22 September 2015

How Fun!

Isn't it fun when a randomly chosen read matches up with a WIP? LOL

I finished the left sleeve of Bub's sweater last week, but instead of picking up the stitches for the right sleeve, I picked up Hugh Howey's SHIFT Omnibus after being on the waiting list for months to receive it from our library. As with when I read WOOL, I'm often saddened by this story, but I'm sucked in as well. I can't not read it. Howey's writing is amazing and he deserves every accolade he's received for this series.  *sigh* I'm more than 3/4 through the omnibus and he's shocked me several times with things I didn't expect or characters' decisions that make me think "No! No no no no, don't, that's not what you think it is.... oh no.  He did it."  Wow.  Just....wow. I haven't seen anyone knitting in this set of books though.  tsk tsk. 

I do hope/plan to pick up that right sleeve today.  Fall is most definitely in the air here and despite the fact that he ends up choosing shorts and T-shirts for daytime clothes, Bub is getting up in the morning and putting his robe on over them.  Ummmm....  *chuckle*  Apparently I'd better get this sweater finished so he can put it on - over his T-shirt.  ;)

Joining Nicole at Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On and Ginny at Small Things for Yarn Along this week.  Be sure to swing by and visit the other folks sharing their projects!

11 September 2015



American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175: New York, New York, USA ~ 9/11/2001

American Airlines Flight 77: the Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ~ 9/11/2001

United Airlines Flight 73: Shanksville, Pennsylvania, USA ~ 9/11/2001

American diplomatic compound, Benghazi, Libya ~ 9/11/2012

09 September 2015

Yarn Along ~ 9 Sept 2015 ~

Bub's Gramps sweater is coming along - I finally finished the bottom trim and picked up the left sleeve.  I had to tink back the sleeve after the first couple of rows because I was apparently knitting in the wrong direction, so it was all purl bumps.  Um, oops!  I still have to REALLY think about which direction my work should be facing when I'm knitting in the round - it isn't a big deal when I'm doing hats or socks that can be turned inside out on the needles, but obviously it's a problem with a sleeve that is connected to something.

The hat is another Classic World War II Watch Cap.  I love this pattern for boys and men!  This time it's a charity donation; the yarn is Rowan Pure Wool DK (colorway 00018 Brown) that I picked up for stocking stuffers for Bub.  I was going to make a set of moustaches for him for dress-up play, but he grew out of playing super hero before I got the skills to make the Mo' Sister moustaches.  The yarn will do a great hat - I'm making an adult small so it will work for a child, teen or (small headed) adult.  I recently finished another Baby Amanda hat using the last ball of Soya (wool & soybean) yarn that I had on hand.  It's so squoooooshy!

The book is Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.  I'm a pretty big fan of Tesla (the inventor and the car company; not so much the band, though I did listen to them during my younger days LOL) so I'm excited to read this new release.

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along and Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On.  Pop on by and check out what everyone else is making!

06 September 2015

Surviving and Thriving

Quick links for National Preparedness Month:

If you're looking for something to read, pick up copies of Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs ( Surviving the Suburbs on Facebook) and Browsing Nature's Aisles (Browsing Nature's Aisles on Facebook. These books aren't about packing a bug-out bag or building a compound - they are about tweaking your lifestyle to better use the resources you have, where you are, with thoughtful planning for what may come.

You can also check out their blogs, which share even more about their family's life homesteading and foraging in the suburbs.  Wendy's blog is Surviving the Suburbs and Eric's blog is Mooseboots.  You'll also see them pop up in my blogroll whenever they post new entries!


05 September 2015

Preparing with Pets: Muzzle Training for Emergencies

In my mind, basic obedience training is absolutely vital for dog owners.  Sit, down, stay, and the like are often taught to pets - but what about muzzle training?  No one I've met has taken the time to train their dog to willingly accept wearing a muzzle.  That often means that the first time an animal has to be muzzled for safety reasons, they panic.  Can you blame them?  I would certainly panic if someone wrapped something around my mouth and nose, holding my mouth closed and slightly limiting my breathing!

Knowing this, and also knowing that muzzling an injured dog is vital for the protection of those humans transporting and/or providing emergency treatment, we made the decision to begin muzzle training Violet.  Now, to be VERY clear, Violet is not forced into the muzzle.  She is also not left muzzled for any longer than her desensitizing training takes place.  She is muzzled for training only, praised and handled calmly the entire time, and rewarded immediately after removal of the muzzle.  She is clearly uncomfortable with the muzzle on, but is willing to wear it for longer and longer (measured in seconds) each session.

I have discussed our method of training with our veterinarian, who approved wholeheartedly and appreciated the effort.  If you consider muzzle training, please take the time to discuss it with your vet so they can make you aware of any concerns for your pet(s) based off of breed, such as length of snout and nose v. breathing concerns.  Lastly, NEVER leave your dog muzzled at length in hot weather.  Panting is their natural method of cooling themselves and you risk creating dangerous overheating if leaving them muzzled inappropriately.

That said, here's how I began muzzle training our dog:

  1. Select the appropriate size and shape of muzzle for your pet - I chose the "Best Fit Mesh Muzzle" from Coastal Pet Products, Inc. because it is breathable and has a quick-release buckle.  (Size is based off of the circumference of your dog's nose - our Lab/hound mix wears a size 5.)
  2. I allowed the dog to completely examine the muzzle without wearing it.  As a hound, her nose is her greatest asset and being familiar with a scent is always helpful.  The muzzle was then stored with her treat bin.
  3. Next exposure was simply a fitting.  I had Violet sit and stay, measured the adjustable strap as much as I could without her wearing the muzzle, then slipped the muzzle on her face to make a quick final adjustment.  As soon as possible, I removed the muzzle and immediately rewarded her with profuse praise and a dog treat.  (Our dog is strongly motivated by pack approval and food, so using both of these is BIG in new situations. In many situations, a single word or look from the "alphas" - my husband and myself - is enough to encourage or discourage her behavior.)
  4. I began daily muzzle wearing, for seconds at a time, rewarded with verbal and food praise.  I crouched near her, kept one hand on the back of her head and had the other hand ready to gently prevent her from pawing/clawing at the muzzle.  If she tried to paw it away, I calmly but firmly told her no, blocked her paw, and waited just a second before using the quick-release buckle to release the muzzle.  Immediate praise and treat followed.
  5. After a week she no longer tried to paw at the muzzle.  At that point, I began leaving it on for a few seconds longer each session; after a certain point, the dog immediately sat upon seeing the muzzle, knowing that it would be slipped on, we'd wait, and she'd get a treat when it was removed.  When we got up to ten seconds with the muzzle on, I introduced the next training - a physical examination.
  6. To train Violet for a physical exam as would occur in an emergency, I started each training as usual.  She hears the treat bin open and runs to see what's going on, then sits.  I show her the muzzle and she allows it to be placed on her (she now, after several months, even lifts her chin for me to slip the muzzle on - your mileage may vary there).  While I was crouched near her, keeping one hand somewhere on her body to maintain calm and control, I used the other hand to lift her ears and looked into them.  As time has gone on, I extended this to running my hand down her front legs, sides, spine, and even palpating her abdomen - all things one might need to do during an emergency exam.  We are now at the point where I can easily switch hands, run my hands all over her body, and make gentle eye contact to check her eyes as well. She now wears the muzzle for a minimum of 30 seconds while I do an exam.
By no means do I feel that this training will completely eliminate a risk of panic if Violet is injured.  However, muzzling is something that may become necessary if she were to be badly hurt, in order to keep the scene safe for myself, my husband, or a veterinarian and their staff.  I hope that the complete test of muzzling her when she's injured never happens; I do acknowledge that only that will show how complete success of such training.  The only way we could have offered this any better is to have had her from puppyhood and to have begun it then as a day-to-day training.  That was not an option for our "pound hound"; instead we spent the first several years with trust building and basic obedience training as we integrated her into our family/pack.

If you have ANY concerns about your own safety with your dog muzzled, please make sure they are well trained in other areas first.  This training we are doing with Violet is all about making her feel safe and teaching her that I can be trusted completely if she is muzzled.  It also means that I am "in her face", literally, and placing myself at a disadvantage as much as I am placing her in one. If I were not calm and firm, or my dog were known for acting aggressively in a confined space or with me in her closest personal space, I would not have begun this training with her yet. In this situation you are taking away a dog's main method of defense; they need to know 110% that you will not harm them and that this is not a punishment!  As a very cuddly dog, Violet is encouraged and calmed by my touch as much as by my words; if your dog does not respond as well to touch, this will probably take longer in your family as you'll be teaching them to accept touch for emergency treatment as well as the muzzle itself.

Once the dog has been well-trained to accept the muzzle from one family member, you may wish to have another family member or trusted friend step in and work with them.  In our situation, I am the one who initiated the training and does it all for now - at times I call my husband in and he observes so that 1) he sees how well she has progressed and 2) he can learn my method of muzzling her so it is familiar if he has to do it.  At a later date, we will switch and he will muzzle her - first with me right with her, then with me nearby, and lastly with me out of the area.  Since I am the adult normally home with the children and the dog, they all tend to look to me first for most things.  In an emergency I might not be around or I might be incapacitated - it's very important to me that Violet understands, like the children do, that the basic concept is still the same as what they've already learned from Mom.