Category Archives: humor

You can have what it is you want…

Let’s face it, training during summer in Florida is a bummer! I find myself procrastinating and getting distracted with ten other things before I make myself go out and do something with my dogs.
But to keep my agility dogs in shape and ready to bounce back into trial mode when the fall trialing season starts, I REALLY need to train through summer. Because performing well at trials is important for me, I try to push myself by thinking how I feel when my dogs perform below par because I have the seemingly perfect excuse: “I is so hot!”
I play this quote in my head, over and over again: “You can have what it is you want or you can have your excuses for not having it.” Very powerful…still so hot out there.

Ok, Lilianne you need a plan. We will train a minimum of 3 times per week, very specific exercises, each practice short and sweet (and hot). We just need to practice the weave poles, not even all 12 poles just correct weave entry. How hard is that? just 2 poles, I will send each dog 3 times. I will do a couple of simple one-jump exercises (Linda Mecklenberg’s jumping system is my favorite); that will keep the muscles they need for jumping in shape. Amelia and Oliver need to work on their running contacts. I am experimenting with this new (for me) method and it looks like they are fast learners but you need to get out an do it!

Today I made it! After putting it off for a couple of hours, my guilt level rose to the max as I had left Holly, Amelia and Oliver in their crates in the garage after giving them their breakfast and promised them that after tending to just one urgent stuff, today we would train!

So armed with some super high value treats (tripe and meatballs) which I think is the doggie equivalent to a Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (which is my idea of a high value treat if I was to work in this heat), we trained, the dogs had a great time, were really eager to work for the super yummy treats and I am sure I sweated at least one pound off. Maybe I should get a scale and weigh myself after each session, that might keep me motivated!

My Dog is a Genius

Last week I heard a presentation by Michael Gelb who wrote the book “How to think Like Leonardo da Vinci. Seven Steps to Genius Every Day”. It was so much fun and inspiring that I was instantly drawn to read his book which my husband had bought many years ago and was sitting gathering dust in our bookcase!

Gelb writes that the potential of the human mind is so vast that we have just merely begun to understand it. We are all born geniuses and are capable of extraordinary accomplishments. The theory that we are born with a fixed intelligence measurable by the traditional IQ is obsolete. In fact recent research now indicates that we are endowed with seven intelligences: Logical- Mathematical, Verbal-Linguistic, Spatial-Mechanical, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal-Social and Intrapersonal (Self Knowledge). It is also not true, that as we age our mental capabilities necessarily decline. Actually, our brain can improve with age because our neurons never stop making new complex connections throughout our lives.
Babies of all species, including human, start learning by imitation. But as we become adults, we can choose our teachers and role models, so he invites to choose “the best”.
So if you want to become a better golfer, study Tiger Woods, if you want to become a better leader study Abraham Lincoln, you get the idea. So by studying Leonardo we can cultivate and expand the genius in all of us.

Initially you think, well that is very encouraging, Mr Gelb, but have you noticed we are not living in the Renaissance era any more? But the modern twist that Gelb adds to the Seven “da Vinci Principles” are really inspiring. These are in Italian, the master’s language:
Curiosita: An insatiable curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning. This is our birth right of genius.
Dimostrazione: A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence and a willingness to learn from mistakes. Gelb also points out that for the modern Renaissance person this entails being an independent and original thinker because we live immersed in information overload. So think for yourself.
Sensazione: The continual refinement and sharpening of the senses.
Sfumato: which literally means “going up in smoke”; a willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty. In modern days: tap into and trust your intuition.
Arte/Scienza: Maintaining a balance between left and right brain.
Corporalita: cultivation of fitness, ambidexterity, grace. Nowadays it also includes a balance of body and mind, respecting your body, health and well-being.
Connessione: Recognizing and appreciating the interconnectedness of ALL things; We are all one.

So just like Gelb gives his research a modern twist, you guessed it. I could not help but give it a canine twist. This is why Leonardo Da Vinci ended up in a Blog about dogs!
But really, the more I read, the more I am convinced that our dogs ARE geniuses!

Let’s look at each principle:
Curiosita: Can you, move, eat, sleep, open a package or go to the bathroom without your dog watching closely? Do you get every inch of your body inspected when you come back from work? and God forbid you went somewhere where there was a dog AND you touch him. Does your dog analyze every particle of dirt attached to the soles of your shoes?
Demostrazione: Does your dog volunteer before anyone else in your family for any possible activity that you might think of? Let’s go for a ride, eat, go for a walk, go feed the horses, sit on the couch and watch a movie… You name it, he will experience it .
Sensazione: Your dog can hear a bread crumb fall on the rug and use his nose to find it even it fell into a shaggy rug!
Sfumato: Has your dog ever raised his hackles and growled at a person and you later found he was a “bad” person? Talk about intuition and trusting it, in spite of the fact that you are probably scolding him “Stop it, bad dog, Oh my, I don’t’ know what got into him, he is never like this….”
Arte/Scienza: Ok, I admit it, I had to think a little hard about this one, but this is just so if we think inside the box of art as in painting and science as in math. Dogs, have the ability to calculate the flight path of a Frisbee so they can catch it in mid air and I consider the nose prints in my car windows “artsy”. I also know they can count; try giving one of your dogs one treat and the other one two. Watching dogs run and play is poetry in motion and it brings as much joy and emotion to my heart as a beautiful work of art.
Corporalita: Dogs can expertly use their bodies to occupy the most space in bed while you lay cramped in a little side struggling not to fall off the edge. Dogs are naturally coordinated and graceful and if we fed them good food instead of crappy kibble they would be very fit and healthy; And if we exercised them enough we would BOTH be fit and healthy.
Connessione: Dog’s stand on four paws instead of two feet on this earth and therefore they are twice as “grounded” as we are. If we embraced life with the authenticity, joy and love that dogs do, we would really come to understand without any doubt that we indeed are all one.

How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci. Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael J. Gelb.
Dell Publishing 1998

Induction to the Banana Ritual

My Husband Miguel loves to eat bananas and has gotten into the habit of sharing a banana with the dogs every time he eats one. So now the mere motion of pulling a banana off the bunch triggers a mad dash of the dog population to the kitchen. You would think he was dispensing fillet Mignon, but no it’s just bananas, but remember I have labs, they are always hungry and anything remotely edible tastes delicious to them. Although upon further thought I don’t think they really taste food, they merely inhale it.

Over the years, the ritual has evolved into the dogs having to sit and wait for their turn to get a piece of banana. Many of you might think this is because we are practicing what we preach: obedient dogs. But it is really a matter of self preservation. Being pounced on by a pack of excited labs demanding their share of the bounty is probably the closest to mutiny on a pirate ship that a human could nowadays experience! So the pieces are handed out by calling each dogs name, in order, starting with the older dog and moving down to the youngest. Until just a few months ago our pack consisted of 5 dogs and the banana ritual was calm and organized; but now with the addition of Tilly and the puppies, Miguel is seriously worried about the integrity of his fingers.

A side note on Tilly. When we first offered her a piece of banana she thought we were trying to poison her! She watched the labs eat like we watch those stupid TV shows where they make people eat slimy worms. After a few weeks, she finally accepted a piece and instantly spit it. It disappeared before it hit the ground. So now the labs know, “Tilly is going to spit it!” and as soon as Miguel says her name, all the dogs surround Tilly’s mouth. Talk about peer pressure! So she had no choice but to start chewing AND swallowing the banana with a look in her face like she is going to throw up.

Needless to say the puppies were THRILLED to be included in the banana ritual. The older dogs are not so happy. First, the puppies are learning to sit and now they all have to wait longer and second, the banana pieces have shrunk. Now instead of a pirate mutiny we have shark frenzy. Miguel wants to find out where they sell Kevlar gloves!

Maybe I am the Dogtomom?

If you have been following the math, you know that I am raising 3 x three months old Labrador retriever puppies: Oliver the “one” puppy I was supposed to keep from this litter, Amelia the one who sneaked into my heart and Brian whom I am supposed to be selling. Now add the rest of our pack: Andre, Sabrina, Ella, Holly and Morgan, plus our temporary addition Miss Matilda a.k.a. Tilly. Tilly belongs to my client, now good friend Susan. When she decided to join the Army we agreed Tilly would stay with us if Susan was sent somewhere were Tilly could not go. Well that time has come as Susan will be serving in Afghanistan. We are not too happy with that, but Tilly is very happy here and that it turn makes Susan happy. So we are all happy.

In case you have lost track, that makes 9 dogs.
Our max has been 10. Technically Tilly will go back to her mom and I will sell Brian, so that makes 7; so I have not panicked… yet! Do you see were I am going with the title of this post?

There are a few times during the day when I think we would be prime material for a reality show. One such moments are mealtimes. Those of you who own Labradors I am sure will understand. Those of you who have picky eaters will probably think I am exaggerating or even lying. It takes my older labs 10 seconds to eat. These puppies can eat AND lick their bowls clean in 5. So, if we do the math again, the whole “older pack” eats in 50 seconds! No I am not kidding. By the time I put the third food bowl down, dog number one has already finished. This dog also is convinced that this was the starters and is asking for his entree, second course, dessert and plus cafe! “What do you mean, that’s all?” And the dog’s that have had to endure an excruciating wait of 30 and 40 seconds respectively, are threatening to call the Humane Society and accuse me of dog abuse. The fifth dog to get his food bowl is Morgan the Sheltie. She eats last because she was the last one to join our pack. When Morgan came to us she ate like a dog, now she eats like a lab (time-wise) BUT has added the herding dog routine, which consists of running in and out of the kitchen while she barks. Thank God the Sheltie adopted the lab manners and not the other way around. Can you imagine the labs running around and barking while they wait for their food?
Tilly, who used to be a finicky eater and even skipped meals altogether, is now really eager about mealtimes. She does a little circling dance and hurries off to get in her crate. After only 1-1/2 months with us she now licks her bowl clean, but it takes her about 3 minutes. My labs are perplexed but they assure me that by the time Susan comes back she will be down to 20 seconds, which is still slow, but acceptable.

No, I have not forgotten to feed the puppies. The puppies have started to eat in their respective crates. We do that first because I don’t know if you recall that they eat in 5 seconds, so they would actually steal the older dogs’ food. Now puppies know it’s mealtime and get REALLY excited so it’s a mad dash to the garage where the crates are located and I get permutations of (this is also a math term meaning every possible combination of): two pups in the same crate, puppy refusing to go in the crate, puppy getting in and then out before I can close the door. I think you get the picture. Then I go back in the kitchen to retrieve their bowls and they all start barking like crazy: “Come back, feed us, we need to make up for the 63 days we did not get our own bowls in Holly’s womb!”

When the feeding frenzy is over I have another chore: collecting bowls to be washed. You might wonder why this is a chore. Since they did not get the additional courses they were expecting and they are still starving, every dog, has licked every bowl, possibly diminishing the stainless steel thickness a couple of microns and in the process has scattered the bowls to rooms adjacent to the kitchen.

In case you were wondering, I feed my dogs twice a day!
In case we do get picked for a TV show, let me add the WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME!

Capital “B”


I am still trying to find that “perfect” home for Oliver’s brother Brian, but his sister Amelia is quickly sneaking into my heart; and with every day that passes I find it highly unlikely that I will be able to sell her! My family is not surprised at all as they have given up on my dog craziness. I cannot help but see in her the mischievous qualities I just ADORE in my long lineage of black Bitches with capital “B”: Great great-great grandma “Gale”, Great grandma “Stormy”, Grandma “Clarissa” (Oops, she is yellow) and mother “Holly”. Honorary mention goes to Auntie “Sabrina” the mischievous Queen!

I now believe that at least in Labradors, just like there are genes for color, and tail and ear set, there other special genes. Let me explain…
There is one gene she inherited from great-great-great grandma Gale that determines whether you will ever be able to clip your dogs nails without the assistance of ten other people. I discovered Amelia had it when she was just 10 weeks old. Never mind the fact that I have been clipping these puppies nails since they were 3 days old.
Another regulates the force with which a dog will hurl his whole body towards you, so that you may notice she wants something. Amelia has it.
The -push through furniture, other dogs and anything else that may lay in it’s path, to get to be petted first gene- Amelia has it.
The pretend you want to lick my ear and then bite it with those super sharp puppy teeth gene, yep, she has that on too!
As well as the -sneak out the door without you noticing- gene, so that you can then spend 10 minutes calling “Amelia, Amelia, has anyone seen Amelia?” while you secretly fear for the integrity of your beloved possessions!

So for the sake of continuity, this Blog will still be called “See Oliver Grow” with the addendum “and See Amelia Run” and raise havoc in the Scannone-Merida family!