Friday, June 21, 2013


As some of you may have read last week, I've been struggling to work with my friend on acclimating Sophie to our house. It's really a combination of her strong instincts, my sensitive kitty, our changing living situation and trying to get my friend to do the things she needs to with Sophie that's not working. So I had to come to a very difficult decision last week that it just wasn't working out. Though she was behaving fairly well on her tie-down, I felt that her prey drive was just too strong to trust around Gina in the long run. I think even if we got them to the point that they could co-exist, what about the day that Gina would play with her toy or chase a shadow across the room and Sophie would go right back to her instincts and Gina would be right back at square one. More likely, since she is an indoor/outdoor kitty, she'd just become a permanent resident of the neighbor's bushes to avoid all contact. This is basically what she has done in the weeks since Sophie's arrival. Even with Sophie in the crate, I have to carry Gina across the room to her food dish and she often comes meowing at the door but leaves before I get the chance to open it.

She tries to relax but she always leaves after a minute or two:(

We tried giving her food and treats to reward her for being around Sophie but her nerves took over and she threw them up right away on several occasions. I try to remember that cats are a lot more primal than dogs and you can't really reason with them the way that you can with dogs. If her survival instinct is telling her to run and hide, that's what she's going to do. And there are so many big changes coming up for her. We are going to my parent's house for a month and then to our new house. Both places will be new and exciting for her and I'd hate for her to start out in total fear. It breaks my heart to watch my happy outgoing kitty that I have carefully raised from 5 weeks old to be social, friendly and loving to be in a constant state of wide-eyed panic.

Gina's first day with us :-)

But it also breaks my heart to ask my friend to let go of her dog. I know she's only had her for a few months but it's easy to become attached to a dog overnight. As I mentioned at the end of my last post, my friend said that she had been living with her friend and her friend's young son for a month before she left Colorado. When it was time for her to leave, they were desperate for her to leave Sophie with them. The little boy adored running around the house with Sophie joyfully jogging along behind him and my friend said that she never saw Sophie so happy and carefree. My friend was really on the fence about it but ultimately decided to bring Sophie with her. Though I had told her from the first day she brought Sophie home that it would be a gamble bringing her so far and if it didn't work out for everyone, Gina included, we would have to come up with another option. She agreed and said it was worth a shot.

It took me a week to get up the courage to talk to my friend about it. Of course, it was one of the worst conversations I have ever had, but I tried to tell her that she did an amazing thing rescuing this dog and she would have a long happy life with her friend and she could always check in on her this way. I also explained that as much as it wasn't fair to Gina, it wasn't fair to Sophie either to always be on her case about something that is so natural to her.

The hardest part was that my friend was really sure that it would be easier and better once we got to my parent's house because Gina will have to stay inside and this would, in a way, force her to get used to Sophie. I told her that it would actually be so so much worse because Gina has been there before and being kept indoors, she spends much of the day chasing her toys, frantically sprinting around the house and dive-bombing into boxes and paper bags to keep herself busy. Plus the whole living space is open plan and so there would be no way to separate them unless one was in a bedroom. With bad separation anxiety, I don't think Sophie would cope well with that. She doesn't even like being on the other side of an open door from you. And in all reality I think Gina would just choose to spend the whole time under a bed or in a corner anyways. Maybe if Gina was a tougher cat and would just turn around and swat at Sophie instead of running away, things would turn around, but that's just not her.

Gina @ Tahoe last year

After all that, we were quiet for a while as I let her think things over. After a few minutes, she looked up at me in tears and said that her friend had responded to her text asking if she'd still want Sophie and she replied that she'd be more than happy to take her. After the initial shock of it all, I think my friend handled it really well and although the next couple days were bittersweet, I think she felt too that it was the right thing to do for all of us. I could be all wrong, but I feel like at least subconsciously, her resistance to committing to a training and exercise schedule with Sophie was her way of dealing with being overwhelmed by the whole thing including financially, time-wise once she would be working full time and trying to get her behavior to change so drastically to live with a cat. I really think she loved the idea of having a dog, of getting kisses and cuddles(which Sophie was not actually into), of being greeted when she got home and of going on a nice bike ride or hike once in a while, but was not ready for the actual day in and day out responsibility.

I also know that she loves this dog and wants only the best for her and I know that feeling of wanting so badly to save a dog and make sure every day that they are safe and happy. It really reminds me of my experience with Shaka. I wanted so desperately to keep her forever and once that dream was crushed, I was devastated. I felt like I had failed her and she would never feel confident in another home. But once I found her forever momma, it was such an amazing feeling. I watched with pride as she walked away, knowing that she was on her way to a lifetime of happiness and I had a hand in that. I also felt relief that the time, expense and worry that she brought me every day was lifted. In my heart I wanted to keep her but in my mind I knew it was too much for us. I told my friend the whole story and I think it really rang true with her.

Shaka was so attached to Kaya & Norman, I worried that she would never be okay without them.

This was after she spent 2 weeks with her new that's a happy dog!

So even though I offered to make airplane arrangements to fly Sophie back to Colorado, my friend took the initiative and found her a ride with a friend of a friend driving back there 2 days later. And once Sophie was there with her new family, I saw this most tear-jerking post on my friend's facebook wall by Sophie's new momma:

Ashley: Meet Sophie the Adventure Dog! The newest member of our little family ❤ My heart is happy.

John: Is she Hyper?

Ashley: No John, she is perfect! So well behaved, very chill, but happy to run around the yard and play with Trevor. She's a dream :)

Jen: This made me cry. Black lab mixes are my weakness. ❤

Ashley: Well I'll bring her over so you can meet her Jen :) you will fall in love. 

Bret: Aw she looks just like my pointer!

Ashley: We should introduce them so they can be friends

Bret: Come play sweet pup!

John: The reason I ask is that I had a friend who had a small lab, & she was really full of energy!

Ashley: John, I had a yellow lab years ago who was also FULL of energy. Sophie knows when to play and when to chill. I'm tellin' ya, she is the perfect doggie.

This conversation really made me think, as much as we want to believe we can train each and every dog to be the dog we want them to be or even need them to be for our situation, sometimes it's unfair to ask them to live a life of feeling like the are always doing the wrong thing for following their instincts. Every dog is the perfect dog for someone. Sophie will always be a good girl now and that little boy will grow up loving a dog and as for my friend, she is doing very well with it all. It helps that she truly loves the company of Kaya and Norman, soaking up their daily doses of kisses and cuddles.

Another way I knew that I made the right decision was when I had to go out for a few hours after Sophie left and when I returned, Gina sat on the fence meowing away to say hello. At that moment I realized that she had not done that once in all the time that Sophie was here. And there were so many little things that came rushing back to me as soon as I walked up the steps and she reminded me that she had stopped doing. She gave me her trademark greeting by stretching up my leg(no claws) and tapping her paws as high as she could reach 'til I picked her up and gave her a pet, some scratching and a kiss while her kitty motorboat turned on all the way up. I put her down and she pranced through the door and jumped onto Norman, purring away and once again attempting to nurse from his lips. Then she jumped down, rubbed back and forth on my leg, begged for some snacks and darted across the room after her toy. Once I sat down, she planted herself on my lap, purring away and got lots of face scratching in. After that, she must have slept for a least a day in her favorite spot curled up between Kaya and Norman. And so now that Gina is back to her old self, my friend is getting to know her really well and is getting a huge kick out of her silly ways. Gina also now gives my friend her trademark greeting:)

I took this picture right when I got home, she was so relaxed and happy!

It doesn't matter if you've been gone 5 minute or 5 hours, this is how Gina says hello :-)

It is such a nice feeling to know that my friend is not going to hold any of this against me, the dogs or Gina. I know now that our friendship is strong enough to overcome a difficult situation like this and I really value that. And thanks for all the great advice and support you guys gave me in my previous posts. Even though it didn't work for Sophie to stay in our home, she really learned a lot in a short time and I think it'll really stick with her. I learned so much and I'll definitely refer to your suggestions for future dogs we might have in the house!

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Thursday, June 20, 2013


The other day I posted about how we finally found the perfect house, so now it's that dreaded time. Time to pack everything up, hope it fits in a truck, hope it fits in a storage unit and hope none of it breaks. I may only have a studio apartment but I somehow crammed a ton of stuff in it. Luckily my friend is here to help me, she is a packing pro! It's been interesting to see how the pets have reacted so differently. Kaya is just cool Kaya. She is somewhat curious but mostly just happy to hang out, chew on her bone and wonder why are not out doing something more fun.

Gina is beside herself. It is kitty heaven. Packing paper to shred, boxes to jump in and stacks of boxes to climb.

And Norman was completely traumatized. If I had known it would be so hard on him I would have planned to have him stay with my pet sitters for a while. First he was scared of the pile of flattened boxes and he hid in the yard with his tail between his legs. I moved the boxes to the kitchen so he couldn't see them and then I had to carry him inside and put him on the bed. He sat there, frozen in one position, for hours until I got into bed with him and he was able to hide behind me and fall asleep.

He was okay for the next couple days when the boxes were already packed and stacked in the kitchen. But the day we moved everything into storage was another bad day for him. The exit from my apartment is through the yard and though he is well trained to not go through the gate when open, I worried that he would go out in fear so I put him in the bathroom with his dog bed, water and a bone. After a while I checked on him and he was still so freaked out so I put Kaya in there with him. I would check on them periodically and Norman was always sitting there wide-eyed while Kaya was chomping happily on the bone. Poor Norman!

We still had to stick around for another day after that and Norman remained out of sorts at home though he was thrilled to go on an outing with Motlie. On the last day when we were putting the last of the things in my car, he had really had enough. Good thing we were leaving that place behind! He was still acting like a worry wart in the car so we stopped at the park on the way to Tahoe. He had a good romp and definitely helped lift his spirits.

I imagine moving in will be a lot easier on him. I can put him in the backyard while we're moving things around and he adapts easily to new places. I think a huge part of the problem this time was that he was already on bad terms with the apartment for weeks because the closet door came off its hinges and fell over a few times. He had been weary of it ever since, along with the bathroom door beside it just because of its close proximity. Since my apartment was just one room it pretty much made the whole place scarey. He would only eat in the far corner of the kitchen, out of eyesight of the evil closet door. He is such a sensitive guy but that's part of what I love about him:)

I know a lot of our blog friends have moved recently, how did your pets handle the move?

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Once we knew we were going to be away for a whole month, we made sure to give the dogs some final "cousin" time with Motlie. It was a hot and sunny day so we headed to Lake Anza so the dogs could swim.

Motlie is not as sure about swimming as Kaya and Norman are but after watching them go in a bunch of times, she had to join them. After that she was swimming like a fish and couldn't get enough!

It's so funny to watch her get in because she takes each step so gingerly instead of just going for it.

After walking around the whole lake and down the trail we were super hungry so we decided to go for pizza and bring the dogs. I had to stop at home to pick up my friend so I left Kaya there since she gets impatient if she has to hang out somewhere too long.

We got a nice table outside and Norman was pretty beat so he was happy to lie down and watch all the people walk by but Motlie was way excited and I wasn't quite sure how her momma was going to eat while holding her. She had to go to the bathroom so I told her I'd hold on to Motlie for her. Before I knew it, Motlie was trying to follow her inside and since she was standing on the other side of a pillar holding up a rope to divide the tables from the sidewalk, her leash pulled it down and it dragged down the pillar on the other end too. It scared Norman so he tried to get out of the way and his leash pulled down the table leg so half of the table collapsed and all our drinks went crashing to the ground. Oops...

We got the dogs out of the way and the waiter was so nice about it. It is a very dog friendly restaurant so they are probably somewhat used to that sort of thing. We decided we had to put Motlie in the car if her momma was going to be able to eat anything. Luckily I was parked right in front and it wasn't hot out so Motlie was happy to curl up and sleep while we ate.

Norman and I had to switch spots with my friend so he didn't have to lie on the wet ground in the "scary spot" but the meal went by without a hitch after that. Well, except when Kaylie tried to steal a slice of pizza when her momma picked her up. Greedy wiener dog! And afterwards Norman got to meet a really cute pit mix with blue eyes and a couple of goofy boston terriers.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013


As I started to write about in this post, I've been house-hunting since January and it's basically become a full time job, but we finally found a house! The search started out for rental houses but there is such a shortage of available and affordable houses that will also allow all the pets, it was a huge struggle. I made endless calls and emails, went to countless viewings and filled out too many applications. I was turned down from many and realized others were in unsafe neighborhoods or just too expensive even though we were approved.

A pet-friendly place we can afford:/

So then I started looking at sale houses since my parents graciously decided that they wanted to invest in a property that I could make the payments on. I started out working with their realtor which was a total nightmare. She is an older lady and clearly sick of her job. So with every question and email, I felt like I was totally putting her out and in a hugely competitive market, the whole thing was so much more stressful. During one meeting, she got out a map and told me where I could and could not live, highlighting the only areas I was allowed to look at. She also scolded me every time I found something online and asked her about it, saying she would be the only one doing the searching. I should note that she scolded my mom about the same thing and my mom said, "Too bad, you can't stop me." Haha...

A cute house I was not allowed to look at:(

The worst part was her gripe with my dogs. She would often say to me, "I've never had a client before who buys a home for their dogs." I kept trying to explain to her that just because I wanted a home with a nice yard to enjoy with my dogs, does not mean I am buying a house just for them but it never sunk in. And she would point out things that would really irk me, like one house that had a sort of tiny "studio" in the yard(more like a concrete box with a roof), but she said, "Oh, there's somewhere for the dogs to go when it's raining." Not seeing the humor, if there was any, I had to reply, "My dogs come inside when it's raining. They're not going to stay out in the cold in some weird box."

Can you see the "studio" in the corner?

Another conversation went like this at a house with a mud room...

realtor: There's a good place for the dogs to sleep.
me: But the dogs sleep in my room.
realtor: They do? [shocked]
me: Ya, well...they sleep in my bed with me.
realtor: [all color drained from her face and she pulled the same statement my mom always says] What about when you meet a guy and he does not want to share the bed with those dogs?
me: [this is getting way too personal but I gave her my standard response] Well then he must not be the right guy for me. 
realtor:  Ok.....
[awkward silence to follow]

How can anyone not want to share a bed with these two??

Needless to say, I ended up switching realtors to the most amazing realtor of all my opinion. He was so easy going and fun, yet very professional and knowledgeable. He'd answer my emails from early morning to late at night and he'd hop on any property I'd inquire about. He humored me when I wanted to look at really "out there" houses, like the one up 100 steps and the one with a 2nd floor addition built on 2 by 4 stilts. When I finally spotted the perfect house, I had the dreaded feeling that we wouldn't get it. He wrote up a 30-page pdf of recent nearby sales for comparison which was actually very interesting and gave us all the info we needed to make the right offer. I even wrote a cover letter since the owner had lived there for 21 years and was, of course, emotionally invested in the house.

Are 102 steps too many to get to the front door?

We had to wait weeks for the offer date and I visited the 2 open houses, wishing away all the other people looking at it too. I made friends with the owner's Garfield look-a-like and told the realtor how much I loved the house, while I dreamed up renovation projects. There ended up being 13 offers on the table and even with our offer of 100k over asking price, it was very close. My realtor told me that evening that we were in the top 3 and they would have a decision by morning. I thought to myself, there's no way I am going to get any sleep tonight, but by midnight I got another email from my realtor and he said we got it! I was so excited that I got very little sleep anyways.

Our new house!

So for the past few weeks, we've been doing inspections and my dad has been pouring over documents. Unfortunately, he's been traveling overseas and they've also been working on the sale of my grandparents' house in New York so it's been a very stressful time for him. Needless to say, he's going to get one heck of a Father's Day card! Living on the east coast, my parents have not actually seen the house yet so I am so excited to show them in person. Another exciting thing is that the house has an extra room for them to stay in when they visit and Zoey too when she travels west! I can't wait to have bar-b-ques in the backyard and watch movies at night rather than have them go back to their hotel.

Our new yard - it has a usable brick fireplace!

Another cool thing is that while I was at the inspection I got to meet the owner of the house so she told me all about the house, the neighbors, the neighborhood and herself. She raised her two sons there and she's an artist so she pointed out that almost all the paintings in the house are hers. And I was formally introduced to her kitty, Mango, who was born across the street 11 years ago. The house itself is a beautiful craftsman bungalow built in 1922 and has all of that charm to go with its age. But the whole downstairs was finished off 4 years ago so it's got a great combo of old and new. And unlike all the other older homes we looked at, it has a new foundation, a new roof, new plumbing and new electric so I think we ended up getting the perfect house!

Mango in the living room :-)

recently built downstairs

The area is very pretty too. It's a block away from Mills College and though I've never been there, I've heard it has a beautiful campus so I look forward to walking around it and hopefully I can walk the dogs there too! The house is also just a few minutes from my favorite hiking spots and favorite areas for shops and eating. Now I just can't wait to move in! The owner needs to stay in the house for another month so we're headed to my parents house in Tahoe so that we're not so cramped in my studio for another month. I am actually very excited because I haven't been there since winter and it's like outdoor heaven for the dogs (and me.) But that means it's the dreaded time to pull out the boxes and pack up my whole apartment to put into storage. And I've already been spending countless hours on looking at design and decorating ideas. Anyone else love that site?

Mills college campus, the house is by the far side.

sun room at the front of the house :-)

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Monday, June 10, 2013


First of all, I would like to thank everyone who commented Friday's post about working on clicker training with Sophie to improve on her focus and listening skills. Everyone gave great advice and it was so helpful! She is improving a bit with training and there have been no further incidents with Gina, but I feel like I am walking on eggshells with my friend and holding in thoughts about the situation for too long. I kind of snapped the other day. After I suggested that Sophie had to be on a tie down or crated until she understood not to chase the flies or obsess over Gina. She doesn't lunge for Gina when she walks by but she watches her like a hawk and Gina knows it. So my friend kept letting her off the tie-down when Gina was not around. The next thing you know, Sophie would be snapping after flies again and I worried what would happen if Gina came back inside, besides the fact that it's not teaching her anything to let her off when she hasn't earned it. I finally just blurted out, she needs to be on the tie-down always and my friend was so hurt, she said I wasn't clear about that though I really thought I was.

Even in her "safe spot" Gina leaves after a couple minutes at home...

I then had to take a phone call and by the time I got off, my friend had been doing research on the internet and told me why letting Sophie chase the flies was a compulsive obsession and tied into her overall prey-drive instincts. Yes, I had already explained this to her multiple times, but I smiled and said that it made sense. She seems to feel very badly that Sophie appears "depressed" and I also explained that it's best fer her in the long run to know what's expected of her and not be scolded for simply following her instincts. Then someday she'll have her freedoms back and won't be so confused. The next day Sophie was on a 2 leash tie down, about 12 feet long or roughly the width of my entire apartment. Sigh...

I never crate trained her, but Kaya likes Sophie's crate:)

I think the training is helping, though I'm finding it a bit frustrating that my friend's not doing it much. I think she'd be so much more at ease on her tie down if she was mentally worn out first thing in the morning and then again later in the day. As I stated before, I think my friend is very much taking my lead and sort of copying my actions. Since I work from home, I usually work until the afternoon and then take my dogs on a long hike or park outing off leash. That keeps them pooped until the same time the next day. So my friend pretty much does the same thing with Sophie even though she has admitted that Sophie is used to getting out in the mornings. I have explained many times that our routine didn't start out this way and that I spent hours per day working with my dogs in the beginning. She seems to understand but it's still a work in progress.

Norman pooped after the very first walk I took him on:)

I know the best way to get her motivated is to work with her so that we're doing it together and I have done that as much as I can. One evening I was showing her down stays with distractions with all 3 dogs and a couple minutes in she got on her phone and once she got off, I tried to tell her about a breakthrough I had with Sophie and she pretty much just said, Sophie does that anyways (which I know she doesn't) and went to watch tv. Other times, when she's taken Sophie on walks on her own, I ask her how it went and she says, "Oh fine, we just went to the dog park." The one I told her I would never take my dogs to because the dogs and people there are always horribly rude. So she says,"Ya, there was this dog called Frenchie..." My response, "Oh yeah, did he put a death grip on Sophie and hump her all the way across the park?" Ya....

I'm trying to be sympathetic too that this must be a huge change for both of them. I asked her a few questions to see where her thoughts were on all this, like do you know why we're doing all this and do you think it's working and do you think Sophie is unhappy? She said that she understood that it was to teach Sophie to behave around Gina and that she felt it was starting to work, but it makes her sad to see Sophie so mopey. I reminded her that Sophie is probably decompressing from all the new things being thrown her way and also letting go of old habits. On top of all that, she actually just kind of has a subdued personality to begin with. I struggle that she feels it's only for Gina's sake because it makes me feel like the bad guy and that she's only doing this stuff for me, not because she really wants to work on it with Sophie. I'm beginning to feel like a bit of a slave driver rather than a supportive friend.

Another issue I have is that I don't think she should already have the off leash freedom that Kaya and Norman do. I'm trying to find the right balance of being supportive and making suggestions at the same time. She doesn't get into trouble off leash or even bother anyone but she has terrible recall so it makes little sense to me to give her such freedom. I even asked my friend why she puts the harness on her to let her off leash and she said so she can grab a hold of her if she needs to. I'm not sure about that solution. One day I took all 3 dogs on a hike by myself and kept her leashed the whole time. She still had tons of enrichment and I felt like she was really connecting to me by the end. I told my friend about it when I got home and she was just annoyed that I didn't let her play or run.

My friend also feels compelled to get Sophie to play with Kaya and Norman and/or other dogs, yet Sophie's way of interacting is to circle them as they play and bark or chase and bark. Barking during play is a major pet peeve of mine as I have seen it lead to so many fights. It really instigates and agitates the dogs at play or the chasee. Not that Kaya and Norman would ever fight but you never know when another dog might come along a stir things up. I know Sophie is not being aggressive but I would never encourage it and my friend keeps saying "get in there!" to Sophie and then she barks. Then my friend says she doesn't understand why Sophie just barks instead of playing. I finally said, I know you're trying to get her to play but she just thinks it means get excited and ultimately bark. Again, her face fell and I felt like a jerk:(

Overall, I think all these things are minor and I know I sound complainy, but sometimes you just need to vent! Sophie is a sweet, wonderful dog who deserves a lot of happiness. We have been giving her a lot of positive encouragement along the way, but I think one of the most challenging things about her is that it is hard to connect with her. She acts like a dog who was left mostly to her own devices in her upbringing and so she is not one for toys, cuddles, attention, other dogs or treats. She is mostly interested in birds, bugs and following her nose. Though it is entertaining to watch Kaya and Norman try to get her to "make out" (one of their favorite pastimes.) They'll lick her all over her mouth, eyes and ears while she has not a care in the world, but she never licks back. She's kind of in a world of her own.

When my friend first arrived with Sophie she mentioned to me that they were staying with a friend back home who had a little boy that Sophie adored. I wish I could have seen her interact so happily with someone! She told me that her friend really wanted Sophie and she was really torn but decided to bring her after all. Part of me wishes that she would have let her stay with her friend. She would be so happy growing up with that little boy and wouldn't have had to go through all these difficult things that she doesn't understand. And I hope I don't sound horribly selfish but part of me has this fear that my friend will start working full time and I know she is the type who likes to sleep in and go for drinks after work (and I don't blame her!) but since I work from home, Sophie will become my sole responsibility. Her situation was different in Colorado because she was able to bring Sophie to work with her, but I think the odds of that happening again are very slim. I adore Sophie but I guess I'm just not ready to take on another dog right now pretty much on my own:/

When she used to go to work this was her favorite spot...

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Friday, June 7, 2013


When I found out I we were having a new dog join our home, one thing I did not expect to encounter (but I am more than happy to do) is work with my friend on how to train Sophie. I guess I thought my friend had more experience than she does and it turns out that a lot of her methods are bit like old school dominance training which just does not work. Sophie showed up with little to no training. She acts like a puppy who was either never taught simple commands or was shown half-heartedly and never made to follow through. She's the type of dog that even when you tell her "sit" with a delicious treat in your hand, it could take 10 times to get it, if at all.

Sophie also comes with a person who loves her dog and knows what to tell her to do, but has no idea why she's not doing it and how to get her to do it. When she doesn't listen, my friend just kind of yells at her or repeats herself 8 million times with no response. The only way I've only see her get Sophie to lie down is to push her down. So I explained that I think we have to bring her back to basics and stop saying any commands to her when we are not almost 100% sure she will listen or else we are just setting her up to fail. She has become numb to commands, whether she knows them or not, and I think she just hears gibberish when we say them. I know it sounds simple, but it was actually really hard to bring up to my friend. I was so worried that she would feel like I think Sophie's a "bad dog" or that mine are in any way better, but I keep explaining that I've had them much longer and I've spent so much time working on the things they know. She was open and willing to do the training though to make it work for all of us, including Sophie!

So I showed her with the clicker and bite-size treats how to work on basic commands like sit, down, leave-it and watch in a room with no distractions. I showed her how to lure her into positions with treats if she's not getting it and to make a big party when she does it. I told her the best way to get Sophie to improve was to do several short sessions a day and always keep it fun and successful. The rest of the time while at home, we would have her on a tie down or leash to keep her from chasing flies or going after Gina.

I also showed her how to turn walks into training walks that she could still enjoy. I told her she's better off doing 2 blocks keeping her attention than a mile of her pulling you down the street. We worked on asking her to sit and watch at curbs and giving her a command to go sniff and another to come back to attention. Though she was way too distracted to get it, it's a start in the right direction.

All this training is exhausting!

So far the clicker training has gone well but Sophie still completely checks out if she sees a fly. We try to change positions or even rooms, but she remains fixated. Any advice on distractions, even in a small controlled space? She loses interest in even hot dogs, chicken and bacon and has no interest in toys. I am hoping the clicker training will start to help so she knows the second she takes her attention off it, she has done the right thing.

The walks are still difficult because she has no interest in treats and is very distracted by bugs, birds and cats. I'm finding it challenging to explain what I know I would do instinctively. Just like I didn't realize my dogs have learned as much as they have since I got them, I didn't realize how much I had figured out through the years of walking, sitting, fostering and owning dogs. Though I am no professional dog trainer, I think I know what she should do but can't always seem to find the words to explain it!

So far all of that has been the fun part. But the part that I'm finding difficult is that we started all this weeks ago and I haven't really seen my friend follow through. I see her doing maybe one training session or walk per day and she sometimes joins us for our off leash hikes in the afternoon. That is good exercise for Sophie and though she's not bad, if she was my dog I would not let her off leash before her basic listening skills are better. Even if your dog doesn't run away, off leash time is a huge reward and has to be earned in my opinion. I learned it the hard way taking Kaya to the dog park too much as a puppy and not working on her training!

Who me, naughty? No.....

Part of the problem is that my friend also seems to copy me on certain things that I wish she wouldn't. For example, parking at my apartment is street only but I'm usually parked less than a block away. I do not leash my dogs when we walk to the car. Not because I'm lazy or I don't care but because they know the drill. Without saying a word, they wait at the top of the stairs until I motion for them to join me by the open gate, then they sit, make eye contact, follow me out, sit beside me as I lock the gate and then stay by my side as we walk to the car. They do not stop to sniff, pee or say hi to any people or dogs. And they have no interest in things like cats, squirrels and even skunks that we have around the neighborhood. I could throw Kaya's precious ball across the street and she wouldn't think of going after it. And it's not because they just showed up and I trusted them and they figured it out. It's because we worked on it day after day after day for months until I knew it would be safe. So on the first day, my friend let Sophie do the same and of course, my mind flashes to a vision of her darting across the road after the neighbor's cat and possibly in front of a car. It didn't happen, but it easily could have. Then I felt like such a jerk telling my friend to leash her from now on.

She also told me months ago that she does not want Sophie on furniture and she is well trained to stay off of it. This proved to be true but after a couple nights, she asked Sophie to join her on her bed. Sophie obliged and several times since then has decided on her own merit to get on the bed. Then my friend started to get annoyed, saying I don't want her on my bed, why does she keep getting on it? So this evening, she tried to get Sophie to get on the couch. I had to jump in and ask, "What happened to no furniture?" Yes, it would be hypocritical of me to say she can't get on the couch if Kaya and Norman are on it, but the fact that she expects Sophie to stay off the furniture once she's told to go on it just makes no sense. She said, "Why does it matter if you are getting rid of that couch anyways?" Because it's not about the couch, it's about setting boundaries, besides the fact that Sophie did not even want to get on the couch. And I know this is all partly due to the fact that Sophie is in no way cuddly or affectionate and my friend seems to really want her to be that way, especially now that she's experiencing it with Kaya and Norman.

My friend is Kaya's new favorite cuddle partner:)

Though my friend has somewhat disappointed me in her efforts to work with Sophie, I also do not want to be a nag. I feel like I should do more to encourage her, like I should just wake up in the morning and suggest we work on some training together and go on a walk. It's hard though because I work from home and since my friend is not working yet, I'm trying to balance everything while my friend sits next to me bored all day. Phew! I don't mean to gripe but moving, work, 3 dogs, 2 people and a scaredy cat in a studio apartment is a bit stressful!

On a side note, the dogs are getting along great. You can see Sophie even cuddled up next to Kaya or maybe she just didn't bother to move when Kaya plopped down? But Gina remains very cautious and I feel so sad to see her in fear.  Though she comes back to eat a little, she doesn't stay long and I really miss my little mini-cat.

Has anyone ever had any challenges involving not only working with a dog but also their person?

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