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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

There’s a story behind this, maybe two.
Waiting to be let back in
I don’t talk on the phone much and Peter hardly uses his phone when he’s home, so I haven’t put two and two together until recently. Anyway, it has come to our attention that Rocky “reacts” when we’re on the phone. I’m not sure whether he likes it or hates it, but he sure reacts. After I’ve talked for just a minute, Rocky comes over to me and, if I am sitting on a chair, he jumps on me. Naturally, I turn my face away so he can’t get at the phone and so he attacks the back of my head. If I stand up to get away from him, he comes after me and jumps on my back, biting me in the leg or the bum. Then I’m on the run and the last time, I shut myself in the bathroom to get away from him. Today, Peter called on his way home and suddenly, I am being attacked by said dog. I finally get up and make a break for the back door, with him snapping at my bum the whole time. I open the door and he runs out and I cleverly outwit a puppy by shutting the door with me on the inside!

When I finish my conversation, I call Rocky to “come”. Of course, he looks at me but doesn’t move. I call “come” several more times and nothing. So I shut the door (it’s cold out there again!) and walk to the front of the house where his food is kept. Now he “comes”, up the steps to peer in the glass at me. He claims that he doesn’t know what “come” means but if I make a move toward to food bucket, he comes running. After I took the photo, I let him in and gave him a single kibble as I called “come!”.

The last day of the month - yikes. Well at least tomorrow I am “allowed” to get my Christmas decorations out of the basement. It’s only self-imposed rules but I have an idea for decorating the front door wreath this year that I want to get started on. I don’t decorate the whole house and really, the wreath and the tree are my main things. Unless I have someone over for dinner and then I “do” the table too. Sometimes I have decorated the stair railing but I don’t want Rocky to eat anything so this year, things will be minimal. Over the years, we grew to trust Uma not to eat most things - her favourite non-food item was paper - and she would leave the decorations alone. Since I don’t even trust Rockwell not to pee in the house (and he chewed some of my sewing), I’m not going to go crazy with temptation.

Yesterday, the temperature went up to 17C! That was a record. However, the weeks preceding this anomaly have been cold and we noticed that Rocky has taken to lying over the hot air registers (you can see a corner of it under his chin).
Snoozing on the heat vent
He doesn’t seem to mind the cold or the snow or anything really, when we go outside for walks. But left to his own devices, he sometimes lies on top of the hot air vent when he snoozes. I wonder if he will lie on them in the summer when it is hot and the air conditioning is on?
Why are you bothering me?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I’ve been thinking about the purpose of this blog. It started out as an excuse for me to write something - anything - every day. Writing about a puppy would be fairly easy, as everything is new to him and I would be able to see everything through his eyes. It has served that purpose well. I have really enjoyed writing about something new almost every day and it has turned out to be no effort to write every day on this subject. And I AM writing.

I also thought it would be a good way for friends and relatives to keep up with our adventures. It’s like a newsletter only better. I think my Dad said it best when he wrote "it can be an abbreviated way of keeping up with selected interests". Although the friends and family hardly ever comment (you know who you are!), I have gained a loyal following of some other dog bloggers. Among those bloggers are some other people raising guide dogs, or dog guides or service puppies. It has been interesting to read their progress as I go through poop schedules and teething of my own. The other interesting group of bloggers is composed of visually impaired people who have working guide dogs of their own. Through them, I can tell what Rocky’s life will be like when he is grown up. And I hope he goes to someone like them too, as they really love and appreciate their dogs.

Peripherally, I have also begun to see that this blog could also be a boost for guide dog organizations. They work away at teaching dogs and all the daily grind of managing charitable organizations but they don’t have much time left over to tell folks about the daily amusements and tribulations. I think the dog bloggers who are raising puppies and using guide dogs can fill this void nicely.

Vindicated! I thought I was just defective until I found out that Lileks has also had THREE viruses since the Fall!

“And the third cold of the season is working its way through the house. I have yet to come down with a full-blown example; Gnat usually shakes it off after a few days. The last time I zinced up until I clanked when I walked, but I paid for the deferral with two weeks of bronchial fungoo. Life will find a way, as Jeff Goldblum so famously said.”

And a nice pop culture (movie, no less) reference.

Monday, November 28, 2005

We are having freezing rain turning into regular rain and so it is not nice outside. I thought I would do a thorough vacuum today, so I planned to take Rocky on his mid-morning walk and then put him in the crate when we got back so I could clean unmolested. Then I had the not-so-bright idea to brush him right after the walk. He went ballistic. I knew he was just starting the mad dog mode because we had returned from the walk and he always does mad dog then. But I also thought “I am a bad mother because I never groom my dog and now he hates the brush”. But you know, he is a Labrador and has that low maintenance fur, plus he is young and it is Winter and he is not shedding. So why should I brush him? I know - it is a bonding thing and dogs love to be groomed. But I bond with him over many other things, just not the grooming. Anyway, ballistic he went and I had a tough time getting him into the crate. I figure I have ruined him for grooming forever and how am I going to tell Guide Dogs. I vacuum while he cools off. Finally, I am done and I let him out. He appears to harbour no grudge and goes to snooze on the stairs. A little while ago, I looked at him snoozing there and I got the brush and comb out. I went quietly up to him and brushed the side that was up and he didn’t mind it at all. Now I just have to wait for him to turn over and I can do the other side.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Here, Rocky seems to be guarding the spot on the carpet where he peed this morning. The spot is still damp and we put Peter’s boots under the edge of the carpet to lift it off the floor. Some time later, I noticed Rocky was lying right there, with the spot between his paws.

Entranced by the Swiffer

It has been a week now, since we let Rocky sleep in our room at night and all was well until this morning. Actually, I don’t think what happened had anything to do with the sleeping arrangements but was instead, a result of a change in routine. Even on the weekends and even when Peter has been sick, Peter is the first one up and the one to give Rocky his breakfast and let him out. Earlier on in our relationship (the one with Rocky, not with Peter), I thought it was better to make Rocky go for a pee first thing and then give him breakfast. But Peter discovered that Rocky wouldn’t go out unless you pushed him out the door, so he gave him breakfast and then let him out.

This morning, I got up first and after I’d had my shower and dressed, I went downstairs with Rocky. I gave him his breakfast first because I knew that was his routine with Peter. When he was finished, I was in the kitchen and I heard him trotting up the hall so I turned to say to him, “okay, let’s go out now!” He stopped on the edge of the carpet in the dining room, bent his back legs a little and started peeing on the carpet! I squawked really loudly and jumped at him and yelled “NO!”. He stopped peeing and ran up the stairs where he cowered on the landing. I went up to him and he flopped on his side to show his belly in remorse. He knew he had done wrong but he still did it. I put his collar on and asked him to go outside. He went, I didn’t have to drag him, and then he peed and pooped like he normally does. When he came back in, I had cleaned up the pee and sprayed OdorGon on the spot but we all knew something had gone wrong this morning.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Peter had to fix my sewing room door - it was sticking with the change in the weather. He brought out the little 2 pound sledge hammer and Rocky fell in love with it again. We use it to pound in the stakes holding up Rocky’s fence in the back yard and leave it by the back door instead of with the rest of the tools. Rocky sits by the back door and sometimes gives the little sledge a loving lick. Today, he saw it used indoors and admired it as Peter showed it to him.
Rocky's favourite hammer
Then Peter left it on the stairs and Rocky lay down and put his nose right next to the hammer and closed his eyes. He didn’t move for several minutes and I took this picture. I even think he was snoozing.
Rocky and his little sledge

Friday, November 25, 2005

A hat trick on the 25th!

Rocky went a little crazy. He was chewing his bone so nicely that I went and sat next to him on the step down into the living room. Suddenly, he decided to jump on my back and chew on my ear. I am trying to protect myself here, while Peter, instead of defending me, takes pictures.

Just a little later on the 25th:
I decided to take Rocky with me to the pharmacy and I put on his jacket before we even crossed the street. With the lead balanced like a harness, he walked like a true guide dog- until we got across the street! I decided to walk him along the side of the building instead of crossing the little plaza like we usually do. I also thought there would be less salt under the roof overhang and I was right about that. Unfortunately, the salt hit his paws before we got there. Anyway, as soon as we got up to the side of the building, Rocky caught a glimpse of himself in the glass and stopped to admire his looks. I couldn’t pull him away from the glass! We’d trot on for a few feet and then he’d stop dead and stare at himself in the glass. It was funny even if he wasn’t behaving.

In the store, he was so distracted it was a chore to buy anything but we managed. Outside again, he didn’t want to go back the way we came, which was surprising considering he admired himself in the glass so much. Maybe it was the salt? So we went around the building the other way and again, he was very distracted by people. When we came around to the street side, he just sat down and wouldn’t move. He appeared rapt in thought as he looked across the street. Finally I noticed a family with small children coming and that’s what he was looking at. I managed to get a photo of him sitting there, just before he jumped up and tried to jump on the kids.
Guide dog puppy at attention
After we crossed the street, he sat down again but this time, he was trying to lift both front paws off the ground at the same time and I realized the salt in his paws was hurting him. I took his jacket off and we washed his paws in clean snow and went home.

Mostly photos today. Don’t forget, you can look at larger editions if you just click on them.
Wednesday night, Peter came down with the same virus I had last week, so he stayed home Thursday (and today). Of course, he isn’t nearly as sick as I was! It also snowed starting Wednesday night and by Thursday morning, it was worthy of being shoveled. Rocky and I went for a walk in the morning and Peter took the photo looking out my sewing room window. Nice.
Morning snow walk
When we went for our afternoon walk, the wind had picked up and the snow was really blowing around. Peter took this one out the front door as Rocky and I set off. The photo was taken at 4:30pm but I don’t think it was as dark as it looks. Rocky was unmanageable almost the entire walk. I think it was the snow blowing in his face that did it, plus having deeper snow to walk in. I tried using the balanced lead and it actually calmed him down and he didn’t pull as much.
Going for a walk at 4:30pm
Later, I decided I wanted to shovel the patio. I was doing well until Peter let Rocky out. The shovel is like a broom or a Swiffer, only bigger and better! You can’t tell from the stills but he was growling and snapping and chewing on the handle. Fun for him.
Rocky and the snow shovel 1
Rocky and the snow shovel 2
Finally, we can’t help ourselves, playing with Rocky’s ears. They are longer than regular Lab ears and he doesn’t seem to mind them being flipped over. He’ll sit with them inside out until they flip back naturally. Other dogs (including Uma) reach up and paw their ears back down if they get flipped, but not Rocky. I suppose it’s like dressing up the dog. We humans are amused.
Rocky with his ears inside out

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Nothing to blog lately so I’ll just post about the Kong. Rocky was sitting on the landing, chewing his smaller Kong. When he let it go, it bounced down the stairs and then turned right down the hallway toward the front door. I heard it bouncing erratically and suddenly, I heard it go plop! right into Rocky’s water bowl, which is around yet another corner at the front door! We went to inspect it and sure enough, it was soaking in the bowl. It’s about 10 feet to the end of the hallway before you step down into the postage stamp sized “foyer” (I have to put that in quotes, it is so small). And then make a right to Rocky’s bowl. Amazing (like the Grand Canyon, yes, I know).

Monday, November 21, 2005

Later on the 21st:

Rocky doesn’t bark much except when he is in mad dog mode and then does he bark. When he is getting there but just wants to play so far, he jumps on me when I am sitting (usually at the computer) and if he has a toy in his mouth, he growls and makes other noises. He was doing this just now and I told him he sounded exactly like a tauntaun tauntaun from Episode V of Star Wars (the Empire Strikes Back).

Of course, I couldn’t remember the name of that creature so I had to Google it and I was surprised how long it took me to get the right name. As far as I know, the tauntaun only shows up in the beginning of this one episode. It looks like a little dinosaur and Han Solo rides one out to find Luke (who has also ridden one) and the poor thing expires from the cold (Luke’s tauntaun got eaten by the abominable snow man). Hard life for those poor creatures.

Rocky in the sun
"Did you say LUNCH?"

We’ve been discussing Rocky’s vocabulary. Last night, Peter announced that he had to make his lunch for tomorrow. At the word “lunch” Rocky sat right up and his ears perked. For some reason, the first few days he was here, I over-emphasized his midday meal and started saying “lunchie, lunchie, lunchie”. Of course, soon he was on two meals a day and there was no lunch but now we call all of his meals “lunch”. And he knows exactly what that word means.

He should ALSO know sit, stay, down, off and come but either he has not made the connexion or they just don’t mean as much to him.

The other thing we have commented on lately is that, while we had Uma, our Yellow Labrador Retriever, we spent 14 years telling people “there is NO such thing as a Golden Lab! There are Goldens and there are Labs but there is NO such thing as a Golden Lab”. Both are retrievers but Golden is in the name of the one breed and Yellow is just the colour of the other. Anyway, because Rocky is a cross between a Labrador and a Golden Retriever, guess what? We now HAVE a “Golden Lab”! And it irks us mightily.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Rocky watching tv
Last night, I decided to go up first and get ready for bed, while Peter took the responsibility of walking Rocky AND making sure the doors were locked. I could hear them downstairs, doing their thing while I was reading upstairs. I know when I hear the toilet flush that Rocky has had his poop and we’re set for the night.

The next thing I hear is Rocky padding quietly upstairs. He makes his way into our room and stops in the doorway to scans the room to see who is here. When he spots me in bed, he makes a run for my side of the bed and jumps his front feet up onto my chest and licks my face. It is most endearing. Then he stops and listens for Peter (Peter has said he stops and listens for me, when I am the one still downstairs). He will stay with his front feet up on the bed and roll his head, loll is a better word. But all the time he is listening.

This time, Peter didn’t call him down but came upstairs himself. As soon as he walked around to my side of the bed, Rocky went limp like a noodle and fell on the floor so that he couldn’t be picked up. We have been talking about when would be the appropriate time to let Rocky loose in the house overnight and now seemed to be a good time. It was the weekend, so no worries about being kept up all night and having to go to work in the morning. I asked if Peter had made SURE the door was locked and he had. So we left Rocky where he was lying and turned out the lights.

We all held our breath. Rocky probably thought we forgot to put him in his crate so he stayed as still as a child who doesn’t want his mother to notice what he has done. We didn’t know what to expect. We all fell asleep and once or twice in the night, I woke up to hear Rocky turning over in his sleep but he was still in the exact spot we’d left him, on the floor beside my side of the bed, jammed up against the bedside table. I finally had to get up to pee at about 5 and Rocky came with me, licking my knees and feet. But when I went back to bed, he lay down again in the same spot and we all went back to sleep. “Amazing” is something like the Grand Canyon, so this wasn’t amazing. But for now, we have reached the next milestone in this first year with Rocky.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

No real blogging today, just two photos (larger versions for detail on Flickr if you click on them). The first one is Rocky sitting on the stairs like a human. He is also just starting to get too big to lie down on one tread. We’ll have to see what choice he makes when he IS too big - probably he will go to the landing.
Sitting on the stairs
I wanted to get a shot of his adult teeth in the front and the next photo is that. In Flickr it is titled “Look at those snappers!”. I left off the “Ralph” part but that completes the movie reference. Any guesses?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mea culpa
Last night, Peter wanted to get to bed early (he has to get up before 6am and he is the one earning us a living) so I said I would take Rocky our for his final constitutional before I came upstairs, as I was watching a movie. When that time came, we went out. The snow by then was about two inches deep on the ground. I had wanted to observe (and take pictures of) Rocky in his first “real” snow and of course, it was at night. Oh well. He scooted around in the snow, running along with his mouth open and snapping up the new snow on the grass. He’d run along a little, obviously sniffing and then snort out a bunch of snow from his nostrils. It was fun to watch. He finally had his poop and we went back to the house.

All he needs is his paws dried off but I have to take off the coat, hat. gloves, boots, etc. and then flush the poop, hang up the leash, etc. Anyway, I put him in his crate and went upstairs. At 1:30am, I was awakened by Rocky’s sharp little bark. I wondered what could he be barking about because he’d had his evening poop. I got up at his second bark, put on some clothes and went downstairs. I was glad that Peter didn’t appear to have awakened.

I let Rocky out of the crate and opened the back door and he didn’t want to go out. I felt the cold wind whistling around my ankles (no socks) and told him he HAD to go out because I was UP. He went out and I shut the door. He peed and then nosed around. I called him back but he didn’t come. Grrr. I went to the front door where we hang the whistle used for both meals and recall. That’s when I saw the front door was OPEN and snow was drifting into the house. I was aghast. I had forgotten the lock the door and it had blown open in the wind.

That’s what Rocky was barking at - something wasn’t right in his house. It wasn’t quite up to “Timmy’s down the well” but I was full of conflicting emotions right then. I ran back to the back door and he was standing on the steps, waiting for me to let him in. I did and said “thank you” right out loud to him, for alerting me to this situation I had created. I put him in his crate and then I wondered if anything had come IN the open door. I checked the front step for footprints and there weren’t any, no cat or even squirrel prints. What a relief. I still checked around but everything else seemed normal.

Then it hit me - what if he had NOT been confined to his crate? Rocky would have gone out the front door exploring! If anything had happened to him, I would have been obliged to throw myself into traffic. What a realization - it really shook me. I suppose “all’s well that ends well” but still.

Dogs love their routine and they are suspicious of anything different. Thank goodness. And I will check the door two or even three times now, every time I come back in. I am feeling bad enough so let’s not forget what Jesus said in John 8:7, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Later on Nov. 17:

A couple of photos from this afternoon, after we met Peter at the bus on his way home. Rocky really seems to enjoy the snow.
Rocky with snow on his nose.
Dog in motion.

I just discovered that Rocky is now tall enough to put his front feet up on the kitchen counter and sniff along the edge. We have been 100% faithful in the no-human-food-to-dog category and yet we have noticed lately that Rocky shows a real interest when we have dinner or eat something in the living room. He doesn’t drool like a regular dog but he knows what smells good. This morning, I was making coffee and I took a cookie out of the tin to have with my coffee and put it on the counter. I turned around to deal with the boiling water and when I turned back, there was Rocky with his paws up on the counter, sniffing at my cookie. I let him know I was NOT pleased and he shrank suitably down to the ground. When Uma did this the first time all those years ago, Peter in his alpha dog way let her know she should NEVER do this again, And she never did, ever. You could leave anything out on the kitchen counter and she would never touch it. We may have to inflict the alpha Peter on Rocky to ensure this doesn’t happen again either.

In another category, Rocky’s teeth are coming out and back in again fast and furious. I noticed yesterday that his lower left canine baby tooth was still intact even though the adult tooth was coming in, so I had Peter take a picture of it. Of course, it took 10 tries to get this one picture - thank goodness for digital. I think he’ll feel better when all the teething is over with.
Baby teeth
Finally, I like to read the paper at the dining table because I can lay it out flat and its nice and orderly. Rocky sometimes tries to put his front legs on my lap or chew on whatever sweater corner hangs down. I try to shoo him away and toss his toys for him to go fetch. At one point, I knew he was lying under my chair (or under the table because he is too big for under the chair) and he was chewing on his toys. It wasn’t until I got up that I saw he had corralled them all under there. It’s nice to know he likes to hang out with me.
All his toys under my chair

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nov. 16 afternoon:

So I didn’t wait for him to ask but so far so good. After I posted the last entry, I watched some tv and read, and then around noon, I decided I had to have some sleep. Rather than the couch (which is actually a love seat and even though I am small, I can’t stretch out on it), I went upstairs. Rocky was still on Uma’s couch and looked quite comfortable there. I lay down on the bed and closed my eyes. Rocky then got off the couch and came over to see what I was doing. He has seen one or the other of us in bed in the mornings, depending on who lets him out of his crate first but he hasn’t experienced us really sleeping there at night. I asked him to go lie down and he actually left me and went back to the couch and settled down. We then proceeded to sleep for about an hour! I think I got up first and then he followed me. We went downstairs and I decided he really should go out, as he hadn’t been out for even a pee since about 9:30. I put on my coat and we went for a short walk around the hood and just before we got home, he had a really big poop. We called Uma an “opportunist” because, while she would poop on schedule, she would also poop whenever, given the chance. Maybe all dogs do that. So all’s well in the house-training department anyway, even if I am not well in the virus department.

The wind has really picked up just now. EC says it is gusting to 61 but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is more than that. Rocky got tired of watching the rain run down the patio door glass so he ambled upstairs and I just checked on him and he is on Uma’s dog couch. With this virus I have, it is easier to let him stay there. And I feel cruel making him get off, if I also have to put him in the crate because he is misbehaving. Now I know how mothers feel when they let their kids watch “too much” television. Guilty but easier than the alternative. He “should” go out for a second poop of the morning but when I took him out yesterday, he didn’t poop. Maybe the antibiotics are changing his poop schedule or maybe it is changing on its own because of the twice daily feedings. I don’t know. But I’m going to rely on him today to ask to go out. I hope.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Later in the morning on the 15th:
Since there are only so many pictures of puppies sleeping on stairs that we can take,
Sleepy puppy
I took a couple on our walk just now.
First snow
My boots are total overkill for this weather but I finally bought Sorels to have warm, dry feet this winter and I thought I would put them on for our walk. Especially after what I heard about cold feet and colds. I can’t believe I’ve never owned Sorels before but they seem to be the perfect boot for Ottawa anyway. Finally, here is the Mr. and Mrs. Claus that freaked Rocky out yesterday.
Mr. and Mrs. Claus
Today, he totally ignored them.

I feel like snot today. I was going to say I feel like crap but given the cold I have, snot was a better descriptor. I am going to assume that today will be the worst day of the cold and tomorrow it will be on its way out. Interestingly, I was listening to CBC radio last night as I made an attempt to sew and they had a bit on about how you can catch colds by letting your feet get cold. They experimented with people by soaking their feet in cold water and the group that had the cold feet got 2 to 3 times more colds in the following week than the control group. Apparently it has something to do with your body wanting to retain heat and the germs that live in your nose all the time and if your feet are cold, your body won’t allow the heat to leave through your nose and the germs can prosper. Or something like that. Anyway, I am now determined to stay warm and see what happens for the rest of the winter.

All that has nothing to do with puppies. But Rocky must know I feel sick because he is behaving so nicely this morning. I will still take him out for a short walk soon but I will be bundled up to do so. We are having zero degree weather today with precipitation which may come in the form of freezing rain. We hateses freezing rain we does. There is a little bit of non-fluffy snow falling now but not enough to make Rocky pay attention - too much like regular rain I think. I am looking forward to him waking up on a morning where it has snowed significantly overnight and seeing his face when he jumps into the fresh snow.

Monday, November 14, 2005

So we’re going for our afternoon welcome-papa-home walk and Rocky grabs something off the sidewalk. Peter gets it out of his mouth and we see it is a kleenex but it has blood on it and we go “Eew!” and fling it away. Then we go on and on at length about peoples’ disgusting habits of littering, especially where puppies can get the garbage and get sick on it. A minute later, we see Rocky has snarfed up something else and we open his jaws up and his whole tongue is covered in blood! That’s when we realize that he has lost a molar and it was his blood on the kleenex. But we didn’t go back to get it as someone else had tossed it in the first place. We have standards, you know.

I think I have the third virus now, that I’ve had since Rocky came to live with us. And no, I don’t think they are related - it’s just that the time frame gives me the ability to keep count. This time, it’s a sore throat thank goodness and NOT the sinuses. That’s how I know it’s a new one.

Anyway, I finally got up this morning and after a little while, it became apparent that Rambunctious needed to get out for a walk. It’s very windy so leaves and other things are blowing around. He used to chase leaves a lot more than he does but I think they are old hat to him now. We had made a circuit and were heading back into the neighbourhood when he spotted some Christmas decorations that weren’t there yesterday. This neighbour always decorates lavishly and early for Christmas and aside from lights, the first thing up this season is Mr. and Mrs. Claus kissing on the front lawn. They are two large wooden cutouts about three feet high, and in the wind, they were moving and clonking together a little.

Rocky was immediately suspicious so I asked him to investigate. We crossed about four feet of lawn and he woofed a little at them as he leaned in to sniff without getting too close. Of course, I am laughing at him. Suddenly the wind moved them just as he was touching them and he decided to make a break for it. As he whirled around, his bony little head connected with my bony little shin and man did that hurt! Well, it didn’t seem to bother him but I sure felt it. Anyway, I hauled him back and we finished our investigation and he decided Mr. and Mrs. C. are nothing to worry about. Good to know before one of them comes down the chimney a little while from now.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

This passage from a blog I’d never read before today
made me laugh.  Probably in anticipation of Rocky hitting puberty.

“I never thoughtI'd look forward
to having an animal's testicles removed, but I now recognize it as a common experience among pet owners. Our cat gets more rambuctious every day, morphing in an eyeblink from a sleepy pet to a little fur-clad bullet with testicles. Like the ring of Sauron, those testicles are the source and engine of all that cat's evil. Once we take them and cast them into the fires of Mount Doom I know we'll all feel a lot better.”

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I knew Rocky was sleeping in the corner while we were watching tv but when I looked down to see how he was doing, I simply had to make Peter take his picture from his angle. It looked SO uncomfortable!
Man, isn't that uncomfortable?
(For regular readers, don't forget you can click on these photos to go to Flickr and then see them in a larger size if you like.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

This morning, Sheila and I took Rocky out for some practice - walking, leaving, wearing his jacket. We went to a busy Tim Horton’s and he did us proud.
Sheila and Rocky in the parking lot
It was also attached to a convenience store and gas station so there were a lot of people coming and going. Rocky was excited and lunged at people as they entered and left the store but once he went inside, he calmed down and mostly watched people. He got an A plus from both of us this morning.
Sheila and Rocky at the Horton's
After Sheila dropped us off at home again, because it was Remembrance Day, we headed over to our local cenotaph and observed the two minutes of silence. Rocky was a little antsy at the beginning but he settled and watched all the people with interest.
Peter and Rocky at 11am, November 11.
Once that was over, we decided to get a bite to eat at Marshy’s, our local watering hole. They were just open so in fact, we were the first people in the door and we got a quiet table out of the way.
Rocky and me at Marshys
Again, Rocky was very interested in all that was happening around him but he soon settled and either sat or lay down (except for the one time he was caught licking the base of the table! Yum!).
Caught in the act!
The staff all thought he was gorgeous and even other customers praised his good behaviour. We think he is really coming along nicely.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A couple of little snippets for now:
Peter caught Rocky in action, doing ‘the lunge’ out at CGDB. He does this manoeuver whenever he sees people or dogs anywhere. It makes control a little difficult! I am hoping he matures out of it.
The lunge
And I gave Rocky Uma’s old King Kong because we had “lost” the medium sized Kong a few days ago (we found it under the couch). It is really too large for him but he seems to love hauling it around and it makes a satisfying thump when he drops it down the stairs.
With the King Kong

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Later on the 8th:

We consider today a real success. We all piled in the car and drove out to CGDB to see the vet for 2:15pm. Peter had taken the afternoon off for the “volunteer day” he is allowed from work. When we got to Guide Dogs and went inside the kennels, we discovered “Valdy”, a 10 year old black Lab retired guide dog, who was waiting for a check up. He is also waiting for a new home. He was in remarkably good shape for a 10 year old, although he did have the white muzzle, and he was practically boisterous with Rocky. He must know he is retired!

When our turn came with the vet, Rocky was his usual charming self. First of all, he weighed in at 44 pounds! Later when he was up on the examining table, he allowed the vet to look at his belly with a minimum of fuss. The vet’s assistant (in the red shirt in the photo) was obviously taken by Rocky as well. We now have antibiotics and I am sure we will see a nice difference in Rocky’s rash and scratching.
at the vet
On the way home, we decided to stop at Mark’s Work Wearhouse to look at jackets for Peter. He was a little apprehensive about taking Rocky into a store but I had a feeling. Peter went in to see what was what while I made sure Rocky had a pee before I put his jacket on. Once his jacket was on and I shortened the leash to that divided conformation that is like a harness, Rocky transformed.

We walked into the store and he sat when I asked him, so I could get my bearings. Then we walked so nicely to the back of the store where the men’s jackets are. We encountered a couple of people who cooed over Rocky from a distance but I merely had to ask him to “leave” and he didn’t lunge at them or anything. When we found Peter, Rocky was happy to see him but I asked Rocky to sit and he did, just like a gentleman. Peter tried on all kinds of jackets and Rocky sat like he was supposed to. At one point he lay down on the floor and licked at some dirt there but since he was quiet, I let him. Finally, we left the store and he walked out just like a big dog. I was very pleased with him and I will take some of the credit!

We’re going to take Rocky out the CGDB to visit with the vet who’s there every Tuesday afternoon. His rash isn’t getting better and seems to be spreading a little so it’s time for antibiotics. In the meantime, I decided to try the ‘open door’ experiment again this morning. I put things on the chairs upstairs so that he couldn’t easily get on them and snooze and I tried to make sure there weren’t other temptations. Sure enough, after I came downstairs and Rocky did his usual house patrol down here, he went on up. I listened intently to him roam from room to room and after I hadn’t heard anything for a while, I snuck upstairs myself, to see what he was doing. I found him in the guest room, sitting on the floor like a good dog, but staring at the large teddy bear I have in there. I petted him and told him he was good and went back downstairs.

A little while later, I heard him go into our room and I heard some noises like he was climbing over my gym bag in the difficult ‘circuit of the room’ that he usually does even when I am there. Then I didn’t hear anything for a while. Then I heard a fairly loud thump that sounded like a door closing. I waited some more and didn’t hear a sound. Finally I went up. I saw right away that the ensuite bathroom door in our room was closed tight. I opened it slowly and there was Rocky, sitting in the bathroom right behind the door, waiting to get out. He must have been exploring behind the door and it swung shut on him. I tell you, it was a good laugh for me, to see him sitting there like that. I wonder if he wondered how long he would have to wait before someone let him out.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Rocky’s reaction to thunder was practically anticlimactic. We finally got some real thunder and lightening yesterday. Rocky was upstairs with me when it started, so I opened the window a little so he could hear and smell better. He stood on the windowsill with his front legs and showed a real interest in the rain. When we’d get a roll of thunder, it appeared as though he was listening to it but because he couldn’t tell exactly what it was or where it came from, he wasn’t interested. I said, “what’s that?” in my puppy voice but he didn’t even cock his head, he just watched the rain and the leaves in the wind.
Rocky listening to thunder
Later we were downstairs when the second wave of the storm went by and I sat with him at the patio door and we watched the lightening and listened to the thunder. He acted as if it might be television - flashing lights and funny noises coming from some place he didn’t understand. Who cares, said he. In fact, he was far more interested in watching the rain drops roll down the window and “disappear” once they hit the bottom, than he was in thunder or lightening.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Yesterday, we worked on walking with the steady and leave commands. Peter and I went for a walk with Rocky in the morning and we worked on the commands some. But it’s distracting to have more than one person and of course, people want to talk (that includes me). So I decided to take him out later by myself, when Peter was out on his bike. I was able to focus totally on Rocky and we walked along with a steady stream of “leave” and “steady” coming from me and he walked very well. When we got back to the neighbourhood, there were four boys playing road hockey with a tennis ball and it took a huge effort on my part to keep Rocky from joining in. He just loves children - they must seem like big puppies to him and the more boisterous, the better. We’d walk one step and then he’d be lunging out at the end of the leash, strangling himself, so I’d make him sit and wait. Then I’d say “come” and he’d lunge. I think it took us 10 minutes to walk 50 feet. But it got done and he listened, sort of.

Earlier, I wanted to go work on some sewing for my sewing blog
and since Peter wasn’t around, Rocky came up with me. Mostly, he sat and looked out the window at whatever was moving outside.
Rocky at sewing room window
The window in the sewing room goes down to about a foot and a half from the floor, so Rocky can see out fairly easily. (I’ve been thinking I could build a window seat there.) He watched the birds and the people come and go. When the boys came out to play hockey, he put his little paw up on the windowsill so he could get a better look at them. Too sweet for words.
Rocky wanting to play outside

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Rocky lost one of his big back molars just now. Well, I guess ‘big’ is relative as it is a lot smaller than one of mine. And it has no root on it at all - it’s just the top part that shows. Rocky has been sitting behind me, under the dining table, chewing on his bone. A minute ago, I noticed that he had abandoned the bone but was chewing on something else. I wondered what he had got his little paws on so I went under the table to investigate. I got his mouth open (he is very good about letting you take anything out of his mouth) and fished out a small hard object. I though at first it was the back off a lapel pin - something like that and then I looked at it and - eeew! I know there are people who save their puppies’ teeth but I can tell you right now, I am not going to be one of them.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Another milestone! Rocky farted today. I didn’t hear it but it sure curled my nose hairs. He’s still not eating a thing except puppy chow (unless he scarfs down something from the street smorgasbord) so I’m not sure why. But it was a first so I thought it deserved a blog entry of its own.
Rocky's frequent napping place

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Okay, now a switch of some sort has gone off inside Rocky’s head and he thinks he can just get up on the couch when he feels like it. Yesterday and again today, I was in the kitchen when I heard this different noise coming from the living room. I walked around the corner and looked and to my horror, I see Rocky sitting on the couch in the living room! Not the dog couch in the bedroom but the one that he’s really not supposed to get up on. We’ve even made the effort to sit on the floor with him so he doesn’t think he’s deprived with always being there by himself. How ungrateful.
On the floor where he's supposed to be (the dog, not the husband)

Anyway, if blogging is light, it’s because I am trying to churn out as many words each day as I can, in order to “win” NaNoWriMo
. So far, I only have 1,100 and I’m aiming for 50,000 by the end of November.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

This morning I decided to try a little experiment and I left all the doors open upstairs - three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Normally, when I have left any door open, Rocky goes in and sees what there is to grab and run with triumphantly. This time, I tried to puppy-proof the rooms a little better, especially by putting the laundry basket in our room up on the little love seat.

So I am downstairs and I’ve had breakfast and coffee and I’m sitting at the computer reading blogs and things. Rocky chews his bone down here for a while and goes to look out the patio door - his usual routine. Then he decides to go upstairs. This is also routine and when he has sniffed at all the closed doors, he comes back down again. Because I have left the doors open, I listen and at one point, I hear something going on in the guest room and go upstairs to find him with his whole head under the bed, sniffing at the things I have stored under there. I coax him out and he comes back downstairs.

Later he goes back up. This time, I notice after a while that things are really quiet in the house and Rocky has not come downstairs. I figure that if he is quiet, he is probably not chewing on something, but then I wonder - what IS he doing? I sneak upstairs and look in the sewing room - no dog, the guest room - no dog, the bathroom - no dog and finally at the other end of the hallway, I come to our bedroom and find... Rocky on the love seat! He is curled up on the half not occupied by the laundry basket, looking for all the world exactly as though he belonged there.

Now this is where we allowed Uma to sleep for several years. When she got older, Peter thought her old bones should have a comfortable place to sleep at night and that became her bed. So the love seat must fairly reek of dog to another dog and I guess Rocky figured it was a suitable place for him to take a nap. I don’t blame him and he did look very cute up there. And when I asked him to get “off”, he did with no hard feelings at all.

I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t have the camera on me and I didn’t want hard evidence around that we had allowed Rocky on the furniture, even though I didn’t strictly speaking “allow” him, as he went up of his own accord.