My dog makes the other dogs look good. You’re welcome, classmates.

What a weekend capped off by a trying Monday with the terrible trio. I’m now ready to go back to school. Thanks, boys.

Friday, Drake stopped jingling. We may be slackers here and left on some extra tags from Drake’s rescue days. It’s the same idea as a bell on a cat’s collar. The big boys really should get some warning before a Drake attack. Dad looked at Drake and discovered he was naked. Where was his collar? No one knew. My theory was that Haas was dragging Captain Wigglebutt around the yard by his collar again and managed to hit the clasp juuuuuust right. Fortunately, Dad retrieved the collar so we don’t have to replace his Smart Tag, name tag, and rabies tag.

Saturday was going to be much better. This was Percy’s group obedience class. I hooked up Percy’s training collar and we had a nice, well-behaved, walk to the car. He even sat nicely in the car for the entire trip without trying to wedge his head in my armpit.

We picked up Oldest Child from a sleepover and sat through the entry-level class with no problems.  My dog was being good! He did what he was supposed to and sat quietly, even when being fussed at by an adorable German Shepherd puppy. He was even calm when two Malinois came through and the owners addressed Percy by name.

You see, Percy is a bit notorious. Everyone knows Percy. This is not because he is the only lab in class, but because he gets called out in class. Like, a lot. Lately, it has been much better and he even got praise last week for doing really well with a new concept.  Way to go, Percy! We are getting this! Or, so I thought.

Class began well. Percy heeled like a champ, sat when he was supposed to, and responded to my cues. Then, we started on distractions. Just like we have been practising (with no trouble) for weeks, I put my leash on the ground, stood on it, and clapped. Percy took off, barking and having a complete freak-out. Ugh.  I could handle this, but still.  And he kept going….and going… and finally, the owner stepped in, couldn’t get Percy to calm down. He was sent outside for a timeout.  After a few minutes to calm down (and have an unscheduled potty break, ew), we went in and Percy did well for the rest of class. I apologized to the Mal owner next to me who keeps getting stuck with Percy and she said “It’s okay. We love Percy!”  It’s easy to love a dog who makes yours look like a dream.  I am choosing to look on the bright side and claim this as a service to other’s handler’s self-esteem.

Today, the trials continued with preventative pill day. We give our boys a combo chewable that is supposed to prevent heartworms, fleas, and other random worms and parasites that I would rather not witness. This can be a chore as it is the one thing Haas and Percy won’t eat without much strife. I decided to be tricky today. I buried it in the boys’ food bowls and locked them in their crates so they couldn’t steal each other’s pills.

I watched closely without looking like I was watching.  Haas gets shy and stops eating. Drake snarfed his food and pill and was released from his crate.  I checked the bottomless pit Percy and he managed to overlook his giant pill in the grooves of the slow-down bowl. I handed it to him and he dropped it and looked away. Apparently, there is a limit to what this stinker will eat.  Haas, in the meantime, had picked his pill out of his bowl and moved it quite far from his food bowl. There was no way he was eating it. Hmmm… what to do next.

Haas doesn’t like these hard pills. Apparently, concrete is softer and tastier.

Oldest Child had a plan.  Just peanut butter wouldn’t work so maybe a treat of a peanut butter sandwich on unhealthy white bread would do it.  The big boys would get 1/4 of a pb sandwich with the pill in the middle. Drake, not to be left out, would get 1/4 of a sandwich with a treat in the middle. Percy’s disappeared in one gulp.  Haas bit into his, split the pill in half, and spit out half a pill while eating the sandwich.  Good thing we had another 1/4 sandwich.  Finally, it went down and the big boys could be free.

Fortunately, all is forgiven, and my faithful friends are by my side again. I’m so glad Percy’s classes are almost over and I don’t have to do pill time again for a month.

Hope your weekend and Monday was much more fun!  Have a wonderful week and we hope you stop by again next time.

Vacation is over. Time to get to work.

Last week was quite busy with visiting family from out of town so training has been put on the back burner. It’s not the best time for this for a couple of reasons. First, we are running out of time on our six-month class and Percy still has a long way to go. I would love for him to be able to advance but he really has to graduate from the group classes to do this. Second, Percy had his annual trip to the vet and he got some bad, bad news. Percy has to go on a diet.

While we wait for the diet food shipment to come in, that means fewer treats and reduced portions since the heat is limiting outdoor exercise. We will increase our in-door training sessions but they aren’t as active. Percy does not like this one bit. It’s amazing how well this dog can pout.

Percy is also sneaky and tries to help the other boys finish their food. Now we have a new feeding routine. Each boy gets fed in his crate and bowls are checked before Major Pain is released. If we don’t remove Haas’s bowl, Percy goes in to lick the crumbs. There’s no dignity where dinner is concerned.

We suspected Percy was getting a bit heavy before his trip in because he was looking more like a loaf of sandwich bread than an hourglass. It even inspired new nicknames from Oldest Child (aka the Mayor of Angstville). We have “rat baby” Drake (I prefer Captain Wigglebutt), “brat baby” for Haas (Fluffy), and “fat baby” for Percy. Few people or animals are called by their actual names in our house.

Starting tomorrow, Percy and I will be having an early morning stroll. Just prying things he shouldn’t eat out of his mouth isn’t enough exercise for me to get healthy either.  Since I always come up with excuses not to do this for myself, I will use Percy for motivation. I am more likely to do something for his health than for my own so I guess this is another benefit of my furry friend. Here’s to both dog and human training!

Percy spectating instead of participating in Drake’s chaos.

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.

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.

Don’t change that channel.

I can’t think of a better way to pass the day

Hanging around, taking our ease

watching that hound a scratching at his fleas.

from The Andy Griffith Show theme song. Originally, it had lyrics.

After presenting my Genius Hour Project, one of my students asked: “Do you use anything you’ve learned training dogs in the classroom?”

I told him I could bring in carrots and praise him effusively when he did good work. The kids laughed but my active teaching and active training are two different things. For some reason, Percy doesn’t respond when I ask guiding questions. He just drools. Excessively.

Active training sometimes feels like a lot of work and I don’t always see results like I want. I have to either praise or correct the boys in 1 second or less and I am getting slow. We repeat things over and over and over and over and always try to end on a good note. Hmmm. Maybe I should try those things in teaching.

Percy passed into the next level of training! It only took 3 months.

I do seem to have some ability to passively train both my students and my boys. They know to sit automatically when someone has food. This applies to both humans and dogs.

My students are funny about some of the things they were somehow trained to do. For some, that might come from home, too. For instance, if I take a deep breath and run my finger under my nose or a thumb across my forehead, I get an in-class weather report.

“Yes, it is hot in here.”


“Nope, it’s just you.”

I don’t have to say or ask anything. I have noticed that those kids who say “My mom gets like that” are then much more careful around me until I am no longer imitating a sweaty tomato. Those are the kids who don’t argue when I say I am old.

The boys have their own habits I haven’t tried to train into them but somehow stuck much better than sitting until I tell them they are free. If I start cleaning, they flop down at the gate to the kitchen because they know it is a going to be a bit and begging won’t get them treats.

The action I saw recently was brand new to me since this is my first summer with the boys and I can’t take credit for this one. As Dad went to bed shortly before 8 am, he turned the tv to an infomercial and said, “Andy Griffith is coming on.”

Good for Andy and Opie? I started to look for something with more color and I was stopped. Apparently, the boys watch, or at least listen, to Andy Griffith every day. Dad headed his way and since I couldn’t’ find another infomercial for something promising, I continued to play indoor ball with the boys.

At 8 am, whistling began. Percy’s ears perked up, he glanced at the tv and all three boys disappeared and left the ball. Weird. I got up in time to see Hass flop down in his room kennel, Percy nose open his door, and Drake sitting patiently outside his. I guess we were done playing and it was nap time.

Maybe I need theme music for my classroom… It worked for Dad so it should work for me, too, right?

We are (going to be) the champions!

We made it!

I hope I get to say that at the end of the week.  I know I made it through year 17 of teaching high school students and I am confident that Percy will make it through level 2 of training this week.

Of course, being irrationally superstitious, now I am sort of afraid that I say this and Percy will choke and we will be stuck in level 2 of training for another 6 years. I’ll still love him either way, but I would buy him a cheeseburger if he would just pass this test without deciding to claim a cone or scratch his scruff. Part of what makes me nervous is that we will be there on a different day, at a different time, and with different dogs. The practice run at the local pet store went beautifully yesterday so I am optimistic enough to share with my 10 whole followers.

Percy doesn’t seem to be nervous. He has made his way through a stuffed hedgehog, a squeaky toy, a blanket, and he is currently trying to eat a throw pillow. Obviously, he isn’t losing his appetite.


This (potentially false) sense of security has me contemplating the other canine companions. Which one do I focus training on next? Maybe I should put it up for a vote.

One one hand, Haas is ginormous. He is probably scaring the neighborhood since his head is roughly the size of a beach ball. He also seems to think that concrete is a great snack. I wish that part was a joke. Instead, we have to replace the ring of concrete around the neighbor’s fence because Haas keeps breaking off a chunk and bringing it in for a light snack. He also tries to jump up on people and sit on the back of the sofa like some weird cat/parrot. The jumping isn’t so exciting and frequent for immediate family because we are all a little vertically, um, limited. When average height (or the occasional tall) people come over, it’s like he is yelling “my people!” and going in for an embrace.

Haas says “Pick me!”

On the other hand, we have Drake. Drake has really been coming out of his shell in the last few weeks. In some ways, it is wonderful. He can be so sweet and happy to see me and then the next he is launching himself off of the couch to take Haas down. He also throws tantrums like a two-year-old whenever I work with Percy on obedience training. He barks, howls, pulls in his crate cover and shreds it while slamming around inside his crate. Fortunately, our training sessions are short. Maybe the extra love of hand feeding and one on one attention won’t create a monster but make him “chill” which would be “fire.” (Just because school is out doesn’t mean I can’t keep working on my vocabulary — unless my kids and siblings are in the middle of an elaborate practical joke. In that case, good for you for being persistent!)

Drake was too busy gnawing on Haas’s leg to ask for your vote.

So, if you feel like it, drop me a note and place your vote! Do I focus my extra time in the summer training Haas or Drake next?

What’s one little letter?

There are 23 1/2 days of school left for this year. Mentally and emotionally, the kids are done and I am done. We will power through and finish writing papers (and grading), presentations (and grading), final novel projects (and grading) and all of the clean-up that goes with this time of year. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but it won’t be bright enough for another week or so for the kids to get their rears in gear.

The kids will make it. I will make it. Eventually, Percy and I will be full time training students.

We are going to spring for a private lesson or two, and go to every group class we can sneak into before the trainers catch on that we are repeats. I think we can wear disguises and use some of Percy’s nicknames.

On Tuesday nights, I will wear contacts and a ball cap. I’ll let Percy roll in the dirt so he looks part black lab and part dust bunny. I will refer to him as Linus.

Percy almost always carries a blanket around, so we call him Linus. He answers to everything.

For the Wednesday afternoon class, I will wear one of Oldest Child’s cosplay wigs and put Percy in an argyle sweater. He will be Perseus the dignified.

For our typical Saturday class, I can wear my glasses and Percy can get a bath before hand so he is going as himself. Maybe in his way our geriatric-sloth-like progress can become more middle-aged-turtle.

I did see some of this progress over the weekend. The boys shared a banana and I was lazy and put the peel on an end table. Drake decided he was still hungry and entered stealth mode to hide on the couch and enjoy his contrabanana contraband.

Since I have long conversations with/at the boys, I was explaining while I headed to the kitchen that they had consumed enough of a snack and didn’t need a banana peel. At “peel,” Percy ran to my left side and walked right next to me. He even sat when I stopped. It took the entire trip to the kitchen before I realized Percy wasn’t after the peel. Percy heard “heel” and was actually doing it!

I’m going to put a banana in my treat bag for class this week. Heel/Peel…whatever works.

This action, while a wonderful victory, confirmed my strong suspicion that I am the hold up on training, not my slobbery sweetheart. Those extra lessons are actually for me. Bring on doggy summer school where I don’t have to be the one grading!

Today, the terrible one is on two feet is me.

We are at a frustrating point of training. This isn’t Percy’s fault. He is a terror, yes. However, the fault fully lies on my shoulders. I lack patience. That’s the nice way to put it. If you want the honest truth, starving newborns have more patience than I do. Sugared- up, Mickey Mouse obsessed toddlers at their first trip to Disneyland have more patience than I do.

I want Percy to understand what I want him to do and not have to keep repeating things over and over and over. I want him to “down” and stay down and not imitate an overwound jack in the box.

I don’t want to have to hand feed him every meal and I don’t want to have to use a special training collar and I don’t wa0nt to have to spend another month in the basic level class.

But, I don’t want to give up. He is worth it. He is worth searching the depths of my being for the last scraps of patience that I managed to secret away after a day of dealing with teenagers who are done for the year. Few of them also mean to drive me to distraction; its just a side effect of 16.

I have been so focused on trying to be what my kids need me to be that I think I have neglected my sweet, crazy boy. I am not as understanding as I need to be with a creature who wants to do what I ask. I am also not as forgiving and calm with myself as I should be.

I don’t know how to fix that. I don’t know how to change a basic tenet of me. It is probably one of those traits I would be most likely to change about myself. When I was younger, I wanted to be thinner and prettier. Now that I am older, while being thinner and prettier would be awesome, what I really want is patience to help people more. I want the patience to make the changes that I need to make personally and professionally. I want the patience wait for those rewards that require my effort and work.

I love to make plans so I will finish my night making plans for success. I’m not sure if it will work since I seldom follow my plans, but maybe I can put post-it notes around my house telling myself to breathe, start over, change takes time, etc. Pinterest is probably full of those inspirational type things. Maybe I can go old-school and write “I will not lose my temper and say bad words” one hundred times.

Maybe Percy and I can just take a night and do something fun. Maybe we won’t do any work tomorrow night on his sit/stay and down/stay. Maybe we’ll play catch with carrots and I will give him a new blanket to shred. Maybe I’ll make the boys a bowl of popcorn and throw it up in the air and they can eat the “snow” in the living room.  Then, as a treat to myself, I’ll make the teenager and preteen clean up any leftover mess (not likely to be much of one with these bottomless pits).

Maybe tomorrow I will take a page out of Percy’s book and not be normal. I’m too old to sit on my head like he does, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something. I’m done whining now. If you stuck around to read this mess, thank you for your patience. If you didn’t, I still think you are awesome but you just won’t know it.

Percy sits on his head
Percy is a smart boy but he can’t seem to figure out how to use a sofa. This is how he sits when he wants a snuggle


I will love you, forever; I will like you most of the time.

Drake and Haas come from a wonderful rescue. It is entirely foster based and they do a really good job making sure the dogs are healthy and go to the families where the dogs will be happiest. We actually drove an hour one way to meet Drake because I believe in this group so much.

All we knew about Drake was that he was about 8 months old and had survived parvo. I don’t know much else about Drake’s background, and I really don’t think I want to know, based on his behavior. I think it must have been pretty unpleasant.

When we feed Drake, he sometimes has to be escorted to the dish and told that it is okay for him to eat. If the other boys are nearby, he won’t go without an escort. We were feeding him before the others but now we can generally just tell him he has permission. Otherwise, he flinches any time someone comes near him.

For the first few months, any time the big boys would come to snuggle, Drake would find a spot on the other couch to watch and look sad.  He would sit in our spots when we got up, but it has only been recently that he would hop up to sit next to me for some love.

Recently, the Mayor of Angstville spent the night with friends in another town and needed a lift back home in time for that most exciting 6 month dental cleaning. Since it is about a 30 minute drive, I decided to take one of the boys for a car ride. Haas is Oldest Child’s favorite so I was tempted to take him. He loves car rides. Percy tends to be my baby so I thought about taking him. He loves car rides. But…Youngest Child (who is supposed to be Drake’s person) had been gone a lot so I thought I would take Drake. Drake doesn’t love car rides. I wanted him to see that car rides aren’t always to no fun places like the vet and the groomer.

Drake drooped as soon as we got in the car. He sat in the front seat but not restfully. Then, he put a paw on my shoulder. Drake whined a little and I gave him a scratch behind the ear.  For 20 miles, Drake kept his paw on my shoulder and I wondered if he thought he was going to be given away again.

Since Oldest Child and I tend to have our best conversations about life, musicals, school, and the future in the car, I figured maybe I should have a talk with Drake.

I told him:

“I love you, bud. We aren’t getting rid of you. You are ours now and you will be ours forever. We won’t let you go. We aren’t sending you away. We love you.”

I know he doesn’t really understand what I said to him. I think he got the tone of voice and somehow I think he got the meaning. On the way back, he sat in the backseat and settled into a resting position. He still looked out the windows but I don’t remember any whining.

In the last few days, Drake has been sitting with me more and more. Since he has put on some height, I sometimes have to check to see if it is Percy or Drake. Most of the time it is easy because Drake sits like a normal dog and Percy sits on his head with his butt up in the air.

As I was writing about my pig boy, Youngest Child came out of her bedroom because Drake flopped down on her head and broke the child’s glasses. I still love him and I even still like him.

I am officially THAT dog owner.

These terrors on four feet have had quite the weekend. Between a doggy birthday party, a charity dog walk, training class, two new crates, and today’s grooming session, we are starting off Spring Break with a bang.

Percy turned 1 on Friday so I gave in to temptation and may have gone overboard on a doggy birthday party. Since we tend to adopt rescues, it is rare that we know when the dog is born. (Drake and Haas will have an adoption day party in February so they don’t feel left out)

Peanut butter and carrot pupcakes with bacon sprinkles and some dog safe ice cream.

Oldest Child baked pupcakes and decorated them with peanut butter frosting and bacon sprinkles. Youngest Child picked out dog ice cream and Mom bought party hats and streamers. We even invited one set of grandparents who possibly humored us because there was dinner first. (The rest of the grandparents live too far away and think I may be a trifle puppy obsessed.)

520E92BB-9733-40BA-9F17-4726CB25DD0CPercy loved it! I loved it! The kids laughed. Dad sighed but said the pupcakes weren’t bad. The hats didn’t last but Percy thought they were good fun to carry around.

Then, on Saturday, Percy and I went to a dog walk set up by one of the seniors where I teach. We have this super amazing teacher who set up senior projects that students design to benefit the community, the school, or themselves. This year, one of the students decided to raise money for a local dog rescue. This was Percy’s first venture out into public where many dogs would be present. He was a bit vocal at first but quickly settled down. We were both excited to meet some of the other dogs from my department even if Percy was a little intimidating.


Lavender and Ingrid with Percy wondering why they don’t love him.

Percy thought the best part was when he got to hang out with the girls’ soccer team. They were on their way to a jamboree and were a captive audience to my attention hog. He was shameless. Percy played up the big eyes and held court with about 6 young ladies until it was time for training class.

In class, the excitement caught up with poor Percy’s stomach. Now, in two out of three class periods, they have had to get the mop out for both ends of Percy. I sure hope we keep getting to go back…

On Sunday, Haas and Drake got new crates. Well, to be fair, Haas got a new and bigger crate and Drake got Haas’s hand-me-down crate.  Now my living room looks like the animals broke out of the zoo. The crates take up an entire wall. When the doors are standing wide open, I suspect guests wonder what kind of creatures require cages that large. I try to get the guests out of the way before the stampede toward the food bowls happen. I haven’t lost a guest yet.  Of course, I am a bit of an introvert so there aren’t many guests, but I still stand by my perfect record!

We are starting the week with clean and good smelling boys. My groomer is a super hero and willing to take all three boys at once.  I really don’t tip her enough for making my boys so handsome.

Drake was a bit tired after his first trip to the groomer. 

We wish you a wonderful week with lots of puppy love from our family to yours!