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It's okay to have ME time S1 E7

Ziggy is turning into one heck of hiking partner. We hit the trails almost every day last week. Mostly just up back on Mollie's Trail. If you've been around awhile, you'll know that's our go-to trail for everyday fitness right out our front door. We named it after a dog we had years ago. I am still keeping the miles short for Ziggy, but we did have a couple days over three and a half miles. Most research says, not to work your puppy too hard, don't let them jump, and make sure they get plenty of rest. And of course, we do that. But some days, I wonder if those who wrote those guidelines every actually owned a puppy and if they did, it probably wasn't a cattle dog. It's hard to keep the pup down. My vet and one trainer said, "Just be smart." - yikes, that's me we're talking about - "You'll know what the right amount of exercise is for your pup if you observe closely." And they were right.

He doesn't seem to tire out though. We hike, we play, we train, we do brain games, and other dog-fun activities, and he still wants to go, go, go. We are very focused on what is best for Ziggy from the food he eats, to where he goes, to any plans we make and or have to cancel. It is to the point of almost being a fanatic. One look at our house and it is obvious where our attention lies. It is basically baby proofed, everything of importance is up off the floor. Dog toys litter the living areas, sticks, pinecones, and other natural elements have secretly found their way inside as part of the decor. I still don't know how he manages to get them into the house. I watch him like a hawk. I guess some days that hawk is blind.

I know it seems I keep talking about how "bad" Ziggy can be. He really is a great boy. Besides, this would be a boring read if all I talked about was what a great dog he is. After all, it is through the challenges of life that we learn the most, grow, and persevere.

This week, when I just couldn't play any more with him even though he was wired up, I had to crate him. He is my 667777 [If you are wondering why those letters are there in the middle of this sentence, the cat just walked across my MacBook.] I shall continue. Ziggy is my number one priority -within reason - right now. With that said, there are still things that need to be done, while other stuff can take a back seat. A few of those things are getting my gardens planted, fancying up the yard for a July wedding, and appointments. I felt so guilty when I closed the door to his crate and he wasn't tired. He went in willingly, I never have to force him in. But this time he didn't lie down and rest like normal. He sat up and watched me walk away and let out a little chirp. But I had to get some work done, As I closed the door to the house to go work in the gardens, I heard him bark louder. My heart sank, but before I reached the bottom step he quieted.

I am not an expert on anything, so information I pass on is purely just my own research, second hand info, or worse, my own opinion. Crate training is awesome. I personally feel it is the most responsible way to train a dog. It is not cruel, if done correctly. Dogs are den animals by nature, they feel secure in there. But that's not where they should spend most of their time. I read somewhere for puppies, they should only be crate-bound for the number of hours equalling the number of months they are old as a guide. So, Ziggy was 15 weeks old last week, almost four months. I decided I had just over three hours to work before it was Ziggy-time again.

When my gardening time was up, I swapped out my rubber boots, gloves, and mosquito net for my trail shoes, treat bag, and leash. It was time to entertain, train, feed, and play with Ziggy again. Three ours later I was exhausted. The nice and consistent schedule we had been on for weeks seemed to vanish into thin air. This new agenda went on most of the week. My brain, my body, and my attitude were worked over pretty good. But after that first day of deciding to crate him for ME-time, was the best thing I think I could have done for him and me.

It reminded me of several times throughout my life when I have gone and poured myself into something, whether is was work, volunteering, friends, family, or other. I gave and gave until I couldn't give any more, Not because I had to, but because I wanted to, just as in this case. I wanted Ziggy, he wasn't forced upon me. But just like then and just like now, it is important to have that me-time. Because we cannot do a good job tending to other's needs if we don't take care of ourselves.

The next day it was easier to crate him so I could do what needed to be done. I was very diligent of the time and made sure all of Ziggy's needs were met, up and beyond base level. I never do anything at base-level. But when he wanted more, I said, "No, not now, it's me-time" And yes, I really did speak that to him out loud. I worked as hard and fast as I could to be efficient. I set a goal of what I wanted to accomplish, sometimes it was chores and sometimes it was a nap. Either way, I strived hard to get 'er done. But the clock set the deadline and the dance between Ziggy-time and me-time beat on.

As we salsaed through the week from hikes, to training, to feeding, to hammock rests, and more our bonding continued. He is gaining confidence each day and testing his limits. I am also learning my limits and learning to set boundaries for him and myself. Who knew getting a puppy would teach and or remind me so much. I thought I was supposed to be training him. But it is always a great reminder to take care of oneself. We can't be much good to others if we are dragging @$$ and not functioning up to par.

My words of wisdom for you, courtesy of lessons from Ziggy, is to remember that you are important too and your needs are just as significant as the needs of those you are tending to.

Before I go, enjoy a few more adorable and probably way too many pictures of Prince Ziggy of Chillicothe.

Here we are on one of our hikes. We have a few rocks we stop and sit at. I bribe him with treats to sit calmly with me. Now every time we pass those rocks, he races up to sit on them and waits for me to arrive.

He is actually learning to use the potty-bell when he wants to go out. He tries to open the door by pulling on them. The middle picture is his kiddy pool No water, just toys and a food puzzle. Then the crate time so I could have me-time. When he is mad he gets under the pillow.

Oh look! He does sleep! I must have missed that day.

Thanks to our trainer for the tip. Fill the pool with empty bottles and toss in his kibble. It's a giant food puzzle.

He really is a cutie.

This last photo was actually taken this week, just today. There is some irony in this picture. He was very interested in the chickens. I used it as a training opportunity to reinforce the "Leave it" command. He did great. I said "Leave it!", he turned right to me and I feed him some high value treats I carry just for such occasions - cooked chicken pieces I made. HAHA!!!!!

Remember to take care of yourself!

Happy Hiking,

Emily and Ziggy


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