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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Friday, October 29, 2010

Getting Better Day by Day

Thursday, 10/28/10

I suddenly realized yesterday that Gimme was fussing so much less about being crated that I didn't even notice when she stopped.  She seems to have really accepted our routine over the last few days.  Of course it helps that I actually have a routine now.

I purchased a new toy for her to play with while I put on my socks and shoes, and she really enjoyed it.  However, she really enjoys the socks-and-shoes game she invented more.  So the moment those came out, she came running to add funny to my morning.  Naturally she learned to get on the couch, so she can get behind me to snag the sock I'm hiding while I'm getting the other one on - adding a new twist to our morning fun.

And, as luck would have it, just as we went out yesterday one of those noisy buses went by.  She barely noticed it.  I just don't understand how we are getting all this noisy traffic lately.  Maybe its always been there and I just never noticed it before.  When I came out from work, we did our usual potty walk (takes six seconds since she drops her heiney the moment she gets to grass).  Then I did some training with her in the parking lot.  She really pays no attention to most vehicles, probably because they've been a good part of our go-to-work days all along.

This evening we started working on eye contact and weren't making any headway, since she can be verrrrry persistent about mugging my hands.  So I decided we should start with Doggy Zen (you have to give it up to get it, grasshopper).  She picked that up pretty quickly.  Of course, the initial lesson is simply, mug all you want, that's not how you get the treat.  Anything that isn't mugging gets a treat.  Being the clever little girl that she is, and having just learned that morning how to get on the couch, she thought getting up there and climbing on my shoulders and shinnying down my arm to the hand should be worth a reward.  It was pretty funny and she did it twice, but got no reward for it, so I probably won't see it again. 

She is really loving our evening snuggles on the couch.  Once I've done whatever little project needs doing and the others have settled into their places under the comforter, Gimme gets to come out for cuddle time.  She plays for a few minutes, nibbling gently on my hands (she's done great learning bite inhibition), then she snuggles in for a long warm puppy snooze.  I really love these times, being a die hard couch potato myself.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Expanding Horizons - hers...

I'm happy to report that Gimme is doing so much better with crating and even allows me to be a few feet away in the house.  In fact I can leave the room to get something and return without her fussing.  When she does fuss, its short lived and relatively low intensity. 

Then again, maybe she is simply plotting her revenge...
I'm also happy to report that I am learning to read her fusses and can tell when its serious "I need to get out of this crate" vs "I want to get out of this crate."  An important distinction if her house training is going to continue its progress.

She has developed a somewhat alarming tendency to boss at her Auntie Meaggi and Uncle Michael and I'm working on getting them to ignore her, we call it "lead by example."  Mostly this happens when she has something special in her crate and they ware watching her, so she bark, bark, barks at them.  Which I interpret as "Nanner nanner, I've got ---- and you don't."  I suspect her bossy forward nature will get her in trouble from time to time.

She keeps me on my hands and knees with my butt in the air a good part of the time.  She is the funniest puppy I ever remember having.  She loves to rip snort around in the house, skidding around the corners and throwing in a tumbling act here and there.  Then she stops and looks back at me to make sure I was appropriately amused.  So, in addition to all her other wonderful qualities - she has a sense of humor.

Gimme stopped traffic on Monday with her beauty and joy d'vive... People were stopping and pointing at how cute she was walking along with me. One family actually pulled their car over and got out to come and meet the cutest puppy on the planet...  And this has happened twice more since then.  She is really a darling and everyone says so -- even without me prompting.

Part of what makes her so darn cute is that she walks so nice on a leash.  Because I take her to work and go out and walk her every 90 minutes or so, she is getting a lot of time on leash and is pretty good.  It only took her one day to learn not to walk between my legs.  Wish I could get a picture, she just trots along beside me with her head up so proud of herself - that's the thing that seems to stop traffic.  It's DAMN cute.

Took Michael to Rally class Monday night and naturally had to take Gimme in the building first (and again afterward).  Everyone thinks she is too cute for words.  And they were all going on and on about her conformation and her natural tuck sits.  No one had ever seen a puppy that did a tuck sit naturally.  She wasn't sure what to make of all the barking dogs as we got out of the car (its at a boarding kennel).  Then when we got in the building, she wasn't too sure about the strange dogs.  One Weim they had there is a real sweetie with puppies and even got on her belly and crawled to try to entice her to come close.  Gimme just did a couple play feints from a distance.  When we went back in after class, she paid no attention to all the barking kennel dogs.  She thinks Chip is wonderful cuz he has so much cheese to share.  And Karin was great cuz she had these BBQd hot dog bits to share.  Even when she's not perfectly enamored with something the first time around, she is always much better the second time.  She has the best bounce back I've ever seen, which I attribute to all the early life experiences Tana planned for these pups.  They just think new stuff is a normal daily occurrence.

On Tuesday Gimme and I visited my friend Laurie at the long term care facility.  I didn't get any pictures of her with Laurie - it was too hard to manage her and get a picture.  But did get a couple pictures with other residents that had to fall in love with her.  I was there almost an hour, only twenty minutes of which was with my friend.  She was completely unfazed by wheelchairs, walkers or canes; I don't think she even noticed them. 
Gimme likes attention, but really doesn't want to be handed to people.  She'll put up with it for about a minute, then wants to come back to me, though will stay if I'm right there with a hand on her.  She stayed in Laurie's lap for quite a while that way.  That may change when she is more confident that I'll never abandon her, then she may be more comfortable staying with others.  Of course, when she is larger, she won't really be handed off, per se. 

She got her first and second elevator rides and didn't seem bothered at all by the sensation.  The only thing that seemed to concern her was stepping over the crack to get on the elevator, but she did and got a reward for it.

And I just have to mention that she stopped traffic - yet again.  I was walking back to the car enjoying watching her go after the fall leaves in the grass and a lady pulled over to say what a shame it was that I didn't really enjoy being with my beautiful puppy.  Hah!  I then held her up so she could pet her through the open car window and she went on and on about how beautiful she is.  Clearly an astute grasp of the obvious.

Also on Tuesday Gimme and Meaggi had their first interactions.  Overall it went well.  There were two little snarks and both times, they had just gotten around a corner from me.  The first time I think Gimme was probably being too persistent in her attentions and I suspect Meaggi was establishing boundaries.  The second time they were in the kitchen and I'm betting Meaggi had found (or thought she had found) a tiny morsel of something and Gimme stuck her nose in where it didn't belong.  There wasn't even any slobber on her and she didn't seem to be unduly upset, calming within moments of it being over.  Later on we went outside together and I noticed Gimme showed Meaggi more respect, being close to her but giving her space at the same time.  I'll continue to put them together with supervision from time to time and am sure they'll get along; fortunately Meaggi is measured and appropriate in her responses. 

Yesterday I finally found something that she definitely does NOT like -- big truck noises.  It was unfortunate timing that just as we went outside to get in the car, the dump truck came to take away our trash.  Between the backup horn (loud "booooo booooo booooo"), the rumbling and hissing brakes, Gimme was not happy.  We walked around to the far side of the house to give her some space, but it wasn't her usual bounce back.  Then at my store today, the back where I have to park is about a 100 yards from the freeway and during the day there is a lot of big truck traffic.  She was aware of that and showing she didn't like it.  So we walked all the way up front for our potty walk and took our time coming back and she was much less concerned with them then.  Since I'll be taking her with me on long work days, she will get other exposures to those trucks from a distance, so that should help.  I think the sounds are weird enough, but also you can feel them rumbling through the ground and that likely adds to the effect.  

Gimme got her first grapes the other day.  It was waaaay beyond funny.  She wasn't sure what to do with it and took it in the living room, batted it around the floor and pounced on it.  Bit it a few times and then finally concluded it was dead enough to eat.  She did the same thing with the second one.  Now she just bites through the juggler right away and then eats them.  Am missing the stalk and kill routine.  

Now, I ask you... is there anything more wonderful than living with a fresh new puppy?  Not!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Living on the Puppy Edge

Friday through Sunday

We've been packing in as many new experiences as time and tummy would allow.  Had to back off one day when she had very loose stools, but she recovered quickly.  I think the stress of the move finally caught up with her.  Since then she is back to herself, being the little stinker I love and adore.

On Friday, she went with me all day.  She met lots of new people at TOPS, expanding her fan base by about 20 people.  One woman had carried out some sheets of Styrofoam and sat them down to meet her.  A minute later a breeze caught the sheets and they skittered toward Gimme, who dived under my car to safety.  I was pleased that she came back out within a few seconds, without any coaxing, going right up to bark at the sheets.  She got to walk on several new surfaces while there - including a manhole cover and pea gravel.  She was not phased at all by the huge noisy air exchange unit that turned on just as we walked by - she stopped, looked at it and then walked right up to it to check it out.

After TOPS we went for an off leash romp in a safe area at the back of St. Martin's College athletic fields.  We climbed around together on some dirt piles and I discovered she is part Mountain Goat.  She enjoyed the romp, but I'm certain she thinks the wetness of long morning grass is less than enjoyable.  On the way back toward the car, but before I put her leash on her, I saw a family of three coming toward us.  Gimme was watching them and then all the sudden ran up to the man and was pawing at him to be picked up.  He was about the same size, build, coloring and dressed in clothes that could easily have been Bernie's (her Daddy from Colorado).  I could definitely tell when she realized it wasn't him, she turned and walked away like he'd never been there, then came running to me to be comforted.  Poor little munchkin.

The rest of the day she did well in the car and with my comings and goings.  We went to visit friends that have two nice dogs, but Gimme wasn't sure about that assessment.  April, a very large IG (could pass for a whippet), while gentle is a persistent butt sniffer and Gimme didn't like that at all.  We changed and brought out Maggie, a young mini poodle.  After a few minutes Gimme would play with her, but only if she could do the chasing.  She also met 4 five-year-olds.  Overall she was pretty good with them and they got a good lesson on appropriate handling. 

At first I was a little surprised at Gimme being uncomfortable with dogs, but on thinking about it, it makes sense.  Her interactions with dogs have been mostly Uncle Jordi, who is calm and gentle.  He doesn't follow puppies, they follow him and he only checks butts that are near him.  Then she gets to my house and on a day when her world was already upended learns that not every dog loves her.  I'm sure we'll get it back - she's too confident by nature to be put off for long.


In the evening we had a play session and she invented a new game.  I was sitting on the floor barefoot with my legs in a "V".  It wasn't very long before she focused on my toes and bit down hard and got an "ouch" squeal.  She only bit hard two times, before learning to bite softer.  As she would go after a foot, I'd pull it in, hiding the foot under the knee of the other leg.  Then she would turn and go after the other foot, so the first foot slides out so I can put the second one under its knee.  She went back and forth like that, probably 50 times.  She was doing some very cute twist and spin athletics - meanwhile I was getting a lot of knee and thigh exercise that I wasn't aware of -- until the next day.

Later, after we'd stopped the toe game, she was running back and forth as I'd throw her toy and on one trip, as she galumphed by, she reached out and gently bit my big toe, on the run.  Then ran to the toy, turned back at me and just gave me a very self-satisfied eye-twinkling look.  There's no doubt she knew she'd pulled a fast one and was quite proud of herself.  As amused as I was, I was also proud of her for the bite inhibition even while running. 

On Saturday she went with while I taught agility classes and after classes, she played on the Buja board.  She paid no attention to the movement underfoot - any game that has food in it, is fun for her. 

Since this was the day of the loose stools, we went home after a couple quick errands and vegged out watching dumb movies all day.

On Sunday, after church we went here and there, doing errands.  We met friends at Home Depot during another chariot ride.  I could tell she has pretty much bounced back, since she spent the whole time, trying to climb out of her chariot (well except when she was busy getting treats from adoring fans). She was quite interested in seeing other dogs, watching them intently to make sure they didn't misbehave in her store.  When we got outside, she met Henry, a Papillion.  She liked him, since he is calm and not pushy.  She would have played with him but there was no place to do so safely.  She was not as impressed with Gunner, who barked at her.

I'm really impressed by how she reacts to potentially scary stuff.  If she does react with a startle, she bounces right back.  I'll work on getting her some experiences with nice dogs so she can play and have fun.  We have a trial next weekend, so there should be some nice dogs there she can interact with.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First Full Day in the New Home

Gimme continues to find the whole confinement thing a big fat negative.  On a positive note, we had a good night sleep from 11pm to 6:30am.  She might have slept longer, but Meaggi woke her.

My original plan had been to have a short work day today, but I didn't think she was ready for it.  She seems genuinely distressed by any separation. So I changed my plans to give her a day to get more used to it.  Our day has consisted of doing errands for several hours.  Our first stop was an appointment at the vet's for her first check-up and getting-to-know-you cookies.  He pronounced her fine and wonderful.  His vet tech was practically drooling when I told her Gimme had done a tuck sit a few times and had already carried around a metal scent article. 

Gimme then went along for more errands and got in her crate and had to settle down ten times and four chances to wait (alone) while I went in a store for a few minutes.  We got it down to 3-4 minutes of wailing and shrieking (from 20 minutes), before she settles. 

The funny thing is that when she is done objecting, she first has to "kill" a toy, puppy buddy or blanket that is in her crate.  I think, she just feels an overwhelming need to express her frustration before she can give in, with huge theatrics. 

I plan to take her along for the day when I go to work tomorrow, since I can come out to check on her every hour or so, just to give her a treat, some reassurance and/or a chance to potty. 

I needed to go to Home Depot, so she went in, riding in one of the orange chariots.  She is the most incredible people magnet.  In the last 16 hours she has increased her fan base by at least 200 people (and we slept for 7 hours of that).  Anyway, everyone in HD gave her treats.  If someone walks by without making a fuss over her, she looks at them like they are slightly stupid.  We were in there so long that she finally curled up and went to sleep in the cart.

We've yet to have an accident in the house.  She's pretty quick to squat or do her business when I put her in the outdoor expens, since she's figured out that is the fastest way to get out again.  Interestingly during our day's errands, she got out on leash about five times for short walks and if she was going to go, promptly did it when she hit an absorbent surface.  So it was nice to see her potty on lead.

One of the things I did at Home Depot was to pick up a selection of paint chips in different colors.  So we could play the color game.  The funny thing was that I picked one that closely matched her seafoam green collar and she snatched it out of my hand and put teeth marks in it.  I got a clean one for the game. However, when I tried to play the color game with her, she didn't seem focused on it.  She was pretty wild, though she did come back to almost all of the blues and greens.  She also grabbed the yellow once.  We'll wait a couple days and try again.

We also had a play session and it was a total riot.  She would grab the tug, then do this funny rolling flip and was bounding around like a little maniac.  Its a shame I can't capture it on film, its just hysterical.  At one point she went over and pestered Meaggi, who snarked her... so she backed up and taunted her from a distance (Meaggi is tethered and somehow Gimme figured it out). 

Its gonna be fun living with a canine genius.

Day 3 - Coming Home

Wednesday, 10/20/2010

It was certainly an interesting day.  I spent part of the morning packing and the rest playing with the pups. 

Without Grace to challenge Gimme and being more than a little possessive of her newly selected person, she was being quite the little twit.  While Tana cleaned up the puppy area in the sun room, I sat with the pups on the deck, entertaining them by being a human chew toy.  Gimme decided that no one should be allowed to sit in my lap.  Whenever she saw someone there, she'd come over and press in between us.  If they didn't move off voluntarily, she would drive them away.  One puppy made the mistake of coming back to my lap later (for the second time) and Gimme got quite mad about it, persisted in driving her off and wasn't accepting her submissive behaviors as a cue to cease the attack.  So I intervened and chastised my girl, which of course resulted in another pouting episode, but at least she got the hint and took it down a notch or two. 

I think she may not be impressed by her first 8 hours with her newly captured person.  She rode as carry-on luggage and was severely disappointed with that experience.  Never having been confined before, she made it very clear that it wasn't what she signed up for.  Often attacking her puppy buddy in frustration.  Peanut butter in her baby Kong was the only positive in that experience. She found the airport experience taxing, but bounced back after short breaks and did well on the flight, falling asleep after cleaning out her Kong one more time.

People were fascinated and captivated by her.  She gives cute a whole new dimension and EVERYONE wanted to touch her.  The flight crew loved her and were constantly checking on her - admiring her sleeping.  Gimme has her own agenda, so time spent in a Sherpa bag is not on her list.  She just knows she is the center of the universe and we hear reports that Colorado tipped when our plane took off.  Auntie Tana said it was pretty scary at first, but that things have settled down now.

Uncle Michael hates her and barked at her - she thinks he's aberrant, really aberrant.  Meaggi isn't sure what to think of her, and I think Meaggi is just reeeeeally hoping she's not going to be a pain in the heiney like someone else she knows.  Meaggi watches her a lot and so Gimme barks at her from her crate.

This puppy is scary-smart and will be everything I ever want for a performance dog, but I have no doubt she will challenge me along the way.  As I was eating lunch, she came over to beg her share, trying to climb into my lap.  I just waited and when she finally sat, I popped a goodie in her mouth.  It only took that one treat and after that she'd play for a minute, then run over and sit for another treat.  She even did one tuck sit.  She comes from a rawfed litter and has never had that gangly out-of-balance experience, so she's very coordinated.  Anyway, back to the scary smart - hours later in the airport, despite all the stress and distraction, whenever she wanted something (like getting picked up), she would come right up and sit in front of me.  That has already become her default and now she's learning that sometimes it doesn't work (can you say variable schedule of reinforcement).  For instance sitting as a demand to get out of a crate doesn't work (nor does barking, screaming, killing your puppy buddy or dozens of other behaviors).

When we got home, it took her less than 2 minutes to climb to the top and perch on the wire edge of the expen in the living room, ready to leap to freedom.  Gimme is having a little difficulty accepting the concept of confinement and separation.  Mostly she just screams her objections for a really long time.  Her persistence will one day be an attractive behavior, but not the way she is using it now.  I'm really having to work to stand my ground, since its an absolute necessity.  Not to mention that with her personality, if I give in now, she'll rule my life for the next 15 years. 

LAUGH OF THE DAY - All seven of the people in the airport who asked me how long it takes for the spots to turn black.  I told them I hoped NEVER, since I'd waited a long time to get another liver spotted Dalmatian.

BUMMER OF THE DAY - The idiot woman who was in line behind me to get on the plane and had to share with me her stupid opinions that I was being cruel and abusive to keep Gimme in the Sherpa bag, since she couldn't stretch out both back and front legs at the same time.  I explained to her that while I understand everyone has their opinions about things, I was personally inclined to take my advice about short term crating from the AVMA, rather than someone who was just plain wrong.  I'm thinking I didn't win a convert... 

She is quite the little girl and already has me in the pad of her paw - but don't tell her (I'm hoping she doesn't find out).

Day 2 - Hanging with the Pups

Tuesday, 10/19/2010

The pups are early risers.  We spent the morning getting Candy and Grace ready to go.  Haley's new mom visited to meet her little girl in person (Haley was Georgie).  Tana will deliver her later in the week.  Bernie, Candy and Grace left for the airport around noon, but not before we squeezed in another romp in the yard.  We wanted to tire Grace out before her big trip.  She and Gimme go round and round trying to dominate each other.  Usually Gimme gets the upper paw in the end and then just walks off once she is satisfied that she's made her point.  Needless to say, Gimme was well pleased with herself to finally run off that upstart, once and for all.

Tana, Angie and I spent the next three hours getting stacked pictures of the remaining nine babies.  Overnight they had experienced a growth spurt and all were suddenly unaware that there were additional limbs "back there".  It made it challenging to get good pictures since all the pups were having difficulty standing stacked. 

Gimme and I had an interesting "training session" (the best ones are worked into life) about this whole biting thing.  I was sitting in the pen getting mugged by puppies and she climbed over the others to get some face time - which partly means biting my lip.  So I started squealing "ouch" when she'd bite.  Each time she'd draw her head back and look at me with the most quizzical expression.  Why, I must be deranged to not appreciate her special attention.  Then she'd immediately close in to bite again.  Three bites and three squeals.  She pondered me with a furrowed brow and then tried licking me instead.  Within two minutes she had to try out the biting again.  Again three bites and three squeals, followed again by puppy kisses.   She didn't bite me again that day - she is one smart cookie.

Tana and I made a run to town doing errands, followed by another play session with the puppies.  By now Gimme has decided she is going to keep me.  I think she has decided I'm trainable. The evidence is that she tries to wedge in between me and any puppy that has gotten in my lap or is getting attention from me.  If that doesn't work, she pouts to punish me, coming back later to see if I've mended my ways.

I did get some pictures of the puppies sleeping.  You know there is simply NOTHING cuter than sleeping puppies.

Ever notice how puppies always try to fit too many into too small of a space.  There's just always somebody left hanging.

Is this this face just to die for...

How will I ever just say "no"...?

So innocent looking...

I'm thinking she will earn spankings that never arrive, eh...

After supper, Tana and I kept three patch girls out for a photo shoot.  It took almost 2 hours before they settled down enough to get what we wanted.  Gimme and Haley were the first to settle; by then Timmie had her second wind.  She has a very loooonnnng second wind.  I finally used a calming embrace with her, which she resisted.  Then picking a moment when she wasn't resisting, let her go.  Within three minutes she laid down.  I'd known before that some pups settle down immediately after a calming embrace, but not during.  We got some really cute shots.

It was a fun day; I'm glad I decided to stay an extra day for bonding time.  It has done a world of good. 

Day 1 - the Airport and Puppies

Monday 10/18/2010

Not having flown since 911, the airport was an "interesting" experience.  We got there an hour earlier than the two hours required, so had a LOT of time to kill.  I found out during the security check that I could have taken some toiletries along, good to know.  Also found it interesting that there are NO CLOCKS anywhere in the airport - very curious.  Candy found me right away and after a small mix up we connected with Bernie.  We took the scenic route to see the puppies, since someone was talking too much and missed a turn.

Immersing in puppies was totally fun.  Naturally they are wild little biting machines and especially love to go after feet, with or without shoes.  My nearly brand new shoes are looking rather frayed.

I made the mistake of picking Gimme up right away to love on her.  She made it clear, that effrontery was not to her liking.  So I backed off and let her come to me.  She is certainly an independent little spirit.  Throughout the evening I took time to single Gimme out for extra attention, but put her back with the others before she could object.

We took the pups outside and they really enjoy the romp.  They bound around climbing mountains and gamboling across the plains and thoroughly enjoy chewing on pine cones and Tana's oregano.  Its a hoot and a half.  While I was watching, they planned and executed an escape from the yard.  It provided a little excitement in our day.

The pups love spending time outside with their Uncle Jordi.  He really is the sweetest guy and just dotes on all his nieces and nephews. 

Mealtimes are barely controlled chaos.  They start fussing from the other room the moment they hear the preparations begin.  Strangely they do not fuss when we are preparing people food, so they've obviously discerned some difference.

After supper, Candy and I instigated a free-in-the-living-room play session with our two girls and another puppy.  Hers is Grace (was Johnnie) and mine, of course, is Gimme (was Petey).  Tana got a request for video of a person interacting with Brady.  I volunteered to play with the boy (God will honor my sacrifice).  It was fun - he's an engaging little man. 

Later got to talk to Nina about him and shared some other observations.  She has decided to get him and I know she will be well pleased with the choice. 

Editorial note:  Since I originally wrote this entry, Nina has started a blog for the little man, who is now known as Maverick.  You can follow Maverick's Blog too, if I don't keep you busy enough.

Tana also taught Candy and I how to make really nice fleece tugs for the dogs.  Naturally I've already developed a variation that is faster, as well as a different braid design...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Closing in on the Big Day

Just two days and a couple of hours until baby and me get to meet in person.  I'm so nervous, I can hardly sleep at night.  Naturally I'm coming down with a cold - can you spell massive doses of vitamin C and eating lots of protein.  Also in the last twenty-four hours have cracked my shin on a metal grate (dang that hurts) and have slammed a door shut on my thumb (the nail is turning a lovely shade of bluish-purplish-black).  Right now I'm trying to concentrate on taking my time and focusing on the task at hand (or shin, as the case may be).

Things are coming along.  I'm at that place in my 'puppy preparation to do' list where I'm down to just a million and twelve little tasks.  For me larger projects are easier to do and the little ones just annoy me, so I avoid them.  I don't know if that is part of the Adult ADD thing or what.  But clearly am down to the wire, so I'll have to bite the bullet and get them done anyway.

Meanwhile a tale about living with old dogs.  Recently Michael has been very snarky with sister Meaggi and mostly in situations where I thought it was inappropriate for him to behave that way.  Its been escalating as I've been trying to sort it out.  Then, quite by accident I discovered the cause - Meaggi's eyesight is becoming a problem for her in dim lighting. 

Since her hearing is less than normal, she can't really detect when he's giving verbal warning of impending snark and has to rely on being able to see him and read his face.  And he's just a real pain about not liking her to even bump him.  Think of a pair of 5 and 6 year olds in the back seat of the car, screaming, "Mom Timmy is looking at me", "But, she looked at me first," and you'll get the drift. 

I started by placing a divider in the under-the-computer-desk space, so they each have their own share of the space (which, c'mon, is really big enough for four dogs).  But Meaggi was very uncertain about going in there with that "thing" in there.  So I bought her a tap light and placed it within reach of my foot.  When I sit down to the computer, I tap the light on and when they settle in, I tap it off.  One problem solved.  Meanwhile I'm making a conscious effort to turn lights on and off in a sequence that doesn't leave her trying to move about and potentially bumping into you-know-who. 

Once again I'm learning the lesson of watching the old kids and making accommodations for their senior citizen problems as they crop up.  Usually it comes on so gradually, then one day you think, "Oh dear, how did I not notice before..." 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All Hail the Mighty Hunter...

I think I mentioned that Michael brought me a dead squirrel last week.  So... the other day I'm working in the yard (not yesterday); naturally Michael doesn't think he's getting enough attention. The next thing I know, he's coming toward me, prancing up a storm, and swinging something back and forth... making a big deal of it. About halfway to me, he drops it, pounces on it, it skitters a bit as he pounced a few more times. ...Naturally I'm thinking, "Omigod, he's got another critter and this one isn't dead yet!"

So I call him to me and start planning how I'm going to rescue the poor hapless wild thing - only to discover this time he's got...

are you ready?

An apple with a bit of branch still stuck to it! That's m'boy. All hail the Mighty Hunter...

I'm beginning to think the toilet paper un-rolling wasn't so much to help me get in a puppy mindset. Rather, it may be that my sweet goober is experiencing his second puppyhood.

What amazes me is the realization that it was all a ruse on his part. He wanted attention. He remembered that he got attention when he brought me the dead squirrel. Not having another squirrel, he did his best to fake it - making that fresh-killed apple really act like something. The other realization that amazes me is the belated insight that I played right into his paws and gave him the attention he wanted. Do you have any idea how many fresh-killed apples he's gonna bring to me?


I am making progress, though not as much as I'd hoped.  I'm not quite done with the living room, but close.  Still have some tidying to do.  Also have to deal with getting all the wires policed up.  This house is over a 100 years old, so there are only two outlets in the living room, which of course means power strips connected to power strips, etc.  We won't even mention the knob and tube wiring in the basement, okay...  Hopefully I'll get the living room finished tonight.

Today was a nice day on the weather, so I took advantage of it to work in the yard.  I've inspected with a critical eye and there is only one escape spot, which I just stuffed a board in and used zipties to keep it there.  The rest of my day was spent tidying and beginning winterizing the yard (last of the year cleanup).  I didn't get as far as I hoped, but far enough for now. 

While I was working this young gal (with the most adorable New Zealand accent) stops to ask if she can pick up the deadfall apples if I'm not going to use them.  Sure I said.  She picked up a box full and I noticed she had another empty box, so I made her fill it too.  Then she picked up all the rotten ones and put them in the yardwaste bin after I commented that Michael likes to eat them, get tipsy and pee in his sleep.  Then came over to help me turn over the tarp I was trying to shovel the dirt and grass off of - which saved me about an hour of back breaking work.  And then went on to shovel the dirt out smoothly to fill a depression in the ground, so all I have to do is toss some grass seed on it.  On top of that she promised to bring me some homemade apple sauce and apple cider.  Given that I have the best tasting apples on the planet (if you ever add an apple tree - make it a Liberty, they are that old fashioned flavor that I adore), I am really looking forward to tasting her apple sauce and cider.    [this story comes after a stranger stopped the week before to help me hoist a monstrous huge TV into the back of the car]
So I've just been rolling in good fortune.  And did I tell you next week I get to pick up the most wonderful puppy on the planet?  Woohoo...

So back to the yard work... got the space cleared where the puppy expens went up.  Then got that tarp cleaned off.  Then used PVC and zipties to fix the tarp across two-thirds of the expens.  I wanted to give her a place she could be out of the weather, since this is Washington and it does rain here - a LOT.  Its not a handsome structure, but its certainly functional - you really can build almost anything with PVC and zipties. 

There is more to do in the yard, but I can putter away at it.  I have some plants that need to go in the ground and will probably get my house sitter to do them on the day I pick him up.  That will give him something to do while I'm whirling around the house at the last minute - lathering about things.

Soon, very very soon...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Ugly Stage

You know how some projects get that ugly stage?  Well that's where I am right now with getting the living room ready.  I say of my house that its in fourth stage remodel... so my goal is to make one room that the puppy can be loose in and where I don't have to worry about her getting into things.  My living room is really an all-purpose room (small house).  So, in one corner I have my crafting/sewing table and behind that was all kinds of "stuff" that would have been enticing to a naughty-inclined puppy.  Okay, even a not so naughty puppy would have been attracted to it.

So I brought in a bunch of plastic totes and I've been going through it an putting the contents into those totes according to what it is.  Who knew I had that much stuff?  Okay, I did, but I was pretending I didn't.  Before I started on the craft/sewing corner the living room was looking pretty good, having already dealt with all the parked stuff, reorganizing things and having found a temporary home for my rocking chair.  So now that I'm working on the corner - we are truly in the ugly phase and the crafting and sewing and other stuff has just exploded all over the room.  I couldn't bring a pet worm in with the living room looking as it does right now; fortunately I'm sure I will have it conquered and ready by nightfall today.

Did I mention my house is small?  In addition to tidying, I am also trying to open up the floor plan in the living room so that I'll have a little training area -- since we are already well into the rainy season and will be for the next six months.  That's why I found a foster home for my rocking chair and because where the rocker was, is where the puppy expen is going to go.  I also am going to put the loveseat on those slider things so I can push it back when I'm ready for training sessions. 

Another project I completed was a trip to Goodwill to buy puppy buddies... that's large stuffed animals for the puppy to cuddle up to and lay on and across, just like they are accustomed to with their littermates.  I found four really cute toys, but only one had safe eyes that were appliqued on.  I bought the others anyway and when I got home took a hammer to those eyes (visions of slasher movies, eh).  The next evening, after a long day at work when I didn't feel like doing anything that required a lot of standing, I sewed on new eyes.  They are very cute...

My friend reminded me that children's toys are not necessarily safe for puppies.  There is a risk if the puppy ingests the stuffing from children's toys that the stuffing turns to a gel during digestion and can cause a blockage.  After her reminder I checked the internet and found there is only one story about it - repeated a hundred thousand million times (you know how the internet is).  There is however a Snopes report about it saying that story is a mixture of truth and fiction.  So you should probably read the report and just remember to never let your puppy or dog have access to children's toys when unsupervised. http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/stuffedtoys.asp

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What A Month It Has Been

I apologize for not writing sooner.  We have been very busy here and not all of it geared toward getting ready for the puppy.

First, Michael had a recurrence of his face swelling episode.  I feared he'd have to have surgery, but this time when we got the swelling down, the little bump was entirely gone.  Last time there was still a residual bump on his jaw about the size of a lentil.  This time even my veterinarian's educated fingers couldn't find it.  So we have put off the surgery option and am waiting and hoping that this will not reoccur.

Then, as soon as I started relaxing and breathing normal, Michael got salmon poisoning and was very ill for a week.  I was very fortunate to be home when he really started showing symptoms otherwise the outcome could have been different.  Even still it took him a week to recover and he still isn't on his regular diet (possibly a side affect of the antibiotic).  I don't think he can recover the weight he lost until he gets back on his regular diet. 

If you live on the west coast, you should look up salmon poisoning (its not just about salmon) and without treatment it kills 90% of dogs in 7-10 days.  It only affects dogs, not cats, people, bears, raccoons - just dogs. 

Then my slow old Michael caught and killed an adult squirrel.  I still can't imagine how he could do that and feared that the squirrel might be diseased.  Contacting animal control provided no useful information.  I even called the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, who sent me to the state biologist for our county.  It took her two days to call back and her advice makes me look like an amateur at obsessing.  If I followed her advice - I'd have to sanitize the whole yard!  To listen to her its a wonder you people who live in rural areas or the country can keep any of your animals alive.  How do you do it?  <tic>

I continue my efforts to get ready for the puppy and with less than two weeks to go there is still more stuff on the list than has been checked off.  Nonetheless I am making headway on the highest priority items and some of the other things could be done after the great arrival.  I'm counting on not sleeping for the last week before going to get the puppy.

The biggest project has been to finish most, if not all, of the basement project-from-hell.  Part of that project involved installing, reinstalling and improving the insulation in the basement.  Since I'd be using the fiberglass insulation, I wanted to get that done well in advance of puppy arrival, so I could make sure there wouldn't be any fiberglass fibers in that environment.  Gotta protect those baby lungs (not to mention the old dog lungs).  One more good vacuuming and then will wipe down the walls and surfaces with damp cloths - just to be sure.  After that I'll be able to set up the puppy apartment.

Since I've mentioned the puppy apartment, I should describe it.  I've done this for many of the puppies I've gotten and I think its the best solution for someone with a young puppy that still has to go to work.  The idea is to make sure the puppy is kept very clean, ensuring she develops clean habits.  A puppy that never steps in feces or urine will find the idea repulsive as an adult, unlike puppies that track through their waste a lot during their early months.  It is also important to solidify in the puppy brain the idea that you don't poop or pee anywhere near where you sleep and eat -- this makes house training go so well.  Back when I had litters of my own, I found it invaluable and actually had puppies that went to their new homes almost completely potty trained.

Given how clean Sadie (the dam), Tana and BJ (the human parents) have kept the puppy environment, it would be a shame to undo that.  I have seen only one poop in over 6 weeks and that I watched come out of a four week old puppy bum -- within a minute a hand swooped in and took it away.  I think Tana and BJ must have a roster, so that there is always one of them sitting on a bar stool watching the puppies, poised and ready with tissue in hand.  Okay, so I'm being a little silly, but seriously, these pups have been raised very clean and that is a very good thing.

So I still haven't described the puppy apartment.  I use a 3' x 3' puppy pen with a raised floor.  It has a door on one side and the top opens.  I zip tie the door open and put a wire crate aligned with the door and zip tie it to the pen.  The crate is set up with a raised floor that matches the height of the puppy pen.  I put plenty of cushy bedding in there and cover the crate to make it dark and cozy - the ideal den to sleep in.  As puppy comes out of the den she will find her food/water dishes on one side of the door and the whole rest of the pen is available to play in.  She will have a couple safe toys to play with.

What I've found in the past is that within a week at the most, all the peeing and pooping is done in the corner of the puppy pen that is furthest from the food/water dishes.  Even though the puppy feeties are not exposed to their waste, they still very quickly try to keep that stuff as far as possible from their sleeping and eating places.  As clean as these puppies have been, I expect it to go the same. 

That's all for now... more later...