"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Monday, August 20, 2007

One way to hush the puppy

It was a beautiful day yesterday, so Andrew, Nettie and I went for a hike. We hiked about 3 1/2 or 4 miles at Bradbury Mountain, which is a pretty easy climb.

It's a popular area for families and dogs, so Nettie got lots of dog exposure, including to some not-so-well-behaved members of her species. One family had two German shepherds, one of which was growling at us as it approached. I simply moved off the trail, put Nettie in a sit-stay and calmly told the owner to keep that dog away from my dog and boy. (And of course, they had it on one of those retractable (non) leashes.) "Oh, he's just a puppy and he likes to talk," the clueless woman babbled at me. Yeah, right, lady. That's a future dog-bite in progress. This "pup" was full-size already. We heard him growling at every dog he saw at the summit.

Nettie was gold through this encounter -- she was like a statue and didn't seem fazed. Andrew's also dog savvy enough to declare that that lady was going to have big problems because she didn't make that puppy mind when he was little!

Nettie also greeted beautifully and quietly when we encountered a little boy, maybe 10, who had Down's syndrome, who asked to pet her. I think dogs sense they need to be good around special needs kids, because Miss Nettie was so gentle with him.

Back to the headline -- no barking this morning! Now if only I could win the lottery and manage to spend every nice afternoon hiking in Maine's gorgeous scenery!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Murphy, Lance and us

Here, at last is the formal portrait of Murphy, Lance, my son Andrew and me. I thought the photographer did a great job -- I really liked it!

There's a smudge in this version, which I downloaded from the GEB website for expediency.. I fear if I keep intending to scan the hard copy, you might be seeing it around the time Nettie graduates (knock on wood!).

For those lurkers who know Andrew (you know who you are!), can you believe how tall he's getting?

Friday, August 17, 2007

This one's going to be the death of me!

Before our in-service two weeks ago, Nettie had actually pretty well quit barking in the crate in the morning. If we weren't up by 6:30 or so, we might get a little whine, but that was pretty much it.

I couldn't go to in-service -- we had too many people off at work and my boss wouldn't let me off -- so I dropped Nettie off and retrieved her at lunch. Nettie, alas, was apparently very overstimulated all morning. Lee, one of the GEB people, told me that she thought Nettie was not getting enough exercise and that I needed to walk her at least 2 miles a day. So, I have been walking her 2 miles every morning.

The catch is that since I've been doing that, Nettie has now begun barking in the crate every morning, usually starting around 5 a.m. She can easily bark for half an hour without stopping.
She barks if the crate is covered (and she's also started trying to pull the sheet into the crate to chew it. We have never been able to have bedding in the crate, she chews it.)

I always give her a kong or her favorite nylabone in the crate at bedtime. Doesn't matter. I've started feeding her later. No difference.

The big variable seems to be the walk. It's the only change in her routine here. She will shut up the minute she hears me get out of bed upstairs, and I never let her out of the crate immediately when I come down. Right now, she's lying there contentedly and quietly, looking at me.

Unfortunately, the morning is the only time I can really reliably squeeze in the long walk. My routine is something like this: I have to get up at 5:30 to proofread my paper's website and make any fixes to it. Usually what I do is leave Nettie in the crate if she's been barking, for at least 15 minutes. I do let her out once she's been quiet for a while. Then she hangs out while I do the site, which usually takes 45 min to an hour. After that, we go out, get busy, have breakfast and go for our walk, all before my son wakes up. I had been exercising her in the morning on a long line, but I quit doing that, thinking that that is "fun" to her and she was barking b/c she wanted to do it. For the walk, we just go up and down our cul-de-sac, a 1/4 mile round trip. We just do it eight times. (I figure that boring is probably better for an exercise walk, anyway.)

Nettie also gets a long-line play session of 20-30 minutes almost every night with Andrew and me as soon as I get home from work. After Andrew's in bed, I keep her out of the crate with me pretty much until I go to bed.

Before all this started, I tried to take Nettie out a couple evenings a week after Andrew was in bed, but right now, it's a vicious cycle. When I'm being woken up at 5, I'm a lot less likely to be raring to go to work her somewhere at 9 p.m. and that hasn't been happening as much. I don't know, maybe if I were working her at 9 pm , she'd sleep later.

I'm just frustrated at this point. Maybe I should have never taken her on, now that I'm working days. And no, they're not going to let me bring her to work, and many days, I'd be too busy at work to give her the proper training anyway.

Ideas from the puppy raisers reading this?

Monday, August 13, 2007

They say there are no dumb questions...

but sometimes I'm not so sure.

From an onlooker at the mall: "Is she your guide dog?"

So many responses that could have been uttered to that one.

P.S. -- The headless mannequins? Not even an ear flick this time. That's my girl!