Blue Garden chat forum: BGChat: Winter into Spring '16

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Feb 14, 2016 9:08 PM CST
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA
Thanks so much for that advice, Mary Ann. I did a lot of googling, and I'm convinced that it not only works but isn't painful, just uncomfortable, and just when the dog pulls. I just ordered a Sprenger for Brique. When Panda tried to run to the end of the leash with the Sprenger on, did you do anything verbally, say anything? Brique is so eager to please, that he follows all my verbal commands. The only exceptions are when he sees a rabbit, a squirrel, falling snow or, in today's case, a vehicle.

Sharon, here's what a "prong" on the Sprenger looks like up close up:

Thumb of 2016-02-15/LarryR/a47108

I'll let y'all know how it works.
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
As a gardener: When planning for a year, I plant corn. When planning for decades, I plant trees. When planning for life, I train and educate people.

Feb 14, 2016 9:50 PM CST
Name: Mary Ann
Hi Larry. You won't be sorry. It's a fine piece of equipment, designed for a specific purpose and to not damage/injure/hurt a dog. If you could rub your finger over those prongs, you would see that they are smooth and rounded. They cannot penetrate flesh. But in order for them to be effective, the dog has to be able to feel the prongs through their fur -- which is always thick at the neck. That's nature's way of protecting them in a dog fight -- thick fur.

Anyway -- it is not uncomfortable for the dog unless they pull on it. And as soon as they feel that strange sensation -- the dog stops pulling -- and the sensation goes away. This is actually a reward -- something that you cannot give them with any other collar. Most dogs are very smart and only need to feel that sensation once or twice -- and thereafter are aware of the collar when it's on them and simply don't pull anymore. It's a very safe and humane way to train a dog.

Incidentally -- the Sprenger company (located in Germany) is known for their beautifully crafted bits for horses. They are especially known for their French Snaffle bits, which are three separate pieces joined together, which more closely follows the construction of a horse's mouth and are therefore more comfortable for the horse. Ordinary Snaffle bits are two pieces joined in the center -- and that bit can have a nut-cracker effect on a horse's tongue and palate. So --when I learned the makers of this collar, I automatically accorded them respect for their concern for the welfare of animals.

Sharon -- I understand your reticence. When you and I next get together, I will bring Panda's collar for you to see.
Every day is a second chance. Every day is precious time.
Feb 14, 2016 10:12 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Do the curved parts poke into the neck or is it the ends that are cut? I just don't understand how it works but I'll wait to see what you say Larry since there's less weight difference between the the two big dogs and Panda.

It's been a strange night and very heart wrenching. When we first moved here a couple lived next door with their three children. The children were about 9, 8 and 7 in age and mine were much younger. We were all friends and when the man was stricken with cancer when their children were in 10, 11 and 12 grades, he was in Nashville and she was with him for treatment there but the children stayed here. I pretty much ran back and forth between houses seeing to their children, helping the girls with clothes and laundry, getting them to school. The oldest was a boy who was a straight A student and had tons of scholarship offers from major colleges for sports. So the man lived for about 2 years this way; the kids here, going to see their dad on weekends, the mom stayed with him and I ran from one house to the other taking care of my children as well as theirs. These were also the years when Bob was traveling a lot so sometimes I needed the older girls to help me with my kids too. It worked. During that time the boy was dating his high school girlfriend so she was added to the crew since she had also been one of my students.

It all worked but then in the summer of the second year the father passed away

(Sorry, my keyboard is nuts and punctuation isn't working well at all)

The oldest son was at the University, the middle daughter was at another university and the youngest daughter was a senior in high school. The mom was now a 40 something year old widow. She decided to move to Florida to be with her parents. She sold the house next door and the kids were on their own. The youngest was living with friends or something but was planning to go on to the local college for two years So the family was gone though they all kept in touch with me.

Bring it to now. The oldest son got his degree, married the sweet HS girlfriend and had a daughter; they stayed here in town and have lived here all the years. I talk to his wife often and saw her the other day when we were both at the grocery at the same time. And by the way I had taught all of them in my classes along the way including son's wife. So when I talked with her last week I asked about everybody, all the family, and she asked about mine and we ended the visit in the middle of the parking lot with our usual "Love you" and hugs and good byes.

The middle daughter married right out of college moved to Florida where her boyfriend/husband was from and lived near her mother who as I said was already there. She had two children.

The youngest daughter stayed here and became a nurse and has lived all this time in Paducah. I've seen all of them over the years, good people, and they are all so good to check up on me.

The calls started mid afternoon today. Debbie died, the voices said. Just that. Debbie died.

Finally the call came from Florida, the oldest daughter. She's flying in tomorrow with her own daughter to be followed on Tuesday by her husband and son. All grown up now, her children are

Then the call came from Paducah, the youngest daughter She's meeting her sister's plane tomorrow and she's OK She'll be with her brother tonight.

It was Debbie, the wife of the son, the one I saw at the grocery the other day, the one who told me everybody was well and hugged me when she said "love you"; just as we all do when we see each other.

it was Debbie who died in her sleep last night.

I haven't talked with Danny yet, her husband, the oldest son They have a daughter who has a little girl of her own.

So they will all be home tomorrow except the mother and she has dementia and is in assisted living in Florida. The middle daughter has been taking care of her for years now, the daughter who is flying home tomorrow morning.

It is a very caring family, very loving, and I was lucky to be a part of their lives Still lucky I think I will see them all this week but the one I saw most often the one I saw just about once a week, I won't see her anymore.

That just makes me so sad for that young family They are doing an autopsy but what does it matter really?

She's gone now and somehow it just feels so sad.

But you know, those children have kept that family together in spite of the distance all through the years and mostly all on their own after their dad died. They are the best kids.

So I'm a little scattered tonight but the kids are strong and will do just fine, taking care of each other just as they have always done. You have to really admire young people like that. You just have to really admire them.

Feb 14, 2016 10:15 PM CST
Name: Mary Ann
Larry -- I just realized that I didn't answer your question. I'm trying to remember exactly how I started working with Panda with her new collar. I'm sure that I verbalized somehow -- I talk to my animals all the time. But it may have been a sound, rather than a word. For instance: "eh!!" or "ah!" said sharply -- at the same time as a brief tug on the leash. And I started with a short leash, rather than the kind that extends out. With the tug and the noise, Panda's focus was brought back onto me instantly -- at which point I told her "good girl" and kept walking. When I'm working with my animals -- Panda or the horses -- I give them many opportunities to give me the right answer (do the right thing) so that I can reward them. And this was fostered in the obedience class too. We were encouraged to keep treats in our pocket (or treat bag) and to be generous in their use -- but only for the right answer.

So -- if I were walking Panda and asking her to walk quietly alongside me -- and she saw something exciting and bolted off, I would try to time the "eh!" for the exact moment that she got far enough to feel the collar -- and then release the pressure of the collar/leash as soon as she stopped the bolt. Then I would tell her "good girl" and continue walking. Very soon after that, I would stop and ask her to sit -- and as soon as she complied, tell her "good girl" and give her a treat. The goal is for them to learn that complying with your requests is a very happy and pleasant thing to do. As you become skilled at this, it becomes automatic and effortless and they almost train themselves. They become so focused on you, trying so hard to do the right thing -- and maybe earn that treat. Incidentally, high-value treats are very important in the early stages of all of this. In the obedience class, they recommended small slices of hot-dogs -- the ones made of turkey. If the treats are *meh* -- the dog won't work so hard for them. Also, when I'm giving them the reward treat, I lavish praise on them -- "what a good girl you are, you're so smart, etc.".

Brique sounds like such a smart dog -- I'm sure he will catch on to this in no time. His only problem is that he doesn't know the rules -- he doesn't know that it's a bad thing to run after squirrels and trucks. He doesn't know the consequences of running in the road. And you can't explain it to him. Yelling at him after the fact doesn't help because he doesn't equate it to what he did. He only knows that you're mad. By training him to respect his collar and leash, and to focus on you and you alone, you're helping him to understand what his job is (which earns rewards) -- and you're also helping him to stay safe. It's a win-win.

Every day is a second chance. Every day is precious time.
Feb 14, 2016 10:15 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Took me forever to write the above so yes MM, bring the collar so I can see. I guess it isn't sold locally? Has to be ordered?
Feb 14, 2016 10:26 PM CST
Name: Mary Ann
Oh Sharon -- how sad. It's so hard to lose people we care about. And sometimes it makes no sense at all. You've lost more than your share of people you care about, recently. I'm really sorry for that.

Regarding the collar -- it's the ends that you see that are facing the dog's neck. But they are not *cut* -- they are smooth and rounded and polished. You would not be able to break skin with those ends. You'll see when you see Panda's. And I do not know if they are sold locally or not. If they were, they would be at Petsmart, I imagine. But I've not seen them there. I got mine from the instructor at the obedience class (Paducah Kennel Club). She keeps a supply -- she sees a lot of dogs that are *walking their owners*!! Big Yellow Grin
Every day is a second chance. Every day is precious time.
Feb 14, 2016 10:28 PM CST
Name: Sharon
I have to go back into that earlier message and try to add punctuation I can't even read it myself. Sheesh
Feb 14, 2016 10:31 PM CST
Name: Sharon
You need to walk away from Petsmart, MM. Doesn't Graves or McCracken have a Co-op? They have such good horse ,dog and animal stuff at the Marshall County Co op, I don't go to the pet store.
Feb 14, 2016 10:48 PM CST
Name: Mary Ann
I guess Graves County has a co-op, but I've never been able to find a single thing there that I needed (phone enquiry). If in Paducah, I do business either at Phelps Farm Store, or Tractor Supply. They have limited inventories, but I can find some of the things that I need. Marshall County Co-Op is awesome -- but that's a pretty long drive for me. I try to do business as locally as possible. What I've purchased at Petsmart were a few toys, a matching fancy collar and leash for my Maddie (who never needed training of any kind -- she was perfect just the way she came) -- and a couple of grooming tools (brushes, etc.)

Why do you not like them?

It's possible that you could find a Sprenger collar at the Marshall County Co-op -- sometimes they amaze me with the things that they carry. Smiling
Every day is a second chance. Every day is precious time.
Feb 14, 2016 10:53 PM CST
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA
I had a similar collar for my cocker spaniel at obedience school when I was 11 yrs old. the trainer was German-American so it must be in use there. I think that it pinches the skin. A quick jerk & 'No' command usually does it. the choke collar just has them strain against it & makes them pant because it does what it says. I never had her pull against it after the first. time. they listen to the commands after it is demonstrated to them. After that it is just practice.

John was watching the bird feeder this afternoon & I could not get in the site then but could report tonight. I think the trouble might be too many people trying at once. The user name & password go back in the drawer.

Sudden deaths are so hard, not on the person, but the one's left behind.
Feb 14, 2016 11:04 PM CST
Name: Mary Ann
Wow, Lucy. I had no idea they had been around for that long -- I thought they were newish. You're exactly right about the choke collar -- except that they're fine once the dog learns to walk alongside without pulling.

Sorry that you're still having trouble with that site. Frustrating, I'm sure. Sounds like you had a quiet Valentine's Day too. Smiling
Every day is a second chance. Every day is precious time.
Feb 14, 2016 11:15 PM CST
Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
Be yourself, you can be no one else
Sharon, I'm so sorry that your friend has died and it's even more sad because she was so young, and that you saw her often for most of her life. Group hug

The collar Mary Ann is showing you is very humane, more so than one that has cut ends, called a prong collar, which they sell at places like discount stores. Even those will not hurt a dog who runs to the end of a leash and is jerked around when he comes to the end of the line. Fritz was a puller and a jerker. He kept my shoulder sore because he would run to the end of the 15 ft retractable line and hit it hard enough to spin himself around. My daughter in law bought a prong collar for him, and he only tested it a time or two. Even then he did not yelp, he just looked surprised. And after that he was very nice. I should have given him a gentle demonstration before taking him outside.

Larry, your Brique story had me holding my breath and I was so glad to read that he wasn't hit by a car. Between this incident and the one where he pulled Wilma off her feet, it appears that maybe that is why he was given up for adoption, a nice dog with one bad habit which the collar could quickly fix.

Nap, I enjoy reading about your Burmese friends. I've learned a lot because of your interactions with them.

Today was a good day for reading and working puzzles. LIght rain, clouds and not a bit of sun. We do need the moisture.

Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
More ramblings at
Feb 15, 2016 12:21 AM CST
Name: Sharon
If I ever get out from under this second ton of snow, MM, I'll check at our Coop. If you need anything from them, you should let me know and I can pick it pretty easily. Also I could deliver it to you in Paducah since I think that's closer for you. We both are in Paducah pretty often.. . Years ago when we first moved here, there was a group of teen agers who would tie a dog to a post using a choke collar around the dog's neck. They would then throw rocks or whatever to get the dog to run and leap, old dog remember, until finally after hours of this the dog usually choked himself to death from all the leaping.

It was a horrible thing and it's a good thing I never saw it but I would hear about it the next day at school. The boys would be bragging. Sometimes they'd place bets on how long it took the dog to die. That was a group of kids who would be in their 50s now and I'll tell you the truth, when I heard years ago that one had died from his own shot gun and another had died because he was standing on top of a car his friend was driving and when the friend swerved the kid was thrown from the top of the moving car. The kid was killed and the driver was locked up somewhere for a long time and with those three gone, I think the viciousness toward animals ended. Laws take care of it now but that happened when we first moved here in the 70s. I think I cried myself to sleep that entire first year I taught. I loved my students but did not love those who look part in all the cruelty.

Anyway, I can't let myself think of things like that or I'd never sleep again..

But that's why I questioned the collar MM was mentioning, I couldn't imagine soft hearted MM using anything that would hurt Panda, but I couldn't understand why it wouldn't hurt from the descriptions. I won't be so afraid to try it now . Sunshine doesn't mean to be difficult or bad, she's just happy to see everybody and jumping on them is a reflection of her happiness. Same as when she charges after the demon cat next door. She's doing the same thing I'd like to be doing but can't . . . Anyway I'll try it when I find one because I'd like to be able to walk longer distances with her again.

Brique has those sudden bolts too so I don't feel like the lone tree left standing in the forest.

Lucy I think you might be right, all the bird watchers checking in at the same time . It snowed so hard most of the day I don't think I saw any birds at all. Nothing was stirring not even a mouse.

Thanks Mary, when a teacher loses a student it's almost like losing a cousin, a nephew or a niece. I feel related to them. I really feel sorry for the mother, the one who is in Florida in a care center. I am not sure the extent of her dementia but she's my age and I hate thinking of that.

I'm so glad today didn't end badly for Brique. I need to take Sunshine out just one more time tonight and I do believe she's hiding from me. Don't blame her a bit. I don't want to go out in that snow and cold either.
Feb 15, 2016 1:25 AM CST
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA
Mary Ann and Sharon, I checked Petco and PetSmart. One doesn't have them and the other has a cheaper version of something similar to the Sprenger. Here's the one I ordered:

Sharon, so sorry to hear of yet another death among your many friends and acquaintances. We're at an age where that happens much too often. Doesn't seem fair that the more friends and family we have, the more deaths we will have to morn.

Mary Ann, thanks again for all your knowledge and experience. I feel like I've attended an obedience class and neither had to pay nor leave my home. Can't beat that!

Sharon, Brique goes ballistic whenever there's somebody at the door he doesn't know. When that happens, I tell him it's OK and he calms immediately. Then I hold my palms out toward him, and he knows that means sit. He usually stays seated until I tell him OK. If the person wants Brique to jump up and hug her/him, all they have to do is pat their chest and Brique will happily oblige. He's so smart, he had that whole routine down pat in three or four sessions.
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
As a gardener: When planning for a year, I plant corn. When planning for decades, I plant trees. When planning for life, I train and educate people.

Feb 15, 2016 5:21 AM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
Good Morning!

I'm sure I'll miss something as I'm posting from memory. Whistling

Sharon - you had a rude awakening yesterday Crying but so glad the day improved Thumbs up Your painting is beautiful. I am so very sorry about the loss of your friend Group hug

Larry - Hoping the meeting with Palmer goes well tonight and the episode with Brique had my heart racing.

Mary - way a cool loft for the younger ones. YUM on your breakfast out.

Nap - I love reading your stories. Missionaries have definitely earned their crown in heaven. So thankful you got the frozen pipe fixed.

Arlene - hoping the ice they are still calling for here stays way north of you.

Sally - hoping the two inches you got is over. Sweet photo's of the twins Lovey dubby

Lucy - I keep the bird feeders full too when the weather is bad.

I've decided to try cheese curds the next time I'm at Ingles. I think they are the only store in town that carries them. They are still calling for ice but coming later instead of this morning. Schools are closed - just in case. We had a lovely Valentines day - steaks on the grill, potatoes, salad, wine, and a little heart shaped cake for two. Lovey dubby
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Feb 15, 2016 6:46 AM CST
Name: Nancy
Buffalo NY
Speaking of heart shaped cake, last night I got a heart shaped pizza. Big Yellow Grin

Sharon, how heart breaking for that family and for you. You have been so close to them. And how thoughtful that they informed you of the fact, rather than you finding out from a third party. You must feel like family to them. One thing to be glad about is that your recent conversation with Debbie was a loving one, not just a quick "hi how are ya" as you pass through the parking lot. If it were, you'd be feeling sadder now. So the next few days will be difficult. Please keep us up to date. We want to be your shoulder to lean on.

I appreciate the encouragement from you all about my Burmese friends. I need to talk about them. Kind of like the above youtube video. That's what this whole thread is about, isn't it?
Feb 15, 2016 7:40 AM CST
Name: Sally
Nichols, iowa
I love to watch dogs when it's the perfect temp or an interesting day for them. The neighbor to the south has 5 dogs, all sizes and they just leap and race around.
Tedious isn't the word for it. Since I do not like to paint I would cry.

Interesting and not at all what I thought snow light would be. I do know what you mean by the sunrise and sunset colors.
Once, years ago, I experienced a late afternoon atmosphere thing. I went outside and I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but color was a little different, the air might have been clearer. It was an oddity like seeing an eclipse except it was sunny. I rode my bike all over town to see if anyone was out seeing it too. Not a one. I've never experienced it since.

I've had Eggs Benedict once and loved it!! You can see we don't eat out much, lol!
Sara can use both hands but is mainly left handed.
Laughing! We've had the same paint problem! I have mostly paneling and very little to paint, but we painted under the cupboards in the kitchen. It's still a strange reddish brown color.

Oh Larry,
My heart was in my throat over Brique. Poor guy for flinching. From watching Caesar, you need a leash that keeps your dog at your side. It sounds like you have the one that lets them move farther out. I see people walk past here on the road with their small dogs and the dog is 10' away from them. People race into town off the gravel and we are at an angle. The intersection changed to a north south direction. People are watching the road, not people and dogs.
Poor Stan. I forget his story, but do remember his name. I'd like to see the plant stand. It sounds beautiful!

When we moved in, in '76, our pump was outside in a well. There was a little building built over it that we called the doghouse. The only thing keeping the pipes thawed was a heat lamp.
They burst on one of the coldest days of the year. The local appliance store owner and two workers came to fix it. I was never more grateful. That spring we moved the pump inside. Our pipes run along the outer wall too since we live in a trailor, so we built on to that side of it later.
I'm sorry your friends can't get used to the weather and timing of turning the water on.
Wow, we take so many things for granted and there are people who have to go thru so much for a better life.
I'm sure he is very anxious to gather or at least see his relatives. Prayers going out for him.

Carly was born first, but for the first few years they were the same weight and height at each Dr. visit. Now, she is going to be a bit bigger. She's much quicker too. An old soul. Her 9 year old brother Colton is too.
They get along very well! I sometimes have to tell her to not take a toy from him that he had first, but they play well together. They act out Frozen and now Mario and Miss Peach. It's hilarious! Callun used to just follow her lead, but he has his own personality and likes now.

Mary Ann,
I would be too terrified to make the change. Kudos to her for coming alone.

One thing I've noticed is people who come here, will help each other. Americans are selfish. I watched a show long ago about kids. If they helped each other they each would get a prize, but didn't know it. They had them play games. The American kids were competative and all for themselves. The other kids would gently help each other. I never forgot that.

I agree. A dog with a scary past can't help bolting. The collar will train but won't erase the reason she bolts in the first place. It's a tough call to know what is the best for her. But, she also can't pull you over in her fear.
You can always talk to your Vet.

Oh Sharon,
I am so so sorry for you and the family. That is heartbreaking.

Good morning Vicki!
Charlie is out scooping the last of the fine snow we had after he scooped the two inches off. We are good :o)

I love that song!
I love hearing about your friends too. We can learn from them.

Have a think Spring day even if the tulips and daffodils went back to sleep
A small town has no secrets except itself
Feb 15, 2016 7:40 AM CST
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA
Up to 3° now & is predicted to be 40° by the end of the day. Strange. I was able to do the 2nd bird count reposted after 11pm last night. the only sort of migrant was a white throated sparrow. John could spot it. It evidently nests in northern New England, although the way they are moving around, perhaps is doing so here. After all cardinals came up from the south.

As I remember the pronged collar it could be put on in reverse, with the prongs inside or outside. One side would dig & the other would pinch. You will know when Mary Ann could show it to you.
Feb 15, 2016 7:44 AM CST
Name: Elena
Middle Tennessee
Thanks for the beautiful song this dreary morning. Yes, that is indeed what this thread is about. Everyone please proceed with caution if you have icy miserable conditions today.
Feb 15, 2016 8:56 AM CST
Name: Mary Ann
Oh -- you're welcome Larry. Wish I could be there to watch you work with Brique with his new collar. He's such a smart dog -- he'll figure this out so quickly.

It just occurred to me -- you and Wilma might consider taking an obedience class with your dogs, after Wilma selects her new pup. It's a lot of fun -- and you won't believe how quickly the dogs learn their jobs. Everybody in our class had an entirely different dog at the end of the class. I'm giving serious thought to either taking the class again, or taking an advanced one. I think a refresher course would be good for both of us.

I'm sure that you have a Kennel Club in your area. If they don't offer obedience classes, I'm sure they'll know a good one to go to.

Afraid we dominated the thread last night -- sorry everybody. Whistling

Every day is a second chance. Every day is precious time.

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