Congrats, Charley!

It’s hard to believe that it has been only 4.5 months since we adopted Charley. She has come so far in such a short amount of time! Yesterday morning, she was certified by the American Kennel Club as a Canine Good Citizen…basically a fancy title for being a well-behaved little lady. She earned that shiny blue ribbon because she was able to prove that she could:

  • sit well for grooming
  • react well to distractions (like big, scary umbrellas!)
  • sit, stay, come, and lie down on command
  • be friendly to a stranger and a new dog
  • walk nicely through a crowd
  • walk with a loose leash
  • “supervised separation” for 3 minutes

…and no treats allowed during the test, which is the hardest part! If you are a dog owner, you’ll know that this list is a tall order…but she passed!

As soon as Charley completed her basic obedience classes, we wanted to get her certified. It is the prerequisite to becoming a therapy dog and also since we are apartment dwellers (and no where close to being able to buy a house), we figured certification would be a good idea so that we can show potential new landlords that she is well behaved and trained. Plus, she really is such an angel, why not have the title to prove it?

Although this is “my” blog, Jackie really should get all the credit for this one. I just got back from a short trip to Europe (more on that later!) and before I left, we were nervous that Charley wouldn’t pass. During her mock tests, her biggest challenge was the grass (out of all things!) — something about the grass in that park is sooo tempting and delicious and when she loses her focus, she lets her nose take over and we can’t get any work done. Well, apparently the key to solving this issue was me leaving for 10 days because when I got back, Charley seemed more focused than ever! On the actual test day, she was distracted with me there so I had to cheer her on from the car, getting updates via thumbs up and texts. Oh well, I’m okay with taking the back seat on this one.

We’ll be taking a little bit of a breather for these next few months, but the training never ends! Maybe we have some agility classes in our future…something to help her gain more endurance. Or maybe we go straight into therapy dog training. Who knows! I’m just happy to record this fun little milestone.

PS: If you’re reading this and considering getting your dog AKC Canine Good Citizen certified, we went through Karma Dog Training and our “coach”, Chelsea, was awesome!

Mini Photoshoot

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*BRAG ABOUT YOUR CUTE PUPPY BLOG POST ALERT*

We’re so lucky to be friends with talented people like Jocelyn. When she’s behind a camera lens, she can make anything and everything look awesome and dreamy…

A few weekends ago, Jackie, Charley and I tagged along on one of Jocelyn and Ivy’s photo adventures. They are working on perfecting their night photography (and Jocelyn’s focusing on B&W) so we were going to meet at the Griffith Observatory because it was a beautiful full moon. Apparently all the couples in town had the same idea so we turned to plan B: the First Street Bridge in Downtown LA. J and I never leave our Westside bubble, not to mention after 9pm, but Ivy and Joce are slowly getting us out of our grandma habits…I’m so glad we went! All the photos in this post were taken by Jocelyn and if you like what you see here, you should definitely go check out the rest of her work here.

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The photo on the left is one of my favorites — ASPCA ad anyone? Can’t you just hear Sarah McLaughlin singing in the background?

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Speaking of ads…if anyone from Ruffwear is reading this, Charley would love to be one of your models. She is sporting her Webmaster harness here and always receives so many compliments! We think she looks like she’s about to jump off a plane!

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The most awkward/awesome family photo and Charley’s soft schnoz. My, I love that pup.

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Thanks for the impromptu photoshoot, Joce!

Day 1.

We started 2014 on a great note. Since the end of January is always a crazy time at work, there was extra pressure to spend the day off wisely. Driving up to Santa Barbara to take Charley to the beach couldn’t have been a better idea. Santa Monica is pretty strict about their no-dogs-on-the-beach rule but a few of Santa Barbara’s beaches have awesome off-leach areas and it was a good excuse for us to get out of town. Before heading out, we looked up a few dog-friendly restaurants and made sure to stop by the dog park to get some of her energy out before the long car ride.

For lunch, we chose a Vegan plant-based spot, Adama, right off State Street. Parents, don’t be alarmed – we aren’t going vegan in the new year! The holidays (and the free NYE pizza that we scored) had me feeling super heavy so I craved a nice organic veggie juice and something light. If you find yourself in SB, I highly recommend the Jackfruit tacos at Adama! Yummy and flavorful for everyone…meat-eaters, gluten-free friends and you crazy vegans. Jackie also got a “Depth Charge”, which was apparently a Chai tea latte with a shot of espresso but when you add coconut milk, it tastes like a really thick and amazing hot dark chocolate drink.

I’m getting off topic.

Arroyo Burro beach is just a few minutes away from State Street. It took Charley a little while to figure out what to do with all the sand but once she got the hang of it, she was in heaven. So far she doesn’t seem like much of a water dog but she will chase anyone who lets her (especially the tiny fuzzy dogs). She’s slowly getting the hang of fetch…

We didn’t do it on purpose but we were there long enough to catch the sunset …  the perfect ending to the first day of the year.

Charley Girl

It’s taken me a few weeks to post our latest big announcement: we adopted a new member of the family!  These past few weeks have gone by both slowly and quickly at the same time and our days have been filled up like never before. I didn’t grow up living with a dog and let me just say, it really does change everything. Instead of relaxing in front of the TV for the evening, we’re at the dog park or walking around the neighborhood. Instead of having a few hours to myself to practice calligraphy, sew, or write a blog post, I’m figuring out how to make sure the animals are getting along and experimenting with clicker training.

When Jackie first told me that she really wanted to start looking at dogs, my mind first went to “we don’t have room in our little apartment” and “how will he/she get along with the cats?” but honestly, I think the biggest change has been the number of hours that I’m awake each day. I secretly love it. Thanks to daylight savings time, we get to see the sunrise every morning on our walk/run to the ocean. The neighborhood is quiet, the air feels fresh and dewy and coffee always tastes the best at this hour. Prior to adopting Charley, you couldn’t pay me to get out of bed before 7am! Now, our walks in the mornings are one of my favorite times of the day.

Let’s rewind a bit: we adopted Charley on October 31 from the South LA Shelter, ending a 2-month long search for the “perfect” pup. The shelter wasn’t able to tell us much about her. All we know is that she was a stray and she fit everything we were looking for: medium sized dog with short hair, energy to run, but most importantly, a calm and sweet disposition with no prey drive (not to mention the cutest smile!). We had gone to endless numbers of adoption events and meet ups with foster families but surprisingly nothing was working out for us. Turns out we just hadn’t met Charley yet. Since we don’t know much about the first 10 months of her life, I’ve gone through a number of stories in my mind. We know that she wasn’t spayed or micro-chipped when she was found which leads me to believe that she truly had a life on the streets (you can’t register your dog in LA without getting them neutered or spayed). However, she doesn’t have a lot of scars and she’s so sweet, gentle and submissive with other humans and animals. Don’t you think a dog who was fending for herself on the streets would be a little more…aggressive? So here’s my theory so far: Charley grew up with a kind homeless person (or family) who just couldn’t take care of her anymore. Seems logical to me! If only animals could talk…

Adopting from the shelter definitely came with its ups and downs. The South LA Shelter is one of LA’s high kill shelters, so we feel great about getting her out of there. But after her spay surgery, she was not in good shape. Our first few hours together involved me cleaning up a LOT of dog puke. She was so sad and sick as she was coming off her anesthesia that we ended up taking her back to the hospital to get an IV for liquids and  medication because she couldn’t keep anything down otherwise. To add to that sting, she also was at risk for developing pneumonia and  had a little bit of a kennel cough, which would have been nice to know from the shelter but they probably couldn’t be bothered to even notice. In 24 hours, our new pup had racked up more medical bills than me in 10 years. She’s on antibiotics for the pneumonia (and already has needed another dose of flea/tick/heart-worm treatment and some pills to kill worms) BUT I think we have turned the corner and we are getting this pup back to perfect health.

Another thing that I’ve learned is that shelter dogs are prone to developing separation anxiety. It makes 100% sense that they would be scared to be abandoned again and Charley is no exception.  She doesn’t mind being in her crate, but she whines, cries, and barks every time we leave. Jackie has been doing her homework and reading up on all the tips and tricks for teaching your dog to be comfortable alone but it’s not going to be an easy journey. Dealing with this condition makes obedience training seem like a breeze! If anyone has any secrets to share (for instance, a few people have recommended trying this in her water), we’re open to try anything.

As I wrap this up, it’s now clear to me why I haven’t had the chance to write this post in two whole weeks. There is just so much to say! Animals are the best. Once one (or in my case, a few!) pulls you in, there’s no turning back…we have a full house now, but I like it that way. Many more stories to come!