Life with dogs / 05

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Tip #5: Creating a bath time routine

After a weekend of running in the woods, it’s time for the dogs to have a bath. You might be thinking my dog hates baths. Well…I was right there with you not too long ago. Jack hated baths for a long time. He would run the other direction as soon as he heard the water running. When we got Keeper, I decided to try a different approach to bath time in hopes that she wouldn’t mind them as much as Jack did. I’m happy to report that Keeper and Jack now take baths with ease. While your dog might not come to *love* baths, they can learn to tolerate them better. Whether you have a puppy who is new to baths or an adult dog who has a track record of hiding every time the word “bath” is mentioned, there are a few simple ways to make bath time more enjoyable for your dog (and yourself).

Step 1: Desensitize

The first couple of times you give your dog a bath, there will be a fair amount of desensitizing/getting them used to the norms that come with taking a bath. From the sound of the water, to the water temperature, to them being covered in shampoo – it can be overwhelming for them at first. Easing them into the whole process from the beginning will help them make a positive association with taking a bath. If you have an adult dog who has already decided baths aren’t for them, you will need to really work on this step in order to replace their current negative association with a more positive one.

To start with, try:

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Introducing a bath toy

We have 2 toys that sit on the shelf in the bathroom that are designated “bath toys”. A small, rubber chuck-it ball, and a mini frisbee. Both are waterproof. When it’s bath time, I go get these and show the dogs. You’d be surprised by how excited they get to play with toys they only see once or twice a month. I lure them in with these. Not only does it give them something to look forward to every time they take a bath, but it saves me the time of having to chase them down and wrangle them into the tub.

Adjust water temperature

Depending on the amount of fur your dog has, dogs can be more comfortable in the right temperature of water. Border collies like Keeper have long, dense coats, and need to be bathed in luke warm to cool water to avoid overheating. Can you imagine wearing a thick sweater and then hopping into a warm bath? Yeah, no way! Alternatively, dogs with shorter coats like Jack may get cold standing in a tub of water, so adjusting the water to be warmer would be better for them.

Wash face and ears separately

To avoid any traumatic experiences like getting soap in their eyes or water in their ears, make sure to wash their face and ears separate using a wash cloth. Dogs can also get ear infections if water is left in their ears so it’s good to keep them dry anyway.

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Step 2: Positively reinforce calm behavior

While you’re lathering up your dog, let them know when they are being a good dog. Positively reinforce calm behavior by telling them something along the lines of “good job buddy”, or “doing great, almost done” in a positive tone. This is a nice way to let your dog know you like it when they are calm and standing still. If they have mastered the command “Stay”, you can use this here.

Step 3: Reward

After their bath, give them a reward. This should be different than the bath toy (shelve those for now in order to keep the allure for next time). We give Jack and Keeper baby carrots since they are their favorites. I do this as soon as I finish drying them off so they associate the end of bath time with the reward of carrots.

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Step 4: Repeat

In order for a positive association with bath time to be made, you’ll need to repeat these steps every time you give them a bath. Dogs are less likely to feel stressed if they know the routine.

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Do you have any tips or tricks you use with your dog that makes taking a bath easier and more enjoyable? I’d love to hear about them.

Also:

The shampoo we use
For faster washing

The Marin Headlands

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Last weekend we spent the day in the Marin headlands. It’s the first exit off the Golden Gate bridge heading north out of San Francisco and one of my favorite places ever. When we first moved to California, we lived in a little apartment on the water above the house boats in Sausalito, which is about 5 minutes from the headlands. Every day Trey would commute by ferry into the city, and I would drive the most scenic commute ever into the headlands for work. There are a few different trails you can go on in the headlands, each with their own awesome views of the Pacific ocean, or the Golden Gate bridge and city. The coastal route allows dogs, so we chose that one. There’s only one road in and it winds around the cliffs with the water below. There’s a good view of Rodeo beach and the lighthouse too. Eventually the road wraps around and takes you into the valley of the headlands.

I still get that same feeling when I’m standing on the hill looking out at the Pacific as I did when we were fresh out of college and new to the area. I love looking back at the mouth of the Golden Gate and the water below. Our crew used to call that the “the potato patch”, because it was where we’d always have to forge the boat through currents in order to continue a couple hours out to the Farallon Islands to get to the whales. Next to the Golden Gate bridge there’s a harbor seal haul out where hundreds of seals lay on the beach like fat sausages. You wouldn’t know the beach was there unless you were really looking for it. Leaving the headlands, there’s an old school house in the middle of a field. I asked Trey if he would walk Jack out there because I wanted to take a photo of him in front of it. So he walked him out there and told him to “stay” and then walked back to me. I took the photo and yelled to Jack “Good boy, come!”. He sprinted all the way back to us, mouth open wide, smiling. We cheered him on running back to us. I don’t think I will ever forget that. He’s the best, that Jack dog.

After we were done hiking we drove through the rainbow tunnel and over the bridge back home. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself knowing we live in one of the most beautiful places. I don’t take a second of it for granted.

A weekend in the life

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This past weekend was one of those weekends where we hung around town and got caught up on everything. It feels so nice to wake up with fresh sheets on the bed, food in the fridge, washed dogs, and clean laundry. On Saturday we slept in, then went to the Berkeley farmer’s market. In the afternoon we picked up some local cheeses (Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam is my fav) and a few slices of pizza from Cheeseboard. Later we watched We Are Still Here, a horror movie (thanks for falling asleep, babe). On Sunday we made brunch at home (poached eggs on rosemary flatbread with avocado spread) then took the dogs to Point Isabel – a dog park on the water with great views of the city and bay. Then we came home and gave the dogs baths, made dinner, and fell asleep watching Homeland in bed.

Here’s to hoping the week is just as good as the weekend.

Cheers,
nic

Around Here

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1. / Cat food bandit Jack / 2. Morning walk / 3. This hammock has been getting a lot of use this week / 4. Mila likes to groom the dogs / 5. Smells like teakwood, tobacco and sandalwood in our place lately / 6. Someone raided the cat food, but we don’t know who / 7. From our hike in Henry Cowell State park last weekend / 8. Her head is always out the window / 9. The prettiest new chair / 10. Her favorite spot / 11. Because we don’t have many photos of the two of us / 12. These three are best buds

 

Hello, Fall.

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I love fall. It’s my favorite season for a lot of reasons. It was fall semester when Trey and I started seeing each other again. At the end of our sophomore years in college we both transferred back home to NC State and ran into each other on a crisp September morning in Winston Hall. “Is that your purple bike?, I’d pointed out. “It’s maroon”, he’d correct me. Fall is when we adopted Jack and drove over the Golden Gate bridge to move into our little apartment above Dog Eared Books in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. Fall is when I moved to San Diego for grad school. Fall is when we moved to Florida for my job. Fall is when we moved back to California for Trey’s job (wow, it’s been a year!). Fall always feels like a season of renewal for us. Something about the leaves changing brings about a certain metaphorical newness in our lives. I’m looking forward to several things this fall, such as: cooking soups in the crock pot, drinking cider and spiced teas, camping trips, hikes and road trips, wearing jeans, comfy sweaters and boots, eating pumpkin pie and acorn squash, and reading a few good books. I’m also looking forward to practicing more yoga and living more simply. What are you looking forward to? Welcome, Fall!
Photos via my Fall Pinterest board.

Dog People / Jen Ha + Hoku from HelloHoku

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Name/Occupation:
Jen Ha / Visual + UX Designer

Dog’s name/Age/Breed:
Hoku / Age 4 / Shiba Inu

hellohoku_04 What made you decide to get a dog? 
About three years ago, I moved from New York City to San Diego to be with my fiance (now husband). I worked from home out of our tiny one bedroom apartment, which meant days spent by myself in a new city while David worked long hours in his first year of residency at the UCSD Medical Center. I had never really considered myself a “dog person” before but suddenly found myself warming up to the idea of a pup to keep me company, give my days a sense of routine, and encourage me to spend more time outdoors. My husband had grown up with dogs, so he was on board with the idea from the beginning. I liked that shiba inus were calm, clean and had temperaments that suited my personality, so I started looking into adopting one. A couple weeks later, we picked Hoku up from Riverside and the rest is history!

 

hellohoku_02 Tell us about the first time you met Hoku.
He was really calm and shy. He kept a good distance from us, but would walk over to sniff us and check us out every few minutes. All the other dogs around him were really high energy and there were all these puppies jumping all over him but he was as cool as a cucumber.

hellohoku_08 What’s the last thing he did that made you laugh?
He loves to sleep in between me and my husband even though he has his own dog bed. He’ll jump on our bed in the middle of the night and literally wedge his 20lb body between us like a sausage. I’ve woken up with a paw on my face more times that I can count. We also crack up every time he yawns because it’s always super loud and obnoxious.

What are your favorite characteristics about your dog?
He loves fruits and vegetables, especially those with a crunch like cucumbers, carrots, zucchinis, watermelon and bell peppers to name a few. David and I love gardening so we make sure that most of what we grow in our garden is dog appropriate. Hoku also enjoys the great outdoors as much as we do and can hike for hours without tiring. Last Spring, we made it to the top of Mt. San Gorgonio, the tallest peak in Southern California. It took us 11.5 soul-crushing hours over 18 miles. Hoku took a quick nap after we got home and woke up later that afternoon pretty much ready to climb another mountain. This year, we made it our goal as a pack to reach all the highest dog-friendly peaks in SoCal with Hoku. Eventually, we hope to make it to the highest point in the continental US a dog is allowed to go, which I believe is Mt. Elbert at 14,440ft in Colorado.

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Does Hoku have a nickname? If so, how did he get it?
A lot of his nicknames start with the letter B. Aside from the typical “Boy” and “Baby,” we also call him “Ball” for the way he curls up into a ball when he sleeps…so lately it’s just been “B”!

hellohoku_07 Where do you shop for your dog (online shops, stores, etc)?
We buy almost everything from Amazon. (Honestly, how did people shop before Amazon Prime?) I also love checking out pet shops when traveling, especially internationally, and will usually pick up new toys for him wherever we go.

Are there any dog products you especially love/couldn’t live without?
On a daily basis, we can’t live without his Ezydog harness (the only harness he hasn’t been able to escape out of), Ezydog lite leash, and a simple dog brush (he sheds a lot). For hiking, we love his Surepaw Dog Gear rope leash and Gulpy water bottle.

hellohoku_03 hellohoku_10 What does being a “Dog Person” mean to you?I still don’t know if I consider myself the true definition of a “dog person,” but I am “Hoku’s person” and a lot of who I am today has been shaped by having him in my life. He’s taught me a great deal about patience and responsibility. When we first brought Hoku home at the age of 2, he was retiring from a show dog life, had no real obedience training and was extremely reactive. We wanted nothing more than for him to experience all the joys of being a real dog and were persistent with working through his issues despite all the frustrating/ tearful/ embarrassing days that made us want to throw in the towel. It took 3 months of desensitization training for him to finally be able to walk confidently around the block. For a whole year, I wrote down every single milestone in a notebook that I still look back on to remind me of how far we’ve come. And now, just couple years later, he is happily climbing mountains with us, has dog friends, travels with us around Cali (and recently flew with us all the way to New York City), likes to stick his head out the car window, and chases lizards like a pro. We couldn’t be prouder.

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What’s one piece of advice you would tell someone looking to get a dog?
Having a dog isn’t always the fun, happy moments posted on Instagram. There’s a lot of hard work involved behind the scenes, like carving out time every day for walks, play and training, no matter how busy life gets. The companionship of a dog is one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences a person can have in life.

Thank Jen! For more of Jen + Hoku, visit their Instagram @HelloHoku, or their blog hellohoku.com.

Tulum, Mexico

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Tulum was such a treat to visit. Everyone has been calling it was the Williamsburg of Mexico, but I found it to be more like the Venice Beach (LA) of Mexico.  It definitely has more of a west coast hippie vibe. The town of Tulum is still very undeveloped and authentic feeling, which we loved. The main path/road where all the boutique hotels and restaurants are located is nestled into the jungle. Most of the spas/retreat centers/little hotels face the sea. The shops on the main path are all hip and modern, but with a hippie flare. Lots of yoga and meditation-centric spots. It’s easy to see why people come here for that…on the land side you’re surrounded by jungle, and on the sea side you’re looking out at beautiful blues of the Caribbean sea. We loved how it wasn’t developed like other parts of Mexico.  While we were there we walked along the path stopping into each of the little shops, walked on the beach, smelled the perfumes at Coqui Coqui, had a drink or three, and ate dinner under the stars at Casa Banana. Right now (late summer 2015), there is a seaweed overgrowth problem in the water which gives the water a brownish tint and washes seaweed onto the beach with the tide every day. I was glad we moved around while we were in Mexico, first flying into Cancun and spending time at Isla Mujeres where the water was amazingly blue and seaweed-free, then staying in Playa del Carmen, just a few miles North of Tulum, where the water wasn’t as bad.

If we had more time, I would have loved to visit some of the Mayan ruins nearby. Everyone says to go to Coba (about a 15 minutes drive southeast of Tulum), because the ruins are large and the only ones in the region you can still climb on. The Tulum ruins are smaller, but next to the ocean and supposedly beautiful as well. We were too focused on swimming and diving this trip, but…next time! I would have also liked to have had dinner at Hartwood since everyone has been raving about it, but it was closed until November. After visiting Tulum, we came back to our hotel in Playa del Carmen and enjoyed our last night there. In the morning we packed up and got on our flight back to San Francisco. Mexico was a great time and I can’t wait to go back again!

In Tulum:

Where to stay: Coqui Coqui, Papaya Playa

Where to eat: Casa Banana, Hartwood

Where to drink: Gitano (Mezcal bar)

Shops to check out: Bendito, Mr. Blackbird, Coqui Coqui boutique, La Troupe, La Llorona

Places to play: Coba ruins (a short drive from Tulum, only ones you can still climb on), Tulum ruins, Gran Cenote, Dos Ojos Cenote

Giveaway: Geninne’s Art

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As you likely know by now, I love dogs.  And today I’m happy to host a giveaway for an awesome dog person and artist (who has quite the following!), Geninne Zlatkis. Geninne creates amazing watercolor, ink and pencil drawings, as well as carves her own stamps. She even wrote a book about it! She lives a dreamy life in Santa Fe with her husband, two boys, and dog. Earlier this year she lost her sweet border collie, Turbo at just six years old. My heart (and her many, many fans hearts) broke with her. Jack is six, so it especially hit home. From one herding dog lover to another, I knew I had to reach out and befriend her and I’m glad I did! I love following along and seeing her updates from her studio. While all her art is lovely, I especially love the coyote/dog drawings and stamps she does. Recently, a new little pup started popping up in her photos…a heeler puppy they adopted from their local shelter. They named him Zorro because he looks like a fox. So sweet!

Geninne was kind enough to offer two prints to one lucky Wildlandia reader! A coyote print + bird watercolor. To enter, leave a comment in the comment section, or on our Instagram and I’ll choose a winner later this week. For more of Geninne’s art, you can visit her online shop, here. And for more of Zorro, you can follow along on Instagram. Good luck and thanks Geninne!

 

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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After spending time on Isla Mujeres and swimming with whale sharks, we headed down the road to Playa del Carmen, just about 40 minutes away from Cancun. The roads looked just like they would in the US, except for the speed limit signs being in kilometers and there being federales (Mexican police) stations you have to drive through every 10 or so miles.

We got into Playa del Carmen in the early afternoon and checked into the newly renovated Grand Hyatt. It was so hip! War on Drugs were playing over the speakers in the hotel lobby as we walked up, and they were readying the place for Volkswagon to debut their 2016 car models. I was immediately drawn to the large whale shark art on one of the walls. We went up to our room, played with the mood lights and made a drink from the mini bar, then put on our bathing suits and checked out the infinity pool over looking the ocean. So pretty! A few pina coladas later and we decided to head back to get ready for dinner. We walked one street over to 5th Avenue, the traffic-less street with all the little shops and restaurants. Playa is the cutest damn town. It’s not majorly developed like Cancun, but has more of a local feel to it. We decided on La Parrilla for dinner, a local favorite that everyone kept recommending to us. We sat upstairs on the balcony that over looked the street below and had fresh guacamole and chips, fajitas, and this amazing mexican coffee liquor drink they made for us for dessert. A mariachi band played in the background while we talked to our waitor and found out he had lived in San Francisco for 8 years…in the Mission, just a few streets over from us. He said he loved SF, but liked the weather in Playa more. We all agreed he was right about that.

The next day we set off to find two cenotes (sink holes). First we went to Cenote Azul, a series of shallow pools with the most beautiful blue waters. We took snorkel gear and looked at  the fish and caves, then Trey did back flips off the rocks into the water. Huge iguanas chilled on the banks surrounding the pools, and along the paths. Next we went to Cenote Dos Ojos, which was my favorite. There were stalactites and bats in this one. We swam around for an hour or so, finding coins and seeing how deep we could dive on one breath.

That night we had dinner at Alux, this restaurant inside a cenote. The water was all around us and then a huge thunderstorm came and we had to run inside. It was exciting. We ordered a couple more margaritas and waited out the storm. As we were walking back to the hotel, we passed a bar with live music. We popped in, ordered some mojitos, and kept the night going. As a joke, I bought this Happy Birthday button off Amazon a few years back because it has a blue heeler (like Jack) on the front of it wearing a birthday hat. Ever since it has made an appearance on our birthdays, whether we want it to or not. Haha. This year wasn’t any exception. Before leaving for Mexico, I tucked it away in my bag. I brought it out while we listened to the live music and we had a good laugh.

“Go stand in front of that heart mural right now!” I half-yelled at Trey, pushing him towards the wall
“Why!?” he asked
“Because I love you now do it!”
He did. Then I took a picture of him to have proof of birthday button-wearing and we made our back to our hotel room. The next day we would check out Tulum…

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Tom Boy Style / 03

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Right now there’s a pile of dirty clothes overflowing the hamper that’s giving me the stank eye from across the room. In a few days it will turn into a pile of clean, unfolded laundry that will get picked through for a day or two before finally being put away. I know, magic. Please hold your applause. And whaddyaknow, this outfit was a gem of a hamper dive find. Just keeping it classy over here today. I like to think it screams Jackie from That 70s Show plays a pick-up game of baseball with the gang.  Also, what’s black and white and cute all over? Keeper. She knows so many tricks now! I’ll have to do a video soon to show what she knows. I can’t believe my little puppy is 9 months old!

 

Baseball Tee: Camp Collection / Flares: H&M (similar) / Shoes: PONS