Archive for the ‘Feel Good’ Category

Nearly Perfect Day

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Six plus months have gone by since my last post. I can scarcely believe it! There have been SO many things that I have wanted to write about along the way. But for some reason (perhaps my A-D-D) it seems that I was unable to do so.

For some reason, the simplicity of today made me want to take the time to post. I was recently introduced to the Shambhala Meditation Center of Dallas (another post gone undone) and the concept of living in the present. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but this very moment. It struck me tonight that I was having one of those “now” moments.

I spent the day working on cleaning out a couple of closets. Not that I’m done, but I got a start. I feel good about that. (I AM going to get this house whipped into shape, I SWEAR I am).

I watched a couple of episodes of a show that is new to me – Nurse Jackie. It’s about a nurse that is a drug addict. I liked it. It had just the right about of twisted humor to keep the subject matter interesting and somewhat light.

I did a little tending to our two little first time ever Tx gardens. It’s very exciting to watch things change from stubby little plants into flourishing bearers of fruit (or veggies as the case might be).

But tonight is what made me actually want to do this post. I was just sitting out on the patio reading Kathy Sdao (one of my very favorite lecturers and people) “Plenty in Life is Free” with a glass of wine and Micah sitting in my lap. You know I just love that little guy to PIECES. He was watching every little thing that flew by, and enjoying the breeze of the evening while our resident geckos perched on the house – waiting. Just waiting. The neighborhood was quiet except for the occasional distant siren and a plane or two. It was just Micah and I enjoying the moment. Just calm and peaceful. Just lovely. It made me think about how really and truly, it’s the simplest things in life that make us happy.

Yup – today was just about perfect!


Saturday, December 10th, 2011

I recently was in Rochester Minnesota visiting my best bro who was having surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital (part of the Mayo Clinic). That may be another post for down the road.

St. Mary's Hospital

St. Mary's Hospital

While I was there I discovered a GREAT little restaurant directly across the street called the Canadian Honker.

If you can’t find something on the menu you want, then you just don’t like food! They have some of everything: really unique burgers – steaks - yummy sandwiches – walleye – ribs – wraps – shrimp - soups and pasta. And if you’re still hungry after all that, you can get a piece of Bunnie’s Coconut Cake – a Honker Favorite. They had other sinful looking desserts as well, but I opted to pass on the extra calories.

The restaurant has a nice homey feel to it, and 2 out of 3 nights that I was there they had a solo guitarist/singer.

The 2nd night that we came in, our waitress actually remembered what kind of wine my sister in law had the night before. Seriously? That’s some pretty awesome service.

Anyway – I don’t usually do restaurant reviews, but just wanted to give a SHOUT OUT to all the folks at the Canadian Honker that helped make the trip enjoyable, and give the rest of you a tip on where to eat if you’re ever in the area. Try it – you’ll LOVE it!!!

Back on Track

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I LOVE fall – and today was a beautiful, PERFECT fall day in Flower Mound Texas. If I were a native Texan I might have thought it was too cold; but I’m not, and it wasn’t. It was about 60 degrees, with enough breeze to warrant a sweatshirt. I took the two terriers for a walk in the park; well technically one walk and one walk/ride.

Princess Ruby

Princess Ruby

Ruby can’t walk very far so she gets to ride in a stroller part of the time. I actually don’t think she cares if she walks or rides, just so she gets to go.

So now that the BRUTAL heat of the summer is over, I’ve decided to give another go to getting fit. Weight has been a lifelong battle for me, and in a few months I will be turning another decade older! (And it’s a BIG decade!!) I think that’s starting to sink in. It’s now or never – soon I will be OLD!

So I’m putting it out there – for all to read. I’m officially starting (once again) to implement a reasonable eating plan and a walk/run program (by Jeff Galloway).

Wish me luck, and strength. And stay tuned.

The Bucket List - Revisited

Monday, August 29th, 2011

A few years ago I wrote a blog post (Cross One Off the List) about one of my bucket list items (shooting a gun) that I tried, and didn’t care for. So I crossed that one off my list.


I named a few other things that would really be cool to try before  I die, but I really haven’t given the list much thought since then -   at least not until a few months ago. One thing kept creeping back  into my stream of consciousness saying “do it – do it”. “But I don’t have time” I retorted (all in my head you understand). “I REALLY need to get the house in order (please God) before I die, and painting to do, and a million more dog books to read and dog video’s to see, and new flooring to put in”, etc. etc. etc. But the voice . . . the VOICE kept saying “do it – DO it”.

After all – one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be a more well-rounded person. To NOT be “all dogs, all the time”. So on a busy Saturday afternoon, I dragged my husband with me to the music store, to look at bass guitars. Mind you – I had NO intention of buying one that day – I was only there to look. Yeah, right. So much for self-control. If you know me very well, you know that I’m an “instant gratification” kind of girl. Not something I’m proud of, but hey, I am what I am.

So - we brought this beauty home.


I say “we” because I think Big R (who is already      pretty musically inclined) will get as much enjoyment out of the bass as I will.

Can I explain or justify my getting something like a new bass guitar when I have no idea how to play it? No. (I played acoustic guitar when I was young - about a million years ago, but that’s a completely different thing from playing a bass).

Do I think that eventually I will join an “all girl band” and make my fortune playing for the high-society folk? No.

Did I do this purely for the crazy fun of it? ABSOLUTELY. Make sense? Probably not, but sometimes in life you just have to go for it, and do things “just because”. Just because the feeling moves you, or just because there’s a calling there, or just because you WANT to. Life’s too short guys, and sometimes you just have to grab a little gusto and run with it! Life’s a BLAST!!! Have fun!!! I know I will!

So the only question that remains is – will I ever get to sing backup for Tina Turner?   :-o  Who knows?

Fun Dog Sports

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

The great thing about having a dog these days is that there are a TON of different things that you can do with him.

Competition Obedience
Disk Dog
Dock Diving
Field Trials
Lure Coursing
Dog Mushing
Treibball - another new personal favorite
Weight Pulling

Whew!! That’s a lot of dog sports. And now there’s another to add to the list. K9 Nose Work.


It was founded by a group of folks in California that are involved in Search and Rescue. They thought it would be great if the average pet on the street could have as much fun with their nose as the S&R dogs. Turns out they CAN! And so “K9 Nose Work” was born.

These folks have put a lot of thought and effort into this new sport and the dogs are LOVING IT!! They don’t need any special training (or actually ANY training at all) to participate. Since only one dog works at a time to get the “find”, even dogs that are reactive or dog aggressive can play. There is no interaction between them whatsoever.

The first set of classes is Introduction to Nose Work and the dogs learn to find food with their nose. It’s a win-win. Find the food (which is fun) and eat it!!! Also fun! Once the dogs get accustomed to searching and finding the food, they move on to odors. The odors are first coupled with food, so that they are getting both scents together. Then they move on to straight odor.


Least you think “duh, what dog couldn’t do that” you should know that by the time they get to where they are testing to get certified, the dogs are searching for odor on something as small as a q-tip in an area that could be as large as a warehouse or an elementary school. It’s not exactly easy, but they all work their way up to the challenge. They also learn to do exterior searches and vehicle searches.

In one of my classes we took the dogs to a local home improvement store where they proceeded to search for the reward in an isle filled with bins and compartments and small containers. They did AMAZINGLY well! I was so proud of them.

It’s just one more venue among a myriad that we can have fun with. If interested in getting more information please see the following link:


By the way – I give Nosework classes at Dog City Training Center if you happen to be in the Dallas area.


We have lots of other fun classes as well!!!
Happy Training!

WOW!!! 13?

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Words can’t begin to express what this girl means to me. So I won’t try.

Happy 13th Birthday Tessa Mae. Sloppy Joes and cupcakes all around!!!

My 13 year old Great Dane - Tessa Mae

My 13 year old Great Dane - Tessa Mae

Fun Party Trick

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Dang it!!! I just can’t get the video link to work. Not so computer savvy - but REALLY wanted to show the VIDEO!!!!

So I’ll have to settle for this not so great quality pic of Micah - the most fun boy EVER - and his new party trick called “feet”.


Here’s one more that is really poor quality - but shows what good “vertical lift” he’s getting.

More "feet"

Good Boy Micah!!

Fell Off the Face of the Earth?

Monday, November 16th, 2009

All two of you that had been reading my Blog must have thought I had been blown away by a random sniper, or thrown in jail, or incapacitated by a horrible car wreck. Actually, no.

I’ve recently become involved with a new business venture called Dog City Training Center. It was opened by a couple of friends of mine, and I’ve been quite “involved”. (For any of you in the area, it’s in Carrollton, TX). You can check out the website at: dogcitytrainingcenter.com


Dog City is the first (that I know of) totally positive training center in my area, and I am absolutely thrilled with it. We are cutting edge dog training, and are teaching our students the value of creating a “thinking” dog. Some of you might think that is a bad thing, but I assure you, it’s not. :-) We have agility, manners classes, flyball, levels obedience and much more.

I went to a Rally-O trial today (a combination of agility and obedience) and was once again reminded of why I do what I do – train positively. I saw quite a few dogs in the ring walking around with their heads and tails down, pensively prodding along, obviously not enjoying themselves. Obviously afraid of making a mistake. Once again - a wonderful reminder that with positive training, the dog doesn’t have to be afraid of making a mistake. They are not punished, they just aren’t rewarded.

Dog City Training Center in many ways, is a dream come true for me, even if I’m not the owner. It stands for everything I believe in (as far as dog training goes). I hope that any of you in the area have a chance to check it out. It’s training at it’s best!!! And I am SO grateful for that!!

Happy Training!!!

‘Teacher’s Pet’ program changes destiny of kids, dogs

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

I LOVE this story!! It was posted from USA Today on July 21, 2009. Enjoy!



By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

When teens are troubled, when they tread more often than not on the wrong side of doing the right thing, when they can’t seem to dredge up any interest in school or parental advice, or preparing to be contributing members of society, it’s easy to conclude that nothing can reach them.

They’re heart-of-stone kids, we figure, with mile-high barriers erected to protect whatever small measure of softness, empathy or willingness to connect might exist deep within them.

And that settles that. End of story.

Except Amy Johnson was certain that simply isn’t the case.

She knows something about reaching kids, since she has a teaching background. And then there’s that little something else about her background — a few years working with the Michigan Humane Society as well as training as a dog trainer — that convinced her that combining her two specialties could make a difference.

A student trainer works with Jewell in the Teacher's Pet: Dogs and Kids Learning Together program, which links destined-for-euthanasia dogs with emotionally impaired students. Both trainers and dogs learn and benefit. Photo by Amy Johnson

A student trainer works with Jewell in the Teacher's Pet: Dogs and Kids Learning Together program, which links destined-for-euthanasia dogs with emotionally impaired students. Both trainers and dogs learn and benefit. Photo by Amy Johnson

She did some research. Got her thoughts together. Approached some Michigan school superintendents, proposing a program in which some of the kids who were floundering badly and were at high risk of dropping out would train dogs for a few weeks. Maybe helping a dog that needed it could turn those kids around, she thought. Maybe that would give kids the kind of success they needed to feel better about themselves and everything else.

The superintendent in Waterford bit.

In the three years since then, her non-profit Teacher’s Pet: Dogs and Kids Learning Together program has linked 42 destined-for-euthanasia dogs with 42 students from Kingsley Montgomery School, a day treatment center/alternative school for junior high and high school youth with emotional and/or cognitive issues.

And it turns out her suspicions were correct. The program seems to have helped kids and canines in almost equal measure. All of the rescued dogs plucked from shelters and trained through the program have been adopted into new homes; most of the emotionally impaired kids who have rehabilitated them have new attitudes, new leases on life.

“The dogs come with behavior problems, and these kids can instantly relate to them,” says Johnson, who has a full-time job as marketing coordinator at Oakland University and does this Teacher’s Pet program as a part-time sideline without pay.

Almost immediately the kids chosen for the program have developed tight bonds with the animals. “Something warm and fuzzy reached these kids who no one else could get to.”

Buddy gives as much love and attention as he gets, and his trainer supplies plenty of it. Photo by Amy Johnson

Buddy gives as much love and attention as he gets, and his trainer supplies plenty of it. Photo by Amy Johnson

In each of the 10-week cycles of teens training dogs that have been conducted at the school so far, “the teachers and social workers noticed a change in the kids almost immediately,” Johnson says. “One of the kids last fall would tell everybody, ‘This program changed my life.’ He graduated. He believes now that he really does have things he can contribute.”

The kids and dogs work together two times a week, two hours per session. Johnson does Dog 101 instruction, then advances to talking about how dogs deal with stress, how people can read dogs’ body language, and how dealing with the animal in a positive rather than a negative way builds its confidence, removes its defensiveness and nurtures a willingness to learn and bloom.

“I never say, ‘All this is to make you a better person,’ but they figure it out,” Johnson says. “They know they’ve messed up. One girl actually said, ‘I get that we’re like the dogs.’ ”

This being real life, not all of the kids in the program have experienced a storybook ending. They have a few hours a week with the dogs “and then some go home to their questionable environments,” Johnson says. “But most have done well. They’ve improved relationships, learned patience. Many have transitioned back to their home school.”

There’s enough belief in the little program that’s changing lives that Planet Dog and Banfield Charitable Trust have sent some much-needed funding to support it, and three lock-up facilities for teens have had Johnson launch her program there (40 kids and about 30 rescued dogs have participated so far).

She also is running a summer camp, called Kamp K9 for Kids, for nearly 40 sixth to ninth-graders so they can learn many of the same dog-handling-related facts of life.

Johnson, of course, has dreams … dreams of “more people to help more kids and dogs.”

Her goals, she acknowledges, are “lofty,” and the means of achieving them, at this point, are “somewhat vague.” But then again, four years ago there was no program, no non-profit, no board and limited interest in what she was proposing.

Things have moved forward, she believes, for a simple reason:

“If you learn to communicate with a dog, you’re well on the way to being able to communicate with everyone.”

Sharon L. Peters is an award-winning pet journalist who lives in Colorado. You can e-mail her at pets@usatoday.com.

Bo - The First Dog

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Woo-hoo! I am SO happy to see that the new “first dog” is being trained by a positive dog trainer. Sylvia Stasiewicz founded Merit Puppy Training in the 90’s and teaches Positive Reinforcement Training Classes for Dogs of All Ages. It’s so wonderful to see someone on the positive team, being so high profile.

I don’t mean to make it sound like there aren’t others out there – there are. There are tons of them in fact, but let me tell you - when you’re actually looking for a class in your area, they may be a little tough to find. I have to credit my good friend Paula for filling me in on the scoop. I’ve been a little news negligent lately. Sometimes it’s just better that way.

Victoria Stilwell is another (even more) high profile trainer out there trying to pass along the benefits of positive training. She has a television show called It’s Me or the Dog that airs on Saturday night. Despite my irritation with her on The Greatest American Dog, I’m usually right on board with her methods.
And I think her show provides some balance for the Dog Whisperer broadcast. Don’t get me wrong. Cesar provides some entertaining TV, and is quite a charming guy. I once went to Oklahoma to see him speak. He was mesmerizing, and very humorous. He’s a great speaker, that one. He’s an entertainer. In fact. . . no . . . I’ll stop there. Let’s just say that Victoria’s show balances him out. There’s no smoke and mirrors with her. Pretty much just straightforward problem fixing – done in a positive way. A little silly, and a little too “girlie” at times - but all in all a great trainer.

I think that as time goes on, we will hear more and more about positive training. After all, places like Sea World have been using it for many, many years. You really can’t train a killer whale using a “correction” or intimidation. And most progressive zoos are using it as well, for simple medical procedures.

So chalk one up for our team - the positive folks. And Bo - make us proud! Everybody’s watching!