JUST SAY NO! to the Retractable Leash

Having worked in the animal care field for over 20 years now, I have learned a great much about animals and their health and well-being.  I am fairly well acquainted with most pet toys and gadgets too.  Some are great, while others make me think “what in the heck were they thinking when they developed this thing?”  Retractable leashes are one of those gadgets that make me cringe.  I truly hope they, along with chain leashes, go the way of the dinosaur.

Retractable leashes are leads with plastic handles that contain a reel system.  As a pet advances, the leash unreels and the pet is able to move farther from the handler.  If the handler wishes to stop the pet from being able to advance, the handler typically has to push a button that “locks” the leash to prevent it from unreeling.  The only way that the leash can shorten is if there is some slack between the leash handle and the pet.  The first 12 to 24 inches of most retractable leashes is a flat nylon-type material.  The rest of the length of these leashes is typically a thin cord.  In some cases the entire length is a thin cord.

I can understand only one benefit of the retractable leash.  Oh.  Wait.  I lied.

Why am I so down on these ever-so-popular gadgets?  Let me tell you!

  1.  They teach your dog to pull.  If you have a tiny little teacup chihuahua at the end of a leash, the pulling isn’t usually a big deal.  However, if you have a 75 pound lab or a 120 pound mastiff pulling at the other end of a leash, you’re going to have some pretty serious control issues there!  Teaching your dog leash manners is crucial in any case, but especially when it comes to muscular breeds or large and giant breed dogs.
  2. The locking mechanisms are not trustworthy.  As your pet pulls at the retractable leash to check out the flattened squirrel in the street while a car is approaching, are you going to trust that little plastic latch to save your dog from being struck by that oncoming vehicle?  I sure wouldn’t.  And for good reason.  I’ve seen what happens in such a case far too often.
  3. The thin rope cord is dangerous to you and your dog.  Imagine, if you would, the following scenario:  A woman is taking her 60 pound pointer for a walk in the park when a squirrel crosses the dog’s path.  The dog begins to chase the squirrel so the woman attempts to press the “lock” button, but the momentum created by the dog is able to overcome the lock!  In a panic the owner reaches and grabs for the leash.  BIG MISTAKE!  There are cases of dog owners losing fingers in cases similar to this.
  4. At the vet clinic:  All too often I see pet owners come into our office with a dog on a retractable leash and that dog begins to explore the entire waiting area!  We see both healthy and sick patients at the office.  I don’t want your healthy dog fraternizing with another waiting sick dog, or otherwise.  Also, your dog’s roaming creates a snag-line to other patrons or staff members!

These are my top 4 reasons for banning retractable leashes, but I could easily come up with 20 more reasons to ditch them.  Folks, if you have a dog, you need to properly leash train that dog.  If the dog pulls or is too “strong” for you, please talk with your veterinary staff about head halters or no-pull harnesses.

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TIME: The only thing ALL of us don’t have enough of

Time needs to slow down. No, really. I’m serious. It’s going by WAY too fast.

A lot has happened since I last blogged, which is why I haven’t blogged in so long…no time! If I could just get another 8 hours added on to every day I just might have enough time in a day to get everything done that I both need AND want to. Unfortunately, that will never happen. So I’ll just have to keep on doing the best I can.

SOULBODY

In May of this year I stumbled upon another group fitness opportunity, thanks to some info provided to me by my Pound Master Pro. It is called Soul Body Body Barre. After hearing about it I immediately had to learn more. I went to their website and looked around, watched the videos and knew that I had to learn how to teach this! A mindfully intense, full-body workout that pulls from the practices of barre, yoga and pilates, and incorporates a lot of body weight training. This particular class uses a ball and a body bar in pre-choreographed routines that are suitable for any and all fitness levels.

As soon as I heard about a training opportunity that was within a reasonable distance for me, I didn’t hesitate to sign up.

About a week prior to training, the instructor emailed information about the class, along with an instructional video to teach us the structure and choreography. I immediately got to work. I printed out my notes and started the video. I made it through the warm-up with no problem! Then the first real track came on. I made it through, but had to modify my technique drastically, and honestly started to wonder if I could teach a class like this. Then the second track, and third, and so on…Wow! That was one intense workout! I had a lot of work to do.

Well, to make a long story short, I went all-in and busted my tail to complete my training because I couldn’t WAIT to bring this to my community! After taking the certification course I had to submit a video of me teaching a full-length class as my “practical exam.” I had a month to submit a video after the certifying course, but I jumped right on it and one week and one day later my video was recorded! It did take me 2 takes to get one, but I did finally get it.

I have to share this little side note with you. After I completed the “final cut” video, I packaged up my laptop and when I got home the file was GONE. No joke. I panicked and just about totally lost my cool. Are you kidding me? I had to get some volunteers to be my class “guinea pigs” two days in a row, had a nearly perfect take and it didn’t save? I was almost in tears. But I took 5 minutes. Did some breathing exercises. Then went back to my laptop. I was able to find a cached file with the full length video. IMMEDIATELY saved it to my desktop, to my external hard drive, and to drop box! Crisis averted.

So I submitted my video. Within a day I received an email that I had passed! Celebration time! I was now certified to teach the class and couldn’t wait to do so! Now, to find time to teach the class. It was, and still has been, very difficult to find times to make this class available due to my current full-time job that has irregular hours, and I was already trying to find more time to make Pound available. I was also teaching a SPIN class on days when I was available too. And there’s all the running.

sbbodybarrelogo

Now you see why I need more hours in my day? And I don’t even have (human) kids.

We have managed to fit my classes into the schedule, but they each only happen once (sometimes twice) a week. I hope to one day be able to free my schedule up to be able to offer more fitness classes at regular and at a variety of times. I’m working on it…

CHOMPERS

Our oldest dog, Chompers, had to be put to rest on July 15th of this year. He had just turned 14 a few days prior. Chompers has had orthopedic problems his entire life, starting with Osteochondritis Dissecans when he was a 6 month old puppy. He has spent his entire life on joint supplements! About 2-3 years ago he started to slow down some and was diagnosed with arthritis in one of his front legs. He’s been on pain medication and NSAIDs since then. Eventually his back legs started to show a lack of proprioception (neurologic issues). We managed him by keeping him comfortable with medications, light exercise and lots of love. In June he really started to decline and by the first of July his back end was giving out on him altogether at times.

We had to make the decision when we were home with him one day and had to witness him have an episode where his back end gave out on him. He struggled to get up and was panicking because he just couldn’t. I started to wonder how often that was happening when we weren’t home. It would be selfish and unfair of us to not allow him to have a dignified farewell. So, after much discussion, we planned his peaceful departure.

The day of, things couldn’t have been more obvious that the time was right. That morning, Chompers was not able to use his back legs at all. I spent the entire day with him, loved him, cried over him, and took in every last bit of him that I could. He was my heart dog and I was dreading this day for years!

Chris came home and, after he spent some time with Chompers, we headed to the animal hospital. Things couldn’t have gone more peacefully. It was sad, yes, but it was also a great relief knowing that he was no longer in any pain. He will always be my “heart dog!”

I cannot begin to say enough words about the company who took care of Chompers afterward.  I entrusted Agape Pet Services to have Chompers cremated with his ashes returned to me.  As I sought the perfect urn for Chompers on their website, I saw this glass crystal cube that you could have your pet’s image etched into it.  It looked really neat and I already knew which picture I wanted to have etched!  My all-time favorite picture of Chompers from back when he was 4 years old.  I had to have it.  And I found the perfect urn.  The company was great to deal with, ordering was easy and everything was absolutely perfect upon arrival.  Thanks for taking care of my boy Agape!

The etched crystal & Urn


RODAN + FIELDS

It’s now been a few months since I’ve been teaching both Pound and, recently renamed, Soul Body Barre Unhitched. All of my time is spent now working my full time job at the animal hospital, teaching group fitness classes, trying to squeeze in some miles whenever I can, keeping current on my class choreography, every day chores and the dealings of life, and occasionally I’m able to sneak in some entertainment with my love. No time to spare. I need more hours in my day!

Then a friend starts talking to me about her business as a skin care consultant with Rodan + Fields dermatologists. It sounded quite interesting, especially the part where she said she was able to free up some time from a job to do what she really enjoyed, which is teaching a Spin class to people with Parkinson’s disease (pretty cool, I know!). She asked me if I was familiar with R+F and I said of course, they’re the Doctors responsible for Proactiv. She started to tell me more about the business and asked me if I’d be interested. At first I was not. But then I thought about it some more. If I did this, I just might be able to free up some hours myself to be able to do what I really WANT to do. Even better, I could earn more money to help pay off bills, to be able to afford to visit my family in the midwest more often, and to fund my many hobbies (like running). And, what a great complement to group fitness this would be! Helping people feel their best on the inside AND outside! The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had nothing to lose to give it a try. I know R+F, and I know they’re product lines do what they claim.

RodanandFields LogoSo, yes, I am now trying to launch and grow my own business and I’m loving it!

I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but over the past several years my passions have changed. I am still very passionate about animals. But I have become more passionate about making others feel their best through group fitness and run coaching, nutrition advice and now premium skin care. My ultimate goal is to, over the next 5 years (give or take) flip-flop my job and my hobbies.

It seems to be working a little bit since I now have time to sit down and write a blog post!

By the way, if you’re interested in learning more about Rodan + Fields, feel free to contact me!

So that about sums it up.  That’s what I’ve been up to, and if all goes well, you’ll be hearing more from me soon!  Until then, hug your pets and live your best life.

5 weeks to my first half marathon

Only 5 weeks left until my first Half Marathon (finally)! Today I ran 12+ miles, of which my running buddy CJ was able to finish the last 5 miles with me. He is almost 9, so I only allow him to run with me for up to 10Km. More than that is just too much. And when the weather gets warmer, unfortunate for him, his distance gets much shorter. Today he joined me at mile 7 and we ran for 5 and walked the last half mile.

Not only am I preparing for my first half marathon, but two weeks from today is when I go to get my POUND certification! I’m really excited about this because I really enjoy Pound, and I am looking forward to sharing the fitness phenom with others.

I’ve been asked to teach Pound at my local fitness facility during the month of April. It’s so soon! There’s no way I’m going to be ready to teach a class by April! But I have been working on songs and routines and think I might just be able to come up with something in a month. Playlist is set, now I just need to get the routine set…in my brain…so set that my nerves won’t F*%k it all up when class time rolls around! So I agreed to do it.

Why do I do this to myself? I’ve got a half marathon I’m training for, I’ve got tons of fundraising to accomplish for the Run for the Animals between now and my half marathon, and now I have to learn a Pound routine and have it ready to go by April! And there’s a trip to visit some friends in PA smack-dab in the middle of all of this. Oh, yeah, and I have a full-time job. I do this to myself because it helps to motivate me to get stuff done! Yes, sometimes I get stressed out, but nothing so serious that a beer or three can’t take care of.

Oh, yeah, and I’m still taking classes for my AFAA certification too. But I have until November to get that finished…

We are given this one life. I am trying to make the most of it. For myself and for others. That’s what makes me go. If I don’t get all of it accomplished on my schedule, I hope that I am given enough time to accomplish whatever it is that I am here to do!

Snow Day #2!

We got hit here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for the second time in 2 weeks with a measurable amount of snow.  This time it was the really thick, heavy, wet and pretty stuff.  The kind that is perfect for making snowmen and for snowball fights!  Although we didn’t do any of those things here at home today.

I love the snow when it's pretty like this!

I love the snow when it’s pretty like this!

The Eastern Shore of Virginia just doesn’t see this kind of snow regularly, so they don’t have all of the necessary manpower, equipment and funding to deal with the snow like they do in the midwest and northeast.  That’s why things shut down even if we only get a few inches of snow.  It’s safest for everyone.  This time we got about 6 inches here in Accomac, with more on the southern end of the shore.

Health care workers, including Animal health care workers, can’t take snow days.  There are people and animals that need tending to no matter what else is going on in the world!  I don’t mind it one bit.  It’s what I do and it’s what I love.

I work only a couple of miles from home, and I have a 4×4, and I have a lot of experience driving and dealing with loads of snow being from Northern Illinois.  So when we have days like this, I usually (not always, like last week) am the one that can make it in to take care of the animals.  I was able to make it in safely this morning, took care of all of the boarding dogs and cats, and our one sick dog.  Then I called to inform our already scheduled appointments that we were going to be closed for the day.  Most of the clients were not going to even try to make it anyway, but many of them would try if we were open.  Unless it was a dire emergency, it was much safer for our clients and staff to stay home.

Another coworker, Jessica,  lives about as close as I do and has a 4×4 as well, so we split the workload for the day.  She agreed to go in to take care of the critters this evening.  When I finished with the morning’s rounds and got the schedule in order for the rest of today and for tomorrow, it was time to head home.  That’s when my snow day began for real!

When I returned home it was still snowing pretty heavily.  Chris and I went out for breakfast and coffee at the Club Car Cafe in Parksley.  After that we went to the grocery store, because the best time to shop at the grocery store is during inclement weather!  NO LINES!  Awesome!  I got my grocery shopping done for most of the weekend!  Then we came back home and started having fun.

CJ loves the snow; Chompers does too but his decrepit body does not.  I didn’t go for a snow run today like I did last week, only because today was a crosstraining day for me anyway, and I am off tomorrow.  Tomorrow is supposed to be about the same as today, sans the snowfall, and the road should be plowed by then so the “fair weather” runner in me chose to keep with my original plan of running on Friday.  I choose my battles.

Chompers loves the snow!  But his body doesn't any longer...

Chompers loves the snow! But his body doesn’t any longer…

The kind of fun we had today was playing frisbee in the snow with CJ, going for a snowy walk down the lane, and just hanging out and having fun together as a family.

All the boy wants to do is play with his aerobie!  He doesn't care if it's snowing or raining...

All the boy wants to do is play with his aerobie! He doesn’t care if it’s snowing or raining…

Mine and CJ's snow tracks

Mine and CJ’s snow tracks

Facebook “Silent” Auction

In an effort to raise money for the Run for the Animals (visit runfortheanimals.com for more information, or see my previous blog post), I am hosting a “silent auction” of items with 100% of the proceeds going toward my fundraising efforts for the event!

The items I have available are primarily dog, cat and runner-related that have been donated by outside parties or myself.  I don’t mean to appear discriminatory against pocket pets, horses, reptiles and other animals, but I just don’t have the donor support from those other animal venues at this time.  Please check out my Facebook page for more information!

The Run for the Animals is an event that hold very near and dear to my heart, and you can read about it more on my previous blog post linked above!