Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Son - Future President

I had written a post a while back about the decision to put my son in dance.  Fast forward a bit, he loves it. He stole the show at the recital last June.  I would over hear people talking about the cute little chef. People commented on the studio's Facebook page about his performance.
  

Now his teacher is trying to top that number.  They are dancing to a Frank Sinatra song. She thought maybe we should put him in a tuxedo for this year's recital. He asked me what that was, so I showed him this picture.  
He looked skeptical, so I figured he needed a better reference point. I Googled Frank Sinatra in a tuxedo, but the images skewed towards older Frank.
And then of course there was the famous mug shot that popped up. 
So my son in his infinite wisdom, says 
"I don't want to look like that guy.  I want to look like Obama."
I think he is onto something.  
Really, as a mother, would you rather your son be a member of the Rat Pack?
Or President?  

Either way though, the dance lessons will come in handy, I'm sure. 
But, for now,  he looked pretty cute in his white tuxedo.



  


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Classroom Separation Anxiety

     When you have twins, there are a number of parenting questions and challenges that come up that the singleton mom never has to face.  (A singleton mom is one that birthed just one child per pregnancy in case you are not up on the lingo of the multiple mom).  Perhaps the biggest question that plagues our minds is whether to not to separate the twins when they get to school.
     There are valid arguments on both sides of the issue.  On the pro side, separation can help the twins to form their own separate identities and not be viewed as a unit of "the twins".  Having them apart prevents the teacher from mixing them up, or comparing the two.  They will be more likely to have their own friends and interests, and not ride one another's coat tails. Sibling rivalry can be problematic in the classroom.  You would never hit a classmate, but hitting your brother is a daily occurrence. Also, if one twin is more dominant, and the other more introverted, the more loquacious will answer for both.
     On the side of keeping them together there are just as many valid arguments.  Being together keeps them from feeling alone or abandoned.  If one of your twins is an "informer" you will get a better picture of what is going on in the classroom.  There isn't the inherent unfairness of more or less homework, or better field trips. You don't have to split yourself in two on parent's night or at the holiday parties.  You only have to make 24 cupcakes on their birthday, not 48, and invite just one class, not two, to a party.
     From early on, I felt that I would like to keep my twins together.  I recently got confirmation that our district is very flexible, and has done it both ways.  This was a relief to me.  I don't want to be bullied into separating them, as so many parents are.  While I can see both sides, and would never criticize those that think separation is best for their kids, I want to make the decision as to what is best for my individual kids.
     If you ask them, they will tell you without hesitation that they want to stay together.  I realize that I am the parent, and my husband and I are responsible for making decisions for them.  However, their own wishes and desires should be taken into account nevertheless.
      Some other factors that are particular to my children are present as well. I'll share my reasoning for argument's sake.  For them, there truly is not a dominant twin, which per anecdotal history is a rarity.  My singleton and eldest is most assuredly the dominant personality in the house.
      The fact that they are boy/girl twins will prevent the teacher from mixing them up (hopefully) and assures that they likely will have different friends even if they are in the same class, as they are already quite individual in their tastes and preferences.
      Another burning issue for me is my daughter's hearing impairment.  While we have been working on her speech with a therapist, and made a second home of our ENT's office, the issues persist.  I hate to put her in a setting without him.  I do know that she eventually needs to make her own way in the world, and that I really should not saddle her brother with the burden of being her ears.  However, I can't help but think that the fact that they are twins is a blessing in disguise.
     As for my son, my daughter is his conscience.  I fear for the teacher that gets my son without my daughter present.  That teacher would have a rough year for sure. There is no one who can calm him down after a melt down like she can.   His future wife will need to make use of her expertise.
     Also, I have a family history of twins. Though my grandmother passed away shortly after the twins were born, she and I did have long phone conversations while I was pregnant and on bed rest.  She imparted much wisdom on the care and feeding of 2 babies at once and all other twin related issues.  She kept her twins (my aunt and uncle) together in the early years and felt that it worked well for them, and then they went their own way when they got to middle school.  I will likely take her sage advice and opt to keep my twins together for now, until it becomes a problem or they ask to be in separate classes.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mommy's Favorite Milestones

Some parents wait anxiously for that first word, or the first steps.  Those milestones are for chumps. You spend the next 17 or so years telling them to sit down and be quiet.  The real milestones that actually make a difference in Mommy's world are way different than what you find spaces for in baby books.



1.  Being able to hold your own bottle - I had twins, and I can tell you, I contorted into all sorts of positions with various pillows and boppys to be able to feed 2 babies at once.  As soon as they were able to hold their own bottles, my entire world changed!

2.  Being able to self feed - Once you are able to sit them in a high chair with some puffs or a saltine, again, your world changed. You can cook a meal, you can eat a meal, perhaps even while it is hot!

3.  Throwing up in the toilet -  When the twins were 3 or so, we were cursed with a stomach bug.  However, my daughter had an aha momet.  "I frow up in da toilet so I don't make a mess." Yes YESYESYES!!! Life changing indeed.

4.  Being able to get their own cereal - This will change your weekend mornings.  You may actually be able to sleep beyond the break of dawn.

5.  Being able to answer the phone - My house phone is able to announce the name of the caller.  I have it programmed to say if "Daddy" or "Grandma" is calling.  My cell phone has pictures of beloved family members.  It is wonderful to let them pick up the phone, especially if I am in the shower.  If they do happen to acidentally pick up and get a telemarketer, the results are often amusing.  My preschooler once gave one poor unsuspecting person an earfull about how there aren't many words that begin with the letter X.

6.  Locating their father - No longer do I have to scream up the stairs, or tramp out to the garage in my pajamas. I can relay messages through my children.

7.  Packing lunches - This is not my favorite thing.  Some moms do love notes and cute heart sandwhich cutouts.  I use my credit card to put money in the school lunch account. My eldest quickly learned that if she didn't want to eat goulash on Tuesdays, she would have to pack her own lunch. One less thing for me in the mornings.

8.  Dressing oneself - Speaking of mornings, picking out their own clothes and being able to actually put them on their body is a big deal.  We have discovered that my younger daughter has quite the fashion sense.  In contrast, my son has a sense of humor about his clothes, and frequently declares it is backwards day if you point out that Mario should be on his chest and not on his back.

9.  Buckling seatbelts - No more back seat yoga poses!  I have ended up underneath the car on an icy day whilst attempting to buckle wiggly toddlers in snow suits into 5 point harnesses.

10.  Being able to tell you about their day - Relaying a story is no small feat.  I have 2 kids in speech therapy. Them being able to tell you that they had grilled cheese for lunch and then did fingerpaints at grandma's house is a really big deal.  For the moments that I miss, I get to feel like I was there.

Amusement Park Woes

      We had the occasion to go to 6 Flags Great Escape this past weekend.  The kids had a great time, but it made me realize that we are in sort of an in between stage when it comes to rides, too small for some, but heaven forbid you suggest a baby ride.
     My eldest just hit the 48" mark.  This brought with it the milestone of the first upside down roller coaster.This also meant we were no longer together as a family for the day.  My husband and I took turns taking her on one thrill ride after another, whilst the other took the twins on the kiddie rides.

     My son is not quite 42", which means that there are a great many rides that he is just shy of making the cutoff for, rides that we cold have ridden as a family.  For example the Raging River, which is one of my favorites.  It is one of those few rides we could all five get on together, in one boat, not having to split the numbers awkwardly.

     We did get to go on the Desperado Plunge, but had to split up.  I took the twins, and my husband took my eldest.  While in line, a woman asked as to their age, thinking they were a bit small for the ride.  I assured her they were 4 and 1/2.  She said they are a small 4.  Just what I needed to hear in that moment after watching my son try to stand on tip toes all day long.  My son loved the ride, it was one of the only big rides he got to go on, and he begged to go again.  My yonger daughter was terrified the first go around, but was a good sport and went for a second ride.  My eldest took the opportunity to ride yet another roller coaster.

     We have been talking about the possibility of going to Disney.  I'd like to wait until everyone is tall enough to ride the majority of the rides.  I checked their website, and Space Mountain as well as a few other big attractions are at 44" not 42"!  It may be a while before my son gets there.  I don't want to wish their childhood away, but it would be nice if he would actually get onto the growth curve.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Small Victories

Today, August 19th, is my daughter's first birthday. She's a toddler now, discovering her world, testing her limits, finding herself. She loves to sing, hoard as many spoons as she can hold (and usually hijacks the one I'm using), and she loves her brothers (but if they infringe upon her mommy time, they get a good whack in the head.)

                                                           Spoon Hijacker, a.k.a. Silly Peach

This day is a milestone for me, too. Though I can't say this has been a great year for personal growth, in July I made the (wise) decision to channel my frustration more constructively.

"I'm going to start running," I said to my husband out of the blue one day.

Smart man that he is, he didn't argue (for once), or complain when I said I needed new running shoes. The only sneakers I had were older than my first born and he's going into second grade.

When the shoebox arrived in the mail, the trim along the ankle was a little more pink than I remembered from the picture, but they fit perfectly and as an added bonus, I'll glow in the dark if I ever run at night.

I was, in terms of sportswear at least, "ready." I hit the road the next day and let's just say it hit me back. I did gymnastics and diving when I was younger, but that was a long time ago, and even in my prime, I shied away from endurance sports.

I was in denial, I guess. I may have lost my baby fat through nursing and self-neglect, but the road reminded me that I had the lung capacity of a teaspoon and the muscle tone of a 13-year-old computer nerd.

The first two weeks were rough. I would jog little more than a mile and couldn't WAIT for it to be over. I don't know when things changed for me, but I soon started noticing the New England Colonials and admiring the Berkshires (though I now and always will hate all the hills in my town) rather than chanting, "Am I there yet, am I there yet?"

I began looking at my times, trying to improve upon them. One mile runs became two mile runs, and then I decided I was (almost) ready for my first race. Eight weeks of training were recommended for new runners, but I decided to go for it with only six.

I did a few 5Ks for practice. My stamina was still lacking, so they were a challenge but not impossible. I pulled back the last few days–faster runs, shorter distances–and took the day off before the race.

Two days before my daughter’s birthday, I ran my first 5K in Bennington, VT. It was as much for her as it was for me. And I couldn't have asked for a better morning–sunny and cool.

After the cannon went off, the crowd took a while to disperse. I had to start off slow. But once we spread out, I started passing people. I maintained my race pace the whole way, and even though I wanted to finish strong, I didn't have a lot of extra oomph in me at the end. I still made good time, though, and finished with a personal best. Somehow I even managed to finish first in my age group and 14th overall for women. They even mentioned me in the Bennington Banner: 

For the women: Sarah Umphley took the 12-and-under group (22:26.39), Katie Lynch took the 13-15 group (27:08.97). O'Callaghan was first in the 16-19 group followed by teammate Shelby Whitman (23:06.26). Rebecca Beagle was first in the 20-29 group (24:29.94). Alicia was first in the 30-39 range (26:34.53), while Julie Hoar took the 40-49 group (23:10.13). Laurie George took the 50-59 group (28:26.48) and Patty Surdam won the 60-69 group in 49:08.01.




Last August, I was over-pregnant and could barely climb a flight of stairs. Now, a year later, I can declare this experience a small yet significant victory, and first thing this morning, I was back on the road.

True athletes have their reasons to stick with their sport whether it be good health or a sense of accomplishment. I run for those universal reasons, too, but also because running gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning that doesn't include taking care of other people. It's my only "me" time. And yes, there are days when I can't manage to get up at 6:30 in the morning, but on the days I can, it's worth it, and hopefully, more victories will follow... 


Friday, August 16, 2013

Camping!



     In the good old days, I used to go camping with my friends.  It was always a great time, and we would go almost every 3 day weekend that we could.  There was plenty of drinking and debauchery, The best part though was the great food, as we each would be in charge of one meal, so as to ensure no one was stuck cooking all weekend. This led to a series of one-up-man-ships that would make any foodie green with envy.    
      I can't talk about camping without talking about Chloe-dog, my beloved black lab.  Chloe loved camping more than anything.  She would happily jump into any body of water, no matter how filthy.  She also had a penchant for fetching sticks the bigger the better.  Camping meant woods full of giant sticks (or logs or tree limbs).  These ginormous branches are forever termed Chloe-Sticks.

The old crew and Chloe-Dog
      
      The first summer my husband and I dated, he came with us, and earned himself the nickname of Caulk-and-Bawls (its a you had to be there kind of story).  Fast forward a couple of  years, and it is entirely possible that my eldest daughter was conceived on one of said camping trips (thought that mystery is another post entirely). 
     These camping trips continued after my first born in tow. I vividly remember having her there one frigid Labor Day weekend, which is the one and only time she wore the size 3-6 month snowsuit I had gotten as a shower gift.  
     Camping trips stopped after the twins were born.  I just had visions of one running towards the campfire and the other one for the lake, and having to choose my favorite to save.  That is until this past week.
     We decided to make a go of it this year.  With me taking summer classes and an additional 6 credits at the local community college this fall, we really didn't have the extra cash for a grander vacation.  Since we had all this camping gear, just sitting fallow for all these years, and camp sites go for a measly $22 a night, we thought why not?
     The first challenge was packing the mini van.  The last time we went camping, we had 1 kid and 1 dog, which all fit comfortably in my Ford Explorer.  Now we have a Chrysler Town and Country, 3 kids and 2 dogs.  We took out the 1st row of seats to make room for everything.  There were nay sayers.

No room to spare.
An old camping buddy, and my mother both said it couldn't be done.  We made it work with little room to spare.  This involved not using the booster for my 7 1/2 year old.  The middle belt is lap only, and there really wasn't anywhere she could go if anything happened. She had pillows and a dog on top of her. (There is also another dog on the floor.)

Are you comfy Buster?

     We arrived at camp around 2 in the afternoon.  Leo and I set right to setting up tents.  We then realize that the air mattress is missing.  This was a tense moment to be sure.  I will camp, but I will not sleep on the ground.  Despite cajoling from my husband, I decided take a drive up to the Fort Ticonderoga Walmart, which is obligatory for any camping trip.  The kids were chomping at the bit to get to the beach so I went to Walmart by myself and Dad took the kids to swim. I came back to pick them up and took this shot.  Amazing right?
     
2 mermaids and a ninja
     I have a friend who lives and works near to where we were camping.  She joined us for dinner and a little hike down to the rocks.   There was a gorgeous sunset.  Shortly after our hike, she left.  I wish she could have stayed a bit longer, say after the kids went to bed, but I will take when I can get.

Beautiful Sunset

     Day 2, and our only full day camping, we started off a bit rough.  We had used all of our wood for the campfire, as it was a bit nipply overnight.  We ate breakfast in courses.  I then took another drive into town, this time for fire wood.  

Note the long sleeves

     When I got back, we took the kids down to the rocks for some swimming.  This resulted in lots of whining.  It was chilly, the water was rough, the rocks were slippery.  Then we had the first of 2 dog fights for the day.  Our Dottie, who is the sweetest dog alive is not so fond of unknown dogs. The second dog fight, she broke the leash and went for the throat.  She spent the rest of the trip crated.    

Dottie - aka Cujo
     After the rocks came lunch. Then naps.  That is one thing that has stayed the same from the old days, everyone loves to nap at camp.  Then the children discovered the log swing.  I was not a fan, though they were.  Basically this was just a piece of fire wood tied to a tree, but they loved it, as did all of the other kids in the place.  There were throngs of unattended kids there.  So we swang for a few, but we had dinner to make, and I was not quite willing to let them stay unattended, which prompted much whining by my 7-year-old.  
Rope swing of death
     Then came dinner, and more whining.  I made corn and roasted potatoes to go with our chicken.  None of it met with much satisfaction.  We had the right idea in the old days, split up cooking duty.  It definitely takes a lot of pressure off.  I'm going to have to recruit some folks to come and cook for me . . . I mean camp with us next year.       
      Then we attempted s'mores.  Now, please tell me, who thought this up? Don't get me wrong, I love a good s'more, but seriously, who gives children a poky stick, then informs them to go stand in front of the fire until their marshmallow becomes a molten pile of goo.  S'mores resulted in me sending everyone to bed.  
     While we were packing up, a man walked by, saw that we had only the one vehicle. He of course inquired about how we managed to get 3 kids 2 dogs and all that stuff into one mini-van.  I guess we are just talented that way, able to pack so efficiently as to draw comments on our impressiveness from strangers.  
     It is so good to be home.  I'm really appreciating my couch, and my laptop, and my wireless internet. If nothing else, camping makes you appreciate the comforts of home.   

Buster in the brush



     


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Doggie Report Card Day

We’ve cried, we’ve bled, we’ve lost countless hours of sleep, and we’ve cleaned every bodily function off the floor/carpet/upholstery that we can think of (and some we never thought possible), and now we’re getting even. BECAUSE…it’s Doggie Report Card Day!!!

My sister and I have had dogs in and out of our lives since infancy. We’ve seen it all, or so we believed. Now, we’re busy moms, the alpha females in our homes, and have recently welcomed new canine members into our packs. How will the new additions (Buster, Dottie, and Heidi) measure up to our “golden” standard (Rigel, a golden retriever, and the best dog we’ve ever had)?

We also have two special guest bloggers. Thanks Glenna and Rebel for your participation!


Name of Dog: Rebel
Owner: Glenna
Age as of 8/1: 7 mos
Gender: M
Breed/breed mix: “Sharpei mix” according to the shelter, other breeds we are guessing are pitbull and lab, he’s already 60 lbs!
Marking Period: Spring/Summer 2013


A – Outstanding (4.0)
B – Good (3.0)
C – Average (2.0)
D – I’m fantasizing about my dog with a new family on that hypothetical farm (1.0)
F – Honey, where's the shotgun?
N/A – Not applicable

(+/-) grades are acceptable


GRADE
Sleep Habits

Through the night
A
Daytime naps
A
Sleep Overall Grade:
4.0
Comments: I was blessed since day one, he sleeps through the night and sleeps in if I do!



Food

Table Manners:

     No Whining
B
     No Stealing
C
     No Begging
C
     Sits still
B
     Leaves people/children alone
B
Feeding:

     Waits calmly
A
     Eats when served
A
     Doesn't inhale food like the world is about to end
D
     Eats only dog food
B
     Stays away from garbage/pantry/countertops/refrigerator/stove/oven
B
Food Overall Grade:
2.8
Comments: growls like a savage if you touch him while eating, one of his few flaws



Leash/Outdoor/Traveling Habits

Doesn't pull on leash
D
Walks straight
B
Heels
C
Handling distractions:

     People:

          Response:

               Friendly but not overly
A
               Non-aggressive
A
               Non-fearful
A
     Other dogs/animals:

          Response:

               Friendly but not overly
A
               Non-aggressive
A
               Non-fearful
A
     Ignores:

          Garbage
C
          Scents
C
          Cars
A
          Inanimate objects
B
House training:

     #1 outside
B
     #2 outside
B
     Expresses clearly the need to eliminate
D
Off Leash:

     Stays near you
B
     Comes when called
C
     Ignores distractions
C
Car behaviour:

     Calm/fear free
A
     Stays in back
A
     Stays still
A
     Doesn’t distract driver
A
     Maintains control of:

          Drooling
B
          Bowels
A
          Urination
A
          Regurgitation
B
Leash/Outdoor Habits Overall Grade:
3.14
Comments: super friendly but also has a guarding instinct. Selective hearing. Pees on the carpet occasionally still.



Personality

Friendly
A
Affectionate
A
Fun
A
Protective
A
Intelligent
A
Non-aggressive
A
Laidback
A
Submissive
B
Loyal
A
Social Skills:

     With people
A
     With children
A
     With babies
A
     With other dogs
A
     With other pets
B
Play:

     Enthusiastic
A
     Successfully retrieves
C
     Relinquishes toy without tug o’ war
D
Barking:

     Stays quiet for:

          Doorbell
D
          Unexpected noise
D
          Indoor play
B
          Outdoor play
B
    Stops when corrected

Doggie etiquette:

     No jumping
B
     No pawing/scratching
B
     No leg/object/other dog humping
A
     No crotch sniffing
A
     Respect for:

          Boundaries
C
          Common commands:

               Sit
A
               Stay
C
               Lay down
B
               Come
C
               Give
B
          Property:

               Kids’ toys
C
               Electronics
C
               Clothing
D
               Pillows/bedding/upholstery 
D
               Kitchenware
C
               Important paper
C
Personality Overall Grade:
2.94
Comments: super goofy and playful. Will play with any dog who wants to. Loves people and kids. Wishes the cats would play.



Mouthing

     Biting:

          Abstains during:

               Play with adults
B
               Play with children
A
               Walks
A
               Greetings
C
               Grooming
B
               Quiet time/family time
A
     Chewing:

          Only treats provided
D
          Abstains from:

               Shoes
A
               Furniture
D
Mouthing Overall Grade:
2.89
Comments: The cats made the box spring a scratching post, he’s remodelled it into a chew toy.

           

Miscellaneous

Trips to the vet
Grooming
Nail Trimming
Bathing
Crate Training
Calm
C
C
C
A
A
Quiet
A
A
A
A
A
Cooperative
A
A
C
A
A
Overall Grade
3.46
 

Cumulative GPA: 3.21

Closing remarks: Look at that personality! A little rough on some edges, but so so great! I got really lucky with my first dog. J




Name of Dog: Buster Brown
Owner:  Carissa
Age as of 8/1: 7.5 months
Gender: Male
Breed/breed mix: Black Lab Mix
Marking Period: Spring/Summer 2013

A – Outstanding (4.0)
B – Good (3.0)
C – Average (2.0)
D – I’m fantasizing about my dog with a new family on that hypothetical farm (1.0)
F – Honey, where's the shotgun?
N/A – Not applicable


(+/-) grades are acceptable


GRADE
Sleep Habits

Through the night
A
Daytime naps
A
Sleep Overall Grade:
4.0
Comments:  Buster has no sleep issues.  Keep it up!



Food

Table Manners:

     No Whining
F
     No Stealing
F
     No Begging
F
     Sits still
F
     Leaves people/children alone
F
Feeding:

     Waits calmly
C
     Eats when served
A
     Doesn't inhale food like the world is about to end
B
     Eats only dog food
D
     Stays away from garbage/pantry/countertops/refrigerator/stove/oven
F
Food Overall Grade:
1.0
Comments:  This is one area that needs a lot of improvement.



Leash/Outdoor/Traveling Habits

Doesn't pull on leash
C
Walks straight
C
Heels
C
Handling distractions:

     People:

          Response:

               Friendly but not overly
C
               Non-aggressive
A
               Non-fearful
A
     Other dogs/animals:

          Response:

               Friendly but not overly
A
               Non-aggressive
A
               Non-fearful
A
     Ignores:

          Garbage
D
          Scents
C
          Cars
A
          Inanimate objects
B
House training:

     #1 outside
C
     #2 outside
F
     Expresses clearly the need to eliminate
C
Off Leash:

     Stays near you
C
     Comes when called
C
     Ignores distractions
C
Car behaviour:

     Calm/fear free
B
     Stays in back
C
     Stays still
D
     Doesn’t distract driver
C
     Maintains control of:

          Drooling
A
          Bowels
B
          Urination
D
          Regurgitation
F
Leash/Outdoor Habits Overall Grade:
2.37
Comments:  We have not done a great deal of leash work as of yet so his skills are hard to accurately assess.  The car rides are not that frequent either.  With more exposure I’m sure these areas will improve. He does need to stop pooping in the basement.  What is with that?



Personality

Friendly
A
Affectionate
A
Fun
A
Protective
D
Intelligent
B
Non-aggressive
B
Laidback
A
Submissive
B
Loyal
A
Social Skills:

     With people
B
     With children
A
     With babies
A
     With other dogs
A
     With other pets
A
Play:

     Enthusiastic
A
     Successfully retrieves
A
     Relinquishes toy without tug o’ war
B
Barking:

     Stays quiet for:

          Doorbell/Knocking
A
          Unexpected noise
B
          Indoor play
C
         Outdoor play
A
    Stops when corrected
B
Doggie etiquette:

     No jumping
D
     No pawing/scratching
C
     No leg/object/other dog humping
D
     No crotch sniffing
C
     Respect for:

          Boundaries
C
          Common commands:

               Sit
B
               Stay
C
               Lay down
C
               Come
B
               Give
B
          Property:

               Kids’ toys
D
               Electronics
D
               Clothing
A
               Pillows/bedding/upholstery 
A
               Kitchenware
D
               Important paper
A
Personality Overall Grade:
2.7
Comments:  Buster does not seem to understand which toys are his and which are the children’s.  All are fair game.  Maybe we should consider getting him his own Barbies. Also, the wire chewing is concerning as he is at risk of getting electrocuted.



Mouthing

     Biting:

          Abstains during:

               Play with adults
C
               Play with children
B
               Walks
A
               Greetings
A
               Grooming
A
               Quiet time/family time
B
     Chewing:

          Only treats provided
D
          Abstains from:

               Shoes
B
               Furniture
A
Mouthing Overall Grade:
3.1
Comments:  This area has seen some improvement lately.  Keep it up!

           

Miscellaneous

Trips to the vet
Grooming
Nail Trimming
Bathing
Crate Training
Calm
B
B
C
B
A
Quiet
B
B
B
B
B
Cooperative
B
B
C
B
A
Overall Grade
3.0


Cumulative GPA: 2.69

Closing remarks:
Overall, Buster is a good boy. He sweet and affectionate. He has some work to do on the house training, but I’m sure with a little effort he will get where he needs to be. He does need to work on his manners when it comes to food. His main issue is that he does not understand the difference between people food and dog food and feels he is entitled to any and all food in the house. This may be attributed to the rapid growth he is currently experiencing. With some more maturity I hope this will improve. The humping is thankfully limited to the other dog in the house, and she does not seem to mind so much, and in fact prefers it to the nipping. As long as that is kept to a minimum after he is neutered we can look the other way. 




Name of Dog:  Dottie Dawg
Owner:  Carissa
Age as of 8/1: 4 years?
Gender:  Female
Breed/breed mix: Some type of Hound and possibly Spaniel? or Boxer maybe?
Marking Period: Spring/Summer 2013

A – Outstanding (4.0)
B – Good (3.0)
C – Average (2.0)
D – I’m fantasizing about my dog with a new family on that hypothetical farm (1.0)
F – Honey, where's the shotgun?
N/A – Not applicable

(+/-) grades are acceptable


GRADE
Sleep Habits

Through the night
A
Daytime naps
A
Sleep Overall Grade:
4.0
Comments:  Sleeping is one of Dottie's all time favorite pastimes.  She will stay asleep even if Dad gets up for work. 



Food

Table Manners:

     No Whining
A
     No Stealing
C
     No Begging
B
     Sits still
A
     Leaves people/children alone
B
Feeding:

     Waits calmly
A
     Eats when served
B
     Doesn't inhale food like the world is about to end
A
     Eats only dog food
C
     Stays away from garbage/pantry/counter tops/refrigerator/stove/oven
B
Food Overall Grade:
3.2
Comments:  Having Buster has brought out some bad habits.  I'm convinced she is the brains behind some of Buster's food based shenanigans. 



Leash/Outdoor/Traveling Habits

Doesn't pull on leash
B
Walks straight
B
Heels
B
Handling distractions:

     People:

          Response:

               Friendly but not overly
B
               Non-aggressive
A
               Non-fearful
A
     Other dogs/animals:

          Response:

               Friendly but not overly
C
               Non-aggressive
C
               Non-fearful
A
     Ignores:

          Garbage
B
          Scents
B
          Cars
A
          Inanimate objects
B
House training:

     #1 outside
A+
     #2 outside
A+
     Expresses clearly the need to eliminate
      A
Off Leash:

     Stays near you
A
     Comes when called
A
     Ignores distractions
B
Car behaviour:

     Calm/fear free
C
     Stays in back
C
     Stays still
B
     Doesn’t distract driver
C
     Maintains control of:

          Drooling
A
          Bowels
A
          Urination
A
          Regurgitation
A
Leash/Outdoor Habits Overall Grade:
3.33
Comments:  Dottie came fully potty trained.  We lucked out.  I can count the number of accidents she has had on one hand.  



Personality

Friendly
A
Affectionate
A
Fun
A
Protective
C
Intelligent
A
Non-aggressive
A
Laidback
A
Submissive
A
Loyal
A
Social Skills:

     With people
A
     With children
A
     With babies
A
     With other dogs
C
     With other pets
A
Play:

     Enthusiastic
B
     Successfully retrieves
D
     Relinquishes toy without tug o’ war
A
Barking:

     Stays quiet for:

          Doorbell
A
          Unexpected noise
A
          Indoor play
A
         Outdoor play
C
    Stops when corrected
A
Doggie etiquette:

     No jumping
B
     No pawing/scratching
B
     No leg/object/other dog humping
A
     No crotch sniffing
A
     Respect for:

          Boundaries
A
          Common commands:

               Sit
A
               Stay
A
               Lay down
B
               Come
A
               Give
A
          Property:

               Kids’ toys
A
               Electronics
A
               Clothing
A
               Pillows/bedding/upholstery 
A
               Kitchenware
B
               Important paper
A
Personality Overall Grade:
3.63
Comments: Dottie’s one weak area is retrieving. I think this is attributed to her breed and should not be seen as a personality flaw.



Mouthing

     Biting:

          Abstains during:

               Play with adults
A
               Play with children
A
               Walks
A
               Greetings
A
               Grooming
A
               Quiet time/family time
A
     Chewing:

          Only treats provided
A
          Abstains from:

               Shoes
A
               Furniture
A
Mouthing Overall Grade:
4.0
Comments: Dottie has never been a biter or a chewer. Her only occasional slip happens to be wooden items, and I will attribute that to a desire to play with sticks. 



           

Miscellaneous

Trips to the vet
Grooming
Nail Trimming
Bathing
Crate Training
Calm
C
A
B
A
N/A
Quiet
A
A
A
A
N/A
Cooperative
B
B
B
A
N/A
Miscellaneous Overall Grade:
3.5


Cumulative GPA: 3.61

Closing remarks:
Dottie is a wonderful dog that came into our family as we lost our beloved 12 year old lab. She has done well with adjusting to the addition of the new puppy. She is slightly territorial and tends to bark at other dogs, however, never barks at people. She could channel this and be slightly more protective against strangers. 




Name of Dog: Heidi  
Owner: Alicia
Age as of 8/1: 5 months
Gender: Female
Breed/breed mix: Eastern German Shepherd
Marking Period: Spring/Summer 2013



A – Outstanding (4.0)
B – Good (3.0)
C – Average (2.0)
D – I’m fantasizing about my dog with a new family on that hypothetical farm (1.0)
F – Honey, where's the shotgun?
N/A – Not applicable

(+/-) grades are acceptable


GRADE
Sleep Habits

Through the night
D
Daytime naps
C
Sleep Overall Grade:
1.5
Comments: Heidi was a terrible sleeper for a couple months. Poor bladder control would be understandable, so once a night was to be expected. But around 4:00 am, she’d cry after her walk until she was fed. We had to give in eventually (we’re only human) and feed her before sunrise which would necessitate another walk. Her grade would have been an F, but we changed her mealtimes to nine in the morning and nine at night and it solved the problem, more or less. She’s settled in to “C” behaviour – she starts whining and scratching between 6 and 7 am, goes back in her crate, and stays somewhat quiet until she’s let out at about 7:30.



Food

Table Manners:

     No Whining
C
     No Stealing
D
     No Begging
C
     Sits still
C
     Leaves people/children alone
D
Feeding:

     Waits calmly
D
     Eats when served
A
     Doesn't inhale food like the world is about to end
D
     Eats only dog food
F
     Stays away from garbage/pantry/countertops/refrigerator/stove/oven
C
Food Overall Grade:
1.6
Comments: Heidi will eat anything that fits in her mouth. Paper, garbage, leaves, rocks, Legos. Trust me on the Legos. They look the same when they come out. I do try to get non-food items out of her mouth, but she runs and has usually swallowed the item before I can dig it out. Everything so far has passed – lucky damn dog.

She hasn’t figured out the garbage yet, but will steal food off an unattended counter or if you step away from the table. And she either whines while we eat if she’s crated or camps right under my 11-month-old’s highchair.



Leash/Outdoor/Traveling Habits

Doesn't pull on leash
D
Walks straight
D
Heels
D
Handling distractions:

     People:

          Response:

               Friendly but not overly
C
               Non-aggressive
C
               Non-fearful
C
     Other dogs/animals:

          Response:

               Friendly but not overly
D
               Non-aggressive
D
               Non-fearful
D
     Ignores:

          Garbage
D
          Scents
C
          Cars
B
          Inanimate objects
D
House training:

     #1 outside
C
     #2 outside
B
     Expresses clearly the need to eliminate
C
Off Leash:

     Stays near you
C
     Comes when called
C
     Ignores distractions
C
Car behaviour:

     Calm/fear free
B
     Stays in back
B
     Stays still
B
     Doesn’t distract driver
B
     Maintains control of:

          Drooling
A
          Bowels
A
          Urination
C
          Regurgitation
A
Leash/Outdoor/Traveling Habits Overall Grade:
2.07
Comments: Heidi has become territorial over her yard. She barks, pulls, and her fur stands up when she sees strangers or other animals. Her house training went as well as can be expected, but she does have “happy pee” when she’s overly excited.

For walks, she’s afraid of her own shadow. It’s an excessive challenge when she becomes a dead weight every three steps.

On long trips, we crate her in the car, and let her wander for short trips. So far there have been no major catastrophes.



Personality

Friendly
D
Affectionate
C
Fun
D
Protective
B
Intelligent
B
Non-aggressive
D
Laidback
D
Submissive
D
Loyal
B
Social Skills:

     With people
C
     With children
C
     With babies
B
     With other dogs
C
     With other pets
N/A
Play:

     Enthusiastic
B
     Successfully retrieves
B
     Relinquishes toy without tug o’ war
C
Barking:

     Stays quiet for:

          Doorbell
B
          Unexpected noise
B
          Indoor play
D
          Outdoor play
B
    Stops when corrected
D
Doggie etiquette:

     No jumping
D
     No pawing/scratching
D
     No leg/object/other dog humping
B
     No crotch sniffing
B
     Respect for:

          Boundaries
B
          Common commands:

               Sit
B
               Stay
C
               Lay down
B
               Come
C
               Give
B
          Property:

               Kids’ toys
C
               Electronics
B
               Clothing
D
               Pillows/bedding/upholstery 
B
               Kitchenware
C
               Important papers
D
Personality Overall Grade:
1.40
Comments: Heidi shows signs of being loyal and protective. Overall, though, she is very high strung. She loves us and is happy to see us when we return from an outing, but expresses that love with jumping, pawing, and biting. She only obeys commands when there is a treat involved, so not when it really matters. It has to be on her terms. For example, she’ll ignore/evade me when she is overly hyper and irritating people or when her play gets too aggressive.



Mouthing

     Biting:

          Abstains during:

               Play with adults
F
               Play with children
D
               Walks
D
               Greetings
F
               Grooming
F
               Quiet time/family time
F
     Chewing:

          Only treats provided
C
          Abstains from:

               Shoes
B
               Furniture
B
Mouthing Overall Grade:
1.2
Comments: Heidi is more vampire than werewolf. The bite marks and scratches never get a chance to heal before new ones take their place. I can’t put her leash on without her gnawing on my arm. She’s also punctured the back of my thigh while I was holding the baby. During play, her teeth always seem to wander to my hand and arm despite my refusal to play the game her way. She bites to get attention and bites when she has attention. Then when your grab for her to correct the behaviour (a time out in her crate), she plays an annoying game of “try to catch me.” And most times, she’d rather bite than get affection. It’s sad when there are plenty of people in my house willing to pet her and play with her. Her only redeeming quality is that she seems to understand “baby,” but she doesn’t hesitate to bite my five-year old and seven-year old.

During grooming, her biting gets vicious. Nail clipping takes two adults and we still end up with bites and scratches. We’ve avoided giving her a bath. Her behaviour is equally as bad. The best we can do is hose her down from a distance.

           
Miscellaneous

Trips to the vet
Grooming
Nail Trimming
Bathing
Crate Training
Calm
C
D
F
F
C
Quiet
C
D
F
F
C
Cooperative
C
D
F
F
C
Miscellaneous Overall Grade
1.0


Cumulative GPA: 1.46

Closing remarks:
Heidi, you’re a terror, but I’m not a quitter. You’re lucky I’m as stubborn as you are.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, “My Positive Reinforcement Woes.” Heidi has issues and we’ve attempted to deal with them by going to an expert. Let’s see if there’s hope for me and my puppy delinquent…