Friday, July 14, 2017

The Summer of Bernie

Royal here! And today we are celebrating the life of my friend Bernie. Bernie has been my friend since I was 10 weeks old. Bernie was just getting ready to turn 14 when we found out he had a terrible form of cancer. This is Bernie's story...
Bernie was rescued when we was 8 weeks old by Paws4Ever, a shelter in Mebane, North Carolina. Bernie was listed as a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy and he had really big feet! Maybe people were afraid that we would grow too big! 
Puppy Bernie was at a Tellington TTouch workshop at Paws4Ever and that's when he caught the eye of Jenn and her friend Laura.
Bernie was quiet and thoughtful, even as a puppy, and he loved nothing more than looking up at the trees and searching for a glimpse of a bird or squirrel.
Laura and her husband Anthony fostered Bernie until he was introduced to Jenn's other dogs Big Sandy and Lambchop.  Of course, Big Sandy and Bernie were besties. They would sleep curled up in the same bed.
But Lambchop was blind and was afraid of most dogs, but she too loved Bernie from the moment they met. Bernie had a way of letting other dogs feel safe.
Bernie grew into a thoughtful and handsome dog, but definitely not a Bernese Mountain Dog. Bernie was an English Shepherd, a super smart herding breed. 
Bernie loved to go to new places and experience new things. He and Big Sandy loved to go to the beach!
He also loved to go visit Laura and Anthony on the weekends for playtime in their backyard with their German Shepherd Mona.
Bernie had fun doing all sorts of dog sports with both Jenn and Laura. He really loved Drill Team with Laura and performing during holiday parades and demos.
Bernie was a great help to Jenn as her demo dog for classes.
Bernie was especially good as a neutral dog during Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog evaluations.
He participated in many workshops for the Tellington TTouch Method, helping students learn techniques and being happy to work with anyone who wanted to be his friend. Bernie was even featured in posters with Debby Potts that promoted TTouch in Japan!
Bernie also worked with Jenn in Animal Assisted Therapy. Bernie specialized in working one on one with children in the Orange County Exceptional Children's program. Was there anything that Bernie wasn't good at??
And then of course, I came along. Bernie taught me everything about being a good dog and how to properly observe the goings on of the world.
He was patient and kind and I followed he and Big Sandy everywhere. When Big Sandy died it was a big transition for all of us.
 And then Jet came along, and we did our best to teach Jet to be a good dog too.
We spent many years being best friends and it was really hard to say goodbye to Bernie when Jenn and I moved to live with Jenn's sister and her family and they had cats. That was probably the one thing that Bernie wasn't good at-being around cats.
But then Jenn and I moved to Canada and Bernie came to live with us.  He loved hiking and exploring in the Great White North.
He even liked the cold!! But getting used to wearing doggie boots was a challenge.
Bernie might have started to slow down, but he loved his walks, spending endless time looking up at the trees and any opportunity to chase a squirrel out of the yard.  And he loved meeting and charming new people.
And Bernie and I starred in training videos for Good Dog in a Box, the company that Jenn and her sister Kim started to help children learn about dog body language, dog bite prevention and reward based training for kids.
There's even a cartoon version of Bernie too!
Perhaps the best time in Bernie's life was our vacation in Nova Scotia last year.  Jenn took us to visit Laura and Anthony and their dog Mona at Cape Breton. Bernie got to run free on the beach and in the fields and chased a whole herd of deer off the property. And like a good boy, he always came back when Jenn called him.
On June 25th, two weeks after being diagnosed with a very aggressive and untreatable form of cancer, Bernie had a seizure and died in Jenn's arms. Bernie was my best friend and best teacher and he was a good, good dog. I'll always remember him and am thankful he helped me become a good dog too. Viva la Bernie!!

Friday, September 4, 2015

You're having a baby! What about your dog?

Congratulations!!  If you've just found out that you're having a baby there are changes ahead, especially for your dog.  Our blog is here to help! 

There's a lot to know and and it's not just preparing your dog for the arrival of the baby, but setting up the long term relationship between your child and all your pets.  The months before your child's birth and the first few months with your new baby are important, but there are also years of transitions where supervision and management will be needed.  Being educated, learning what to expect and ensuring safety are parts of preparing for life with children and pets.

Great resources for expectant parents and parents of young children are the Family Paws website and Family Paws Parent Educators.  These pet professionals offer presentations and in-home consultations to help parents learn to manage babies, children, and dogs.  To find a Family Paws presenter near you, click here

To get started, we asked some other members of the Family Paws Parent Education team what is the most important thing they recommend expectant parents do to prepare their dog for a new baby?  Here are their suggestions:

Jennifer Shryock, founder of Family Paws Parent Education in Cary, North Carolina, 
"Practice flexible management options while they are in the home!"

Kate Anders, FPPE Advisory Team Member and owner of Pretty Good Dog in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota,
"Pay attention to how you interact with your dog now. Are there any things you do that you would not want to see a 1, 2, or 3 year old child mimic? And if so, can you think of alternatives or variations of what you are doing that might be more appropriate and child-friendly? Anytime you get stumped, reach out to your FPPE professional - that's why we are here! Behavior change and training is not about trying to quit doing something - but about finding new ways to meet everyone's needs!" 

Colleen Pelar, author of Living With Kids and Dogs and owner of All About Dogs in Northern Virginia,
"Teaching your dog to be happy and relaxed (not just quiet) in another room when you are home. Lots of dogs are great with separation when people are at work, but get very distressed when they know their family is home, but cannot be with them. It's a very handy skill, but much easier to teach BEFORE the baby arrives." 

Lisa Bert, owner of Fingers and Paws Dog Training in Westford, Massachusetts,
"Heavily reinforce calm behaviors by your dog in every situation, not just in training sessions. It is easier before the baby comes for parents to focus, watch for, and reinforce the more subtle signs of relaxation (sighs, weight shift onto side in down position, head down on paws or floor, etc.). Even relatively calm dogs can become excited or anxious about baby cries and all the disruption that comes with having children in the house. Helping your dog to learn to self-calm will help him to cope when you are preoccupied with baby." 

Amy Weeks, owner of Amy's Canine Kindergarten in Tampa, Florida,
"Give yourself options. You want to have several options during those times when the baby is crying, the phone is ringing and the someone is at the door. I suggest taking a good look at your house and map out options for separating the baby and the dog(s). Use gates, crates, playpens, bedrooms, whatever will work for you. Practice having your dogs "go to" their areas now, before the baby comes." 

Other resources to help you prepare for life with dogs and children:

Living with Kids and Dogs without Losing Your Mind by Colleen Pelar
Happy Kids Happy Dogs by Barbara Shumannfang  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Joining the Family Paws Parent Education team

Taking some time off after moving to Canada has allowed Jenn to re-evaluate her dog training business and think about where and what she wants to do.  One thing that Jenn always talked about was joining Family Paws Parent Education
Family Paws in an international educational program that specializes in helping expectant pet parents prepare for life with a baby.  They also offer a separate program for families already managing dogs and toddlers.  They offer presentations, resources, and training help for families all over the world.

So, Jenn took advantage of her time off and contacted her friend and Family Paws founder Jen Shryock and Jenn recently completed the 13 week training course to become a Family Paws licensed presenter.  Jenn is super excited to be able to offer Family Paws workshops, online and in-home training for families with pets and children here in Burlington, Ontario. 

Check out this video which explains more about Family Paws: 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

We're moving where?! Canada?

Our time in Mercersburg came to a close and Jenn said that our next adventure was moving even farther north.  Jenn had always wanted to live in a place called Canada and she thought is was a great opportunity to see what it would be like.  So we packed the Element up, drove a heck of a long time, crossed the border, and settled in a place near Lake Ontario. 
My first impressions of Canada were that is was pretty darn cold!  Cold like I'd never felt.  And it is not like North Carolina or Pennsylvania kind of cold.  Everything was covered in snow and ice for months!  But we found a super walking trail that we could go on everyday.  Jenn said that I had to learn how to wear boots like her to keep the ice and snow from making my feet hurt. 
And I got a super snuggly bed that I could curl up in right next to the radiator.  We were very warm all winter long and we both got used to the cold. 
  Jenn even started snowshoeing!!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Life with the Butlers in Pennsylvania

So Jenn and I lived with the Butler family in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania for five months last year.  Their place was so awesome!!  Not only did I have more family members to keep track of, I got to hang out with Mister the Cat and Holly the Newf.  Fun ensued!
Jenn was very proud that I learned to be around Mister in a calm way.  She said that Mister learned pretty quickly that he was in charge.  He sure was fun to be around and eventually he came into our room and slept near me.
Mister and I became good buddies and I loved living with so many different beings to keep track off.  Jenn and I went power-walking with Kim (Jenn's sister) every day.  Even when I got really cold!  Jenn got a new coat that kept her warmer.  
Holly and I monitored all kitchen activity.  Both Jim (Kim's husband) and Jenn cooked up a storm.  It was very important to keep track of what was going on for any potential assistance that I would need to give. 
I also found many places to sleep while Jenn and Kim worked together during the day.  Jenn was learning some new skills so that she could work for Kim's business, The URL Dr., helping other small businesses market themselves with super cool websites, etc.  It was great because Jenn was always with me and I got to just relax. 

My time in Mercersburg was wonderful. The saddest part was losing my friend Holly not long after we left Mercersburg.  She was a good dog, a good friend and I'm glad we got to live together.  I sure will miss her!! 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Our New Adventure!

So y'all may be wondering what I've been up to since my last blog post.  It's been quite a while and well, lots of changes have happened.  The biggest change is that Jenn and I have moved!  I guess I should fill y'all in:

Last summer, Jenn said we were going on a new adventure.  The good part was that we were going to spend lots of time together in new places, and the bad part was having to leave Bernie and Jet and all our friends in North Carolina.  Jenn would have to leave Blue Dog Creature Coaching behind and all the wonderful people that helped her business grow.  

Jenn and I would start by living with Jenn's sister Kim and her family in Pennsylvania and they had cats and their Newfy Holly.  Dude!  I love cats so I was cool with that idea and I knew Holly and I were definitely on the same wavelength (see Great Minds Think Alike).

So off we went to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, home of Mercersburg Academy and the Butler Family.  But before we left, Jenn had her friend Lili Chin do a portrait of me, Jet and Bernie. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jenn's Adventures in Africa-Victoria Falls!

Jenn's final stop on her African adventure was Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls, one of the eight wonders of the world.
Jenn says the falls are simply breathtaking.  People can walk down into the different areas and see the falls from all sorts of perspectives.

Another group dinner and a wonderful ending to an unforgettable adventure in Africa!!

Jenn's Adventures in Africa-Chobe River!

Jenn's next stop on her adventure in Africa was flying from the Motswiri camp in a very tiny plane to the Kasane airport, then a short jeep ride to take a river cruise through Chobe River National Park, an excellent opportunity for game spotting all sorts of animals in close proximity.
And here's a video Jenn took of all the animals on their Chobe cruise:
From Chobe, it's back into a van and doing a late night crossing into Zimbabwe and on to the next destination-Victoria Falls!

Jenn's Adventures in Africa-Botswana!

Jenn's next stop on her African adventure was flying from Johannesburg to Maun, Botswana, then from Maun flying in a very small plane to the Motswiri RAW Botswana (Ride and Walk), an eco-camp in the Okavango Delta.  Here's Jenn and her guide Grant checking out a termite mound:

Here's a video from Jenn's arrival at the camp:
After a ride in the motorboat, the group settled around a fire and enjoyed their first of many wonderful meals together in Motswiri.  And then up bright and early at 6am to start new adventures every day.
Day 2 in Motswiri started with a swarmy cape buffalo, a game walk, and boat ride with elephants and greater kudu:
And this kind of sunset!

Day 3 in Motswiri featured another run in with Cape Buffalo, elephants, and a sundown ride in a mekoro canoe with cocktails of course!
The next day meant a trip to the Fly Camp, an even more rustic camp a few miles from Motswiri with some incredible game sighting opportunites:
Coming back from Fly Camp the next day was one of the most exciting experiences at a hippo watering hole:
The Motswiri experience was Jenn's favorite part of the whole trip.  And meeting the guides Grant, David, and Mochete was such a honor.
But now it's on to the Chobe River!