Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Learning Curve

She is learning. I know that everything is new to her. I also know it is my job to teach her the things she needs to know in order to be an acceptable part of our family and society.

She used to whine and scratch at the doors to be let in after potty times. My husband put and end to that pretty fast. Now she sits and looks from us to the door and waits pretty patiently to be let in.

She used to jump on me or the piece of furniture I was sitting on if she wanted my attention. That's fine for a 15 lb puppy... but not so much so for a 90 lb dog. So I say "NO" and move away from her. A few times I stepped on her back paws (lightly of course). Now she comes and sits in front of me if she wants my attention. She learned this so well, in fact, that when we were at my in-law's and she had had enough of being chased around by their 20 month old boxer Taz, she came and sat at my feet and dodged Taz's licks and nudges until I picked her up.

And the other day, she sat on command. We haven't really even worked on that... only when she gets a treat for going potty outside will my husband make her sit for her treat. I am not as consistent... I usually just give her the treat if she goes where she is supposed to.

The chewing is another thing all together. I don't know how much of it is just her being a puppy and how much is a habit I need to discourage. She is better than I thought, though. She takes re-direction to appropriate objects pretty well and hasn't really been interested in chewing on the furniture (God said okay to that particular prayer).

With us, however, it is a different story. She will mouth our hands or arms or feet. I think that is ok. That is how babies learn about their environment. But when she bites, that is not ok. We redirect her to a toy but she just goes for the hand that is holding it. She will even wrinkle her muzzle and lash out to bite us when she is repremanded. My husband or I will grab her muzzle and say a firm "NO BITE!" but it doesn't do anything. We remove ourselves from the situation when it's possible but it is not always possible (like when driving in the car, etc.) Most of the time this happens, she is in that snippy time I mentioned in a previous post, right before she falls asleep. I'll be so glad when she is done teething...

We start puppy kindergarten on February 3rd. I am looking forward to getting the foundations of obedience training started.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Getting To Know One Another

One of the fun things about Bailey is learning who she is. Her personality is starting to emerge and it can be quite entertaining and heartwarming.

She likes to cuddle. She will curl up in my lap and sleep so sound she snores. When my husband or I pick her up, she will put a paw on each shoulder (like a baby would wrap his arms around a parent) and lick our face a few times before she lays her head on one shoulder or the other. Very sweet.

She gets the hic-ups. I didn't know dogs could get the hick-ups. And when they come about varies. Sometimes it's after she eats, sometimes it's when we are playing, and sometimes when she's just laying there.

She taps us if she wants our attention. She lifts a paw and taps us with it until we attend to her. It's cute when it's my leg or arm. Not so much when I am asleep and it is my face or chest.

She also likes to bury her muzzle. She will lay in my lap and bury her face in the crook of my arm or knee if I am sitting cross-legged. Or between my neck and the pillow if I am laying down. It's really very cute.

She dreams... like the dog from Cinderella... legs flailing about and dream-barking and all.

She gets snippy when she is tired. She wants to cuddle with her human but wiggles and bites and fights it until she is too exhausted to do so any longer and passes out cold.

Then she sleeps so sound that I can do all kinds of things to her without objection... like bury her under the dryer-warm towels we use for her kennel.

She is fairly social. She allows almost anyone to pet her, which is good. She will be intimidating enough without needing to be guarded or suspicious. And I want her socialized with kiddos, too. God willing, someday we will have children and I want their friends to be able to come over without fear of our dog attacking if they are playing too rough with each other.

She did something the other day that brought tears to my eyes. In a previous post (Grief 12/2007), I mentioned that Gizmo used to wait for us to step out of the shower so she could lick the water off of our ankles. The other day, I got out of the shower and I heard Bailey whining (probably because I was the only one home and she could hear me but not find me). So I called her name and she found her way to the bathroom. And she proceded to lick the water off my knees (she's quite a bit taller that Giz was). I don't know if all dogs do this or what but Gizmo was the only dog I had that ever did that. I still miss her and my heart still aches. Bailey is helping to ease that ache but I know it will be there for a long time to come.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

Seen on a bumper sticker:

"A parking lot is not the place to think outside the box"

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pics and Potty Training

I know... you want more pics...

So here they are:

We got Bailey's ears cropped. I didn't really have an opinion about it but my husband insisted. And all the adult dobes I saw that had natural ears just looked like labs with long noses so I was okay with it.

She has done pretty well so far... not really messing with the block or anything. And when she does, she takes our re-direction fairly well. When she is left in her kennel when we leave, we put the dough-nut on so she doesn't rip out a stitch in our absence. We went with the dough-nut instead of the lamp-shade because the lamp-shade whould have pushed her ears forward.

She likes her kennel. She will go there to lay down if she is tired and we are up doing stuff around the house. We try not to put her in there too much. Only when we leave the house or at night if she wants to play while we are trying to sleep. And it seems to be working because she goes there on her own and that is what we want.

The potty training is coming along. She still has accidents but those are more our fault than her's. It's just hard to stay outside with her to make sure she goes when it is 3 degrees (and that is the actual temp, not the wind chill). She usually goes potty pretty fast when we get out there. Then she runs around for a while. Then she goes and sits in front of the door and waits for us to let her in, which is an improvement because she used to whine and scratch at the door. Once we get back in, she plays for a few minutes and then I find a pile on the floor. We increased our time outside and tried going out more often but it didn't work... But I am not too worried. Last night, she went into her kennel where her puppy pad was and went potty right on it... She is 10 weeks and 4 days old and the experts say not to expect too much until they are 12 weeks old so I am pleased with what we have accomplished so far.

She is growing fast. She was 12 lbs when we brought her home on the 5th and weighed 16 lbs on the 21st. I am trying to take lots of pics. We even did a footprint with a kit bought at a local pet store. But I have had to adjust her collar and harness about once a week... I hope I am doing enough to preserve these puppy days... they are going to be gone before I know it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Dog's Purpose

This was a forward I received. It seemed fitting that I should post it here:

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion.

We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up,

"I know why."

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?"

The six-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Quote of the Day

The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sleeping Arrangements

Could they get any cuter? Bailey is such a cuddler!

The first night we had her, I let her sleep in the bed with me. I figured it was her first night away from her litter mates and she had a pretty traumatic day with her first car ride and wearing a collar for the first time and all (at least you would think it was traumatic by the way she responded to them.) I know this was a bad idea but my husband was working that night and I miss cuddling in bed with Gizmo so much... so for both our sakes I went against my better judgement and we shared the bed. We got up 3 times to go out and although I had my alarm set, she woke me each time trying to play so having her in the bed worked out.

The following night, I made her sleep at the foot of the bed (she had been right up next to me the first night.) But the first time we got up to go out, she was sleeping on my husband's pillow. So after we went potty and played a bit, I fixed her blanket in a spot on the floor right by my side of the bed. She didn't like that so much. But after a few minutes, she got tired of me telling her "no" and pushing her off the side of the bed and onto the blanket. She laid there and whined for a few minutes but she was asleep within 10 minutes. As it turned out, she woke me a few hours later trying to play (so I let her out), and it still worked out. It took less and less time to convince her that the blanket was her bed each time.

The 3rd and 4th nights, my husband was home but since he had been on the night shift, he was up most of the night to let her out and play when she woke up. But both mornings I found them asleep on the couch together. She was on the blanket so it wasn't too bad but it wasn't good either... he told me he was afraid he wouldn't wake up to let her out if she wasn't on the couch so he could feel her move.

The 5th night, he was back at work and she was on the floor again. It took a while to to remind her what the blanket was for, but it worked out for the first and second "sleep-shift". Then after I took her out at 3am, she would not go back to sleep. She kept trying to play and when I ignored her, she went to explore my husband's shoe shelf... you can guess what that meant. So I put her in her kennel. After 15-20 minutes of whining and crying, she was asleep.

So I am getting the first taste of the sleep deprivation new parents experience. It hasn't been too bad. I am sure it doesn't come close to what new parents actually go through but I figure I will have a small head start...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Hi, I'm Bailey!

This is Bailey. Do you think she has enough toys?

She won't be this size for long...

This is how she spent the majority of her first 72 hours with us. She would play hard for about 30-45 minutes then pass out cold for an hour or two... notice the tongue hanging out indicating the intense relaxation brought on by her "puppy coma." I never would have thought a dog could sleep so soundly... even if she was a baby...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ready? Set...

As the day approaches for us to bring our new addition home, I am starting to get very nervous. I am excited about having a dog in the house again and about getting to know our new friend but I am a little scared, too.

Although my husband has, I have never owned a puppy before. I have had many dogs over the years but they were all older (2 or more years) when they were acquired. I have never experienced the house breaking or chewing or initial obedience training. I am counting on him to help a lot, but I am still on edge.

I am trying to be smart about this, though. I have been reading almost anything I can get my hands on about puppy care and training and I am going to enroll us in puppy kindergarten as soon as she has a name. (We've narrowed it down to 3 choices.)

I bought some chew toys, a rope bone, and a couple stuffed animals for her to play with. I also got some nice smelling dog shampoo and a "waterless" dog spray for when she has her ears done and can't have a bath for a while. I purchased a couple different grooming tools as well. We have a couple baby gates to keep her confined to the main level of our home for now (we only use our upstairs for storage and a spare bedroom anyway). We are using Gizmo's bowls for now while we look for a stand we like that raises the dishes off the ground. We have an assortment of collars and a leash that is good up to 110 lbs. The crate we ordered should be here by the 3rd and I am going on the 4th to buy food, treats, and a bed.

I think I have all my bases covered. Have I forgotten anything?