Blue: Five weeks in …

When I last checked in about my new puppy, Blue, he was starting to feel quite comfortable here Blue.Lyre River.framed.06.16with us, and I was starting to feel quite uncomfortable with my state of “conscious incompetence” in stepping into my role as the “alpha” of our little tribe.

Fortunately, the book came, (you might remember I ordered one specific to Herding dogs) and I found my training collar, which turned out to be in a little used storage bin in the basement.  Unfortunately, the book was assuming that I already knew (or remembered) how to teach the basics, like “sit”, “down”, “heel” etc.  Although Blue and I both mastered “sit”, I couldn’t remember how to teach “down” or “heel” so I checked out another book at the library to refresh my memory.  When I have treats in my hand, Blue remembers quite readily.  Without them, his memory is a little rusty, especially when I request a “down” on the uncomfortable asphalt road.

The first book was great at helping me understand how dogs (especially Heelers) learn, and that just because they seem to have mastered a skill in one place, it doesn’t automatically transfer to another place.  (For example, it could be that he just doesn’t understand that when he is on the asphalt road the command “down” is the same as the command “down” when he is on the carpet at home.  I understand this.  I also understand that it’s uncomfortable to “down” on asphalt, and that he gives me the look that says, “surely you don’t really mean you want me to lie down right here?”)

All in all, the training is going much better for both of us now that I have started to remember my “alpha cues” … (feeding time, going in and out any door, petting time).  I simply make him sit first before he gets what he wants.  I still forget sometimes, but I seem to be holding the “Alpha” title, at least for the moment.

The best news is that Blue’s socialization has improved significantly!  Blue at the lake Fathers Day 2016.framedOn Father’s Day, I took him with me to my parents, where 13 of the 24 of us Halbergs were gathered to celebrate.  I explained to the six kids that they needed to mostly ignore him except when given the okay by me to feed him treats or see if he’d let them pet him.  The adults had the same rules, although I knew they were unlikely to initiate the attention.  Blue was a little unsettled at the beginning and again later when the majority of us were gathered in one spot. He was very jumpy and nervous, but he displayed no aggressive behavior.

He is also more relaxed when I take him on trails and beach access with plenty of people.  I’ve introduced him to bicyclists, and allowed him to be “off-leash” on some of the least traveled trails.

Anytime he encounters something new for the first time his initial response is to simply stop and look.  He met the 102 animals at my sister’s farm with curiosity, but didn’t seem to want to chase Blue meets chickens  & peacocksthem … even when she let the 36 chickens out of their overnight hutch.

I’ve been crate training him, meaning that he gets put in his crate at night and if I am gone during the day.  I crate trained my earlier dogs, and it is a fantastic practice.  Dogs are den animals, so they really don’t mind having their own space.  I can transport the crate when I visit other locations, so he can still have “his” safe space to hang out, and it limits his ability to get into things he shouldn’t and allows me to get a good night’s sleep.

Plus, the added benefit of his bedtime crating is that the cat (Katniss) has started roaming around the house in the evenings again, and even felt comfortable enough to sleep with me last night (with Blue in his crate beside the bed.)

Ahhh.  The training is far from over, but we’ve made it through the first month.

As my dad always says, “Onward and upward.”

What’s in a name?

In my first blog post, I hinted at my new name & business branding … Since re-branding a business is not something you should do lightly, I thought I’d give you a little more information about why I am …

To start with KIC (pronounced “kick”) itself has been an evolution … I first claimed the name KIC about ten yearKIC_Label_As ago, when I left my corporate job and decided to branch out for myself, uncertain yet what form that would take.  K-I-C are my maternal grandmother’s initials, and I wanted a business that would honor her.  I delighted in both the brainstorming and choosing of my first logo, wanting it to both represent something meaningful to me and something that might speak to my potential client.  I still like both the logo and the name, but I’ve learned over the years that choosing a name that gives prospective customers a hint about what you do is important. At first, I simply added Healing to the name … KIC Coaching & Healing seemed a little more explanatory, and the simplest way to tackle the problem.

I also noticed over the years (because I occasionally get requests that seem to be out of my expertise entirely) that there is another company out there in the world that calls themselves KIC Coaching.  It’s a GRE coaching company located in Mumbai.  Lately they must be pouring money into their Site Engine Optimization (SEO) because they’ve been encroaching on my google traffic. For a small business … or any business … this is not good news.  As much as we hate to rely on Google for our traffic, we do.

The combination of knowing that KIC Coaching does not tell you intuitively that I am a transformational coach, and the recent encroachment on my space helped spur along my need.  But I also knew I wanted to branch out and offer more than just coaching … I wanted to offer other transformative experiences such as Pilgrimages, Retreats, and more.  I wanted a name that didn’t limit me to coaching.

I’ve been playing with business name ideas for about a year, but nothing seemed quite right.  Soon after Prince passed away, I was out on a walk.  I didn’t follow Prince’s life or work closely while he was alive (although of course I knew his most widely known songs), but this clip of Prince with the Muppets delighted me.  I love to see the creative process at work, and I am wowed by people who can effortlessly turn anything into artistic expression.

I also completely believe in asking people I admire (living or dead) for advice.  So I called out to Prince (in my head640px-Prince_at_Coachella-630x390), telling him I was sorry I didn’t follow his work more when he was still alive, (this was a longer conversation than I’m including here, filled with justifications and pleas for mercy … ha ha!)  explaining my post-humus admiration and asking if he’d help me come up with a business name I liked that was relevant to the work I do.  In my head he asked me for a bit more information about my work, about my dreams, and about icons that were meaningful.

A few minutes later, The Dream Hatchery popped into my head, and I loved it.  I give Prince all the credit.  :)  Thanks!  (I also promised to purchase at least a few of his songs for my iPod.  If anyone has recommendations of their favorite Prince songs (ideally that showcase his brilliant creativity) feel free to post in the comments.

Creative Tip:  Stuck on a project?  Think of five people who you admire,  living or dead, and ask them to give you advice.  Don’t be surprised when you get a brilliant idea.  Be sure to thank them for their help.  :)

Two weeks in …

Blue has been a member of our family for two wBlue rotten wood 06.04.16 framedeeks and two days now.  I have to say he is adjusting well.  Too well.  To be honest, he was easier when he was scared of everything except me. He stuck close to the house, kept me in his sight, and tried very hard to please me.  He still does.  Except when he doesn’t want to.  Sigh.  Now he gets bored –Hank won’t play with him — and finds things to amuse himself with.  Like pieces of wood.  From the deck.  Or the house.  Or a planter. … Or somewhere!!  (Yes, I give him chew toys!!  He likes these other things better.)

We will get there.  When I got him, he’d never worn a collar.  And he didn’t like it.  But by the end of the evening (four – six hours after his arrival) he let me put a leash on him.  I also don’t think he’d ever been away from his home or away from his siblings. His social anxiety was pretty bad.  They call it fear aggression … towards people, not dogs. So one of my first and most important jobs has been to socialize him.  Once I discovered he loves water, I started taking him to the closest beach, which almost always has people. The article I read on curing social anxiety in Heelers said to give him lots of treats so that he associates good things instead of bad things with the experience.  I tried that, but he was too scared to eat. Another thing he really likes is pets from me.  So whBlue 06.04.16 frameden he gets too scared (usually when people are walking towards him) I squat down beside him and pet him.  Then I get back up and we keep going.  Sometimes we’ll talk to the people if they are friendly and sympathetic, but nobody gets to reach towards him or try to pet him.  When we get to the beach, he gets to swim / splash, and he loves it!!  This part of our project seems to be going well.  Today I brought him to my parents place on the lake, and he only growled once even though there were five new people right around him, and others nearby.  Unfortunately, when he did growl, this time it seemed to be a protective growl … him protecting me from my mom’s reaching fingers.

I’m afraid that might be a sign I’m failing at Alpha.

Honestly, I keep forgetting.  I forget to make him sit and wait for me when I open the door (this is big in dog-hierarchy apparently).  I forget that I’m supposed to make him do stuff for me (like sit) before I pet him (when he comes seeking it from me.)  I forget that I’m supposed to ignore him (rather than push him away and say no) when he’s jumping up to get my attention.  (Hank is giving me lessons on this one.  He is an excellent puppy ignorer!!)

But Blue is very smart, and has already mastered “sit”, “come” (both the command and the whistle), “kennel” (except lately “kennel” has been only when he wants to, which hasn’t been often.)  Today at the lake I even taught him to play fetch with a ball.  “Get it.”  “Bring it.”  And even “Drop it,” which is more than Hank will do.  (Hank was trained NOT to drop anything … he grew up in Alaska, and Justin’s rationale was that if Hank held onto a stick, it could then be used to pull him or Justin out of the ice.  Great idea.  Not so great for playing ball.)

As for me, I am in The-Competence-Spectrumthe “consciously incompetent” phase of my Alpha training, and it’s uncomfortable.  I know that it is up to me to socialize and train this puppy.  And I know that I need to figure out the right way to teach him.  So … I did what I always do when I need to learn something quickly: I ordered a book.  “Teach Your Herding Breed to be a Great Companion Dog.”  It should be here next week.  Also, I can’t find my training collar, which I know would help us both pay attention, and make it easier to spend 15 minutes / day completely focused on training.  I’ll keep looking.

Kristin

 

New beginnings …

On this New Moon I’m kicking off my new blog, announcing the beginning of my new business branding, (from KIC Coaching & Healing to The Dream Hatchery, more on that later) and officially starting my new challenge … to turn my recently adopted six-month old Heeler / Australian Shepherd / “who-knows-what-else” mix into a well-behaved member of my family.  (I will also be learning WordPress, so you will see my formatting improve along with my “alpha leadership” …)

I’ll start by introducing the puppy.  Blue 05.25.16 cropped & framed

Three weeks ago, as I was returning from my walk on the nearby beach, I saw a sign posted at Angel Crest Farms, “Farm Puppies”.

“Farm puppies?!”  I flipped a U-ey and went back to investigate.
The owner of the puppies informed me that the pups were now six months old.  “Wha?  How long has that sign been up?”  “Six months,” she replied.  Hmmm.  I wondered how I could drive past the place nearly everyday for six months and not see a sign for puppies.  I could miss a sign for fresh dirt maybe, or fresh cut flowers perhaps, but puppies???  I guess I am more ready now than I was six months ago, even though I have been threatening to get a new puppy this year. Anyway, she arranged to bring two of the male puppies to meet me the following day, also informing me that one of the puppies, (the one she felt was best for me considering I needed him to fit in with our 14 year old Labradoodle mix and our cat) had the markings of a butterfly on his back.  Hmmmm.  Universe?  Are you conspiring on my behalf?

Long story short, I couldn’t take the pup right away because I had to be out of town for a full day later in the week, so I took her number and said I’d think about it.  Meanwhile, I did some research on Australian Cattle Dogs, and asked around.  You need to be prepared to step into the role of the Alpha completely, said all the research.  Fear and doubt came crowding in … am I ready for this?  Do I have what it takes?  I’ve raised well-behaved, wonderful dogs in the past, but it has been ten years since I last had a puppy and none of them required a lot of work to train.  Also, my partner is fishing in Alaska, and I wanted to make sure he approved as well.  “Uh oh,” was his first response when I texted him a photo of the two pups.  His biggest concern was for Hank, as was mine.  Our original plan was to wait until Hank was gone, but Hank continues to be quite healthy, he’s just deaf and can no longer accompany me on trail runs or walks.

Finally after hemming and hawing for a couple more days, I decided to give the puppy a trial.  If Hank hated him, I just couldn’t do it.  And if he passed the Hank test, but harassed the cat, I still couldn’t.  Ironically, stepping into the Alpha role and stretching out of my leadership comfort zone (I prefer Hank and Blue 05.30.16 small framedcollaborative partnerships so I can stay under the radar) is aligned with the other growth edges in my life this year, so I knew that was another “sign from the Universe” to help me stretch and grow.

Hank accepted him right away.

The cat wouldn’t even deign to come out of her hidey-hole for four days.  Finally I had a conversation with her.  (I do this.  All the time.)  “Katniss,” I said.  “That puppy is just a baby.  If you tell him you’re the boss, you get to be the boss.  But if you hide out down here and don’t even show your face, you’ll never even know.”

Katniss 2016I did some introductions while the pup was in his crate and completely under my control, and by the end of the 5th day, Katniss strolled out the front door past him with her tail in the air.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  (And replayed The Stray Cat Strut in my head that entire day with a smile on my face.) We’ll get there.  All of us.  It’s just a matter of time.

Welcome to the family, Blue!