Curious dogs are Gordon Setters. They very much love to explore their world, right noticing every little thing.
My garden plan not only took them into consideration, they were able and are the reason for many of the elements. I wanted them to have fun in their yard, have interesting things to sniff and look at, while also creating a more hospitable space for them so they could enjoy time outdoors, even in the summer Vegas heat (within reason of course). It brings me joy to see them happy and enjoying their home. ☺️
Here they are in around and about in the yard or, as the overall plan in the yard is for it to be mainly edible, I like to call it all my garden.
Fruit trees that I wanted were planted 2 feet away from the wall to allow the dogs to go completely around the tree, while also using them as pee posts. ☺️ A win for all of us!
Grass in the desert is a big one. Yes, I love grass too but would I be so determined to grow it otherwise? Even in the dead of summer it NEVER gets to hot for 🐾 and it drops the air temperature around 10-15°.
Shade! This one was huge for me too. Now that the trees are growing I am really seeing and feeling the benefit. You don’t even have to be sitting in the shade, it just creates a cool, welcoming space.
And Gordons can find any sliver of shade in the yard. Lol.
I was excited to plant our first tree- an Elm. It was a huge hit right from the start!
Note where they are laying…☺️
And then there’s Elly May – our sunshine girl 😍
They all love their veggies and will raid a tomato 🍅 right off the vine, without even damaging the plant or you even knowing it was there.
Ian is already claiming the garden as his space. Lol.
Now that the resident rat 🐀 has moved on the boys are back to their very gentle, trainable selves and are enjoying time with me in the garden, staying on the paths as they sniff away looking for ripe veggies.
Every morning there is a crush to get outside. I barely am allowed time to put on a robe and use the restroom before opening the door for the dogs to go out and greet the day.
Larkin grabs his toy and waits by the back door. He runs out and goes straight to “his” corner of the grass or his bed and lays down, holding the toy in his mouth. Doesn’t even make usage of a pee post first.
THIS is his happy place. He will lay there for an hour or two. Sometimes he’ll get up and move from one spot to the other, or change out the toy he’s holding but then he settles right back down and enjoys his morning.
Since I began this project with my pack, so much has changed. Today the changes really struck me as I was getting dinner ready so I decided it was time to plug back into this blog and share an update.
It became clear pretty early on that my original 60 day timeline was not going to be sufficient. There were, and still are, so many elements I wanted to address and to know what is or isn’t working takes time and not making too many changes all at once.
It’s all turned out for the best really and I’m grateful to be on this journey with them. It’s been both very rewarding and extremely challenging.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
Yup, I can confirm the truth of that quote. LOL
We ended up changing our vacation plans for this month and enjoyed a wonderful Staycation. Meaning, as it related to this project, that we didn’t need to be concerned about a pet sitter or boarding.
The trigger for this blog post in particular is Ian. When last I blogged about him, he’d been having his usual meltdown at mealtimes and I’d just spent over 2 hours listening to the boy cry and whine uncontrollably while waiting for him to recover his wits so I could feed him.
Well, the very next day we had what could only be called a breakthrough! All the sudden he had awareness in his eyes and I could see he was trying very hard to please me and stay present in the moment. Breakfast went so smoothly I was in shock really.
I’d intended to sit down and document the moment so…..though it’s 6 weeks later, here I am. Ian has continued to make progress, although setbacks have definitely been part of it all too. Tonight was definitely the former.
Here he is, with 4 bowls full of food on the counter right above him:
THIS is a a cause for celebration! This moment makes me so proud. My heart is filled with love and joy. He did it! He was so quiet I honestly didn’t know he was there at first. Time froze as I looked at him and he looked back….until I was snapped out of it as the thought hit to grab my phone and document the moment. 🤣
While giving Nicklas his bowl, (he goes first) Ian started to get excited and cry. I calmly got his attention, said “hey, that’s enough. You need to be quiet.” I slowly repeated ‘quiiiiiiet’ as he made eye contact and I could see the understanding in his eyes. He knows what Quiet means. Hoooray!
Now if I could only teach this word to Nicklas to stop him barking all the time, over every single little thing, I’d be in heaven…that, however, is a project for another lifetime I think.
I thought I had patience before, well I am almost zen like now in comparison. Haha. Honestly though, even as much as I’ve learned, I now know that I have barely tapped the surface of what Calm, Patience and Kindness feel and look like. Ian has loads yet to teach me. As long as he’s game, so am I!
Meal prep is tough. My limit is now 2 hours (preferably way less!) of looking, touching and smelling raw meat and I think that’s more than long enough to ask Ian to handle for now as well. I’m strategically buying food in smaller batches and trying to get prepackaged portions instead of a huge 40lb box I have to portion out (with all watching) and put in the freezer.
Baby Gates. Keeping the dogs away from underfoot has given me some much needed space to maneuver and keeps peace amongst the boys as they aren’t able to jostle for pole position in case of droppings.
Laying down. Heads hanging over the gates or Larkin laying down in front of the gates blocking access (and guarding) wasn’t working so all 3 boys have ‘the spot’ they wait in. Putting them back into position again and again and again (remember that patience I’ve been learning?) is one area where I am still challenged. Them having a job, laying down close to each other, staying and being quiet, works to keep them out of trouble and me less stressed. One day I dream they will know, and believe, I mean it when I say “Stay”.
Elly has been included in this process, if she’s not in the bedroom sleeping.
Snoods now go on one at a time as they each get their bowl. Seeing snoods was a real trigger to start the excitement and noise making so this shift was a great help.
Meditating. I don’t know who it helps more, me or them but I DO know that there is better balance in the pack and they have greater patience with each other on the days I meditate. I’d like to increase the % of days I meditate versus those I don’t. Are the effects cumulative? That’s the question I want to answer.
Exercise. This is a work in progress and deserving of it’s own blog. I’m excited for my new mindset!
I think that’s all for now. It’s more important that I publish this quickly than my not leaving out any details. I can always edit or address in a future blog post.
It was a fun and enlightening time this morning as I was feeding the dogs.
I’ve been reading The China Study and today as I looked at their bowls I was struck by how very different they are from us humans.
The animal products (meat, diary, eggs) that create the “diseases of affluence” (heart disease, cancer, diabetes) in humans do the exact opposite for our dogs. A raw meat (whole animal) diet as they’d eat in the wild creates health, vitality, longevity and a zestful life in our dogs.
It’s easy to forget they were once wild animals that we domesticated to bring into our lives and homes. They may love being part of our pack (family), find fulfillment in doing work for us, and depend on us to feed and care for them but we certainly haven’t bred their internal animal design out of them. Left on their own, dogs would revert to the wild. That really hit home today for me.
So why do we, as the general population, feel it’s okay, appropriate and even healthy, to feed them a dead diet filled with ‘by products’ and filler ingredients (beet pulp, grains…) they would never eat in the wild and their digestive system can’t even process? And what about a vegan diet? Seriously?! No matter they live with people, they are still carnivores, not herbivores (deer, cattle), and to me respect for life means we honor their amazing design by feeding a species specific diet.
It makes me sad ? to see otherwise.
Wolves don’t get cancer. It’s only a human and domestic animal disease. Hmmm….rather curious, don’t you think? ??
Cancer is not a mutant gene ? we need to eradicate, it’s our bodies way of telling us we are not in balance and we need to get stronger. Same for our dogs.
How do we bring back balance?
Food. Exercise. Rest. Love. Surrounding, us and our dogs, with life force energy.
So as I prepared the meal for my pack today I was grateful for the life force I was giving to them. You know how they say never cook when you’re angry as you’ll transfer the negative energy to those who eat the food you’ve prepared? And how Ayurvedic medicine says to only touch your food with love?
That was me. I may personally find it difficult to handle raw meats and the thought of non-meat eating me actually having to prepare and eat it myself….?…
But when I take “me” out of equation and change my perception I can look at this food, this meat, as LIFE and everything I want to give my dogs. ? So yes, handling it brings me JOY! Compartmentalizing is a beautiful skill my brain is becoming adept at. ?
I love how a simple diet change for Nicklas, to feed him more Gounding & Cooling meats, has made SUCH a difference in his energy, happiness and peace. Still high energy and don’t even think about skipping morning play time with the balls ?? but there is a feeling of Ease in him now. ??
So as I added pork heart, beef liver, chicken, pork, eggs, beef, green tripe and the toppers of blended apples, Turmeric powder and fresh chopped garlic to their bowls I was thankful and yes, I was feeling Joy.
I have more changes still to make as I bring harmony and greater health to my gang but I’m seeing progress and feeling well on my way!
Tonight, for whatever crazy reason, I decided I would tackle Ian’s out of control excitement, crying and anxiety when it comes to meal times.
I tried putting gates up so they were not underfoot by the food; I tried making him lay down; I tried a spray bottle; I tried saying “no”; I tried holding his face staring into his eyes to see if I could shake him out of it; I tried calmly praising him the brief moments when he was quiet; I ignored him; I put him in another room; I crated him; I tried to put snoods on before getting out the food bowls;…nothing worked.
Mealtime is clearly where Ian has challenges and his poor energy spills over to Larkin who growls at him, Nicklas who starts to copy him and Elly who wakes up from her nap and runs out excitedly barking causing them all to bark. A madhouse!
I’m so happy they all love their food now and have healthy appetites but OMG, the craziness needs to stop.
Tonight, I fed everyone else one at a time as they were all happily calm, having listened to me and received praise for patiently waiting, sitting nicely and putting on their snoods with good manners. After they each finished eating, I sent them outside leaving only Ian who was running around, spinning circles and being loudly vocal, knowing it was finally his turn as there was only one bowl left. ??♀️ (sigh…)
He finally quieted down a bit, although still anxiously breathing, but every time I reached for his snood he would lose it and start howling again.
Nothing I was doing was working, I was getting frustrated and that’s not helpful. At my wit’s end with how to help him, I walked away and sat down in the library to meditate. I did it for me. I know it’s not the right time for the dogs to expect them to participate in a meditation when it’s mealtime, playtime or bio break times but goodness, I had nothing else left to try so as a last resort I wanted to calm ME down.
Ian escalated his efforts, coming over to shrilly bark and cry right into my face, rattling my ears, all while I had my eyes closed and was “meditating”.
Determined to ignore him (that was certainly a challenge!) I persisted and after finally starting to feel more centered and able to be kind, I stopped meditating, opened my eyes, gently grabbed Ian’s cheeks and firmly said No.
He eventually laid down at my feet where I decided I was going to stay sitting and watch a documentary while I waited him out. He got quiet after some time passed but if I made a move to get up, he’d immediately start excitedly crying.
At some point, now over 2 hours since I’d first started prepping their dinner, he moved to the couch and curled up.
After a few minutes, I calmly and ever so slowly got up and walked to the kitchen, all the while not looking at him. He followed and calmly sat there looking at his food bowl on the counter. I looked at him then and when he looked back at me I wanted to jump for joy! My handsome boy was looking back at me, making a connection. The crazy man who was out of his mind was gone.
We had a few tiny hiccups with the snood but he quickly got it this time, that he had to be quiet ?. He kept eye contact with me the whole time as I smiled and praised him for being quiet. Snood was on!!!
I turned to grab the bowl, expecting the howling to start but though he followed the bowl, he kept his manners, was politely excited to see his bowl coming, sat down in ‘his spot’ and quietly waited for the “ok” after I had put the bowl down.
What a shift! Hallelujah ?
THIS was my handsome gentleman, Ian, that I love and the Ian I feel like I lose at every mealtime. A Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
It was such a joy I felt inside and such a beautiful moment.
2 1/2 hours later and dinner is finished! ?
Was is the meditation? Ignoring him? Leaving the kitchen? Him being alone with me? My not giving in or giving up? All of the above?? I don’t know. All I can say, I’m documenting this for posterity so I can remind myself and I hope we had a breakthrough tonight as I’m not ready for another marathon at breakfast. ?
The wisdom of Ayurveda teaches that the highest levels of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being can be achieved through the application of ancient principles of healing to restore your body to it’s natural state of balance. Bringing balance to my pack is what this project is all about! How do you know if YOUR pack is balanced? Or maybe it’s you that is out of balance? Some questions for self/pack assessment can be found in this blog post.
We, along with all of nature, are made up of the 5 elements – Earth, Water, Air, Space and Fire. The combinations are expressed in energies, or Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. This article goes into more detail.
What’s that got to do with my Gordons, you may be wondering? Dogs have Doshas too! The even cooler part is that you can bring balance to each type of dosha with nutrition.
I have dreams of Ian and Larkin being like this all the time when they are together.
To that end, I’m going to be testing out how their behavior is effected by adjusting their foods, based on what I learn about each of their doshas.
First, I needed to identify the dosha combinations for each of my dogs and then looking into their imbalances and the associated foods I can feed them.
Using a Dog Quiz and Behavior Characteristics documents I got a copy of from animal relationship expert, Jamie Lee, I’ve arrived at these doshas:
Nicklas – Vata / Pitta
Ian- Kapha / Pitta
Larkin – Kapha / Pitta
Elly – Vata / Pitta
4 dogs with the secondary dosha of the Fire element. Which is where Ian’s intensity, Elly’s spunk, Nicklas’ determination and Larkin’s strength all come from. Also makes sense why they push each other’s button, lol, especially the 2 boys whose doshas match – Ian & Larkin.
I will probably look into this a little more to quadruple verify. I get that first impressions are usually correct but this is all new to me so I want to be as sure as I can to know I can trust the results I get from my “experiment”. Up to this point it’s making a lot of sense but if anything changes, I’ll be sure to come back and update!
Because of having identified their doshas, I can next look at how each combination shows up with their characteristics and what those imbalanced behaviors look like. Here it is by dog:
Nicklas – anxiety, worry and over active mind
Ian – aggression and withdrawing when sad
Larkin – aggression, needy
Elly – Fear, confusion
Wow, yup this still makes sense. I could easily identify which was the imbalanced behavior they have simply by looking at a list of them organized by dosha. Very interesting!
Next I need to read up on those dosha combinations and the foods associated with bringing balance. For example, I know that meats are known as cold, warm or neutral. Which is which and which is for which imbalance? Lol. I’ll share what I discover in a future blog!
The days of feeding 4 identical meals may be over….uh oh…
The days run together when I let too much time go by between posting, oh well, I’m not losing sleep over it. 😂😉 That would defeat the purpose now wouldn’t it? 😜
Here are some highlights:
•I’ve proven that meditating IS helping as the days I haven’t done so, everyone has been a little out of sorts, me included. Regardless of the time of day I do it, a simple 10 minute time out works wonders. And we’re only inconsistently just getting started. Imagine when I get good at it and the gang learns the routine?!
•I love the simplicity of the Joshin Kokyu Ho meditation but I’m ready to branch out and add a second one into my repertoire.
•Larkin’s pattern of going out of his way to growl at the other 2 boys after eating makes meditating then a challenge. It works, IF I can get everyone settled but trying to sit down, get comfy and relaxed myself while also holding onto a squirming Larkin’s collar to stop him running off to stir up trouble…🤦🏼♀️ is not setting us up for success. I decided to try something new.
Larkin most often (99.9% of the time) finishes eating first, though he gets his food after the two older boys. Always hopeful there is another bone or second helping waiting for them, as each boy finishes they race inside to the kitchen sink and lift their noses in the air – checking. Many times there IS indeed something else. 🙂
As Larkin runs in first I quickly close the door behind him, wipe his face as I take off his snood and then I gently escort him over to the carpet, have him lay down and tell him to STAY.
My new plan is to have him stay there and as Nicklas and Ian each came in I’ll do the same and have them join Larkin one at a time.
The first time I lost track of how many times I returned Larkin to his spot, ugh! but nobody was perfect. They all “forgot” at least a few times and would try to go find another napping spot.
I remained calm and patient, after pausing a few times to remind myself. I finally released them a while later when they were chill, relaxed and staying in place. One by one they slowly moved away after my “ok” and found cozy places apart from each other where they all immediately curled up again and went to sleep. My plan worked! Peace, quiet and no growling.
I’m extremely pleased by the great response and plan to continue this new routine.
•Exercise has been lacking but I did manage to get Ian out on a little adventure to exercise his brain.
•Ball playing is now back on! I figure this is good practice for them too as it’s a ‘group’ play time. Well, except for Elly, as she doesn’t like to play ball. The boys get to experience lots of bodily contact and hopefully they will learn some manners and tolerance.
•Need to ramp up the exercise plan, especially while the weather is not hot, and set up a rotation for taking them out on walks and adventures. Solo trips for now.
Day 11 ~
•While out in the backyard, Nicklas started staring at Ian all wrong so right there and then I stopped what I was doing (working on my new veggie bed), corrected both, sat down between them and had them lay right there by me on the grass. Ian immediately relaxed into the meditation energy ⬇️
(hard to mistake the feeling in this face).
Nicklas however was up and loudly protesting – “No mom, I don’t WANT to lay down. I want to play ball. Throw it for me, NOW!”
Tough to stay focused to meditate when you can’t hear yourself think 🙄 but it at least changed the vibe – Ian was soaking it up, Larkin came over to hang out, note the leg in Ian’s face (smh), and Nicklas was back to his demanding self. Crisis averted 👍🏼
•Manners update – sitting and having to hold it till released before going outside, one at a time, is in progress. Whew, more patience is needed on my part! It IS helping though. Nicklas is no longer harassing Ian when they first go out. Another win! 👍🏼
It’s already the evening of Day 3 and things are starting to become blurry so I’m writing quickly to put something on “paper” before it blends in with the days that are ahead. ☺️
EHT supplement – Gave the boys each a half pill and Elly a third, with dinner.
10 minute Joshin Kokyu Ho meditation after feeding the gang breakfast.
Put snoods on ‘before’ getting the meat out as they are calmer then. Made everyone sit while putting on their snoods. Lots of “Shhhhh…ing” with my hand palm out in the “stop” sign, till everyone was relatively quiet. Lol.
Morning was busy with Kerwin and I both needing to leave the house together, so he was putting food together in the kitchen and I had still had wet hair. Larkin was doing his usual challenging growls after eating. I sat down anyway, said Let’s Meditate! and started deep breathing.
Larkin needed lots of my attention but finally settled down and at the end he was sweetly kneading his toy at my feet. Nicklas eventually stopped barking at me and curled up in the chair next to me. Ian went to his space on the couch once he couldn’t get to me because Larkin was hogging my lap. Elly was back in the bedroom, in her usual place on the bed.
Coming home that night the gang was overall much calmer, it was strange as I’d expected them to be wound up since they’d been alone all day. Dinner was a simple affair and everyone chilled on their own afterwards. Hmmm….nice.
EHT with breakfast as that was the boneless meal of the day and I mostly got away with hiding the pill in their food. 🙂
Probiotics – (This isn’t new but I’m calling it out for clarification purposes) I always split a packet of the same probiotics that Kerwin and I use between the 4 of them, once a day. They LOVE it and will gladly open their mouths as soon as they see me tear open a packet. But it’s much easier to sprinkle on their food as I’m sure you can imagine.
10 minute Joshin Kokyu Ho meditation.
Nicklas got a 2 minute walk with me out to the mailbox. I had the other 3 out in the backyard but when Nicklas entered the house, his energy was good.
It was Saturday and my morning was clear so we had a slow time of it, late breakfast as the meat was still frozen and lots of backyard time as it was a gorgeous, windy day. I decided to meditate outdoors in the sunshine, only making sure they were all out there with me but let them do their own thing. It was lovely!
Here is Larkin afterwards – it’s become his thing to be sweetly playful after I meditate, more puppyish – Cuteness reappears. 🥰 Elly, Ian and Nicklas were all lounging on the grass, awake and sniffing in the breeze but grounded and calm.
No morning meditation. Unexpected garden soil delivery, from the fabulous Tomato Lady, used up my available time.
Need to get some new balls so we can play in the morning as has been our routine. Nobody likes their all time favorite balls to be half chewed up. Thanks, Ian!
Meditated an hour or so after dinner as Larkin started getting grouchy.
It’s challenging to focus on meditating when you have a dog in your lap with his toy that he’s constantly licking. (Larkin!) My friend and animal relationship expert Jamie Lee tells me that licking is a sign of accepting meditation energy. Better the toy than my face, which he was doing when I first started meditating!
Always revved up and ready, Nicklas is looking mighty relaxed with those droopy eyes. 😍Woohooo!
Notice where Larkin’s toy is in the picture….🤦🏼♀️ One guess how it got there.
If you missed my Introductory post with the details on this project, you can find it here!
Part of my mission to be the healthiest I can be and live a vibrant, joyful life absolutely includes my dogs.
This new project is the next step in that journey. Organizing it as a Project helps me stay focused and documenting it for posterity allows it to help other dog owners and ensures I don’t forget.
On this path of health I recently drastically changed their diet, just as I’ve done mine, although in kind of the opposite way. 😋 I’ve stopped eating all meat, of all kinds, and now feed raw meat to my dogs. The change in their lives, brightness of eyes, energy, shiny coats….has been a joy to see! Nicklas has beaten the fatal diagnosis of Dilated Cardiomyopathy thanks to skilled emergency cardiology medicine AND the diet he now eats.
Now that revved up energy and happiness has changed the vibe in the house a bit, okay let’s be honest – a LOT. I’m feeling outnumbered by their pack energy. It’s time to step it up as Pack Leader and create some change, to ‘bring balance to the force’. 😉
Some of the things I want to address are:
The mad rush to get out the door, the first to go after the bird in the yard.
The jostling to be the first to make it through the bedroom door in the morning, even before me.
Craziness at meal times. Although it’s an incredible shift from when I had to beg and cajole Nicklas to even come sniff his bowl of kibble that he’d leave half-finished.
Larkin, the baby of the group, challenging Nicklas and Ian, especially Ian ALL THE TIME.
Nicklas and Ian able to walk peacefully together.
Dog(s) returning home are peacefully greeted by the pack so I’m able to take one dog out at a time for exercise and one on one time.
No jumping up, no matter how much they want to smell my lipstick or the day cream I’ve just put on.
Politely greeting guests that come over. Not bowling them over with their excitement to meet a new friend.
Ian’s intensity that destroyed the grass in the yard and my garden and his anxiety that sorely tests my patience.
Though it looks all like ‘dog’ items, I know it’s going to involve more of me and changes I make, then about them. I’ve created and enabled the energy in my pack and now it’s time to bring some grounding influences into my/our lives.
Why am I doing this?
Simple answer is – Peace. Harmony. Wellness. Love.
The longer answer is that stress, tension, uncontrolled energy, anxiety, jostling for position and power are all negative energy. Energy creates health or disease. I want, like I’m sure we all do, HEALTH. Our dogs die waaaay too young and I’m passionate to do what I can to change that. It’s not just the genes they were born with. Not by a long shot.
I don’t even know all that I’ll be doing yet. I’m open for new ideas and learning from others. Please share in a comment what you’ve done or learned to do with your dog(s) that has been beneficial. I’m open!
Here are a few things I know I’m going to look into. If you’re a little skeptical of the Eastern Medicine items, no worries let me be the guinea pig for you. 😛
Ayurveda. Did you know dogs have doshas too? There are even are specific foods that support each of the doshas to bring balance and wellness.
Meditation. As much as it kills me to slow down and be still I’m going to tackle this head on!
Yoga. I’m learning that the poses are only 1 piece of the larger whole, that is how you live and go through life. Ashtanga yoga sounds surprisingly right up my alley.
Training. Simple positive training hacks and GAMES that I can incorporate into our routine.
Reiki. This healing ‘art’ that uses energy is fascinating. I may not understand it and certainly can’t SEE it but I’ve seen how responsive my dogs are to it and for me, that’s all the “seeing is believing” I need.
Exercise. No, this one is definitely NOT for me. Lol. I see them running free in the desert while I calmly stroll along. 😉
Essential Oils. Supportive diffuser blends and ways to use different oils topically on each dog based on their needs.
EHT – Brain supplement. Dogs experience neural degeneration and dementia too. Who knows, it may help their ‘moods’ too, like it does for people.
And I still want to have a life outside of this project! 😂 I am planning for a 60 day course and will tackle one item at a time, making adjustments as I go depending on the results I get. By the end of these next 2 months, I hope to have fine tuned a system for us that works. 🙂
It really feels like a lonely journey I’m beginning, with many even vehemently opposed. Actually, I’ve been on this lonely road since I started saying No to vaccines and even more so since starting to feed raw. I’m not looking for confrontation but that being said, I feel I owe it to the 4 amazing dogs my husband and I have the honor to have in our lives and care for, those that came before them 💕💕and to all the dog moms and dads out there (aka owners) who are open to asking questions and long to have dogs with a better quality and even extended length of life – to not be silent, to bravely move forward.
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