Attitude is Everything

When I tell people I teach high school students, many people tell me they are sorry or give some unnecessary praise for dealing with teenagers. It seems that attitude is the main complaint for those people. It’s true that teenagers can have some overly negative attitudes but I often think it is the expectation of negativity that makes it more noticeable or maybe worse. Teenagers can actually be quite wonderful and full of hope and love and laziness and inspiration and punkishness. I have often written that I like my dogs because they remind me of my kids. It’s easier to train the dogs, though. When they want to refuse or be hateful, I can’t understand what the dogs are saying.

I know that when I am having a particularly rough day with students, I get better results if I let my kids know that I lack patience and am not doing well. I try my absolute best to have as few of those days as possible but I am only human, just like the kids. They can hear and understand that it isn’t that particular class’s fault that I have used up all of my patience and I hope they see that I struggle sometimes, just like they do. I want them to see that even when I struggle, I have to push through.

When I am working with training the boys, though, I can’t make them understand that I am frustrated or impatient and it probably isn’t all them. I know better than to try to work with them when they have broken into the kitchen and eaten half a package of sweet rolls or ripped another blanket to shreds and spread it all over the back yard. It’s the little bits of impatience that I can’t explain to them and have to remind myself that this isn’t the time to work on our homework. Our trainer regularly reminds the class that we have to be in the right frame of mind to be effective when working with our dogs.  I get so caught up in “I have to do this right now” that I sometimes cause us to go backwards.

Today was good though. I set a time to work with Percy and did something relaxing for about 15 minutes before. It took a minute for us to work together but instead of getting frustrated, I was able to laugh when Percy started his “heel” position in the wrong spot. Normally when that happens, I guide him in a teardrop shape to the right spot. I cocked my head to the side (a weird habit I have before I correct him) and just as I was about to correct him, he maneuvered himself in that same teardrop pattern with a little extra hop at the end so he actually jumped into place. I don’t know if I should fix that or not, but it made me laugh and remember that training can be fun when I let it. I’ll ask the trainer Saturday about his weirdness but the rest of the homework went beautifully. He still had his challenges but that’s okay. There were more successes than challenges so I am calling it a day.

Since I wasn’t annoyed or impatient, I added a little time to work on training Drake. It lets me see how far Percy has come because I have forgotten what to do in order to get Drake started. He doesn’t know those basics that Percy does. It doesn’t matter though. Drake always has a good attitude. I thought doggie grins weren’t a thing until I met Drake. I have never seen a dog look so happy. The only time he doesn’t look happy is when Haas gets tired of Drake’s nonsense and sits on him.

Can we train now, mom? I am so happy! Are you happy?

Drake picks things up much faster than Percy does. Maybe he isn’t as hard headed as Percy. Maybe it’s Drake’s better attitude than both Percy and I have on most days that makes the difference. He can be my inspiration as I try to get half a million things done this week.

I would love to be able to bring my happy boy to see my teenagers in the fall and especially when attitudes all around get a bit rough in October and April. You can’t be unhappy when you look at that grin and I don’t know how anyone ever let Drake go. I am happy to have been lucky enough to snap him up.

I don’t stop at dog birthday parties.

Let’s get controversial for a few minutes. I’m ready to make some people huff loudly (bonus points if you have a mustache!) and roll their eyes. I haven’t started a good “debate” in a few weeks and regular school won’t start for about 2 months so no outlet there.

I love, love, love when my kids are able to, civily, take sides on an issue or statement and explain why. I’ve heard great reasoning for why organ donation should and should not be mandatory and why the voting age should be adjusted. (Interestingly, it was a pretty even 3 way split between lowering it, keeping it the same, and raising both the voting and draft age to 25 — all kids’ ideas)

Since my brief stint in summer school didn’t allow the time for teaching self-control (i.e. not calling a classmate an idiot for disagreeing with your position), I can just voice my opinion here.

Ready? Don’t drop me if you are a follower… I don’t have many to spare.

I love clothes on dogs. It’s adorable! A boxer in boots or a schnauzer in a necktie is a dog I want as a friend! Put a hoodie on that dog and I am done. Get me a picture and a pawtograph. (OH! That could be a fun idea for a fundraiser — get a picture of you and your dog with their paw-print autograph. I could be like a photo booth. Focus, crazy dog lady….)

Just because a dog has fur doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a little extra warmth.

Gypsy and Stump in older days –Gypsy loved her sweater for cold walks in the snow.

If your pooch is older, why not keep those joints warm with a brightly colored argyle sweater? I need to put that on my list for Drake. He’s a happy lookin’ fella and argyle will put him over the top. The husband will certainly agree if it allows Drake to go outside for longer periods of time with his cold-weather-loving brothers. After he gets used to his sweater, I can buy him a raincoat and rain hat. I’m sure they have one on Amazon. I just checked — there are 10,000 results when you search “dog costumes” on Amazon. Now I can start counting down to Halloween.

Getting the boys embroidered vests with their names on them would also help Youngest Child and the neighbors tell them apart. Currently, I hear about “the big black dog” misbehaving. They are all at least mostly black. Confusion eliminated. Everyone wins when dogs wear clothes!

Think of the jobs that would be created and maintained. I wonder how many dog fashion designers there are. Maybe I’ll look that up.  Someday. I’m going to guess the highly technical “a lot” with the caveat that some are probably amateur part-timers who are just as awesome as the full-timers. Do they count for job statistics? I could look that up, too, but I probably won’t. Instead, I am going to start picking out the boys’ Halloween costumes. I wonder if they make any in metal.

Chaos is the new normal.

The boys are in the doghouse (figuratively — they don’t actually fit inside Stump and Gypsy’s old house). They destroyed their pool. It started with a small puncture I thought I could fix but now it looks like it fell into a giant’s garbage disposal. No water play now unless it rains. What a long, hot summer it will be.img_2823

Maybe next year I can get them a metal watering trough or something. We had one for a summer when I was a kid that would work beautifully for these terrors but I am sure it is long gone. Should I have to buy metal everything?

How much can 3 dogs destroy? Everything. The answer is everything. There is nothing these dogs can’t decimate. I worry constantly about toxicity levels. It can’t be good to try to eat a sharpie (where did Drake find that?), or a soda bottle, or whatever I am about to pry out of Percy’s jaws.

They also ate my nativity set this last week. I have had to rescue the poor Mary in the past from Haas’s jaws but this is a total loss. I thought it was put away but I was so wrong. It is time to find a puppy priest for some canine confession. I’m a little lot concerned for them.

I briefly considered finding a yard ornament type made from cement or concrete or something like that for a nativity replacement. Then I remembered Haas’s taste for concrete as a chew toy. Could I try metal? Surely someone makes metal nativity sets that are small enough for a crowded living room. Maybe a framed photo of someone else’s is the right way to go. Maybe I should stop thinking about Christmas decorations in June. I really need to work on my other hobbies.

I’m off to quilt so I don’t use bad words at my boys.

I love my dogs. I need to keep working on house manners. I love my dogs.  I love my dogs. Sigh.

What’s in a name?

In college, my goal in life was to retire to the beach and make a living building driftwood furniture. I would have a German Shepherd named Hank and we would walk along the water’s edge every morning and play fetch with a tennis ball.

Since this dream was so far away, I could ignore the obvious problems: dogs aren’t allowed on many beaches, I live in a landlocked state I am rather fond of, and I don’t know how to build furniture.

Retirement is much closer these days and while I sometimes joke about running away to build driftwood furniture, I still haven’t named one of my dogs Hank. Even as my dream evolves, for some reason I haven’t let go of the idea of a German Shepherd named Hank. That part of the dream will probably never happen.

First, one of my brothers-in-law has a related name and I feel vaguely concerned that he will think I don’t like him if I use that name for a dog. It could also get confusing at family gatherings. What if I just yell, “Hank. Sit!” or ask the dog to “heel”. The brother-in-law might find out how bossy I can actually be.

Second, I tend to have rescue dogs and I feel bad about changing their names. How many names has the poor pooch had? Can dogs have an identity crisis? This is why Percy is still Percy and not Yeti or Linus. When I moved school districts, the new place calls me something slightly different from what I was accustomed to and that was weird enough. I’ll just let someone else have the chore of coming up with a name.

My new retirement dream is starting to take shape. It still involves dogs. My plan is to make lots of quilts, volunteer with a rescue organization, call and harass my children a few times a week, and work as part of a therapy dog team. This is probably a more achievable dream given that the husband has banned me from power tools that cut and superglue. (I wouldn’t super glue the furniture together, but I might want to glue sea shells on a chair or something.)

There will definitely be at least one companion on four feet (or on three — I don’t mind canines who have been through some things). I sort of even hope s/he is a little terrible at times. It’ll keep me from missing teenagers!

Could this be why the dogs smell?

Some people in my family are under the impression that our boys are spoiled rotten. Since I don’t have essays to grade, let’s examine the support for this claim.

  1. They have the run of most of the living room furniture, except when Mom and Dad are in their respective “spots”. Most people have giant dogs who lie across the back of the furniture and confiscate throw pillows, right? Hmm… I may have to give them this one.
  2. Their food costs more than our food. However, in my defense, the gas when they don’t get probiotic food is gag-inducing. I once had a group of students who had a “contest” in my room to be the smelliest. Haas and Percy could beat them paws down. This justifies their food bill and I can get rid of my mini Starbucks and massive Taco Bell habits for this.
  3. They have a pool and I don’t. Granted, theirs was a whole $8 and about 24 inches across, but it is still a dog dedicated pool. Percy loves water and playing in the hose. He loves it so much that it was hard for Dad to fill a baby pool without being blocked by 85 pounds of hyperactive labrador. Haas just sees it as a water dish. It always takes Drake a while to warm up but I bet he will learn to love it, too. Since the dogs are not outdoors all of the time, I suppose I have to give this to the spoiled side.

2-1, my dogs are spoiled.

Is it a sign your dog is spoiled when he makes a nest and, even though 3 of the 4 blankets aren’t his, he gets to keep them until bed time?

BUT — I don’t care. I figure the warm fuzzies I get when I have puppy snuggles and horse dog hugs make it worth it. We’ll keep working on the obedience training and learning to not jump or bark at the neighbor chickens or neighbor kids who have a much larger pool. Someday, they’ll be old and lazy and I might miss hauling in dog food shipments every 3 weeks.

I figure these boys are like milk that is one day past the sell-by date. For some,  unpalatable, for others, it is just fine.