Happy New Year!

Happiest of New Year to you all!  This post will be a bit brief, since we are still trying to get our bearings in our new home, which we have that includes a backyard!  No real mishaps on our way from Texas to Oklahoma except for my prized possession, my Scott bike left on the side of I10.  That story is for another day.

Let me just say, Bernie Werns LOVES it.  After we picked them up from Howl A Day Inn, we arrived  several hours later at our home.  We came home to a light dusting of snow.  It was beautiful.  Bernie went out to the backyard and was galloping all around it.  I felt his happiness and his release of energy.  I’m happy he’s happy and I enjoy watching him explore.  Jack, on the other hand, he’s a bit more people oriented and enjoys being outside, if we’re outside.  This is something we are currently working on, so he’s not sitting by the door if we go inside, waiting to be let back in.

We’re still waiting on our furniture and other household essentials, but we picked up a few things for our new home and Eddie, Jack and Bernie just love it 🙂

I’m in the process of setting up my own dog training business here in OK.  I look forward to sharing this process and the experience with you all!

Again, Happy New Year!  May 2015 bring peace and new beginnings to you all!

A Heart of Gratitude

I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile, probably since Eddie received orders to move us away from El Paso. For me, receiving PCS orders is like spoiling your own surprise birthday party when you hate surprises. I find comfort in routine and if my younger self ever heard me say this, she may try shaking loose and go off the beaten path. Now I find moving a way of forced reflection. I’m a pretty introspective person, but having these marked times in my life to take a look back does make me pause.

Before we moved to El Paso from Germany, I was beyond apprehensive. Everything from the change in routine, lifestyle, friends, employment, climate, community and whatever else frightened me. I knew we had a fixed amount of time in Germany and I really took advantage of my time there and felt I lived more in the moment. So, when Eddie received PCS orders, I expected them and felt prepared. I wasn’t prepared for the destination being El Paso.

We arrived in El Paso during the summer of 2012. I looked for work and I believed I applied for every job I knew I was both qualified and under qualified for, but to no avail. It was the first time ever in my life where I found such difficulty in finding work. In the meantime, Eddie deployed and I was left figuring out what I truly wanted to do professionally while also attempting to meet friends and create a life for myself here.

I decided on volunteering for the Humane Society of El Paso. It was a sensible way of developing a routine and building a network in the community. During this time, I also went to the dog park, before I really understood the problems with them. I met some lasting friends and my interest in dog behavior grew.

A year later, in the late spring of 2013, I spoke with a fellow Humane Society volunteer.  She shared with me about ABC’s dog training program and I thought to myself, this will help me in transforming Jack’s anxious and frustrated behavior.  Without hesitation, I enrolled in the program in April and finished the course work in June of the same year.

The ABC dog training program put me in contact with two very special and invaluable people, Glenda Herrin of Heeling Hounds and Melina Garos of Howl A Day Inn. These two women are paramount in my learning and shaped my understanding of dog training and dog rescue work.  My heart is filled with gratitude for these two women not only for their openness in sharing their knowledge and demonstrating their skills, but also being strong women who successfully own and operate their own businesses.

Glenda Herrin was my ABC mentor and she is the owner of Heeling Hounds, the dog training business I’ve had the pleasure of doing contract work during the past 9 months. As an ABC student, I attended Heeling Hounds dog training consultation alongside Glenda. The knowledge I gained from attending these appointments shaped my overall understanding of canine body language, owner relationships with dogs and confidence building in dogs.  Glenda is a deeply committed in ensuring the relationship bond between the owner and his/her dog.  This is paramount with any dog training client.  Glenda’s approach is consistently and reliably positive reinforcement based and her friendly disposition is one to be admired.  She’s built Heeling Hounds from the ground up and it has become a popular and highly regarded dog training business in El Paso.  I’m beyond grateful for Glenda and our relationship.

Melina Garos of Howl A Day Inn contributed tremendously in my learning.  Melina is a dog trainer and has done so for the past 15 years.  She got her start dog training with her first dog, Paco.  She began attending dog training classes and seminars and worked her way up to working with Paco in the search and rescue arena in Germany.  Currently, Melina is the owner of Howl A Day Inn, a premier boarding and training center in El Paso.  She conducts board and train session with client-owned dogs, offers regular boarding and daycare services and rehabilitates abandoned, rescued and owner surrendered dogs. She also rescued over 30 dogs from a hoarding situation in 2013.  Her expertise in reading canine body language truly amazes me.  Wherever I move to, I will continue to be inspired by Melina’s dedication, commitment and absolute love for all the dogs in her care, especially for the senior dogs which are the ones most readily being abandoned or surrendered to her by their owners.

In two days, Eddie and I will be making our departure from El Paso to our new home, in a new state.  I feel more prepared in starting my own dog training business and I know I have the support from Melina and Glenda.  There were many doors opening for me here and I have hope I’ll have even more opportunities where I’m headed.  My heart is warmed by the gratitude I feel for both Melina and Glenda.  My wish for 2015 is for both of these fantastic women in continued success and appreciation.

Keep on Moving….

This past week, Eddie and I’ve been working hard like little bumblebees.  So much so, I’ve dreamt I’ve been .chased down by them.  The bee theme even continued in my waking life from bees trying to get in my house and even stinging my little Boogs to hearing about bees on NPR.  Whatever the relevance, we know the bee is symbolic of our week.

You may be wondering what’s precipitated all this buzz and energy?  Well, we are moving. Eddie is in the military and with that comes many, many moves.  Once we get settled, he comes down on orders for another move.  Such is our life and one I don’t readily accept. I’ve built a life for myself here and I’ve delved into a new career path as a dog trainer.  I’ve forged friendships and partnerships and it can make me tear up thinking about parting ways.  I know I feel the stress of strangers coming into my home and touching my things in order to put in boxes and see all of our things get put on a truck and hoping things don’t get lost, stolen or broken.  I wonder how my Jack and Bernie Bear feel?

I’ve learned a thing or two of dogs and dog behavior.  I understand my own dogs’ limitations and I strive in keeping things as stress free as possible during this time of our lives. We decided to board them for a couple of days while the packers and movers are here.  I know they enjoy their time at Howl A Day Inn and I’m rest assured they are relaxed and having hours of playtime.

Moving is an unbelievably stressful experience for a dog.  First a stranger comes into the home wearing a uniform.  This alone can set any dog off.  I know my pups would be constantly trying to figure out this person or persons and trying to make a determination if they are ok people.  Then pile on these strange people coming in and putting together boxes and watching the packers put their stuff into them.  I know this would heighten any level of anxiety.  I know I feel uncomfortable when we allow for strangers to touch our things and pack them away.  Its out of our control at this point.  Thirdly, watching the constant door opening and closing, this alone can make a dog decide on fight or flight response and bolting can totally add to the stress of this event.

In thinking about all these triggers, I wondered what other people did who are also wearing similiar shoes.  How do other people, military or not, manage their pets when movers are in the house.  I asked the experts.  During lunch on the first day of the packers being here, Eddie and I asked them if they had any crazy stories of packing people’s stuff.  They shared with us some of their both misfortunate and funny experiences.  One thing they did highlight for us was a usual response by families with dogs.  The packers often hear, “Oh don’t worry, he/she won’t bite”.  When I heard them start the story by saying this, I thought “uh oh” this isn’t going to be good.  They told us a story of one of their colleagues who was packing up a house. The family dog was watching the packer and standing nearby him.  The packer asked the family if the dog is friendly with people.  The owner said, “Oh don’t worry, he won’t bite”.  So, the packer took the owner’s word for it and started packing.  If you ever watched packers, they are fast and with laser focus, well at least the ones who came to our house. As the packer was wrapping and tearing tape, the dog still stood there. No one was observing the dog or even interpreting his calming signals (like lip licking, hard stare, rigid body to name a few)  because I can almost guarantee he was giving them.  As the packer started on the next box, the dog lunged and bit the packers hand.  I saw a picture and it was a severe puncture to the hand.  The packers we had who worked with him said he was given worker’s compensation since he had to receive medical treatment for this injury.  I don’t blame the dog.  I blame the owner of the dog for not understanding and interpreting the dog’s stress response to this situation.

After hearing this story, I said, a response to a family who says “Oh, don’t worry, he/she won’t bite” is “the dog has teeth, he/she can bite”.  Maybe them saying this to a family will make the family think twice about keeping their dog away from them.  Maybe they will consider saying this to a family, maybe not, but I know I was relaxed knowing my Bears were playing in a safe, caring environment and away from all the chaos.

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