Monday, November 15, 2010

Save Money With Homemade Training Treats

As you all know, I recently finished a basic obedience class with Milly at the Mt. Vernon Dog Training Club. Because MVDTC does not offer any puppy classes, I have enrolled Hush in puppy kindergarten through the Capital Dog Training Club in Silver Spring, MD (more on this to follow).

In puppy kindergarten, not only does Hush learn the basics: heal, sit, down, stay, recall, off, etc. But, she also gets vital socialization and exposure to a variety of distractions like clown masks, baby carriages, ladders, and loud noises.

The first few months of a puppy's life are the molding period. In this phase, you can essentially teach your puppy not to be fearful of things through positive associations. Already, Hush has learned to love being blow dried, baths, nail clippings, and yes, loud noises. At home, my food motivated puppy gets rewarded with regular puppy treats or pieces of kibble, but in class she needs more. Low fat string cheese is a great motivator - she only gets these high value treats in class, but I want her to have more options. Today, I picked up some all-natural, low fat, all beef, nitrate free hot dogs. I plan on cutting these into tiny pieces and dehydrating them. To do this, I will simply set the oven to 250, place my sliced hot dogs on a cookie sheet, and bake for 45 minutes, or until dry, but not burnt.

Voila! Months worth of high value training treats, for $3! To make them last even longer, I'll only dehydrate 1-3 hot dogs at a time, and store the rest in the freezer, thawing them and baking as needed.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Here are some pictures of Hush. I apologize now for my appearance. These were taken the first day I had her, at work, with a cell phone camera. As you know, I was operating on absolutely no sleep. No, those are not black eyes, just dark circles.

She spent the first week with me at the office, and had a crate set up at work and everything. She has been such a delight to train! I've never seen such a food motivated dog!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Journey to Get Hush

I have been such a bad blogger! I can’t believe that I have not posted yet about my trip to get Hush, and my first weeks with my little bundle of joyous fuzz!

On Halloween, my only day off in months, I boarded a flight out of Washington Dulles, with a planned connection from Detroit to Traverse City, Michigan. All was set, my breeder, of Nitelite Goldens, would pick me up at the airport take me to her house to meet Hush’s ancestors, then we’d head to Hush’s home, a winery, where I would the litter, enjoy lunch, and a glass of wine before heading back to the airport to fly back to DC. It was a jam packed trip, which started with me up before 5am to primp, out the door by 5:30. My parents met at an airport; as a result, I always look my absolute best when I fly. Four inch stilettos, an adorable dress, curled hair, not an eyelash out of place.

All seemed well as I sat in my seat on that first plane, but soon, the trip from hell would unfold. First, my second carry on, the size medium Sherpa bag, did not fit in the overhead bin. I decided to plane side check it, knowing it would fit on the next flight, and I could rearrange my other carry on. However, Delta failed to give me a tag for it when I plane side checked it. The next thing I knew, my flight was pulling away from the gate, only to have to go back to the gate because of mechanical failures. The mechanic took his merry time fixing the plane, stopping half way through to go get a bagel and cup of coffee, yes; I watched this out of my window. Needless to say, we were delayed, very delayed.

When I arrived in Detroit, I raced off the plane, eagerly bounced up and down as the person unloaded plane side checked bags, waiting for my little Sherpa so I could grab it and race to my connection, praying under my breath my connection was also delayed, knowing if it was not, I had already missed it.

After all of the bags had been set beside the plane, I inquired about mine; he picked it up, and said, “Oh, this one?”

“Yes!” I squealed as he taunted me with the pet carrier.

“I need your ticket,” he responded in an authoritative way while examining the carrier very closely.

“Don’t worry; there isn’t a puppy in it, yet…” I said while digging through my cluttered purse for my boarding pass. By this point in the trip I was quite experienced at fielding inquiries about where the puppy in said puppy carrier was. I found my tattered boarding pass and thrust it at him. My heart was racing; my nails were digging into my palms as the dismal reality of missing my flight was setting in.

“No, the baggage ticket, you were given plane side in Washington,” he explained.

“I wasn’t given one; I checked it very last minute.”

Because of FDA requirements, he cannot give me back my bag. If I would like it back, I’m going to have to go to baggage claim in Detroit to retrieve it. I want to scream; I want to shout, “I’m not going to blow up a plane with a Sherpa bag!,” But realize, if I wind up in jail for attempted terrorism, my boss will probably fire me for missing work two days before the election.

I race towards the gate, hoping to find a kind Delta representative to give me my puppy carrier and get me on the next flight to Traverse City. I think to myself, I’m in the right state; it can’t be that hard to get me there. I’ll just be an hour or so late. Wrong, so wrong. The next flight to TC was schedule to depart in three hours. I called the breeder in a panic; she was waiting in baggage claim at Traverse City for me, and assured me that no matter what, I would have my puppy today, even if it meant Hush meeting me at the airport.

The rest of the trip was a blur. I literally ran miles through the Detroit airport – at one point Tweeting that I had a new found respect for “Workout Barbie,” as blisters began to blanket my feet. In the end, I was booked on a flight that would put me into Traverse City five minutes before I would have to board my flight back to Detroit, and then back to DC. Delta offered to put me up overnight, but they wouldn’t be able to get me to DC until 10am, with two days until the election, that would not work. Because technically, my flights from TC back to DC were a separate return trip, I could not check in and acquire those boarding passes until I landed in TC. My puppy carrier was now being checked through to Traverse City. I was a nervous wreck, but a nice Delta employee assured me Traverse City is a tiny airport staffed with very nice people. If I told them as I got off my plane that I had to run to baggage claim to get my checked bag and a puppy, and would be on that flight, the last flight out for the night, they would most likely be very accommodating.

When I landed in Traverse City my feet were bleeding, my once perfectly curled hair was disheveled, my side bangs clung to my sweaty brow, my dress was wrinkled, I had coffee stains on my purse, my eyes were dark and haunting from lack of sleep during an election and mascara tear stains. I walked off the plane, in a zombie like state. I began explaining my story to the woman working the counter at the gate.

I think Traverse City airport is in an alternate fairy tale universe.

“I’ve already checked you in. Here is your boarding pass.” The kind lady said at the gate, before I had time to finish explaining my sob story.

“Your puppy is waiting with that lady right over there,” the fairy godmother Delta employee comforted as she waved her magical wand in the direction of a woman sitting by the gate, holding a puppy carrier and waving at me.

I was confused. How did this woman with my puppy get through security? I ran up to the puppy woman, Marie, the lady who owns Hush’s mom. I had so many questions. She pulled Hush from a carrier. As I walked toward her, the gate attendant explained she was personally pulling my checked bag from the plane, so I would not have to go through security.

My little Hush popped her head out of her carrier. Marie was so kind, with a bag packed of everything I might possibly need on our journey. My flight was delayed, again, but I didn’t care.

I never did leave an airport that day, I spent 20 hours running from gate to gate, mastering the art of going through security, and going from pure elation over getting my puppy after 3 years of waiting, to total meltdown over lack of sleep, work related stress, and having all of my travel plans come tumbling down around me.

But, when I finally limped off the plane in DC, exhausted, a sense of calm came over me. This was the best Halloween of my life, and I buried my face into a warm fuzzy ball of fluff, and shed a tear of joy.