Monday, February 27, 2012

More Dog Silhouettes

I haven't gotten a chance to make a Scottish Terrier yet, but will next!  (Also I won't forget a Schnauzer and a Maltese.)  Any other breed requests?

Great Dane

Shiba Inu

Shih Tzu

More available at my shop!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sibling Rivalry

Today Indiana and Onyx tried to share a sun spot on the floor.  Onyx was not happy about it.

Indiana won.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dog Breed Silhouettes

I've been experimenting with watercolor and silhouettes.  I'd love to hear some feedback on what you think!  Do they look like the breed I'm going for?

Boston Terrier


Yorkshire Terrier
German Shepherd

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I've Been Tagged!

Training Tuesday has been put on a hiatus so that I could get around to participating in a game of tag that has been going around.  Last week I was tagged by Hoapee and yesterday it was Jodi, so I figured I better got on answering some questions!  I've been having fun reading everyone's answer and am glad that I can play! 

Describe yourself in 7 words.
Indiana: adorable, energetic, snuggly, hungry, jealous, sneaky, intelligent
Onyx: regal, aloof, laid-back, needy, stealthy, quiet, (but sometimes) loud!
Helen: creative, loyal, sarcastic, introverted, persistent, organized, scatter-brained

What keeps you up at night?
Indiana:  Not much! When it's bedtime and I'm told "Crate" I go right in and wrap myself in my blankets.
Onyx:  I’m always awake early for breakfast.
Helen: Onyx pawing at my face and meowing for his breakfast at five in the morning.

Who would you like to be?
Indiana: I’d like to be me, but a little taller, so I can reach the food on the kitchen counter.
Onyx: Thakery Binx from Hocus Pocus so I could ask for my dinner in English instead of meowing.
Helen: a more successful and confident version of myself! Working on it…

What are you wearing right now?
Indiana: Nothing! 
Onyx: Black fur because it is slimming.
Helen: My comfy clothes and fingerless gloves because my hands get cold typing.

What scares you?
Indiana: Camera tripods, plastic bags in trees, umbrellas opening, getting into the car
Onyx: Overbearing dog brothers
Helen: Spiders and the worry of tripping and accidentally losing hold of Indiana’s leash while walking, where he would run away and never come back.

The best and worst of blogging.
Helen: The Best: Looking at lots of doggie pictures! The Worst: The pressure!  Trying to get more readers and trying to update regularly! Ahh!!

The last website I visited.
A Tumblr dedicated to Thakery Binx because I was checking the spelling.

What is one thing I would change about myself.
Indiana: Again, I just need to be a little bit taller and bigger and I could open the door handle to let myself out of the apartment.
Onyx: I need thumbs, like in this video

Helen:  I’d like to have that natural charisma to chat with people and sell myself.

Slankets yes or no.
Indiana: I love anything blanket related.  If I can get under it and be warm, yes please!
Onyx:  I have no comment on the matter.
Helen: I love wearing my robe, so if I got one for free, definitely yes.  Wouldn’t buy one because I have a robe and a blanket.

Tell us something about the dog that tagged you.
Well, I actually got tagged by two people, Hoapee and Jodi Stone, which is pretty strange around here! I like reading the human perspective of dog owning along with the four legged view!

I don't want to tag people who have already been it (and I know a lot that have!), so if you read this and you haven't participated yet, this is your personal invitation from me!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Mischief: Indiana is a Fussy Boy!

After a peaceful Friday with Indiana at daycare, I was hoping to get some more work done with him around.  It didn't quite go as planned!  As I was doing some computer work, I was interrupted by this-

Teaching him "Speak" has apparently backfired right at this moment, and he would not give up until I satisfied his need to play.  He did eventually settle down after a game of toss with his football.

But, that didn't last long.  He decided to settle in Onyx's favorite cardboard box and eat it.

I decided I needed to give him a time out in his crate to settle down for real.  Soon, he curled up blissfully in his blankets for a much needed nap.

And Onyx got his box back.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Solitary Studio Day

Indiana went to daycare at Daily Wag today.  I have to admit it is nice to be able to concentrate on my work.  Lots of painting to do and so little time!  I've managed to finish off six more pendants and start a 10 x 10 painting to put up in my local framing shop as a promotional piece.  (Some of the pendants will be going there too!)

my messy studio corner (of the living room)
I'm already craving some Indiana cuddles when he gets home.  He's going to be so nice and sleepy after a day playing with other dogs, and absence makes the heart grow fonder after all.  And Onyx doesn't tolerate face smushing as much as Indiana.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dogs That Warm Our Hearts (as well as our laps)

While I'm not a huge fan of Purina's dog food, this commercial made me very weepy.  The music and compilation of videos killed me.  (I've watched it about five times and am still almost crying.)

And to continue tugging on your heart strings, The Husband was on a two day business trip.  I was very excited to have him home, but not quite as excited as Indiana.  (Onyx was excited too, but likes to play it very cool.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"When Pig's Fly: Training Sucess with Impossible Dogs" - Book Review

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.

"Only about 10% of dog training is about training any particular behavior, like sit, down, or come. The other 90% of dog training is about getting your dog in a frame of mind where he is willing and able to pay attention and learn. Your average Golden Retriever or Sheltie is in, or close to being in, the frame of mind necessary to learn behaviors. Your Pigs Fly dog is not. That is why, despite the fact that there are any number of very good positive dog training books which show you how to train the basics, like sit, down, and come, most people who own Pigs Fly kinda dogs cannot get their dogs to perform with any reliability. Their dogs are just not engaged in the process."

Getting a "Pig" to Fly

While taking training classes, I was often flustered at the pace that Indiana was supposed to learn something.  The space of a week was never long enough to cement something, even though I have a good amount of time to work with Indiana.  At the end of the eight week course, I was supposed to be able to command Indiana's attention without treats through his Good Canine Certification.  I ended up not even going to the final test because I knew I would fail, and I was embarrassed, even though I was pretty sure that none of the other dogs in the class were at a point any further along than Indiana.

I wanted to give credit to a great book, which taught me a fantastic lesson in patience and setting expectations too fast (although they can be very high given enough time.)  I think Jane Killion's "When Pigs Fly: Training Success with Impossible Dogs" is a necessity for anyone who owns a dog that is "untrainable" (or "unbiddable" as her book phrases it.)  She emphasizes that any dog can be trained, even if they are a breed known for not listening.  The whole book is about understanding the sensibilities of a dog and not expecting it to react like a golden retriever when learning commands. Unbiddable dogs do things at their own pace, but are just as "intelligent" as any breed.  I don't always use a clicker, but the lessons in the book really break down training into achievable steps.

Indiana has been doing great at learning "Speak" and "Play Dead" and I am taking my time teaching them to him.  I'm hoping to take another stab at his Good Canine Citizen Certification in a few months.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Elk Antler Dog Chew Product Review

I picked up an antler piece from the pet store for Indiana to gnaw on when he gets bored.  I'd gotten one a few months ago at a Colorado gift shop when my parents were in town, and Indiana went bonkers for it.  He'll chew on it for a long time to get into the delicious marrow.  It doesn't shed into bits, make any kind of mess, or smell bad, so it's a great chew toy to keep him entertained for half an hour or so.  It also lasts a really long time. I do keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't chew a piece off and somehow choke on it, but that has not been an issue so far and is probably just something I worry about.  Indiana also gets more excited if I put the antler away for a while before giving it to him again, since he tends to get bored of things he has too much access to.

Venison Joe's Naturally Shed Elk Antler

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado

Last week I went to the Wild Animal Sanctuary, about a forty five minute drive north of Denver.  I had been researching a big cat reserve in Florida for an upcoming trip, but found there was one right one my doorstep!   Needless to say, I was pretty excited to see some lions, tigers and bears.

Tigers start in small enclosures to slowly get used to having more space.  Some have never been in a cage larger than 5x5 feet.  They eventually end up in groups in open grassed areas with BIG toys to play lounge on.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the United States.  Its primary concern is taking in wild animals that have been saved from illegal captivity and trade.  Many of the animals have been rescued from people keeping them as pets or from being bred at "fur farms." I like this particular sanctuary because it really seems to have the care of the animals as its primary focus.  It doesn't really cater to tourists or visitors, in that, the only way to see the animals is from an elevated walkway, which goes over some of the enclosures and gives you views into the HUGE environments.

The elevated walkway is low impact on the animals and does not get very close to most of them, which is unfortunate if you want to get an intimate view of a lion.  The lions, however, are living as naturally as they can, with little human interaction.  The sanctuary does not give behind the scene tours to get closer to the animals, which are common for other similar organizations.

The beginning of the walkway does get close to the leopards, but not this close.

I had painted some pendants of big cats prior to visiting the sanctuary, but now I'm giving part of the purchase price to this local non profit.  It is really great to have something like this in my area.  I'm also going to look into volunteering for them.

African Leopard Pendant

To learn more about how to donate check out
(Only the product photos belong to me, the rest are from the Wild Animal Sanctuary)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Training Tuesday: Playing Dead

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.

Today is a late post for Training Tuesday.  I meant to run out to stock up on some more training treats after Indiana demolished the last of his puppy crack yesterday.  But, Denver got whopped with a morning storm of several inches and the city seems to have a moratorium on plowing in my neighborhood.  So, I eventually hunkered down and went through the fridge and cabinets for a replacement wet treat that I could feed him in bits.  I ended up with some grated cheese, which Indiana, of course, loved.

Because I know that Indiana won't yet "listen" to me when I want him to stop doing something, I like focusing on tricks that are entertaining to build that bond.  And I love a good play dead.

I think the "Bang" really is much better than "Play Dead."  So, that is what I'll eventually be aiming for.  I find Indiana responds better to hand signals, mostly because I can keep up the same hand signal for a long period of time, while he wags his tail and tries to figure out what I want.  (I've been using a "quack like a duck" hand signal for speak, which he is really catching on to.)

Breaking it down-
1. I start with Indiana in a "Down" position, where he tends to sit like a sphynx.
2. Then I shift him into his "Settle," so he doesn't have his legs tucked underneath him.
3. With my hand shaped like a gun (that sounds pretty bad), I gently nudge on his head until he puts his head on the floor and rolls totally over onto his side, hoping for a tummy rub.  It's important that he mostly moves by himself and is just getting a bit of pressure from me.  I want him to figure out I'd like him on the floor!
4.  When he is in full begging for a tummy rub position, he gets his audio reward (either a "click" or a "Good") and treat!

Mostly just posing.  We're not to the point where I can be that far away.

As we keep practicing I move my hand less and less, keeping it more still, so just seeing my signal is enough for him to know to roll onto his side.  Eventually, I'll be able to move my hand back and not start with him in a "Down."  I'll add the verbal "Bang" once he's got that down pat.  Indiana tends to mix up his verbal cues in excitement.

If I keep that up, one day, he'll listen to me without the promise of a treat!  The hardest part is not expecting too much from him and knowing when to slow down and go back a step when he is confused. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Dog Commercials Are Not Purr-ticularly Funny To This Cat Lover

I usually spend my Superbowl afternoon trying not to fall asleep while teams I don't really care about are playing.  Except for the commercials of course.  So this year I was (again) a little disappointed by the lack of a stellar commercials to keep me entertained.  However, I was unpleasantly surprised and a little upset by this commercial from Doritos. Am I overreacting about the content of this commercial?  I don't think I'd be happy if Indiana secretly murdered freed Onyx from captivity and then tried to bribe me with chips.  Could you imagine if this commercial was just two dudes pretending to ignore a murdered lost cat?  Or perhaps the dog could be getting rid of a human kid that was vying for attention.  Hilarious.

(The Husband is currently trying to talk me down from being extremely miffed at this ad, so I know I am perhaps being overly sensitive to the cat vs. dog and perhaps subtle animal abuse/abandonment themes I might be imagining.  Still Doritos, can't you stick to adorable pugs busting down doors of boorish taunting boyfriends?)

Last Year's Doritos Commercial Praising Doggie Power

Also I almost forgot how we are supposed to let our dogs out of doggie doors to chase cars when they feel like it! Although slimming down from eating all those Doritos is probably a good message for our pooches.  (See what I did there?)

And while I'd like to complain about how greyhounds are abused in racing, this French Bulldog is just too cute for words.

I'm not a huge fan of Budweiser (or beer in general) but I like showing a bit of love to a mutt and mentioning rescue dogs in particular.  Rescue dogs are great!  (But probably shouldn't be treated as servants.)

So, overall, I'd give the commercials this year 2.5 stars.  Let's have some cat love next year!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Winter in the Mile High City and Dog Booties

We woke up this morning to almost sixteen inches of snow.  Indiana was not enthusiastic about getting up or putting his booties on, much less actually going outside.

"You've got to be kidding me."

"Well at least it's not over my head."

"Get me back inside!"

"I can have breakfast now, maybe?"

Due to Indiana's inability to have his paws stay in the snow for any period of time, we ordered him a set of dog boots for just this occasion.  I usually try to find anything I need on, mostly because I have free two day shipping through their Prime Account program and they have pretty much anything I would need, with lots of reviews from other people buying products.  After a bit of research, we found the Ultra Paws Rugged Boot.

As seen on Amazon.
 This dog boot got good reviews online (not wearing down quickly and not being able to be chewed off were what I was looking for)  and came in a variety of sizes.  Unfortunately, the sizes are only based on the length of the paw and not the width.  Indiana's paws are much longer than they are wide, so the size we ended up getting him fit a bit more like round snow shoes than sneakers.  And while the double velcro system works great to keep the booties on, it does hinder his ankle movement, unless a little loosened.  All of these things basically added up to Indiana walking drunkenly across our apartment the first time we put the booties on him.  Luckily, he is easily plied with treats and now can walk up and down one side of the block in heavy snow without too much hilarity effort. 

Final Review: 4 out of 5 - would be perfect if they weren't shaped like pancakes. Make sure to have lots of treats on hand when first trying them out on your pup.  Also perhaps a video recorder.  It will be worth it.

 He especially loves a cookie at the end to make it worth it.

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