Alright, folks, confession time (this may not be a new one): I am terrible about walking my dogs.
It’s winter in New England and that means that it is always cold and dark. It is cold and dark when I leave for work most mornings, and it is cold and dark when I come home in the evening. Who wants to walk in that? Not
my dogs me.
There are a few ways we have been dealing with this. The first is mid-day lunch/hike breaks. I grab the dogs and off to the woods we go! You may recall that this does not always end well. I have found that, when I hike with just one dog, that dog tends to stick with me. I am homebase, and you check in on homebase even when you’re chasing squirrels. However, when I have both dogs, either one of them can be homebase, so as long as they are together, they sometimes run very far away. Not safe.
This means lots of walking for me and not always enough time to get the two of them sufficiently exercised. Then I am sad and guilty, they are sad and wired, and my poor wife is sad she decided to marry a dog person. Sorry, Turtle!
Last year I started wearing a pedometer after visiting my dad in Florida. My dad walks something like 40,000 steps a day. That’s right around 20 miles a day. Crazy. This suggests that I have the genes to be physically capable of such things – in Florida. Again, did I mention the cold and dark? Sunset on Tuesday was at 4:11pm. Anyway, I started graphing my steps at the end of each day. There was no other intervention in place: just graphing it. And here’s what I saw:
A nice steady increase over months. In May, I sort of stopped tracking it all. “Eh, I’m fine! I’ve got this routine down! No need to track it anymore.”
Shockingly, I sort of stopped walking. I also started a full time desk job and probably hiked relatively regularly.
Anyway, given how successful that was: I’m starting again. And I’m here to brag that on day 1, I hit my goal of 10,000 steps; day 2, same thing! Day 3 was a little more of a failure, but here’s the other thing: my dogs are getting thoroughly walked every day.
A lot of what I’m interested in when I do behavior work is how to change the behavior of the people who work with my clients (dog owners, for example) in order to get the best out of my clients (the dogs). A lot of what I do isn’t working directly with the beasts itself – it’s finding ways that work for the people so that they can work with their beasts. So maybe we all just need a pedometer and some good graphing software.
The holidays are swiftly approaching, and this means that it is high time
for a fight for me to write about my marriage to discuss holiday cards!
Turtle and I spent the day on Sunday arguing about holiday cards. Not about the cards themselves, mind you, but about which designs to use, which photos were most flattering to us and our beasts, and exactly what to say in 250 words or less about our fairly momentous year. Highlights of the year include (in words I am not counting): celebrating our five year anniversary, celebrating my sister’s wedding, spending lots of time up at camp in NH, finishing grad school (!!!!! Turtle did so much to make this happen. She is amazing.), passing my boards (!!!!!)… not to mention both of us settling into and enjoying our full time jobs. This is the first time both of us have been employed full time at the same time, um, possibly ever. Impressive, you guys.
Sadly, we did not know about Minted when we were going through all of this. Luckily for you, we know about Minted now, so you can know about it before the holidays hit! Ever since we ordered from a somewhat pricier (read: not $1/card) holiday card vendor a few years ago, we haven’t turned back, and we have reliably used the same place. Looking through the selection at Minted, though, I would definitely consider using them next year. Because 1. I think my family is cute, 2. you might think my family is cute, and 3. you might want to know what Minted has to offer, I made some mockups of holiday cards. Turtle approved them for this blog post but was reluctant to even look, because, “we already did that!” and “Are you writing about our marriage??” and “I don’t want to fight again!”
I should note that all of the cards I looked at seem to be customizable in terms of all pictures and text, and there’s even a quick click to change from “holiday” to “Christmas” to “New Year” themes (e.g. they say “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” which is a huge plus for me).
To change topics only very slightly, another major part of the holiday season is (duh) gifts. I participate in a few different secret gift swaps each year, and I absolutely love making things and packaging them for the gift exchanges. This is part of why I was so excited to learn about the blog associated with Minted: Julep. While I love Pinterest for lots of craft ideas, it’s also nice to see just one idea at a time, and to see every step of the process. Below are some of the ideas that I’m really excited to try:
Bunting is all the rage these days, and I finally made my own for a recent baby shower – it looked beautiful! It hadn’t occurred to me to do outdoor-friendly bunting, though, and I like the shape of these.
I wish I had known about these before the shower we hosted last month! I have never tried these, and on their own they might look a little silly, but with some color-coordinated bunting, these may be just the thing for festivities.
Now, party blowers. THESE are what I am most excited about. PARTY BLOWERS YOU GUYS. When I passed my boards (!!!), my boss brought these in and we blew on them and, while they did not make noise (sad), they did uncurl in a very satisfying fashion. All I have to say is, if you are my secret gift receiver, you should not be surprised if you receive these.
And, my friends, that is all for this week’s blog update. Hopefully, more crazy dog pictures and perhaps even a marriage update will be coming soon… In the meantime, go forth and craft!
To close with a question (one I am actually curious about): are you crafting at all these days? What are you working on? I have all this post-grad school time, and I’m looking for things to fill it as well as things to make for my gift recipients… send me your secrets!
*Please note that this is a sponsored post. That said, everything I wrote is totally true! I am not affiliated with Minted, but I do think their holiday cards are awfully pretty.
A year and five days ago, we said goodbye to the best cat ever.
Maybe I’ve told this story before, and maybe I haven’t, but either way, here it is today: I picked Jake out from the shelter solely because I felt bad for him. He looked cranky. He was ugly. No one was looking at him. He was a scrawny, 16 week old kitten (a whole month older than the other bundles of fur at the shelter) who was hiding in the back of his cage, glaring at the world with one eye. When I petted him, he just sat there stiffly. The name on the cage card was Winky, or maybe it was Blinky. I sighed and told my mom I wanted him. My brother picked out an adorable fluffy white kitten with a black tail who purred when you looked at him. I tried to trade cats with my brother on the car ride home. He refused.
Over the next 13 years, Jake saw me through high school, through college, and into my first home with Turtle. He ushered many other pets through my homes, including my childhood home, college homes, and houses thereafter. He put his fair share of dogs and cats in their place – not to mention some ferrets and rabbits.
The year that he has been gone has been a hard one. I kept expecting it to get easier, but it hasn’t. I miss his insistence on being in my lap; how he would run up and demand attention; how once he was snuggled up against you, that was all that mattered. As amazing as Piper and the dogs are, none of them has filled the cat-shaped hole that Jake left.
In the past few years, we have fostered many animals. We have had three puppies, one dog, and at least 4 cats – and we have not kept a single one. None of our pets are previous foster pets. We are good at fostering: we take them in, fix them up, and send them back with some cute pictures and a blurb about their personalities. We are not weak! And so it is just a little bit of a surprise that we find ourselves failing.
We stopped by the shelter “just to look.” I put that in quotes, but we really were just looking. We didn’t hit it off with anyone, but we asked if there were any cats in back who were, ahem, “defective.” Or missing body parts. Because, as Jake proved to us all, cats with missing body parts are the best cats. While the shelter had no cats who were actually missing limbs, they did have one guy in a cast, so we offered to foster him.
When we got him home, he hid. I was relieved, because, really? We don’t need another cat. We’ll take him, fix him up, bring him back… and within moments of my saying that, he was on Turtle’s lap. Purring.
We are doomed.
I have to clarify, this little guy (dubbed “Noah” for now) is not Jake. He is also completely confined to one room, so we don’t know how he will do with Piper or the dogs. But for now, that cat-sized hole that Jake left is filling up.
Being doomed is not the worst thing.
I was recently out somewhere in public with Lenny, and someone asked me if the device on her collar was “one of those electric things.”
“You mean electronic?” I asked. “Yes, it’s is electronic.”
“Yeah,” they said, “so that if she doesn’t come when called, you can, like, zap her.”
Okay, so it recently came to my attention that people might think I have been using an e-collar on my dumb little beast, and I am here to clear the air: I am not using any sort of shock or electricity to entice my dog to do anything I say. This should be clear based on the fact that my dog doesn’t really do anything I say.
I joke, I joke. She does a lot of things that I say, and more importantly, using a punishment procedure or punishment-based technology would not necessarily improve the situation, and it would come with a host of side effects, which I won’t go into today. Instead, I will tell you about Lenny’s little collar attachment.
The attachment on Lenny’s collar is Tagg, the Pet Tracker. It is a little GPS device that attaches to her collar and sends updates to my phone and email. Rather, Lenny emails me? I’m not sure, the emails always say, “Hi, it’s me.” and then they tell me where she is.
I love the tracker for taking Lenny up to the cabin in New Hampshire, where all the dogs run loose and you might not see them for a little bit. I don’t mind if she’s chasing squirrels in the woods, but I do mind if she is headed off towards the highway, which has never happened, as evidenced by her Tagg updates. I also love it for our off-leash romps through the woods, just so I can occasionally check in and see where she is and what direction she’s headed in.
The tracker is not as fancy as your iPhone – it doesn’t show you a little constantly moving dot. Rather, it gives periodic updates, sometimes in as little as 10 seconds, sometimes taking up to 2-3 minutes. Two or three minutes is plenty of time for a dog to run far away from where the dot is, so that is a definite weakness, but it does tell you, at least, if they’re close and what direction they are headed in.
What would I change? I would love for it to tell me when she is outside a certain distance from me – it would be great if it told me when she’s, say, 100 feet away in any direction, and then when she is within 100 feet of me again. Also, sometimes the light flashes different colors and it’s entirely unclear why. Lastly, it usually kicks in as “outside the Tagg zone” after she’s been out of the zone for 2-5 minutes, so I never get an accurate read of her time out (did the dog walker walk her for 15 minutes? or 40 minutes? Unclear.).
Have you used a GPS for your pets? Any recommendations? Any questions?