Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dear Artemis

Happy one-year "gotcha" day!!!

It's hard to believe a year has gone by. Time flies when you're having fun, or something like that. You've firmly ensconced yourself into this family and all of our hearts, and you manage to completely charm just about everyone who crosses your path with your winsomeness and enthusiasm.

You're (partially) responsible for getting me into trail running, and you're my favorite running buddy. (Even when you do try to trip me to go after a lizard.) Your enthusiasm and insistence on getting out daily is a good motivator, as is the cold wet nose in my ear when I don't comply with my alarm clock.

Dog training has been an on-the-job-learning experience since day one, and I'm still learning. Fortunately for me, you're endlessly forgiving. You're also stubborn, silly, independent, sweet, smart, cuddly, earnest, quirky, frustrating, endearing, sensitive, loyal, empathetic...a larger-than-life personality all crammed into 24-pounds of energy and athleticism.

You love trips to the barn, pestering your pony "big sister" and snatching hoof trimmings when I'm not looking. You love people and other dogs with an abundance of enthusiasm...fortunately the majority of them love you back. You've gotten to experience the fun of camping (and the one time you get to share mommy's bed!), decided you are not a swimmer (although mud puddles are fair game), and delight in trail running. You've pushed the boundaries of what any dog in this house has been allowed to do and are the first to ever be allowed on any piece of furniture. You are a connoisseur of every dog toy invented, and I'll be the first to admit I spoil you rotten with new ones. (This may be somewhat self-serving, as an occupied puppy is a happy puppy.)

You're not perfect, but even your naughty antics are entertaining. You apparently have a sock fetish (just leave my expensive running socks alone, please!), you enjoy shredding sticks and tree bark, you drag towels around the house, and tear up tissue and toilet paper rolls. Your leash manners are questionable at best...but it;s hard to get mad at you when your behavior stems from intelligence, curiosity, and impishness.

You've seen me through many ups and downs this year...celebrated my joy and licked away my tears. When I'm upset, you're right there offering a cuddle -- or a toy, depending on whether I need a laugh or cry. You've been my motivator on days I haven't wanted to even get out of bed, a cornerstone of emotional well-being, and my best friend.

Thank you, Artemis, for being the bestest girl ever...I don't think I could wish for a better first dog of my very own. Here's looking forward to many, many more years together.

Your Mommy

Presenting a year of Artemis...
in pictures!

day one!

loves to be on-the-go

we love the trail!

first camping trip

tiny puppy

belly rubs

offering up high-fives

cooling down after a hike

celebrating hockey season

taking over mommy's office chair (and quilt)

Halloween 2014 antics:
lil' devil trying to steal my Halloween costume
Dorothy and Toto go trail running!

Memorial Day 2014 camping antics
sighting on something to chase
finally tired!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

trail buddy

Right now, trail running is my Thing To Do. It's keeping me occupied and out of trouble, gives both me and Artemis the exercise we need, and it's something I can do for fun without too much emotional investment. (Endurance riding is my life passion, but it's a constant rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs. I have no desire to go after trail running with that kind of depth or commitment.)

It's also way more interesting than our daily walking route of sidewalks and canal roads.

Given my choice, I would trail run any day over suburbia...but the closest trails are a 30-minute (or more) drive, so my trail running activities tend to be slated for the weekends.

Artemis has been having a blast with it...she is definitely a natural trail dog. The last two weekends, we've gone up to the Brown's Ranch trailhead at the Sonoran Preserve, an idea I've ridden quite frequently. It's almost as much fun to hike/run it.

Artemis ahs also discovered what small, furry rodents are, and so badly wants to chase them. Preserve is "on-leash only," so her hunting instincts will just have to wait.

Photo spam from the last two weekends. :)

From July 6...we had an unseasonably cool, overcast day.

found a trail prize!

surveying the scenery


<3 my trail buddy
And from today, July 13. Definitely more seasonally hot and humid and sunny. Handed my phone off to Dad a number of times, so have a good collection of photos I don't normally get.

last night's full moon still in evidence

pause for photo op

lots of funky rock formations

see puppy try to strangle herself

happy trail dog!

cooling hot puppy at the end of the hike --
plopped her in the shallow horse trough

"I love you, Mommy!"

another fun hike with my bestest puppy

Saturday, July 5, 2014

my bright star

"The darkest nights have the brightest stars."

I've grown up with dogs. Always had them around, always enjoyed their presence in my life. But I don't think I ever truly appreciated what having my own dog would mean. Especially one like this.

Artemis has been beyond everything I had hoped for in a dog. She has changed my life for the better over the past eight months...she is my bright star, my constant, and always gives me a reason to smile, no matter the day.

She licks my tears, makes me laugh, inspires and motivates me. She is smart, energetic, a people pleaser. Happy, enthusiastic, and always has something to say.

Looking forward to many more adventures together with my bright star.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Taylored Tack Custom Dog Collar

One of the challenges I have had with Artemis from day one has been her extreme sensitivity to anything around her neck and touching her. I started trying to introduce a collar right away, and no matter what I did, she's never really comfortably accepted it. I tried all the methods -- short periods of time with it on, followed by relief periods...leaving it on non-stop for her to "get over it" day on, one day off...

And I tried numerous materials. Her first was a nylon breakaway puppy collar -- her sharp little claws started fraying the nylon within a couple days. Plain leather -- she "distressed" it quite admirably. Double layer, decorated leather -- no go, what with it having a "rougher" edge. Choke chain held together with a breakaway clip -- I was too worried she would snag it on something to leave it on her long-term, so this one worked as an ID tag necklace for walking. Beta biothane -- this one worked the best out of all of them. She still scratched at her neck, but not quite as much. It was also super-easy to punch extra holes in it as she grew.

Beta biothane is the same material all my horse tack is made from -- a urethane-coated polyester that is super flexible and durable, feels almost like leather, and can be dunked in water to clean. It stays flexible, doesn't crack, and won't get smelly.

When I went to Atlanta, GA earlier this month for work to run our trade show vendor booth, one of the other vendors was Taylored Tack, an East Coast-based custom beta/biothane tack maker. I'd long drooled over Amanda Taylor's designs and the couple pieces of tack I'd seen from friends had me admiring the detail and fine workmanship.

She also had a number of dog collars listed on her website that had me curious, but nothing that was exactly what I was looking for. So during a lull in trade show attendance, I wandered over to Amanda's booth and asked about custom dog collars, and whether it would be possible to use a soft vinyl waffle padding, the same material used to created padded breastcollars for horses, to pad a dog collar.

Fortunately for me, Amanda knew exactly what I had in mind, and in no time at all, I had a custom collar ordered. Black padding, purple beta biothane, topped with the "purple maze" decorative overlay.

I'd been given an approximately two-week time imagine my shock when I checked my mail a week after convention and there was a padded envelope from Taylored Tack sitting in my mailbox!

The collar is beautiful and even better than I was hoping. My only concern with the padding was that it would be too wide and look somewhat ridiculous on a smaller dog, but Amanda was able to trim it down so that it is just barely wider than the beta biothane collar base.

The collar itself is 13", and I still have several holes left on the adjustment to accommodate the still-potentially-growing puppy.

I love the workmanship on this collar: All edges are smooth and/or rounded, there are no rough seams to rub, and the hardware is stainless steel, so it won't rust. The padding is also nice for dissipating pressure for those moments when I have to grab the collar and drag the naughty puppy away from something. :)

And the best part is it seems to have taken care of a lot of the neck scratching. She still scratches at it maybe once a day, but I don't know how much of that is true irritation, or just ingrained habit.

Amanda has a whole line of dog collars on her page: Taylored Tack Dog Collars, and if you don't see what you're looking for, she can probably make it. And Amanda herself is an absolutely delightful person, the kind that makes you glad to place an order and do business with her.

So if you're looking for something for your pooch that's unique-looking and with fine workmanship, check out Taylored Tack!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year-in-Review (2013 edition)

Being that this blog has only been around for two months, I'm not sure what there is to review and say, other than:

"I got a puppy!!!"

Okay, so we can review what's happened in two months:

-- Artemis has had her 9-week and 12-week puppy shots. One last parvo booster and rabies vaccine at 16 weeks, and she will be a Real Dog. She adores the vet (who even sends us a nice Christmas card) and the entire experience has been a positive one.

-- We've been through four collars to find one she tolerates. If you're interested, I ended up with a beta biothane collar from the The Distance Depot. It's the same material I use for my horse tack, and it has the benefit of being easy to clean and not getting stinky the way leather does.

-- As far as I can tell, she's about doubled in size, going from 5 pounds when I got her to about 10 pounds now. Based on her parents, suspect that she will still probably double in size again.

-- She went on her first overnight camping trip.

-- She's been the first dog to make me bend the "no dogs in bed/on furniture" rule. It has now been amended to allow such behavior on camping trips.

-- She reliably sits on command.

-- She is completely ADD when it comes to toys. Also, the more the better. As much as she loves them, she's surprisingly not that hard on them, and has only semi-killed two toys to date. (Both of which just need some extra stitchery and they'll be good as new.)

-- We're still working on the concept of feet, ankles, and pants legs not being acceptable chew toys.

-- She still tries to eat her little coat, but will wear it semi-peacefully when it's cold enough out.

-- She's really enjoying going out for walks, especially after her Catalina trip, which really boosted her confidence.

We're already planning our next overnight trip in the middle of January. So here's to 2014 being a great year for Good Puppies!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

An Adventure

Artemis experienced her first steps towards her ultimate day job: Being my ridecamp dog that will accompany me to endurance rides with the horses. Seeing as the breeder I got her from is also an endurance rider, and the ridecamp environment was how I first encountered these dogs, I figured it should be right up her alley.

I was right.

We did her first overnight camping trip this weekend, and she did wonderful. I loaded up my pony and puppy and drove down to Catalina State Park, about two hours away on the north side of the Catalina Mountains on the north side of Tucson.

Small Puppy goes on An Adventure
(with apologies to Bilbo Baggins and
'The Hobbit')
The most challenging part was getting ready -- she was a bit overwhelmed down at the barn with all of the strange new sights and smells, and lots of loud noises from all around. I eventually put her in her kennel in the shade where she could see me as I finished loading the trailer, and that made it easier for all involved.

She travels in her kennel, and once she was in the truck, all was well and she snoozed most of the way down.

First introduction to the camp site
Being a between-holidays weekend, it was quite crowded at the park. Fortunately, I was joining friends who had been there since the beginning of the week, and had saved me a camping spot as well as a corral for Mimi-the-pony. It was a great setting for socialization -- lots of new people to meet, controlled dogs on leashes to meet, interesting happenings like children on bicycles, and of course, horses.

Friends Lucy and Patrick also brought with them Finn-the-poodle, a year-and-half old standard poodle of infinite playfulness and fun, and Artemis had a new best friend.

Her first challenge was doing her business on leash. She's a rather private dog, and prefers to take care of her after-meal business in the most private corner of the backyard. Considering that: 1) it was park rules, 2) there were coyotes and javelina wandering around near the camp site, and 3) she has no recall, she was on leash the entire time. She whined about it the first couple of times ("Why are you watching me?") but by the end of the trip, it was no big deal.

It got quite cold overnight (by desert rat standards), and although we had a portable propane heater, it ran through one canister partway through the night, and at the time I figured it would be colder to get out of the sleeping bag nest to install a new canister than to just add another sleeping bag. Not sure if i was right or not.

I also broke one of my cardinal rules, which is "no dogs on the bed." I figured with as cold as it was, and as much as she hates the cold, even her little coats and fleece blankets might not be enough to keep her warm. So I let her sleep in my sleeping bag. That was one program she could happily embrace, as she snuggled right up to me and stayed there all night.

Of course, it was a slightly less than restful for me, since I was worried about squishing her during the night or something.

Our typical 5:30 wake-up rolled around, she poked her head out of the sleeping bag, and burrowed right back down in. Okay, no complaints here...we slept for another couple of hours, until the sun was peeking up over the mountains and it was slightly less frigid. She got bundled in her coats and outside we went. She very quickly took care of business, then went scuttling back into the trailer, where she proceeded to whine and stare longingly at the bed of the gooseneck trailer and out sleeping bag nest.

So up she went. I put her back up there (she's very sensible and a bit scared of heights as far as getting down from things, so I wasn't worried about her trying to jump down from the gooseneck area), she snuggled into her nest, and stayed there for another couple of hours while I did pony chores.

it's like a puppy version of 'Where's Waldo'

There's the hidden puppy!

"Look how well I burrow!"
She eventually decided that it was warm enough to come out (and that I was having too much fun without her), so she whined for me to come fetch her. She did learn the concept of steps, using the solid mounting block in and out of the trailer.

Once outside, she hung around with me while we lolled about in the sunshine, and ate breakfast. And we broke another rule: No dogs on the furniture. That rule has now been amended to "No dogs on the furniture except for camping chairs." Who knew why made for perfect puppy hammocks/nests?

"I would like lap time, please."
Once I figured out how comfy she was in the chair after I vacated it, I clipped her leash off to the fence rail, left her kennel open and next to the chair should she wish to go in it, and a full water bowl for her and Finn to share. She stayed up there while we did horsey stuff, then when it was time to go ride, she was put in her kennel and went into the living quarters area of Lucy and Patrick's trailer, along with Finn. She's at the point where she can comfortably stay in her kennel during the day for 3-4 hours if need be, and that's what we kept out riding time to.

 Making sure I'm still within eyesight

Princess Puppy surveying her domain
I packed up camp once we got back from our ride, and we headed back home. It was late evening by this point, and she slept the entire way home. Once home, she was totally revved up and very happy to be back in her comfort zone, as she proceed to do puppy zoomies for about 15 minutes around the backyard while I unpacked the vehicle.

She's now basking in the sunshine in her leaf pile, and I'm plotting our next Adventure -- another horse camping trip next month. I think she's well on her way to becoming a ridecamp dog.

gratuitous scenery shot of me and the pony