Thursday, September 30, 2010


Dog Blog Post #133: Still running behind...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010
  • Come:Will chase a kibble if he sees it thrown, will return when he hears a click.
  • Come:Will come when I call Henry (and probably just about anything else)
  • Down: have lured a few – not pretty
  • Sit: Lovely Sit and Stare. No clue what’s it called. Might know the hand signal, but it’s such a strong default at this point that it’s hard to tell.
  • Stand:Has a nice solid stand – while licking a spoon full of Vanilla yogurt
  • Target: Will touch hand if he notices it
  • Zen: Gives a few licks, and then gives up
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
  • Chewies: He’s fine with me holding them, and learning to push against my hand with his paws to get more leverage. That’s good, as it makes me useful and helps him to want me to hold/be around/pick up his chewies. (Meanwhile, hubby and son passed Zachary’s chewy back and forth while reviewing Math, as Zachary was obviously feeling left out and whimpered until someone held his, too, even though he’s usually fine chewing them solo!)
  • Come: Getting better at following and finding tossed kibble (3-4 feet, good contrast between floor and treat.) Comes back more reliably. Is now looking on the ground between my knees for the return treat (as I’m kneeling, not standing, given his size and I don’t feel like being Quasimodo.)
  • Come: Did a 20+ foot out of sight recall!
  • Cuddling: Wow, is he cuddly. He loves to be carried around, is totally calm and sweet when carried, and I’m enjoying every moment as in a few short weeks he’ll be either too heavy or too wiggly to keep doing it.
  • Day Crate: Is up to 2 hours during the day. He was a little fussy when left with his frozen yogurt KONG, but calm and had been asleep when I let him back out. After playing Zen Door the first day, he now just Sit and Stares, waiting for the door to open.
  • Down: Ugh. Really need to work on this one
  • Exploring Backyard: He’s raced around some, sniffed, poked around the shady areas, but it’s still way too hot to do much else. Zachary just pees and high-tails it back inside
  • Grooming: Brushed him thoroughly… while he was fast asleep. That probably doesn’t count, does it?
  • Handle paws, ears, tail: Doing this while holding chewie (two birds with one stone?) He’s fine with everything.
  • Housetraining: Still having trouble with hot weather (ie: he can’t seem to “perform”) but he definitely knows where the door is, that whimpering or scratching brings people, and that if I put him in the ex-pen then he’s supposed to do take care of business.
  • Mouthing: So incredibly subdued and gentle with mouth play that I am allowing it (me only) as a reward for such wonderful bite inhibition. Anything more than the most gentle pressure and I remove hand and insert an appropriate object.
  • Playing Tug: Loves it, plays fair, doesn’t want to win, and is learning to drop when I go “still”.
  • Playing with Zachary: Still a challenge given the size difference. Zachary is learning “Easy” means to tone it down, and will respond quickly and reliably unless I let the energy level get too high (my bad) and I frankly think he just doesn’t hear me then as when I snatch up Henry (and thus stop the game) he give me a “Huh? What happened?” look.
  • Sit: Recognizes “luring” hand signal.
  • Sit and Stare (Eye Contact): His default for practically everything, from wanting a treat, to being picked up, to wanting a toy, to anything someone does in the kitchen. It’s wonderful.
  • Stand: Will stand still for a fraction of a second waiting for the treat
  • Target: Target fell apart today for a while. I’m probably overloading his ability to remember hand signals at this point. If I snap my fingers to get him to look at the hand, then he touched it
  • Zen: Give a few licks the first time or two, and then started to turn his head away
Conspicuously absent:
  • Meeting new people
  • Clipping nails
  • anything new on Rules of Twelve

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Past Few Days

Dog Blog Post #132: Yes, I'm behind. Gee, what a surprise.


Wow - Henry slept through the night! And I didn’t even have to sleep on the floor next to the crate, or sleep with my hand through the mesh. It wasn’t a long night, I’ll grant you that; 12:30am to 5:45, but there wasn’t a sound the entire time!

We found out that he loves playing with paper bags and cardboard boxes, adores tug and rope toys, and is (so far) a gentle soul. He had about 20 min. of play in him, followed by an hour or so of sleep, and then he piddled. Kept the pattern up most of the day.

Sunday afternoon he mets lots of people at the indoor sports place while son was playing Lacrosse. We had him on a mat as I don't think dogs are supposed to be there, but as the staff all stopped by and cooed at him I didn't feel too guilty. Discovered he really is noise insensitive (as his temperament test claimed) although his hearing appears to be quite sharp.

That night he totally crashed (not surprisingly) and once again, slept through the night (12:15am to 6am)


We are starting to phase in the crate for daytime use, and while he seems to be accepting it calmly (a vanilla yogurt slathered frozen teething KONG can’t hurt) he is still getting hotter than I would like.

The 100+F weather is killing potty training, which had been going surprisingly well While he would paw to go out, when I put him in the ex-pen it was just too hot, and he let me know it by sitting there miserably and panting.

No pee.

As soon as he was back inside, the floodgates would open.


I can’t say I blame him. Just a few more days of things and it should cool down, so hopefully things will improve after that. Thankfully, once it cooled down that night, he was back to being able to "perform".

Zachary seems to be wracking his brain trying to figure out how to get play value out of the little guy. He switched tactics on Monday and tried lying on his back, all four feet in the air, and wagging his whole body as Henry pounces on him.

Good idea, but at 75lb vs. 10lb of young puppy, it’s still a total mismatch.

So there I was, with both hands in the mix, trying to buffer the worst of the wiggling.

Training: We worked on sit, a lured down (ugly), spin (lured), hand targeting (not bad!) and stand.

He really has Sit and Stare down, and tries it whenever anyone stands still. It’s a lovely stare, soft and warm and steady and is guaranteed to melt you to a puddle.

Late afternoon rolled around he totally crashed – and stayed crashed for pretty much the rest of the day. Kinda scary, really. I wondered if he didn’t feel good, but he ate well, his temperature seemed fine, all bodily fluids looked like they should (I noted as I wiped them off the kitchen floor), even checked his gums (nice and pink) but all he wanted to do was sleep. And sleep. And sleep. Wasn’t panting, didn’t feel hot, but was just a limp rag.

In fact he slept nearly non-stop from 1pm to 8pm – with the occasional break to chew a bit of rawhide, eat dinner, “get busy”, and… that’s about it.

At 8pm, feeling worried and desperate, I moved him to the Living room (carpet) to see if somehow the hardwood floors were a problem (he does slip on them quite a bit), and he just took off - scampering, running around, spinning, sprinting, chasing, and exploring,… for about an hour, and then crashed hard for the rest of the day.

Sooo… was the problem the room (floors)? The time of day? The temperature?

Who knows. We’ll see how Tuesday goes.

(Sorry about the poor quality of the pictures, I'm trying to keep the house as cool as possible, so the blinds are mostly drawn and it's pretty dark in here!)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A New Family Member

Dog Blog Post #131: I am very pleased and honored to announce the arrival of Henry (the puppy formerly known as One-of-Ten)…

… and he’s adorable.

His introduction to Zachary was completely uneventful (yeah!)

Zachary was curious, but not unreasonably so. The sniffed each other through the ex-pen, Henry peed, Zachary peed, and that was pretty much that.

We spent the afternoon watching the boys (yes, it  does feel good to say that again!) dismember paper bags and try to figure out how to play with each other.

Zachary’s motions are still “too big” for Henry, who backs away when Zachary approaches shaking a bag or a favorite toy. Henry has made several attempts, with the cutest little bark and play bow, followed by some scampering around, but Zachary appears perplexed as to how to interact with something so small.

Later in the evening, as things were settling down and Zachary was just lying next to me on the floor, Henry came up and gave snug bug a complete sniffy once-over - from tip of tail, to each paw, to his back, and finally his head and muzzle. That seemed to put Henry more at ease, and Zachary just watched with quiet dignity.

Later Henry decided Zachary tail was a great sport, and kept trying to catch it as it wagged.

Zachary wags his tail a lot.

Henry had a great time.

Not all was fun and games… ok… it was all fun and games – but learning games!

I worked on Henry’s “default sit”. That is, when I’m in the kitchen, if you sit, you’re liable to get something good to eat. Henry picked this up really fast. I also worked on Food Zen (chewing on my hand doesn’t make it open), Toy Zen (see above), some play retrieves (I throw, you chase… and then eat. This obviously needs a bit more work!), calm for cuddling (he aced that one!), coming when called (no problems there (I know, just wait)), and Chewies 101 – that is, “I hold, you chew”.

I trotted the clicker out in there and he was fine with it. Hasn’t a clue what it means yet, but he’ll get there.

Oh, and I made a short video, titled (oddly enough) Henry's First Day.

Thus ends Day One.

(… and it was good.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Tongue Contest?

Ok... I'll admit this is a bit of a detour for me (perhaps verging on pure desperation to make time pass faster) but...

In honor of National Dog Week, Twinkie is having a "Show us your Tongue" contest.

So here it is - One Beau Tongue.

(No, he's not fat! His backpack pushed his ruff up when he laid down.)

I licked this climb!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Countdown Continues

Beau and Mini-Me
Dog Blog Post #129: I know, I've been counting down for weeks now, but we really are in the home stretch now.


Soon this blog will be filled with wonderful puppy photos and commentary about what a blessed bundle One-of-Ten is...

... or... more likely... wonderful puppy photos and commentary wondering what the heck I was thinking when I typed that One-of-Ten would be a blessed bundle.

Either way, it's got to be more interesting than all my Puppy Prelim rambles of late.

Speaking of preliminaries, tonight I:

  • swept and scrubbed the hardwood floors where One-of-Ten will spend most of his pre-potty trained days
  • cried when I found the odd bit of Beau fluff under the sofa
  • cried as I scrubbed off a few forgotten Beau drool spots (Zachary doesn't drool, so it had to be Beau's)
  • brought out the puppy bowl and rearranged the place-mats on the hearth so there is a food and water bowl on each (I had put Zachary's bowl on one and both water bowls on the other as it just didn't "look right" to only have a single place-mat out) and smiled widely at how much better things looked
  • "convinced" hubby and son to sort through their mountain of shoes in the entry to give One-of-Ten fewer high-value chewables to choose from.
  • sorted through a mountain of old magazines (low-value chewables with potential to create a high-volume mess)

Great, I'm nesting for a puppy.

Puppy's Rule of Twelve

Dog Blog Post #128: And now we turn our attention to Socialization...

I personally believe that proper Socialization is at least as important as learning Skills - especially for a puppy.

Round #1: I knew this with Beau, and really did try, but ultimately screwed up the implementation. That is, he was incredibly well socialized - but pretty much only outside the local grocery store. That created a dog who was very well behaved - but pretty much only outside the local grocery store.

Elsewhere, he exhibited his Obsessive Compulsive Friendliness Disorder for all the world to see.

( I believe this is a classic example of dogs "not generalizing well". )

Round #2: Determined to do better, I took Zachary many different places and ultimately did a much better job - although how much of that was due to my hard work and how much due to his "being Zachary" is impossible to say.

Of course, we can always do better. Looking over my posts from CGC Class shows places where things were a lot harder than they should have been. Things like: meeting a friendly stranger (ok, he's a golden, I get that, but still...), meeting a dog (again, too friendly), and his Achilles Heel - Supervised Separation (whimper whimper whimper....)

Round #3: I have recently been pointed to Margaret Huges' The Puppy's Rule of Twelve. If you have a puppy, a young dog, or are thinking about getting either, then I would strongly recommend taking a look at it. She basically outlines Thirteen (yes, I counted twice!) different types of experiences (surfaces, objects, people...) that should be done Twelve different ways (or, in some cases, Twelve ways each week or Twelve times in Twelve different ways).

( As I don't want to get into copyright issues, I won't reproduce it here. You can click the link for a pdf I found it on-line, although I don't believe that's the original source. If someone knows it, let me know and I'll change the link! )

Scattered in this post are two pages I whipped up last night to help me track all those Twelves. (Click to see larger) I don't think I can get into copyright trouble for that!

Coming soon (I hope) will be a list of ideas for "filling in the blanks."

... of course, if anybody out there has any other ideas, feel free to share!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Puppy Prep (cont.)

Zachary at 6.5 weeks
Dog Blog Post #126: Here's the run down of where we stand. I've included links when possible, not because I have anything to do with these companies (I don't) but because I like it myself when other people list what they are actually using.

Everything except the Soy Collar is something I've used before.


  • Dog Crates (2) - standard wire mesh. We've had them since Beau and I haven't a clue who made them, but I like them a lot. One's for day use (family room) and the other in our bedroom for night time use.
  • Ex-Pens (2) - again, had forever, no clue who made them but they are infinitely useful.
  • Two more Crate Pads (same as above) - one large and one medium (Zachary liked the smaller one since he could move to the cooler plastic if he wanted to.)
  • Puppy Bowl - same one Zachary used - small heavy ceramic. Paw prints. Really cute and matches the full-sized bowls.
  • Water Bowl - same two bowls. Also heavy ceramic.
  • Puppy Leashes - various
  • Puppy Brush
Still needed:
  • ID Tag for collar - phone number only.
  • Puppy Binder - for holding important puppy papers and such

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Puppy Aptitude Test

    Beau and Zachary (2nd day home)
    Dog Blog Post #125: Puppy Watch continues... The litter was slated to have their temperament test today. I hope they studied!

    The breeder uses the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test, which tests:

    1. Social Attraction - degree of social attraction to people, confidence or dependence.
    2. Following - willingness to follow a person.
    3. Restraint - degree of dominant or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations.
    4. Social Dominance - degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person.
    5. Elevation - degree of accepting dominance while in a position of no control, such as at the veterinarian or groomer.
    6. Retrieving - degree of willingness to do something for you. Together with Social Attraction and Following a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training.
    7. Touch Sensitivity - degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment required.
    8. Sound Sensitivity - degree of sensitivity to sound, such as loud noises or thunderstorms.
    9. Sight Sensitivity - degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children or squirrels.
    10. Stability - degree of startle response to a strange object.

    I have no idea how much weight to put in these sorts of things, but it certainly can't hurt.

    I just looked up Zachary's test, and his scores were:

    1. Social Attraction: 2
    2. Following: 1
    3. Restraint: 3
    4. Social Dominance: 3
    5. Elevation Dominance: 3
    6. Retrieving: 3
    7. Touch Sensitivity: 3
    8. Sound Sensitivity: 3
    9. Sight Sensitivity: 1

    (Not sure where the page with #10 on it ended up!)

    The tester's comments at the bottom were: "Has enough courage - no new situation will bother him. Would be a good obedience dog. Great Temperament."

    ( I don't think I got a copy of Beau's, but it wouldn't surprise me to find he scored 2's to Zachary's 3's.)

    Looking at Zachary now, nearing maturity at 2.5 years old, I'd say the test was a pretty good predictor. Volhard's descriptions (on the test page) for a puppy who scores mostly 3's (as Zachary did) are: "This pup is outgoing and friendly and will adjust well in situations in which he receives regular training and exercise. He has a flexible temperament that adapts well to different types of environment, provided he is handled correctly. May be too much dog for a family with small children or an elderly couple who are sedentary."

    And that's a pretty good description of our Zachary! (Well, except for that "too much dog" part. Hard to picture the person he would be "too much" for... but then I'm not (too) elderly nor do I have small children, so I might not be the best judge of that.)

    So, which puppy will be ours? Will the puppies that stood out for us have temperaments that match what we are looking for? What happens if they don't? I have no idea!

    On the Getting-Way-Ahead-of-Herself Front: I have posted One-of-Ten's first Weekly Worksheet to my BZ Dog Activities blog, reproduced below for grins and giggles. I have decided to create different sheets for Zachary and One-of-Ten, at least until I decide not to!

    (As always, click to see larger)

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Puppy Goals (part 1)

    Puppy - 6.5 weeks
    Dog Blog Post #124: Getting a shiny new puppy is like New Years Eve - a chance to dream up lofty Goals and Resolutions while feeling just a little bit giddy.

    This will be my third puppy, and when I think how much I've grown as a puppy parent in the seven years they encompass, I have to admit to feeling pretty proud. I'm also painfully aware of all the mistakes made and the lost opportunities.

    Some of those mistakes could not really have been avoided. Life teaches lessons at its own mysterious pace, and all we can do is try to keep up and hope we finish the lesson before the test arrives. And when that doesn't happen, we pray we're smart enough to have learnt the lesson well before the next test hits us.

    And that's probably enough said about that.

    I will be following Sue Ailsby's new Training Levels - Steps to Success with One-of-Ten, as I feel it is the best at-home skills curriculum available. I actually think it's the best skills curriculum anywhere, and while I haven't been to a huge number of wheres, I've certainly been to enough to have an opinion I'm not afraid to share.

    Sue's Homework for Level One is: "List 5 things you hope to accomplish by working the Levels with your dog."

    Just five?

    My basic needs and wants from when Zachary joined our household have not really changed. We are principally looking for a Family Member to be well-loved and a canine-companion for Zachary.

    I would like One-of-Ten to get his Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Certificate. I would also like to do AKC Rally, or something similar. If he has show potential (his parents are both AKC Champions) then that would go on the list as well.

    As Training Level's is a skills-based curriculum, today's goals will be so oriented. Hopefully, in the next few days, I'll come up with a list of socialization-based goals as well.

    So here we go:

    1. Figure out who he is, how he thinks, and what he might like to do when he grows up.
    2. Form a positive working relationship/partnership
    3. Foster a love of learning
    4. Create a solid foundation of skills/knowledge/abilities for Real Life
    5. Have fun!
    As always, I will be using this venue to stay motivated and (hopefully) on course, assuming the fates don't conspire to change things.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    The Easy Dog

    Puppy - 6.5 weeks
    Dog Blog Post #123: Zachary is an Easy Dog. I'd love to take credit for how wonderfully he has turned out, but I can't. Not really. He just came that way.

    It's nice working with an Easy Dog.

    Scratch that.

    It's stupendous (joyous, invigorating, and just plain fun) working with an Easy Dog.

    What makes Zachary an Easy Dog? Well, for starters, he thinks I walk on water, that the world revolves around me, and he lives to try to please me.

    Really, need I say more?

    They say you don't get the dog you want, you get the dog you need.

    If that's the case, then the cosmic forces must have thought I needed a Whole Lot O' Dog when they handed me Beau.

    Beau was not an Easy Dog - at least not at first. He definitely did not think I walked on water. He knew the world did not revolve around me, and my needs (let alone my wants) were carefully weighed against his before he made any decisions.

    He was not a dominate dog, despite what some of the (worst) trainers thought. He never tried to impose his will on others or make them do anything at all. He just considered everyone to be pretty much equal, and equals should politely and respectfully discuss the merits of any action before a course is decided.

    Equals can also choose to ignore other equals, especially if they are blabbering nonsensically (as I was prone to doing, at least for the first year or two.)

    I learned a lot about dogs (and life) from Beau.

    Beau could not be dominated (he'd blow you off) or intimidated (he'd laugh at you.) Unlike most dogs, he also couldn't be bribed by food or toys or anything else that anyone could think of.

    Nope, working with Beau required forming a relationship - a true partnership - and most trainers just couldn't seem to wrap their minds around that idea. They were too stuck on the idea of "us vs. them".

    Beau didn't do "us vs. them".

    He would happily wag his tail, beg a belly rub, then bolt off to go smell the dirt, leaving those sort of trainers holding, well, nothing at all.

    ( It was next to impossible to be more interesting than dirt if you hadn't already worked out that whole partnership thing. )

    Being Beau's partner wasn't actually hard, it just required understanding his needs and wants, communicating your needs and wants, and then working out between you the order that things were going to be done in.

    So long as Beau felt you were working with him, he would move mountains for you.

    At Rally shows he did pretty much everything I asked in exchange for a chance to sniff to his hearts content when it was all over. There were times when he had to wait several hours before my end of the bargain was fulfilled, but he never complained.

    We had a deal, he know it, and he trusted me to hold up my end.

    I never let him down.

    While an Easy Dog may be fun and joyous, working with Beau was hugely rewarding. And while he handed out his friendship to any and all (that whole Obsessive Compulsive Friendliness Disorder thing) he gave out his respect very judiciously, and I was honored to have earned it.

    All he really wanted was to be understood. Was that so much to ask?

    Handler Dan understood Beau. He taught the conformation handling class, and held the high honor of being the only person who ever held Beau's leash who didn't have it yanked from his hand (yours truly included.)

    Handler Dan never raised his voice, never offered any food, never did anything with the tiny little show leash except loosely hold the end of it, and yet Beau did anything that man asked.

    To this day I don't really know why, except to think that somehow, in the blink of an eye, Handler Dan and Beau somehow formed a partnership of equals, and Beau shone like a star for him.

    ( sigh )

    I'm hoping One-of-Ten is an Easy Dog.

    I'm hoping that the cosmic forces are satisfied I learned what needed learning from Beau and they will smile on me again, but only time will tell.

    Either way, I will work hard to apply what I have learned. After all, when you're being taught by the best, you'd be a fool to not pay attention.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010


    One-of-Ten's sister - 6.5 weeks old
    Tonight I put together my best guess for what I think little One-of-Ten should know by 20 weeks of age.

    I readily admit that this is just a guess, based on fuzzy memories from 2.5 years ago, when Zachary was just a wee pup himself.

    In addition to what I show here, I will be working through Sue Ailsby's new Training Levels, called Steps to Success. I am unbelievably tickled that she released these to the general public just in time to be there at the start of One-of-Ten's journey toward canine enlightenment.

    I've tentatively decided to keep Zachary on the old Levels. That's partly because he would zip through them fairly rapidly at the beginning, and without the book (soon out, I hope) it would be hard to know if I was doing things correctly. I'm also not sure it's worth it to switch, as we are finally to the "interesting" bits in the old levels (scenting/retrieve/etc.) and I'm not sure I really want to start all over again.

    I have decided to go with two different Weekly Worksheets, as trying to fit both Zachary's and One-of-Ten's on one didn't prove to be viable when I gave it a test run this evening.

    Anyway, my proposed syllabus for Preschool is below. The Puppy Socialization Requirements are on my list to do, but will probably look like a simplified and expanded version of Excursions. That is, a list of places to go and do and see that are appropriate for a puppy.

    (As always, click to see larger.)

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Puppies - 6.5 Weeks

    This was the last visit before the temperament test and the Selection Committee (breeder and friends) match up people to puppies.

    It was warm again, but the puppies were more lively this time and it was a bit easier to spot personalities. A lot of cuddling occurred, some games played with camera straps and pony tails (both mine), a ball was chased, some fingers (jeans, toes, shoes...) were nibbled on, more cuddling, a bowl of water was knocked over, all hearts were listened to (the vet stopped by) and one puppy attempted a jail break by digging out under the ex-pen.

    Did we finally pick a favorite?

    Yes... and it was actually pretty easy... but there were several other puppies who were really close that we also all liked.

    In a week and a half or so, we'll know which puppy is our one-of-ten, and he will begin his new life with us.

    I continue to read puppy books, jot ideas down on paper, asks questions on the Training Levels list, and in general attempt to make time pass faster than nature decrees it should.

    Nature is winning.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    The Single Dog

    Zachary at 6.5 weeks
    A few years ago, when a good friend of my was commenting on how much energy her large-breed had, I suggested she get another dog. Beau was a Single Dog from puppy hood until 4.5 years, and the addition of Zachary as a puppy at that time had really done a lot to calm the big dog down (or maybe he had sudden onset maturity. Hard to say.)

    My friend replied that she would like to, but her hubby felt that the dogs would bond more with each other than with him - or the new dog would bond more with the old dog than with him (it's been a while.) But the upshot was that he would somehow be left out of the loop.

    As our breeds, dogs, and families are very different, I shrugged and said perhaps and left it at that, but in my heart I knew that two was better than one and that our relationship (the dogs and I) was not adversely effected.

    Now, having gone from two dogs back down to one (at least for a few weeks here) I can see that I was both right and wrong.

    I believe I can say with 100% certainty that the addition of Zachary to the family did not have a negative impact on Beau, or his relationship with the two-legged family members.


    My big dog remained my big dog, and while he definitely enjoyed the canine companionship, I'm doubt that he would have shown much (if any) change (ie: mourning or sense of loss) should Zachary have been taken first.

    With Zachary, the story is more complex.

    I freely admit that there were parts of Zachary's education and entertainment that we left fully to Beau. The big dog took on Bite Inhibition (those poor ears) and Wearing Out without a single complaint. Zachary clearly looked to Beau for companionship, guidance, and leadership in all things "doggie" - although it's interesting to note that Beau often seemed to lead from behind.

    And Zachary was clearly distressed and confused when his friend and mentor vanished from his life, although he seems to have put that behind him now.

    But there is more.

    I've come to realize that there are a few things about Zachary that I don't know that I did know about Beau.

    For example, I never knew that Zachary doesn't look you in the eyes "just because" - at least not directly. He'll do it if we are training it, and yes, that took a lot of work, but I guess I always thought that was because he didn't know what I wanted, not because he didn't want to do it.

    Beau would stare at me with soft eyes, seemly because he just wanted to connect with me (and sometimes because he wanted a cookie from the cookie jar!)

    I could get lost in those eyes, and often felt that they were windows to an old soul.

    I also didn't realize that Zachary didn't see us as creatures that could be played with. He would play tug and fetch just fine - games done from a distance - but anything done up close or "in your face" clearly made him uncomfortable.

    That's really not too surprising, as he and Beau played hours of bitey-face and we were happy to leave that to them. But when I saw that Zachary was missing that kind of interaction and tried to supply it, he was clearly uncomfortable.

    Beau and I used to play like that Before Zachary - things like keep away, paw games, gentle shoulder shoving,... etc.

    Thankfully, at least that has been easy to fix.

    A few weeks ago I couldn't get a puppy fast enough. I felt Zachary needed companionship right away, and seeing him look so lost made a hard time even harder. Now, I'm glad we've had these few weeks to get to know one another a little better, and I'm going to make an effort to continue these one-on-one sessions with Zachary, and make sure I have them with little One-of-Ten as well.

    Just two more weeks.

    I can hardly wait!

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    I Am Trainer...

    Dog Blog #119: I Am Trainer, Hear Me.. Complain?

    Problem: I want to read my book (The Focused Puppy) but I don't want to turn on the light as it is hot outside, nice inside, and I really really want to stay that way.

    Solution: Read near a non-sunny therefore open-blinded window.

    Problem: I have no chairs near the open-blinded window.

    Solution: Stretch out on the floor and read my book.

    Problem: Zachary finds this to be a Very Interesting behavior on my part, and stands next to me panting (as his appraisal of the house temperature seems to vary from mine) and dripping the occasional drip of drool off the tip of his tongue, which Murphy's Law decrees must land on my new book.

    Every time.

    Solution: Push the dog away.


    Solution: Cue the dog away (Out!)


    Solution: Explain (in English, of course) how I don't want to read a drippy-wet book.


    ... but wait! I'm a dog trainer, right?

    Solution: Whip out mat, place next to my spot, grab a bowl of cookies, and go back to reading my book.

    Dog stands over me, next me, next to the bowl, drips on the bowl, sniffs at my hand, noses the clicker (not actually used in the exercise but along for the ride) and finally lays (un-cued) on mat.

    Good dog! Here, have a cookie.

    Dog sees arrangement as mutually beneficial, and stays on mat.

    Good dog! Here, have another cookie.

    ... and so, every time I turned the page, the dog got a cookie.

    Results: Me happy, dog happy!

    I am trainer, hear me say "Good Dog!"

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Puppies - 5.5 Weeks

    Oh, happy day!

    Today was "Puppy Day", and we trekked northward a few hours for our first official visit with the puppies. It was rather warm out, and puppies were definitely less frisky than they had been last week, when the weather was noticeably cooler (and we were inside - well, I was. The guys were outside "paying our way" by moving the Kennel from point A to point B.)

    There were also a lot more people there today, although everyone was friendly and puppies were freely shared.

    I have no idea which puppy is the right one for us.

    I have little idea how to even make the decision. I dutifully cuddled (yeah, hard job, cuddling puppies) and cooed the little fuzz balls, held everybody (numerous times) and have come to little in the way of a decision.

    I guess that's good, as the decision belongs to the breeder after the temperament test, but to at least have an opinion would be nice.

    There are eight boys, and of those eight there is only one that we are pretty sure (but not certain) would be a bad match for us. There is one more who we think would be a bad match (but again, are not certain.) There is one we saw little of as he was a favorite of someone else, although I did hold him and found nothing either great nor awful about him.

    Assuming that puppy is meant for another, that leaves five puppies. When I asked my son, he listed three that he liked best. I had four on my favorites list, two of which overlapped with his. His "extra" was higher energy than the my choices, my two "extras" were lower energy, and we all agreed that we could be happy with any of those puppies.

    (Hubby said "too early to tell" and left it at that.)

    Soooo... seven more days must pass before we get our final visit.

    If the weather is cooler and the puppies are more frisky then we might be more able to tell them apart...

    ... maybe.

    Of course, how often does anyone get a chance to spend to hours cuddling soft, gentle, somewhat sleepy puppies?

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Puppy Preschool

    Zachary 8-10 weeks
    Dog Blog Post #117: I've decided that Zachary's Primary School Curriculum isn't going to work for One-of-Ten (my placeholder name for my puppy-to-be.)

    While I started it when Zachary was a puppy, by the time I got it settled he was practically a dog (well, a teenage dog, but certainly well beyond an eight week old puppy.)

    So, back to the planning board I go, trying to determine what is reasonable for a puppy to accomplish -and- what kind of timeline it is reasonable for whatever-it-is to be accomplished in.

    Let's see, what do I have to work with?

    Yes, I'm thinking as I'm typing.

    No, that's probably not a good idea, but I only have so much time...

    • Goals and Resolutions tend to sprout at the new year
    • I'll be getting One-of-Ten near the end of September
    • There are three months between the end of September and the New Year (see mom, all those of years of college weren't a waste after all)

    So there you have it. One-of-Ten's Preschool Curriculum will be based on whatever it is I think a puppy can/should learn in three months.

    Hmm.... I wonder what a puppy can/should learn in three months?

    (That's from 2 months until 5 months (or 8 to 20 weeks) for those playing along at home.)

    Wow... That's a really critical time period.

    Zachary at 6 weeks
    The first 2/3 of that is when they tell you as much socialization with dogs, places, and people as possible should occur. It's also when they tell you to keep puppy far away from all those nasty germs that dogs, places, and people have.

    No, I don't understand how to do that either. If someone could explain it, I would be eternally grateful.

    The last bit continues the socialization, while building up skills (such as the elusive recall and loose leash) that hopefully will be strong enough to withstand the onslaught of The Terrible Teens, which start somewhere in Month 5 and probably extend well into their first year (although Zachary was really easy and Beau... wasn't.)


    This is much to important to leave to random thoughts typed into a blog.

    So I will leave you with what I shamelessly stole from Wikipedia under "Preschool Education" as the Development Areas for a human child:

    • Personal, social, economical, and emotional development
    • Communication, including talking and listening
    • Knowledge and understanding of the world
    • Creative and aesthetic development
    • Educational software
    • Mathematical awareness and development
    • Physical development
    • Playing
    • Self-help skills
    • Social skills

    I'm thinking there is enough there to work with, especially given all the puppy books I have laying about, Stitch's Blog (which I am heartily enjoying! I'm on Week 17) and a new puppy book I just ordered that is on its way ("The Focused Puppy: A Training System for Raising a GREAT Companion and Performance Dog" by Deborah Jones PhD and Judy Keller).

    So much to do, with Puppy Preparations and all, and yet I know if I wait to plan out his first few weeks/months until One-of-Ten actually arrives, it will never get done.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Puppy Prep (Part 1)

    Zachary at seven weeks old
    I am getting soooo excited about the puppy. Yes, I know "things" could still happen and I might not get a puppy, but that would only happen if there was a problem at the breeder's end, and I can't control that, so I'm not going to worry about it.


    It helps that there are eight boy puppies. Eight! One of those happy faces has got to be a match for us, don't you think???

    And so I am proceeding full steam ahead with puppy preparations, in happy anticipation of a bouncy baby golden coming home somewhere in the week of the 20th.

    tick tock tick tock

    Tonight I'm going to start by going through all the puppy things we have from when Zachary was a puppy, and probably throwing away/recycling 90% of them. After all, part of the fun of getting a shiny-new puppy is running to the store and blowing a wad of money on shiny-new puppy things like:

    • Puppy collar
    • Puppy leash
    • Puppy chewies
    • ... more puppy chewies
    • ... even more puppy chewies
    • Puppy pee cleanup
    • ... more puppy pee cleanup
    • ... even more puppy pee cleanup
    • Puppy gate (see below)
    • Puppy sleeping pads (yes, plural - so one can be in the wash)
    • Puppy Kongs (for smearing with peanut butter, freezing, then putting in the crate during the day)
    • Puppy Binder (shot record, AKC Registration, favorite photos...)

    ... and probably a billion other things I'm not thinking of. Things I'm pretty sure we will reuse include:

    • Puppy bowl - ours is nice heavy ceramic and matches adult bowls
    • "Puppy" Crate (see below)
    • Puppy dog tag (phone number only)

    Puppy Gate: We really liked the gate we got for Zachary. It was metal and had a door that you could open/close to aid bringing groceries into the Kitchen without killing ourselves trying to hop over the gate.

    No, we didn't have it for Beau, which is why he was so afraid of the baby gate.

    Picture hubby (not a small man) catching a foot on the top of the baby gate, tossing contents of arms up into the air while trying to maintain balance, failing to maintain balance while contents of arms, gate, and himself come crashing to the ground. Add expletives (lots of expletives!) Repeat frequently. Beau always gave the baby gate a WIDE berth.

    Yes, it chewed up the doorway, but it was still worth it. No, we don't still have it, but that's more because of our ill-treatment than any huge flaw in it. Yes, we will be looking for another one pretty much just like it.

    "Puppy" Crate:
    Neither Beau nor Zachary had a special (ie: small) puppy crate. Beau did try out the metal insert that came with his crate that was supposed to make the crate smaller. And it did. And he hated it. So we took it out. He still hated it (the crate) but that's another story. We didn't even try to make the crate smaller for Zachary.

    We currently own 3 large metal crates. One is a bit older, a lot harder to open, and in storage (where it will remain. Period.) The other two are identical and in our bedroom. One is Zachary's nighttime crate, which he hasn't used since he was a year old and we stopped closing the door at night. The other is Beau's nighttime crate, which is right against my side of the bed and where he slept every night by choice (door was open.)

    Zachary prefers the Big Bed with us - he isn't called Snug Bug for nothin'.

    Soooo... Beau's crate will remain where it is and become puppy's nighttime crate. Zachary's nighttime crate will migrate into the family room and be puppy's daytime crate.

    If I'm feeling industrious, I might set up the travel crate where Zachary's nighttime crate use to sit and retain the "run into the crate for the nighttime cookie" ritual, just so he doesn't forget how to run into a crate for a cookie.

    Could happen.