When I started blogging I had a good idea and some quality writing and design skills. But I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know what SEO or alt tags were. I had no idea where to find a tribe, or even what I tribe was, really. I didn’t understand Pinterest or even any social media or its impact. You get the idea. But I’ve learned. And I am learning. Every time I press publish, I learn. Every day I discover something new that makes my blog a little better, the reach a little wider.
And there are so so many blogging resources on the Internet that I’ve learned from, and some that I haven’t learned from. But I do know that the most important and very best blogging resources come from other bloggers, the ones in the trenches themselves, that have been through what I’ve been through and face the same challenges that I face.
So this month is all about blogging. How to get started. What to do when your stuck. What do you need to know about design, photography, writing, code, plug ins, video, conferences, and more. And because I don’t know it all myself, I’ve asked some of my very best blogging friends to come and help me out for these 30 Days. Look for posts from bloggers at Mommy of a Monster and Twins, Mama Bub, Hearts and Laserbeams, It’s Fitting, Natalie Chiles, Chaos and Love, No Sleep Till College, Wendy Nielsen: Writing a New Story, Beloved Atmosphere, Fresh Mom, With Just a Bit of Magic, and Froggy and the Mouse. And check out their blogs. These are some of the stars on my Feedly blog feed. I love them all. I’ll be around this month too to chime in on some things that I know well.
But these 30 Days wouldn’t be complete without me learning and doing something myself and because of some recent technical glitches with my site and possibly of an out-of-date template, this month, I’ll be working on my own blog redesign and update. I’ll be posting photos of my progress on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, in case you want to follow along or give me feedback along the way. And I hope that the new design will go live by the end of the month.
Can I tell you how much I adore this shelter dog?
Since we adopted her two months ago, Molly has become our newest family member. She helps me make dinner. She wait for the kids at the front window. She rids shot gun in the car. She gives kisses and hugs. She’s sweeter than sweet, and we feel lucky that she’s here. But we’re taking our time getting to know each other, and that’s really the way it should be.
- I’m getting to know Molly’s personality. That she loves under her chin and neck scratched. How she hates to go outside when it’s raining or cold, how she doesn’t eat her dinner all at once-even when it’s soaked in chicken stock, how she won’t lie in bed if even one of her toys is in it. I could go on, but it’s sweet to know her personality, and to know the more comfortable she is her, the more Molly shines.
- And this dog has some quirks, and I love every one of them. And I found out on Thanksgiving that she doesn’t like green beans. She pulled them out of her bowl, dropped them on the floor, and went on eating the rest of her turkey and mashed potatoes.
- The training takes time. Molly graduates from her GROWL class on Wednesday night, but I know we’re just getting started with the training. I’m sure her anxiety will be something we’ll need to work on for a while. But it’s very much like teaching my kids manners, the dog and I have to learn how to work together.
- There are so many homeless pets in the world. And rescue pups make quality, loyal, and beautiful pets. I am so glad we looked to Pet Helpers, the local no-kill shelter, first when we decided to adopt a dog.
- And while it’s not Molly-related, I learned that Pinterest pins sometimes fail. It’s a good lesson to learn, and it makes my dreams of a Pinterest-life feel a little more grounded.
It’s been a wonderful and valuable month for my family. Taking the time to stop and get to know our new pet better will make us better pet owners overall. And we look forward to a long and happy lifetime with Molly.
Molly is a good dog. I don’t want this post to make you think any differently. But when we adopted her, she was already full grown. She already had some habits and quirks set in that we probably wouldn’t have trained her to do, if she’s been ours as a puppy. She loves to dig in my planters and behind the garage. Her favorite to spot to nap is on the couch. And, maybe the biggest issue, she has some major anxiety around other dogs, especially on a leash. Puppy school is our solution.
Molly was already in training with Jennifer at Fetch, who relies on a positive approach that rewards the good behavior rather than punishing the bad, which I appreciate. And in the GROWL class, Molly is working on her leash anxiety.
Here is what happens, and Jennifer calls this going over her “threshold.” When Molly sees another dog she stops. Her ears go back and she might jump straight up. And then the barking starts, and Molly will bark and jump, bark and jump until she’s removed from the situation. It’s not aggression. I swear. She’s not trying to fight. It’s a fear-based reaction, according to Jennifer. So we’re working from that perspective.
Molly wears her Thunder Shirt to class. We meet three other dogs with the same issues in a different location every week. And the dogs never touch, but they are near enough to each other to trigger their reactions. And Molly reacts. But here are some basic commands we’re working on.
- “Watch me.” When I give this command, Molly must maintain eye contact with me. I usually hold a treat near my face, for a little extra incentive, and Molly can stand or sit, but she has to keep her eyes on me. The thought is that she’ll be distracted by the food and loose her desire to react to whatever is nearby. We’re working on this.
- “Find It.” This really speaks to Molly’s food drive. When I say “Find it,” Molly knows I’ve dropped something super delicious on the ground for her to eat. I typically leave a trail of yummys that lead her away from the dog or cat or whatever else is pushing her over her threshold.
- “Sit. Stay.” While this isn’t a command unique to the GROWL class, we’re working on it with a twist. It’s used another dog is approaching, especially off leash. I’m supposed to quickly put Molly in a “Sit. Stay” and step in front of her so my back is to her. Then I can bribe her with treats while thwarting off the other dog. And yes, this totally feels like self sacrifice, and would go against my gut instinct. But as long as I have a good treat, Molly seems perfectly content to sit behind me.
- Emergency U-Turns. This one isn’t a command; it’s an action that we can take when we’re walking and facing a situation that we need to get out of faster than fast. It is just what it sounds like: we quickly turn around and start moving in the other direction. Of course, it works better with a short leash and plenty of good treats in hand. But Molly doesn’t mind following me, which is a good start.
We have a ways to go. But I knew we were making progress when Molly decided to lay down on the floor while a group of strange dogs took turns walking toward her in class two weeks ago. We graduate one week from today, so that’s something to be proud of. Now if I could just figure out how to keep her out of my vegetables.