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.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween 2005
Halloween went really well for Rocky.
Halloween 2005
Apart from this morning, he did not startle at ANY of the trick-or-treaters, especially since they were all children - and he loves the boisterous children. Even the clown who scared him this morning (and I’m sorry but who isn’t afraid of clowns?) came by and he greeted her like a long lost friend.
Halloween 2005
And then he was visited by his handsome older “cousin” Logan, followed by the other neighbourhood dogs going on their evening walk.
Halloween 2005
The “girls” next door are all university students and they made sure he got his share of attention. It was so beautiful, that some of us sat outside the whole time too.
Halloween 2005
I think he’ll sleep like a log tonight.

As I was putting the pumpkins outside for tonight, I saw another neighbour Skye walking her two chocolate Labs home. I grabbed Rocky and the two frisbees and headed across the parking area to give the frisbees to her. When we got close enough, Skye’s younger dog Daphne really bounced toward Rocky and Sasha, who is quite grandmotherly, came forward to greet him. He was overwhelmed by Chocolate Labs and they must have seemed like ten dogs! That’s when I noticed that he was sprinkling pee in the excitement of the moment. That was a first for us. I have seen young male dogs do this, even in my house once but Rocky has until now, not peed in excitement. I don’t think this means anything but I am recording it for posterity.

Last night, Peter built the second fire of the season. I know it was practically warm outside but there was a damp feeling we wanted to drive out and a fire is the best thing for that. This time, Rocky lay down as close as he could get to the fire and snoozed. His head was right up on the hearth and after a while, I felt the fur and while it was hot, it wasn’t too hot. It is my understanding that dog fur is a great insulator for them. Eventually I did worry about him cooking his brains and we pulled him away from the heat.
Rocky snoozing by the fire

On our after dinner walk, Rocky got a pine cone and carried it around for a minute, Then he started tossing it away so that he could run and chase it again! Once he shook it like a rat before tossing it to chase again. He did this for the whole walk and only relinquished the pine cone at the door when I asked him to “leave it”. It really showed (to me anyway) how instincts are so strong in animals. I am sure he has never experienced a rat or mouse in real life but he knows how to harass one and shake it to kill it. The whole tossing it loose so he could go get it was very entertaining. But I am glad it wasn’t a living creature.

Then this morning, I was able to see how he was going to react to people in costumes tonight. As I took him out for the morning walk, our neighbour Valerie was putting her kids in the car and I noticed she was dressed as a clown with full face makeup. I called hello to her and walked Rocky over to the car. When he first saw Valerie, he pulled me toward her as usual and then he stopped dead when he got a look at her face! His hackles went up and he barked at her. I encouraged him to go closer to see what this was and he did after a few false starts. Once he smelled her and jumped on her a few times, all was well. But it doesn’t bode well for a fuss-free evening of trick-or-treaters. Still, he did recover well and quickly and I think this will be a good exercise in getting him to understand that people have all sorts of different looks. Actually, I just remembered that last month he didn’t bark at all at our neighbour who wears a burqa and she had her face covered with just the eyes showing. So it must have been the face paint on Valerie. Interesting.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Today we went out to look at pumpkins.
Rocky in the car going to get pumpkins
Rocky rode in the car like a gentleman but he was a little less so once we got to the pumpkin patch and let him out.
Rocky going pumpkin hunting
He loved the broken off stems that were lying around everywhere and grabbed each of them and tossed them like dead mice.
Rocky looking at pumpkins
I did get a little bit of walk training in, once we were past the pumpkins and kids and other distractions.
Rocky in the car
And he fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

It was Heather who gave us the frisbees! She dropped by later to see if we had them. She won them in a Halloween contest where she and her dog dressed up to look alike. I explained the issue with toys and she told me to give them to someone else, no problem. Thanks Heather!

I was sewing and Rocky came in to keep me company. He nosed around and settled by my chair. As I was sewing on the collar of a shirt, I heard him licking something. I looked down to see him licking my chair! There must have been something spilled on in and it smelled like something he should take care of.
Rocky licking the chair
I also have two other pics I forgot were in the camera. Rocky sleeping in the living room. Sweet.
Rocky upside down
Rocky sleeping like a donut

We rented a car for the weekend because we just HAD to get the garage cleaned out for the patio furniture. Since we had a car, this morning we both went for a spin class at the gym and that was fun. Of course, Rocky, had to languish in his crate at home as he is definitely not ready for the gym!

After lunch, while Peter started on the garage, I pulled out all the frostbitten plants in the back. (Interestingly for me, the herbs are still going strong except for the basil.) I took Rocky out with me and at first, he just hung around and watched. Then he decided to get into it himself and grabbed some plants and ran around with them. He got dirt everywhere and finally I had to put him back in the house. Sorry Rocky! Maybe in the Spring when you are much older, we can plant things together.

We went for a lovely afternoon walk. The leaves are coming down everywhere and today was sunny - the first time in weeks (or so it seems). I just checked and it is 10C out there! We didn’t make Rocky work either (except for “leave - the garbage” and “steady - don’t pull my arm off”) so I think he enjoyed himself. When we got home, there were TWO brand new frisbees propped up against the front door! Someone in the neighbourhood had been to PetsMart and bought Science Diet food and they thought we should have the frisbees. I want to say thank you to whoever it was (I am hoping they read the blog) BUT I am so sorry - Rocky isn’t allowed to play with frisbees! Or tennis balls or anything he might see on a walk once he is a guide dog. Oh it sounds terribly cruel but what he doesn’t know, he doesn’t miss.

On the other hand, our neighbour Margaret (who I know doesn’t read this blog because she doesn’t have a computer) gave Rocky a lovely old and no longer suitable for humans afghan throw, which we will use in his crate. I think she thought he MUST be uncomfortable because I had only given him an old towel to lie on. But as Sheila says, you should see the number of dogs who don’t have anything to lie on because they chew it and that’s a no-no too. Rocky has only chewed his towel a little bit and he mostly just makes it wet and not full of holes. I warned Margaret that she wouldn’t get her afghan back and she said that was just fine.

So thank you for the frisbees but since we can’t have them, I will look to give them back. If I don’t find out who our benefactor is, I will pass them on to other dog lovers in the area.

Friday, October 28, 2005

This morning, we had a successful outing with our puppy walking supervisor Sheila. We drove over (in Sheila’s car) to the College Square shopping centre parking lot. Since it was only 9am, the place was pretty quiet. We walked a little and Rocky stopped to pee, which he should do anyway, before he has his jacket on. Then we put his jacket on and Sheila arranged the leash so it worked a bit like a harness over his chest (she has a name for this and I have completely forgotten it). I walked him first and he behaved nicely, not pulling much and listening to my “leave” commands. After I finished showing off the results of his walking lessons with me, Sheila worked him around the lot and that’s when I could see how cute and small he really is. Of course, I completely forgot to take the camera.

We saw at one point that he looked like he was sitting to pay attention to something and we both realized suddenly he was having another nervous pee! We forgot to take his jacket off too so he realizes he shouldn’t pee with it on. Oh well. From there, we went into the foyer of the Loblaws and he sat and watched all the people coming and going and was a very good little dog. Finally, we left and took his jacket off and he could be a puppy again.

Sheila was concerned with that rash thing he has but I showed her that it didn’t seem to bother him much and it wasn’t itching him or raw or anything. I also said the vet had told me to treat it with alcohol for a month and it had only been a little over two weeks. She left satisfied and I was happy with a good report card too.

We decided that we would rent a car this weekend so we could clean out the garage and make room for the patio furniture for the winter. When I got back from getting the car and a load of groceries around noon, I let Rocky out of his crate and he immediately went into the mad dog routine. So much for being such a good dog! The only picture I have for today (so far anyway) is one we took last night. I think Rocky looks huge in the picture but it is just a little perspective problem. And just so you know, Rocky is not technically ON the couch - he is on Peter’s lap.
Peter and Rockwell share a moment

Thursday, October 27, 2005

We were having such a peaceful afternoon. I’d just finished the next blog entry for sewing and was about to post it when Rocky went upstairs to explore. Lately, he’s been pretty good about not going in to rooms even if the doors are left open but I realize now that’s been in the evening when he’s tired anyway. I had left the doors open to our room (when I took some fresh laundry up to fold it) and to the sewing room, in case I wanted to go in and not freeze a little later. I didn’t follow Rocky but then I heard the triumphant gallop and I knew he had something. I looked up to see that he had snagged clean socks off the bed and the pair was still folded in his jaws. We had a chase down and then up again and I finally got the socks and closed the doors. Then he decided to play mad dog with me and I tried to get a picture of it. Well I missed twice and then I caught his tail end as he was running down the stairs toward me, ears flapping.
Rocky as
FInally, I got him in mid-bark, bouncing on his front toes. It looks like he’s howling but that’s an incredibly loud, sharp puppy bark there. Oh and he's wearing his brand new, next size bigger collar! I wanted to show how handsome he looks in it but just couldn't manage that today.
Rocky as

Not much happening around here and no chance to blog on it because yesterday, Rocky bounced his Kong under this computer desk and it hit the power bar off switch which somehow messed up the modem and I was without computer until Peter got home. Ack! I felt so out of touch. So I sewed instead and waited until things got fixed and posted that to my sewing blog (http://juliasewing.blogspot.com/).

Today, the lawn people came to pick up leaves (no mowing and maybe that’s the end of mowing for the season). They use leaf blowers a lot and one came by the house. Rocky has heard them before and a couple of weeks ago, he was introduced to someone outside who was using a leaf blower. This time however, and maybe it was because he was in the safety of his home, he got a little rambunctious about it. And I egged him on by asking, “what’s that? what’s that?”. One person came right up to the front door and I got three snaps of Rocky:
1 Rocky and the leaf blower
Wagging his tail in anticipation of seeing someone
2 Rocky and the leaf blower
Getting ready to attack or run away
3 Rocky and the leaf blower
Running away

It wasn’t fearful though - no raised hackles or anything. More playful running if you ask me.
[If you click on any of these photos that come from Flickr, you will have the opportunity to see a larger version there, with captions and things.]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

On October 19, I mentioned this thing Rocky has about trying to chew on his dog tags. I finally got some pics of it, although they are nowhere near as fun as watching in real time. First he has to catch the tags and he does this by ducking his chin down and flipping the tags up until he gets one. The one he gets is usually the large guide dog tag and it goes in one side of his mouth. Then his collar is pulled up around his face. When he walks around with the tag in his mouth and the collar all pulled up under his chin, it just looks hilarious. When I went to take pictures, he thought I was going to take his new toy away so it was hard to get one from the correct angle. But I tried.
Tag in mouth1
Tag in mouth2

Monday, October 24, 2005

Carpet mess with dog
When Rocky ran around the house with me chasing him and rucked up the carpet in the living room, he vanished after he knew I was out to get him. Last night, he did it with Peter and this time, he rolled over in submission after Peter went all alpha dog on him. Like I said before, why can’t I get to be the alpha dog?
Ears and feet
Chops on feet
Later, just before the bedtime walk, we played silly things and I held his ears out with my feet. Speaking of the walk, I think we have got it so Rocky sleeps through the night. It has been over a week and I think he has made it through the night each time. I say “I think” because I have been fighting a virus all this time and things are a little muzzy. Rocky gets fed only twice a day now (breakfast and dinner). And we have started to walk him at 9:30 or 10pm and walk him until he poops. Last night it took me two turns around the “block” and he was distracted several times but he finally managed a poop. So we are muchly pleased.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

In the dishwasher
Busted! I was loading the dishwasher when Rockwell decided to get involved. Peter caught him in mid-sniff. To be fair, it was only the second time we’ve used the dishwasher since he’s been here with us (I prefer to do them by hand and there are only two of us). The first time, I don’t know if he was even around, as my parents were visiting then and he could have been out or something.

A quiet Sunday
I’ve been upstairs sewing. When I came downstairs and the place was so quiet, I had to ask if anyone was home. I snapped this nice one of the two of them just having a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

We had a busy day on Friday. It started on Thursday when Guide Dogs called and asked if they could have Rockwell for a few hours because they wanted to take some photos of the puppies out in their garden. I said of course, after all, it’s your dog! But I didn’t have a car so someone would have to come and get him. They indicated someone would be by around 1pm on Friday. In the meantime, I was having an old friend over for dinner on Friday so I knew I had to get things done in preparation for that visit.

On Friday morning, I took Rocky for a walk and then put him in his crate and went to get groceries. When I got home, I remembered that I had wanted to pick up something at our local drug store (a three minute walk away). Since I didn’t want to put Rocky back in the crate, I made a command decision to take him with me. I have seen the occasional service dog in that pharmacy so I knew they should be okay with it. I put him on the leash and took his jacket with me. When we got over to the store but before we went in, I put his little jacket on and asked him to please be good. In we went and with lots of encouragement from me (and a firm grip on his collar) he was very good. I went up to the counter and made him sit and put him between my knees and held him securely. I paid for my purchase and talked to the staff about Rocky being a guide dog puppy and was very pleased with the visit. When we left, I walked him back toward the pedestrian crossing and that’s when he decided he had had enough of the jacket. I took it off and thanked him for being good and we went home.

Once home again, I made dessert for dinner and cleaned up the house while Rocky watched and followed me around. The fellow from Guide Dogs showed up at about 1:30 and Rocky went with him like a good boy. I watched them pull out of the driveway, with Rocky sitting up on the front passenger seat just like a little man. So cute. Since he was out, I took the opportunity to vacuum unmolested. I never did find the earthworm. He was returned in good spirits at about 3pm and they told me he had been a very good dog.

When Linda showed up at 6, he greeted her with only a little jumping up and settled down right away to be a model puppy. At dinner, he went around the table checking things out and then laid down under it and fell asleep. Lots of new things for a young pup and a successful handling of it all.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What happens after Rocky goes crazy
There is a half-dead earthworm somewhere in the house. We came back from a nice long walk and as is now usual, Rocky went crazy once he got in the house, racing about. I distracted him (I thought) by going into the garage to get a spade and pot for a plant I want to dig up outside. He followed me into the garage and sniffed around the main door for a while. Suddenly he ran back into the house and I knew he had something in his mouth. When I offered him a toy to replace the thing in his mouth, he raced even harder around our tiny place and kicked up the carpet completely in the living room (see photo for evidence). I finally saw that he had an earthworm in his mouth. He would drop it occasionally and flip it back into his mouth, the way dogs do when they are playing with something that once was alive. I guess the poor thing had come into the garage to get out of all the rain we have been having and escaped both drowning and freezing to death, only to be harassed by a small dog. I finally caught Rocky and put him in his crate to let the craziness wear off and that’s when I saw he didn’t have the worm any more. I do have to vacuum today or tomorrow anyway but he might also have swallowed the worm so we may never know its fate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rocky has in the past tried to grab the bell and tags on his collar (while wearing the collar) with his teeth but has largely been unsuccessful. Today however, he has managed to grab the large Guide Dogs tag on his collar and has been holding it in his teeth for a few moments before he lets it go. He might think that this is a sort of trophy like when he gets a sock and runs off down the hall with it. Unfortunately, he does not look at all triumphant because the collar pulls up around his neck and his chin tucks down and instead, he looks like he is being hauled reluctantly along on a walk. No picture of this yet, I’m afraid.

after barfing
We’re still experiencing “firsts” although this one may have been more for us than for Rocky. Last night was the first time he threw up. We were having dinner and he was sitting under the table (but not begging!) and we heard this old, familiar sound. Peter ducked his head under and said, “he just threw up!” Now Uma was a natural-born vomiter. She tossed her cookies (literally I guess) every week or so. But we’ve had Rocky now for 6 weeks and we even commented a couple of weeks ago how we noticed that he hadn’t barfed. So we were a bit more concerned than usual because this was a first. But he didn’t seem to be bothered by it. Later however, he barfed again and this time most of his dinner came up. We found this unusual because it had been 3 hours since he’d eaten and all that should have been digested by then. Perhaps this helps to explain why he doesn’t poop right after eating like most puppies do. He has a slow digestive system. Or something. I will note that last night, he slept right through the night!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tied to the bench
Nothing new to report. It’s another drizzly day but we got out for a walk earlier when it wasn’t actually raining. Rocky would pull on the leash occasionally but would also respond very well when I pulled him back with a “Rocky steady” or “leave” command. At the end of the walk, as usual, he protested about being taken back inside and tugged on the leash with his teeth but I played it cool and gently coaxed him in. He tried a bit of the Devil Dog but even that I managed to nip in the bud and popped him into his crate for a 10 minute time out. The photo is from yesterday’s wild walk in the wind. I wanted to take a nice picture of him sitting by the bench but you can see from the tension on the leash that the seagulls were much more interesting than I was.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Look at those ears!

Look at those ears!
He's just like the little girl in the poem my mother used to say was about me.

There once was a girl who had a little curl
right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very very good
but when she was bad she was horrid.

I thought exercise was supposed to make young creatures more calm.

I just took Rocky out for over 30 minutes and he wore me out with his bouncing at the end of the leash. Oh I'd say "Rocky, steady" and "Rocky, leave" until I felt like I had an autism problem and he'd obey for about 1 and 1/2 seconds, just enough time for me to say "good dog" and then he'd be off again. Then when we got home, he ran around doing the devil dog thing and I finally lured him into his crate for a time out. Since he's in there, I may have a nap.

mad dog
I have been debating whether to blog what’s coming and on the weekend, I sent an email about it to this group I belong to - as diverse a bunch as you’ve ever seen. It seemed that my story triggered the urge to give advice on my “dilemma” and while it was nice that they felt they could give me advice, I didn’t really need it. So now I’ll write about it as if I don’t need advice - I hope.

Rocky has done what Sheila called “the Devil dog” thing before - or so I thought. He runs around like a mad dog and barks at you. Well it turns out that was just a hint of what was to come. On the weekend, he started with the running around but the barking increased to hysterical proportions and then when I sat down with him, he lunged snapping at me, still barking but actually biting me at times. In self defence, I slapped at him a few times but that did not seem to make any impact on his behaviour whatsoever.

I then realized that what I was doing was paying attention to bad behaviour and I determined that I should ignore him. Well, when a 35 pound puppy is lunging at you, jumping on your back and biting at your head, that is easier said than done. I knew I couldn’t catch him to put him in his crate for a time out because I’d tried that in the morning when he did something similar although not as escalated. So I turned my back on him and ignored him. Finally he would calm down and be quiet and then I quietly called him a good boy and rubbed his chest. Then he’d start up again. I’d ignore him and he’d get quiet, I’d praise then he’d start up again. It was tiresome, believe me. I also felt I was going deaf in one ear from the high-pitched barking.

Eventually he did stop but he still had that look on his face which meant he could start up again in a flash. Then Peter came home (he had gone to get some groceries). Rocky ran to greet him and forgot all about our (MY) horror story. When Rocky started up again with the devil dog a little later, this time with Peter present, Peter just turned and barked at him and he stopped! No fair, I wailed! I wanted to be the alpha dog THIS time. So it seems that my lot in life is to be the nurturing “mother” (all this time, I have to clean his bacterial boo boo twice a day) but I can’t get no respect.

Let me add that I know it is early days and I am also going to be the one to train him about walkies and such while Peter is at work (gainfully employed outside the home, shall we say). And I know Rocky will respect me and do my bidding (most of the time). But I do find it disappointing that I cannot take the fight out of him with a bark like Peter can. Especially since I had the same "problem" with Uma and never was the alpha dog with her.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Rocky got his jacket!

Today was a quiet day again. We’d had the excitement of the weekend with my parents staying over and going out to someone else’s house and exploring. Then we had the excitement of going out to Guide Dogs so the vet could give him his final vaccinations. Then Sheila came yesterday to give him his jacket. So I thought today should be quiet. After a while of course, things get boring so we ventured out with jacket in pocket to see what would happen. I asked him to pee before we got walking and he obliged. Then we started around the usual block and met a couple of different neighbours so we stopped to talk.
Pulling as usual
Kathleen had her dog Casey with her so Rocky got to meet one of the local dogs now that he’s had his shots. Finally we were on our own. I decided to cross Centrepointe so we would be over on the quiet sidewalk between the IT building and the seniors’ residence. Then I put his jacket on and we practised walking properly. Of course, you get three steps and then you have to stop because he’s pulling, wait, go again, three steps, repeat. You don’t get very far. After a few minutes I praised him and took the jacket off. We wandered over to a bench where I remembered I wanted to take his picture wearing the jacket so I put it back on again.
Wearing the new jacket
Since he was behaving himself, I decided we would cross the street wearing the jacket and that worked well. But then we’d had enough so we took the jacket off and he walked (pulled me) home.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

So this afternoon I decided to have a nap. We’d both had lunch and Rocky was already hard asleep, lying on the stairs. When I tippy-toed upstairs and stepped over him, he didn’t get up so I thought, why don’t I just lie down and see what happens? I went to our bedroom and lay down on the bed and for a minute, I didn’t hear anything. Just as I was settling down, I heard the jingle of his bell and I realized he had tippy-toed up after me. He put his front paws up on the edge of the bed to look at me so I told him “Rocky, off” and got up and sat on the floor with him and asked him to lie down there. He obliged by lying down so I got back on the bed and pretended I was asleep. After only a minute, he got up and instead of coming over to see me again, he grabbed one of Peter’s socks off the chair and went running down the hallway. I got up again and chased him downstairs and then back up again, where I outwitted a puppy and closed the door behind us and cornered him so I could take the sock away. Then I picked him up and carried him back downstairs and popped him in his crate. By the time I got back upstairs, I wasn’t sleepy but I was tired so I lay down and sure enough, I fell asleep for a little while anyway.

Sleeping by the door
Today, Rocky got his guide dog jacket. As it turned out, we didn’t do anything but practise not pulling at the leash but he did pretty well at that for such a young puppy. Guide Dogs are very strict about the protocol when Rocky is wearing the jacket. After all, he is an ambassador for the program and we don’t want to embarrass ourselves either. If he is wearing the jacket, he is WORKING. Since he is still very young, we don’t want to work him much each day (ten minutes is lots to begin with). So for now, we will go on longer walks and explore more of the ‘hood. When he seems settled and paying attention, I will put the jacket on him and we will practise “walk” and “leave”. Pretty soon, he will think his name is “RockyLeave”. If he gets distracted and acts like a puppy, I take the jacket off. If he pees or poops while wearing the jacket, I take it off. So we’re also going to have to learn to relieve ourselves before we leave the house (or the yard, in his case). Reminds me of road trips when we were kids and Mum would call out as we were leaving, “has everybody gone!?”

When I think he is ready (and I think that will be soon), I will start taking him into the foyers of places like the bank across the street and maybe the pub. Just to get him used to the idea. He is very distracted by people when he meets them on our walks around the ‘hood and he has to learn to ignore all people and dogs and everything else so that’s going to be tough. I have a feeling that when he is confronted by a gang of people all at once, he will find it easier to concentrate on me and not bother with all those other folks. I was really looking forward to going to the deli and having coffee and having people admire Rocky lying at my feet (ha!) but now I think that would be expecting too much too soon. Thinking about the possibilities, I might want to forego the coffee entirely.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

In the pickup truck
Rocky got his final vaccinations yesterday, at the age of 16 weeks. I had asked to rent a car but all they had for me was a pickup truck, so Rocky got to ride out to the vet like a big old hunting dawg. He is supposed to sit on the floor on the passenger side, with his leash tied to the lever thing that makes the seat go backwards and forwards. I got the leash tied all right but he immediately jumped up onto the seat. The leash isn’t short enough to keep him on the floor so I gave up and put a towel on the seat and off we went.

When he was weighed, he had gained 10 pounds since his 12-week vaccinations and now he weighs 34.5 pounds. He has an itchy spot on the inside of one hind leg and the vet said this was likely caused by bacteria invading a bit of broken skin. I said he seemed to have had a few insect bits a couple of weeks ago and she said that sounded about right. Instead of antibiotics (which we are both loathe to administer) I am instructed to swab the affected area twice daily in rubbing alcohol. To prevent him from licking the leg right after the alcohol, we’ll go for a walk - which we did this morning and it worked out well. The vet also is reducing his feeding to twice a day and upping the quantity from a total of 4 1/2 cups to 5 cups of puppy chow. She also thinks this might help with the midnight pooping, especially if I combine it with a walk just before bedtime. I have been walking him around 7pm but now I will go out at about 9:30.

I have also noticed that his two front (adult) teeth are coming in at a rapid pace.
Adult teeth

On the way home, Rocky suddenly seemed tired and lay down on the seat and even appeared to go to sleep for a moment. I suspect it was the shots he was given.
After the vet
By the time he was home, he had perked up again. Since we had rented a vehicle, we actually went out to dinner and a movie last night! I figured he would sleep off the excitement and vaccinations in his crate and so we went to see “Serenity” which we really enjoyed (having been big fans of the brief tv series). It was a long day for all of us and Rocky slept right through the night. I however had an allergic reaction to the cigarette smoke and aftershave of the previous renter of the vehicle and spent a miserable night.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

When Rocky wakes up, whether it is after sleeping all night or just a nap, he likes to scratch himself. It’s almost a human cliche - the yawning and scratching of the ribs. In his case however, his favourite scratch is where he sits and uses his hind foot to scratch the back of his front leg. In scratching this way, the hind foot thumps rhythmically on the floor. When he does this in his crate at 4:45am, it is loud enough to wake the neighbours. After this wakes us up, we lie upstairs wondering if this will be followed by a sharp bark, which indicates he needs to poop. It almost always is. Sure enough, that’s why I’m up this morning. I actually see progress in the “midnight run” because he is sleeping longer and only needing to go out around 5am AND the poop is normal, not mushy. But 5am is awfully close to 6am which is when we usually get up during the week and so when I put him back in his crate and we try to go back to sleep, he is restless and wants company. So I have got up and am here, keeping him company. I haven’t let him out of the crate but he is content that I should just be in the room with him where he can see and hear me. When Peter gets up around 6, I’ll let Rocky out and give him breakfast. Then he’ll nod off again between 7 and 8 and I’ll go for a nap.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thankgiving 2005

We took this photo to send to my niece Liz who is ski training in Switzerland and so missed Thanksgiving here.

Rocky has had a busy two days. He goes and goes and then collapses and sleeps like the dead. It started on Saturday at noon when my parents arrived for Thanksgiving. Rocky had met them before but anyone new in the house is always a treat for a puppy - more people to play with! We packed their car with the food and other things I was bringing to contribute to the family dinner at my older sister Kathie’s place and took off for the 20 minute ride. This time in a car, Rocky sat at my feet in the back seat and he was as good as gold. He couldn’t see out my window, so he turned around and looked out Peter’s side window. He was so interested in everything that went past the window - other cars, noisy vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists. It was a charm to watch him watching other things. He didn’t even try to climb up on the seat or anything, seemingly content to just sit and watch.

When we got to Kathie’s place, I wanted him to pee before we went in the house but he was too excited to listen. So we all trouped in and said hello and kept him in the leash so we could know exactly where he was. After about 5 minutes, Peter took him off the leash and he ran around sniffing everything but still being a very good puppy. Peter took him outside after only 10 minutes to see if he would pee and he still didn’t. I just didn’t want him to make a mess on Kathie’s new hardwood floors.

There were a total of 7 adults at the house so Rocky was never short of someone paying attention to him. While I helping with some food preparation, Peter would take Rocky out about every 10 minutes but he still wouldn’t pee. Finally Peter asked me to take him out and we walked up the street a little and he had a pee. Must be the “mom influence”.

When we settled down for dinner, you could see that Rocky smelled the turkey and was interested in it but he has not (and hopefully never will) learned to associate smelly people food with something good to eat. Everyone exclaimed what a pleasure it was to have a dog who didn’t beg for food at the table. Of course, one reason he didn’t beg was that he had exhausted himself and fell asleep while we ate.

Kathie has stairs in her place that are open - you can see through them as you walk up. Rocky had never encountered open stairs before and I remembered that most dogs are fearful of them and that even Uma, when she first encountered them in a mall, was nervous about walking up them (going down is no problem because you can’t see through them of course). Rocky hesitated a moment looking through the steps but when I called him from upstairs, he walked right up those stairs like a pro. We think he is going to make a good guide dog.

The next day, we had my younger sister Norah and her husband Gord over to our house and since Rocky was on home turf, he was more settled but still behaving excellently. Sunday was an equally busy day for a young pup and after Norah and Gord left, Rocky voluntarily went into his crate to sleep. And last night, he almost made it through the whole night, only barking at 5:30 when he had to go out for his poop. Of course, with things back to normal around here now that Mum and Dad have left, who knows what will happen with his poop schedule.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Keepaway With Kong

Pooped Pooch

Yesterday, after my wishful thinking of a quiet time and that nice photo of Rocky being so good under the table, he went crazy and did his mad dog dash around the house, growling and barking at me. Sheila calls it “devil dog” but I prefer to relate it to insanity. I finally had to put him in his crate for a breather. He wouldn’t even calm down when I flipped him on his back and rubbed his belly. The first photo doesn’t begin to show the animation of the chase around the house but it’s the best I can do. The second was taken in the evening, after he had collapsed from exhaustion.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Chewing The Bone

It’s a rainy day and we’re playing quiet games like chew-the-bone-under-the-table. Soon it will be lunch time and then I have to get some groceries so it’s into the crate for Rocky and he can have a nap while I try not to get soaked biking over to the store. His ears smell a little yeasty so I’m going to swab them out with a dry cotton ball. I used to have this ear cleaner for Uma (I think it was called “Epiotic”) and it did the trick but for now, I’m only supposed to use a dry cotton ball. Hmm, I also have some mineral oil left over from Uma and I’ll try to remember to ask about that next week when I meet with Sheila. Rocky gets his jacket next week! Can’t wait.

Mad Dog

As I was going to the bathroom with Rocky sitting there, watching me and listening to everything, I realized that having a puppy sure takes the edge off of being embarrassed about going to the bathroom in public washrooms. And for the uninitiated, I leave the door open when we’re alone in the house because he follows me everywhere anyway, and if he comes in to watch me, I don’t have to worry about what he is doing where I can’t see him. I refer you to Dooce for (much) more on bathroom issues with a baby watching, if you are interested. I (heart) Dooce and leave the worst of the bathroom stuff to her.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

This is not really about Rocky, but I was trying to explain by posting a comment on someone else's blog, how to deal with dog poop. I may have to post pictures but we'll see how just the words work.

I collect the poop in a little plastic sandwich bag, the kind that comes with twist ties. Once I have collected the poop, I tie a loose knot in the top or you could use the twist ties too (I just found them fiddly to carry). Small bags are easier to carry, to pick up with and to deal with all around. I know a lot of people use grocery bags but they are just too big and the poop gets all over them. I like the nice, neat package of a small sandwich bag.

Then you just carry it around with you until you are near a toilet. When you get to a toilet, you undo the top of the little bag, grasp the poop in the palm of one hand (outside the bag of course), roll the top of the bag down on the outside so it doesn't get covered in poop (and the top of the bag covers your hand too) and then reverse the action whereby you picked up the poop in the first place, thus releasing the package of poop into the toilet. Flush. This method allows you to smooth out the poop bag and tie a knot in the top of it so the smell doesn't get out and toss the now empty bag in the garbage. If you shake the bag inside down and let the poop slide out, it gets all over the inside of the top of the bag and then you can tie a clean knot in the open end. Once you get the hang of this (which should take all of one try), it is the most efficient, clean and practically invisible way of dealing with dog poop.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Looking out the window

I tried an experiment that worked really well this first time. Peter had run out of clean, pressed shirts and I simply had to go iron some. I was thinking I would put Rocky in his crate but he’d already been there once today while I went out for groceries, so I decided to bring him upstairs with me. I iron in my sewing room and it is full of tempting targets like pattern pieces that rustle in the breeze and dangling electrical cords but I thought he might just be happy to be near me. We went up together (he generally follows me wherever I go if we are alone in the house) and I let him sniff around with the occasional “Rocky...” in a warning voice if he looked too interested in something. After a minute, he contented himself with some personal grooming and then lying about on the carpet near my feet. I pulled him across the carpet, a little bit away from the electrical cord for the iron and he didn’t seem to mind. He was very interested in the noises the iron made to begin with. I also use a pump spray bottle for extra moisture and it makes a funny noise sometimes. I decided to flip on the radio which I have permanently tuned to CBC. It has been a disappointment during the strike but I wasn’t sure if there was new programming now that the strike was effectively over. When I turned it on, I couldn’t tell from what I was listening to, if it was new or old stuff! But that’s sort of typical for CBC I guess. They were playing an Indian song with some fellow doing that yodeling thing they do and Rocky was transfixed. I have therefore determined that CBC is the radio station for entertaining puppies.

Rocky has definitely got his own personality and a mind of his own, but he seems to be very biddable and good-natured about not getting things his own way. I am hopeful this will make for an excellent guide dog.

My two front teeth

So now not only are we still getting up at 1 and 2am, but he has almost got true diarrhea. I’ve seen worse, but this is getting there. I am going to try to keep him quiet today but still take him out for at least three walks. I’ve also got to monitor everything that goes in his mouth, and that I can’t do if he’s outside in the yard, left to his own devices. After he has done his business out there, he wanders around, collecting rocks and sticks to chew on. Then he lies in the grass and eats it and the dirt it grows in. So it’s in the house or on the leash.

A day or two ago, we noticed that one of his front teeth had fallen out. (For those who don’t know, puppies have baby teeth too and they all come out a lot faster than humans’ baby teeth and then he gets his adult teeth.) Last night I noticed he’d lost the other front tooth. Now when you look really closely, he sort of looks like a kid who wants his two front teeth for Christmas. Well, not really like a kid because those front teeth are pretty small even when they are adult teeth, but I can see the gap and it’s pretty cute. I can even see the adult teeth starting to come in. I remember when Uma lost her puppy teeth, they seemed to all come out in the space of a week! I’m sure that is faulty memory but they do come out pretty fast.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bad Dog With Blankie

When I saw him pulling the blanket off the couch, I had to get a picture before I scolded him. I told him he was a bad boy but had to bite my lip to keep from laughing when I saw the look on his little face.

This morning, I found myself trying to be quiet while pouring Cheerios into a bowl, trying to open the fridge door quietly, trying not to clank the spoon against the bowl. And then I remembered I didn’t have to do that any more. Uma was such a food hound that the least rustle of a grocery bag would bring her running from half a house away. The sound of a spoon scraping yogurt out of a tub was a signal to sit and beg. And we did indulge her with treats all the time, letting her lick out the inside of those single serving yogurts. With Rocky, he is not allowed to have ANY treats and no food except in his bowl at prescribed meal times. We have started to give him a kibble or two on whistle recall but it is still only kibble. And what a difference it makes. He has never begged for food. When we are eating our dinner, he comes over to keep us company but does not beg. He must know that it smells good but he doesn’t know he can ask for treats. I didn’t really mind Uma begging but I will not miss those two lines of drool that accompanied the begging.

We’re still up in the night for a poop but Rocky is now pooping more during the day. Sheila was concerned that he was holding it in for so long and he isn’t doing that, so it’s just me and sleep deprivation. I am sure his internal schedule will even out eventually and then we will all get to sleep through the night. He was chewing a lot of bark and sticks yesterday and the evidence was in the poop. And it was mushy this morning. So today we will have a less boisterous play day, more walkies and less chewing of wood. At least, that’s the plan.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I didn’t know this before now but I can only pick up a dog if it is standing up. When Rocky is lying on the floor and I go to pick him up, he turns into something that feels like a 25 pound sack of wet noodles. It’s as if he is boneless. If I try to pick him up under the armpits, his arms straighten out and he slides through my hands, flowing like unset jello back down to the floor. If I try to grasp him around the rib cage, he flops on either side like I’ve broken him in two. Since I am afraid of breaking him (even though I have seen him bounce like rubber), I have abandoned that grip. I thought about picking him up by his legs (since he is usually on his back or side while lying down) but I am afraid I would dislocate something. No, the only way is to strangle him by hauling up on his collar until at least his fore legs touch the floor. Then he seems to develop some bone structure and I can haul his tummy up, thus making the hind legs contact the floor and putting him into a position where I can scoop him up with one arm under his chest and the other under his bum. And throughout this process, he remains remarkably good natured if unhelpful. Somehow, Peter has less of a problem than I do.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I am up before 6 this morning because His Nibs was complaining about being alone.  He DID wait until 5am to have his midnight poop and for that we are grateful.  But since 5 is awfully close to 6, which is when he usually gets up during the week, he complained about being put back in his crate.  I decided to come down and let Peter sleep but I haven't let Rocky out of his crate yet for breakfast.  He is quiet because I am sitting here beside him and he wanted the company more than anything.  He's actually a very good little dog and when his poop schedule gets under control and he gets his final vaccinations, I think we are going to have lots of fun and adventures.

And now I know I do have a cold (bummer) and not allergies (whew) because Peter has the cold too. We think we got it from a friend’s child who is back in school for September. I remember how my sister always came down with colds in the fall when her kids went back to school, entering that cesspool of germs and bringing them home to contaminate her. Thank goodness we rarely cross contaminate species. Okay, time to let Rocky out for breakfast!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

So Rocky has been here three weeks already! Seems like forever and at the same time, it seems like... only three weeks! It’s the sleep deprivation. Not on his part however. In fact, right now, he is sleeping like the baby dog that he is.
I thought I was exhibiting a severe allergic reaction yesterday and I could only think it was to Rocky. I tried antihistamines and they didn’t seem to do a thing. I had an extremely lousy night, hardly any sleep what with all the sneezing and blowing of the nose. This morning, I still felt bad and I complained about it to someone and they suggested that I might have a COLD! I examined the way I felt and concluded that they might just be right. I went to an allergist years ago when I had Uma and they determined that I was very mildly allergic to dogs. I concluded it was not enough to make me not have dogs. Then when I started sneezing after Rocky arrived, I thought maybe it was just different dander I was reacting to, even if it was more than two weeks after he got here. But I think my friend is right and I have a cold. Interesting because I have hardly been out and interacting with people enough to get one but I think that’s it. So now I get to lie on the couch and have Peter feed me tea, at least until he goes to work on Monday. Good thing too because I got the new John Irving book out of the library and it was on the “express read” shelf which means I have to have it back in 7 days.