Pilot enjoys me reading to him! He especially loves hearing me read my book aloud (wink, wink).
Coming up is an affiliate link. My integrity and your satisfaction are very important to me, so I only offer products that I believe would benefit you or that I would purchase myself. Please read my Disclosure Statement for more information.
Okay, I have no shame.
Does your dog like bully sticks? There is a huge sale going on at Value Pet Supplies right now! 65% off plus FREE shipping! I think that's a pretty awesome deal, so I'm just going to share my *cough* affiliate link *cough* right here for you to check out if you are interested: Bully Sticks 65% off + free shipping. (I told you: I have no shame. Can you blame me?)
Also, don't forget to check out the blogpaws Wordless Wednesday blog hop. They have a lot of great links from other pet parents and pet bloggers that are totally worth checking out.
Photos taken by @penny_the_writer from Instagram
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So, everyone in the blogging world is doing a "year in review" thing. I hadn't planned on it, but then I started looking through my pictures and thought "Ah, why not?". So here we are.
Don't worry, this'll be short.
My year has been pretty good, overall. Like any year, it has had its upsides and its downsides. Most of the downsides waited to come along until the holidays, though (great timing, right?). The rest of the year, though, has remained pretty uneventful.
First off, I started training Pilot to be a trick dog. He has earned his Novice Trick Dog Title, and we have been slowly, but surely, working toward his Intermediate Title.
You can watch his trick videos here: Week One Training, Week Two Training, and Week Three Training.
He is also planning to become a Therapy dog. He passed the Therapy dog test, but we have yet to make it to any supervised visits.
He helped me make a Star Wars doggy costume tutorial for Star Wars Day, which you can see HERE.
He and I also kept up a daily jogging routine all summer long! Whoohoo! I am super proud of myself for that, and Pilot of course loved it. Cold weather came along, though, and my stupid lungs cease to function in the cold. So. Yeah. Jogging routine is on pause and the old ball and frizbee have been brought out to play instead.
In the Spring, I was able to interview a lot of authors. It was tons of fun, I learned a lot, and I hope to be able to do some more interviews this year.
And, no - I did NOT get my second book published this year. It is finished, but not published yet. Read more about that HERE. If you want, you can read a scene (deleted) from the upcoming book.
I also got engaged....
I'm still a blissfully single crazy dog mom. ♥
I had a fun birthday. My mom made me a Star Trek cake and my sister got me a Star Trek and a Stargate t-shirt.
To end the year with a bang and a bag of lemons, cancer popped up out of the blue and took my grandmother who has been living on our property with us for the last 5 years. She passed away before Thanksgiving.
I was really hoping to end the year by going to the theater to see the new Star Wars movie in my Jedi costume, but that didn't work out.
I was also hoping to have my next book ALREADY DONE AND PUBLISHED AND OUT OF MY HAIR AND AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!!.... oops. Did I just pound that out in caps lock? Oh well.
Despite said downsides, 2015 has been a decent year to live. I am looking forward to 2016 though, and I plan to accomplish a lot this year as a blogger, a author, and a dog mom!
Do dogs really have self-esteem?
I might not have been able to answer this question a few years ago. Since I've had Pilot, though, I can confidently say YES. Dogs do have self-esteem.
Most of the dogs I have owned in my life have had no lack of self-esteem. They were confident in themselves and their abilities, and they were assured that their owner felt the same way. They were not afraid to try new things, and if they failed at something, they got right back up and tried it again and again until they succeeded.
Because of this, I never questioned whether dogs had self-esteem.
And then I met Pilot.
Pilot was easy to worry. He was clingy. He was hard to teach and train. If someone spoke one loud word he would drop to the ground like he was being punished. If he did something wrong and I said "no", he would do the same thing. Sometimes he would shut down completely and not do anything at all.
He wasn't as troubled as some dogs I've met. He was still a happy, playful pooch, ready to please me, but he just wasn't... well... I couldn't put my finger on it at the time, but he was missing something.
Then, the day came when he learned to "Roll Over" on command. The first time he did it, I threw a party and he acted surprised. The second time he did it, I threw another party and I saw a light come on in his head.
After that, Pilot became a whole new dog. He became more receptive and started learning more tricks. He would try new things, instead of shutting down. He started wandering short distances away from me on hikes, rather than sticking to me like glue. He grew more calm and confident in public. His self-esteem tripled just from learning that one trick, then it continued to grow with each new trick he learned, with every public place we visited, and with every new thing we tried.
Pilot showed me that dogs DO have self-esteem, and it can be weak or strong, just like ours.
How do you build a dog's self-esteem? Have patience, try new things with them, and set them up for success. Every time they succeed, they become a little more confident in their abilities. It can be a very long process, especially for those dogs who need their self-esteem built from the ground up. But it is very rewarding to see them gain that confidence bit by bit, and having a proud, confident dog is the goal of every dog owner, isn't it?
Here are 10 of the best ways to build up your dog's confidence:
The Pets & I Critter Hop Link Up
Just before Thanksgiving, my grandmother passed away due to cancer. We were able to get some of her things in order before she passed. This included taking care of her dogs and making sure they went to good homes. I was worried about them at the start, about how they would handle the loss, the changes, and the grief. Fortunately, they all went back to their previous owners, people they know and who know them, and they are doing quite well last I checked.
Do animals grieve? You bet your pretty floral bonnet they do.
Growing up on the farm, observing wildlife in their natural environment, and studying my own pets, I have seen plenty of animals grieve over the loss of a pack member or friend - animal or human.
Every animal has a different response to loss. Some show hardly any signs of grief. Others grieve worse than the rest. It is heartbreaking to see them cry and mope around, waiting for their friend to come home. They always recover and their grieving times are almost always shorter than that of humans, but how do you comfort a pet while they are grieving?
Here are seven easy tips that I have learned over the years with my own pets:
A friend shared a fun little video on Facebook of puppies howling. As I watched it, I noticed my mom's little dog looking at me and my laptop funny. So, I grabbed a video camera, set my laptop down, and played the video individually for several of our dogs. It was a really fun experiment!
My sister's Golden Retrievers were very interesting to observe. Her females paid no attention to the video, whereas her male, Merlin, showed a great deal of interest in it. This is curious because all 3 of the females are wonderful mothers and take excellent care of their puppies. We were sure they would have some reaction to the crying puppies. Why they did not react, but Merlin did, is a mystery to us.
Pistol, my mother's little dog, was apprehensive about the crying puppies, as you will see in the video. I don't know if their crying was what upset him the most, or if it was the fact that they were inside a "magic box" (the laptop).
Merlin was also pretty confused by the "magic box".
Pilot's reaction was, by far, the funniest I think. I have no idea what to make of his expressions, but it was hilarious!
Anyway, I'll let you watch the video now and see it all for yourself. Enjoy!
This animal lovers link up takes place every Monday and lasts until Friday (well, unless this hostess forgets to post it, which has happened). If you have a blog post that has anything to do with animals, please share it here! The rules (listed above in the picture) are really basic and easy to follow. So don't be shy! Link up some of your animal lover blog posts and keep an eye out for next week's Pets & I Critter Hop!
Have you ever witnessed a dog get hit by a vehicle? Or trampled by a horse? Have you ever been in a situation where you found yourself thinking "If my dog just understood what I was saying, I could save him."?
I know I have been in all three situations, plus some. None of them ended well. That is why I have made a big deal about drilling my dog, Pilot, on three simple commands: Come, Whoa (stop), & Down.
Suppose Pilot is hiking with me off leash (as he often does) and he unknowingly strays toward the den of a wild animal. I can say "COME" and he will obey me right away, leaving the territorial wild animal with big teeth and innumerable horrific deceases alone. This works the same way if he is out of the yard and the UPS truck pulls into our drive unexpectedly.
The "Whoa" command works in a similar way.
There have been times when we are walking down an old dirt road and Pilot and I are on opposite sides. If a vehicle comes down the road toward us, I can tell Pilot "Whoa" and he'll stop, sit down and not move until I give him the okay to do so. This allows the vehicle to pass us both safely.
Down is another important one, where I live. Sometimes, the places we hike have horses or cattle. Most cattle, especially those with babies, do not like dogs. If the cows grow concerned with Pilot's presence, I can simply tell him "Down". As soon as his head disappears beneath the grasses, the cows settle down and eventually move away to greener pastures. This works for horses and stray dogs as well, and keeps fights at bay.
One other command I am trying to teach Pilot is "RUN AWAY". Sometimes, that's about all one can do when faced with an angry cow, horse, or certain kinds of wildlife. The thing is, though, I want him to run AWAY FROM ME. He tends to run to me and hide between my legs when things get heated. That causes.... *cough*.... problems. Especially when we are both running for our lives.
How do you teach these commands?
There are tons - TONS - of videos on YouTube on how to teach your dog the "down" and "come" commands. So I won't even try to explain those to you.
Whoa, or stop, is a little more complicated.
The first time I needed such a command was when I'd just brought Pilot home. He was playing in the farm yard one day, saw me, and started running toward me like a crazy happy dog. Sitting right between him and I was an angry hen with a bunch of tiny baby chicks. In an effort to stop a catastrophe from happening, I ran forward, put my hand out like Iron Man, and screamed "WHOA DOG!"
He stopped instantly and looked at me like "Oh no! What did I do?", and the flustered hen was able to shuffle her chicks to a safer part of the farm yard.
From then on, I started actively teaching the "Whoa" command to Pilot. I started out by calling him toward me. When he was just a few feet away, I jumped toward him with my hand out and said a loud, firm "Whoa!". When he stopped, I'd wait a second before calling him to me. Then I would throw a super big party for him with lots of treats and praise until he came to realize that "whoa" was not a harsh, mean word. As he got better, I started stopping him further and further away from me, and making him wait longer and longer for the release. Now, he's pretty much a pro.
Now, I will say that I haven't tried to actively teach this to any other dogs yet. I guess this technique would work with just about any dog, though, since it is a natural reaction to freeze if someone jumps and yells at you.
If the dog was a small or very gentle mannered dog, though, I'd take a softer approach to teaching the "whoa" command. Otherwise, it might scare them away, not make them freeze.
Watch Pilot Demonstrate
Here is a very short YouTube video of Pilot demonstrating his "Life Saving" commands. Enjoy!
The Pets & I Critter Hop!
The Pets & I Critter Hop (PICH) is open until Friday at 11 PM central time.
If you have a blog post about a pet, wildlife, farm animals, pet item review, or even a review of a book about animals, please link it up to "The PICH" below! If you know a blogger who has a few blog posts about animals, tell them to link up a post or two. If you know a blogger who knows a blogger who makes animal related blog posts... well, yeah, you get the point.
Some links in this post are affiliate links meaning that if you click a link and purchase a product through it, I receive a small commission which helps me provide free junk for you to read and buy treats for my doggie. If you require more information about this, please read my Disclosure Statement.
DoggyLoot has been one of my FAVORITE websites for a few years now. Some of my most used and loved dog products have come from them, and at a fraction of the price. If you want to keep an eye out for good deals on toys, chews, bowls, leashes, collars, mats, and unique items that you can rarely find anywhere else, then DoggyLoot is the place to go. They rotate their deals every week/month, so if they don't have anything that interests you this week, then they might next! I love that.
Value Pet Supplies is another one of those places where you are bound to find a good deal. At first, they are overwhelming, because they have a TON of stuff. But, if you are looking for something specific, then VPS is bound to have it. Did I mention that they have a whole section dedicated just for stuff that is made in the USA? Also, they have a dog section, cat section, bird, small pet, fish, and reptile section. So they are definitely all around pet friendly.
Etsy has also become one of my new favorite places to shop for pets. You can find pretty much anything on Etsy if you look hard enough. Etsy makes it easy for me to find small dog businesses here in the USA.
If you like your dogs to wear pretty and unique collars, Etsy could become a serious addiction for you that may require medical attention. You don't have to search far to find a dog collar to fit every mood, every season, and every fandom that you have ever loved. You can also find bandannas, bow ties, flowers, and special dog tags to match each collar that you get! It's madness!
And that's not all that Etsy has to offer: beds, crates, houses, custom bowls, clothes, jackets, costumes and just about anything else you can imagine for every kind of pet there is! I've even found stuff just for pet pigs (which, to a farm girl, that's kinda weird).
If you want, you can follow me on Etsy and watch my "Pet Items" favorites (which I linked at the top). I favorite a lot of cool pet items and stick in that list, so if you watch it, I may find something that you like!
Capturing Couture is another place that I have recently come to be acquainted with and like. They mostly sell really pretty and well made items for photographers. Items such as bags (I want one!), straps, lens savers, and the like. But they also have a pet section where they offer cute reversible dog vests, dog beds, cutsie collars and leashes. If you like chic stuff then they would probably tickle you and your dog's fancy!
Instagram has come up several times in my past blog posts. If you take a lot of pictures of your pets, make friends with other pet enthusiasts like you, or you just like to look at pictures of other people's furkids, then Instagram is the place to hang out at. The only problem I have with it is that it is an app. I can't use it on my computer. This causes troubles for me, sometimes, because of where I live. A lot of times, my data and cell service are non-existent.
If you are on Instagram, look me and Pilot up! We love to show off our pictures.
MyPaws is for those who are either really crazy or really desperate to socialize with other pet people like them. In my case, I'm both crazy and desperate, thus why I joined it. It's basically like Facebook for pets. The "hoomans" post "status updates" for their pets, and the only "human interaction" that takes place is in the forums, which are full of helpful and kind people. MyPaws is not an app and does not have an app yet (so guess which age groups use it most?). It is predominately used by dog owners, but there are a few cats and other critters on there as well. It is a great way to find other pet owners in your same area/state, and connect with others from out of state, or even out of country. Unfortunately, for me, there are only two dogs from Oklahoma who are semi-active on it; Pilot and one other doggie. Go figure.
If you are crazy/desperate enough to join MyPaws, be sure to send Pilot a friend request!
If you ever go to Oklahoma City and want to bring your pooch along, then I suggest looking at this website: The Dog Dish Magazine. The section "Dog Friendly OKC" is especially helpful. I live in Oklahoma and make a trip to the city at least once a year, and I didn't even know about all the pet friendly places in OKC! Pet parks, I knew existed, but wineries? Restaurants? Seriously? Wow. That's awesome.
They also have health, wellness, and training articles, dog related news, wag-n-brag section, and lists of upcoming dog related events.
If you live in the OKC area, you can get the magazine! Like, the real paper version. You can read all about it on their website.
Do you and your pet have a favorite website or app that you visit all the time? If you do, share it with us in the comments!
In the meantime, if you are a blogger, and you have a blog post about your pet, wildlife, farm animals, pet item review, or even a review of a book about animals, please link it up to The Pets & I Critter Hop below! If you know a blogger who has a few blog posts about animals, tell them to link up a post or two down below. If you know a blogger who knows a blogger who makes animal related blog posts......... yeah, you get the point.
As most of you know, Pilot has his own Instagram account where I post pictures of him and interact with other pet owners and lovers. Some time back, I found an Instagram user, Bears Boutique, who was making and selling handmade, paracord dog collars. I asked her if she could make a no-pull, reflective dog harness, and she reassured me that she could.
After I gave her the wrong size for Pilot 3 or 4 times (you'd think I've never used a measuring tape), she made me a wonderful harness! I've been wanting a no-pull dog harness for Pilot for some time, and this one is just perfect! It is well made, colorful, reflective (safety first!), and it is a perfect fit!
I will let you watch my YouTube video review for yourself and watch Pilot model the harness while you listen to my further comments.
If you would like to consider purchasing something from the lovely person who made Pilot's harness, you can contact her on her Etsy Shop or follow her on Instagram.
Author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion,she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
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