Nola Does Agility

Summer has arrived and so have the outdoor agility classes. We have been wanting to sign Nola up since we first saw her jumping from dunes on the beach, jumping over fallen trees and running like the wind anywhere and everywhere. We also wanted to do another training class with her to strengthen our bond since the last obedience class we did was probably a year ago. I did some research and contacted several different training facilities in the Portland area. The only one that still had openings for a Saturday morning class (who can actually go to a 4pm class on a weekday?!) was a place called PoeticGold Farm, in Falmouth. Luckily they were also the closest one to our house, so we signed Nola up.
(I apologize for the blurriness of the iPhone photos and videos. The more I blog, the more I realize I need a better camera!)

The first week was a little tough. It was a new place with new smells and new dogs. Nola had a bit of a hard time concentrating, she just wanted to explore. But, we started learning the basics of agility. Targeting was an important thing to learn and something we never really taught Nola. We did a lot of click-treat whenever she walked on, touched, nosed, or even looked at objects of different shaped and sizes (think trash can lids, sleds, saucers, plastic bin covers) to get her used to some of the equipment.

We also started getting her used to the plank. This board on the ground is the precursor to the dog walk, which is higher off the ground. At first we just walked her on it. Then, we would throw a treat at the end, make her wait and then tell her to go get the treat. We tried to mix it up, using chicken as a treat, but also her squeaky toy. She mastered this in no time!

Then we tried the table. The table is an obstacle that the dogs must get up on and stay for a certain period of time while running the course. Jim got her to lay down for a few seconds, but it didn’t last too long.

Her favorite thing the first week was the A-Frame. She was a pro, going up and down without much coaxing from us.

We ended the first day with a short tunnel. Nola did not like that at all. We were a bit surprised because during her puppy classes she had no fear with things like this. But, it took the trainer to coax her into it and Jim and I at the end with her toy to get her to go through. After a couple times of receiving rock star praise when she went through she began to feel more comfortable. (After this class we went to Christmas Tree Shoppe, bought a pop up leaf bag, cut out the bottom and made our own tunnel. After some more practice, Nola mastered it!)

The second week we started doing a little more on the equipment. We went through the big tunnel, which again Nola seemed terrified of. After the trainer shortened it a little and Nola got a few running starts, she was great!

Then came the jumps. I knew our pup would do great at this. We started off at 14in and lead her over the bar with a treat on the other side. Nola had perfect form, with an arched back and good sense of where her back legs were so she didn’t knock down the bar. The second class ended with some pre work to get used to the weave poles.

Overall, we really liked it! Nola was exhausted when she got home. This fun, sporty class didn’t feel like obedience training, but it definitely showed us where the gaps in our basic training were. Like most dog owners, we got Nola to a point where she is obedient on a daily basis, but we haven’t really continued to teach and hone her sills. The ‘touch’ command is something we need to keep working on, as well as her recall and a command for when we need to ‘send’ her down an obstacle.

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Our Favorite Things

Nola is a spoiled pup. Because I love to shop and I don’t have children, Nola gets new things all the time. From toys to collars to accessories, I buy it all. So, I feel like I am a bit of an expert when it comes to making recommendations about different products. Here are a few that made the cut:

The Buddy System: Last summer I started running with Nola. We started with short distances, just a half mile, then worked our way up. But, a regular leash wasn’t cutting it. It was too hard to hold on to the leash while concentrating on running. I found the Buddy System at my favorite local pet store, Planet Dog, and we love it. It took some getting used to for Nola. I had to train her to stay next to me and not to run too fast and pull me. Now she is a pro and every time I get the belt out she knows we’re going for a run!

Dublin Dog Collar: Nola loves water, mud, sand and pretty much anything that can make her dirty or wet. For that reason, I wash Nola’s collars once a week because they get so wet and stinky or are just plain dirty. I bought her this waterproof no-stink collar a couple of weeks ago and I love it. Through several trips to the beach, swims in the lake and walks in the rain it’s held up. We’ve even gotten comments about how pretty it is! No mess. No wet. No problem!

Muffinhead Jacket: It gets pretty cold in Maine in the winter. Nola has very short fur and her belly basically is bare. But, she loves the snow! So we needed to get her a warm jacket that wouldn’t bug her too much (to my dismay, she is not a pup that like to wear clothes as accessories).  A friend from high school started this company out in the other Portland- Portland, OR. I contacted her last winter and asked if she would make my Muffin one of her Muffinhead jackets. They are all custom made, from recycled materials. I think Nola’s was made from a sleeping bag. It is water proof on the outside and it’s lined with comfy warm fleece on the inside.  Nola loves it! And, we love that they use a pit bull in their logo!

Doctors Foster and Smith bed: Recently I wrote about Nola’s new bed. She loves the comfort of it, I love the durability. Laynie had a few accidents on the bed, along with some vomiting after her spay and there were plenty of muddy paws prints all over it, but washing the cover is a cinch.

Best Bully Sticks (6in Odor Free):  Nola loves to chew. We read that rawhide wasn’t good for puppies and Caesar Milan recommend bully sticks in his puppy book. So we tried them. But they stunk, bad. We discovered the odor free variety and now Nola, and our noses are both happy. Best Bully Sticks is great, with fast shipping and the best pricing we have found anywhere.

Rubit Dog Tag Clip:  I am a collar junkie. I buy Nola collars for every season, holiday, and just for fun. Changing her tags when just on a regular O ring was getting frustrating. So I purchased the Rubit Dog Tag clip. It has been a life saver. Now, every time I switch her collar (which is a lot, especially since recently I purchased the Dublin Dog Collar, see above, for when she swims) I just unclip the tags and move them to the next collar. We’ve had the same clip for almost a year and through running, swimming, mudding, daycare, etc. it has stayed intact with no lost tags!

Other things we love:
Zuke’s mini naturals: Great training tool. Nola loves peanut butter or chicken.
Kong (obviously): Who doesn’t like these things?
Chuck it: Because I throw like a girl.
Chew Gourmet Dog Bones: A new found love.

Things we want to try:
Molly Mutt covers: Several of my dog blog friends have them and they are beautiful!
Sirius Republic Collar: I got one for Laynie and loved it, but I’m waiting for a purple floral-y one to be available for Nola!

Does anyone else have products you love or suggestions for things we should try?

Our First Award!

We are so proud to share that after four months of blogging, we have won our fist award! Thank you so much to For the Love of My Dog for nominating M&M&NK for the Liebster Award.

Apparently “Liebster” is German for “dearest” or “loved,” and the award is meant to recognize up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers. The award comes with a few stipulations:

  1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
  2.  Reveal your five picks {with less than 200 readers} and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
  4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favorite up-and-coming bloggers and keep it going!

So, thank you again to For the Love of My Dog. I really enjoy reading about Scarlet, Harley, Chelsea and Bethany! Your pack is adorable and quite entertaining!

It was a bit challenging figuring out if the blogs I follow have under 200 readers (I went by whatever number I could find on the blog- facebook, email, or twitter followers- so I apologize if you actually have 200 or more readers!), but here are five that I totally “lieb:”

Oh Melvin

Mazzie Takes Manhattan

The Rufus Way

Married with Dawgs

Life in 2-Player Mode

It’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication to keep up with the blog, but all the effort finally paid off! I have enjoyed writing about the ups and downs of our first foster experience with Laynie and how much we love our Nola Muffin. I can’t wait to write about our next foster, and continue to share my dog love with the blog world. Congrats to all the nominees and thank you, thank you, For the Love of My Dog!

Nola Muffin Monday: Mommy’s going to My-Am-I

Hi everyone, Mommy asked me to write this post because she got out the big rolly box and said she has to get ready for a work trip to My-Am-I. I don’t really know where that is, but she keeps complaining it’s going to be hot. She said that she won’t be able to blog much while she’s away, but she keeps telling me she has a lot to write about, including my favorite new game, my sleepover with my friend Sockeye, and how she defended my foster sister Laynie when a lady said pit bulls were bad dogs. That sounds like a lot of work! I am tired just thinking about it!

That was me sleeping in the car after my day at the lake yesterday. I am still sleepy today, but look at how much fun I had!

Me and my cousin Rocky on the boat.

Me and Pepere. I love him so much!

While Mommy’s away, I will get to spend an extra day at daycare, have a sleepover at Pepere’s house (who I love because he plays with me all the time!) and some extra quality time with Daddy. Doesn’t sound like a bad week to me! Too bad Mommy is going to miss out on all the fun!

So Far, So Good! Laynie Update

I’ve had a tough time keeping up with the blog this week. I have so many ideas for posts, but not enough hours in the day to spend writing them. It’s hard to work all day and then spend more time sitting in front of a computer when I get home. And, now that the weather is FINALLY nice (in Maine that doesn’t happen for very long) I want to take advantage and spend every free second outside with Nola and the Mr.

In all the craziness this week, I did receive an update from Laynie’s Forever Mom, that I wanted to share. It made me so happy that she took the time to update me with an email and even some photos! I hadn’t heard anything in a while, but I didn’t want to intrude on their bonding time asking for updates. It sounds like everything is going really well, which makes the Mr. and extremely happy. We miss the little monkey, but it’s easier knowing she is happy and her Mom P, sister A and fur sister Daisy are happy with her!

This is what P said:

I figured it was about time I send you a little update. Laynie is like a baby to me and all moms like to talk about their babies, so don’t feel as though you are bugging me if you want to check in on her. Laynie is still doing well. She and Daisy do really well eating together, I have not see any food aggression or stealing issues.

Laynie and her Fur Sis Daisy

Laynie takes turns sleeping with me and A. I think it depends on who has spent more time with her that day, is who she chooses to sleep with. The weather has been really crappy so we have had short quick walks and not a lot of outside time, so I am hoping this weekend to take her out on one of the trails and really do some running around and get some good exercise in.

Laynie has learned to shake paws and we are going to work on rolling over next. She is doing really good with her recall and twice now she has been out in the front of the yard with me (off leash) and stays right on the porch like she is told. I have been working on introducing her to the cat. She is getting better, but we still have a ways to go. She actually was comfortable enough the other night that she laid on the couch with me, while the cat slept in the chair in the living room. I had a leash on her just in case, but I really didn’t need it because she ended up forgetting about him and falling asleep.
 
We are still working on not pulling while walking. I have tried a couple different collars and harnesses and I find the gentle lead that goes over her muzzle seems to work the best.  She was walking really good when she first came, but is now is back to pulling. I am not sure if it was the meds and her not feeling well, or if she just needed time to get used to us, but she is definitely a puller now. She is pretty easily redirected though if she sees other dogs or birds or whatever.  We go by one house that has 3 Alaskan Malamutes and they always charge the fence (chain link) barking away, but Laynie does awesome there, she just keeps walking. It’s the little min pin down the street and the birds that attract her attention most.

I have thought about signing Laynie up for obedience classes and am actually waiting on some contact information. A friend of mine brought her pit bull to a trainer in the Oxford Hills area. I guess she sort of individualizes the training to whatever you need. I am just waiting to be done work to schedule something. They also have a doggie play group over that way that I would like to get her involved with as well, so she can have some dogs her size and age that she can really play with.
 
I brought Laynie up to my parents to introduce her to them. They recently had to put their dog down, so they had a shopping bag full of toys ready for Laynie with a ton of treats. I think my dad really likes her 🙂  He got right down on the floor with her, it was sweet.
 
Laynie has also had the opportunity to spend some time around some kids. The first time, I was actually a little nervous because she kept barking at my friend’s little boy (he is 6), but once I had him give her a treat and we went outside so he could throw the ball for her, she was fine. Then she also spent time around my niece, who just turned 5, and they did excellent together right from the start. E kept trying to take Laynie’s ball and Laynie would just sit and look at her with a confused look like, “why aren’t you throwing my ball for me?”.  Eventually Laynie would go up to E all soft and gentle and barely put her teeth on the ball and try to steal it back. So, all in all I was glad that she did well around kids. I am not around little ones a whole lot, but just being out and about with her, it is a relief to know she is ok around kids.
 
So, that is Laynie in a nut shell. I hope all is going well with you and Jim and Nola.  I hope you had a good trip. I saw your blog about taking pics of all the animals. Sounds like something I would do. Like I said I will send you another update after she sees the vet.

Take care,
P

P.S. I am attaching some pics “the dog days of summer” and enjoying Frosty Paws ice cream.

I Love Mud

There is a singer named Rick Charette that came to my elementary school when I was a kid. I listened to him so much growing up, that I still have some of his songs memorized. Some of my favorites include “There’s an Alligator in the Elevator” and “Where Do My Sneakers Go At Night?” Well, he also has this song called “I Love Mud” and every time the dogs run and play in mud, I can’t help but remember the lyrics and think that’s what they are saying in their heads.

“Mud, mud, I love mud!”

“I’m absolutely, positively wild about mud.”

“I can’t go around it. I’ve got to go through it.”

“Beautiful, fabulous, super duper mud.”

Special Delivery

A few weeks ago one of my favorite blogs, Our Waldo Bungie, was doing a giveaway. I entered to win and to my surprise I won! Well, more like Nola won. We won three marrow bones from Chew Gourmet Dog Bones. We waited patiently for them to arrive, and on Friday I came home to this at the door!
Nola wasn’t super thrilled, she really just wanted to keep snuggling with her stuffies.
But, when we gave her one of the bones to try on Saturday she loved it! She did her normal routine with any new bone. First, she brought it to her bed and sniffed it.
Then, she tried it on the couch for a few licks.
And finally, she brought it all around the house until she found just the right spot to chow down. In this case it was the basement.
We got the bones in size medium and after chewing it for hours on Saturday she still hadn’t gotten all the filling out. She enjoyed the bone all weekend! And, we still have two more! Thanks Our Waldo Bungie and Chew Gourmet Dog Bones! We will definitely be ordering more.

Yes…No…Yes…No?

I’ve come to realize that fostering can bring many highs and lows to a person’s life. Overall, our first foster experience with Delaynie was a high. She brought so much joy into our lives and she is doing so well in her forever home. But it was a lot of work and there were some emotional lows. It’s only been two weeks since we said goodbye to the monkey, but the Mr. and I have already started thinking about when the right time will be to get our next foster. B.U.R.N., the rescue we work with, has so many dogs they want to help, but not enough fosters.They reached out to us last week about a beautiful blue nose pit who is currently at the NHSPCA and needs a foster. After reading about him and seeing his smiling happy face in photos, I instantly fell in love and my mind starting racing.

Could this handsome guy be our next foster?
Nola seems to do better with males, so he could be a better fit.
But it’s only been two weeks since Laynie.
Nola is so happy to have all our attention back, is it fair to her to do this again right away?
I’m SO busy at work, will I have enough time?
The adjustment period takes time, and patience, am I ready for that again?
It’s only been two weeks since Laynie.
I am traveling for work in a couple weeks and so is Jim. Is it going to be too much for one person with both dogs?
What if he fits in so well it is not a hard adjustment at all?
What if he doesn’t get along with Nola?
It’s only been two weeks since Laynie.
And so on and so on…

This is where my indecisiveness really kicks in. I could go back and forth thinking about every possible aspect of any decision for days and that is exactly what I did all weekend. Ultimately it came down to the fact that it just doesn’t feel right yet. Life is such a juggling act, between work, family, friends, and dogs, it can just stretch you so thin. The busyness of my job comes in cycles and we had Delaynie in the down time of the cycle so I could work from home, take a few extended lunches, and use some vacation time to help her and Nola adjust. But now, I just don’t have that flexibility. Next week I have a marketing summit that will leave me no free time, and the following week I will be in Miami working a trade show. Then when I come home, Jim will be going to Minneapolis for a few days, home for the Fourth, then he’s off again to Philly. In other words, we are too busy. I feel a bit selfish saying that, but I also don’t think it would be fair to the foster pup to only have a small percentage of our attention. I want to devote as much time and energy as I can to a foster, and right now I have very little of those things.

So, I said no. And it breaks my heart. But, B.U.R.N. has another foster lined up for him, so he will be rescued from the shelter anyway. I am yearning to help another dog in need, animal rescue is very addictive! I know that there will never be a shortage of dogs that need foster homes (even though I dream of a day when that will be the case) so when things calm down I will be knocking at B.U.R.N.’s door for another pup to share the highs and (hopefully not many) lows of life with.

Nola Muffin Monday: Sleeping A-Round

One of the first things we bought Nola as a puppy was a bed. It was round and red and she thought it was very comfy.

She loved it so much, we put it in her crate hoping it would help her learn to like being in there.

And we brought it everywhere, from car rides to the office.

But then she got too big for the round red bed. She tried really hard to fit in it, but we knew it was time for it to be retired when she looked like this when laying in it:

Because we are true Mainers and we love our Maine made goods, we decided to buy her a large square L.L.Bean bed.

She liked it, but she mostly went on it to chew her toys or eat her Kong. She didn’t sleep on it nearly as much as she did the round bed. We figured it was probably because she prefers to sleep curled up in a ball with some support from a pillow or a blanket. She is a nestler, and part of her sleeping routine always includes circling the area she is going to lay down in to find the right spot. After weeks of researching different types of beds, comparing pricing, and shopping around to find the perfect height and shape, we settled on the Double Deep Slumber Nest from Doctors Foster and Smith. And we got it in red. At first she was unsure:

Would this bed live up to her beloved little round red bed?

It took her a little bit, but now she loves her big red round bed.There’s even room for Peter and her blankies in there!

Through the research and trial and error with dog bed purchasing we have discovered that Nola definitely prefers to sleep a-round.