Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rocks on My Mind

As I've written about many times recently Bizzy and I do a lot of walking.  The last few days what I've been noticing is the increasing number of people who are replacing their green grass with rocks in their yards. In fact there were several houses in a row that had replaced some or all of their lawns with the same kinds of rocks.  Made me wonder if there was a door to door rock salesman, or did one neighbor say oh let's put a few rocks in the yard and when they ordered 100 instead of 100 rocks they got 100 lbs of rocks and shared them around.

I noticed these rocks because first of all - Bizz has several times climbed up on top of a larger rock to make a deposit of sorts.   I find that very very weird.  And oddly it reminded me of a trip to China where I had to use a squat toilet while wearing a somewhat narrow skirt - suffice it to say I keep wondering exactly what inspires him to make that decision where he had to keep his balance and do his business while not falling over.

Some neighbors have a more landscaped type look to their rocks with a few very attractive plants interspersed.

Again I find myself wondering why.  Is it because their are ecologically minded and are attempting to help conserve water?  Is it because they just cannot bear the thought of mowing the lawn on a regular basis?  Are they tired of fighting the endless invasion of weeds from the neighbors yard (and yes there are some houses where the yards are just choked with weeds - many of whom can seriously hurt a dog)?  Or is it because they are tired of paying the endlessly escalating water bills and figure this is a great way to save money in a rough economy?
It reminds me very much of my childhood home which had a sloped front yard which my mother had as an elaborate rock garden.  Lovely large rocks with lots of different plants and ground cover throughout.  I don't know if Mom realized that for a small child scaling the rock garden was the 60's version of a climbing wall. My friends and I would gather and figure out how to get from the bottom to top just by stepping on stones.  I also wonder if she knew about the day we put a cherry bomb in a hornet's nest in the rock garden. Not my idea or cherry bomb but it was an exciting day. 
The rock garden is gone now - the last time I went to visit my hometown I drove by and the rock garden with all its little plants had been replaced with a smooth green lawn.  Ironically here I'm watching lawns be replaced with rocks.
Personally I keep hoping to see people install drought resistant native Californian plants that would offer both water savings and green.  I've loved the colors of this spring and don't want to see them replaced with beige and gray stones.
For the flower lovers here are a few more flower photos and for the Bizz lovers there's also one of him in his new favorite place- standing on the bookcase looking out the window.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Before and After

This is the picture of Bizz on the Doggie Protective Services Facebook when he was looking to be adopted.

Here is our photo from adoption day - upper right hand corner.  These were the others adopted that day.  Can't remember why I wasn't carrying him except we were trying to keep him in the photo.

Here he is yesterday with his friend Pinky and his coat grown out.  He looks like a whole different dog.

6 Week Anniversary

Yesterday Bizz and I celebrated our 6 week anniversary.  I thought I'd give a status update on several areas:

1. Health - mine is improving - I've lost 6 lbs, walk 2-3 miles every day, have reduced my blood sugar to mostly normal levels (there was this bowl of pasta but let me not digress), reduced my insulin, sleep a full 8 hours per night and my skin is completely clear.  Bizz now has very clean white teeth, has gained 2.5 lbs and is at his perfect weight, walks 3 miles per day (on the days I miss a walk his Auntie Marina fills in) and his ear infections are hopefully improving.

2.  Happiness - mine has greatly improved - I laugh more, feel more connected to everyone, have incorporated many new friends into my life and have discovered the wonders a dog can do for you.  There was a great article in Time Magazine about Emotional Support Animals.  In the article they describe that stroking a dog can significantly reduce stress. I can attest to that. And when he is as soft and fluffy as Bizz I think he practically eliminates stress.  Our morning and evening cuddles make me extremely relaxed.  I think Bizz is happy too. Despite his stress when I'm not around he has everything he needs and his tail wags continuously.

3.  Changing my life - that has happened.  I have launched my own marketing consulting business and at this point have worked with 4 customers and I'm in the process of signing two more (fingers crossed).  I exercise at least 1.5 hours per day - most days 2 including both walking and playing fetch in the yard, I sleep 8 hours a night when I used to scrape by on 4 or 5 hours, and I am actually more social - though I'm not sure how long friends are going to tolerate eating all meals with me outside.  Bizz life has changed as well.  8 weeks ago he was in a shelter sentenced to death. Then he was rescued, put in a kennel and forced to wait for someone to love him.  Now he has many people who love him, his roster of honorary aunts grows daily, and he is groomed, fed, and how many people do you know with 5 beds? 

So after six weeks I think I can safely say our life together has made an excellent start.  Thank you to everyone who reads this blog. I am thrilled to welcome everyone from the USA, Russia, Germany, Canada, South Korea, UK, India, Australia, France, Germany and Romania.  And please do share the blog with anyone you think might enjoy sharing our journey.

To thank you all and keep you coming back for more I did a little filming today so here are a few videos of Bizz playing fetch with his baby Pinky.










Friday, April 26, 2013

Dogs Behaving Badly

Well, it's official - Bizz and I completed our 7 Basic Manners 1 Obedience Class.  We mastered all 7 of the behaviors - Sit, Down, Leave it, Let's Go, Come, Wait, and Walking on a Loose Leash.  Our certificate is hanging on the bulletin board over my printer.

 There are a few bad behaviors that we are still working on. Not leaping on me 5-10 times when I return from an absence, not jumping on the dining room table, kitchen counter or his new favorite - the bookcase.  Though I must say while the bookcase is a treasured family heirloom (it held our set of encyclopedias throughout my childhood) - driving up and seeing his little face looking out the window is so impossibly cute I'm not sure I want to break that behavior.  I'm thrilled to say he is obeying the commands for Marina as well.  He does like to bark at scary strangers and periodically he will snap at another dog - usually one much bigger than he is.  And his worst bad behavior - his innate instinct to mark every aisle of the pet store we go to for  his kibble.

So I've been doing a lot of apologizing lately for his bad behavior - to other dog owners, strangers who get barked at and the poor folks at the pet store.  And most people are terrific about it and tell me not to worry.   They understand he's a dog and he's just doing what dogs like to do.  But we're working on it.

This all came to my mind after a meeting when one person apologized for someone else's bad behavior. It suddenly occurred to me - why is she having to apologize? Why should anyone except the person behaving badly have to say they are sorry?  It occurred to me again as I heard Reese Witherspoon - an actress I've always enjoyed - behaved incredibly badly to a policeman who pulled her husband over for a DUI.  She was abusive, rude and most of all condescending to the policeman who was doing his job.  She has put out a sincere apology but she is avoiding doing press for her current movie because she doesn't want to answer questions or perhaps do an on camera apology.

All this brought to mind an old story from when I worked in New Holland PA at a subsidiary of Rochester Telephone.  We had a service rep embedded at one of our biggest customers.  She went to meetings and processed all of their orders.  Well that customer was sold and her job went into a kind of limbo so she was assigned several of our other large customers.  Another  customer was purchased and a new operations person came in - a woman.  Our sales rep decided she didn't like her and went over her head to the person she used to work with.  Sadly she went to someone who was no longer in the chain of command and was bounced back to the person she'd just stepped on. And the operations manager went to our VP and told him - if you want to keep our business she's never allowed near our offices or us again.  It was shocking to everyone.  He apologized for her bad behavior and immediately assigned a new sales person. 

I think of this because I wonder what would have happened if the rep had made her own sincere apologies. And I do mean sincere.  It seems to me that making things right needs to be the responsibility of the individual, just as they must own responsibility for the outcome of their actions.  

 Since Bizz can't speak and he is, after all, a dog, his bad behavior is my responsibility hence I own the apologies that come along with the behavior.  And believe me until I find a class for no barking, jumping or marking I'm doing a lot of apologizing.

Bizz lying in the sunshine on a piece of furniture he is allowed on.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rules of Engagement

A recurring theme in many of my conversations with fellow dog owners, friends and clients is the rules of engagement.   With dogs there are clear rules (note that I am writing them as I've learned them - not the strict rules):

1.  When you approach a dog ask if it is ok to pet the dog.  Little girls just love how fluffy Bizz is and he never snaps at people so I'm always happy to say yes.  If I see a child looking at him and I can tell they want to touch him, I always check in with their parents first if it is ok.
2.   If you have a dog and are approaching one ask if it is ok for the dogs to meet. I have had several owners tell me their dogs bark, bite, lunge or don't like small dogs.  Others say yes and we always chuckle at the traditional dog sniff and wag. 
3.   Never offer a dog something to eat without asking if it is ok.  I always have to tell clerks that Bizz is very fussy and most likely won't take their treat but they are welcome to try.  But some dogs are on strict diets and you need to honor the owners requirements.

In the real world there are rules of engagement as well.  The tremendous challenge is that everyone's rules are very very different.  In a recent Politico article about the executive and managing editors of the New York Times it seems the rules are a bit bizarre.  The woman is criticized by her subordinates  for traveling for her job to high profile events while the man is celebrated for punching walls but not people when he is upset.  My question would be why is she ever in the office at all?  Her job is to represent the paper and manage it effectively at the most senior level.  4 Pulitzer prizes and increased digital media are pretty good in an age when papers are struggling to survive.  She is delivering results and pays attention to the details and expects people to perform. However, people don't like her voice (like any of us can do anything about our voice by the time we're over 40) or her brusqueness.  The man is considered charming and caring because he attends going away parties, but I would bet he was already in the office so attendance did not involve sacrificing work.  I would love to see everyone write down what the New York Times rules of engagement are and then compare them all across the board.

As I work with my business partner we have also been having a lot of conversations about our rules of engagement. In a recent meeting we had a very open and honest talk about what kinds of behavior are acceptable and what kinds create an uncomfortable environment.  It was refreshing to be able to talk about what sorts of behavior are and are not acceptable and to have the shared agreement about what we want our corporate culture to be. 

Google has a motto/slogan that sums up their rules of engagement- Don't Be Evil.  A great rule of engagement for everyone - too bad no one talked to Bernie Madoff about this.

My personal rules of engagement continue to evolve.  I think about this frequently as I engage with new clients. My goal is to  be true to myself and my own happiness.  Being a success is meaningless if you are miserable in the life you are leading. 

A very long time ago when I was a nanny my boss introduced me to "the richest man you'll ever meet".  He was worth 500 million dollars.  I was awed since that kind of money was unbelievable.  And he was extremely nice to me - in fact when we went to lunch in Montauk at a fish and chips place he gave me a $500 bill to go get the food.  I brought back his change and he told me to keep it.   A $450 tip which paid for all my books at college for the next year.  I was so grateful and profuse in my thanks and he thought nothing of it.  The next day was spent at his house where I saw what real wealth can buy -an enormous house, two pools, a pond that he'd had built (which made no sense to me since he had the pools and we were right next to the ocean), and amazing furnishings.  His children each had their own personal nanny and talked down to my two charges because they had to "share" me.  But with all the trappings of success I saw that his wife was anorexic and lived in fear of food (she kept asking me how many calories things had in them and then refusing to touch any of it); his children seemed endlessly stressed and whiny and he was surrounded with yes people.  From my perspecitve he never had a real conversation with anyone.  My mother had told my step dad that I would see how the other half lived that summer, he said I'd see how .001% lived. 

On a side note - I've had the privilege of meeting a number of billionaires in the course of my life including Bill Gates and Sheryl Sandberg - so my boss was wrong in assuming I'd never meet anyone richer.  I will however always think of him fondly - he was generous, funny and had a wonderful laugh. 

So bringing this all back to the rules of engagement - everyone has to find their own way and determine what rules of engagement

they can and can't live with.  However, just remember, ask before you pat my dog. 
Bizz and Teddy

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Maltipoo Attachment Disorder (MAD Dog)

Now I will confess, I am incredibly fond of my dog.  But he is REALLY attached to me.  I had to leave him for 2 hours this morning to go get some physical therapy on my shoulder. When I got home I was talking to a client on the phone in the car.  I didn't immediately go inside because with the phone, the purse and the door I was very worried how I would handle his charging at me. Then I looked up and to my surprise saw Bizz with his head through the blinds looking at me and barking. Since the blinds are over the window and the  window is several feet off the ground I was thinking what the hell?

When I got inside Bizz was a little tornado - jumping and spinning around the room for joy.   He had jumped up on a low bookcase under the window that had a very expensive glass vase on it.  So the vase has now moved.  The bookcase is encased in a throw.  And Bizz now has a new seat from which to supervise my comings and goings.

 Marina came over so I could go to a business lunch and told me that Bizz was devastated when I left - whining and hunting through the house. And jumping on the bookcase again - thank goodness I moved the vase. And he systematically took all my shoes out of the bedroom and scattered them in the hallway and livingroom. I'm not sure how to interpret that but I'm working on it.

So what do I mean by Maltipoo Attachment Disorder?  Well I sent a note to the Maltipoo Rescue asking them if this behavior is just my dog or all of them.  Maltipoo's are now an acknowledged AKC breed and were bred for one very specific purpose - to be a companion dog.  Their love and loyalty are intrinsic to their very genetic code.  And many of the owners are experiencing the same thing.

Having Maltipoo Rescue on Facebook is like having an extended family to turn to for guidance.  I think back to when I was growing up with a cat.  All I knew about cats I learned from the encyclopedia and whatever books I acquired about cats.  And of course by asking people.  Instead today I ask a question to the group and have advice galore come back to me.

So this evening when I leave for my business dinner Bizz will be provided with a Kong stuffed with peanut butter, a detailed explanation of where I'm going and Auntie Marina to take him on a walk.  So hopefully this will help with his MAD issues.  Now the only question is what to do about mine?

Bizz and I in Half Moon Bay.  It was a breezy cold day - so glad I wore shorts.

Monday, April 22, 2013

What happens in Dog Park, stays in Dog Park

I knew that the Los Gatos Creek Trail dog park had become Bizz' favorite when he brought me his leash to walk him and when we went outside he stubbornly sat at the car waiting for me to open the door so we could drive there.  I think he likes it because he gets to play with dogs his size and not the bigger bullying dogs.  I can't tell you how much big dogs like to jump on him.  He's only 14 lbs so having a 50 lbs dog jump on you cannot be pleasant.  In fact what I noticed is that much like in the rest of life there were dog bullies lurking about - dogs that liked to jump on little dogs who are just doing the meet and sniff, dogs that like to bark and lunge at the tinier dogs through the fence.  All very interesting.

The idea of bullying is another one of those themes that I've been noticing a lot in recent weeks.  The young women who've been bullied after being sexually assaulted, and have committed suicide - one in the town right next to where I live.  And the bullying in schools, offices and the ultimate bullies - people who hurt unsuspecting innocents who are just trying to run in a marathon.

I just don't understand bullying.  I believe in live and let live for everyone's beliefs - as long as you don't try to impose your beliefs on me and you don't hurt anyone then we're fine. 

I remember my first encounter with a real bully.  He was  a kid that sat next to me in homeroom in the 7th grade.  I won't say his last name but his first name was Alfonso. I am still convinced his dad was connected with the mob - a made man so to speak - so no last names.  And every day after I took my seat he would punch me full force in my right arm.  And I took it. My mom had always told me that because I was taller and stronger than most kids my age hitting someone was not permitted. And of course there was the code - you don't rat to the teacher.  I put up with this for weeks until one night I was undressing and my mom saw how spectacularly bruised my shoulder was. I explained what was going on and she wanted to call the teacher. I begged her not to and she told me I had to defend myself.  So the next day when Alfonso pulled back his arm to punch me I leaned in and told him my mom had given me permission to beat the bleep out of him so if he hit me again that was what would happen.  He backed down immediately.

I have encountered other bullies along my life's path - people who had a different form of strength in terms of power over me, my job, my career - and I've seen how much damage people like that can do.  They make you feel powerless and helpless. However, what I have learned is that bullies only have power when you let them.  You don't have to stay silent and passive.  You can take action and get away from them and you can speak up and make your voice heard.  And most of all you don't have to let them take up residence inside your head.

So while what happens in dog park stays in dog park - you don't have to stay there yourself.

Bizz not bullying Pinky. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Rose in Bloom or How Bizz and I Greenercise

It's funny how something comes to your attention and suddenly it is all anyone is talking about.  Just last night I read an article on Greenercising - which is taking your workout out of the gym and into nature.  Well that's just what Bizz and I have been doing.  Until my 24 hour fitness closed I used to stop a couple of times a week and walk on the treadmill. I'd have music playing in my ears, my kindle in front of me reading my favorite book.  Except for the fact that my feet were moving I could have been at home on the couch. 

Those days are gone.  Currently Bizz and I are doing 3 -5 miles each day. At least 1 mile in the morning, a mile in the afternoon and one in the evening.  On the weekends there are even more walks.  Yesterday for example we did 4 miles plus played fetch in the yard for half an hour.  And those walks are definitely green.  Even if I decide to listen to music on my walks I only do so with one ear since I need to listen for cars, barking dogs, meowing cats, and other signs that may make Bizz uneasy.  And I have to pace myself since Bizz frequently stops to smell the flowers, sniff other dogs private parts and do of course his bizzness. 

So to show you what we've been seeing - the last two days I've been stopping to take photos of the flowers we've seen on our walks.  Enjoy and be sure to stop and smell the roses while they are in bloom.

Happy Earth Day Everyone

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bizzy and his babies

I am probably the worst owner for a dog because I am a collector of all sorts of things.  My house is groaning with books, CDs, miniatures, videos & DVDs, and stuffed animals.  How was I to know that I would acquire the dog version of myself in Bizzy.  Bizzy is collecting his babies. It all started with his first day.  Bizzy got a toy monkey, well really a half monkey, half rope creature.  He didn't have much interest in it but it would move around the house so I know he was at least carrying it. Then Marina gave him his squeaky penguin which became a huge hit.  Penguin was followed by a gift set that included a soft squeaky bone.  Then came the topper.  At Grocery Outlet I discovered something called a crazy critter - it was a soft unstuffed raccoon with not one but two squeakers in it.  Well it was love at first site. 

The raccoon has been followed by a number of other animals - all with squeakers - a sock monkey, foxy ( a fox like the raccoon with squeakers), a mini bright orange dog and now the most popular of them all (at least this week) Pinky.  Pinky has the best story because the reason I know Bizz was meant to be my dog was he picked it out himself.  We were in Petco (I'm a member now so coupons galore) and while I paid for food Marina had Bizz at the discount rack. On the lowest shelf was Pinky - who is literally that - a bright fushia blob with 4 pink legs, two eyes and of course a squeaker.  Bizz picked up Pinky and they are inseparable.  He finally plays fetch - I throw Pinky down the yard (those legs are great for throwing) and Bizz chases him and brings him back.  He just loves that doll.

Of course I began to worry the day I hurled Pinky over the fence into the neighbors yard.  What if something happened to Pinky?  So today we secured redundancy - a concept I learned in my early days at the phone company. When you want to be sure something doesn't fail - have two of them so if one fails you always have backup. The same is true for investing your money - I learned in finance class that you don't put all your money into the stock of the company you get your income from.  If the company busts there goes your paycheck and your savings.

So we went off to Petco and again at the Clearance rack Bizz picked up another Pinky and carried it for me to the checkout counter.  I checked the price and at $1.50 it was too good to pass up. In fact I bought a third Pinky who is in hiding in my closet for the day I hurl Pinky into someplace inaccessible.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

This is Bizz, This is Bizz on Drugs

This is how Bizz looked yesterday:

This is how he looked today trying to shake off his anesthesia:

You may wonder why I am showing you my poor wasted little dog.  Well I learned a lot today about dog ownership and thought I would share it.  Bizz and I both had dental appointments today.  I had to have two fillings repaired since all the crappy fillings I had as a kid seem to have degraded and need replacing.  I personally blame our old family dentist, who's name was and I'm serious, Doctor Schloctor.  Good grief. In any case diabetics have to pay a lot of attention to their mouths since tooth and gum problems can lead to serious complications, as can any sort of infection. It's why I often tell people if you are sick please don't come near me.  It takes me usually twice as long (minimum) to fight off a cold or flu and I usually end up at the doctor's office with messed up blood sugars in addition to whatever is making me sick.

Bizz had to go to the dentist (which is the vet but since he was doing dental I call him the dentist) because he has gum disease, bad tartar and his breathe could literally make your eyes water. The first day I had him Marina and I both thought he had gas but nope - it was his breath. In addition he had double ear infections so we had to see where they were going.  I also asked the doctor to trim the hairs near his one eye which were blocking his vision and while he was at it could he trim his toenails as well - so yes I turned the vet into a dentist, ear doctor, hair dresser and manicurist.  Just as in humans bad gums can lead to tooth loss but thank goodness Bizz had no extractions.  His ears are still infected (they were before I adopted him but I hadn't known enough to read the full medical report carefully enough until 2 weeks in) so we have new medications and another appointment in 3 weeks. 

The major difference between Bizz and I was that he was knocked out for his appointment and I had two shots of Novocain which made not only my teeth go numb but also my lips, cheeks and nose.  Afterwards he gave me a shot to reverse the Novocain so it wore off in two hours rather than 3 or 4.  Bizz on the other hand has been stoned for hours and keeps falling asleep all over the house.  He's had a small dinner and fresh cold water (to soothe his poor gums) and we're off to bed soon.

The dentist has adjusted his diet - saying Bizz is at his perfect weight - so he doesn't need too many extra treats but he can still have his once a day Greek yogurt treat. He couldn't believe Bizz likes Greek yogurt but I tell you  he just laps it up.  He told me that I should make Bizz sleep in another room in a crate but I actually think I'll have more of a problem with that than Bizz would. 

Question for my readers - where does your dog sleep?  And how the heck do you survive crate training?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Guaranteed or your money back

The challenge with having a dog is that you buy things with no idea whether he will like them or completely reject them.  Then you are left with an item that cost you a decent sum and of no earthly use to you.  There are four items that come into play this week that have failed to please Bizz.

1.  Peanut butter flavored training bites.  These expensive little suckers have completely failed to assist in Bizz training - in fact he rejects them outright, over and over.  So I have a mostly full bag of treats that cost over $10 and are of no earthly use.

2.  Bizz crate - I was assured when I got Bizz that he was crate trained.  I'm a bit confused about what that means since Bizz absolutely refuses to have anything to do with his crate and cried for two straight hours when he was in there on his first night. He has a bed for in the car, my bed and his three other pillow/beds in the house and if we fly I would attempt to smuggle him in my carry on - he did fit in my purse after all.  The crate was $49.

3.  All Trader Joe dog treats - these have all been firmly rejected.  He's had one piece of a chicken jerky type chew and he buried it in the yard and a clean breath minty green treat which I found buried in my couch.  The rest remain in their bags since I refuse to give him things to bury.  Another $15 of unused items.

4.  A foldable water bowl - this was a gift from Auntie Marina.  We had talked about the fact that it would be great to have a small foldable water bowl that Bizz could drink from when hiking.  Marina found one for the princely sum of $1 at Rite Aid and bought two - one for each of us.  We decided to test out the bowl's efficacy while lunching at The Sandwich Spot in Santa Clara today.  After I ordered I got my drink and then half filled Bizz foldable water bowl with lovely cold water. How do  I know it was cold you may ask?  Because by the time I got back to the table the bowl had become saturated with water and the cold water was pouring out the bottom of the bowl onto my feet and legs.  Good grief.  By the time I was done with my sandwich the bowl was empty through the ground around it was full of water. Bizz had taken one look in the bowl and walked away, deftly avoiding the water coming from it.  Total on the unworkable bowls $2.

So a total of roughly $75.  But here is the good news.  Pet Food Express guarantees everything and allows returns of even opened items.  So tomorrow back go the peanut treats and the crate.  Trader Joes also guarantees everything (wish I had know that before I tried and tossed their dehydrated seaweed snacks for myself) that you buy - so if you don't like it - take it back.  So Bizz and I will also go to TJ's to return the treats that are no treat for him. 

The bowls are another story - no receipt and I had taken off the tag.  The bowl was tossed into the garbage can as we completed our lunch.  Thankfully it was only a buck.

So what I have learned from this for all you future dog owners out there?  Don't buy anything for your pet from anyplace that doesn't allow you to return opened items.   And if something claims to be a travel bowl and does not hold water - what is it?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Beach Blanket Bizzy

Yesterday was an interesting day. I secured another client for my consulting business  and did work for another one until late in the evening.  So all in all a good day for the new business.  On the downside - I discovered Bizz knows how to bark - a lot and loudly.  My landlords had the plumber come to install a line outside for a washing machine for the mother-in-law apartment and to fix my shower. Well if I were a psychologist I would say Bizz hates guys who wear bulky work gloves. I personally hate people who drill underneath the house while I'm trying to work.  Since the plumber didn't finish and I knew that work was a distant dream between the drilling and the barking, I decided that today was the day for an outing.  So I packed up Bizz, the Bizz Bag (treats, water, food, bowl, toy, my sweatshirt for him to sleep on) and myself and headed to Half Moon Bay.

I thought I would describe our day as a dialog between the two of us since I think we had very different perspectives of our time.

(jerri)We arrived in Half Moon Bay around 9 am. I had had an early appointment so Bizz had stayed in the car for an hour from 7-8 am (windows open, in the shade, it was cool and everyone was checking on him for me). During that  time he dismantled the Bizz bag, dropped his toy in the bowl of water- the toy absorbed all of it, escaped from his harness and still charmed everyone when I brought him in to say hello.

(bizz) Sue me, I was bored. That will teach you.

(jerri)  Half Moon Bay was pretty empty so we took a walk up and down the main street to check out which stores are still there, scope out places for lunch and generally stretch our legs a bit.  Bizz managed to pee on every tree along Main Street.

(bizz)  So many trees, so little time.  Next time I'll drink more before I come.  I nearly ran out.

(jerri)  We headed to Half Moon Bay State Beach.  Bizz had decided he'd had enough of the back seat and had climbed into the front seat. The signs said no dogs on the beach so when I talked to the park ranger he explained Bizz could go anywhere on leash except on the sand itself.  Since we were going to hike the trail I wasn't too concerned.  However, when I turned to pay the parking fee I discovered Bizz had managed to climb into my purse and was sitting on my wallet.  The ranger had a good laugh as I attempted to negotiate access to my wallet but finally had to scoop Bizz out and pay.

(Bizz)  Big purse, little dog. 

(Jerri)  We started out with a refreshment break since we'd walked a mile before we even got to the beach. Bizz decided he would join me on the bench even though he would have preferred being turned loose to complete his true mission in life.

(Bizz) All birds must die.

(Jerri) As we headed towards the trail we cut through the campgrounds.  What an array of camping - from a simple pup tent to a camper complete with Direct TV hook up.  No kidding - check the picture.

(Bizz)  I saw no puppies in tents.

(Jerri) We hit the trail and had a lovely 2.5 mile hike.   Bizz loved exploring all the new and different smells.  There  was a wide array of lovely flowers though the spectacular pink ones have not bloomed quite yet.  And he made sure to leave his mark on as many as he could.

(Bizz)  They are all mine now.

(Jerri)  We also encountered a cute baby bunny.  Bizz went into stealth mode - thank goodness for the leash and harness.  I definitely think he'd make a great hunting dog.

(Bizz)  All bunnies must die. 

(Jerri)  We did take a break at the half way point of the hike.   This was our chance to  enjoy the breeze.  (Note his ears were at full deployment in his shadow).

(Bizz)  I was not tired but if you had brought the bag you could have carried me back.

(Jerri) Our return trip gave us an even more impressive encounter - horses. I'm not sure what Bizz thought they were but I think he thought they were enormous dogs.  They were gorgeous and a huge hit.

(Bizz) I must be pack leader of the giant dogs.

(Jerri)  We concluded our hike with a total of 3 1/2 miles for the morning.

(Bizz) 7 Miles

(Jerri)  3.5 - I had on the pedometer.

(Bizz)  2 legs went 3.5 miles.  4 legs means 3.5 miles x 2 - I went 7 miles.

(Jerri)  In any case, we went back to town for lunch.  Bizz behaved perfectly in the shop and we shared my roast beef sandwich.  He conked out on the way home though I have now learned that when they say let sleeping dogs lie they also mean don't take them through the car wash even if they are lying with their eyes closed sound asleep.

(Bizz) What the hell was that?  I'm dreaming of birds, rabbits and giant dogs and suddenly we're in a tsunami.

(Jerri)  All my fault.  I never realized how loud a car wash was until I had a barking dog on my lap during one.

(Bizz)  Car washes must die.

(Jerri)  We're heading back to Half Moon Bay with Aunt Marina on Saturday so who knows what our next adventure will be.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Communication: Non Verbal and Verbal

Since  Bizz and I are going to school each week I've been very very focused on both my verbal and non verbal communication skills.  Verbal is easier - Sit, Down, Relax, Stand, Let's Go (to start our walks) have been learned - especially now that he knows his name.  Some are trickier - we are still struggling with Stay and Wait - mostly because Bizz and I have bonded very tightly so he is endlessly following me around.  I cannot actually leave a room without him jumping up (even from a dead sleep) and trailing behind.

The non verbal communication skills are equally important - there is a hand gesture that goes with each of the commands and I have to remind myself to use the right one with the verbal command.  Of course as we are training there are non verbal commands that are also learned.  Putting my hand in the bag of Happy Hips (his favorite treat - lamb and rice flavor) causes him to immediately sit.  Patting the couch means come snuggle.  Pointing to my bed means it's bed time let's settle down.  Which for Bizz means lying right where I like to sleep on his back all spread out so he can get his belly rubbed and there's no room for me.

I've also learned that dogs love to be talked to - while I still listen to music while walking I now often single along softly so Bizz gets spoken to.  Since he's learned to check in with me visually as we walk I think it reassures him.

I have been ahead of schedule on one command. Since his first day with me Bizz has had a big maroon pillow in my office as his bed.  Well, when we are in here I just say - go to pillow and he climbs on, curls up and conks out.  At class they told us to train them to go to your bed which they are supposed to do and stay there so you can open the door. That's not working so well. Perhaps its the fact that he now has three beds in three different rooms.  Or perhaps it's that he has boundless curiousity and hears people coming before I do.  In any case I'm working on that one.

A former boss once said to me - and I'm not kidding - Just because I am looking at you and you are speaking to me doesn't mean I'm listening to you.  I still ponder that and laugh since the whole point of communication is making sure that your message is heard (or at least seen).  So with Bizz I am very focused on how I am communicating and leading him both with my words and with my non verbal commands as well.  And I am extending that to my human friends and colleagues as well.

Here is Bizzy during his couch cuddle time.  Note it is very hard to do non verbal communication when your dog is actually holding your hand as he naps.  However since all the communicating he wants is his belly rubbed I think we understand each other just fine.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Taking Time to Stop and Smell the Roses and a Few Nasty Things as Well

One of the things I've found in my now multiple daily walks with Bizz is the need for variety.  If not for his sake then for mine. We have a routine late night walk which I like because it is safe, well lit and low traffic.  And I can practically do it in my sleep. Then we have some longer walks and I've taken to following different side streets as well. And then there are the drive to walk places - walks that I'm discovering through other dog owners who share openly the good places to take a dog.

One of the highlights of these walks has been my ability to truly appreciate just how glorious nature is here in California.  Many yards are full of lovely blooms - roses of all colors, many flowering plants and bushes, and great home d├ęcor. One house I particularly adore has old posts from a harbor out front linked by thick lengths of rope.  It reminds me of all sorts of little harbors along the east coast. 

Today, I took a new walk with Bizz in Los Gatos Creek Park.  This county park has a dog park with a small dog section (which Bizz played in a bit but was soon bored) a large reservoir stocked with fish and several great trails.  We did the 1 mile hike today but will do longer ones in the future.  As we circumnavigated the water I discovered that all nature does not smell sweet. I do not know what Bizz rolled in but it smelled pretty foul.  So much so that when we returned he immediately went into the sink to get the smell off of him.  He is now his usual fluffy sweet smelling self.  What struck me was how much this park reminded me of Verona Park, in Verona New Jersey - my home town.  The lake there also had a nice trail around it, an island in the middle and lovely trees.  My mom used to walk around the lake almost every day - sometimes alone, sometimes with her friend.  In fact I believe she was walking me in a stroller at that park when Kennedy was shot.

So today Bizz and I enjoyed the walk, the views and he certainly enjoyed the smells.  Here is a view of the reservoir -

And here is the new Bizz photo of the day.  I call this his Lion Dog pose.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Leader of the Pack

I have decided to start writing a bit about leadership in this blog - which is tangential at best to the blog's main focus.  However, as I am now leader of my own very tiny pack - Bizz and I plus our frequent visitors, I am finding leadership is often on my mind. 

I have positioned myself in the world as a leader in marketing but if you had known me in high school you would never have thought I was the leader type. I was tall, with thick geeky glasses and pretty quiet.  On yearbook I was faculty editor, and in clubs I ran committees but was never a president type.  A lot of that changed in college, where I was president of things like the biology board and thus was working closely with students and faculty.  But working after college I was back to being one of a group of employees where my boss was definitely the leader, since he directed everything.  Of course this is true in a lab environment where it's all about the experiments and publication which were largely on him.

Grad School became a time when I first encountered true leadership opportunities and took them. I came to run just about every team I was on in business school. I think it was largely due to my packed schedule - full time school, two part time jobs and endless studying.  Being on scholarship meant my ability to stay in school was dependent on my getting above a 3.5 grade point average - which meant you better not get in the way of me getting an A.  My teams always did well because I made sure of it.  In those days I would call my leadership style definitely pack leader - I was driven and you better get on the train with me.

As I read about women in leadership I can see why some of the weaker men (my school was 20% female so most if not all of my team mates were men) may have felt I was a - no other way to say it - a bitch.  In fact one guy decided to take me on directly during a team meeting.  The four of us were working on a project on the elasticity of pricing for custom calling features for Rochester Telephone. The three guys and I were all marketing majors.  One of them was a real slacker - showing up for meetings but doing nothing but criticize what the rest of us were doing.   Gordon (no last names here) came to one meeting when we were finishing up the project and decided to cause a bit of trouble. He looked me right in the eye and said, Jerri, did anyone ever tell you that you are a pushy broad. I looked him right in the face and said, Gordon, did anyone ever tell you that you are a short weasel.  Our two team mates both threw back their heads and howled.  While Gordon sputtered and looked for a come back my one team mate told him, Gordon you better just shut up. Jerri is why we are all going to be getting A's. 

Hilariously, Gordon and I both got job offers from the phone company after graduation.  I should have learned the lesson then that you have to self promote - Gordon had sold his hiring manager that he had done the work on the project through his resume and his talk, while my hiring manager knew what I had done since she was my point of contact at the phone company during the project.  It was there I also learned to question everything on a resume since you can say you did anything in writing, but you need to dig down to learn the truth.  The irony was he was in my starting group at the company and never showed up for work the first day. He'd gotten another offer from a firm in NY and took off for those greener pastures. 

So what is the point of all this, besides documenting one of my truly favorite stories from grad school?  My point is that leadership is something that does not necessarily come naturally to everyone, it is something inspired by passion and an internal drive.  My drive in school came from my need to maintain my GPA in order to continue in school. My leadership style has evolved over time.  However, with Bizz that old command control has come back a bit in our training. I was teased that he was training me but I'm learning to be the pack leader and I think it's a good thing for both of us. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Unconditional Love

I just need to say that I am amazed at the amount of love a little dog can pack in his little body. I had to go to the dentist this morning and of course Bizz could not come with me. He had to stay home for 2 hours by himself.  We'd done our morning walk and he had food, water, 3 beds of his own plus mine and the guest room bed, all his toys. Everything a dog needs.  Except his master.  When I came through the door his excitement was boundless. He jumped on the tallest piece of furniture and just barked and danced.  Then he got on the floor next to me and leapt up and down - he's a good little jumper.  I decided to count and after 15 times he finally calmed down enough to let me pet him. 

Yes, a dog is truly capable of unconditional love.  He's now back on his pillow beside me, happily napping as I type.  What's amazing to me is that anyone would have ever given him up. 

At the vet this week there was a sign (and I am totally paraphrasing) - You have your family, your relatives, your friends, and your co-workers.  He just has you.  It is so true - we all have many people in our lives but your pet can only depend on it's owner to take care of him. Now, I will say - Bizz has his Auntie Marina, Auntie Ellen, Auntie Deanna and Auntie Maya.  He also has Kelvin and Isabelle who love him, as well as all my other friends who have become his friends too. 

I think unconditional love is a wonderful thing and I truly feel that owning Bizz has made me a more open and loving person.  Everywhere we go I run into other dog owners and I love hearing their stories and sharing my own.  It's a nice way to expand your own world.

Bizzy in a quiet time.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

School and the Doctor - Pet ownership is a bit like having a child.

This week has been consumed with things around Bizzy's health and education.  On Monday night he rocked his obedience training class.  He got top dog for his ability to walk on a loose leash and to come when called.  I tried to explain he follows me everywhere so adding the word come doesn't actually do anything new but he impressed the trainer. She asked us to join her relay class but I'd like to get through this class first. 

We also had our first vet visit and Bizz did very well. Dr. Shapiro and his patients loved him - he was incredibly well behaved and allowing everything to be done.  He has ear infections in both ears and his teeth are not good at all.  I have to do daily ear cleanings, daily antibiotic treatments and then in two weeks he goes in for a day to be sedated for his deep teeth cleaning and bum treatment and any extractions.  I will personally be grateful if this means his breathe improves.  However, he is so sweet natured I don't worry about it.

Our walking continues - we're at 2-3 miles every day and honestly I can't sleep well without my evening walk now.  He loves to walk and he greets everyone we meet with a wag and a lick.  The older women in my neighborhood think he's great as do the children.

The doctor assured me the walking is good for him (us).  We did 1 1/2 miles today walking up to the tax preparers office. They were great with him - he got water and treats and dosed through the hour long meeting.  Tomorrow will be more of a test since he cannot go to the dentist with me.  Hopefully he and the house will survive.

Here is Bizzy on his travel bed surrounded by his toys and holding the new toy Dr. Shapiro gave him. What's funny is I don't tidy the toys to stay near him - he does it himself and gets very annoyed when I move them away.  So yes, I think my dog is a hoarder (or a neat freak like my mom).

Monday, April 1, 2013

Finding the Right Doctor(s)

One thing I have learned as a diabetic is that it is critical to have a good team of doctors in your corner.  I have changed doctors a few times to get to the right combination.  I have a primary care physician who looks after all my general needs and referrals, an endocrinologist who rocks and takes care of my diabetes, a podiatrist who keeps an eye on my feet - ever alert for signs of neuropathy, two eye doctors (both named Wong) who keep track of overall eye health and the second watches for retinal issues common to diabetics, a dentist, an oral surgeon, and of course a gynecologist which seems to be my greatest challenge since I work more with a department than an individual. However, it was a gyno who first diagnosed me and I am forever in her debt.

So now it is time for me to find Bizzy his new vet. And boy is it a challenge.  This vet is too expensive, that vet yelled at a patient, this one sneaks you freebies while another does unnecessary testing.  Wow is all I can say. 

So where did I turn after every person I talked to gave me mixed reviews?  Yelp.  Yelp is a great review site and people really tell you what they think of a vet.  So I have located one that sounds pretty good - decent prices, great care, honesty, etc. 

I hope he's good - I have read Bizzy's medical record in great detail and its' fascinating.  The vet found hiim bright, alert, responsive and a really nice dog.  His body was a 4 out of 9 - due to being on his own.  He had some issues with his ear and he has severe dental disease. It explains why he won't let me brush his teeth and won't eat hard food.  So it's off to the dentist for a check up and teeth cleaning. They may have to sedate him and me for this process.

The other funny thing is I found out his original name was Phelps - cannot figure out why except I keep thinking Peter Graves on Mission Impossible had white hair and every show started with Good Afternoon Mr. Phelps.  So does not fit him.

More to come as the saga of the doctors continues.