Training day

The dogs on Main Street howl, ’cause they understand, if I could take one moment into my hands…” Bruce Springsteen

In an earlier post I mentioned that we were hiring a dog trainer for our two year old shepherds. We have since had two, hour and a half sessions and a third booked for later this month. These sessions have already been truly life changing!

The trainer is absolutely wonderful. Her approach and direction with the puppies is exactly what we were hoping for. She encourages setting boundaries, in a calm and stimulating environment, maintaining a soft, yet firm tone. This is important as we are both fairly soft spoken; raising our voices to our puppies is not something we like to, or want to have to do.

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Our first session was immediately worth the investment. The changes we have witnessed in some cases have been instant and a little shocking! In SUCH a great way! The first meeting with the trainer did not involve the puppies at all, that makes this more profound for me.

She taught us a few simple changes, which included:

  • Absolutely not allowing them to be on the furniture. No couch. No bed. No exceptions.
  • Eliminating the use of the word “no”. All interactions must be positive.
  • Reiterating commands. When telling the puppies to “sit” for example. When they are successful follow up with “good, sit!”, “good boy/girl!”
  • To dress them up in our clothes. This helps with getting them accustomed to physical responses.
  • Being aware of body language. Not making eye contact when giving commands or if you do not want to engage with them. Holding your head high and back straight, placing yourself in a dominant stance.

 

We practiced these changes for a week. The furniture one was especially difficult for me. I really enjoy the morning snuggles with these guys; it took me some time to adjust. They seemed to adjust very well. Although, we still find them trying to sneak in a couch sit for a minute! Overall they are doing fantastic. Eliminating the use of the word “no” has been huge. They respond SO well to reiterating commands and seem to understand more of what’s happening and respond more calmly as well. Dressing them up was a blast! We had fun with it and they really seemed to enjoy those interactions and were a very good boy and girl. Finally, being aware of our body language and communicating to them that we are “the leaders of the pack” has also vastly changed the way they respond.

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Hearing the trainer speak of the history of dogs and how simply understanding their natural instincts can help to eliminate some frustration for them. Appreciating why the puppies are responding in a particular way is critical. Learning what their actual needs are and how to engage accordingly has been greatly beneficial.

If you are considering hiring a professional dog trainer, I encourage you to do a little research to find a trainer that suits your personality. Our trainer is a perfect fit for us, which  has made all the difference in the world. The past few weeks have been challenging, also very rewarding.  Set your hesitations aside, go ahead and take the plunge! You won’t regret it!

 

 

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Finding your passion

“Slip inside the eye of your mind,
don’t you know you might find,
a better place to play…” –  Oasis

I attended a blog conference last weekend that was being held in my town of Moncton, NB. The event was called BlogJam 2018. Admittedly, as a very new blogger, I was a little nervous about what to expect from the event. As my blog is in its’ infancy, would the information be useful to me?

My mother, an experienced blogger, encouraged me to attend. I’m so glad she did! We were able to have a fun girls weekend with a little wine, great food, lots of laughs and learning. It has been a long time since Mom and I have had a few days together, just the two of us. To share this weekend with her was special.

The conference was a truly rewarding experience with countless takeaways. Things like staying true to yourself and your audience, being authentic with what you want the blog to represent, testing the waters to ensure blogging works in your life and that it brings fulfillment. Hearing the speaker’s personal stories about starting from nothing and developing their blog, brand or company was inspiring and educational.

The other side of blogging is the technical side. Attending the technical seminars was noteworthy. There are many tools that can be used to aid in the success of a blog. Learning the “tip of the iceberg” of these tools was helpful. It can be somewhat overwhelming as someone who isn’t overly technically inclined. I have taken the technical side of the blog day by day and have learned so much along the way already!

Growing and learning from the blog is my overall goal. From day one, I have wanted this to be something for myself and hopefully others to enjoy. For me, blogging is an outlet. A way to express myself and slowly get back to something I used to love doing, writing. If sharing my stories is able to reach one person then I have succeeded. Stressing about posting or reaching a certain number of followers is not what this is about, for me. My goal is to write when inspired and stay true to myself. Maybe it will continue to grow. If not, that outcome is okay too.

It can be a scary thing to start something new and not know what the outcome will be. This applies in so many areas of our lives. From the big to the small. Every choice we make has different outcomes.  I have learned that taking risks is often the most rewarding part of life. Starting a blog, putting yourself out to the world, not knowing how you will be perceived or if anyone will read what you’re writing, is intimidating. It is also rewarding and fulfilling.

31239465_2027078750867708_4250344036747032343_nThe biggest takeaway, for me, from the conference is that finding your passion, following your passion and nurturing your passion will lead to your path. This is a simple message, yet one we need to be reminded of constantly. The concept is easily lost in the rush of daily life.

Attending BlogJam 2018 was a little daunting in the beginning, but so rewarding! The knowledge gained and personal connections made are inspirational. Meeting like-minded individuals, hearing their stories and even frustrations is irreplaceable. The community is supportive, creative, and inspires me to continue with my creative outlet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Coast

“Looking back, through the chapters of your life…” –  Matt Mays

I am proud to say that I am a Maritimer.  Born and raised on the East Coast of Canada in New Brunswick. The Maritimes consist of three provinces; New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. All three of these provinces are recognized around the world for their vast views and beautiful scenic environments.  As someone who has done a little traveling throughout the world, I have come to appreciate the breathtaking setting that I am lucky enough to call home.

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Maritimers are notorious for being very polite. To the point that we are too polite and it’s a bit of a joke to outsiders, as well as to us. We chuckle at the fact that we apologize to a stranger for almost bumping into them at the grocery store and in the next breath we say sorry for apologizing! It is indeed, comical. Canadians are generally regarded as being polite and having good manners and these traits are especially on display in the Maritime provinces.

When traveling to larger cities, I have found it shocking that people on the street do not acknowledge one another. Heads high or buried deep in their cell phones, there are rarely personal connections. These things could not be more different in the Maritimes. Hikers, bikers, walkers, runners – we all greet one another in passing and more than that, often stop to chat!

 

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As a music lover, I am also very proud of the musical talent that the Martime’s has produced. Many genres can be found here but many share a common sound. From Matt Mays, Joel Plaskett, Stompin Tom Connors, Stan Rogers, Rita Macneil, the list goes on.  The talent is great and the sound is unique.

We are known for “kitchen parties” and the music that is produced here at home can often be found filling our kitchens. Many times, these kitchen parties are a group of friends and/or family that sit around playing guitar, egg shakers, tambourines ( whatever we can find!) singing, laughing and dancing the night away.

As with any place, there are ways of life that are unique to the area.  I am proud to call this little slice of the world, the people that embody it, and the oddities we share, my home.

 

 

 

Piper & Ro

“Afraid of change, afraid of staying the same…” – Barenaked Ladies

In a previous post I mentioned that we were considering hiring a professional trainer to help us with training our two, two year old German Shepherd puppies. Today, we took the plunge and booked our sessions. They will start toward the end of this month!

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I am both excited and nervous about beginning training. After almost two years with these guys, we have become accustomed to our daily routine and change can be intimidating. Training comes with a lot of work, the outcome will hopefully be rewarding for both us and the puppies.  Admittedly, I treat Ro and Piper like babies in many ways. It makes me nervous that the trainer may not allow them up on the couch on occasion or snuggles in bed once in awhile. These adjustments would be hard for me to implement. It would break my heart to not allow them these moments. But, as their Mom it is my responsibility to look out for their overall well being. If that is what needs to be done then I will be on board wholeheartedly.

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 I am excited about reaching our end goals and we are eager to learn tools to put into daily use. The prospect of being able to walk them together, bring them to social events and all of those small things would seem life changing.

The problem areas we would like to address are: jumping, barking, dealing with two dogs, and socialization with strangers/ other dogs. We are very lucky in many ways with Ro and Piper. They are gentle, loving, don’t chew our personal items and are protective of their Mom and Dad. Like any animal (or human), they have “good” days and “bad” days. The “bad” days can be slightly overwhelming and a bit chaotic, which is where the training is going to come into play.

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We have tried many different forms of training at home, some have worked and some have not. I find with two, training is challenging to not allow them to feed off of one another and lose focus.  They love being together so separating them to train is also difficult.

It will be interesting for us to see the progression of their responses to outside influences. I am looking forward to three months from now when we will hopefully be seeing our hard work paying off!

Would love to hear your puppy training stories and any tips or advice you may have to offer!

Simply delicious

“Maybe we could sleep in, make you banana pancakes, pretend like it’s the weekend now…” – Jack Johnson

In the evenings, we often prepare dinner together while we discuss our days and share a few laughs. It is a relaxing time; we sit at the kitchen table chattering while the food sizzles away! Whether it’s chicken burgers with lettuce, tomato, bacon, mayo and a side of fries or a big Sunday dinner with all the fixings, the time spent together remains the same.

My boyfriend is an excellent cook. He cooked for many years at a restaurant and is certainly no stranger to the kitchen. It can be an interesting combination to have us both preparing a meal together. My love for cooking has me saying “I’ve got this, go have a seat!” It took him a bit of time to accept that this is something I enjoy doing. Reciprocally, I had to learn to step back and allow him to cook for me now and then! We have complimentary skills and have been able to learn from one another and embrace the experiences of creating meals together, as well as separately for one another.

This past Saturday we decided to have nachos. Easy enough! Nachos are not something we have very often, so it was going to be a treat.  The list was made and I headed out to the store while he stayed home with the puppies and enjoyed some down time.

I stuck to my list (this in itself is a true feat) and was home in no time, so we could ease our rumbling tummies. We had decided on chicken nachos (chicken happened to be on sale at our local supermarket – SCORE!) we preheated the oven and got the chicken breasts started right away.  We all know how good bacon and chicken are – the bacon was fried and set aside for later. Next, we chopped a few green onions, opened a can of corn and black beans (which were rinsed) and placed into a container. The cheese was purchased pre grated (which I don’t often do but it was on sale and is SO convenient!). With the cheese ready to go we simply removed the lids from the sour cream and guacamole and placed them in separate containers as well. This was all thrown into the refrigerator while the chicken continued to cook.

I truly believe that meal preparation and orderliness is more than half the battle when it comes to cooking. These things did not take a lot of time to prepare and place in containers but will save time and stress when it comes to putting the meal together. The chicken still has 30 – 40 mins on the timer and this time can be used to enjoy a glass of wine and throw everything together at the very end with ease!

When the chicken was done (we use a meat thermometer to verify), we pulled it apart with a fork and assembled the nachos. Fully loaded we popped the nachos into the oven to warm and melt the cheese. When finished we drizzled (using baggies with a tiny hole cut in the end for each) the sour cream and guacamole on top. This is a perfect meal for families because everyone can create exactly what they want!

Meals can be simple and delicious without being a ton of work. We don’t always have hours to spend preparing. So simply enjoying the time spent as a family, rather than dreading the task, can be life changing. Turn on your favourite music and appreciate the moments!

Dancing in the kitchen

“And you can tell everybody this is your song…” – Elton John

Music has been an inspiration in my life since a very young age. My father is a beautiful guitar player and songwriter, our home was always filled with his guitar and soft voice. As a very young child, I would lie awake listening to the sound of his voice carrying through our home until drifting off to sleep.

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When I was twelve or thirteen I picked up the guitar, with my Dad, for the first time. Immediately, I was hooked. The first song he ever taught me was Knocking on Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan. Slowly, other songs developed into my repertoire and playing together became cherished moments between Dad and me. When I visit them now (they live about an hour away) the guitar is always thrown in our trunk! Twenty plus years later, we continue to play any chance we have.

My brother, who lives in Ontario, also plays guitar. It’s very special when he is home on vacation and the three of us are able to play together. These moments are what define life and what truly make it special. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned to take a moment during these special times to truly appreciate the love and family that surrounds us and how genuinely lucky the four of us are to have the bond we share – not every family is so fortunate.

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Many genres of music can be heard in our home. My boyfriend and I are lucky in that we appreciate the same general taste in music. We continuously expose one another to new artists and/or songs. We can often be found dancing together in our kitchen, late in the evening, singing along to some of our favorites. These are some of my most cherished times with him. I grew up dancing in the kitchen with my Mom and it brings me “home”.

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Whether I’m cleaning the house, driving to the store or enjoying time with my boyfriend or family, music is a constant presence. It can be uplifting on a day that you may need a little boost, comforting in times of need or pain and a constant through daily life providing security and inspiration.

What are your favorite songs, artists or moments with music? How does it inspire you?

 

Calling wine lovers

” I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling ’bout half past dead…” – The Band

Calling wine lovers! Wine is refreshing, crisp and such a delightful treat after a long and busy day.  I do appreciate the fact that wine is an acquired taste. Meaning it is not a beverage that everyone enjoys – including my boyfriend. But, that’s perfectly fine, more wine for me!

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For me, becoming a wine lover developed over a long period of time. I first experienced wine, like many, with the odd taste at Christmas dinner. My parents didn’t often have alcohol in the house when my brother and I were growing up, so my exposure to it was minimal.  I had to acquire a taste for it. By my mid twenties it had quickly become my first choice for an evening out or a cozy night at home. Please do not misunderstand me, in no way am I a wine connoisseur, simply a woman who enjoys wines complexities and tastes. Through the years I have developed my palate and discovered personal preferences but, there are just SO many to try!

The “go to-s” for me are typically white wines – Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. I find these whites do not have the bite that say a Chardonnay possesses. Red wine is also yummy and I do indulge in a glass on occasion. My red preferences would be Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot may be added to that list as well!

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There are many varieties of wine, for someone who doesn’t typically choose wine; it can be an overwhelming process. The bottles I purchase are not expensive, generally ranging around $15.00 (CDN).  My experience has been that because a bottle of wine is priced higher does not necessarily mean it will appeal to your taste buds on a higher level.  Try a few types at this price range and see what appeals to you!

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Whether it’s enjoying a glass of wine with family, playing guitar, reading a book, chatting with my boyfriend in the kitchen or cuddling up to watch a movie – I’m a believer that a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away!

 

What are some of your favourite wines? Does anyone make their own?

 

 

Puppy Love

” … ’bout old dogs and children and watermelon wine…” Tom T. Hall

There are two babies in my life – our two, two year old, German Shepherd puppies.  As any dog owner is aware, they are a lot of work but quickly become members of the family! 

While I was living in the Northwest Territories, my partner at the time and I decided to bring these two into our home. He left the Territories a few months later and we parted ways.  I kept the puppies with me as I had fallen in love.

For the next year, Piper (a girl) and Rogue (a boy), were my constant companions and I honestly don’t think I would have been able to stay as long as I did without them by my side.  Coming home after a long day of working to their love was motivating and kept my heart full.

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After a year my now boyfriend drove across the country to pick the three of us up. We drove home from where I was living which is an hour north of Yellowknife to our home in New Brunswick.

The bond they share is touching and we receive double the love! They are constantly cuddling, playing together or grooming each other affectionately. Training has been challenging with two puppies. We are considering hiring a professional for assistance with training.

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My parents, brother and I are all huge animal lovers but through the years it has always been cats that have come into our lives. Needless to say this has been a big adjustment in my life! Having a dog is an entirely different experience, both are wonderful in their own right, but seeing the puppies expressions, moods, thought processes and constant need for love and affection is quite an amazing experience. Cats too share these traits but they are far more independent and look for affection at a reduced frequency.

 

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It’s true that a dog owner’s house will never be clean again and there is never a dull day since Piper and Ro entered my life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I would love to hear your puppy stories and from anyone that has advice on training two in the home at once!