Monthly Archives: October 2008

Blog-A-Palooza

Personally, I think this is a fabulous idea! I meant to sign up to take part, and I forgot. My bad. But I did leave a comment . . . I sure hope I win one of those awesome goodie bags!

http://aknickerson.blogspot.com/2008/10/blogapalooza-what-strange-trip-its-been.html

Yummy treats!

Tonight my mom and I made some super yummy treats for a bake sale that her area is holding tomorrow to raise funds for the United Way. She bought some of these at a bake sale in Camrose while she was visiting my aunt, and tried making them with my brother and his family while she was visiting them last week. They’re SUPER easy to make – even I could do it! Those of you that know me know what that means.

Take some caramel candies . . . you know, the little brown, plastic-wrapped square caramels that you get at Halloween. They don’t have to be Kraft, but those are the most common. Melt roughly 60 of them in a double boiler. We used a Pyrex bowl placed in a pot of boiling water. Watch the caramels, stirring occasionally. It takes around 20 minutes for them to melt fully. Have a bag of large marshmallows, and a big bowl of Rice Krispies (we bought Vanilla-flavoured, but my mom says the regular ones are better). You also need some bamboo party picks – the kind you put in cocktail weiners so that you can pick them up. Put the pick in the end of the marshmallow, and then coat the marshmallow in caramel. Be careful – it’s hot! Then swirl the caramel-coated marshmallow in the Rice Krispies, to coat it. Place on a wax-paper-lined baking tray to cool.

We made about 50 of them I think, maybe more. They’re pretty rich, so you can probably eat a maximum of 3 or 4 per sitting. But man oh man, are they YUMMY! Easy to make, and we had fun with it too.

Ho, ho, ho!

Well, it’s officially two months until Christmas now . . . not that anybody’s counting LOL I absolutely LOVE Christmas – it’s my all-time favourite holiday (well, tied with my birthday, ’cause birthdays are fun). I really enjoy buying gifts for people, and who doesn’t enjoy getting gifts? Scrooge, maybe.

How fitting, then, that today was our first official snowfall. When I got up this morning, there was a dusting of snow on the ground. Maybe 1cm, if that much. I don’t know how long it’ll stay, what with the sun shining down on it. The dogs were pretty frisky, especially Jack, who doesn’t really have snow experience. He ran around like a fool, trying to figure out this white stuff that was sticking to his feet. Grace, ever the princess, tried to convince me that her feet were cold (at -5? I don’t think so) and Farley just went on his business as usual.

The neighborhood kids are having a blast, trying to throw snowballs and build snowmen. It’ll be a while until we have enough snow for that (Mother Nature willing, of course), but it’s fun to watch anyhow.

Pumpkin Pictures

What the heck is this thing guys? It looks kind of like a doggy, but it doesn’t bark or run or try to steal our tennis ball!


Ooooooh, now I get it . . . it’s just another gimmick so mom can get our picture. She never gives up, does she????

Happy Halloween everyone . . . costume pictures will come, but not until closer to the big day.

Kennel Cough

Ah kennel cough. I would wager that every dog owner deals with it at some point, although some people just seem lucky enough to avoid it. Kennel cough is the “street name” for canine tracheobronchitis – doggy irritation of the trachea (windpipe). You’ll know if your dog ever gets it, because all of a sudden they sound like they have a 2-pack-a-day smoking habit. The dry, hacking cough is really not a nice sound – almost like a honking goose. Add that to sneezing and runny eyes, and you have a dog that looks pretty haggard.

Kennel cough is basically the doggy equivalent to the human cold. Irritating, but not life threatening. It’s very contagious, but of course, we can’t ask our dogs to wash their paws every time they come into contact with something. It’s spread through nose to nose contact, or snot (after sneezes, etc). Right now it’s making the rounds in the community that I live in, and even the KLAD cockers are not immune. Poor Jack-Jack has kennel cough. Fortunately, so far the other two dogs have managed to avoid it, knock on wood. I suspect they just have better immunity than Jack does, what with him still being a puppy.

In an interesting turn of events, I also have a cold. So I guess the age old question of the chicken and the egg applies here, in a certain sense. Who had it first, Jack-Jack or I????

285 Posts!

I have to say that when I first started this blog, I never imagined that I’d still be posting on it almost 3 years later. I really thought it would be another one of my passing fads, and that once I got tired of it, it would just fade into oblivion. It hasn’t faded yet – and I still feel a pull to post at least a few times a week.

I took a writing class last weekend, and one of the things mentioned by the presenter was that in order to be successful at writing, a person needs to write every day and read every day. While I don’t post on this blog every day, I do think that every post I write helps sharpen my skills. At least, I hope they do. I definitely read every day.

For those of you into different books, not the standard fiction or non-fiction stuff, I would recommend Gregory Maguire’s Son of a Witch – it is the sequel to his bestselling Wicked. It’s not a super easy book to read, but it is a good one. There is now a third book out, about the cowardly lion, but I haven’t had the chance to read it yet. A little bird tells me it’s on its way out West as I type this 🙂

Some Improvement

Tonight was Jack-Jack’s 4th puppy class (we missed the second one when I was out of town for work). I had in the back of my head the various tips that people sent me when I asked for help last week, and I changed my plan of attack slightly. I got to class early, and picked out a spot in the far corner of the room, away from the entrance. I got Jack’s attention focused on me with the use of food and the Watch! command, and kept his attention with food. Pretty much a stream of very small treats as the other dogs came in. I lost his attention once, and he barked his head off for about 10-15 seconds, until I was able to get his attention back on me. Definitely MUCH better than last week! Although there was some noise, there was no growling or posturing at all. Some raising of the hackles, but to a much lesser degree than last week.

He wasn’t as focused on me for the entire class . . . in fact, he attempted to play with another dog! I know the teacher would have liked me to get Jack focused back on me, but I was so happy to have him showing positive interest in another dog that I allowed it for 2 seconds and then got him back with me. That was most definitely a big step for my little man! Unfortunately there was no off-leash playtime this week, as it might have gone better than in previous weeks.

I appreciate all of the advice, and will continue working diligently on his reactivity and fear. As I said, he’s excellent with people and new situations, it’s primarily other dogs. In the show ring he’s fine – very natural and showy and confident. It’s just in these face to face interactions that his feathers get ruffled.

Major Breakthrough!

Okay, so the major breakthrough is in a relatively small, inconsequential area of my dog training activities, but given the amount of time I’ve put into it, and the fact that I had to adapt my training to work for my dog, I’m pretty pleased with it!

I’ve gotten it into my head that I should teach the dogs some tricks – you know, like shake a paw, wipe your nose, roll over, etc. Jack-Jack caught on to shake a paw within about 5 minutes, using a clicker and some tasty treats. He’s a smart dog, and not afraid to try new things, so it wass quick. It has developed into high five and shake a paw, and we’re working on adding wave to his repertoire. But the real challenge was Grace. Grace is a very, very soft dog that absolutely HATES getting things wrong. If you even use a non-reward marker (like yuck or unh-unh) she will melt into a little puddle. So no matter of treats would encourage her to offer me any behaviors. She’d far rather just sit and look at me . . . trying nothing so she can’t get it wrong.

So with Grace I’ve taken a different approach, and done a more tactile training, actually taking her paw in my hand and adding a cue. This method is slower, and I wasn’t sure it was working, because I didn’t feel like I was seeing any progress. But today, after our target training in the yard (for agility), I thought I’d give it a try. When I asked for her paw and she offered it, I let out a big whoop and fed her a really nice jackpot of treats. She did it several times in a row, so I know it wasn’t a fluke. How awesome is that???? I am so pleased with her! She took a big risk in offering it to me, and I made sure she knew I was beyond happy about it.

So I guess I’m at least a slightly better trainer than I thought . . . and that makes me very happy 🙂 Thanks for letting me indulge!

New iPod Applications

Okay, this is a completely frivolous post (like many of mine are LOL), but I learned something exciting today. One of my co-workers has an iPhone (something I would really like to have, but can not justify in ANY way). She brought it into my office today, knowing that I have an iTouch, and am jealous of her phone. She has a new application that she purchased from the iTunes store online . . . it is called “crazy pumpkins” and it’s free. It’s GREAT! There is this spooky laughing, and if you shake your phone, the pumpkin’s face changes (or if you drag your finger across the face of the phone). You can have a pig’s snout, fancy mouth, scary eyes, and more. They say simple things for simple minds, but I really got a kick out of it.

So I visited the iTunes application store, and WAY more exciting than the crazy pumpkins (which I admit to downloading) is the fact that I could download Scrabble to my iTouch. How awesome is that? I LOVE Scrabble, and now I can play more often 🙂

Thanks for indulging my childish enjoyment of this new “toy.”

Seven Random Things

Seven random things about me:

1. My dream is to be a published author – not just articles, but a book or some freelance work that I get paid for and that people actually want to read.

2. I love reading magazines! I subscribe to so many that I can’t even count them (7 or 8 I think), and I read them all from cover to cover every time I get an issue. Some of them I keep, but many of them I pass on when I’m finished with them.

3. I am terrified of the dentist. I had a dentist when I was a kid that did a few fillings without freezing, and ever since I’ve been super nervous about going. I tend to avoid seeing the dentist for as long as possible.

4. I am one of the only people on earth that doesn’t like turkey. I’ll eat it at Christmas, but I really hate all of the left over meals (soup, turkey sandwiches, etc)

5. I hate shopping for clothes but I love shopping for STUFF – books, CDs, kitschy stuff.

6. I have two best friends and two more very close friends, and all of them live far away from me 😦

7. I am very, very close with my mom, and have a pretty darned good relationship with my dad too. I consider myself extremely lucky to be close to both of my parents.

Tag seven people:
1. Ange
2. Victoria
3. Jessica
4. Ben
5. Louisa
6. Any random person that may read my blog
7. Sorry, I’ve run out of people to tag!