Wag Between Barks 

I first met Traci Moriarty, CPDT-KA at Wag Between Barks, after I found my first dog, Bodhi. He was a sweet dog, but as a rescue, he was a little skittish, and honestly, he was kind of glued to my feet. Wherever I went, Bodhi went, too, and there was no arguing about it. Luckily, I worked in a dog-friendly office, so I didn’t have to leave him at home all day, and he could loyally be by my feet 24 hours a day.

It was probably the 10th time I tripped over him and maybe the 100th time he got scared of my coworkers or people on the street when I knew I needed to do something about it. Since he was already on-edge and nervous, disciplining him wasn’t an option. I needed to find something special, something softer, something more positive.

Wag Between Barks was just that—in fact, that’s their claim to fame: training by using positive reinforcement. Studies have shown that using “force-free” methods—meaning no shocks, pain, fear, or any physical force—is more efficient, fair, and fun for both the dog and the handler. And, as it turns out, it was a much better way to handle my very nervous dog.

Once I learned about Traci’s methods, I became aware of the very extensive training she herself has had. No, she wasn’t taught to “sit” and “stay” by using delicious treats; instead, she spent over a year in an apprenticeship—learning and researching—and ultimately gained a CPDT, or Certified Professional Dog Trainer credential (which, I learned, is kind of a big deal).

Being a CPDT means that Traci has to stay up-to-date on the most scientific advancements and studies in dog training. On top of that, she’s been a professional member of the Pet Professional Guild for several years, which requires following a strict code of conduct. For me—a dog owner who’s as wary of people touching my dog as my dog is wary of people, this was very reassuring. Bodhi seemed like he would be in good hands.

I looked at the classes that Wag Between Barks offered and had a hard time choosing among them. I wanted Bodhi to do it all: basic manners, puppy classes, Canine Good Citizen, outdoor manners (including dinner on the Homeslice Pizza patio), therapy dog classes, senior-only classes, and private one-on-one classes. Obviously I wanted to go eat some pizza at Homeslice, but I figured a basic manners class would be a great start for Bodhi—maybe followed by pizza later if he was good.

I was nervous to drop Bodhi off because of his behavior history, but Traci immediately established a gentle rapport with him. She was understanding of his nervousness, and instead of jumping straight into obedience, she eased in with basic manners, something Bodhi has always had a hard time with. She was so good with Bodhi that, when it was time to pick him up, it kind of felt like he wanted to hang out with her a little longer. That all changed, though, when I told him we were getting pizza.

After Bodhi’s class was done, walking him downtown and taking him to my office was much easier. He was less reactive to people and would listen to my commands. He was as happy to work with me on his new skills as he was happy to follow in my footsteps. It’s so much easier to have a dog who listens to me and is well-mannered. Little does he know that, although he did so well, he might have to take all of Traci’s classes, which I think he’ll love.

will sit for pizza

Mountain Bike Specialists 

I have to admit, it’s been awhile since I rode a bike. I used to love riding around; sun on my face, wind in my hair, but I’ve just gotten a little too busy. Being busy isn’t an excuse though when the weather is beautiful and so on a recent sunny day, I went into my garage to pick out an old bike to ride, but they were all in desperate need of a little TLC. So, one by one, I brought my old dusty bikes into Mountain Bike Specialists.

The minute I walked through the doors, I felt like I was stepping into a piece of bicycle heaven. It was a mecca of bikes, accessories, clothing and I was spinning in euphoria when a very friendly employee walked up to me, snapping me out of my dream and asked if there was anything he could help me with. I actually didn’t know how to respond because I was so overwhelmed with questions.

I was there for a tune up, but I wanted to ask about the plethora of accessories lining the walls, I wanted to ask about all the different kinds of bikes on the floor, and about all the framed jerseys near the ceiling. I was curious about the pedal assist bikes, and the various mountain bikes in the windows. I was so giddy with excitement, in fact, that the employee had a hard time answering all of my questions at once. But eventually I let him tell me about the many offerings that could get me through any ride; short or long, road or mountain. He told me about the quality bikes offered and knew a fountain of information as to what it would take to get me on the open road.

But then, what really caught me interest, was all the framed bike jerseys hanging high up on the walls. It turns out, the downtown shop also holds a museum of bike jerseys from cycling celebrities that make the industry so much fun, including World Champion Ned Overend, and Olympians, Travis Brown, Ruthie Mathes, Todd Wells and Howard Grotts. In fact, I was told that if I stuck around long enough I might even run into some of these pros inside the shop.

That got me a little too excited and I started asking too many questions again. Luckily, the employee was super patient, very kind, and happy to engage in my inquiries. Then he looked down at the old clunker I’d brought in to get fixed and asked if he could take that off my hands, understanding exactly why I’d brought it into the store to begin with.

The shop offered a full fix and tune up from some of the most highly skilled professionals in the bicycle industry. They, too, were friendly and ever though I knew I shouldn’t, they let me watch what they were doing anyway. Even better, they talked me through some of the basic mechanics of bicycle maintenance. I also learned from them that Mountain Bike Specialists was named a “top cycling retailer” by Bicycle Retailer & Industry News as well as being the major sponsor of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic since 1972. I simply stood there, mouth agape, until the mechanic, again, had to snap me out of my stuper to offer me back my freshly tuned bike. I took it home that evening with gratitude and images of big trails and fast hills speeding through my head--maybe I’ll try to go neck and neck with the pros in a big race--you never know.

rock’n and happily rolling