Archive for August, 2012

The Graduate

Posted on August 20, 2012. Filed under: Dog |

We are proud parents of our Labradoodle who graduated from his Puppy Obedience class last week. He’s a smart cookie.

I haven’t posted much about Mason lately other than pictures, so here’s the rundown on where he is in his training. If you have questions about how we taught a specific skill, please ask in the comments section. I’d be happy to help.

A lot of his training we did on our own. He knew how to sit within the first few days we had him and he could shake and lie down after a week or two. Come is a continual work in progress, but he has improved tremendously.

Adam and I went on a 10 day vacation when Mason was between 14 and 15 weeks old. We left him with a friend of the breeders who trains dogs and dressage horses. We came back and Mason was a different dog! It was amazing. She only cost $10 more per day than the kennel. It was worth it. She had Mason fully leash trained, he was comfortable in public places like Lowes and Home Depot, he knew how to stay, leave it, and he was learning roll over and place (going to his bed).

Once we got him home, we worked with him for 15 minutes twice a day on his training – in the mornings and evenings when it was cooler. Sometimes he could only go 5 minutes before he got too distracted. It’s always good to make sure he’s having fun and being successful, otherwise he’ll get discouraged. For instance, if I was teaching him something new and he wasn’t getting it, I would backtrack and get him to sit and lay down. These are things he has down pat and he would feel good getting treated and gain some confidence. It helped him to regain his focus. We also walk him up and down our street once a day to keep up his leash training, practice sitting in the heel position, and staying on the curb with distractions. Don’t worry. He’s still leashed. If he tries to bolt, we can step on the leash to prevent him from going anywhere.

We enrolled Mason in a puppy obedience class a few weeks after the trainer. Mason knew most of the skills that were taught, but actually doing them with all the distractions of a pet store and with the presence of playmates was an added challenge. The puppy class was great for his socialization as well. I’m really glad we did it. He is too!

Here is the list of tricks Mason can do at almost 6 months old:

Potty trained – this means going to the bathroom outside and not in the house. I consider a house trained dog one you can leave to roam wherever and you know he won’t chew through cords or eat your toilet paper. Mason is potty trained. He was potty trained at about 5 months. He is not house trained.

Sit – learned this in 2 days

Down – learned this in a week

Stay – Mason is still working on this in terms of distance and time, but he grasped the concept at about 15 weeks.

Shake – learned this at 9 or 10 weeks

Roll-over – this took a few weeks to learn. You have to start very slow.

Place – this is still taking time. We are working on being in another room and having him go down the hall to his place.

Touch – he’s an expert. He puts his nose to our palms on command. We’re working on pointing to objects and having Mason touch them. He does this about 75% of the time.

Up – this wasn’t hard for Mason. He loves to jump on people. He loves people. Period.

Off – more challenging. He likes to get up on the coffee table, jump on people, and he’s started to put his paws on the cabinets. His nose is about 2 inches below the counter for now – thank goodness. He is learning. He knows what it means, but sometimes he doesn’t care. If he’s jumping on us, we freeze and ignore him until he sits. Then we give him attention. This is starting to work.

Play dead – work in progress.

Sit in the heel position (when on leash) – this did not take long since he knew sit and is comfortable on his leash.

Leave it – very good at this. I highly recommend this skill. Everyone should teach their dog this for when you drop medicine, chocolate, etc.

Drop it – starting to see success here. It was a miracle the other day when he brought me a ball and dropped it at my feet without me having to wrestle it out of his mouth or give the command.

It’s not all roses though. I obnoxiously brag about our dog, but there are things we are still struggling with: barking, jumping, mouthing/gnawing/sinking his teeth into wrists, ankles, backs of knees. Mason hasn’t quite learned that his teeth hurt and it’s causing us some concern. We continue to yelp, say “ouch” and replace our hands with a toy. I’ll keep you posted on our progress. Some days are better than others. It doesn’t help that he has 6 canines right now. Yep. His puppy canines on the top are right next to his adult ones.  As far as the barking, Mason is a talker. We’re learning to distinguish the meaning of his barks: play/attention, bathroom, watch dog. We still can’t get him to shut up very much. Recently, during play time he launched himself onto the couch in my lap. I didn’t even see him coming. It’s a ball of flying fur and there he is gazing up at me, tongue hanging out of his mouth, and his ball in my lap. He is not allowed on the furniture. See guilt-stricken face here:

This is a new thing he started doing last night and one we won’t allow even if it is funny. He went to time-out a few times. It’s hard to put that face in time-out.

But overall, we are very proud of our boy!

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The Forgotten Room

Posted on August 15, 2012. Filed under: Home |

We recently celebrated our one year anniversary of living in our house. And how did we celebrate? By furnishing our long empty living room!

Living Room before we closed on our house

Living Room after paint, stenciling, changing switchplates and outlets, and rug

This room needed major help. I painted it. It was baby blue, now it is cream. I stenciled the accent wall (it took hours), hunted down a rug, and began the search for furniture. That couch in the picture is a reject from my parents. Don’t let its appearance fool you. It’s quite possibly the most uncomfortable couch I have ever sat on. This living room has been a long and slow process. At the beginning of the year, we decided to bite the bullet and furnish the room over the next few months. Little did we know it would take longer than that. It always does, doesn’t it? 

We went furniture shopping every weekend for a month. We wanted this room to be somewhere where we can relax, read, look out at the backyard, and be close to the kitchen when food is cooking. We finally found a chair and a couch on our 3rd weekend. Furniture shopping is not much fun. It’s like getting your teeth cleaned, but way more expensive. We bought the chair and couch we liked after a week of thinking about them and crunching numbers. I got a killer deal. I’m a negotiating queen. Hear me roar. We ordered a leather couch and a wingback chair for 45% off retail. The sales lady I worked with the second time I went up there gave me a price $500 under what the owner quoted me the week before. Holla! I worked her down from that. What can I say? I’m irresistible!

The excitement wore off after 14 weeks of waiting. They told me it would take about 12 weeks since we ordered custom leather on the couch, but it took much longer. I was not happy. It finally arrived after 20 weeks. I negotiated for free delivery since it took 2 months longer than they told us and I had to call them to check on it. They did not even realize it was late. Oh boy.

We also purchased an arm chair and ottoman from a different furniture store. It arrived about 5 or 6 weeks after we ordered it. I already shared news of the rug. It was from Overstock. I ordered 2 mercury glass table lamps from Pottery Barn with a gift card I had. They went on sale 2 weeks later and I called customer service to get the difference credited back to my card. They obliged – another win for me despite the phone calls and emails.

The curtains were an adventure as well. I bought fabric swatches – no go. I bought curtains and brought them home, only to return them. I finally found these at Horchow. I waited for them to go on sale and ordered them. The sheers are from Target – $10 a piece. The rod is from Lowes. It was very hard to find a double traverse rod that was long enough for our sliding door. Impossible. Unless you want to spend $200+. This one was less than that with our Lowes credit card.

Once we had the rug, sofa, chairs, and curtains, I ordered 2 photographs matted and framed from We really like them. (I love horsies.)

But we’re on the lookout for a colorful, large piece of art for over the sofa. Though we’re going for the French laundry/Riding club design aesthetic, we would like to have some color in here. The rug, pillows, and curtains bring the color in, but we need something big on the wall as well.

The throw pillows are a collection I’ve been building for a few months. Some are from Home Goods, Overstock, Target, and the red and floral ones are homemade. See my method for envelope throw pillow covers here. If you want to add buttons, multiply the “back” pieces by 1/2 instead of 3/4 in the formula I provided. The overlap is more centered and looks better if you go the button route.

The floor lamp is an old brass one handed down by my parents. I spray painted it with oil-rubbed bronze paint a few months back and put a new shade on it. I’m not sure if this is where it will end up, but it works for now.

We are extremely happy with the way this room is turning out. We spend time in here on Sunday afternoons or when dinner is cooking. I like to wind down in here after work with a glass of wine. Of course this is after I’ve taken Mason out, played with him for about 15 minutes, and fed him. I’m not complaining. I love my best friend.  Nevertheless, this room is very relaxing. And Mason is only allowed in here with parental supervision.

There are still things to come for this room. Adam’s parents are bringing us an upright piano that’s been in the family for years. I am very excited about that. It may need to be refinished, but we don’t care. It will go on the stenciled wall. I’d like to get a large clock to mount on the wall over it and maybe some smaller prints. I’m still exploring some vignettes for on top of the actual piano. I’m sure I’ll use candles and frames. We need to purchase end tables for either side of the sofa, and maybe a small lamp table next to the arm chair. I’d like to get sconces to go on either side of the art we will put above the couch. And the curtains need to be hemmed. Shhh, they’re pinned right now!

Items we’re on the lookout for:

  1. End tables
  2. Wall art
  3. Bookshelf – something more open and less bulky, maybe mounted to wall up high
  4. Large wall clock
  5. Accessories for tables and piano

We’re excited to have some nice furniture. It’s a first for us and so far we’re happy with our investment!

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