Archive for August, 2013

Meet the Specialist- Kathy Gibson

Monday, August 26th, 2013

kathy+gibsonThis October marks one year since Kathy Gibson started serving as a regular contributor to Feathers Fins and Fur.  As the co-owner of Custom Canine Teaching in Vancouver, she provides our readers with knowledge and insight to help with a wide variety of dog issues and questions.  I was able to speak with Kathy to learn more about her.

Without further ado, here is Kathy Gibson.

MPK: You cover so many topics in Ask the Dog Teacher.  Do you have a favorite area of dog teaching?

KG: I really enjoy all of it. I enjoy people and dogs. It thrills me every time my information and guidance improves relationships. What could be better? But if I could only work in one area it would be with the scared, fearful dogs that may be reactive. Watching them blossom as they learn they are safe and that they can trust you to help them – is profoundly satisfying to me.

MPK: What do you like best about working with dogs?

KG: That moment they give that first look that says: ‘Hey you’re talking to me. And you’re listening, too! Thank you!’ That’s the moment the conversation begins. the dog agrees to work with me because my behavior has shown him I will work with him. I shiver everytime I get that first look.

MPK: Do you have dogs as pets?  If so, how many and what type?

KG: I have lived with hundreds of dogs of every shape size – as fosters and forevers. But for the first time in 30 years I only have one dog – a little maltipoo who came to us with massive emotional trauma. We have decided to live with only one right now because I have my ailing mom to care for and my writing to work on. But it’s hard to have just one!

MPK: What fun fact would our readers be surprised to learn about you?

KG:  I’ve completed training to become a Shaman. I’m now working on advanced courses.

A Balancing Act

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Help the EarthOur house has central air conditioning.  Living in New England, we need it for a decent portion of the summer, especially as we have a multi-floor house.  The first floor may be comfortable, but the second and third floors can become quite uncomfortable.

Keeping the house the correct temperature is a matter of balance.  First, I am perpetually cold.  As I type this, my toes are approximately ice cube temperature, although the rest of me is warmer.  So, for me, the higher temperatures and humidity aren’t bothersome, but for the rest of my family I know it becomes uncomfortable and makes sleep more difficult.

The second part of the balancing act, for me, is considering the environment.  Is it necessary to run the air conditioner, or are we just using gobs of energy when opening a window would suffice?  While the comfort of my family is important, so is it important to use resources wisely.  Turning the air conditioner off for a day, only to turn it on the next day is also impractical.

Thus, I try to watch the weather forecast and make decisions based on a multi-day approach.  If we will have a stretch of cooler days and nights, then the air conditioner is turned off.  If it is only a one-day spell, then the air conditioner stays on.  I also keep the room at a moderate temperature.  I should not need to be bundled in a sweatshirt and socks nor should members of my family be perspiring while indoors.

As with the air conditioner debate, I find it easy to focus on the comfort and care of ourselves, sometimes to the exclusion of the environment.  I think that is one of the reasons that I like the Be Green Info Quick Tips column so much.  Filled with simple ideas, it allows me to consider ways to care for the planet.  Sometimes this is a springboard for bigger projects, and other times it is just a quick solution. Either way, it helps Earth, which is a win.

With another month or so of summer-like weather ahead of us, I am sure I will be watching the weather to determine the best status for our central air.  Here’s to keeping a balance that works for everyone and everything!

TV Time Can Be Family Time

Monday, August 12th, 2013

rsz_televisionWhen my kids were little, I carefully supervised their television viewing.  How much they watched, what they watched, when they watched. Television before breakfast was a treat for sleepovers at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s.  Post-dinner family time involved reading books or playing a game.  Of course, back then they probably had only an hour or so between dinner and sleepy time.

Now, my kids are teens, and things have changed.  Sure, I keep tabs on their viewing habits, but I give them more rein.  As a high school senior, if you’re able to eat breakfast and watch Mike and Mike while doing so and get yourself to school on time, that’s fine with me.  The gap between dinner and bedtime is greater, so if you’re homework’s done (and your grades are good), it’s fine to relax with some screen time.

However, what I find most interesting about this change from parenting young children to older teens is the way in which we spend time together.  We were on a mini-vacation this past weekend.  After spending all of Sunday attending different events, we returned to our hotel at 9:00. I mentioned that the season finale of Next Food Network Star had just started but that we were recording it at home.  My daughter suggested we watch it together.  So, the four of us got comfortable and watched the show together, making predictions, hoping for our favorite contestants, and cheering when the winner was announced.

I find that watching a tv show with our teens is one of the better ways to connect.  When a commercial airs (or someone pauses the DVR), we talk about the show and, quite often, real world implications.  No, this isn’t the only time that my family sits together, but having a media diversion seems to open dialogues that might not otherwise be broached.

If you had asked me fifteen years ago what I thought about bonding in front of a television, I am certain I would have dismissed it quite judgmentally.  Now, as a parent, with more experience under my belt, I know that connecting comes in different times and places, so I embrace it where I can.

Technology Challenge

Monday, August 5th, 2013

laptop (2)The first full week of August has begun, which means that the school year is drawing near.  In fact, for some areas, school is already in session.  For most of us located in New England, there are at least three weeks until the school bus makes its rounds.  However, there are plenty of items that need to be done between now and then.

In our house, we need to purchase another computer.  As last school year drew to an end, one of our family laptops crashed.  While the other is running, it is older, as is the desktop.  So, while the purchase of a new computer isn’t imminent, it seems better to have an additional computer than needing to scurry about when the two remaining computers die.

My husband and I began discussing what the next computer should look like, and then an even better idea came to fruition: have the kids choose.  Of course, this isn’t a free-for-all, so we created some guidelines for our 15 and 17 year olds:

  • The new computer can be a desktop or laptop.  (They’re teens, so you know that question has been decided already.)
  • It also can be a tablet with a keyboard.
  • It needs to solve both of their needs for homework and work assignments.
  • It needs to be no more than our set price.

Both of them seem to like the idea of choosing the computer.  We, the parents, like it also, as they will be the primary (possibly only) users of the computer.  It will strengthen their shopping skills, as well as their negotiating skills, both with each other and us.  While they do their research, I am hopeful that they will do some reading, online or off, and not just listen to their friends.  In fact, when they have made their decision, we will ask on what it is based.  (As editor-in-chief of PKP, I’m hoping they cast at least a quick glance at our articles on Inspector Electra.)

I am excited to see how the process unfolds and what their decision is.  I am hopeful that it is a positive experience for all.

Inspire. Inform. Engage.