with them and cuddle them and chase them. But these kitties want nothing to do with him!)
(Above: Ranger just chillin in the garage with me while his Future-Daddy was at work. He loves hanging out in the garage, unless it's too hot. Then he wants to lay in the shade out back.)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Heads Up: In the Works

I'm going to be abandoning this blog within the next couple weeks. Don't worry, I will direct you to my new blog once it's up and running and I'm happy with it's appearance. I have a few other things to get ready for the new blog as well (like a Flickr account, maybe twitter, pinterest, etc.)

You can count on the new blog being ready by September 12th, 2013. That gives me two weeks to get it ready and start posting. Until then, I will be working double on this blog and the new blog.

Ranger and I thank you for your patience while we make this transition!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Things Have Been Crazy! {Part 3}

I know, I skipped a couple days. Sunday was insanely busy, and Monday was a nightmare, and Tuesday I hit the Save button instead of the Publish button. But today I'm going to publish this post while I sit here in the garage hanging out with Ranger, before I get too far into my day!

This should be the final post to catch you up on what has happened since Ranger and I moved 1400 miles from Missouri to New Hampshire. I have left out a lot of things, but I really don't expect anyone to want an extremely detailed play by play of the past month.

Let's review!

First - an interesting road trip with plenty of mishaps.

Second -a party, the groomer, working on trucks, momma breaking her foot, sour skittles, hot dogs, energy drinks, and a ride in a big truck

And now: Third - spending a weekend at a local Animal Inn, moving in with a friend, and a second new truck!

Ranger spent a Friday and Saturday night at an animal inn. Originally, this was so that I could go up to a friend's lake house for their end of summer BBQ, but that didn't happen. Between my broken foot and my little brother needing rides all around town for parades (he made drum line as a Freshman!) I just never made it to the lake house. I thought Ranger would at least get a chance to socialize more, and to do it without me there. I want him to learn that it's perfectly fine for him to play and have fun with people even when I'm not there. When I dropped him off they asked if I wanted Play Time. I guess that every day for a certain amount of time a person takes the dog out in a yard and plays with them. At least he wouldn't be stuck in a cage.
I also chose this one place because he isn't stuck in a cage. The way this place is set up, he can be inside or outside whenever he wants, because he has his own private yard. It's not very big - it's more like a long hallway outside, but there were dogs on either side that he could run up and down the fence with. It seemed perfect!

Sadly, I probably won't be bringing him back there. When I picked him up he was shaking his head like something was in his ears, so when we got home I looked. His ears are covered in nasty bug bites! I checked his stomach, too. Same thing. Some of the nastier bites were bleeding. I don't know if they are ant bites or flies or what, but he is not going back there. I'll try their other location next time. I'm sure it wasn't something they did on purpose, but because he has an outdoor run as well I'm sure that insects get inside, or he fell asleep in the sun like he usually does and the ants made a meal out of him. Hopefully another location wouldn't have the same insect problems. After a week, the bites are still scabbed over and they seem bigger. There may be a vet visit in Ranger's near future.

 (Above: Exploring the bed of the truck)
 (Above: Being a snuggle bum)
(Above: When we're outside he sits next to me and just watches the world go by.)

A week ago Ranger and I moved out of my aunt's house. We moved in with The Man. So far things are great! We figured it would be easier for my aunt since she already has a full house, and it'll be easier for him and me too since we were 25 minutes away from each other. We saw each other most every day when Ranger and I lived with my aunt, and that is a lot of wasted fuel.

Our new Sleep Number bed is supposed to arrive tonight, and we got our new truck last Thursday night. Things are coming together. Now we just need a place of our own. We're fine living where we are while we house hunt and save up, but we definitely need our own place where we're not surrounded by people constantly.

Did you notice I mentioned a new truck? I guess I really caught the truck fever, because last month I bought the 1993 F250, and this month we purchased a 2007 F350 6.0 Powerstroke, King Ranch edition. It's absolutely gorgeous! Here, let me give you a preview of my beautiful new toy... I mean our new truck...

Now, Ranger won't be allowed in this truck until his dog bed is completed. The Man's mother and I went on a shopping trip to Jo-Ann's Fabric and got everything she would need to make us a dog bed. Neither The Man or myself want to risk Ranger's nails damaging the leather in the new truck, so if he ever rides in it the back seat will be put up and the fake floor will be put down with his bed.Otherwise he will ride in the '93 or '89 most of the time.

Whew! It only took 3 posts but I think I'm just about caught up on what has been happening in the life of Ranger and his human.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Things Have Been Crazy! {Part 2}

We made it to New Hampshire on a Thursday evening. On Saturday my aunt was having her summer BBQ. This meant Ranger was going to get socialized real quick. Leading up to the BBQ I did a few things to prepare Ranger and myself for all the people that would want to pet him. There were a few people bringing little dogs, too. So I got Ranger a 25 foot lead made for dogs up to 90lbs, and we found a nice shady spot in the yard to use. Unfortunately, all this means Ranger would be pretty far away from everyone. And at the same time it ensured that there would not be a 65lb dog running full speed around the yard trying to play with kids or dogs. I had this horrible image of Ranger accidentally knocking somebody down and hurting them.

The party started Saturday afternoon, and in one's and two's people would walk over to Ranger to say hello. I would see them heading his way, and I would jump up and get there first, to help Ranger emotionally. He barked at everyone that got within 50 feet of him for the first couple hours but then he got the idea and instead of a mean "stay away!" bark it was more of a happy "Hi! I'm a dog! I like treats and butt scratches!" kind of bark. By the end of the night when people were getting ready to leave and went to say goodbye to Ranger, he was rolling over when he saw them coming for belly rubs, checking their hands for treats, wagging his tail a million miles an hour, and the only time he would bark was when they were walking away from him. Almost as if he was saying "Hey! We're friends! Come back and rub my belly!"

Sunday morning I woke up to take Ranger outside to potty and he looked at me like I was crazy... then he went back to sleep.

Over the next couple weeks ranger met more and more people, and experienced a lot of new things. He went to the groomer and then got to hang out in the garage while I got help fixing my truck. Poor dog... the groomer put a Care Bears bandana on him. I made him wear it for two days. Does that make me a mean mommy?
Then there was the night I broke my foot.

I was walking with Ranger through a dark back yard, holding him by the collar, and I stepping in the only hole in the yard. I went down, pulling Ranger with me. Poor Ranger. He thought he caused me to fall! He was crying and giving me kisses and trying to make me feel better. This all happened at 10 o'clock at night. I thought maybe I just jammed my foot and decided to wait it out until morning.

Every time i got up and tried to walk, Ranger would get in front of me and look straight up at me and whine deep in his throat, like he was saying sorry I hurt you mommy, but I'll catch you if you fall again! By 3:30am I was in extreme pain and I couldn't sleep, so I left Ranger with my friend and went to the hospital.

About 10am when I was leaving the hospital with a confirmed broken foot (broke it in 2 places!) and a cam boot I got a text. "Guess what we did?!"

They went for a ride. In this:

To give you an idea of how big this truck is... Ranger had to be picked up and put in the cab because he can run circles under the truck without ducking. And I can sit cross legged under the truck with clearance. It's not a monster truck, but it's close. The tires are 37" and there's a lift on it too.

So then I get another text. "Ranger doesn't like Sour Skittles." I'm in my truck driving back thinking oh jeeze he's feeding Ranger candy... And then I get a third text: "He doesn't like energy drinks either." And one final text: "We had hot dogs for breakfast." At least he tried to feed Ranger while I was gone with all Ranger's food in my truck.

Up Next: Things Have Been Crazy {Part III}

Friday, August 23, 2013

Things Have Been Crazy! {Part 1}

Wow! So much has happened since my last post! Ranger and I moved to New Hampshire (and what an interesting move it was!) We bought a second truck. Ranger has learned a lot about meeting new people, and he is gaining weight and looking healthier. And for some reason, he suddenly LOVES stuffed squeaky toys!

So first of all, Ranger and I live in New Hampshire now. It took us 3 very interesting days of driving to get here.

The issues started at U-Haul when I went to pick up the car dolly. They had to rewire my truck. So I was stuck at U-Haul for almost 2 hours. It only got better from there...

Before we even got to the highway to start the trip we met the local fire department. I filled the front gas tank of the truck (old Ford trucks have front and rear fuel tanks) and when I looked away from the little screen telling me how much money was being stolen from my bank account I noticed I was leaking fuel everywhere! So I ran inside to tell the attendant. They called the fire department because we didn't know how much fuel was going to leak out. I had put over 19 gallons in that tank. It was possible 19 gallons of gasoline would end up on the ground. This set us back about an hour and a half. Thankfully I only lost 2 gallons of fuel.

About halfway through the trip we had a pretty scary mishap. The tread on the back tire on the driver's side of the truck blew off and wrecked that whole section of the truck. And I mean wrecked it. I couldn't put fuel in the truck, I couldn't drive, I was stuck on the side of a highway in Ohio.

I called Roadside Assistance through my insurance company and after a 20 minute battle finally managed to convince them that the 2-wheel car dolly I was towing was NOT a trailer. So they agreed to come out to help me change the tire. I didn't have a jack otherwise I could have done it myself. Once I got off the phone with my insurance company a van pulled over behind me. I go out and asked if the man was my roadside assistance. He said he wasn't, but he was roadside assistance. Apparently Ohio had amazing people drive the highways looking for stranded motorists to help! I love you, Ohio!

He got my spare tire out from underneath the truck and put air in it (that van was seriously equipped for ANYTHING!) and as he was working on getting the spare off, my roadside assistance showed up. Talk about awkward. The guy my insurance sent leaned down and said "Um, I was sent to help her." and the guy under my truck looks at him and says "oh, I know you were. But I've got it covered. You can go."

Oh. My. Gawd. I about died. I had told the Ohio highway guy that the tow company had cancelled on me twice because of the "trailer" I was towing. He was not impressed with them, because the dolly didn't affect anything. We didn't have to disconnect it from the truck or anything.

Here's what I was towing:

That's obviously a trailer right? Right... sure. If they say so. 

Here's the ruined tire:

And here are a few pictures of the damage the tire caused:

Oh what a nightmare. So the guy my insurance sent ended up putting my spare tire on the truck and then leaving. I was so upset... I couldn't put gas in my truck because the filler neck was wrecked! What was I going to do?! I still had 10 hours of driving left and my front fuel tank leaks, so I couldn't put fuel in the front tank without risking blowing up or losing all my fuel. I just kind of stood there for a minute and the Ohio Highway Guy said "I can fix that. I can't make it perfect, but I can make it so you can still gas up. You'll just have to go slow." I could have kissed him! 

After our two hour delay because of this, Ranger and I were back on the road. About 30 minutes later we stopped to use the bathroom and I noticed something REALLY bad.

The car was coming off the dolly. 

This is the point where I said "I give up. I'm going to live at this gas station forever." I somehow managed to get my car off the dolly and back on correctly. For some reason the straps and chains weren't holding my car in place on the passenger side so I had to keep fixing it for the rest of the trip. I just kept tightening the straps more and more until my tire was almost flat from all the pressure. I didn't care. I just wanted to be done with the trip.

We finally made it to Massachusetts, dropped the car off at a dealership for some work and then dropped the dolly off at U-Haul. Then we headed to New Hampshire. Once we got to New Hampshire we realized the spare tire was going flat, so we aired it up and moved on to our final destination.

I am never making that trip again. EVER!

Up Next: {Part II}

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Truck Dog & Moving North & Paisley

Ranger is now a "truck dog!" We got a truck! He'll be riding in my new (old) 1993 F250! Look at it! Do it! Look!

She's so pretty! 

Now that we have the truck we will be packing up all our things and moving 1400 miles to New Hampshire either Tuesday or Wednesday. Let's hope I can tow my car on my own, since it's just Ranger and me making this trip with the truck and the car. 

It will probably take us 3 days to get there, but I'm hoping it only takes 2. I really don't want to have to stay the night in New York State and that's about the only place we could stay between Ohio and New Hampshire that is a good halfway point. I guess it depends on how far we get the first day. I'm not 100% sure how the truck will do towing my car. It should be fine- the truck has a LOT of power- but it will all depend on how the truck feels after towing the car for a day. Our trip is also an extra 4 hours longer than last time I made this trip in just my car, so we might not make it all the way to Medina, OH. There is a Motel 6 there and they have a free pet policy as long as you don't leave your pet in the room alone for hours on end. We'll be there long enough to eat dinner, sleep, shower, eat breakfast, and get back on the road.

Once we get to New England we will stop in Massachusetts and Ranger will meet his grandpa, we'll drop the car off for some work and a full detail, then we'll drop off the car dolly (which we will rent from UHaul) and then we'll make the last hour of the trip to NH. 

So far we have about 80% of our stuff packed. We have a short to-do list to complete before we hit the road. 

1) oil change on the truck
2) buy Ranger's dog food
3) get Ranger's nails cut
4) buy at least 1 ten-gallon gas can for the truck
5) rent the dolly
6) finish packing my clothes (and a weekend bag for the trip)
7) make sure I have everything- go through the house at least twice
8) find some ratchet straps for the bigger things going in the truck bed
9) vacuum pack blankets and fill the blanket box with clothes and blankets, wrap in plastic in case of wet weather
10) pack everything into the car and truck

I'm excited. Ranger really has no idea what is happening. All he knows is momma is putting all her stuff in a corner of his room for some reason. 

Tomorrow we're all going to a creek to test of the 4x4 on the truck and to swim. Thankfully I got an extended cab truck so the dogs will have plenty of room.

So now about Paisley:

Ranger and Cricket stopped eating. In the first two weeks we had Paisley Ranger lost 7 pounds even though I was hand feeding him almost twice as much as he usually eats at each meal. I'm trying to put weight on Ranger, so him losing weight is unhealthy. He was just stressed out so much by the puppy. The two girls got along great, but they either ganged up on him or ignored him completely. He was more timid than before around the puppy, and he was extremely jumpy and needy. We decided it would be best for Paisley to go to a different home. 

I found someone. Her new daddy is a middle aged man living alone without any family. He needed and wanted a friend, and when Paisley met him she immediately went to him and sat down next to him facing me, like "yup, this is my human." She wouldn't even come to me when I tried to say goodbye. She was more worried about staying next to him where she could lean on his leg or stretch up to lick his hand. Her whole attitude changed the moment she saw met him, like she had made up her mind and nothing was stopping her. Since she seemed to want to go with him and since she wanted nothing to do with me I let him take her home with toys, her bowl, crate, blanket, and food. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why I Didn't Leash Train Ranger & Why I Regret It

I always wanted dogs that didn't need leashes, so when we adopted our first dog, the only time she was on a leash was when we went to the vet, or when I brought her onto a military installation with me, but only because they have a regulation stating that dogs need to be leashed at all times. Then we got Ranger and did the same thing. Oh boy do I regret that!

Ranger is just over two years old, and the only times he has been on a leash before we started obedience training was when we went to the vet. He is so used to going where he wants when he wants that being on a leash confuses him. Ranger thinks "But I want to get there FASTER than this! Here mom, let me lead you!" What he's really doing is dragging me, choking himself, and making us look bad.

And it's all my fault.

I could have taught him that there were certain times he could be off a leash and to stay within range, and there are certain times he should be good and heel, but I didn't. I should have though.

Ignoring the leash was one of the worst things I have done as a puppy mommy. If I had known the problems it was going to cause I would have leash trained from the start. Ranger turned out to be a 70lb dog full grown so he's pretty strong. Being pulled by a dog that big and that strong just plain sucks. And he's older, and more stubborn, so training him is just as frustrating. Poor Ranger is probably thinking "But Mom... I never had to stay right next to you before! Why do I have to do it now?" How do you explain to a dog that you didn't know what you were doing and you messed up two years before and now you're trying to repair your mistakes? You can't. You just have to work with the dog every day, over and over, rewarding him for the behavior you want and ignoring the behavior you don't want.

I really should have started training him as a puppy. Lesson learned.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ranger's Sisters

We have 3 dogs right now. Ranger, my border collie mix. Cricket, my husband-thing's female lab mix. And most recently Paisley, a female terrier (read: terror) mix.

 This is Cricket. She will be 4 in October. We got her when we first moved in together in 2010. We adopted her from the veterinary clinic on Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri when she was 3 or 4 months old. She was "his" dog from day one. Now, 3 years and 40lbs later she is still his dog. Cricket acts like a grumpy old woman and won't snuggle anyone. She has the same personality as the husband-thing. 

This is Paisley, our almost 8 month old mutt. This is Paisley carrying an ovum and spermatozoon around the backyard. (Yes, my dogs have strange toys. Originally these stuffed organisms were going to be sent to my mother if we ever got pregnant, but since we're ending our marriage these stuffed things are of no further use. So I gave them to the puppy.) The ovum was destroyed within a half hour but before she tore it apart she walked around carrying both. It was amusing. 

So there ya go- now you know Ranger's temporary family! Neither of them like him very much, which is both good and bad. Bad because for now he's odd man out, and good because once it's just me and him he'll be slightly more prepared for living his life just him and me. Someday I'll get him a little brother or sister once I get established living on my own, though. He's a sweet boy and he craves attention and snuggles. Maybe we'll adopt another border collie, or maybe an Australian shepherd. Either way, Ranger and I have a good life ahead of us! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Good Dog, Bad Human

I must be the worst dog mom in the world. Or at least that's what Ranger probably thinks. With a new puppy in the house Ranger is in need of extra attention, which is why he's next to me right now instead of in the back room where he should be winding down for bed. He is so attached to me that the slight decrease in attention is really affecting him. I think tomorrow we will go somewhere, just Ranger and me. There are a few parks here in town that are dog friendly as long as I pick up his mess and keep him leashed.

Maybe we will go walk somewhere and then run around in a field. It would be a great chance to practice Emergency Recall. The distractions will pull him away from me (on a long leash) and also serve to give me a better jumping off point and idea of how well I actually hold his attention.

I haven't taken any pictures of the dogs the past couple days, so this is an older picture:

We had some severe weather a few weeks ago and Ranger always gets nervous during thunder storms, so I let him up on the chair for some snuggles with me. Poor boy hasn't gotten any thing like this since the puppy moved in. If I want to be a good mommy, I need to make sure Ranger's needs are met, and that includes physical contact like this.

That's all for today. I'm going to go cuddle with the snuggle beast.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Puppy at Night & New Order in the Pack

Most of the day yesterday and last night was rough not just for Paisley, but for Ranger. 

I feel like the worst dog mom in the world right now. Ranger obviously feels unsure of his place now that there is a new dog in the pack. Paisley seems to have taken Ranger's spot as #2, pushing him into the #3 spot, which used to be the cat's ranking. I can tell Ranger is struggling. 

The reasoning behind adopting Paisley was to make sure Cricket has a companion once Ranger and I move. In some ways, that plan is coming together wonderfully. Cricket and Paisley get along great and they play together constantly. The only problem is that Ranger ends up on the sidelines watching. 

I've been doing my best to make sure Ranger knows he's still my baby, but I can tell he is uncomfortable. Last night I took him outside with me while the girls stayed inside and we sat on the patio. He sat right next to me and pressed his cheek against mine. If I moved, he moved. He just needed that contact and reassurance.

Later when I put Paisley in her crate for the night she got upset and spent at least 15 minutes crying and barking before I went to her. Ranger came to me immediately, clearly upset by the crying puppy. But... He wouldn't let me near her. He didn't attack me, he's not that kind of dog, he just planted himself in front of me and wouldn't get out of my way. So I sat on the floor and talked to him for a few minutes. Poor boy. He sat right in front of me and put his chin on my shoulder and grumbled to me while I petted and talked to him. 

By the way, Paisley only calmed down and stopped crying when I brought her and her crate into the living room with me. She whined a little bit then went to sleep. 

I'm not sure how I can effectively communicate to Ranger that he is not being pushed out of the pack by Paisley and that he will be my baby until he moves on from this life. The best I can do is spend extra time with him- rides in the car, snuggling, Mommy-Ranger time without other dogs, etc. I'm thinking of moving his mini training sessions into the front yard too instead of the back yard where the other two dogs can watch through the windows. 

Do you have any suggestions for assuring a dog that they are not being pushed out of the pack?

I'll end this with a cute picture of Ranger:

 (Road Guard Ranger sporting mommy's old road guard vest from her days in the Army! I think we need to find a doggy sized and shaped vest for him so that when we learn to heel mommy can start running safely with Ranger.)

Potty Training an "Unwanted" Puppy = Huge Headache

We figured out why no one wanted this puppy. She pees when she is nervous. AND... She pees when she is excited about puppy stuff (toys, snuggling, kisses, playing.) I suspect she either just hasn't learned to control her bladder or she has a bladder infection, but she doesn't have any symptoms other than peeing a little very… very… very often.

We have a thick comforter on the couch because she jumps up there and gets so excited to be there that she pees. It's a comforter we don't use for anything but seat covers when we put the dogs in the car, so it's no big deal if she had these little accidents on it.

I'm going to have to do a lot of research on how to deal with a dog that does this. It's not just when she's nervous. She will be playing with her stuffed toy fox, see a person, and run to them ... peeing on the way.

Has anyone reading this had to deal with a puppy that does this? How did you handle it? What advice would you give?

Also- she refuses to go to bed unless someone cuddles her to sleep first, otherwise she spends 20 minutes crying in her crate, like she is right now. We don't want her on the furniture at all, so sitting on the couch with her on my lap is not an option and I can't sit on the floor and snuggle her every night before bed. It's just not realistic and I don't want to form that habit with her. Ugh. Puppy headaches!

Looks like I have some work to do. This puppy is proving to be a handful! 

Monday, July 1, 2013


Ranger has a new friend for now. Paisley joined our family. 
She was scheduled to be put down today because no one wanted to potty train her. How horrible is that? She's 7 months old, spayed, micro-chipped, and up to date on her shots. There is absolutely no acceptable reason she should be put down. 

The purpose of adopting Paisley is to give my husband's dog a companion once Ranger and I move to New Hampshire. So far that plan is working out perfectly. Paisley loves Cricket and my husband. 

Ranger is helping us train her. It's also helping train him. Suddenly he is much more willing to come when called and do as he's told so that the puppy doesn't get more attention than him. It's a great chance to really work with Ranger. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stuffed Animals Are Scary

My dogs don't get toys with stuffing inside. My mother in law sent us home with stuffed birds a while back. Those lasted all of maybe 3 minutes before the older dog (Cricket) shook the head off both birds and then pulled all the stuffing out. Then for Christmas she sent us home with a few more. Again, the toys didn't last long.

I hoped this wasn't the way things would always be, so I bought my pups a small stuffed dog from Wal-Mart. It cost about $2, so if they tore it to shreds I knew I want going to cry.

I gave it to the dogs when I got home.

Ranger wants nothing to go with it! Cricket nudges it like she does any small animal that isn't moving. I didn't let them have it overnight, though, in case they tore it to shreds and left a mess for me to clean up the next morning or in case they ate any parts of it.

When I gave it back to them the next day it lasted a few hours before Cricket managed to remove the squeaker and some stuffing. Instead of throwing out the entire thing I removed the rest of the stuffing and let the dogs have it. I bought this toy a few days ago, and it took Ranger until late this evening to touch it. When I put them in the back room/office tonight Ranger actually picked it up. I was actually kind of shocked. But I told him he was a good boy because he needs to learn to be a dog and how to play.

Sometimes my dogs surprise me, and usually they just make me shake my head and wonder how I ended up with not one, but two goofballs. I love em though!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Back Into Training

Ranger and I currently face quite the dilemma. We have the chance to enroll in obedience school again while we are still here in Missouri, but we don't know how long we will be here. We could be here another two weeks or two months. (The madness behind this strange situation is to complicated to go into detail about here, so let's just say I have a strong dislike for the US Army's finance department.)

If we start obedience training formally again, we may be wasting money. At the same time, if we don't enroll we may be missing a great opportunity to get Ranger better prepared for the real world. Once we move to New Hampshire he will one in a while be boarded or go to doggy day care. I can't have him going to either acting like an uncivilized cave dog.

This really is a difficult decision. Once everything that needs to happen to make our move possible actually happens, we won't be here for more than another week. Long enough to do any needed vehicle maintenance, pack this into boxes and move the boxes into the go-mobile. So we can spend the money on a month of classes and only attend 2 of the 4, or we just practice what we were shown in class before and attend classes or have private training sessions as soon as we get to New Hampshire.

(I also have a strong dislike for the unknown, and this is full of that kind of headache.)

I wish there was an easy answer to this dilemma other than "stay in Missouri for a month even if you don't have to do you can complete another month of classes." We have family to get home to, and a summer to enjoy before we have to act like real adults. Leaving Missouri as soon as we are able is the only option, due to a crumbling marriage and the fact that my little brother is growing up way to fast and I want to be there before he becomes too cool to hang out with me. Being in Missouri has been like one long deployment without the option to take leave to see my family. I just want to go home.

As a side note, if the world of Harry Potter was real, I would be like Hagrid. Now some one go get me a dragon egg. Ranger needs a friend.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Warning

Today's post will NOT be about Emergency Recall. Sorry! I have a bad back from my deployment to Iraq in 2008-2009 and some times it flares up and moving at all is extremely painful. I had surgery in 2009 and it was fine for a while but it seems to be getting worse and worse. We didn't do much with Emergency Recall in dog training before we stopped attending classes so I still have to run back and forth with Ranger to show him what I want him to do, and with the way my back feels today that is not possible.

Instead, we'll just talk about a few things. 

There's something I should put out there right now. I am NOT a professional dog trainer. I barely know what I'm doing! For now, all the training Ranger and I do comes from what we learned from Side Kick Dog Training (Springfield, Missouri) and what I have picked up from watching the YouTube videos by a man who trains dogs. (Find him by searching tab289 on YouTube.)

Now that I've said that, you can no longer hold me accountable for anything bad that happens if you try the techniques I talk about here! Just the good things! *insert evil laugh* 

Random picture!

This is important. It's summer, and the weather is getting progressively warmer and here in Missouri it's very humid. Right about this time of year is when people start to forget that their dogs are not immortal, and that they suffer just like people do in the heat. 

Dogs need to hydrate and cool off just like people do. The heat can do some nasty things to dogs, and it can happen a lot faster than it would to a human. Think of your dog(s) as babies. They need YOU to take care of THEM. 

Here are some Do's and Don't of summer with dogs.

Now, what are the warning signs of a heat injury in dogs? This should help give you an idea:


Your vet can give you instructions on how to help your dog. YOUR VET KNOWS BEST!

Remember: just because it's summer and it IS hot out doesn't mean you can't have fun with your dog! Ranger loves when we pack a lunch and a few towels, jump in the truck, and drive to a secluded creek. He plays and explores and swims and has a smile on his face the whole time we're there, and when it's time to leave he pouts. Yes, Ranger has a pouty face!

Below: Ranger having fun spending a few hours playing in his favorite creek!

Remember to use common sense this summer to ensure a great summer season for both you and your four legged buddy! As you can see in the above photo, Ranger is wearing his collar even though we were swimming in a creek no where near traffic. He isn't microchipped yet so if something were to happen at least my phone number, his name, and his rabies tags are on him. (The rabies tag is mostly to ensure I don't get in trouble for having an untagged dog,) It also helps if you have to grab hold of a wet dog. They get slippery! Once in a while a truck or 4-wheeler would drive down the dirt road and I would grab Ranger to make sure he didn't run to say hello and accidentally scare anyone. He's just friendly and wants to explore every one and everything. I also need to use his collar when it's time to leave because he does not want to leave!

Here's to a FUN FILLED and HEALTHY summer!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Clicker Training

As I mentioned in the post before this one, Ranger is 2 years old. In April, 2013 Ranger and I attended dog training classes. That means we got a late start on training. The training methods taught in this obedience school is Clicker Training. Ranger seemed to really respond to the clicker and treats! The only hiccup we had was loose leash walking. Ranger's idea of walking is dragging me around. The trainer put a Gentle Leader on him and after a few minutes of confusion we had almost no issue walking with his leash loose.

We didn't return to class in June. We should have, but we didn't. It was $50 for 4 weeks of training and money was tight. We should have kept practicing what we learned at home but I got lazy and I didn't have money for dog treats.

Yesterday, Ranger and I went out back with the clicker and some cheese and crackers and I decided to video our spontaneous training session. It was more like a refresher than anything, like tests teachers give at the beginning of a term to see what the students remembered from the previous year and to give the teacher a starting point.

Thankfully I have a smart phone that allows me to upload videos to YouTube with little to no hassle. This is a quick video, but it shows the things Ranger remembered. We didn't do any review before I hit the record button so this is all out of the blue for him.

Before I post this video, let me say that normally I don't have to speak the commands "sit" or "down" but I did here in this video for two reasons: 1) so Ranger knew exactly what I wanted from him, and 2) so anyone watching this video knows exactly what I am asking of him. Also, at first I do repeat myself, but one thing we learned in our one month intro to obedience training was not to repeat a command. Say it once and wait. (That is the hardest part for me, not gonna lie.)

He remembered! I was very proud of him after this quick less-than-a-minute long review. My husband thinks Ranger is a hopeless case but when he does things like this, I know I am totally right for believing in this dog. A few hours later, after watching cute puppies doing awesome tricks on YouTube, I told Ranger to fetch me a drink from the fridge.

He totally impressed me. I haven't taught him to fetch drinks, but he knew I wanted him to do something, so he went through literally everything he knows trying to figure it out. First he brought me an old sock the dogs play with. Then he went and found the cat. Then he found a tennis ball. Then he went over to the other dog and put his paw on her and looked at me like he was asking "is this what you want?" I was really happy to see that he is willing to do things, even if he has no idea what it is he is supposed to do.

Other than tricks like getting drinks, and other than basic commands like sit, down, stay, and loose leash walking there are plenty of other things we are working on.

Among those many things is learning how to behave around New people, and letting them handle him. He has always been great at the vet, other than dragging me inside to see the vet (he knows the vet as "let's go see friends.") The only problem is when the vet looks at his paws, and when I try to clip his nails. If I could have gotten a video of the last time I tried to cut his nails, you would probably laugh and shake your head. I had to lay on top of him to keep him from getting away. How did I fix this problem? I started taking him to a groomer.

Ranger definitely recognizes the groomer after only being brought there 3 times. He doesn't know who the groomer is... no, he knows the building. As soon as he sees it from the road he gets excited. Then we get inside and his whole outlook changes. I can tell he is thinking "I regret this decision."

Today was the 4th time he has had a stranger cut his nails, and we went to a new place since the place we normally go was closed. He did GREAT! It was a new place, new person, and there were new smells, but he stood still and he didn't try to pull his paws away.

He really is a smart dog, and to be honest I think he is a lot smarter than I give him credit for. With the right training I think he will surprise everyone that knows him. For now, Ranger and I will train on our own, but once we move to New Hampshire we are going to enroll in obedience training again.

Since we technically trained today (visiting the groomer) I will wait until tomorrow to see if he remembers Emergency Recall.

Coming Up Next: Emergency Recall ("Post!")

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Let me Introduce... Ranger!

Ranger is a border collie mix, and he's just over 2 years old. In May 2011 I decided I needed a second dog. I was living with my husband and we had adopted a black lab mix from the vet on Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri a year before. She needed a friend, so I set out to find something on CraigsList. I don't buy dogs from pet stores, and at the time I wanted a dog, a mutt, and you can't get mutts from breeders.

I found an ad for dogs of all ages that were scheduled to be put down by the following week if they weren't adopted. 

Long story short, it was a puppy mill. He supposedly came with all his shots, vet records, etc. That was a lie. The next day he cost me about $400 at the vet to rid him of all the internal and external parasites he had, his conjunctivitis, all his shots, and lab tests. But you know what? He has turned into the greatest darn dog I ever could have asked for so every dollar was well spent. 

When we first got Ranger he weighed 5 pounds and was smaller than a bottle of water. The vet guessed he was only about 5 weeks old. This is the first day we had him, when he was tiny an adorable and tick infested. (Kind of takes away from the cuteness but lucky me I had no idea until we got to the vet the next afternoon.)

A couple weeks later, he was finally bigger than a water bottle! He weighed 6lbs 3oz! And he was so fluffy I almost died of cuteness overload every time I looked at him. 

Here'a his first bath!

When he was 11 weeks old, he was getting big, and he was getting big fast. We were told he would be about 35lbs full grown. Boy did they lie to me! 

Ever since we got him he has loved car rides. I'm not sure why since I got him out of a van, which he had obviously been living in with at least 15 other dogs. 

So my "35lbs full grown" dog got bigger. A lot bigger. 

The above picture was taken just a couple weeks ago. He's 70 pounds. Yes, TWICE what we were told he would be full grown. And the scary part? He's thin. He needs to gain at least 10 pounds. 

He's a good dog, though. I wouldn't trade him for the world. 

Enough about Ranger growing into his paws. Let's get to the good stuff. What does he like? What IS he like? He likes everything. Especially toys, butt scratches, and cuddling. And food. He loves food. He's 2 but he has the personality of a 6 month old puppy. He loves car rides. If you pick up a set of car keys he goes nuts. He likes peeing on stuff (outside thankfully!) And walks. Because he can pee on new stuff when we go for walks. 

He doesn't like when people get loud. It scares him. He doesn't like thunderstorms. He can feel them coming and it upsets him. He doesn't like popcorn or pretzels. 

I love this dog. He's my little buddy. He's my sidekick. He's also my dumb bum. 

I'm going to use this blog to document our adventures together. Ranger is a friendly dog so I can take him to new places and not worry too much. The only thing I worry about is him barking to say hello, and other people letting their dog get close to him when he doesn't want them to get close. He's afraid of new dogs and I don't want him to hurt anyone or get hurt because he feels cornered. 

We have a lot to do, a lot to learn, but that's all part of the adventure. We only recently started obedience training (I'll document our progress here!) and socialization so I know with time and training and consistency he'll become the dog I know he can be! 

Coming up Next : Clicker Training