Posts Tagged by Play
|September 8, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture, Rusty's place, Videos|
No dogma here. Fun’s fun. If you’re playin’ I want in!
I want what they’re having! Ahroooo! ~Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|April 7, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Music, Pup culture, Training/Behavior, Videos|
Rusty and I just had a long talk. We’re owning two words: “crazy” & “bitch”.
Personally, my poodle buddy loves a bitch who thinks outside the box. That’s his play style: outgoing; smartly switching up his game, including your style, too; with tons of give & take. I’m happy to fill that role for him as best as my 2-legged human self can. We aren’t interested in a “normal” game of border-line obsessive, robotic fetch. He’s met labs like that. I’ve met teachers like that. Don’t color outside those lines; don’t stray from my game; and don’t speak your mind. That’s quite insane, actually. Bonus: If you’re a human chic swimming up that stream, you’re sadly labeled a bitch.
“Crazy” is in the eye of the beholder.
Usually, that beholder is ignorant, insecure and/or envious of originality & spontaneity. They’re eager to label others as abnormal to soothe themselves. So then who’s wacko? No one. (Unless you’re just card-carrying, certifiably cra cra.) We’re all individuals doing our thing. March to the beat of your own drummer. After all, that’s why we’re here, isn’t it? Shine a spotlight on your crazy & share it. It’s charming, creative & downright adorable – and it’s all uniquely yours. The world’s a better place for it. Normal’s way scarier than a big box of crazy. Normal strikes me as Stepford-y creepy.
Let’s take a break to watch what most of my clients would call “crazy” canine behavior:
That pup’s not nuts; he’s very, very happy. (And gifted; he should be doing parkour!) He’s livin’ large, being himself because that’s all he knows how to be. He’s completely unencumbered by the fact that his human is about to put him up on YouTube. While you probably wouldn’t want that pittie party happening on your upholstery, you found yourself smiling, didn’t you? You’re not alone. This vid went viral for a reason. His “crazy” is charismatically contagious. I want in on that couch game!
Rusty disagrees with me on this one, but we can’t forget our feline friends.
Watch Simon perfectly depict a scenario played out in every cat-blessed house @ around dark-o’clock each night. This chaos causes my bleary-eyed, sleep deprived clients to wonder if Kitty needs Prozac:
Kitty’s not psycho. Cats are crepuscular (more active @ dusk & dawn). And they’re master human trainers. They quickly learn that normal nocturnal behavior pays off big: you get up & feed them just to calm them down. Mission sanely & smartly accomplished!
Back to “bitch”, please. Gals, the sooner we own this one, the better. I’m uber comfy with it, and so is Rusty.
If you want to get your crazy on, you have to be bold. You have to believe in yourself. You have to live, laugh & love like no one’s watching. And so what if they are? It’s your life. Guys, you might want to try this decidedly feminine definition of “bitch” on for size, too:
“Being a “bitch” means….
I stand up for myself & my belief. I stand up for those I love. I speak my mind, think my own thoughts or do things my way. I won’t compromise what’s in my heart. I live my life MY way. I won’t allow anyone to step on me. I refuse to tolerate injustice. It means I have the courage & strength to allow myself to be me. So try to stomp on me, douse my inner flame. Squash every ounce of beauty I hold within. You won’t succeed. If that makes me a bitch, so be it. I embrace the title. I’m proud to be a bitch.” ~author unknown~
So, a “crazy bitch”? Sign me up for life. As long as I’m being true to myself, it’s all good.
Rusty reigns me in if I get off track. In fact, just the other night, after I… um… let’s say had to be someone I’m not, Rusty put his paw down. As I tried to calm down to sleep that night, Rusty chose an awkwardly unusual sleeping position. He curled up as far away from me as he could get, with his back to me. I reached out to him, selfishly hoping that making contact with him would relax me. But when I touched him, he growled softly. (Don’t jump off the ridiculously erroneous dominance theory deep end here.) He didn’t growl because he thinks he owns the bed, or me, for that matter. He growled because I had unnerved him with my earlier rare & unpleasant personality change. Touching him while I was still upset was indeed selfish because he had already distanced himself from me. Message sent & received, Rusty. Sent & received.
What’s next for Rusty & his human sidekick?
We’re working hard on a project that will bring this blog to life. If we were normal, coloring in the lines & playing someone else’s game, our project would fail before it flew. The hell with normal. What is that anyway?!
Cheers to crazy, bitches! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|January 15, 2014||Posted by Ruth under "Wordless" Wednesdays, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture, Rusty's place, Seasonal, Videos|
What’s that white stuff, “snow”? It looks cold, messy & FUN!
Maybe I’ll get my CA poodle paws in some soon. Until then, I’ll live vicariously through these dawgs:
Whoa! Mom rolled in this stuff, too? I wanna poodle snow day! ~Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|September 28, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Soul food, Training/Behavior|
It was a peaceful day at our house.
I was writing, and Rusty was sleeping in his cup bed on the ottoman-with-a-view by the window. Rusty stirred, got up to turn around in his bed, and screamed in pain. The sound went through me like a knife. Pet-parents, you know what I mean: I swear I felt his gut-wrenching cry in my soul.
What on Earth just happened?!
Rusty raced into my office, and, for the first time ever, hid out of reach in the corner under my desk. I followed him, only to find him shaking in pain. Had he been bitten by a bug? Had he tweaked a toe repositioning in his bed? Whatever it was, it was bad. I knew we’d be racing to the vet as soon as I could talk him into putting his pain aside long enough to put his faith in me.
Off to the vet we went.
Of course, it was off-hours for Rusty’s regular doctor. So I nervously drove to the 24-hour vet hospital. We parked. Rusty hopped out of the car and strutted into the place like nothing had ever happened. (Typical, right? Adrenaline’s an amazing pain mask.) He was hostile to the sweet nurse who took his temp, but he made up with her. No one took his response to the indignity his poodle butt had just endured personally. I sat on the floor with him as we waited for the vet. Would I like the vet? How sharp would her diagnostic skills be? Would her approach be invasive or compassionate? Aware that Rusty would absorb my feelings & thoughts, I hoped for the best & remembered to breathe.
When the vet entered the room, I knew we were in good hands.
As she sat on the floor with us, I was relieved to see a familiar face. I worked with her as a veterinary nurse decades ago, so I knew that Rusty would be helped by one of the best vets in the county. The course of action she recommended was pain medication & a wait-and-see approach. If he didn’t improve, she would explore a tentative diagnosis of masticatory myostitis. Fortunately, her initial assessment paid off. The acute pain of unknown cause was in his jaw. But Rusty rallied without further treatment, thanks to a savvy, discerning vet. Fingers & paws crossed, it won’t be back. Whew.
All better, right? Not quite.
Poodles are smart; that’s one of the many things I adore about Rusty. While he was healing, he learned to keep his mouth shut to minimize discomfort. So that meant no chewing, no fetch, no catch, no tug, no yawns, and no smiles. Long after he was pain-free, he was still play-free. Rusty lost his poodle mojo.
When I was a kid, I badly injured my foot in a bicycle accident.
I limped around for months. I learned to rely on my good leg, exclusively. One day, as I was walking down the hall, I lost my balance. Not thinking, I planted my injured foot on the floor to steady myself. Ouch?! That would surely hurt like hell……wait a minute. I was pain free. I had learned not to try for fear of pain. By sheer accident, I realized my mistake: learned helplessness.
Learned helplessness is a powerful force.
Why try if I’m comfy right here? After all, last time I checked, trying hurt. Or trying was hard. Or trying led to mistakes others punished. Sound familiar? People and animals experience this. As a trainer, it’s my job to know when to coach a pet and guardian out of learned helplessness. Can they physically do it? If so, what’s holding them back? Often, it’s a “truth” that the owner has created for her & her pet. Really common “truths”: My dog doesn’t do stairs; I have to carry him. Or, my dog’s a picky eater; I have to hand feed him. Or, he doesn’t listen to me unless I have food in my hands. People believe these “truths” and act them out with their pets, day after day. Pets rise to our expectations. Expect less, they give less. Change your truth & expect more, and your pet will rise to the occasion. Bonus: this works with family members and coworkers, too!
Learned helplessness had a grip on Rusty.
I knew he didn’t hurt anymore, so it was time to push him. What to do? Hmmm….. got it! When we adopted him, he obsessed over bell balls to the exclusion of all other toys. We gradually took them away so he could discover the joy of exploring a full toy box. Time to rekindle the obsession: bring the bell ball back! Since Rusty LOVES new toys, I went on a shopping mission…..
I armed myself with an arsenal guaranteed to revive poodle mojo.
Bell balls; small, squishy Raspberry balls; crumbly, healthy treats; and a ridiculous pink flamingo decorated the house. (I don’t buy my rough & tumble poodle pink toys. My issue, not his; I know.) Rusty needed to chew & shake toys again. Pink aside, the flamingo was perfect: flat, soft, squeaky & flappy. I called Rusty, then shook the bell ball. He lit up like he’d found a long-lost friend! He grabbed the ball, carried it into his bed, & left it there. That was anti-climactic. But he had opened his mouth to carry the ball; I was on the right track. Later that day, I rang the ball again. This time, I give him the Raspberry ball. It’s smaller, grippable, squishy, and crazy bouncy. Rusty was in love! Soon he was fetching, catching & chewing – all with one toy. He completely ignored the heavier, larger bell ball. (Fine with me. That thing’s a Hartz product, made of toxic, reactive Chinese rubber.) The next day, I jingled the bell ball again. His eyes wide, I gave him the pink flamingo. Poodle heaven & mission accomplished: He shakes, chews & carries that thing with him everywhere! He hasn’t looked back. Woohoo!!
Thanks for reading about how we conquered pain, fear & learned helplessness. We hope it helps you & your pets!
Ready for the treats Rusty promised? In honor of our post praising the power of balls, I made some balls. The first recipe celebrates Rusty’s health:
Rusty’s Peanut Butter Granola Balls
1 cup uncooked organic rolled oats (not instant)
1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
1/8 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 Tbsp. flax seeds
1/8 cup grated coconut
2 1/2 Tbsp. grated carrots
1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 Tbsp. honey
1 egg, slightly beaten
5/8 cup unsalted, unsweetened organic peanut butter, @ room temperature
3/8 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 325. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Slightly grind the seeds together in a food processor or coffee grinder. Combine all the dry ingredients, including the grated carrots, in a medium bowl. Heat the coconut oil & the honey just until they’re liquid. Blend the peanut butter & the yogurt in the food processor. Add the egg, oil & honey. Process again.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry in the bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon. Shape into 1 1/4-inch balls & place on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the balls so they brown evenly, and bake for 15 more minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Cool on a rack. Store them in an airtight container. If they’re not gobbled up asap, freeze ’em!
Makes about 3 dozen. ~Adapted from The Bark~
With oats & peanut butter left, I made these uber-easy treats for my newly gluten-free hubby. Balls for both the guys in my life, I say. And pink flamingos all around! That really needs to be a girly drink, right?
No-bake Peanut Butter Balls
1 cup organic, rolled oats (uncooked)
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup unsalted, sugar free organic peanut butter, @ room temperature
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate for an hour so the mixture is easier to work with. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, either in the frig or @ room temp. (I like my balls cold. Yum!)
Makes about 16. ~Adapted from So, How’s It Taste?~
Do you say “can’t” & “won’t” when you think about yourself or your pet? How about “never” or “always”?
Negatives & absolutes are rarely truths. They are often symptoms of learned helplessness. Challenge them: break out of that rut! Have you and/or your pet conquered ruts? How did you snap out of it? What got you going & lit you up? Do tell! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|September 26, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture, Rusty's place, Seasonal, Uncategorized, Videos|
So how was your summer?
Mine was poodle pawesome, but not canine cray like these pooches.
They are howlin’-at-the-moon lunatics. Settle down, dawgs. Settle down.
What?! Cats, too? I need a summer do-over, dawgs! ~Rusty~
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|August 9, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Guest bloggers, Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food|
MJ is having a great summer with her 2-year-old American bulldog buddy, Ronin.
As much as she loves Ronin, it’s visiting pittie, Harley, who stole her heart. Of Harley, MJ says, “I haven’t felt love like that since Maggie was alive.” Sweet!
Mike hits Hawaii’s beaches regularly with Cooper. (Lucky boys!)
They make quite a team. Recently, Mike wrote about good times with Cooper, who regularly reminds him to let go of negatives and savor life’s gifts. That’s a precious lesson that we can all learn from our pets, our teachers.
“My saving grace, this loving, joyful creature. He dissolves any anguish, fear, self-doubt and reminds me that its time to swim, go to the park, create frozen yoghurt treats or play with 100 tennis balls or the best, ride with the top down, the ocean breeze flapping through jowls and floppy ears.”
Lovely. And since you can’t keep an artisan baker out of the kitchen, Mike got busy making Bouchon Dog Biscuits for his buddy, Cooper. (The recipe is from Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon Bakery“, and the tasty treats are served @ the Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.) Mike adapted the recipe as follows:
“Get the good bacon, chicken livers, cornmeal, flour – a pound of each – and chicken broth to wet. I added a large handful of (non-instant) oats. Saute & puree. Add cornmeal, chicken broth and flour into a workable dough. Roll out, use a doggie bone cookie cutter, and bake at 250 until hard. Mix egg white and 3 Tbl ketchup [for a] wash and brush on. Finish in a 200 [degree] oven for half hour. Done!”
Mike joked that these goodies go well “with afternoon tea or champagne”. I don’t doubt that @ all. I suspect Cooper’s humans sampled these right along with him. Since Rusty’s tummy doesn’t do pork, I’ll trust that the biscuits passed human & canine taste tests with flying colors. Bone appetit!
So how’s the summer going for you & your pets?
Please share in the comments….
There’s still plenty of summertime left for us all to live vicariously through your adventures – or – to give them a go ourselves!
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|July 2, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Videos|
Arrrgh! We’re so over the stifling 100-degree days here!
So Rusty & I set out to chill out. We busted out the Popsicle molds & the Freezy Pup trays and got busy.
These tasty morsels are perfect for heat waves & the 4th:
Ruth’s Peep & Pup-sicles
1 cup frozen, quartered strawberries & 1 cup frozen blueberries (Lay fresh berries on a wax paper-lined baking sheet, and freeze for 1 hour. Easy!)
1/2 cup 100% real fruit juice, divided. (Strawberry/apple or blueberry blends are fine.)
1 1/2 cups coconut yogurt, divided – or – 1 1/2 cups frozen coconut yogurt if you prefer it sweeter. (Kids & hubbies will want sweeter; Pup shouldn’t have sweeter.)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract, divided
Set aside 1/2 cup of yogurt for later use. Blend the strawberries, 1/4 cup fruit juice, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 tsp lemon juice & 1/2 tsp until smooth. Pour mixture into a large glass. Reuse the blender (no need to rinse it) using the remaining ingredients and the frozen blueberries. You’ll have about 2 1/2 cups of filling.
Layer the berry mixtures & reserved yogurt in ice cube trays, popsicle molds, or retro-style paper cups with sticks. Start with the strawberry mixture. Top with enough yogurt to create a 1″ layer, or so. Top with the blueberry mixture. Freeze for @ least 8 hours. Enjoy!
Note: For Rusty’s pup-sicles, I layered the yogurt on top of the blueberry mixture. There’s no wrong way to go. Have fun with it. Create your own concoctions, and let us know what you tried!
~Adapted from ThugKitchen~
Heat wave aside, Rusty’s been a little under the weather this past week.
A bit of a strained muscle, we think. No worries – we’re on top of it, and he’s comfy. He’s feeling well enough now to savor a stench in the yard. Those pup-sicles seemed to be just the medicine he needed!
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|May 15, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture, Rusty's place, Videos|
Hey, pooches. Poodle, here. I got game. Check it:
But life’s not always poodle-perfection. I’ve had my fido fails.
No shame in that. Can’t get game if you don’t do a few fails, dawgs.
Guess what? I’m not alone. Sometimes us pups just forget how to dog.
Then our peeps put it up on YouTube. So have a good BOL @ yourselves & move on.
Ya feel me, fidos? Cool. ~Rusty~
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|April 4, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Pup culture, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Training/Behavior, Videos|
It’s a relaxing, rainy spring day. I’m cozied up on the couch with coffee & my little guy, Rusty.
It’s also a work-at-home day, so I’m in sweats & fuzzy socks. (Not pretty, just cozy.) I’m writing about “easy” being better. So that should be a no-brainer @ this point, right? Nope, not @ all.
If I listen to that little voice in my head, I’ll start believing that I’m lazy.
We all have that voice. She’s the one who never cuts you any slack. I call her my little gremlin. Basically, she’s a bitch. She’s quick to point out this morning: “Look @ lazy you: you’re not dressed, you didn’t comb your hair, and your couch is your office today. In fact, Gremlin incessantly nags me to clean my actual office. Every second that I’m not doing that seemingly insurmountable task, I feel worse about myself. Why such a hater, Ms. Gremlin?
It’s been an uphill battle for me to learn that easy is better.
I’m slowly beginning to ignore my gremlin. Who does she think she is, anyway? There’s a nicer voice that’s getting louder; she’s kinder & wiser. She’s my coach in this life lesson. (Before you conclude that I’m schizophrenic, Lissa Rankin calls that kind voice that we all have inside our “Inner Pilot Light“.) Here’s my theory: The nasty, nagging, confidence-busting voice is society. The gentler, more accurate voice is your soul. At this stage in my life, I choose to listen when my soul speaks.
We’re plugged into our fast-paced society 24/7. Work is valued, not relaxation.
Society says if it’s not hard work, it’s not worth doing. But we’re stressed & sick. So how’s that really working for us? It’s self sabotage. Enough of that stress, and your soul might have to scream @ you: “Stop, slow down & listen to me now. I know what’s best for you.” You’ll know it if it happens; it’s hard to ignore: frequent sighs, illness/aches & pains, burnout, panic attacks. Listen to your body (& soul) sooner rather than later. (Not sure how stressed you really are? Take this stress test.) Be true to yourself first, not society/family/friends. It’s not selfish; it’s healthy. What comes easy & makes you happy? Ignore your gremlin, fire up your pilot light, and just go do it! Make it a habit. Your new-found, genuine energy will infuse all that you do. You’ll be happier and more successful. Your enthusiasm & inner light will shine on the people & pets around you. It’s contagious & everyone benefits.
So easy is better. Easy isn’t lazy. Easy is in the eye of the beholder.
Think about it: Just because something’s easy for you, doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. So, if it’s easy for you, maybe that means you should be doing it, instead. Maybe you’re a natural @ it. Maybe it’s a gift that shouldn’t be ignored. Why swim upstream to do something that’s soul-suckingly hard for you just because other people think you should? Because Gremlin said so? Please.
Sometimes, you have to tease out the “easy-for-you”.
It’s there, ready to come to the surface, but it needs the right setting to express itself. For example, I think best around flowing water. (Such a cliched Aquarian here, really.) I get clarity & ideas in the shower, on a hike by a stream, by my backyard fountain, or on a barefoot beach walk. In fact, I silenced my pesky gremlin today by taking a shower, where this post wrote itself before I turned the water off. Easy doesn’t flow around that 24/7 societal din of TV, phone, computer, etc. Unplug & find your flow.
Go with the flow to find your pet’s “easy”, too. It enriches your time together.
If you want to teach something new to your pet, begin with something they naturally, easily, do well. For example, catch is not an instinctive game for many dogs. There are trust issues there. Why in the world would you want to keep your face (& sensitive nose) in the direct path of a flying object? I taught Rusty to catch by 1st playing his “easy” game with an “easy” object: fetch with a ball. Then, as that game flowed, I teased out his new “easy”, catch, by gently tossing that ball in the air, past him – not @ him. As his confidence grew, he caught it face-on. You can tease the new “easy” out of your pet in other ways. For example, if your dog loves walks, take brief breaks during the walk to teach a few new commands. If your pet’s invented a favorite game, play their game. Then build on it to teach new games. Remember: Take it easy. Less is more. End while everyone’s still having fun.
Watch Rusty’s easy play:
He taught us his “roll it!” game. We intersperse it with “catch!” and varied play locations. Good times.
When you embrace “easy” as worthwhile, it becomes a lifestyle.
I was baking banana bread the other day, contemplating this concept. Baking is a bit like flowing water for me: an inspirational gremlin-silencer. Suddenly, I decided to make the “easy” variation of the recipe that I’ve followed without fail for 10 years. It tastes better than the original! So why didn’t I do that sooner? It’s a process, people. But I’m getting there. So will you.
Ruth’s “Easy” Banana Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 mashed, ripe bananas
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons plain, low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt
2/3 cup dark (70% cacao) chocolate chips
2/3 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, & level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, & salt, stirring with a whisk.
Place sugar & butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add bananas, eggs, & yogurt; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat @ low speed just until moist. Fold in chocolate chips & walnuts. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Dig in!
~Adapted from Cooking Light~
Go with your flow. Find your “easy”.
Feed your soul. (Try the banana bread.)
Fan your pilot light until its glimmer silences your gremlin. That game or walk you enjoy with your dog? That might just be your water where ideas flow. Easy comes naturally to animals. Let your pets tease the easy out of you!
©2013 The Soulful Pet