Thursday, January 15, 2009

Things are seldom what they seem.

(Make sure your speakers are on and the volume is up to play the video)

When I adopted Sasha, I was looking for companionship, but also for a bit of a deterrent to any ne'er-do-well who might want to harm me or my home. I knew she was a mutt and I was perfectly fine with that. In fact, in my opinion, mutts often make some of the best dogs. They generally have better health and fewer temperament issues than purebreds do. The lady from the adoption and rescue place said that her father was a 90 lb German Shepherd and that the mother was a shepherd/something mix. That sounded fine to me because I knew that German Shepherds are a larger breed of dog that are generally smart, loyal and protective. Perfect!

Unfortunately, it seems I may have been sold a bill of goods. After talking to the owner of one of Sasha's litter mates after training class the other night, it looks like the mother may have been (at least part) Shiba Inu. While these dogs, of Japanese origin, are also know to be intelligent, they are SIGNIFICANTLY more petite than German Shepherds. For instance, a German Shepherd averages between 49 and 88 pounds. A Shiba Inu often weighs in between 17 and 23 pounds. It's gonna be hard to frighten an intruder with a dog that they could just kick to the side. On the bright side, I might have a few additional years with her. The life expectancy of a German Shepherd is 7 - 10 years and a Shiba Inu is around for 12 - 15 years.

At this point, all of this is pure conjecture really. I guess I'll have to wait until she's about 1 year old before I can really have an idea of her eventual size. It's not looking like she'll be all that big though based on her paws and ears. They aren't exactly huge.

Here latest conquests? She's learning more skills. She's mastered "sit" and "lay down". We're working very hard on "leave it" (I can't wait until she responds to that one better!) and we're even working on some tricks! In order to keep her occupied and exercised, I'm thinking about working on agility training with her using a homemade apparatus once the weather is a little warmer. The trainer I go to is even going to teach a class in flyball in the spring that I think we'll try. I think Sasha will have a good time with it!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I seriously have the cutest dog ever! I might be a bit biased, but not much. ;-) This video was taken the other night on my cell phone (hence the poor quality). It's Troy and Sasha playing their favorite game of "fetch". Troy spins the tug around his body while she chases it. It's funny to see her really turn on the speed when she gets close enough to catch it. Troy discovered this is a great game to play because while she gets exhausted, he doesn't. When a puppy has as much energy as she does, this is a good thing!
Last Tuesday Sasha and I had our first obedience class. There were 4 dogs total in the class including one of her litter mates that the family (mom, dad and 2 boys) named Ginger. She's adorable and somehow even more wriggly than Sasha. They've had her 2 weeks fewer than I've had Sasha so they haven't worked with her on obedience much yet. I sometimes get frustrated that Sasha isn't learning things as fast as I would like, but it was amazing to see that all of my hard work really has paid off so far. She was a star pupil. She knew her name, focused on me even when there was an intentional distraction from the instructor and didn't jump up. Yeah! She also knows that if she wants ANYTHING (food, to go outside, love, to play, etc) she has to, at a minimum, sit. That was our assignment for this last week and I was thrilled that she already knew that one! Sweet. This week we learn "leave it". I can't WAIT for this one. Perhaps then when she grabs my dirty socks or wants to chew on yet ANOTHER stick, I can dissuade her more easily. Wish me luck!

Tell them what we've got, Johnny!.....

...It's a BRAND NEW CAR!

Ok, so brand new may be a stretch, but it is a new car to me. I did it. I took the plunge. I went car shopping with my dad on Saturday, December 27th and had no intention of actually buying one, but the steering is starting to feel a bit wonky on my old one, so I thought maybe it was time to at least go look. I think I smelled desperation wafting over from the car dealer as we drove through the lot. He was practically salivating at the fact that there was actually one potential customer on the lot on the Saturday after Christmas. Needless to say, I was the only one there. Later on in the day, he actually had the kahones to say that, despite what the media was saying, their business was doing really well. (Insert crickets chirping here) Sure, mister! That's why you all are condensing your business from 3 lots down to 2. It's because business is really booming! Please.

Anyway, I was fairly proud of my negotiating skills. When I bought my first car 8 years ago, I didn't do any of the negotiating. I basically let my brother and dad do all the talking and when they were finished, I asked how much I owed and where to sign. This time I had done some research (thank you, Consumer Reports) and felt better educated about what cars were out there that were well made and would fit into my price range. Besides, I didn't HAVE to buy a car and I'm pretty sure he REALLY wanted to sell one.

It was interesting to see my dad's reaction when we were talking (just the two of us away from the sales people) and I said I would consider paying $X. He said, "With tax and everything?!?!" I said, "yep!"

It's a unique experience to see these sorts of negotiations from the stand-point of another generation. My parents are children of people who came of age during the Depression. My dad was laid off for much of the 80's due to poor economic times. My parents have, until recently, both worked at least 2 jobs EACH. They are the kind of people that aren't going to rock the boat. When I recently told my mom that, after doing some research, I felt like I was underpaid and that I had asked for a raise, I think she was simultaneously shocked and unnerved. I've been telling her for years that she is underpaid and that her company should show that they know her value by giving her more money. She simply shrugs it off and says things like, "In this economy, I'm just happy to have a job." In this economy I'm thrilled to have a job as well, but that doesn't mean that my skills are any less valuable.

I think for my dad, these negotiations brought him that same unnerved feeling. I think he thought I was crazy basically asking for the moon. I figure, I'm gonna start with the moon, if I only get the top of Mt. Everest, that's still pretty good. After all, as I said, I didn't HAVE to buy a car.

So, I negogiated and got pretty close to what I told him I would consider (with a few perks thrown in) and when we were all done, he said, "I think you got a really good deal." While I was seeking his approval in my decision, it was nice to know I had it.

Even though I didn't expect to actually get it crossed off the list before next July, every time I fire up that remote start and hop into a warm car on a cold Indiana morning, I'm thrilled to have a new car.

.....If anyone's interested, I have a car payment due January 26th. I haven't had one in over 5 years and I'm not enjoying the prospect of having one for the next 4 years. Ugh.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Life just ain't fair, huh?

Warning: Sasha update

I've decided that since Sasha spends so much of her time alone at home during the day, I'm gonna try to take her to doggy daycare twice a week. There happens to be one not too far from my house, so we made an appointment for an evaluation and went to check it out today. The evaluation consists of basically watching her interact with the other dogs for about 2 hours.

We showed up at the daycare at about 9 this morning. After checking to make sure all of her vaccinations were up to date, the owner of the facility let Sasha into the area where the other dogs were. There were about 7 other dogs and she was practically bombarded when she entered. There was a lot of sniffing and drooling. Within 5 minutes, she was practically drenched with doggy slobber. EWWWW. About 10 minutes, the excitement about her died down. Apparently they decided she was okay, so they all went back to drinking, playing and sniffing each other. She wasn't sure what to make of things, so for a while, she just tried to jump up the wall that I was standing on the other side of. Finally, she decided playing with the other dogs was great fun. I stayed for about 2 hours and I don't think she stopped running and playing with the other dogs the whole time.

I decided to take advantage of her day at the daycare to get some errands done. I left her there for the rest of the afternoon and when I came back around 5:45, she was the last dog still there. Apparently there had been a mass exodus just before I got there. I asked the doggy attendant how she did and she gave a glowing review. She said that all the dogs FINALLY laid down for about 20 minutes at 4:00 PM. That means that she had played for nearly 7 hours. I knew she would be exhausted when she got home, but it was nearly all she could do to crawl on the couch. When we got home, she fell asleep from about 6:30 until around 11:45 PM. She was practically in a coma. Doggy daycare is a good thing!

In the midst of her napping, Troy came over to visit us for the evening and decided to lay down on the couch. At some point, Sasha thought the crook of Troy's arm would make a lovely bed. This is so not fair! She is my dog and she never lays on me like that. I thought for sure that she would just get up and lick his face, lay down for a second and then get right back down. NOOOOO. She laid down for about another 20 minutes right there on his chest. I'm so jealous. I pay for the exhausting doggy day care. I feed her and make sure she gets walked at all hours of the night. I make sure she has a comfortable place to live and sleep and toys aplenty to play with. But do I get the premium doggy lovins? Nope. Par for the course, right? Mommy's home all day with the kids and yet when Daddy gets home, let the excitement begin. Being a doggy mommy is a thankless job.


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