Friday, May 31, 2013

PEDs: Keeping the Same Location

Since our first PEDs walk, we've kept the same location.

We loved how easy it was to get to for everyone.  There was plenty of parking and space for us to meet and group up to go.

Not only that, but it was so easy to tell new members or interested parties where to go!

The main reason we kept the same location was to allow our members (human and canine!) to get used to the idea of our pack walks.

We figured while the pooches got used to each other and the idea of not greeting, it would be easier to keep the environment the same.

After a month of walking the same route, we're ready to mix it up a bit.  We are working on some new routes and will post on our Facebook page with the new meeting place!

Erie folks, do you have any suggestions for new routes that are lower traffic with wider paths?

In case you missed it: why we love our reactive dogs, why we need to learn to relax, and our first encounter with off-leash dogs.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Honoring Our Veterans

Monday, in honor of Veteran's Day, Tesla and Edison visited the city's War Memorials.

We had never been to the new memorials, so it was nice to visit and see.

The monuments were gorgeous - a wonderful tribute to our veterans.

Not only did we remember the men and women who gave their lives in order to keep our freedoms...

...we had a chance to be tourists in our own city.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Perry 200 Celebration Parade

Thank you to all our veterans, past and present, for all you have done and sacrificed for our freedoms!

Saturday was the big Perry 200 parade in Erie.  It is estimated that 145,000 spectators came out to enjoy the beautiful day along with the 10,000 parade participants!

 It was a huge event!  It seemed everyone in Erie came out to see!

 The Therapy Dogs United float The Scally Wag: "Don't Give Up the Yip!" turned out great - we won Best Float!

All of the other therapy dogs did awesome!  The little frenchie in the top-left is Tess's friend Hannah - isn't she a doll!

Tess was a big hit in her festive tutu - everyone loved her!  Thanks to our Facebook friends that came to say hi to us!!

What did you do over your weekend?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Perry 200 Parade - This Saturday!

The past year has been a big year in Erie - it is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.  The Perry Commemoration "recognizes...Oliver Hazard Perry's naval victory..." in this battle.


This Saturday at 1pm is the Grand Patriotic Parade!  Therapy Dogs United has a float in the parade...which from what I hear is going to be pretty fantastic!!

There are going to be over 200 units: 20 bands, 50 floats, and even giant helium-filled balloons!  The parade it 1.8 miles running from 12th & Cherry to 3rd & State through downtown Erie

So if you're in the Erie area, make it a point to come celebrate with us and the anticipated crowd of nearly 100,000!  Look for us...we'll give you a clue.  If not, tune in Monday for details!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PEDs Walk: Relaxed, but Vigilant

We are so excited that we've had a few "dogs in progress" join us for our walks this past month.

We of all people know what it's like to have a reactive dog - how hard it is to take him in public, the focus it takes to ensure he is within his limits, and the embarassment we feel when he has a meltdown. We are so glad we could facilitate an environment where these dogs and owners can come and feel comfortable working on their issues.

Last week, Wynston's owner was marveling at how well he has done on the past two walks. She said that he is never as calm on the walks around their neighborhood, and gets growly when he sees another dog, even across the street!

During our PEDs walks, he is one cool customer - ingoring or showing only mild interest in the other dogs around him, checking in with his owner frequently, and even walking smack dab in the middle of the pack! - due to the fact that his handler is relaxed!

Being able to balance calmness and vigilance is a tricky, yet vital task in walking a reactive dog. As we get nervous, our pooches feel that they, too, need to be nervous, causing some dogs to turn that into reactivity. Wynston's person has been able to tone down that nervousness, helping Wynston to calm down as well. The important step is that she still remains vigilant - knowing where the surrounding dogs are, knowing Wynston's comfort zone radius, and making sure he checks in regularly.

We're still working on finding the perfect balance with Edison.  With time, patience, and practice, we'll get there!

Do you have any tips for keeping the balance between calmness and vigilance?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Not There Yet, but Learning

We had an incident this weekend.  Luckily, everyone is relatively okay.

As we wrote about earlier, we are getting back to work - attending training classes, going on daily walks, and socializing more.  We finally had a chance to go to social hour on Saturday.  Tess was in the rink while Ed was outside, on-lead.

Ed was doing great -- he stayed focus when a small-fluffy came through on his way to a groom and when an amped boxer made her way to join social.

Halfway through, a super friendly black lab came in with his owner.  As Sam was trying to keep Ed's attention, the lab came running up on Ed and a small scuffle ensued.  No one was hurt, but it made us assess the situation and see several missteps by all parties:

  • I had been giving Sam a head's up when I saw a dog coming to the door.  I was checking my phone for the time, and missed this one coming in.  By the time I noticed, Sam had already seen them.
  • Sam was trying to keep Ed's attention with a treat, but this meant he didn't have a firm grip on his leash (as you may already know, Sam only has one hand; this makes it difficult to treat and restrain simultaneously).
  • The lab's owner, knowing her dog was friendly, allowed Grace her full leash length to run up on Ed.
  • With a loose-leash himself, Ed got close to the dog, but didn't go into gremlin-mode until Sam grabbed him to pull him back -- Sam accidentally got scruff when grabbing for his collar, which we think might have scared Ed, making him react to the lab.

While Edison did have a hold of Grace, luckily he didn't injure her at all.  Unfortunately, because Ed was so buckled down, Sam had to grab hold tight on his leash, which pulled all the skin off his middle finger.  Yuck.

This incident cannot be attributed to one action or inaction, but instead to the culmination of the factors above.  So we've learned a few lessons and are going to be sure to do things differently to avoid this situation or possibly worse in the future:

  • We're going to get Edison a vest saying something along the lines of "Please, give me space."  When Tess is wearing her therapy dog vest, people always think twice and make sure she's okay to pet (and not a service dog).
  • We're going to have a hands-free leash holder made for Sam's wrist.  It's hard to explain, but basically it will allow Sam to "keep hold" of Ed's leash when he can't actually hold it.
  • We're going to be more assertive when people approach us, even at a distance; we've noticed that we've been compensating for others' mismanagement.  Jessica from Notes from a Dog Walker wrote a great post about this here.

And keeping with our lists, there are a few things we are extremely grateful for:
  • That we have an environment such as Mud Puppies that allows us to socialize Ed, knowing that he has issues and for all the help the owner, Kim, has been in getting Ed to where he is.
  • That we're a part of a great dog community, in Erie and online,  that not only understands our difficulties but also provides us with unique insights.
  • That the owner of the lab was super gracious about the incident and recognized that these things can happen and it's everyone's responsibility to try to mitigate these risks.

We've learned that it all comes down to management and knowing our dogs' limitations.  Although, we were discouraged, we're going to double our efforts with Edison to make him a more social pooch.

How to do manage your dog's limitations?

Friday, May 17, 2013

60 Day Walking Challenge - Halfway!

Last month, we realized that we had been seriously slacking on our structured walks.

So we began a 60 day walking challenge to get us back on track.  Each morning (sometimes late morning on weekends), we leash up the pooches and take them for a walk.

Unfortuntely, we don't have time to go too far.  However, our 20 minute walks have not only provided structure and routine to the dogs, but to the humans, too.

In the past 30 days (well, technically 29), we have only missed 2 times (and twice just walked with Tess).

We've definitely seen an improvement in Tesla's walking and our walks have uncovered some new issues with Ed that we now know we need to work on.  So if you see a crazy lady riding a bicycle up and down the same block, you'll know why.

Have you gotten back into a routine now that the weather is turning?  Have you noticed any changes in your pooches?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Prepping for Summer Road Trippin'

With summer fast approaching, we'll be doing more traveling and so will our pooches.

This past weekend, we took a short overnight road trip which allowed us to take a look at our canine travel gear.


We keep our travel bag partially packed with a few essentials.  Adding a few things, we're ready to go!

-- a folder with the pooches rabies certificates, vaccination records, and microchip information
-- enough kibble for a few extra days
-- KONGS, which can be easily stuffed with whatever is around
-- travel dishes
-- can of treats
-- chew toys
-- Wet Ones
-- diapers (just in case)
-- poop bags
-- sunscreen wipes (not pictured)
--Tesla's medication (not pictured)


We have three crates in the house.  We take the smaller two with us.  And while they are an absolute necessity, they are quite burdensome to lug around.  However, with a Subaru Forester, the two crates easily lie in the back.


Of course, for any car ride, the pooches wear their seatbelts.  Last summer, we were in a minor accident and were so glad the pooches had their belts on - not only did it keep them from flying forward during impact, it kept them in place during the hoopla afterwards.

There are a few things missing from our kit: first aid kit (one in our travel kit and one in the car) and doggles (for trips to the beach, sticking their heads out the window).  We also need a better way to haul the kibble.

What do you have in your travel kit?  Is there anything we are missing?  How do you haul your kibble?

Monday, May 13, 2013

PEDs Walk: Off-Leash Dogs

Yesterday was out second walk for Pack of Erie Dogs.  Although it was chilly and blustery, we still had a great turn out!

Another dog-in-progress joined us, Wynston!  And he did awesome.  I am so happy he and his owner came out with us yesterday!

Last week, we passed a yard with a loose dog and his owners.  I approached them and let them know that several dogs would be passing and asked if they could secure their dogs.  I then went to walk by our reactive dogs to intercept if needed.  When we passed, they had not secured their dog in any way.  Luckily, our dog owners are awesome and made sure to keep their dogs' attention.

This week, we came across a few other off-leash dogs while we were taking our water break.  Needless to say, we cut it short and got back on the road.

We're so glad our new folks joined us yesterday and are looking forward to next week!

Do you have any tips for dealing with off-leash dogs and their owners?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice?

The awesome Morgan of Temporary Home, Permanent Love wrote this post on what her pooches are made of...and we're not talkin' DNA.

This got me to thinking...what are my dogs made of?

Tesla: 50% anxious, 25% loyal, 15% cuddly, 10% badass -- 100% the reason I love pitbulls.

Edison: 40% protective, 30% stubborn, 20% goofball, 10% frustrating -- 100% the reason I started this blog.

How would you describe your best friend?