Friday, July 20, 2012

favorite thing friday (the halti and cesar millan)

To everyone who sent me a note regarding my post on Louie ... thanks.  


I've read all of them, even if I haven't yet had a chance to respond to all of them.  I'll admit, there has been a different "feel" in the air around here this week and I don't know if it's me, or him, or both of us. But I do know that I've waffled a lot between he's got to GO! and ... come on ... give him a chance.  I'm convinced there is a huge lesson that we could all learn from this experience. 

After several people wrote and recommended the Halti (or Gentle Leader) dog collars, I dashed out to the store to investigate. We tried one on Louie as we stood there in the dog aisle and the difference in him was immediate. Because you are leading the dog by the head, he doesn't pull, and the contraption is so much more humane than the metal choke collars. 

Even the kids can walk him now! 

So thank you, all of you lovely people whom I might never meet!!

If you have a dog and that dog pulls on leash or wanders ahead of you (which according to Cesar is a no, no), you need to look in to these collars. Note, they're much less expensive off the internet but I was in a rush and didn't do any research before I went to the pet store and now see that I spent twice as much ($19.98). Lesson learned! 

Now, in other news. 

Charlie had bought the Cesar Millan book, "Cesar's Way" a few months ago when we were struggling with housebreaking Louie and although I'd perused it here and there - I hadn't sat down and read the entire thing cover to cover. So that's where I've been this week. With my nose buried in a book written by an incredibly gifted man who illegally immigrated to this country, through San Diego County, more than 20 years ago.   

What it comes down to is this: every living thing projects energy. As human beings, we need to have calm and assertive energy and establish ourselves as the dominant "pack leader" in our home.  This doesn't mean that we are aggressive or cruel, it means that we are in control and we need to very calmly and kindly maintain that control.   Also, dogs are dogs: not little humans in fur suits. The fact that Louie went nuts on Sunday ... in retrospect is no big surprise to me, since the energy in our home was loud and crazy and then I go and swat him when he's licking butter off the counter and I proceed to yell at him while he's cowering under the table and ... seriously. 

What did I expect? 

Cesar makes a BIG deal about having calm energy in an environment, especially an environment with dogs.  Of course, when I read that I just kept thinking to myself, "How is that possible?!?!? HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE CALM ENERGY IN A HOME WITH SEVEN-YEAR-OLD TRIPLETS AND A FIVE YEAR OLD WHO THINKS HE'S THOR?"

Can you tell by my use of caps that I'm flabbergasted?

Here's a (not so) quick story that highlights an example. 

The kids are generally pretty good in the car. Probably because we've logged tens of thousands of miles with them and they're exceptionally good travelers.  However, a few months ago - at Christmas time, when we were driving home from the store one afternoon, the kids were yelling and screaming (or laughing and playing - same difference when you're navigating intense traffic) and all I wanted was a few moments of QUIET so I could focus on not hitting a bridge. I asked the children, several times, to please keep it down and play a game or just go to sleep. But the noise kept getting louder and louder and suddenly, I hit DEFCON 1 and morphed in to my mother. 

When I was growing up and we'd get rowdy in the car, my mother would pull over and put us out on the side of the road. (Actually, she never put me out because I was the baby and never did anything wrong. Ahem.). Once, she made my brother walk home. Granted, it was just up the street - but it had a lasting impression on all of us.  And then there was the time that she just turned her car off in the middle of the road and didn't even realize that she was parked on top of a railroad track and the railroad crossing guard had come down and snapped in two on top of the roof.  That is - she didn't realize it until the police officer came over and knocked on her window and asked her to get out and look at the broken crossing arm on top of the station wagon.  

So on this bright nearly Christmas day, when spirits should be jolly and bright, the kids have pushed me over the brink of reason.  Which is why I cranked the wheel to the right and pulled in to some totally random parking lot (a hotel it would appear) and I opened the doors of the van and ordered everyone to get OUT.  The children were perplexed as they looked at me and in their most innocent voices asked, "But why Mommy? Why do you want us to get out of the car?" And me, the mother who prayed and begged to God FOR YEARS for these little miracles, stared at my beautiful children and while my eyes twitched and my lip curled and I went completely out of my mind, I told them they had to get out because they had to WALK HOME.  Forget that they are seven years old and don't know where we live. Forget that it was winter and they were not dressed appropriately to walk 20 miles in the cold - even if we they knew where we lived.   

Suffice it to say, the children did get out the car, sat on a curb in the hotel parking lot and burst in to tears. Within a few minutes (yes, it actually took more than one) I felt like a monster - hugged them, swore I'd NEVER really leave them on the side of the road, loaded them back in the car, came home, drank egg nog and still feel guilt about it to this very day. 

HOWEVER. However! 

Whenever we're driving somewhere now and I get hit with a bout of the crazies, all I (usually) need to say is, "Do you want me to stop this car?" and they all quiet down because they know that I'm nuts enough to do it.  

So there we are, driving back from Michigan a few weeks ago and the atmosphere in the car is less than desirable and very, very loud.  We're going through toll booth after toll booth after toll booth (what is with ALL the toll booths in Ohio and Pennsylvania?!) and I can't exactly put my finger on the trigger but all of a sudden I could feel that last little nerve bending, bending and SNAP! 

The next thing you know, I'm stopping the car just before we reached the tool booth and in a certifiably insane moment, pushed the button that automatically opens the sliding door on the van. I was in mid rant when Charlie yelled, "JEN! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! THE DOG!!" and thank heavens for Charlie and his lightening reflexes, because he grabbed Louie's tail before he leaped out of the car and quite possibly, directly beneath an 18-wheeler. 

Oopsie Daisy!  I'd forgotten the dog was with us! 

Sign me up for child and animal endangerment!!  The kids, meanwhile, went absolutely hysterical with laughter because wow Mom, that one totally backfired ... did it not?
All this to say, the energy in our household could use some improvement. And I don't (entirely) blame it on the kids.  I'm the role model. I'm the one that is supposed to be modeling CALM and ASSERTIVE behavior. I'm the one that is supposed to be the dominant pack leader, not the super freak who throws her minivan in to park in the middle of the toll plaza and threatens to put her children out.  

We're learning over here! 

Patience school is in session. 


(Just kidding.)