Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Training Tuesday: Speaking up

Training is a very important part of a relationship with a dog, especially one who is an adept food thief and an expert at ignoring owners when he feels like it. Training Tuesday is my weekly installment in my adventures with getting a Basenji, a notorious breed for not wanting to listen, to listen to me.  I use positive reinforcement and copious amounts of treats to bribe train Indiana so we can have a healthy relationship and my leftovers will stay on the table.  Advice and commiseration are always welcome because I am no expert.

When I tell people I have a Basenji, their first reaction is either "A what?" or "Those are the dogs that don't bark right?"  As for the second question, the answer is a little more complicated than a lot of people think.  Sometimes, it is assumed that since Basenjis don't "bark" they don't make any noise at all.  This is definitely not the truth.  Basenjis are known for a trademark "yodel" or "singing" because their vocal cords have a slightly different formation than most dogs.  So, they still make noise just not the normal kind, and luckily with Indiana and our apartment situation, not too frequently either.

(This video sums it up pretty well. Skip to :28 for some real rooster Basenji crowing.) 

Indiana's name at the Colorado Basenji Rescue was originally Yodel with the tagline "his foster parents have never heard him bark, just happy yodels."  (We considered changing his name to Yoda, but decided we just had to name the dog Indiana.)

We later learned that Indiana's description wasn't quite right, because he does have a bit of a bark. It could be because of the Rat Terrier in him, but he likes short barks for most things and really only sings (or shrieks) when the Husband comes home from work. 

Now, we've been training him to do tricks since we got him and he is smart as a whip when food is involved.  With our trainer recommended "puppy crack," Indiana will try to figure out anything to get a bit.  Teaching him to speak has been my newest goal, after he fairly mastered "shake" and "spin."  This has been a bit of a pickle because of his fondness for silence and his desire to try every trick in the book when he isn't sure of what to do to get food in his mouth.

 So far, I've been able to work with his excitement for treats to get him initially speaking.  Then, I quickly say "Good" and give him a treat.  I've moved onto using a clicker because sometimes I'm too mentally slow to follow up quickly enough with a verbal gratification before his treat.  Indiana will play this game for about ten barks, with plenty of spinning, and then give up.  I'm hoping to have him know a hand signal in a couple of weeks and eventually the verbal command.  I just hope it doesn't backfire and he speaks for everything!

Indiana usually tries to "Spin" or find something to "Touch" to get a treat.

Today in Indiana Misbehaves - This morning, after I cleaned up Indiana's "business" on his walk, I turned around to find Indiana had something in his mouth.  Thinking it a chicken bone, which are constantly littered on the street in my area, I reached into his mouth to take it out.  The offending street munchie was one whole pigeon leg.  The rest of the pigeon was no where in site.

Is that grosser than anything your dog has eaten?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Apparently Kreatively Blogging

It was a great surprise to receive the Kreativ Blogger award from Pup Fan earlier this week (even though the first thing I thought of was the Krusty Krab.)  Make sure to check out the other recipients over at I Still Want More Puppies.  They are worth wasting a little time over!

I put off writing this post because it required me to think of interesting things about myself, which always reminds me of college essays, or worse, online dating profiles.  Which leads me to my first factoid-

1.  My husband was my first date through Match.com.  Yes, when I lived in New York City for graduate school, I decided to give online dating a chance and meet some people in the Big Apple.  Turned out I really only met one, and he was a keeper.

2.  The name Onyx, my black cat, is also the name of a Pokemon, which made and still makes me giggle.

3.   I don't like cheese.  I used to pick it off of pizza, although after living in Italy for a semester, I have been able to get over that.  I never eat it on sandwiches and I eat my mac plain. (The Husband gets the cheese packet to himself.)

4.  I used to own a hedgehog, which is my family designated spirit animal because of the letter "H".  Her name was Briar Rose and she was blind in one eye, so not very friendly.  I wore leather gloves to pick her up, which she hated.  She loved snuffling around the backyard under supervision.

5.  My biggest childhood crush was Batman (from the animated series in the early nineties).  My biggest current crush is Batman.  The Husband is fully aware of this.

6.   I've never been to a band's concert.  (I've been to many orchestral concerts.)  I'm working on getting the Husband to take me to a Coldplay concert.

7.  I wrote my Master's Thesis on the movies of Japanese animated movie director Hayao Miyazaki in case you haven't figured out how much a nerd I am.  (My Master's Degree is also pretty much useless to anyone wondering.)

8.  I keep getting the "Back" and the "Del" button mixed up on my new pc.  (As a previous Mac person)

Now to pass it along to some blogs that deserve it!

Bunny's Blog - She writes great updates about animal activism, in particular related to rescue and shelter animals. 
Chronicles of Cardigan - Corgies just happen to be one of my favorite dog breeds.  (Hopefully getting one next!!)  I can't get enough pictures of  Dewi and Jon  Farleigh in my life.
Dip-Dip and The Bridge - Chihuahuas in adorable sweaters.  Need I say more?
Max the Quilt Cat - Because cat's deserve a shout out on this blog.  And I'm still not sure what a quilt cat is.
My Dog's Love Me - love the url and loves the posts. 
Yes Biscuit - frequent posts about how to better our animal shelter system. So informative and maddening at the same time!
A List of Surprises - Not a pet blog?? Yup.  This girl writes some fascinating historical factoids.  Thoroughly researched and thoroughly interesting.

Recipients!  To claim your prize, post the picture on your blog, write 7-9 facts about yourself (however many suits your fancy!) and pick some more blogs to share the love with! 

I started painting butterflies!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Might my Dog have Mites?

Today was a very gloomy, overcast day for Denver, the city known for having 300 days of sun.  It has been a very poetic mirror image of my mood.

I finally got around to taking Indiana to the vet today, after a balding spot on his elbow started turning red and inflamed.  I'd had a case of the "Oh I'll wait a week and see if it gets better."  That was about two weeks ago.

A snowy ride to the vet and some nervous throw up from Indiana later, I now know he has localized Demodectic MangeGross

The cuplrit

These mites usually live happily in the microscopic ecosystem of a dog's fur and skin.  However, a shift in immune system can lead it to actually harm a dog, making him lose hair in spots and get an inflamed rash.  Usually, it just happens to puppies that have inherited the condition from their parents.  Indiana just happend to hit the Immune System Jackpot, once again.   Luckly, Indiana doesn't have the generalized version all over, where all of his fur would fall out.  I don't think he'd survive being furless in January.  We'd have to get him full body pajamas.

The doctor assured me this diagnosis was actually a good option compared to a bacterial or fungal infection or an unkown allergy condition, which could come up again and again.  Plus, he can't give it to other dogs (or me, the Husband, Onyx or the furniture and carpets much to my relief).  After a hefty bill, I got lots of bad tasting medicine to force feed with peanut butter give Indiana over the next three weeks, till he goes back to the vet to be checked for any straggler mites.  Hopefully that will be the end of it and Indiana will be healthy for a while.  This has been my third vet visit in about five months.  His previous conditions included tapeworms (which manifested in a day of bloody diarrhea and me freaking out) and kennel cough, even though he's been vaccinated against it.  I think he just likes the cookies at the vet's office, even if he does throw them up almost into the vet's lap...

Still recovering from a vet visit.

I've refrained from posting unsettling pictures of dogs with full demodectic mange.  I'm sure you've seen poor dogs with Sarcoptic Mange (the nasty spreadable variety on some shelter dogs.)  The symptoms are very similar.  More information here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Mischief - Eating Breakfast

A few days ago, I posted about how I keep my fussy Basenji entertained and happy throughout the day.  I mentioned his treat ball, and this morning I decided to take a short clip of how Indiana eats his breakfast.

It's best when he get's the ball stuck somewhere; I can practically hear the cogs turning in his head as he figures out how to get more treats out.  I can also rely on him to research everywhere the ball has been and eat any missed bits of kibble.  Although, there still might be crumbs in my shoes after this morning.

My Brown Newfies 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Painting in Miniature, the Fun Part!

I wanted to thank everyone for their nice comments from yesterday!  As promised, I've completed some pendants from the paintings in my last post.  I cut out the tiny paintings to fit into pendant trays and then glued and sealed them with a glass cabochon (which is a pretty awesome word.)  I plan on making necklaces with print outs of my work, but really liked the idea of painting for the shape itself.  Unfortunately, some pendants did not survive the process and were deemed unsalvageable.  They are not pictured, but will be remembered.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. - Albert Einstein

This is the painting I competed yesterday.
I finished some more today.

I really wanted some leopard print.
And that lead to tiger stripes.

I haven't ordered the necklaces cords yet, but will soon so that I can start selling them as finished pieces in my Etsy shop.  (Still haven't decided to do black leather cords or ribbon necklaces!)  I'll also have to wait for some better lighting to take pictures because I'm not totally happy with these. Reflective things are hard to photograph!

And here is a black cat in a little box to end this post.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Painting in Miniature

Today, I've officially started my miniature paintings to put into necklace pendants.  I began by experimenting with watercolors and a picture of Onyx that I've worked on from before.  I wasn't too thrilled with painting in watercolors because they are so darn hard to correct!  I do like painting really really small (even smaller than my ornaments.)  I've always had a fascination with things in miniature, like tiny (overpriced) cans of soda and, of course, itty bitty animals.

Here is a quarter for reference.  
Next, after some prompting from the Husband, I tried acrylics (after a bit of a disaster trying to glue this watercolor into my pendant.)

I promise this isn't photoshopped, except to correct colors and such.
Pictures of necklaces to follow tomorrow.  I have to wait for things to dry.  Patience. I have it....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Liebster Award!

I'm delighted to receive my first award from the canine blogger,  Tootsie over at Bicontinental Dachshund.  She is a delightful dachshund who takes global adventures you are sure to be jealous of.  I'm honored to have her admire my art!

This is a "pay it forward" kind of reward, so I am choosing some blogs with less than 200 followers.  I have to say that a lot of the blogs I am following are quite popular already and this was tough for me to do as a new pet blogger!  These people and pets are some of the first people to welcome me into the community.  Make sure to check out Tootsie's post and her choices for blogs as well!

Check out these blogs!

Luna, A Dog's Life
Adorable beagles (and frogs!)  I love the pictures from this blog down under.

BZ Training
As an artist, I love finding pictures (and being jealous of the ability of the photographers!)  Check out the daily challenges that capture these lovable Golden Retrievers.

Yorkie Tails
Need some cute injected into your life?  Follow Scrappy's blog for an overload of adorable (a theme I love in any blog.)  I'm pretty sure she bestowed a Liebster to Tootsie above, so what goes around comes around!

Morian Art
Morian Art was kind enough to comment on my blog so I went over to hers.  She is also a pet portrait artist and her work is gorgeous.  Take a look!

Dear Winners, please read THE AWARD DIRECTIONS:

Liebster means "dearest" and "favorite" in German. The Liebster Award highlights up-and-coming blogs to help spread the word about their furgoodness. An award brings ceremony, too, and in order to accept the Liebster, you must do the following:

1.) Copy and paste the award on your blog.
Wag! See the award above!

2.) Link back to the blogger who gave you the award.
Wag! See my little note above!

3.) Pick your five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they received the award.
Wag! See the links to the winners above! And remember, always keep on wagging while you keep on reading!

Friday, January 13, 2012

An Ode to my Black Cat on Friday the 13th

This Friday the 13th morning, Indiana and Onyx successfully napped on the bed together, and it warmed my heart them getting along, even if the dog was under the blanket and probably unaware of his proximity to the cat.  After adopting Indiana, things got a bit more exciting forOnyx and he didn't appreciate it for quite a while.  Now, I think that Onyx is finally getting used to his new dog sibling and he is finally going back to his old routines of snuggling the Husband and me in the morning and sitting in my lap.

I tend to look evil in pictures, but I promise I'm a sweetheart.

Unfortunately, not all black cats get such a cushy life.  Black cats get a bad rap.  They are seen as "unlucky" and "evil."  All of this is totally false, of course but they still have a hard time getting adopted from shelters according to the ASPCA.  This is terribly sad, and something I did not know when I went looking to adopt my cat, who turned out to by the aptly named, Onyx.  In fact, when the Husband saw Onyx in the cat enclosure when we visited Manhattan's ASPCA shelter, I thought I'd have to jump through more hoops to adopt a black cat, thinking shelters saw too many prospective adopters looking for back cats for nefarious purposes.  Turns out I was not wrong about black cats and some bad adoptions.

My Chat Noir

Now, my regal Onyx is one of my muses and just a great cat. My Black Cat crosses my path everyday and never causes any bad luck.

Some Positive Cat Myths

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to Keep a Dog Happily Tired and Not Eating Cardboard Boxes

Normally, Indiana likes spending a majority of the day buried under blankets, snoozing in a cocoon.  

Unfortunately, not all days are like this.  As a stay at home pet parent, it is my duty to entertain the animals when they get bored.  The consequences can be dire, but mostly annoying.  Chewed up cardboard.  Dog chasing cat.  Cat chasing dog.  Dog finding a cat toy and eating it.  Mostly dog finding something and attempting to eat it; a tactic Indiana knows is sure to get me out of my seat and giving him attention.

The Everlasting Fun Ball (for Breakfast Fun)
But, I have a few tricks of my own to keep Indiana calm and serene until Daddy comes home (which is when he lets out all of his reserved energy).  The best way to tire Indiana out is to never let him sleep in, which he loves to do.  If he had his way, he would stay wrapped up in blankets inside of his crate til ten, then waltz out seeking attention and harassing the cat all day.  So, I gently nudge him awake, until he stretches and huffs a little and is ready to go outside for a bit.

After his morning walk, I give him his breakfast in an Everlasting Fun Ball.  This is a great product to keep your dog entertained for a bit.  You pour kibbles in, put it on the ground and watch your dog push it around with his nose and eat kibbles that fall out.  However, it has some serious drawbacks, mostly getting the kibbles into the darn thing and how easily the kibbles fall out!  I've come up with a paper funnel that I carefully pour the kibbles into, after taping the bottom hole.  Then, I put some tape over the top hole so that only a few kibbles fall out as Indiana rolls it.  Otherwise, the holes allow way too much food to fall out with minimal effort from him, which doesn't mentally tucker him out at all.  I have to be careful about him not eating the tape though! It is a supervised activity, listening for crinkeling instead of crunching.  Also, it helps that Indiana is a Hoover Dog and will go over the whole apartment sniffing for missed crumbs.

This is usually enough to keep him napping til his lunch time walk.  But, on the days that he has some extra energy, I whip out the cat toy.  Yes, I've found that Indiana loves the feathers attached to a string that used to be reserved for the cat.   Of course the cat gets in too, and Indiana waits patiently for his turn to play.

You can hear his teeth click as he tries to catch it.  He's not as fast as the cat but jumps much higher.

Thankfully there is also a dog park a couple blocks from my apartment to make up for my lack of backyard.  However, with all the snow and lukewarm days, it has been a muddy mess recently and we are all suffering from cabin fever a bit.  That or muddy paws.  I'm not sure which is worse.

Are your dogs rambunctious during the day?  How do you keep them entertained?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

The Pet Blogger Challenge 2012

Pet Blogger Challenge

After finding this information on some other blogs, I decided to participate for the first time. Thanks to Will My Dog Hate Me and Go Pet Friendly.

Challenge Questions #1: For bloggers who haven’t participated before

1. When did you begin your blog?

This blog has seen many incarnations and deleted posts since around 2006. When I decided to do pet portraits instead of illustration in November 2011, I overhauled the whole thing. I kept one post from 2010 that I really liked, but that doesn't really count for this current blog's existence.

2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?

My original purpose for starting a blog was to write and display my illustration work. I was in college and creating work all the time. Everyone started a blog to promote their art.

3. Is your current purpose the same?

Nope. I never really kept up with my blog when it was illustration related, even when I was working on a lot of pieces. I wasn't ever motivated to get out there and really market for more jobs. The stress of being a freelance artist got to me, especially in the big city of NYC.

If not, what’s different?

Now, I live in Denver am attempting to create a career painting pet portraits. I've really seen blogging as a tool to market my art to an audience that is interested in the same things I am. On top of my Etsy shop, I am putting up pictures all the time to try and get myself out there. Even when it gets crazy trying to sell my art, keeping a journal can be very cathartic. Also, I have my furry babies, Indiana and Onyx. They are just so cute and need to have their pictures put up on the internet for everyone to see.

If so, how do you feel you’ve met your goals?

Now, I'm updating regularly and that is what I was always trying to get myself to do!

4. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you?

I definitely blog whenever I feel like it. I try to put up new art that I make it, but sometimes I prefer to wait until I stumble across an interesting article that I need to write about or my animals do something that is just too cute (and I have a camera around.)

If the former, how often — and what techniques do you use to stick to it?

I try to blog at least once a week. By then, guilt usually sets in.

If the latter, do you worry about… well, whatever you might worry about (e.g. losing traffic, losing momentum)?

Oh man, more things to worry about.

5. Are you generating income from your blog?

Not yet, but I'm not really looking to generate income from just the blog. I'm hoping it will generate interest in my portraits and paintings so that I can broaden my client base.

If so, how (e.g. sponsor ads, affiliate relationships, spokesperson opportunities)?

If not currently, do you hope to in the future — and how?

I'm looking to connect more with other pet bloggers and this is how I'm starting! I don't really want to advertise my blog, so much as my company and my services. So, I just need to participate more in the community. Step one, accomplished by submitting this for the challenge!

6. What do you like most about blogging in general and your blog in particular (bragging is good!)?

I love putting my pictures up and looking at them lovingly. Hopefully others will too!

7. What do you like least?

I'm not too fond of being tethered to blogger. I'd like to figure out wordpress (or whatever the proper program is) to bring my blog to my site and thus generate more traffic for my own url.

8. How do you see your blog changing/growing in 2012?

I'm going to meet more people through blogs and participate so that I'm using my blog to its full potential!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Long Day from Home

I came home from a day of driving around to vet offices and dropping off cards to greet a sleepy Indiana. He crawled into my lap and snoozed for a bit after the cat was getting too much attention by sitting on my keyboard.

Learning to Get Along

Indiana and Onyx managed to share the prime blanket space on top of the couch for a few minutes. Although this could be seen more as invading personal boundaries, by the look on Onyx's face.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Pet Portrait Ornament

Got this request to be finished after Christmas. Happy New Year!

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