Between a rock and a dog…

Inara and I seem to have hit an impasse with our training.  Not due to lack of skill, but because I can’t trust her off-leash.  She’s totally ready for advanced rally signs, but even the 2nd level of rally and obedience stuff is off leash.  Ginger and I were talking this evening and we feel she’s kind of hit the max benefit from our Rally classes we’ve been taking.  Ginger thinks I need to expand outwards, into new training places.  That frightens me.  It’s very difficult finding good, positive trainers.  And quite frankly, other places are really expensive ($140 for 6 weeks?  Really?).  And I like Ginger and her style of teaching.

I suggested to Ginger that maybe she can offer “semi-private sessions.”  Her normal rally classes have 6 dogs and are $85 for 6 weeks, so I said that maybe she can offer 3 week sessions, with only 3 dogs, for $85.  It’d be a lot more individualized attention, and if we chose the dogs well we could do off-leash stuff w/o worrying.  Once Inara got used to being off-leash around those 2 dogs, another dog could be added in.  I’m not looking to get her playing with other dogs – I want her to IGNORE them entirely.

I may also just do some private sessions with Ginger out and about in the community, just for the change of scenery.  We all know that dogs don’t generalize, so I do maintain Inara’s training elsewhere.  It would be nice sometimes to have Ginger on walks in the park with me when other dogs are passing in close proximity.  Not because I don’t know what to do, but because my confidence increases with her around *blush*.

Any other ideas for me as to break through this impasse?  I’m going to start working hard with Inara on training/walking w/o relying on the leash to keep her by me, even outside.  It will be on, of course, but only as an emergency measure.  But while we’re doing that, I want to DO something – classes, seminars, something.

Inara with Joe, Big Mike and Johnny O of Rescue Ink.

Quick update on life!

I know, I know, it’s been a while since I updated.  But we moved so life was consumed by packing for quite a while!  LOL  We now have our very own house, with a fenced in backyard.  It’s exciting and Inara really seems to be happy here.

What else?  Let’s see.  Inara’s mom, Sophie, is safely in a rescue in NY where she is being fostered and loved.  She’s been there for a few weeks now and is apparently quite the energetic dog!

Unfortunately we had to miss the last 2 sessions of our class with “normal” dogs due to car troubles and moving.  However, we are competing on May 30th in a C-WAGS competition.  We had a practice run-thru last night and Inara did SO WELL!  She heeled beside me like a pro, making my instructor laugh because she was obviously having trouble staying with me as opposed to bounding ahead.  She’s got quite the perky heel!  She did her sit and down stays very well.  And perhaps most shockingly of all, she managed to stay in a sit and down beside me while I shook hands with a couple people she’d never seen before!!!  Woot!!!

So with our competition coming up so quickly, my instructor and I are conspiring as to how to give Inara a fighting chance at competing.  We both realize that if she has to navigate through a gauntlet of dogs to get into the building where the competition is being held, she’ll fall apart and won’t be able to get focused on me.  So Ginger is actually doing some research to see if the two of us can come in through a window in the office!  Can you imagine???  I love having a trainer who’s willing to brainstorm and do what she can to help us out.  So hopefully that will work out and somebody will get a video of me hoisting Inara and myself through a window!  LOL

I’ve started a new business making and selling slip leads, leashes, slip collars and martingale collars made out of parachute rigging cord.  They’re colorful and super strong.  Check out my website!  Lead Me On

Pink and yellow 5' leash

Finally, and very excitingly, Embrace Pet Insurance contacted me to see if they could interview Inara for their newsletter!  How cool is that?!?  As soon as I have the link to the newsletter I’ll post it up here!

Anyway, I suppose that’s about it.  Thanks for sticking around through my sporadic postings!

Enjoying the sunshine

Miscellaneous Updates

Hello to any who might still be checking this blog!  I know I’ve been quite lax in posting new blogs, and I apologize for that.  This posting is going to be a hodge-podge of random updates, so bear with me!

First of all, I’d like to say that the Bumi toy I posted about in my last update is still very much alive and kicking.  There is not a blemish on it and Inara still loves playing with it.  That toy is going to remain a definite recommendation for people with destructive dogs.  Thank you West Paw Design for making such a great toy!

Secondly, Brad of ST Leathercraft once again hooked up me with another quality piece of equipment.  You all remember Inara’s oxblood leather collar I posted about ( ), well, I finally got around to ordering a matching leash and backup connector for safety (had little hardware malfunction at a VERY inopportune time – fortunately I have ninja-like skills and disaster was averted).  Being who he is (a perfectionist when it comes to his work), Brad did a lovely job.  The leash is supple yet strong, with a smaller handle than “normal” leashes to fit my smaller hands.  He special-ordered a locking clasp for me.  And the connector is small yet strong, basic yet very pretty.  He shaped the leather a bit to round the edges some so it had some style.  And of course it was all dyed to match Inara’s collar perfectly.  Here’s a pic of the leash and backup connector:

Lovely oxblood equipment!!!

Nice, right?  I can’t stress it enough – if you need/want strong yet stylish leather equipment for your dog, please consider ST Leathercraft.

Inara and I have started a new class.  It’s called “Relax Class” and it’s for dogs that have a tendency to over-react to other dogs, whether it’s aggression or hypermotivation to meet the other dog.  There are only 4 dogs permitted in the class, which is awesome.  Tomorrow will be our 3rd week and I’m pretty excited.  The first class was pretty rough, with Inara acting like a total ass with no manners whatsoever.  The second class she had vastly improved – still a little barking but much better able to focus on me.  We’re working a lot on getting Inara to stop being so hypervigilant, and she’s on a new supplement called l-theanine that is supposed to help her with that, along with the behavior mod.  She’s only been on it for a week though, and it takes 2-4 to kick in so no results yet!  We’re attending class at a local place called Fortunate Fido.  The instructor, Ginger, is phenomenal and I just wish I’d found her sooner.

I’ve begun volunteering at a local animal shelter.  I think it’s the only one in the county that actually adopts out pit bulls, so that’s why I chose it.  It’s small, but very clean and the animals are well-cared for.  All the volunteer staff I’ve met so far are fantastic.  I really like it there.  🙂

I think that’s about it.  Thanks for sticking around if you’ve been here before, and thanks for stopping by if this is your first visit!  And to end on a good note, Inara:

Ahhh, the rough life she leads!

Total Brag

Well, it only took 3 1/2 years, but we have done it – we took a 20 minute walk…wait for it….

ON ONLY INARA’S FLAT COLLAR!!! No training collar of any kind – just her flat collar! I only had to use the leash once to restrain her and that’s because a squirrel darted in front of us about 15′ away, and then dashed up a tree and sat on a low branch talking smack to Inara. She wanted that squirrel, but I convinced her to sit and look at me instead. 

We stayed in the comfort zone of our street, and all the dogs/kids/people that were out and about were a good distance away. But you know what? I don’t care! We took a walk with just a regular collar!  I am totally doing the happy dance right now!


Puppy Lip!
Puppy Lip!

The Well-Dressed Dog

Let me begin this by saying that I am not one to dress my dog for the sheer point of dressing my dog.  Inara wears a coat and possibly booties when the weather/ground conditions outside warrant it.  I do not subject her to t-shirts in the summer to be fashionable.  She doesn’t like it, I don’t want to torture her.  It kind of creeps me out when people spend more money on their dog’s wardrobe than their own.  Or when they have matching outfits with their dog.  Or if the dog can’t leave the house without a dress or something on.  Just not my style.  That being said, I wanted to take you through Inara’s winter wardrobe.  Red is my favorite color, and since Inara is white, red looks smashing against her coat.

So we have to begin this ensemble with the most critical part of her “going outside” attire – her collar with tags.  As Inara has the strength of a Mack truck, I get her collars custom-made from Collarmania.  Lisa caters to those of us with bully breeds or other ridiculously strong dogs that would snap a little 1/2″ collar with a plastic snap in about 2 milliseconds.  Her work is outstanding and if you can think of it, she can design it. Inara has 5 Collarmania collars, all 1 1/2″ thick: a no-buckle slide collar, 2 leather buckle collars, a martingale and a plain nylon buckle collar.  Excellent quality, highly recommend her work.

Next is the leash.  Again, this needs to be a well-made piece of equipment to keep Inara where she belongs.  I prefer a 6′ leather leash in black. Simple and classic, but most importantly, strong.  

Inara is currently being worked on a Halti while we work through her dog-reactivity issues.  Originally the only Halti I could find in stores was black, so I had to use that for a while.  Everybody always thought she was a boy though, and quite frankly, I wasn’t happy with black on her face.  So a fantastic person sent me a red Halti that she no longer used (thanks, Erin!!!).  Whew – I could finally relax as Inara could continue with her red theme.

Next up is the coat.  It gets a tit bit nipply *giggle* here in NE Ohio and Inara has no body fat and a short coat.  Another fantastic person (I know lots of them!) sent Inara a beautiful red quilted coat, lined with black fleece (thanks Diana!!!).  It looks fabulous on her and, well, it’s red!

Finally are the booties.  Mock me if you will, but the ice here seems to freeze not flat, but in sharp little ridges that quickly cause Inara to limp.  So I ordered her some fleece booties that keep her feet warm and dry even when playing in the snow.  These are actual sled dog booties so they even stay on in deeper snow.  And they were cheap, always a plus.

So there we have it – red collar, Halti, coat and booties with a black leash.  She does get compliments when we go out, but most importantly she can stay warm.


Please excuse the red leash - I was going for the true overkill affect with it!
Please excuse the red leash - I was going for the true overkill effect with it!