Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"My child doesn't need 'kisses' from your dog"

"My child doesn't need 'kisses' from your dog"

Food for thought:
I went to a dog show a few weekends ago with Gabby, my 14 month old daughter, and no dogs.  I went to watch some of my students compete and show my support.  I knew it would be tough to watch my child around all those dogs in their territory and run a dog, so I didn't even attempt to show. is a scenario that happened:

Gabby was in her stroller and we were watching the dogs run.  A woman, unknown to me, came up with her two goldens.  One was older and they both seemed very nice.  She asked me if my daughter could meet the dogs.  I said, "sure" and then watched them interact.   Gabby didn't really care as she meets and greets many dogs on a daily basis in our lives.  The woman really wanted Gabby to get excited so she started tapping the tray on the stroller to get the dogs to look up and focus on Gabby.  I couldn't figure out what she was trying to get out the situation but then realized she wanted them to give my daughter 'kisses'.   At that moment, one of the dogs started in for the big lick.  Gabby still wasn't even looking at them as she was watching the action on the course.  I stuck my hand right between that dog's kiss and my child's face.  I politely said, "oh, we don't need kisses from the doggie".  She pulled her dogs back and said in a slightly annoyed tone, "if there's no food or kisses, then we aren't interested."  She walked away with her two sweet dogs. 

Hmmmm....I thought about this for a while.  After being a dog trainer for many years before becoming a parent, I was constantly annoyed with the lack of instruction from other parents when having their children meet dogs.   It is a huge problem and the dog always gets blamed for the parent's lack of knowledge on animal behavior.  I have some amazing stories to tell of my dogs and parents bringing their kids up to them to meet and how they (the parents) behaved with their kids.  In this situation, it never occured to me that the dog owners can be just as bad.  Why would any dog owner ask their dog to get into a child's face, especially a strangers child?   My logical thinking brain can only assume that she thought I was a spectator there with my young child and wanted to help show they were a friendly bunch and give a good experience to my child.  I don't assume the worst in people but it made me realize it's not always the parent but probaby equally the dog owner. 

My 'take away' thought to you:  Don't be afraid to speak up and control the situation if you aren't comfortable.  I wasn't afraid to stop the kisses even though my animal behavior knowledge told me the dogs were fine and safe, but I wasn't comfortable with them kissing Gabby.   If you are the owner of a dog that likes kids, think about how you can appropriately use your dog to educate children and parents in situations like those.

Gabby's waking up, gotta go.....

Sunday, February 16, 2014

And winter continues....with sunshine and warmer temps

      The winter continues on with cold temps and light snows.  It's funny when you go outside and 13 degrees feels like a heat wave!   Without the wind and the sun shining, it isn't too bad.  I took advantage of that to take Gabby out to the world and do chores with me.  She loved it!  She tried running in her little boots and did pretty well but when she would fall down, it was like the classic movie A Christmas Story.  She couldn't get up because of being all bundled up, but I got some cute photos of her.

She is also wearing a beautiful hat made from the fleece of one of our rams, spun by Tiffany at Woodspryte Farms and knitted by one of my agility students, Carol.  A gorgeous brown finnsheep with soft wool.

      The weather has also taken its toll on our water hydrant.  We have many barns and water in each barn but the main animal barn is the fartherest out and that hydrant finally froze up.  The hydrant leaked and we figured it was just time before the water running down the pipe and into the ground would freeze.  Now, we bucket water from another barn for the sheep, cows, llamas, mini horse, cat, and birds.  It's not as bad as it seems.  We have two troughs in each pasture and take one day each week to make multiple trips to fill all four troughs.  Then, as the week progresses, we move the tank heaters to each trough as they get low.  

     We have enlisted the help of one of our dogs to make this process easier.  Bubba, our chocolate lab, a big strong dog that loves to work and frankly, can use the job, pulls the sled with the buckets of water from the front of the farm, to the back barn.  He seems to enjoy it and wags his tail the whole time.  I walk beside or behind him so he doesn't take off running and tip the sled and all the water.  Such a good dog.  Gabby enjoyed walking around with Bubba also and my back loved not lifting and carry those five gallon buckets.

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     Lessons are booming, despite the winter cold, and I have sold most of the extra lambs and sheep.  We are down to our core flock of 16, 8 of which are ewes to lamb in April.  A nice, easy number to handle this year.  5 of the flock are lambs that are growing like crazy and will be heading out to get training for dog herding lessons this summer.  3 rams are staying and will be used in the future to maintain colors and unrelated genetics.  It's always hard to keep a small number but yet have unrelated sheep.  We are looking forward to the ducks laying eggs again and all the pastures are sure to turn green soon.