Friday, July 29, 2016

Poodle Smarts

Something about being out and about with the poodles always gets a lot of attention. From burly, tattooed biker dudes, to little girls wearing pink tutus, all sorts of people seem drawn to the poodles. "Is that a poodle?" I'm asked. Followed, almost exclusively, by "I've heard they are really smart!" Of course, I thank them and agree.

To prove to you that I'm not just biased, the American Kennel Club lists poodles as number two, in the top ten smartest dogs. They're beaten only by the border collie (over achievers if you ask me!) Now, of course I am going to say that Teddy, D'Art and Luna are smart. But you wouldn't expect any other answer, would you?! To prove I'm not just biased, I've reached out to fellow bloggers to get their opinions. Here's what they have to say about poodle smarts.

Lee Anna from Not Afraid of Color and her right-hand guy, Cole, get up to some fun adventures on her blog. Cole, a standard poodle, is a good listener. According to Lee Anna "In the past I would tell him I was going on a business trip, for three sleeps, then I'd come back. On the third night, he [her husband] said Cole took up residence by the front door waiting. Same when my husband was gone, we tell him the number of days and he keeps track." Being such a good listener means that he also learns by assimilation. "I can't count the things he just learned on his own...turn right or left, wait, stop, look here, get it, a million commands really."

Monika and her standard, Sam share numerous adventures on their blog, Tails Around The Ranch.
Sam uses his smarts in two ways:
  1. To get love.
  2. To give love.
He may not be a big fan of learning tricks, but he knows exactly when and for whom to give his attention and affection as he works as a therapy dog. According to Monika, "He’s totally figured out that if he plops the side of his head in your lap or against your thigh, you’ll melt at his sweetness. He’d be right! Patients sure love it and I confess, I’m more than just a bit smitten with it too."

You may well be familiar with Harley and Cathy from Groovy Goldendoodles. Harley, one of two sweet goldendoodles, also works as a therapy dog. Harley's work helps children who need emotional and physical support. Just like Sam, Harley uses his observation skills and sensitivity to aid children by helping them feel calm and comforted during a time when they need it the most. In Cathy's words "I am always blown away with Harley's "smarts" as I watch him adapt and adjust to each individual differently."

Khloee is a miniature poodle and her Mom, Amanda, writes a fun blog called Dog Mom Days. The main difference between a miniature poodle and a standard is just their size! It sounds like Khloee is full of poodle smarts in a small package! According to Amanda, "Khloee has unbelievable awareness. She's always in tune with her surroundings. If Wynston starts barking, McKenzie Rae will join in but Khloee never barks unless she's aware of the intent.  Also, Khloee never strays far from Matt and I, and she's always checking in to make sure we're around. Even if we leave the house for a little bit, she'll howl at us with a sassy tone when we come home just to show her dismay. If we're ever in an off-leash situation, Khloee comes when called and stays right by us. She's been the quickest and easiest of our three dogs to train!"

Now, what about my three you may well ask? Well, D'Art is a lot like Cole. He listens so acutely and knows exactly what his humans are talking about and, as a result, how we are feeling. The flip side to this is that Teddy and D'Art have learned to spell. Saying I'm going to take them for a "W.A.L.K" just doesn't cut-it anymore. I have to start using synonyms like "promenade" or "jaunt" when telling my husband what I'm about to do. They can also spell "H.U.N.G.R.Y". Sigh, where's my thesaurus?

Teddy is always looking for ways to please his humans and is very good at learning tricks, even ones that I haven't taught him. For example, D'Art naturally makes this funny noise that we call "talking". Unlike "speak", which is a bark, "talk" is more of a continuous "roo-rooing" sound. Teddy, while observing us asking D'Art to "talk" on command, learned to mimic that sound so that when I ask D'Art  to "talk", Teddy does it too so that he can reap the praise rewards! He also likes to have a job. He's very good at carrying things (on command) between my husband and myself.

I'm still learning about Luna and her smarts. So far she's learned a new trick ("shake" a paw) in one sitting. She picks up new things very quickly! She is also a very cuddly dog and is pretty good at communicating when and how she wants love and rubs. She has a very sweet demeanor. We're still working on her rather unhealthy obsession with chickens though!

So yes, I'd say poodles are smart. Have you ever met a clever poodle?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Luna Update

I'm not sure who had the crazy idea to re-floor our entire house while also adopting a third dog and integrating her into the family...oh wait, it was me. We'll let's just say that sometimes I feel a bravery that other days wanes somewhat! Today it is waning, but not without good reason...I'm exhausted!  The new flooring is just over half installed. The main living space and the office are done, which is good as they get the most traffic, but we still have a ways to go. 

 I keep telling Luna that life will be boring when this is over. Ever since she joined the family it has been nothing but hammers pounding, compressors hissing and furniture moving all around the place! Nevertheless, she's taken it all in stride!

D'Art thinks the new floors are a wee bit slippery, so he appreciates having a bed near by.
We are three weeks, to the day, into having Luna in our family. Teddy and D'Art are doing fantastically well with it! The three poodles are learning to play nicely together and the occasional snarl or growl that we encountered that first week is now a thing of the past! Ladies and gentlemen, we have entered friend territory! 

Luna herself is still nervous of some things. Having guests come over can be a bit uncomfortable for her, but we're working on it. It is interesting to observe that she takes a lot of her cues from Teddy and D'Art, so if they are at ease around someone, then she more readily adapts her own approach to match theirs. The stairs still cause her to pause and consider her options. I imagine she didn't encounter many stairs in that park she was living in. She'll walk them with me, but by herself they are downright scary!

Aside from Teddy getting a bit of a cough from something Luna passed on from the shelter (thank goodness D'Art didn't get sick!) All is going better than could be hoped for. We have some work to do when it comes to good behavior around the chickens. But these things take time. Meanwhile, she stays on leash when we are near the chicken yard. I have learned, however, that going in the car trumps chickens (so in a pinch I can get her attention with that). I don't like to bride my dogs though, so I will be glad when her recall improves and coming to me when I call her trumps the chickens! Playing outside after the chickens have gone into the coop is always a nice way to end the day.

Look mom, no leash!
With the craziness of these last few weeks, we haven't done much exploring in the woods lately. I hope to remedy this over the weekend. Meanwhile, we wish everyone who reads this an enjoyable weekend to come!

Next week, I have a fun post planned all about 'poodle-smarts'! I hope you'll stop by and check it out!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Friday, July 15, 2016

House Fires

I remember it well. It was a couple of weeks before Christmas and my brother and I were watching Beauty and the Beast. It was the scene where Bell and the Beast are standing by a grand fireplace. I looked up from our boxy TV with the curved screen and wooden surround, to our own fireplace. Instead of seeing a gentle flame dancing along the logs in the fire, my eyes were instantly drawn to the flames licking the edges of where the mantel met the wall! Mum called 911 and, after she overcame momentarily forgetting our address in a panic, our cul-de-sac was swarming with 3 firetrucks and an ambulance. Despite it being rather traumatic, I was only a kid so one of the highlights for me was sitting in my neighbor's front window, eating M&M's while watching the fire crews spray our house down with vast quantities of water. I very rarely got candy of any kind, so getting M&M's was a pretty big treat! By the time they put the fire out you could stand in what was left of our living room and look out into the backyard. A good portion of that side of the house was gone! We spent the subsequent weeks living in a hotel while our house was repaired. It was an adventure, but it was also stressful.

Fast forward 25 years and one of my biggest concerns when I leave the house is fire prevention! I am slightly obsessive about it. I check all elements are off (at least once), I make sure everything within my control is fire safe. If I use the iron that morning and I don't check again that it is off before I leave, I fret about it all the way to my destination. I'll fully admit this is all probably over the top, but we all have our foibles...right?! 

According to the U.S. Fire Administration there were a reported 494,000 structure fires in 2014 and 2,860 civilian deaths as a result. They don't have statistics about pets, but it is fair to assume that a good deal of those homes contained pets too.

When we adopted the poodles I heard about the SPCA's Pet Safety Pack, whereby they send you a free sticker to put in your window that reads "Animals Inside". That way, if the emergency crews have to come to the house they hopefully see this sticker and rescue the pets. However, when I received the sticker it was woefully small (in my opinion) and could easily be missed by anyone entering the home in a rush. So I made my own.

This full-sheet of paper sits in my front window, right beside the door. I'm hoping it is never called for, but for very little effort it gives me that extra peace of mind and believe you me, I can use all the peace of mind I can get when it comes to this!

How do you make sure your home is safe for your pets while you're away?

Friday, July 8, 2016

New Poodle on the Block

We welcomed Luna into our home one week ago today! Luna is a 7 year old, apricot standard poodle. We adopted her from a shelter where she was surrendered after being found living in a park. Can you imagine this little beauty wandering around a park on her lonesome? It makes my heart hurt! The shelter indicated to me that her owner was terminally ill and could no longer care for her, so she somehow wound-up in a park. She didn't have a collar and clearly hadn't been bathed or cared for in a very long time. My heart is like an empty well when it comes to welcoming more animals into our lives and this is increased ten-fold for standard poodles, so I was elated to welcome her home into our family!

Luna knows the 'sit' command very well!
Initially she came to us with the name "Miss". However, it was pretty clear that this name meant little or nothing to her, so I embraced the opportunity to give her a name of my choosing. As you may know we did not change the boys' names, as they knew their names and had lived many years with them. This is the first time I've been able to name one of my poodles! The funny thing is, as soon as we started calling her Luna she seemed to respond more readily. It's as though she likes that name better too! (Side note, Luna Lovegood is my favorite character from Harry Potter. My Luna kind of reminds me of her, so it is a perfect fit!)

By day two I couldn't take the smell any longer and she just had to have a bath. If I had a penny for every "gold girl" or "good Luna" I've said over the last week, I'd be rich! Positive training has been used in full force this week and my belt mounted treat bag is proving immensely useful!

She was unsure about stairs for the first few days and I would hazard a guess that she's never lived with other dogs before. Aside from a few small growls exchanged between Teddy and Luna to establish boundaries, the three are getting along well. She has bonded with the humans already, but I expect the dynamic between the three poodles will take a little while longer until they consider each other steadfast friends. Meanwhile, they tolerate each other and have even attempted play a couple of times. As each day passes, their attitude towards each other improves! Today we're at 'friend I like to see every six months for a quick lunch' stage, which is a huge improvement from three days ago when we were at 'acquaintance I sometimes hate because they're always right' stage!

Hanging out in the garden with her brothers.
I'm so excited to share this news with you and can't wait to write more about Luna - what tricks she knows and what tricks she likes to learn, her play style (she plays in such a cute puppy-like way, I'll have to get a video), the list goes on! Luna is a perfect candidate for a family who practices positive training and I can't wait to dive-in with her. For now I am using it to navigate the daily tasks like nail clipping, ear cleaning (her ears were horrendously dirty), bathing, etc. All of which are challenges for her (and me) as she hasn't had exposure to these basic tasks for a long while. I'm also being extra careful to make sure I engage Teddy and D'Art equally to keep jealously to a minimum. They too are benefiting from the extra praise and treats!

Walking the three poodles together is a good, positive way to bond while getting exercise!
 Have you ever welcomed a third dog into your family? Any tips for me, now that I am a 'mom' to three?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Meet Luna!

Meet Luna, a 7 year old, apriocot standard poodle. She's the newest member of the family.
I'm in love already!
Teddy and D'Art have a new sister! Meet Luna! She's been a part of our family for a mere six days so far and is doing very well with her transition into a new home. 

Check back here on Friday's blog post for all the details about Luna!

Meanwhile, bonus content....check out our guest appearance on Coffee with a Canine!

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Buzz

Is it just me, or has June come and gone in the blink of a eye? It's been busy around here, which isn't uncommon, but perhaps even more so than usual. The poodles are feeling it too, as they are out like a light at bedtime. D'Art's sawing logs before the sun goes all the way down!

Overseeing the honey harvest.
We started the month off with a honey harvest and a few other beekeeping tasks, including splitting a hive whereby you split one hive into two and hope that the queen-less hive will raise their own queen from the brood you give them. So far so good! The honey is lovely this year too!

Removing the wax cap from the honey comb.

Aside from cherry picking, we are now on to raspberries and soon blueberries thereafter. The currants and gooseberries are also producing this time of year.

These raspberries aren't going to pick themselves!

And last, but not least, we're replacing our carpet with wood floors! I can hardly wait! Do you believe in signs? Well, 5 minutes before we had planned to leave for the flooring store D'Art tracked dog poop from his paws all over the carpet. Sigh....if that's not a sign I don't know what is! 

Carpet in the hallway was the first to go. Meanwhile, Teddy is doing his regular neighborhood watch out the cat door.
Carpet and I just don't get on. I don't mind it in a nice, pristine, inner-city condo where no one tracks in mud (or poop). But here out in the woods? It just doesn't make sense. It will be so nice to have a cleanable floor! The process is just starting and I imagine it will take a while start to finish as we have to fit it in around work. Have I mentioned what a pain it is to pull out tack strips and staples? Oh well, it will be worth the wait! The poodles are very good about having their world literally ripped-up. Furniture is not where it once was and they are troopers about navigating the maze of chairs and tables. I've observed that as long as they can see what we are doing, banging of hammers and other loud noises don't bother them. They just sit by and watch.

Enjoy laying on the carpet while you can, D'Art!
  So July, I'm not ready for you yet, but I suppose I have no choice! Let's do this!