Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sweet on You hat

My first pattern of the year is almost complete! I knit this hat up over the weekend and my dear sister once again agreed to model for me :-) It's knit in Knit Picks Gloss Heavy Weight yarn - a yummy blend of 70% merino wool and 30% silk. I've been working on a fingering weight sweater and, let me tell you, this hat seemed to jump off the needles after that sweater!

I'm getting the pattern written up tonight so I can get both pattern and hat sent off to KP tomorrow.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Confessions of a dog food geek

I didn't start out to be overly analytical of dog food. It just kind of happened.

When I got Missy, I first fed her Ol' Roy from Wal-Mart ( a thought which makes me shudder now...). Our family GSD mutt, Frisky, ate Ol' Roy or something similar and seemed to do just fine on it for her 15 or so years. It worked and was quite cost effective. Occasionally I splurged and got something like Pedigree or Purina Dog chow (yes, I'm shuddering again...)

Then I discovered the world of internet dog forums and through those the many food available and opinions on said foods - a rather mind boggling revelation to someone whose only experience with dog food was to pick up a bag at wally world every 5-6 weeks. The arguments made sense. Dog food should have a decent amount of meat and higher quality ingredients would keep a dog healthier. And cheap ingredients could get downright disgusting.

So I decided to start researching dog food. It was the beginning of a slippery slope, a slope that I'm still trying to master.

As of now I've fed everything from Ol' Roy to Raw to Canidae to The Honest Kitchen - the quality of the food seemed to go up as I did more research.

Currently I'm feeding The Honest Kitchen and raw for the main part of my dog's diet. For training treats and an occasional meal they get Orijen or Acana. I'm extremely happy with the results I've seen and Kenzi's digestive issues have cleared up nicely. My dogs are happy, healthy with great energy and lovely coats. The foods I'm currently feeding are pretty much the cream of the crop according to any review (and the results I've seen with my dogs seem to concur)

But I still can't seem to put the now ingrained habit of over-analyzing dog food to rest. Why do I keep analyzing the ingredients vs. the price vs. the online reviews that I read? Why do I keep thinking about trying a new food with my dogs? I mean I think I have this down to a science. I know a commercial dog food in every price bracket that I'd feed my dog. I know which foods are manufactured in which plants. I know who gets ingredients from overseas and who uses ingredients from the US or Canada. I know how to spot cheap filler ingredients and overpriced foods.

In short I probably know more than any normal person should.

Sheesh, I could easily write a 10 page research paper on the subject.

Please, tell me that I'm not alone...

Friday, January 27, 2012

TMT on Friday :-)

I need a break! Sitting here doing math homework and my brain is not working. Ack! It's not even that hard, but I keep making stupid mistakes with it... So I'll switch gears and answer Laura's questions instead :D

1. How do you search for and then choose a trainer?
Word of mouth and results. The proof is in the pudding. If people are pleased with the person and I see a successful trainer with a good success with their own dogs, then I'll check it out.

I also want someone who will work with me. Can they get the point across to me? can they effectively show me what I need to be doing? Can they handle my dogs in a fair manner?

2. The dog world is small and... uh... talkative. After choosing a trainer how do you handle those people in your life who don't believe in that trainer/trainers methods and criticize them to you?

Ignore them.... Good trainers don't criticize. Good trainers teach. So if you're out criticizing, then I'm going to be suspect of your skills. I mean seriously, if you feel your results are better then lets talk results. Tell me why YOURS are good, explain why you feel that they are best or could be superior to what I'm doing. I'd listen to that. Criticizing? forget it - especially if the trainer is doing well by me and my dog.

3. Do you believe that a person's personal life should influence your choice of a trainer? (i.e do you believe a person's choice to be a party animal outside of work would affect your choice?)

It depends... IMO personal life is personal as long as it doesn't interfere with professional. If they treat me with respect and are a competent trainer, that's what I'm looking for. However if I knew they were engaged in illegal or highly questionable behavior, then I'd steer clear.

4. When you have a break through moment with your dog, do you feel that moment makes your connection stronger with that dog and makes the next step in training easier?

Yes! Break through moments mean that we're clicking, we're communicating, we both understand. I think that these are incredibly positive and can only help build on the next step!

5. Do you stick with just one trainer, or do you go to multiple sources for help?

I like the idea of one main source with multiple branches. One main source is going to know you and your dogs the best and provide consistency . But then I think you can also learn different nuggets from different people - they might explain something differently or their area of expertise might be a bit different.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Snow and new sweaters

After all of December and a third of January with mild temps (I washed my car with a hose last week!) and virtually no snow, winter has arrived. A foot of snow in the last few days and temps in the low teens last night (brr!)

The dogs love it - snow really seems to energize them. And running through it wears them down quicker too - for now. In the long run it just build endurance! I love it too because I'm taking a skiing class this semester ant it would be a bit hard to ski without snow.

In knitting news, I sent two proposals to Knit Picks a week and a half ago. Now waiting to see what they say. In the mean time, I finished up the Abalone Sweater I've been working on since the fall and I've started a basic top down raglan sweater based loosely on this design. I'm using a brown/tan colorway of Aruacania Ranco sock yarn for this latest project. I'm hoping that the end result will be a classic, simple casual sweater. The goal is to have it done by the end of February so I can still wear it this season

Thursday, January 12, 2012

TMT #2

1. Stopping your dog - what do you prefer? On their feet? On their belly? Some combination?

With Kipp, I'm just happy with a complete stop that he holds for a few seconds at this point...

2. At what point do you start teaching this?

I started when I could get him to comfortably stop for a nano second (hey, it's Kipp)

3. Do you have a favorite dog? I won't tell.

Honestly that would be my dear late Missy dog. Every dog I have in the future is going to have the misfortune of being measured against her. I don't like to compare dogs because they're all individuals, but it's going to happen...

With my current two, Kipp is the favorite. He's very simple in many ways but he wants to work, he tries hard and he's my buddy. We've come to understand each other pretty well.

4. What is the #1 thing a dog can do to push your buttons?

Counter surf/trash raiding are big pet peeves. I can keep things away from the dogs but family members haven't all developed that knack. So Kipp raids the garbage bucket that is set to go to the chickens. Usually I don't mind it, but I do when he then wakes my up three times during the night to go outside because something didn't agree with his tummy.

Barking (or probably yapping) is another huge one. Can't stand unnecessary barking. Barking because someone comes to the door? okay. Barking because there's a squirrel in the tree? Grr...

5. Brrrrr... it's winter. What is your favorite soup recipe?

I love simple Crock Pot Chili for the winter

Cook 2# of stew meat and 1-2 onions in the crockpot on low for 4-6 hours. Then add 2-3 cans of chili beans and 1-2 can of tomatoes and cook for 1-2 hours. Serve with chips and crackers

So simple and very good!

It shouldn't be you vs. your dog

I cringe a bit when I here terms like "alpha" "submission" and "dominance" used when talking about dogs. Those terms are grossly overused IMO and it makes the dog owning experience sound like an owner vs. dog battle.

If a dog has a good leader (YOU) those terms pretty much become a moot point. Leadership isn't about proving that you're the boss, it's about providing what your dog needs and teaching your dog what you expect of it. If your dog doesn't want to do something it's usually because they don't understand, it's uncomfortable for them or YOU haven't made it a good thing to do!

Dogs are opportunistic and do what they're allowed or what they're trained to do. It's that simple. Yes, some dogs have stronger personalities and need a stronger leader, but they're still a dog. You're still the one with the bigger brain, a greater capacity for learning - and thumbs! If a dog is failing, or misbehaving it's most likely because of human error or because a dog is just being a dog and hasn't been trained otherwise.

The whole dog owing thing should be enjoyable (well, at least 90% of the time - I still don't quite enjoy the occasional chewed up sock, cleaning up dog puke and the like), not a battle.

So if you're caught up in being the alpha or getting your dog to be submissive, stop. A good leader isn't constantly worried about being the leader. They're too busy providing leadership (and exercise, training, etc). You don't have to prove you're that leader if you're actively taking the leadership role.

If you focus on what your dog is doing wrong, that what you're going to see. If you figure out what you want and train towards it (making it rewarding for your dog!), the battle fades away and enjoyable teamwork emerges.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tell Me Thursday is Back!

Laura over at Crooks and Crazies has started in with Tell Me Thursday again!

1. What is your favorite new toy? I know you have one, so you might as well go on and fess up.
My Keurig - I've been eying them for a while so my awesome parents got me one for Christmas!
I love it - put in the water, pop in the K-cup (or stick a tea bag in the cup) push brew and come back 3 minutes later and an awesome hot beverage is waiting!

2. If you're going to be caught under the mistletoe, who would you LEAST like it to be with?
Oh my, I have no clue. I don't think I could pick an absolute least - I'd have to make a long list...

3. New Year's Resolutions - for your dogs - share!
Kenzi - pass the wilderness SAR certification test!

Kipp - get him to the point of very useful farm dog with the sheep

Both dogs - learn more pet trick. I love trick training because it's fun, no pressure training. Very cool when it all comes together, but if something doesn't work, no biggie. I also like the fact that trick training makes me figure out how to break down, shape and back chain behaviors to get the end results

4. New Year's Resolutions - for yourself - share!
Write a daily list of goals to keep myself on track and remind myself of what I want to accomplish each day! Without a goal I tend to wander a bit... Besides, checking things off on a list gives me a nice sense of accomplishment!

Write more knitting patterns - I'm aiming for 10 this year. I wrote 11 last year and Knit Picks is great to work with (shameless plug - My knitting pattern on Knit Picks!) I want to start in on a book as well...

5. How did you handle the holiday food situation?
I have an advantage of sorts in this department - due to health issues I need to go very easy on the sugar. Sigh. I usually don't mind it, but around Christmas it kinda sucks. But on the plus side it does keep the junk food calories in check! But the family Christmas dinner was Prime Rib - yum! And for New Years my friend had me over for surf and turf - really yummy! I happily ate my fill with both of those - big, happy sigh!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Goals for this year

I'm not big on the whole resolution thing because you either do it or you feel guilty about breaking them and fall back into the rut you were in.

But I do like goals. Even if you goof up or get sidetracked, you can refocus and get back on track! And goals give you something to aim for.

So my goals in 2012

In general -
-Finish my degree. It's only an Associates, but I'm so looking forward to reaching that milestone! I've been doing the part time school/part time work for a few years now and am really looking forward to finally having that step done!

-Become more organized. Yes, it's vague. I will become more specific as I start to make headway!

With the dogs -
-I want both of them to reach the level of useful farm dogs with the sheep.

-Pass SAR certification testing with Kenzi

- Work on more stupid pet tricks with both of them. I love that sort of thing because there's nothing like breaking down a pet trick to figure out how to really teach a skill to a dog.

With my knitting -

- develop and write 10 more patterns

- knit a sweater for me!

- finish or frog my UFOs (unfinished objects for all of you non- knitters)

So what are your goals for 2012?

Monday, January 2, 2012

And the winner is (insert drumroll here)

I got #3 from the number generator - so congratulations to Kate and the Beach BCs! Hope you guys love your new Woolie Dog toy :-)

Thanks to everyone who played along this time! Stay tuned to this blog - there will be more Woolie Dog giveaways in the future!