"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Monday, February 26, 2007

Never a camera when I need it

I looked over tonight, and Nettie had piled up two Nylabones, her stuffed fox and a ball, and was snoozing with her head on all of them. Too bad the camera was upstairs -- when I rose to try to get it, she snapped to attention.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Skating over some bumps

Yesterday, I took Andrew out for our first expedition in outdoor ice skating, at Deering Oaks Park in Portland.
Neither of us had ever been on ice skates before we moved to Maine, and we started last spring, when Andrew's preschool had an expedition. He liked it so much that we all started going to the indoor rink, and we all liked it enough that we now own skates and probably were going every other week at one point. But the rink had renovations, and we had only been skating one time since July.
And, in addition to being rusty, skating on a pond is a different ballgame. No Zamboni -- bumpier and uneven ice. And no wall to grab onto.
Andrew and I both got off to a rocky start. I fell flat just getting onto the ice. But he just kept taking off and throwing himself into it. And I was surprised at how fast it started feeling more comfortable again.
Raising Nettie, round two of puppy adventures, is a lot like that. There are some bumps, and I was feeling a little rusty, but we're getting back into the swing of it. We met Nina and Europe, Nan and Kessler and Beth and Keifer at Maine Med on Friday for a work, and Nettie was having a lot of issues with pulling and jumping. I was having issues, as Nina noticed, with keeping the leash too taut. So we both had work to do, and sometimes progress came slowly. We also were the first pup to fold, when it was clear that Nettie (who was the youngest) had had it.
I think with Murphy, I would have been a lot more uptight and worried about the way that work went. But this time, I wasn't. I took Nettie with me yesterday when I had to go to the mall, and we worked in the mall lot. The game that Nina taught me for working on the pulling -- reversing direction a lot -- worked like a charm. Nettie was really distracted for about the first 5 minutes and then she settled in and tuned in like a champ. So we pretty much walked up and down the same two parking lot rows -- that was good for her, and she did much better at not pulling than she had the day before.
So if you just remember to keep yourself centered, the little bumps and cracks are a lot easier to glide over.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Congrats to Wella and Farrell!

Word comes from Cora, Wella's raiser, that Meg, the last pup of the litter, has passed her IFT this week!
That means that six of the eight M puppies are currently in training. One was released at IFT and one was released at 8 weeks.
I don't know the GEB stats offhand, but I'd have to say that's not bad. Congrats to Wella & Farrell!
Wella is due again in March, so I'm looking forward to seeing Murphy's baby half-siblings.

Well, maybe not THAT useful

You knew this was coming .. from the second-day stories off Mount Hood

A word to weekend warriors: Adding Fido to the checklist of climbing safety gear probably is not a great idea, local veterinarians and outdoors experts say.
Three climbers rescued from Mount Hood on Monday attributed their survival to locator beacons and a black Labrador retriever named Velvet who kept them warm as a storm raged overnight.
But bringing a pet up an 11,239-foot mountain can pose risks for owner and pooch.
Taking any but the most well-trained dogs on a winter climb is like bringing a small child up the mountain, said John Miller, search and rescue coordinator for the Lane County Sheriff's Office.

- Eugene Register-Guard

Bob's opinion was that Murphy, during certain points in his adolescence, would have been the one pulling the climbers off the mountain to start with..

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Labs really are useful

This from the AP story about the rescued climbers .... Velvet is a black Lab mix.

The rescuers credited the group's rescue to two things -- Velvet, who offered warmth as the three climbers huddled overnight, and the activation of a radio transmitter the size of a sunglasses case that helped rescuers to the group.
"The dog probably saved their lives" by lying across them during the cold night, said Erik Brom, a member of the Portland Mountain Rescue team.

Civil discourse at 4:30 a.m.

This morning, it was 4:30 a.m. when Nettie started up.

Now, no matter how strong your marriage is, it is difficult to maintain civil discourse at 4:30 a.m.

Bob: (poking me, even though I'm already awake) She's at it agaiiinnnn...
Me: I know.
(Biting my tongue to not say, "You think??" or another equally sarcastic remark.)
(I start to roll out of bed to take her out, in case her tummy is acting up. She had some soft stool last night, so I've been a little concerned. Of course I'm equally worried that I'm rewarding this behavior, that she's going to also wake up Andrew, and that I may never again sleep more than 5 hours a night.)
A brief, mumbled debate on whether she might really need something, whether I'm spoiling her if I check, whether she is ever going to stop this middle of the night fussing.

Rational analysis also is difficult at 4:30.
I end up taking her out, making her fall silent before opening the crate door. No conversation, no petting, nothing but a leash clip, stop for doors, out to pee.
She appeared to be frantic for food, so I gave her a small handful and then took her back to bed, and fell back down myself.
Then she slept til 7.

So, I'm not sure this is the best way to deal with her on this. We did not do a formal training session yesterday, so factoring that in, I realize she did get less food and might have been legitimately hungry. I also know that Carol typically got up at 6 (possibly even 5:30), so Nettie does have to adapt to our timetable. Finally, I usually keep Nettie up later, but had gone to bed earlier and therefore, so had she.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Humility 101

So this morning, Miss Nettie had a fit of whining/barking at 2:30 a.m. and again at 5:45.
Humility is clearly the key component of puppy raising.
We'll get this schedule thing worked out. She is so sweet -- and so smart, too.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A big day all around

Andrew and I went to Augusta and met Carol to pick up Nettie to bring her home... As you can see, Nettie is settling in quite nicely!

She is doing much, much better at not fussing in the crate, which was a big issue for her when we were babysitting her. I crated her in the car, given that I had Andrew along and it was extremely windy, so I didn't feel like I needed another distraction. She gave one tiny whimper about halfway home, but didn't pursue it.
I then crated her while I was trying to get Andrew's lunch ready/him dressed for the bus. She barked for less than a minute -- and then hushed. And best of all, the crate wasn't even covered! We used to have to cover her like a canary. Carol's really worked wonders with her in the past month.
She has Bob wrapped around her paw. He says she's so quiet and mellow in his office that a couple times he almost forgot she was there.
Anyway, after Andrew left for school, I took Nettie out to play in the snow ... in places it had drifted deep enough to come up to her tummy -- not that that stopped her much!

Then, when I went to work, my boss told me that I'm getting a job I applied for five months ago: I'm switching to be features editor, instead of running the night desk. It's a lateral move, but a chance to get experience in an area I haven't done, and it will mean working days.
Bob joked that getting Nettie clearly sealed the deal for this switch, and it does mean that we're going to have to figure out a new routine and I'll have to work to figure out the training/socialization time. It was easy when I worked nights -- dog time was when Andrew was in school. In the short term, it's actually a tiny bummer to switch to days. I was enjoying being a full-time mom in the mornings, and I'll have to stop volunteering in Andrew's class every Monday.
But, comparable jobs at my level don't come open often, and I knew I wanted off nights before Andrew went to first grade -- otherwise, I would have only seen him for about an hour every morning, from the time he woke up until he got on the bus. And I did not want that. It's hard to believe, but first grade for Andrew is only 6 1/2 months off, so I had to take this opportunity while it came.
We'll figure it out! And I think Nettie will be an easier pup than a certain stubborn black Lab we love!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why I'm afraid I don't get dog shows

One of these dogs is Murphy. One is a picture of a Lab, taken from the website of the Westminster Kennel Club, to illustrate the breed. (Editing to clarify that the Lab that won best of breed was yellow, and quite lovely, of course.).
If I could get the pictures to be the same size, I'm sure it would be harder to tell who's who.
But that's my point. I'm afraid I'm not getting it, when it comes to which dog is the "top dog" and why. Not that I don't love Westminster. I watch it of course every year... Although I do think it's always the more "frou-frou" dogs that win!!
Hey, if Murphy doesn't make it, maybe he has a second career? Nah. If I can't be bothered to use hairspray on myself, I doubt I see myself doing it to a dog.

My other furry babies

While we wait for Nettie -- only four more days! -- I thought I'd show off my two cats, also known as "distractions."

Squeegee, who is 9, is more adventurous. For obvious aesthetic reasons, I so would have liked to shoot a picture of him and Murphy together, but the photography was complicated by the logistics of getting them together and still. I think in another month, it might have happened. He did actually sniff Nettie one night when she was napping on her mat, so he is getting far more ballsy about this dog thing.

Socks, the tuxedo cat, is a (not so) little puffball and prince. He is 7 and is incredibly sweet and loving, but he did not like Murphy at all and never completely got over him. Finally Murphy grew bored with being hissed at. Socks is the cat who inspired the "Never assume that there is NOT a cat behind the shower curtain" mantra. (Full story in the Jan. 06 archives..)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Why I love LLBean

I went to the LLBean outlet today to look for a "go place" mat for Nettie.. Found one that was perfect, except for a really ragged seam on the back. But the top is just fine. So I took it up to the register, and the cashier and supervisor decided that it was worse than "Irregular", which is how it was marked. So they told me they'd give me 50% off what it was marked. Yay! A very nice dog bed for $15! (sells for $89 retail!) Can't beat that!