Puppy walking

An adventure in looking after a puppy until it is old enough to be properly trained as a guide dog for the blind.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Rocky loves shoes. When he manages to get one, he grabs it in his mouth and runs gaily away from where he found it, head held high, feet galumphing - with the shoe bumping along, it sounds like at least six feet - and then he finds a spot and lies down and very gently gnaws on the shoe. I am pretty fast in the retrieval of said shoes but he has yet to put a hole in them so I am thankful for his soft mouth. Maybe when he gets his adult teeth, things will be different, but for now, we call this gallop “the triumphant prance of the shoes”.

I looked over just now and saw evidence that he was trying to get at my running shoes. I keep a pair of shoes at the patio door but I can’t keep them on the floor of course. I have taken to putting them up on the back of the armchair, delicately placing them on the wet-puppy-paws towel that also resides on the chair. However, yesterday was lawn mowing day AND it was raining so my shoes were covered in wet grass clippings. I therefore put them in a grocery bag and perched them on top of the basket that holds some wood for the fireplace. What I saw just now was the bag moving (it was the rustling that got my attention). Rocky was hidden behind the chair. As I watched, the bag slowly started to slide so I told Rocky, “watch it or that’s going to land on your head.” And he left it alone! He has worried at the umbrella that we also keep at the back door, enough so that it fell over and scared him. I told him then that this served him right but he still goes after it occasionally.

Regarding poop, he had to go at 1:30am again last night (so much for hoping), although he did manage two poops in the one outing and slept until 6am after that. Sheila the PW supervisor thinks it might just be the way his bowels work, although she agreed puppies never hold poop in for more than 14 hours. This is quite unusual. But he is not lethargic and when he does go, it doesn’t bother him so maybe this is normal for Rocky. A neighbour suggested I should become a night owl and get things done in the middle of the night. Like that’s going to happen.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

It’s gone down to 10C and the winds are gusting to 60 km/h. A blustery day, as Pooh might say. I got the fence back up after the mowers left. It was a little difficult to pound in the garden stakes with a two pound sledge, especially since they are six feet tall, but they appear to be holding. In the meantime, I made some peanut butter cookies because I am housebound, and because Sheila is coming this afternoon. I thought it would be nice if the house smelled yummy when she got here. I have saved the second half of the dough to bake some fresh this afternoon. I did however, learn a lesson. Never leave the dog unwatched. His “signal” to go outside is after all, a look over his shoulder as he sits at the patio door. I was too busy making sure my cookies didn’t burn to see “the look” and I came out of the kitchen to find a thankfully small puddle by the back door. We went out then, and got the mail and he peed a really big puddle once he was outside, so I was extra grateful he had held back earlier. When we got back to the house and I opened the door, the smell of cookies greeted me just the way I had planned.

Earlier today, I was cleaning some fans and when I went to put the front wire grate back on one of them, I dropped the teeny tiny nut that goes on the teeny tiny bolt that holds the safety grate on. I found the bolt but as I was bent over picking it up, the grate came loose and bonked me on the head and the bolt got lost. I was in the kitchen, thinking it would be easier to find things there is I dropped them. So I got down on my hands and knees and shone a flashlight around parallel with the floor, hoping to pick up the bolt in the light. Rocky thought this was a great game and proceeded to jump on my head as I peered under the fridge and the stove. I discovered that I really need to pull the fridge out and clean under it but I didn’t find the bolt. Next, I thought I would sweep very gently around the room to see if I could catch the bolt in the broom. Even though this was the first time I had exposed Rocky to a broom, he reacted to it like any other dog. He jumped at it and bit it and treated it like an interloper. He didn’t bark or growl but he was awfully animated. I wonder what it is about brooms and whisks (he acted the same way with the tiny “broom”) that gets dogs all excited?

STILL no ability to upload pictures!

Well sing Alleluia, Rocky slept through the night! The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for me. At 2:30 I was awakened by a noisy-engine-sounding thing. I couldn’t determine from the upstairs bedroom window where it was coming from, nor what it was. Peter slept through it. Then this morning, we heard it again and Peter said it sounded like the paint can shaking machine at the Home Depot. I thought it sounded like it was coming from our row of houses. I ran out the front (because we have a Rocky fence at the back) and around to the back and discovered it was the air conditioner belonging to one of our neighbours, rattling itself to death. I am sure I don’t know why anyone would have the HVAC system still set to AC, nor why it would have turned itself on as we are not having humid weather and the temperature is only 17C this morning (as at 6am anyway).

In the meantime, about Rocky’s pooping schedule (and you may be happy to learn that when it stabilizes, I shouldn’t be mentioning it any more), when I let him out first thing (before breakfast) at 6am, he has a nice big firm poop and a pee. I was so happy! Then I gave him breakfast - he does the happy meal dance before each meal now - and when I let him out not 10 minutes later, he had another big poop! Then... wait for it, when I thought it was safe to run around the back of the house to determine where that horrible noise was coming from, he had another poop just inside the patio door because he couldn’t get out. Three poops in less than an hour! I guess he’s making up for lost time. Anyway, I totally blame the neighbour for both my lack of sleep and for Rocky having an accident at the door.

The wind is gusting to over 40 km/h and supposed to get worse before it gets better with rain and maybe thunder and lightening. I decided not to take the fence down for lawn mowing because I am not sure they will come today due to the weather. But even if they do, I can hear them coming and I have time to take it down before they whiz by on their riding mowers. Sheila the PW supervisor is coming for her visit today and I think it would be nicer to have the fence up. Big excitement!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I managed to go grocery shopping this morning. After Rocky had dozed off as usual, around 8:30, I got things ready so I could go out. Of course, he woke up while I was moving around, doing things. I let him out for a pee and then because I don’t want to crate to be seen as prison, I waited a little while and then put him in it. He complained a little but then silence. I left as quietly as I could, given that we have an electric garage door opener that is really loud. It was good to get out on the bike and pedal over to the Loblaws, even if it is only a 7 minute bike ride away. Of course, I have no idea if there was wailing and gnashing of teeth after I left but I hope not. He was quiet and good as gold when I got home.

I’m wondering if he is a typical male with the pooping. We women go when we have to and postpone it if it is called for - and we don’t take forever. He saves it all up and then goes at the most inconvenient time. And if he has to go, then we all better be awake! I suppose I should be thankful he doesn't bring a magazine out to the yard with him.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Up again at 2:30am for a giant mushy poo. Don’t know what to do about it. The PW supervisor is coming for a home visit on Thursday and I will discuss it more with her and hope she has a miracle solution.

As is often the case with moms, I have turned into the disciplinarian around here. Peter gets home from work and the puppy greets him like a long lost soul. They play and it’s all fun and games until I have to remind them that the back yard is now just for relieving the puppy. Then I have to say, “don’t get Rocky all worked up just before bed time!” Then I have to remind Peter that Rocky shouldn’t be putting his front paws up on the couch and that the command is “Rocky, off”, not “okay now Rocky, Mom says you shouldn’t be doing this”. Grr, ruff, bark!

And this morning, Peter put Rocky back in his crate when he left for work and Rocky cried piteously off and on until I finally caved and got up at 7:15. So what is he doing now at 10am? Sleeping on the landing. And has been for the last hour. But I bet if I popped him back into his crate so I felt safe to take a nap myself, there’d be wailing and rending of garments. So my plan is to wait until his belly is full with lunch and we’ve gone for a stroll around the parking lot and then have my nap.

Monday, September 26, 2005

There’s no picture at the start of this entry because there is still some problem with Blogger. I haven’t been able to upload one since last week. I therefore added some new pics of Rocky to Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/juliar/

I just came downstairs. I was sitting here reading blogs and such when Rocky went running upstairs. I’d left only our bedroom door open (all the other doors were closed) but I knew he’d make a bee line for whatever is interesting in there - shoes carelessly left out of the closet, sweat pants hanging on the chair for making the midnight run. I followed him up and decided to make the bed while I was up there.

Earlier this morning, while I was reading the paper, I noticed him sitting at the patio door. He does that when he needs to go out but more often, he just sits there and looks out at the world. This time, he was looking intently at something down at the bottom of the door so I went to see what it was, thinking insect or something. As I got closer, I saw that he was watching the rain drops sliding down the glass and coalescing at the bottom. It has rained before but either he never noticed or it’s because this time, it is raining so hard that the drops are bigger and more fun to watch.

Yesterday, since it rained a lot, we had a very quiet day and dinner for Rocky was at 5pm, the new early time. When we went to bed at 10pm, he had pooped twice after dinner, which we took as a hopeful sign. I hadn’t been asleep that long when he barked to be let out again. It was only 11:45pm and that was his last poop for the day. I live in hope that the schedule is finally shifting. Today promises to be very quiet too, with the rain all day, so we will see what tonight has in store for us. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Little Rocky had a busy afternoon and evening yesterday and today, he has been sleeping most of the day. We had my friend Liz and her almost-eight-year-old daughter Victoria over for a long-overdue visit yesterday. Victoria had recently been scared by a puppy jumping all over her so we were going to use the visit as a lesson, as well as for catching up. When they arrived, I held Rocky by his collar and we all spoke quietly and were very, very calm. Rocky jumped on Liz a little bit but within a minute, he too was very calm. I am very impressed with his steadiness. We coached Victoria to not make a fuss and to ignore Rocky if he showed an interest in her and this worked really well for keeping him from jumping on her.

Then we sat outside until they left at about 8pm, even though it got quite cool. The whole time, Rocky played, usually with stones from the garden, but also with his own toys. He would come and visit us humans and get pats and then go play again. Eventually he lay down under the table and was just quiet. With Victoria also being a good little girl, we adults had a great adult visit. I am most pleased with the success of the day.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Inadvertently (and horribly, as bad parents) we might have made a move in “curing” the midnight run. Last night it was same old, up at 2am for the mushy poo. I didn’t have to get up a second time, thank goodness. Then I had a nasty headache and Peter got up in the morning and gave His Nibs breakfast and they played and read the paper. No poop.

Later, I started tidying and cleaning in preparation for an old friend coming to visit. Nothing special in the preparation, not even dinner, but I hadn’t vacuumed in a while so I thought it was a good time for that. As an aside, I had not exposed Rocky to a vacuum cleaner before today and wanted him to not be afraid of it. We sat on the top step upstairs and I showed him the machine and turned it on and off a few times. He got a bit excited but seemed able to cope. Then I started vacuuming the stairs and he was okay. Once I got downstairs and started using the upright attachment with the carpet beater, he got more and more worked up and started barking at the business end of the machine. I tried being ultra calm and slow motion but he seemed to react like all dogs and doesn’t like the vacuum cleaner. Oh well.

Finally it was around 2pm and I was tidying something at the front hall when I said to Peter, “Omigod! Did you give Rocky lunch??” It turns out that neither of us fed him lunch at noon. And he never said a word! So I gave him lunch and then at 5, I gave him dinner. And then we had guests and excitement. Who knows what poop may come of this.

Friday, September 23, 2005

I got an hour nap in and was up of my own accord when Guide Dogs called. Yay me!

Guide Dogs suggests that I only use the back yard for letting the puppy relieve himself and not for play time. I have got to make the connection stronger between the act of relieving himself and the command “get busy” and the praise that follows success. If I let him outside and he doesn’t even pee, then he forgets what his purpose was in being let out. If we want to get out for fresh air, we’ll go out the front and walk around the parking lot. Sounds good to me. She also suggested I move his dinner up to 5pm and see what happens. And the mushy poo and the fact that he’s holding it all in until the middle of the night sounds like stress. Yeesh. I have been trying to be laid back! If I were any more laid back, I’d be unconscious. Well, for me, anyway.

I was going to get out of the house once he had a poop today (which he still hasn’t) but now I think I’ll just wait until Peter gets home and then I’ll go out.

Okay, I caved. I called Guide Dogs to see if they have any advice about changing a puppy poop schedule. The woman who took my call laughed but she’s not the one suffering from sleep deprivation. I’m waiting for someone to call me back. Puppies are supposed to poop promptly after each meal. Rocky seems to save it all up for 1am and then at 2am, out comes what’s left over from the giant runny poo at 1am. So in the morning, after breakfast, there’s no poop. Now, after lunch, still no poop. This can’t be good. I’m hoping they have a simple solution like change his feeding schedule for a day or two. I’d probably just do that myself if it was my dog, but as that fellow said to Clouseau, “it’s not my dog”.

Yesterday morning early, when Peter was still here, I was upstairs looking for something under the bathroom sink. I hadn’t heard Rocky’s bell coming so when he licked my leg as I was squatting down with my head under the sink, I squeaked and banged my head on the sink and he squeaked and jumped backwards. It was pretty funny even if I did crack my head on the sink.

Now you see, Rocky is in his crate (we went for a walk after lunch and then played when we got home and since there was no poo, in the crate he went) and he is quiet so I should take a nap too. I’ll probably just get settled when the Guide Dogs will phone. Wish me luck.

[PS Blogger can't load any pictures for some reason, so the last few days have not been illustrated. Sorry!]

Thursday, September 22, 2005

So my theory about walking Rocky too much might be correct. Last night, he had a poop after dinner and one right before bedtime. Unfortunately, he had one at 1am too. But it was only one and not another one at 2 or 4am. However, we had another incident just now that leaves me wondering if I am a bad mother. We’d been up since 6 since today is lawn-mowing day and I helped dismantle the backyard. Peter took the fence down and I coiled up the hose and moved stuff off the grass. Rocky had breakfast and a pee and Peter left for work. We settled into a nice routine where he played or snoozed and I read the paper and the internet. He went to the door to watch the lawn mowers go by. Everything seemed so idyllic.

I decided to go up and brush my teeth, make the bed. He came up with me and I thought we were having such a good time. I was standing in the bathroom and was just about to put toothpaste on my brush when I glanced at him, standing in the bedroom (on the carpet of course) and saw that he was peeing! Now why would he just pee like that? If he had to go, he had opportunity when we were downstairs to ask to go out. I can see that he has not made the connection in his little brain between peeing and going outside. But I am wondering if this is my fault? Maybe I should have done as my mother and mothers everywhere do, before the family goes anywhere. I should have said, before we went upstairs, “does anybody have to go?” Granted, it wasn’t a long trip but I guess the big upstairs with its delights of toilet paper and shoes is a big trip for a little dog. Peter thinks he hasn’t yet made the brain connection about peeing because he is a male. I may have to defer to the wisdom of the male on this one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why does Rocky persist in going upstairs when I am downstairs? Doesn’t he know that he’s better off where the big dog is? Shouldn’t he feel lonely up there all by himself? I know it is a wonderland of socks and shoes and toilet paper fresh off the roll but still... Okay, I’ve answered my question. Now I have shut all the doors up there and all that is left is the bare hallway. Maybe when he is finished picking the toilet paper out of his teeth, he will come down.

After lunch today, we went out to get the mail and then he had a poop! I live in eternal hope.

So I have a theory about the diarrhea (or the midnight run, as we might call it here). It started after he got the vaccination that allowed him to go out for walks on pavement. Since then, I have been walking his little butt off, around and around the parking lot we’d go. I thought it would tire him so that he’d sleep through the night, not even acknowledging that he actually WAS sleeping through the night. So today, we hang out in the back yard and maybe take one little walk at noon.

I could tell Peter hadn’t read my second blog entry of yesterday, when he got home and asked, “is there a reason the toilet paper is all rolled back onto the tube?”

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Rocky has now discovered how fun it is to grab the end of the toilet paper and run down the hall with it trailing behind him like a bridal veil. If it wasn’t a waste, I would find it fun too, actually. It’s very windy here today and the leaves are blowing madly around the yard. There aren’t many of them yet (it isn’t even officially Fall) and so they are a novelty on our walks and while he is in the yard and he chases after them as if they were alive.

I managed to get the ironing done while he was in the crate, supposedly having a nap. He falls asleep easily enough but I am nervous about leaving him sleeping while he is not in his crate, for fear he will get into trouble while I am in another room. Of course, as soon as you put him in the crate, he wakes up and doesn’t want to sleep. The little bell on his collar helps me to tell where he is, if I have lost sight of him in the house but he can be quick and amazingly quiet when he runs up the stairs and fetches one of my slippers. If he was only bringing me my slippers like the fictional dogs do, it would be lovely.

Still no poop.

Yesterday, we went for three walks around the streets of the ‘hood. Until Rocky gets all his vaccinations (in three weeks from now) he can only walk on the street and not on the grass. But still, we are enjoying our little walks. He has no hesitation in peeing on the pavement when he has to go, unlike Uma who looked for just the right spot on the grass. Actually, she started out her life peeing on snow and in the first Spring of her life, as the snow melted, she found it harder and harder to find the proper spot to pee until she finally gave up and peed on the grass instead. We’ll see if the opposite affects Rocky.

We walked in the mid morning, after lunch and again after dinner. Nothing too exciting but he did poop on the after dinner walk so I had hopes for the night time. Alas, it was not to be. At 4 minutes to 1am I jumped out of bed and let him out and he had a mushy poo. When I got back upstairs after putting him back in his crate and flushing his poo and having a pee of my own, I was startled to notice that my clock said 1:04. All that (including getting dressed and undressed) took only 8 minutes. I looked out the window and was amazed to note that it had started to rain! Good timing Rocky, I thought. Not a drop while we were out there.

So I lay there wondering if I could get back to sleep quickly and wondering if he would have to go out again and if it would be raining then. Suddenly, I heard him crying. I jumped up and let him out for another mushy poo that in fact, was probably just the second part of the first one. I didn’t notice at the time that the patio stones were hardly wet and it wasn’t raining. When I got back to bed, I looked at the clock and was startled to see that it said 2:04. Apparently, I had been asleep for nearly an hour! And the rain that was promised had failed to materialize except for a brief shower.

For some reason, at 2am, I didn’t go right back to sleep so when the morning rolled around, I was sleeping hard. Peter had to get up anyway to go to work and sent me an email later to say: “Rocky didn't pee or poop either time I let him out.  I've noticed when he has to go he just goes and doesn't fool around on the way to the lawn.  He distracted himself with imaginary insects in the all the cracks both times and then laid down on the wet grass and stretched.  So I chucked him back in his house, full of breakfast, pee and poo.”

Another exciting morning at the Rocky household.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I am obviously not doing something I should be, or doing something I shouldn’t be. Rocky had two mushy poos last night - one at midnight and another at 1am. Each time, he went back into his crate without protest so that was nice. Then he started making morning noises (a little high pitched nose whining) around 5am, which is just too darned early. I ignored him, and initially, I even wondered if it was bird noises that had awakened me. Peter got up before 6 to bike to work, so he let Rocky out where he did NOT pee. I’m thinking no water overnight and a bit of dehydration due to the runny poo. Peter gave him breakfast and then popped him back in his crate. Then he left for work. Being in the crate did not sit well with Rocky and I lay there listening to nose moaning as well as whining so I finally gave up and got up at 6:30.

When I let him outside, he had a pee and has settled nicely into playing with his Kong and chewing on his bone. Oh, he went for one of my shoes and ran around the house with it until I asked for it back. And he felt compelled to explore upstairs so I followed to see that he didn’t get into trouble and now I have shut all the doors up there. And he has developed a fondness for chewing on one corner of the dining room carpet. But otherwise, he is behaving well. I’m just bagged.

Ah, he was toying with something at the fireplace and it fell over and scared him so he just had a good self-lesson in what he shouldn’t be doing. Now he has a paw up on my knee while I am writing here and wants my attention. It’s why they make puppies so cute - so you can tolerate the “other” behaviour.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Another up and down night. Up at 12:45am and again at 4am to let him out. Big mushy poops. Then he was up at his “regular” time at 6:30. And no poop yet today. I will walk him around (and around) the parking lot shortly. And again tonight. Last night we walked outside and he had two poops, so I thought he would sleep through the night. But I was mistaken. My life revolves around dog poop.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Last night, we played music for the first time since Rocky came here. We’d watched tv with him and noticed that he responded to certain sounds more than others. This time, we put on some SuperTramp from the late 70s and he was transfixed! He sat with Peter on the floor and listened intently, cocking his head every now and then. It seemed as though he didn’t want to get any closer to the sound either and when it was a little too loud, he backed away from the speakers. We really enjoyed watching him listen.

Unfortunately, Rocky was up again at 2am, because he had to poop. Yesterday was rainy all afternoon so I didn’t go walking with him around the parking lot. Maybe that was it. I keep hoping his schedule will even out and he will poop right after each meal but this has not happened yet. At the beginning, puppy life for the human anyway is all about pooping This morning, he declined to poop after breakfast and now, despite multiple goings out, he has still not pooped. However, he is about to get lunch so that may be the catalyst. And we are going to walk around this afternoon!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rocky is sitting by the patio door, looking out through the screen at the big, wonderful world out there. The lawn guys came yesterday but didn’t do our unit so they are here again today. I’m waiting for the trimmers to come around before I put the fence back up. In the interim, we have been going out the back with Rocky on a leash to pee. It works pretty well but he has taken to grabbing the leash in his mouth and pulling me along. Uma used to do that too and in fact, I see a lot of puppies do this. I have hung his leather Guide Dog leash up in the front closet for when we go on “proper” walks and I am using Uma’s old nylon leash for the back yard when there is no fence. The chewing was showing up on the leather and the nylon will take more abuse than that.

Here comes someone with a whipper-snipper... nope, they went the other way. I want to sit with him when new and potentially scary things happen and say “Whatsthat? Whatsthat?” in the MOST cheerful voice. I did that with the garbage truck and he was interested instead of scared. Maybe he would have been interested in any event, but I don’t want him to be a fearful dog so I do what I can and what I think worked with Uma.

Rocky sometimes makes this adorable little noise in his throat, sort of a snuffle. I can’t describe it but it's like when humans make that postnasal drip horking-back-the-snot noise in their throats, only not nearly as horrible. I am sorry to be so hypocritical but the dog noises are cuter than the people noises.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

One of his most endearing traits so far (and it has only been 6 days) is that when he sees something interesting, especially for the first time, he sits down with a little bounce and contemplates whatever it is. He just did this when I took him out for a pee and he saw a cat. He finished his pee and then walked a little closer to where the cat was and then sat. If I could give the sitting a sound effect it might be “plump”. When the grass cutters came around this morning, he watched them with great interest through the screen door and all the noise didn’t seem to bother him a bit. And he has discovered the fireplace tools and has smudges of soot all over his head. Yesterday, we had our first walk around the parking lot, now that he has had some more vaccinations. It’s all “firsts” these days.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Yesterday was a big day. It started with an unexpected and welcome visit from my sister Norah. She called a little after 8am to say that she was in the neighbourhood and could she come by. She knew I was waiting for the car rental people to pick me up and offered a lift with her instead. And she got to meet Rocky for the first time too. He jumped all over her for a few minutes and then settled down and let her admire him and pet him. We had a nice visit and then popped Rocky in his crate for the time I would be away from the house getting the car. She dropped me off at Enterprise and continued on downtown to do some errands for work.

I rented a car which turned out to be the new Chevy Cobalt. The crate fit nicely into the back seat and I was even able to get a seat belt around it. In spite of having driven around with a puppy on the loose 14 years ago, I was glad this time to have a smaller crate that I could put Rocky in to make sure he was safe and confined in the car for a road trip. I was reminded of how we used to drive around with no seat belts whatsoever back in the 60s. Rocky went into the crate without too much fuss, although he did cry for a few minutes as we started on the journey. It’s only 14km out to Manotick and we arrived early for the appointment with the vet.

I parked at the front and went into the front door because I didn't know we were expected at the kennels around back. I was very interested in Rocky’s response to the statue of a Labrador that sits outside the front door. Even though it cannot smell like a dog and doesn’t move, he reacted. He tucked his tail in and his hackles rose up and he fearfully approached the big dog statue. Even though he was clearly afraid he did touch noses with it. Once he’d done that, he seemed to understand it was no threat. But everything else was still all new. When we went into the front office, he freaked out a little as he was suddenly “surrounded” by 5 statutes of the dogs that collect coins! He was just vibrating at the end of his leash. Funny stuff. Then we walked to the kennels and I tried to encourage him to have a pee but he wasn’t interested. As we turned the corner of the kennel building, several large Labs barked excitedly at us but Rocky didn’t seem to worry. Funny how he freaked at statues but not at real dogs.

We went into the building and encountered a pup from the P litter, awaiting her shots. They played as pups do. When Paris (that was her name) went in for shots, we were left alone in the hall with the cat that lives there. I think it is terrific that they have a cat living at the kennels. The cat was patient enough with Rocky but when he got too close, the cat batted Rocky in the head with both front paws. i let him have it for a moment to teach him about cats but Rocky didn’t seem to care that he was being beat up by a cat.

Once in the room with the vet, Rocky settled down very quickly and sat patiently on the table. I have been pleased to note that while he does get excited, he also seems to calm down very quickly. He took his shot without even noticing and was pronounced “looking good!” On the way back to the car, he had a pee and a dump after all the excitement. I wasn’t surprised.

At home, he fell asleep right away and remained groggy, probably from the vaccination. Then my sister Kathie and her daughter arrived to pick up something - and see the new puppy! They were quite taken with him as he is a charmer and Liz played with him the whole time. After they left, we put him in his crate so we could prepare dinner and he slept like a dead thing. We woke him up a few times during the evening to try to make sure he would sleep through the night. But at 2am, he whimpered to go out and then he had a big mushy poo from all the excitement. Today, he has been quiet so far. I am now concentrating on making sure he learns to ask to go out to pee, as we had another “accident” yesterday and I think it’s time he understood about this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Rocky, birdwatching early this morning.

Monday, September 12, 2005


A quiet day for me - I only left the house to get the mail, if you don't count sitting on the patio. Tomorrow is a "big" day. I rent a car and then I'll get big groceries like 24 rolls of tp, cases of pop, big containers of Tide - the heavy or bulky stuff that's harder to get on a bike. I'm allowed to leave Rocky alone for up to three hours but I shouldn't even be that long. Then we go out to Manotick to get Rocky's vaccinations, the real reason for the car rental. Once we're out there, I'm heading to North Gower because Norah told me the new/old Co-op might have the kind of fence posts I'm looking for. So Rocky and I will get a little car ride! Whoo.

In the photo, he is hunting ants.


It looks like we still don’t have a set routine (I am awfully pushy as he has not even been here 72 hours). You have to have one to even out the house training among other things. All creatures crave routine and I know Rocky isn’t an exception. But today he hasn’t been asking to go out - we just are out and then he plays in the grass and eats bark and chases ants but he doesn’t pee first. Tomorrow, any chance of a routine will be upset because we go for vaccinations. But he is being very good and the last time I popped him in his crate he didn’t even protest.

It’s going to be hot today and I believe the air conditioning may even come on when the sun gets around to the back of the house. I wish he was old enough to take out for even short walks because that would be a catalyst to get me out of the house too. On the other hand, I know puppies initially hate the leash and it is a struggle to get them to walk nicely. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, it will continue to be “crate, outside (pee), play”, repeat, and hope the routine sets in.

September 12, morning.

Rocky’s having a little time out while I write. Not because I’m writing but because he went upstairs instead of asking to go out and pooped in the bedroom. All I can say is - thank goodness his poop has firmed up! Last night for the first time, his poop wasn’t mushy. Earlier this morning, around 6 when I let him out he had a nice firm poo as well. And when I let him out again at 9, he peed and came right back in. I wonder if the pooping in the house has to do with the fact that he doesn’t have the uncomfortable feeling of a runny poo? Before, he was definitely asking to go out and then he looked uncomfortable and ran around looking for a corner to poop in. Anyway, I shall just have to be more vigilant.

Earlier, he discovered that he could climb the stairs and sit on the landing and watch me at the computer. Now I have blocked off the rest of the stairs so we won’t have any more pooping in the bedrooms. We’re going to sit out on the patio and I will have coffee and read and the Rockmeister will chew on bark even though his chew bone will be right there beside him.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sept. 11 evening

[In the photo...] Rockwell is sitting there on the lawn, leaning his elbow on the patio stone like he was driving a car with the window down, just cruising. "This is MY place", he thinks.

A little later, we’re having dinner while listening to Federer and Agassi playing an exciting tennis match. Suddenly, I become aware of Rockwell coming down the hallway toward us in the dining room. We have decided to put his food and water bowl down at the front door because any spills won’t be a problem with the tile floor. I look up to see him trotting down the hall toward me, holding his metal bowl in his teeth. We have fed him dinner so it’s an empty bowl he is carrying but I find the sight amazing. Uma had never brought us her empty bowl. In fact, I’ve only seen well-trained dogs on tv carrying empty food bowls for effect! And he’s only been here 48 hours. Of course, I get up to take the bowl away and put it back and then I discover that it wasn’t empty of water when he picked it up. But still, it was quite thrilling to see a small puppy looking quite so smart.

Sept. 11

I make especial note of the date in honour of the memories of those in New York in 2001.

And now for the mundane. I just said to Peter, “I can’t believe it’s only 9:30.” We’ve been up for hours, since before 7am when Rocky whimpered to go out for his pee. Unfortunately, I was also up at 1am when he barked from his crate and made me run downstairs to let him out where he had a big mushy poo (and a pee while he was at it). I am grateful that he asks to go out but of course, I am not that grateful at 1am.

It is much cooler in the early mornings these days and I have actually taken to wearing socks again. The grass is also wet in the morning and the puppy yard faces West, so you need a little extra comfort standing out there at 7am. Rocky doesn’t seem to mind. He sits in the crease of the fence and as the breeze blows by, he sticks his little snoot up into the air and casts for scent. Any noise is of interest and he draws my attention to the sound of people talking inside their houses or the distant train whistle. He does seem content to just sit there and take in the world as it unfolds around him. Very Zen. But then, he has also discovered bits of bark from where we used to keep firewood at the edge of the patio. This morning, he got a piece of bark and then ran like a mad thing around and around the patio table, under the chairs, tucking his little butt under him as he flew around, all four giant paws flapping and flopping as he galloped.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Puppy walking intro

When I worked in Manotick 15 years ago, the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind had just built a new centre there. It housed dogs in training, offices and the blind people who had to be trained how to handle the trained dogs. I heard they had a volunteer program of people called “puppy walkers” and I thought that sounded like a great volunteer job - walking puppies! When I looked into it, it turned out that “puppy walkers” were like foster parents who raised a dog during its puppy years until it was old enough to be properly trained as an assistance dog. You can’t raise an assistance dog in isolation in a kennel because then it doesn’t get proper socialization. As well, puppy walkers get to take the puppy into public places so that it gets additional socializing that regular pet dogs do not. A guide dog has to be able to accept busses and shopping malls and restaurants, unlike a pet dog and it’s best to expose them to these environments at an early age.

I was accepted into the volunteer program and I got my puppy, Uma of the U litter, on December 13, 1990. She was only 6 weeks old, having been born on October 31. We raised her right until January of 1992 and then she went into the program to be trained. Unfortunately, kennel life did not agree with her and she flunked. Puppy walkers are usually offered the dog as a pet if it flunks and that is what happened with our Uma. She became our friend and Buddha for the next 13 years. When she passed away this June, we (read “I”) started talking about getting another guide dog puppy. Only this time, we would let it be adopted by someone else if it flunked. We hemmed and hawed about this for a while and finally last week, I called Guide Dogs to volunteer. Because it had been so long since the last (and only other) time we did this, we went to the orientation session and learned they had changed a few things. We were also living in a different house under different circumstances.

The puppy walking person (Sheila) came out to the house a few days after the orientation session and after some time asking questions and surveying our domain, pronounced us “awesome”. I still feared being rejected, especially because we didn’t have a fenced yard. We made plans to put up temporary fencing and visited the Home Depot to ascertain supplies. Later that very afternoon, they called us and asked if we could take a puppy two days later, on Friday! We said yes and were thrown into a tizzy. We went back to the Home Depot and got $68 worth of materials and constructed a fence. We puppy-proofed the house in anticipation of our charge’s arrival.

Friday afternoon, we received Rockwell, an 11 week old Labrador-Golden cross. He’d been “born in the USA” and needed a home to settle into asap. Since they put puppies in homes at the age of 8 weeks now, he was overdue for a “permanent” puppy walker household. We got our manual of instructions from Guide Dogs and asked many questions we had forgotten the answers to over 14 years with an adult dog. Shortly after Sheila left us alone with Rockwell, he went to the back patio door and looked out. Then he sat down and glanced over his shoulder at me. i thought this was so cute I took a picture of him sitting there. Then I noticed his “sit” posture looked a little odd and realized he was peeing on the carpet at the door! Apparently, his sit and stare over the shoulder was his request to go out to pee. Ah well, live and learn.

We played with him quite a bit before dinner and by the time I put him in his kennel so we could eat, he was zonked and slept for hours. I woke him up before we went to bed, so he would hopefully sleep through the night. We played some more and then he went out for one last pee and then to bed. He cried just a little at being left alone and then we all went to sleep. All three of us were exhausted from the newness of the situation.

Rockwell slept until 6:30 the next morning and then I heard him whimper so I got up to let him out. He went straight out for a pee and then I thought I’d put him back in the box and go back for a bit of shuteye myself. Forget it! He barked and yelped so I gave him breakfast instead and then we went out for the inevitable poop that directly follows food in the puppy tummy. I sat up for a while, reading the paper and then popped him back in the kennel and went back to bed. He protested mildly and then went to sleep himself.

After we all got up again at 9ish, we spent much of the day reading, eating, peeing and at least the dog got a lot of snoozing in. Right now, Rockwell is sleeping under my chair as I write this and Peter is working on his bicycle in the garage. There will be leftover lasagna and salad for dinner, some tv to watch and then to bed early. Once we get a proper routine going, I think we will all settle down.