Happy 2016

Firstly, an apology for not updating for a hundred years. Some things happened around September of last year and I got very distracted, and somehow weeks turned to months.

Secondly, Happy 2016! It’s a brand new year and we would like to make a fresh start of it all.

The start of the year is a great time to make new year resolutions, and it’s also a good time to recap. Given that I slacked off about half of 2015, doing a recap is a way for us to summarize the time we neglected to update.

2015 wasn’t exactly a super smooth year for us. But I would say it’s a good year.

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Jan: QQ meeting up with his Mom and Sis on the first day of the year!

We started 2015 with the last few days of our epic Winter Road Trip. We took January easy because we were still recovering from the road trip and mostly went for familiar hikes.

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Feb: Exploring the green hills of Ed Levin Park.

In February we started doing more stuff on the weekends. We went biking in Alameda for the second time. You can read about our first experience here.   We also explored a new park in Milpitas, Ed Levin Park. We really like this park because it’s filled with rolling green hills and wildflowers. It reminded us that we should start exploring new places instead of always going to the same places.

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March: The dogs enjoying Carmel’s marvelous weather and coast

March was an eventful month. We went to see Somi’s puppies and also did several waterfall hikes. We also did a short getaway to Carmel. Overall a very exciting month!

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April: Haku, Chyler and QQ at John McLaren Park

In April, Haku came to stay with us for a week so QQ had an active playmate. We went to the city for one weekend. We discovered yet another new off leash park, John McLaren Park.

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May: Paddleboarding with QQ!

May was the first time QQ was diagnosed with patellar luxation, which was a huge bummer. We fostered another Japanese Spitz, Tailz for a week. He was a little shy at first but soon played with QQ. We took the dogs to a new park and I took QQ on a paddleboard for the first time, achievement unlocked!

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June: QQ enjoying life on a houseboat

In June, the doggies’ grandparents came for a 3 week visit. The dogs were super happy because they got to go out pretty much everyday. Grandma did not like dogs and was quite adamant about not playing with the dogs at first, but soon couldn’t resist the doggies’ cuteness. The whole family went and lived on a houseboat for 3 days! We also went to Corgi Con, which was amazing fun.

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July: QQ at the bayland park

July was a lot more sedate than June. This was partly because we did so many activities in June when entertaining the grandparents, and partly because we noticed QQ’s reactivity was getting worse. It got to the point that we did not like to take him out to busy places, and stuck to places that are a lot more quiet. We found a bayland park that is relatively unvisited by other dog walkers and went there quite often.

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Aug: Chyler’s woebegone face after getting a face wash after she got peed on by QQ is a very apt look for August

In August, QQ’s reactivity showed no improvement. This was a very disheartening and difficult period. We had to keep QQ crated when visitors come. When taking him out for a walk, he barked and lunged at every passing dog, and occasional cat.  Because QQ is the center of our lives, this caused a great deal of stress in the family. This is a major reason why I stopped blogging. We were so unhappy I didn’t know what to write about.

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Sept: QQ getting a birthday kiss from Chyler

September was QQ’s 2nd birthday and we celebrated it with a long hike in Half Moon Bay. September was also the month that we decided that we are going to send QQ for training bootcamp. We previously talked to many trainers of a great variety. Some outright told us that they don’t think QQ can be “fixed” and we can only greatly restrict his activity and keep him mostly indoors. Some said we have to muzzle him for life whenever we take him out. The trainer we finally decided on doesn’t use positive reinforcement. I wasn’t fully comfortable with her training methods, but I followed her closely for six months and saw the testimonials and successes she got. And truthfully, I thought she was QQ’s last chance for a “normal” life. So we sent QQ to her for 3 weeks in September.

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Oct: QQ at the beach on the day life finally returned to normal!

We got QQ back in early October, but the 2nd part of the training bootcamp continued at home. For two weeks, we were supposed to only run training commands with QQ in home. After not seeing our baby for three weeks, we were not allowed to show any affection to him at all. I can honestly say that these weeks of training is the hardest and most depressing part of my entire life. I was stressed and sad and every day felt dreadful. Thankfully it was all worth it. QQ’s reactivity greatly reduced. We could walk by dogs and QQ looks towards us for guidance instead of barking and lunging. We started with controlled leashed walks in neighborhood parks for 2 weeks after the 2 weeks of in home training, and then graduated to off leash parks. There’s a off leash park nearby where we stopped going because QQ goes crazy whenever he sees a dog there, we can now visit with no incident. QQ remains calm when he sees passing dogs! Halloween was the day QQ “graduated” (a term the trainer used to say we can return to normal life after the 7 weeks of training) and we celebrated by going to the beach!

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Nov: The dogs at the peak after a hike in snow

Life basically returned to normal in November, but we still took it easy. We only visited familiar places, we also slowly began “reclaiming” places we used to visit but stopped after QQ got too reactive. Towards the end of the month, we slowly started venturing into uncharted lands and visited places we’ve not been before. The highlight of the month was Thanksgiving, where we took the dogs to Tahoe so they can play in the snow!

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Dec: Four dogs at the beach!

December was a crazy busy month. I planned so many hiking trips for the two weeks of holidays. We also started doing longer hikes. In the beginning of the year, we usually did 2 hours maximum. In December, we started extending the hikes to 4 hours and completed 7-8 miles! We explored new places. For 1 week of the holidays, we also dog sat for a 8 month old standard sized American Eskie, which was a lot of fun but also not easy! Haku came for a 2 day visit during the period as well, so for 2 days, there was 4 dogs in the house! We also did a 2 day getaway to nearby Gualala. The year definitely ended with a bang!

And now it’s 2016, a brand new year. I usually don’t make new year resolutions, mostly because I’m so bad at keeping them. This year, I think instead of new year resolutions, I think I’ll make new year “hopes” – resolutions  of sorts, goals I’ll try to work towards and hopefully keep.

  1. To continue working on QQ’s reactivity. He improved greatly but he’s still not “friendly” or entirely relaxed. We can still feel him tensing up when he sees an unfamiliar dog on leash. He looks towards us now for guidance, but I want to continue working so that he can be more relaxed and walk by dogs without batting an eyelash.
  2. Work on getting Chyler to pass the Good Canine Citizen test and perhaps even certified as a therapy dog. This has been on the to-do list for awhile. Chyler is incredibly mellow and we feel that she would do well as a therapy dog. We’ve been so focused on QQ that we put this on the back burner. But I hope to at least at her to pass the GCC test this year.
  3. Explore more new places and take the dogs swimming at Tahoe in the summer. We found a couple of good dog friendly beaches when we visited Tahoe during Thanksgiving. Seeing as the beach was covered in snow and the water was freezing, swimming wasn’t really an option. But we want to go back in summer and try to see if we can really get the dogs swimming! Teaching QQ to swim has been a goal of ours for awhile, and perhaps this is the year we can do it! I’m also hoping we continue doing longer 7-8 miles hikes instead of going back to the short hikes we used to do.

I’ll also try my best not to abandon our blog for 2016. Thank you if you are still reading and may all of us have a wonderful year!

 

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