Wow, the excavator guy is efficient! And it's so fun to watch...I wonder if he'd let me drive that! So much progress in just two days...
The plan is that tomorrow we will actually break ground on the construction of the new kennel facilities!! I'll keep a photo journal going as we make progress...the intention is to do this daily, assuming there are changes daily.
The first phase includes widening the driveway and putting in a hammerhead turnaround for fire truck access, and excavation for the building site. In the meantime, we have taken the gate and business sign down. During construction access to the kennels will be via our private driveway which is the driveway you see before you get to the kennels. I'll get a temporary sign in as soon as I can.
We've also begun prepping for temporary power, starting with planting the temporary power pole and dropping a couple trees that would be in the way of the overhead line.
Here are some pictures of what things look like today...
Well...new building permits are all almost here. It's been a long, long wait, a HUGE learning experience navigating the county permit process for a commercial business, but I have the permits to start moving dirt, and the building permit should be available any day now!!
The new facility will be 40x50', have up to 16 more indoor/outdoor covered kennels, in-floor radiant heating, large play area, then an EVEN LARGER ONE!! With more stuff for the dogs to play with and on! I CAN'T WAIT!!!
I'll post pictures as we go so you can see the progress. Here's a couple...
THIS JUST IN: I got interrupted yesterday by a call from the county saying that the commercial building permit was ready to pick up, so I ran down as soon as I could (actually, I didn't run. It was a nice day so I took my motorcycle), and they handed me a sizeable stack of papers. This was my commercial building permit! It was like Christmas, or my birthday, and SO awesome!!
Then the cashier and I both looked at my helmet at the same time, and she kindly offered a large envelope for it to all go in so it wouldn't wind up all over the freeway on my way home. A very good day, indeed!
So stay tuned! Lots of activity about to happen...
Just a Quick Note
Northwest Dog Retreat has just doubled the size of the doggy play yard and added two additional kennels! The new kennels are 10x10 for larger dogs or multiple dogs. And the play yard just adds that extra space making it easier to run and play, chase a ball, or just stretch out and relax.
I'm considering hosting an open house/party to celebrate the expansion and the one year anniversary of Northwest Dog Retreat's opening. Feedback would be appreciated to help me decide.
I've been taking classes to become certified in dog training. It should be complete by midsummer if all goes as planned. It's been so fun to get back into this and be reminded of so many things I've forgotten, and experiencing the humbling realization that I don't know everything, once again.
For example, if you want your dog to do or not do something, you have to teach it to do or not do it. They don't just intuitively know! Imagine that! This seems obvious, but think about your relationship with your dog… The little things they do that annoy you, that you've mentioned thousands of times that you can't stand. Have you spent even 10 minutes training them not to? I KNOW, right?!
Here are some annoying things I can think of off the top of my head that my own dogs often do:
We ask ourselves why, and the answer is simple: They haven't been trained otherwise. And then sometimes things happen that will make the issues escalate.
And we're back to Max…
Some of you may know that Max had surgery in December. (You can read about this in previous blogs). I haven't seen any evidence that the tumor is growing. That's a good thing. He's happy and SO fun! ...when he's not with other dogs. His dog "aggression" is starting to generalize to other dogs, and there have been a few occasions of 'displaced' aggression, where he's "accidentally" caught us humans in his effort to reach his intended prey. Not too bad, (i.e. no human blood) but an indication things are going the wrong way.
Of all the dogs I've ever had, I've never had to re-home anyone. I don't intend to let Max be my first, but at some point I may have no choice. I'm less and less able to trust him in with the other dogs. I have to really keep an eye on his body posture. He does give pretty visible hints when he's about to get into it with another dog (Jake), but I have to catch it soon enough, and be able to act on it soon enough. However, he doesn't seem to be learning that it's not okay to do that.
That being said, I'm trying to figure out if it's possible for me to just make him a "working" dog. Wondering if I have the time and patience to play with scent training and agility with enough frequency to keep him busy enough to not care if he's with other dogs. I was thinking that those activities would decrease his energy enough to prevent dog aggression. I really don't think I'm energetic enough to stay ahead of that! Wow, that boy's got energy! The other problem with that is, any time I spend with Max is now time I can't spend with Jake. The original plan was for them to pal around together, which would occupy their time a bit while I get other stuff done. This worked perfectly until Max had his surgery. But now they both look to me for companionship. Comforting, and fun on one hand, a stressful constant obligation on the other.
But! I'm willing to give it a little more time. Time to see if I can come up with a schedule that works for both dogs. In a way, they should each benefit from not being so reliant on me for entertainment and security (just don't ask Jake. He doesn't feel the benefit right now as he is outside in the play yard and Max is in here practicing his long down/stay).
Here's what I'll be focusing on with Max in order to determine if we can come to some resolution that I'm satisfied with:
****Lots of things happened over the last couple months, so I wrote the above about a month and a half ago. The following will bring you up to date.
I discovered that there were a couple of triggers for Max's "Mr. Hyde". Now that I'm aware of them, I do what I can to avoid them unless I'm in a position to work with him on reducing the unwanted behavior.
At this time it's been a few weeks and we have had no negative interactions between Max and anyone else. And he's thoroughly enjoying his play time again. We still have a lot of work to do. I want to get him so I don't have to be so vigilant, but I'm happy with the progress so far.
My New Office
While my new office seems to be taking FOREVER, it will certainly be well worth the wait. It's coming along perfectly. We have the wiring in, the roof on, and the siding on the front wall installed and treated. It's taking so long due to the weather: either raining cats and dogs (I'm thinking of boarding cats here, too) or freezing. I don't want to work out in 19 degree weather unless it's to play with the four-legged guests.
I'm looking forward to moving all the kennel things out to the office. It will really streamline the process here and make me so much more organized!
Some Trouble with Max
Disclaimer: Some people might find some of this content to be icky. I made the icky parts in a smaller font. You're welcome. :o)
In November I noticed that Max was having some issues in the house, (peeing in odd places, not to mention IN THE HOUSE), and having to go outside frequently for, you know, poop. We discovered he had a UTI and put him on meds to clear that up. He stopped peeing in the house, but the pooping continued to be a problem and we noticed some blood streaks. I took him to the vet again, and long story slightly shorter, a rectal tumor was found. In mid-December we took him to a specialist who said surgery needed to be done, and the best case scenario would be that he'd be able to get it all out but it could still come back. Worst case scenario would be that he couldn't get it out and it might be cancerous. He had surgery the following morning.
Well, it wasn't cancerous, but the surgeon wasn't able to get it all either. So Max had an aggressive round of antibiotics. The surgeon is less optimistic than my vet, so I'm going with my vets prognosis, which is that there's a possibility it won't come back so we'll pretend it won't unless we see symptoms again. It would be cost-prohibitive to keep doing the surgery. As it was, Pat and I put a mental bow on Max's tail as a gift to each other and wished each other a very Merry Christmas.
Max handled the surgery and recovery remarkably well, like it was nothing, so I had the challenge of following doctors orders: keep him calm and contained for two weeks. WHAT??!! Keep TWO Jack Russell's quiet for two weeks? I did my best. Without helping me out much, Max did recover and you can't tell anything happened last month at all.
Max came to us in September from Texas. He wasn't quite a rescue, although I did find him on RescueMe.com. His previous family didn't have the time needed for him (which is A LOT), so they posted him on RescueMe instead of dropping him at a shelter.
Max is a thirteen pound Jack Russell comedic tornado. He knows some very important things. He doesn't beg, and he's not at all food aggressive. He is crate trained extremely well and is happy to go in his crate at bedtime, or any other time. He loves everyone and everything!
He is definitely lacking in some very important knowledge also, though. But aren't we all. He's not very good at walking on a leash. He's an avid licker and nibbler. He was nipping too much when playing with Jake at first, but they worked that out. But the thing I want to work on most of all, because it's disgusting, is he eats poop. Mostly Jake's. And he's very insistent about it. More on my plan for that in the "something different" section of this post.
Max loves playing with all the dogs that visit the kennels! He makes a great playground coordinator and can often be seen starting a good game of tag or tug of war out there; usually when things get "too quiet".
But in the evenings or when I'm reading he rivals Jake as far as cuddliness. He likes to be held and hugged, or to just sit on a lap.
I have lots of training to do for both Max and Jake! Which brings me to…
Something a bit different...
I have just started taking dog trainers classes. It will go through the middle of summer 2015. Then I will be able to help you with issues you may be having with your furry little friends. I'm really looking forward to it! The classes are great, but Jake and Max aren't sure exactly what just happened. There are a few more rules around here, AND they actually need to follow the rules. I now have a direction in which to go, which helps a lot with consistency. It's hard to be consistent if you don't really have a plan.
Jake and Max will both start by learning to heel better, and learning the "leave it" command. They've already gotten used to staying off the furniture unless they are invited up. Also, I now eat before them, and I go through doors before they do. I'm learning to say the correct command at the right time. It's harder than you might think.
I'll keep you updated with milestones as Jake, Max and I take the classes. Feel free to ask questions as we go. I'd be happy to find out the answers.
Jake comes from Southern California. We drove down there in early January and picked him up from a shelter near Palm Springs. Since he was picked up as a stray dog we don't know anything about his past, but he started off afraid of pretty much everyone, especially men.
We've worked on his fear of people over the last ten months (Wow, it's been ten months already??!!). He LOVES women! And he's getting used to men. I pretty much supplied everyone with treats to give him, and I bring him everywhere I possibly can. There are surprisingly few places to bring dogs. Obviously you can't leave them in the car during the summer, so it would be nice if more places would allow well-behaved dogs in their establishments. Maybe I'll start keeping a list of local dog friendly places. Anywho... We are still helping him realize that men are cool people, are capable of a good ear scratching, and frequently have treats (even if I'm the one that supplies them).
Jake has learned to walk on a leash. When we first got him he was like a crazy 20-pound fish on a line. I often walk him on a long retractable leash and he would go to the furthest extent in one direction, and run as fast as he could in the other direction for a running start to see if he could rip the handle out of my hand. He never succeeded in escaping, but he almost succeeded in pulling me over, and a couple times I was afraid he'd do damage to my shoulder (but he didn't). Today's walk was a little over a mile and a half. He no longer tries to attack all the horses, birds, squirrels, cats, dogs, butterflies, bugs, or the variety of poop along the way. He actually heals fairly well (don't worry, he hasn't been injured, I'm referring to walking on a leash), and is learning not to pull when he's not on the heal. It will be quite some time before he's allowed off-leash on our property. He's still a flight risk. I'm looking forward to when we can take a leisurely stroll around the property without him running off. And we don't ever allow dogs off-leash when we're off the property. There are way too many fascinating things that could get them in trouble.
I'm meeting with a trainer on Monday to make sure I'm dealing with his separation anxiety properly. He doesn't mind if I'm completely off the property, but goes crazy when I'm still on the property but not with him. Kong's stuffed with treats help, but ultimately won't help his weight. He needs to stay fit to keep up with all the doggy guests in the kennels. :)
Updates at the kennel...
I've had dogs all my life. I love dogs. All of them. I've learned so much from them, I could say my experience with dogs has been even more rewarding, more valuable, than my degree in psychology.
As to the question “What should I do with my life”? I think I may have just found the answer...Open a dog kennel, and play with dogs! I thought this was a brilliant idea a few years ago, but I just didn't know how to go about it. I still thought it was brilliant about a year ago (a very good sign), and decided to just go for it. With a LOT of help from friends and mentors, my husband Pat and I opened a 3-kennel overnight facility over 4th of July weekend this year.
The business part of this has been remarkably frustrating, but still doable. If only I could just play with dogs, make a living, and not have to deal with the business end of it all. I've loved meeting my doggy guests and their owners! Everyone has been so pleasant and encouraging. I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say, suppliers and other businesses I've had to deal with to get this thing going have not had my idea of decent customer service. I pride myself on excellent customer service, and I have decided to recognize good customer service by linking to companies I'm happy with on my website under Great Links.
This blog is intended to share the activities at Northwest Dog Retreat, and things I've learned through hard knocks and happy successes while working and playing with dogs, products that work or don't work, and training my two new Jack Russell Terriers, Jake and Max. I might share my thoughts on raising children as it relates to dog obedience and companionship (I've already checked, my kids don't mind if I share that I think there’s a correlation there).
My writing style may be a bit different. I used to get a lot of compliments on my writing. Then I went to college and learned the correct, yet very clinical way to write. I’m going to try to recapture my before-college “style”. I hope I can. I had fun writing then. Please let me know what you think. By the way, if you find a gross editing mistake, horribly misspelled word, using the wrong word, like “affect” when it’s supposed to be “effect”, the first person to comment on it will get an additional 5% off their pups next stay. (I'll even make it transferable to a friend if you look around and discover you have no pups at this time). I won’t likely be doing it on purpose. Or, maybe I will....
And at the end of each blog I hope to have something smart to say that you can take with you. I welcome your feedback, but will mention that this is not the blog for controversy. Constructive criticism is always welcome, but really I’m looking for more ideas. For example, in the category of something a bit different….
SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT… (This is where I try to impart something smart)
Recently I was looking for wrapping paper for a little something I bought my husband for his birthday. I always have wrapping paper, but never for the type of present I’m trying to wrap. So I took a cute little brown paper bag with the cord handles and put the present in there. Then I took scraps of leftover wrapping paper (one was Christmas paper, the other one was just kind of ugly, but the colors were cool) and rolled them up kinda tight and cut ringlets of paper off the roll, shook them out and put them in the paper bag as easy-to-pick-up confetti decorations. It re-used scraps of wrapping paper I’ve had following me around for perhaps years (decades?)! I think I’ll do this with other used paper too.
I started a boarding facility in July of 2014. I'm so excited to be able to surround myself with dogs, I thought I would write about the process.