Sunday, August 14, 2011

Seven Links

I don't normally do these chain-letter type of things, but it's been so fun to read others' trips down memory lane that I was considering it. And then, when Success Just Clicks tagged me, I decided to go for it.

 A favorite photo: my two most favorite people in the world.

1. My most beautiful post... In Praise of the Abnormal Dog
Maisy's getting to be so normal these days that I'm not sure it's accurate anymore, but the sentiment remains: I love my dog despite her flaws. Because of her flaws, even.

2. My most popular post... Supplements for Reactive Dogs, Part 2: Melatonin and L-theanine
According to blogger's stats, this post has received a total of 1173 page views at the time of this writing. My second most popular post (also from the supplement series, on tryptophan and 5HTP), has had only 529 page views. I always find this slightly ironic, given that I ultimately put Maisy on medication instead of using supplements. I always wonder what those people must think if they click through to the rest of my blog.

3. My most controversial post... Is it ever necessary to use pain or fear in training?
Actually a spin-off of the post We Have Cookies, this post garnered me a ton of comments and disagreement. This was great, because while I really prefer to avoid controversy, it really challenged me to think through my beliefs. While I still think it's possible to avoid pain and fear in training in theory, these two posts really helped me understand that it might not be possible in a given situation.

4. My most helpful post... Meds and Your Dog, Part I: Should You Consider Meds?
This was the hardest category to choose a post for. I couldn't decide if I should pick on of my informative posts- I've written many posts about training concepts like thresholds and counter-conditioning, and while I think those things are valuable, they aren't terribly unique.

What I think is unique about my blog is how much I've written about the use of behavioral medications. There seems to be a lot of resistance to using drugs, and the meanest comments and emails I've received have been on this topic. Still, I continue to write about our experiences openly and honestly because I want to help remove some of the stigma surrounding the use of medication. I chose this particular post because I think it is representative of the issue as a whole.

5. A post whose success surprised me... Training Plans and Training Logs
I have no idea where or how people are finding this, but it's my fourth-most viewed post. And... it's an okay post, but not one that I'd put in my personal top ten. It also reminds me that I really need to get back to tracking my training a bit more. It's easier for me to raise criteria appropriately when I've got it all on paper in front of me.

6. A post that didn't get the attention I thought it deserved... Positive Training: More Than Just Ignoring the Bad
I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here, but I really wish the message that positive does not mean permissive would get out to the wider world. More than that, I think describing clicker training as "rewarding the good, ignoring the bad" is not only inaccurate but also damaging.

7. The post I'm most proud of... Hey Baby, What's Your Sign: On Labels and Perceptions
I think this is one of my best posts. Not only do I think it's well-written, but I also think it's a message that needs to get out there. The way we describe ourselves, our dogs, and other people change the way we interact with them. Words have power, and we would do well to recognize that.

I won't tag anyone, but feel free to do it yourself- it's kind of fun, and I'd love to read yours!


Elizabeth said...

Thank you for this post. I haven't been following for long and having a sort of summary of important past entries is really helpful.

I really loved 'In Praise of the Abnormal Dog'. I think I started to cry when I hit the line "But she tries so hard for me! She gives me everything she’s got, even if it’s not much." I think is really highlights the courage that is demonstrated by dogs that are attempting to overcome issues. especially issues of anxiety and fear.

I can't imagine going out into the world everyday and being surrounded by such fear. The courage it takes to work through it is always astonishing to me. We are not always successful, and some days are better than others, but in every situation, but he tries so hard for me every single time we go out. I in no means want to diminish the bond that others have with their 'normal' or 'perfect' dogs, but I do think working through issues like the ones you've described creates a special and all together different bond with our dogs.

Joanna said...

There seems to be a lot of resistance to using drugs, and the meanest comments and emails I've received have been on this topic.

Whaaat? I can't imagine anyone sending you a mean e-mail because of what you've written! Especially since it's easy to click around and figure out that you'd already done so much b-mod with Maisy before you tried medications, that you met with a veterinary behaviorist, and that you're tracking her reactions to the meds so carefully.

Crystal Thompson said...

Thank you Elizabeth. Maisy's anxiety is so much lower these days that her trainability has just gone through the roof. She's learning faster and retaining stuff better. She was a pretty easy dog to train before, so it's kind of mind blowing now. It also makes me appreciate how hard she must have worked before, and how anxious she must have had.

Crystal Thompson said...

Joanna- yeah, it's only been a couple of times, but it's happened. One strongly implicated that I must not have Maisy's best interest at heart because of all the horrible things that medication was doing to her body. No matter that STRESS does horrible things to the body... medication is clearly more evil.

Truthfully, I know I'm taking a gamble. Paxil is not approved for use in dogs, period. We don't know what the long-term effects might be. It carries a black box warning for people (although I might point out that the asthma medication *I* take also has a black box warning, but I like to breathe, you know? Cost/benefit analysis and all that).

But when I come down to it, the improved quality of life seems worth the risk. Even if it means shortening Maisy's life by a year or two (which I really, truly hope doesn't happen)... well, I guess I'm choosing quality over quantity.

Annieke said...

Ah, cool Crystal! I too am forever looking for a way to keep records that is quick and makes sense. I absolutely love your solution, so I'll be trying it!

Thanks for including it in your Seven Links. :-D

Crystal Thompson said...

I'm glad that's helpful, Annieke... and I guess that's why it's gotten so many hits!