A Boy and His Dog

I am in awe of the effect dogs have on people.  You see the joy, the smiles, and the stress just melt away when a dog is around.  Whenever I am at the ballpark with our dog, Sammy, people will often approach to say hello.  He is very sociable, loves everyone, and enjoys the attention.  He’s like a “people magnet”.  🙂

The road to finding our Sammy wasn’t easy.  Over the past couple of years, our son had been experiencing some anxiety and was having a hard time with friends in school.  He had also fallen in love the with the Disney ‘Air Bud’ movies, starring Buddy, the Golden Retriever, ultimately falling in love with breed.  My son has watched the ‘Air Bud’ movies so much, that he started to want a dog.  Not just any dog, but a Male Golden Retriever.

We also had a friend with a white English Buttercream Retriever that was so calm and wonderful.  That dog would put his head in my son’s lap.  He loved it!  It was priceless and further drove the point home that my son wanted this type of dog.

It became clear to us that a Golden Retriever would be perfect for our son since we knew that these were great companion dogs, can ease stress and anxiety, and could possibly one day end up serving as a therapy dog, something I had always been interested in.  We knew that Goldens can sense distress in people and care about you with a heart of GOLD.   But seriously, having this kind of dog might help ease my son’s anxiety.

So, we began searching.  We searched high and low, specifically for a male Golden Retriever.  We searched every rescue place in town.  We paid application fees, we had home visits, we tried everything.  I think we tried 5 or 6 rescue organizations, as well as the Humane Society.  We found nothing.  Even the rescue volunteers we telling us that with the dogs they had, who had a lot of problems, they didn’t have a dog with the right fit for us.

This went on for 9 months…

It was heart wrenching…

We were SO ready for this dog. And not just ANY DOG, but the RIGHT DOG.  We had started to give up hope.

Out of desperation, one night I posted on Facebook that we were looking for a male Golden Retriever and if anyone knew of anyone that knew of anyone that had one, I would be forever grateful.

Within hours, My friend replied that she had a friend with a male Golden puppy that was available…. WHAT???  Seriously???

That friend owned a Male and Female Golden, and they had delivered 9 puppies, 4 months ago.  We were so thrilled!

We were able to visit and take home our 4 month old puppy, Sammy, like the same day!!!   It was awesome because we also got to meet Sammy’s mom and dad.   I was reminded that timing is everything.  If we, or the dog’s owner had been in a different place in our lives, then we would have missed this wonderful opportunity.  It was truly meant to be.

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Meet Sammy-7 months old and 79lbs.  He’s going to be huge.  His dad is 110 lbs!

We have had Sammy now for 3 months and he has been so much fun!  My son, who is now 11 years old, has been wonderful with him.  Our boy is more responsible than I have ever seen him.  He takes Sammy outside to go to the bathroom, he feeds him, makes sure he has his water.  He will take him outside to play ball and run around.  At the same time, this dog will put his head in my son’s lap and rest.  Just what he’s always wanted.  We have taught Sammy to fetch, catch a ball in his mouth, shake hands, walk on the leash, etc.  When my son comes home from school, he will say with excitement, “SAMMY!” and then say, “Oh… Hi Mom!”  🙂

I see so much more happiness, and less anxiety, in my kid because of this sweet, insightful, dog.  There is a bond there, a love for each other.  I will bring Sammy to my son’s baseball games and Sammy totally knows which one he is on the field.  Sammy is so loyal and wants to be with his people.  I see the excitement in my son now and I think about all the months that we searched, tried, cried, and wanted to love on this wonderful creature.

And…I am touched at what sweet, intuitive, dogs they are.  Just today, I brought Sammy with me to see my son’s game.  There were several kids that came up to Sammy to say hello, which of course I encourage. But, there was a special needs child in a stroller that showed interest in Sammy. I told them it was okay to say hello and brought Sammy over. This child started squealing and flailing his arms out of pure excitement of seeing this dog. Sammy was so wonderful and gentle with him, letting this child touch his face and rub him. Then Sammy, sensing how much joy this child had, layed down, rolled over, and wanted this child to rub his belly. He had not done that with any of the other children that came up to say hello. It was positively precious.

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Post Game Water Break
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A Boy and His Dog

I will say that with Goldens, training is absolutely essential.  I heard an awful story of a Golden that was turned over to a rescue organization because he was too wild for the kids. This dog had been banished to the basement and was never allowed to join the family.  Basically, all he needed was some training.

They can be strong and they are big.  If they are not taught correctly, they can be difficult.

I know having a dog with babies and small kids can be challenging, but if proper dog training is done and practiced each day, you can have a DREAM DOG.  We have been through puppy training with Sammy and will continue on as he gets older.  These dogs are so smart and pick it up super quick.  It is so important to teach them the appropriate way to act.  Just like we do with our children…

So, was all the waiting and searching worth it??

You bet. 🙂

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My Boy and His Dog
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Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Coach

Do you have an amazing coach that has given your kids a great experience at their favorite sport?  As we all know, a good coach is hard to find.  These guys are volunteers and choose to spend their time teaching and helping our kids.  I know we all want a meaningful way to show our appreciation.

I love the idea of going in together as a Team and doing something nice for your favorite coach.  There are many ideas circulating but these are my favorite.

The parents on our team usually collected money for a very nice gift card to various restaurants or sporting goods stores and present it to the Coaches at the End of the Season Party.  This is such a great idea.  They do this on their own.  They know as a team mom, I am working on a gift from the players to the coaches, and I have something special I give to our players….See my post on Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players.

A meaningful gift for a coach from their players, is a team picture, surrounded by a mat, in a nice frame that the players have signed.  I’ve had several coaches tell me they really appreciated this.  My husband loves seeing pictures of every team he has coached on a special wall in our home.  See my post on Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players.

Another great idea I heard about was from my friend, Donna.  A coach she had worked with had really done an outstanding job with her kids.  She also knew he was a HUGE Boston Red Sox fan.  She emailed them telling them how excellent this coach was and that she wanted to do something nice for him.

They sent her a bottle of field dirt…to some, it might not mean that much, but to him, it meant the WORLD.  It contained actual MLB Authenticated game-used dirt from Fenway Park.  You can actually go to an authentication database and enter the hologram number which is displayed on the bottle.  This validates that this is actually game-used field dirt.  A very thoughtful gift, and something very meaningful to a true fan.

So, if you are looking for a meaningful gift for an important person or favorite Coach…. find out what their favorite team, or player, and try sending that email to that professional organization to see what they may send you or see what you can find online.

Everyone appreciates a good coach and we want to properly show our gratitude!

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How to Prevent ‘Little League Elbow’

As a Coach of 9 and 10 year olds, my husband has always monitored the pitch count of our pitchers in a game.  He never lets them go too long.  He is always trying to prevent injury and keep those young arms healthy.

In October, our son, a 10 year old pitcher, was pitching in a game.  He said there was that “one pitch” that “hurt his elbow”.  Hmmm

Of course, we took this seriously, iced it, and kept an eye on it.  After a few days, the pain was still there.  Not good.

After my husband did some research on the internet, we knew something was up, and took him to a pediatric orthopedist.

He had ‘Little League Elbow’.

‘Little League’ What?  What in the world???

‘Little League Elbow’ is something that most commonly occurs between the ages of 8-15 in children that do a lot of OVERHAND THROWING.  It is an injury caused by OVERUSE of REPETITIVE THROWING motion.  The overuse puts too much pressure on the growth plate of inner side of elbow, where the ligament attaches to the growth plate.

HealthyChildren.org says, “Growing Bones are easily injured because the growth plate is much weaker than the ligaments and muscles that attach to it.”

We explained to the doctor that we were NOT crazy aggressive coaches but that we always kept a count of his pitches, etc. etc.

He was happy to hear that but explained to us that it’s not only PITCHING in a game but can include playing CATCHER in a game and all of the warm-up before the game and in between innings.  If a kid throws 50 pitches in a game, then plays catcher in the next few innings, this quickly adds up to 100 THROWS in a day…or more!

He also explained to us that it is not only pitching and catching in a day/game but the OTHER THROWING that we don’t think about.

How many times does he throw in PE?  How about the Fitness Program before school?  What about Recess?  How many throws happen when he’s throwing a ball up against the house in the driveway?

It all adds up.  This is why I wanted to spread the word…

It’s not all about pitching, or catching, or outfield throwing, or just baseball…it is the accumulation of it all and being young, active boys.

The doctor said to rest the arm for 3-4 weeks.  For our son, it took a little bit longer.  We were fortunate that our Fall season was getting ready wrap up so he would have a long off season to heal.  He had to wear a sling for a couple of weeks to remind him not to use his arm.  He was not very happy.  After the pain stopped, he had to do some strengthening exercises that the doctor sent us.  The doctor also said that it was ok to play basketball, or something else that uses other muscles besides the “throwing muscles”.   But, also no Frisbee, or push-ups for a while… it would put too much stress on the elbow.

It is essential to have “normal rest” after pitching which includes NO THROWING during days off and during normal play activities.  Our son has learned to use his non-dominant left arm for throwing in PE at school, etc.

Every league has different rules on resting between days they pitch but “common sense” rules for 9/10 year olds include:

Throws more than 25 pitches, good idea to rest 1 day

Throws more than 50 pitches, 2 days rest between appearances

Throws more than 70 pitches, 3-4 days rest between appearances

Do NOT throw more than 70 pitches in a day!

My husband is extra careful not to let pitchers-catch and catchers-pitch in the same day if at all possible.  Recently, we had a double header and were quickly running out of pitchers so some had to double up for some quick innings.  Again, the total THROW count was low.

So, please keep an eye on the number of throws your boys do in a day.  Add in PE, Fitness Club, Recess, outside play at home.

My son used to throw a ball against the wall in the basement before this happened.  It’s hard being such an active boy.   Again, he has learned to throw with his non-dominant left arm and has actually gotten pretty good at it.  In every challenge, you can find success….

For more information, please check out these important links about ‘Little League Elbow’

healthychildren.org

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Let’s keep those arms healthy!!

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Ballpark Shoes can look NEW again

Do you have any shoes that have gotten super dirty and think they can’t be saved?  Do you dread having to buy your kids more shoes because they are so muddy and hate cleaning them?

Being a mom and coach of baseball, it never fails that my tennis shoes get dirty.  Really dirty… with Red Georgia Clay from the field, or mud, or grass.  Every year I try to have an extra pair of shoes just for the field.

Sometimes it is just not possible to have an extra pair of shoes.  Years ago, my arch collapsed and planters fasciitis set in, so it became imperative to have good shoes, especially when I am on my feet in the dugout or running drills with the boys on the field.  These shoes are so expensive, I was forced to find a way to clean them.

My favorite cleaning trick is whitening toothpaste and an old toothbrush!  It works wonders on solid leather tennis shoes.

If your shoes are solid leather, when you rinse them, the inside of the shoes will not get wet.  Look at the difference when I scrubbed one side of my shoe with the whitening toothpaste and an old toothbrush.  These were my “baseball shoes” from a year ago, so this is not fresh dirt…it still came off and looks like NEW.

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Recently, due to new problems in my feet, I was forced to get a different kind of tennis shoe.  They have mesh on the sides and top, so when I tried to wash the soles using the toothbrush and toothpaste, the inside of the shoe got wet.  Not good.  I had to find a new way to clean them….

Perfect Example:  Yesterday, the family and I went to the ballfield to practice hitting and fielding.  I love to get out there with them and run around.  We have had so much rain here, the outfield was like a marsh pit.  The soles of my shoes got so packed with mud (since they are my only athletic shoes now) I had to do something.

20160222_082541I scraped off as much dirt outside as I could, but still my shoes were a mess.  I found 2 Foil Lasagna pans in my kitchen that I had never used, and put them to work.  Don’t worry, I won’t be using them now for Lasagna!  I put some hot water (just enough to cover the bottom) and a squirt of Dawn Dishwashing Detergent.  I swished around the detergent until it produced some bubbles and put a shoe in each pan.  I was careful not to get the water too high in the pan so the inside of my shoes would get wet.

I soaked them for about 20 minutes and was pleased to find that most of the dirt had come off and out of those pesky little grooves on the sole of the shoe.  I still used my toothbrush to scrub out the dirt in those tiny places.  My shoes were so dirty and packed with field dirt (mud really) that my shoes required a second soak.  Overall, I am pleased with the results.  I was able to remove about 99% of it.  Not bad since my shoes were really bad off.

 

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I wish I had taken a “before” picture.  The bottom of my shoes were packed with wet field dirt.

What you will need:

  • An old tshirt to wear because if you are using any brush to scrub, there is a good chance it’s going to splatter
  • For good solid Leather shoes, you will need a spare tube of Whitening Toothpaste and an old toothbrush: Please don’t use the same tube of toothpaste to brush your teeth with.  This tube of toothpaste will be declared, “For Cleaning Only” as will the toothbrush.  Eek! Lol!
  • Two Foil Lasagna pans that you can find in any grocery store. I like them because they are bendable and you can bend the pan to get to the parts of the shoe that need it most.
  • Paper Towels
  • HOT water. Fill it with just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and to the desired height to surround the sole of the shoe.
  • Dawn dishwashing detergent. I added a squirt in each pan and stirred with my fingers to produce the bubbles.  This solution will break up the dirt in the little grooves of the bottom of the shoe.
  • A toothbrush. A great tool to use for those tiny, hard to reach places.
  • After scraping as much dirt off outside that you can, let the sole of the shoes soak for about 10-15 minutes, check and see what dirt has been loosened or falling off. My shoes were so bad, I needed a second soak.  I would not recommend leaving your nice shoes in for a super long period of time as it is not good for the rubber soles.

My kids have always appreciated when I can work on their dirty, yucky, shoes and give them new life.  As they get older, it is something they can work on, too.  With a lot of desire, and a little bit of effort, it is always rewarding to make something feel and look new again.