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.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy new year's eve!

I watched as Rockwell went out for his morning constitutional. I didn’t go with him initially because it is -16C with a windchill of -24C. As he bent his back legs to pee, I saw he was right beside the large flower pot and as he stood there, suddenly he lifted the hind leg nearest to the flower pot. Maybe his foot was getting wet due to the angle of the stream of urine or maybe he just wanted to get closer to the flower pot. But this is the first time I’ve seen him lift a leg. Now, I don’t think it can really be “marking” behaviour because he is the only dog IN that little yard. But his testicles are getting bigger and it could be only a matter of time.

Friday, December 30, 2005

We had a successful outing to the local pub called Marshy's. It’s named for the owner, Brad Marsh (on the left) who was a professional hockey player. He likes dogs too and welcomes our little group when we show up, as we did for lunch over Christmas with my parents.
Marshy's with Brad Marsh (left) and bartender John.
This time we got some better pics.
How long are we here for?
Rockwell is wondering how long he has to endure the chit chat.
Only a little while longer...
I chuck him under the chin and tell him, “only a little while longer”.
I can wait.
He lies down and is a very good little dog.

WHEN are you going to take me for a walk?
And just when were you going to take me for a walk?

Sometimes I just let him play with the metal zipper tag on my fleece vest because it’s easier than telling him not to. And it keeps him occupied and thus not doing something more objectionable.
chewing the tag
chewing the tag

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I don’t believe in curses or jinxes but right after I wrote the great poop story yesterday, we went for an afternoon walk and he pooped right out of the blue. AND he was wearing his jacket. Aargh. Thank goodness we were outside the library, that’s all I can say. I know it’s not his fault, or in fact, anyone’s fault. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Today we are having freezing rain and the great outdoors is a skating rink. Unless it warms up a little, we’re going to have cabin fever pretty soon.

Here’s the tree one more time before it comes down.
tree in the corner

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

And so, more about poop. When the supervisors were here last week, we talked about Rockwell’s poop schedule. I had had such a difficult time getting it normalized and so that he didn’t have to go in the middle of the night, I was quite pleased with the way it had turned out. Which is to say, he pooped right after breakfast, a second time on his morning walk later in the morning (any time between 9 and noon) and then finally right before bedtime, when I took him out for another walk around 10pm.

I was told that when dogs learn to poop during a walk, it can be very difficult to change this behaviour and that can flunk a guide dog. Guide dogs must never poop while guiding and preferably never poop on any walk. Well this set me back a little. So that morning, after they left (it was still early), I determined to “fix” Rockwell’s pooping. Before our late morning walk, I let him out in the yard and asked him to “get busy”. He promptly obliged by producing a lovely poop. Then we went on our walk and he didn’t have to go at all.

In the evening, I also asked him to “get busy” in the yard and he pooped there too! I had thought he had to “walk it out” but apparently not. Since then, he has been most accommodating and has only pooped in the yard. I realize that it has only been a week since we fixed this issue but it has been a hectic week and he has maintained the no-poop-on-a-walk rule very well. Even when my father walked him by himself when he was visiting, Rockwell pooped before the walk in the yard and didn’t go again. Also, I know that dogs are opportunists and they will often surprise you with a poop when their schedule says otherwise and so this may still happen. But I will be pleased to report this progress to guide dogs on their next visit.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The “adventure” we were going to have on Friday was put on hold because the puppy supervisor said I couldn’t take Rockwell on the bus for the first time without her being there. So we didn’t get to ride the bus downtown after all. sigh. Instead, we walked over to the local pub and had lunch there. Rockwell behaved well enough but didn’t want to settle. At one point, he barfed on the floor. I got some paper towels from the waiter and cleaned it up before anyone really noticed. It’s like having a small child, I suppose.
Waiting for people to do their human stuff
When we got home, we watched a movie and Rockwell decided he liked to lie on my mother’s feet.
at my mother's feet

On the morning of the 24th, we decided to add a few more ornaments to the tree. Rockwell supervised.
Adding to the tree
Mum chose a reindeer and Rockwell wondered if it might be good for lunch.

Later, we all piled in the car and headed for my sister’s for Christmas dinner.
being good in the car
Rockwell found that the safest place was out of the way, by the door. We wondered if he had to go pee but every time someone took him out, he didn’t pee, so we just figured by the door had become his spot. Plus he got to hang out with all the shoes and boots!
Staying out of the way

Once the turkey was ready, the party moved to the kitchen and Rockwell decided to join us. He may not be allowed to eat any turkey but he can enjoy how it smells, I think. He also decided the kitchen was a good place for a nice scratch.
waiting for the turkey

Finally, we thought a group shot would be appropriate for the occasion. Rockwell didn’t really fit on the stairs with the people on the left but he found his own little place on the right.
Group Xmas pix
He actually lay there, with his chin resting on the stair above his feet.
looking thru steps

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a very happy new year.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I tried putting a bow on Rockwell so that he could be “dressed up” to greet my parents (his “grandparents”) this morning when they arrived. If you look closely, you will see he has already sucked on one end of the bow so it came off right after they got here.
Waiting for
Mum was happy to get the dog behind bars (so to speak) but he still managed to chew on her hand a little in his enthusiasm at having someone other than me to play with.
Grandma's here!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Today was busy for me. I spent the morning baking and Rockwell had to sit and bear it. At one point, he started barking and biting at me and instead of trying to get him to stop with nothing else, I had a brainstorm and taught him something positive instead. I grabbed a couple of puppy chow kibbles and said “sit” at one end of the hall. I walked to the other end of the hall, all the while asking him to “stay”. After a moment and before he got antsy, I said “come” and he did and sat and got a kibble. I did this at each end of the hall a few times until he had forgotten the request to play and the biting and was focussed on the “come” “sit”. And then he was a good dog and not a bad one.

The afternoon was filled with cleaning and moving furniture. We all know dogs are truly creatures of habit and Rockwell is no exception. When I moved the furniture in the living room, he started acting crazy. When I brought out the vacuum, he went ballistic and I had to crate him to get some time to finish the project.

We had always put the Christmas tree by the patio door and I had been trying to think where else I could put it, so as not to block Rockwell’s access to the back yard. Suddenly, I figured out that I could exchange the armchair for the love seat and we’d have a hole by the other corner on the living room. I am sure I don’t know why it takes me five years to think of these things but anyway. Since I was moving furniture, I cleaned behind it and the project took a little longer but it was “done right” so I was happy.

Eventually Peter came home and when he did, I was in the process of stringing lights on the tree. Peter proceeded to take some pictures of this activity and I am posting a few (don’t forget - you can click on the picture and see the larger one at Flickr). The pictures with the flash are nice and clear but they just don’t have the feel of the ones without the flash, which are of course, a little out of focus.

Here we are in the corner, I’m halfway down the tree with the lights and Rockwell is listening to Peter. He used the flash. The armchair is on my right.
Finally figured out where to put the tree
Rockwell really was minding his own business and Peter draped some of the lights on him and asked him to stay and he did. This one was without the flash.
I didn't do it!
By this time, I was sitting on the floor, stringing the lights on the bottom branches. When a human is sitting on the floor, that person is SO attractive to puppies!
Mistletoe somewhere!
In the end, I was behind the tree, plugging in the lights and Rockwell just HAD to know what I was doing there. Also without the flash and not sharp, it is still a nice memento of the occasion.
What is she doing under there?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Today, we did the Loblaws run again. Not quite like the Kessels run in so many parsecs but an adventure nonetheless.

I think it was more successful than last time, partly because I had done it before too. I planned the route to walk over and back to avoid ALL the salt they use at the transit station. We headed toward Algonquin and crossed the main drag (Woodroffe) where the transit station and Algonquin “meet” so we could walk down the sidewalk on the east side of the street. It doesn’t have the salt on it and there isn’t much foot traffic either.

Rockwell remembered where we had turned in to the college the only other time he has been out there! When we got to that junction in the sidewalk, he turned right because that’s what we had done before. I explained that we weren’t going there today and he agreed to come along with me.

Once we got to the store, I put his jacket on and in we went. There weren’t very many people in the store so I was able to make my way slowly around the place without holding impatient shoppers up. I stopped and had a couple of short conversations with other shoppers who were interested in Rockwell - he is so cute that people just stop and smile at him involuntarily.

At the express checkout (only 9 items this time), Rockwell enthusiastically greeted the cashier in the adjoining lane when he was suddenly presented with this bonus person to jump on. The man was very nice about it too. In the kerfuffle, I forgot for the second time to use the coupon for butter that I had clipped. I have my limitations too.

Took his jacket off at the door on the way out and let him be petted by two small children. Then it was home again, home again, jiggedy jig.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Lazy Sunday at the top of the stairs.
You can tell Peter took these pictures because they have better focus and composition. I’m not knocking my photos but his really are better.
Lazy Sunday
and how is this comfortable?
Not much to blog about right now but I just finished preparing a calendar for next week for all the baking, cooking, present assembly, tree trimming, house cleaning and guests coming (can’t wait, M&D!) so I am sure things will come up as I get busy. Sheila comes on Thursday (I thought it was Tuesday), Rockwell’s six month birthday is Tuesday, we’re out Wednesday night at a friend’s (hey G.!) and the parental units are planning to go out with us all including the dog on Friday. So we should relax and appreciate this quiet day today.
just chillin'

Friday, December 16, 2005

Since I had given you a screen grab of the Hill cam a while ago, I thought I'd do it again to show you what it looks like at night with all the Christmas lights.

Dec. 16 two hours later:
We ventured out. It is still snowing and the plows have just started clearing the streets.
It must be down here somewhere!
I know I had a stick
Found it!
Too much snow for ME to mark!

It’s not 8am yet and I’m not ready to go out for our later morning walk but Rockwell has been out for a first pee in the fresh snow. When all is said and done, we might get a foot of it.
On our way to a foot of snow
Here he is anticipating the romp. I also include a photo from September 13 and you can see how big he has grown.
Waiting to go out in the snow
from Sept. 13 to compare

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Fast blog entry for now. I am home for lunch and then have to go out again.
Rockwell found the only patch of sun in the whole house.
patch of sun
He played with his bone here for a while.
patch of sun and bone
And then he wanted my attention. I was holding the camera up in my right hand and couldn’t see what I was shooting, but it turned out pretty well. He has his bone in his mouth and he is nudging me with his nose, making little grunting noises.
Trying to get my attention

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A brief photo essay of this morning:

Defiant looks in the hallway (note the flared muzzle).
Sitting on the landing, rethinking bad behaviour.
Rethinking it
Sitting behind bars, contrite.

Last night after I’d taken Rockwell for his final walk and I was taking my boots off at the door, he ran down the hallway and deked under the dining table.

Suddenly, he ran out from under there and into the kitchen. Then he reappeared and ran into the living room where he lay down and was quiet again. Abruptly, he got up and ran upstairs. That’s when I realized that he is still not convinced that we aren’t going to put him in his crate for the night and he was taking evasive action! Serpentine, serpentine!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

We all went for a walk in the park this morning, and remembered to bring the camera.

Yay!  It's Dad!

But I don't wanna!

Rockwell's got a stick

kiss mom

submitting to a face clean

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A while ago, FurKids in Hong Kong was selected as “cool dog site of the day” by DogMark so Peter went there and nominated me. Now they have selected Puppywalking for the cool site for December 11. Fun stuff, hunh Bambi? Too bad it doesn’t come with a cash prize. :)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Today, we went to the grocery store - all by ourselves! First, we walked over to the college where I am going to teach a course starting in January (just 4 hours a week). I had to pick up keys and some paperwork. All the way over, it was pull, correct, pull, correct. I didn’t put his jacket on until we were there, so as not to “work” him too hard. But the pulling I could have lived without.

It was the first time Rockwell had been to the college and the first time the staff had seen him. He of course charmed everyone with his good looks, if not his good behaviour. But once he calmed down, he lay on the floor and smelled whatever was there so we could talk in relative peace. The problem I discovered was that I had dressed for the walk over and back but not for the standing around in the hall, wearing a turtleneck, a sweater and my coat. I sweat right through the turtle neck so that when we went back outside, I got chilled. I knew this happened but I wasn’t able to remove my coat so I couldn’t really help it. Oh well.

I took his jacket off again while we walked from the college to the grocery store. Once there, I put it back on and then had to figure out a way to hang onto him and push a cart at the same time. I ended up looping his leash through the handlebar on the cart and hanging onto the end of it. It wasn’t tied to the handlebar and I could unloop it easily. But I thought it would make the leash shorter and keep him as close to me as possible without running over his paws. It seemed to work but I mostly pushed the cart with my right hand because the left was too busy with the dog.

I had a list of a few things that I could fit into my backpack but I quickly abandoned the idea of getting anything other than just what I needed today, as it would have kept us in the store longer than I thought we should be. He had peed on the way over so I was pretty sure he wouldn’t do that but the longer we were inside doing “work”, the more likely became the possibility that he might decided to stress-relieve by having a leak. After I picked up the five items I could not live without, we made a beeline for the express checkout where the checker didn’t even notice I had a dog with me until we were finished! I am sure I don’t know who she thought I was talking to the whole time - maybe that’s why she didn’t look at me too closely.

Then we proceeded home, pulling and correcting the whole way. Other than that, he was well behaved, although I must say, I didn’t give him much of an opportunity to misbehave.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Right after I posted the first message of today (during actually), Rockwell wanted to play. He brings his small kong and bumps me on the leg repeatedly until I interact with him. All the while, he is making those tauntaun noises.
Whether or not I do play with him, the tussle with the kong is inevitably followed by his climbing on to my lap. However, what I couldn’t believe when I looked at the next photo in close-up, is how the black is disappearing out of his nose leather! His nose was as black as soot when he first got here. When he leaves next year, I expect it will be practically pink at the rate it’s going.
I accept his invitation

There’s a sort of hoar frost on all the trees this morning. I am sure it means something weather-wise but I don’t know what. And I’m not even sure it’s “hoar” frost. I’ll have to look it up.

Let’s recap: Rockwell had diarrhea Monday night into Tuesday morning. No breakfast, little dinner so no poop at all Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Gets fed breakfast and dinner Wednesday and last night. he’s up twice with diarrhea. I managed to get some Pepto down him on the second trip out at 1:30am and perhaps that’s what prevented the normally inevitable third trip out. This morning I decided he could have a normal breakfast and if he still has diarrhea later, at least I can skip dinner and not have to get up in the middle of the night. It’s a plan.

So, from Wikipedia :
Hoarfrost refers to the white ice crystals, deposited on the ground or exposed objects, that form when the air is moist and surface is cold. ... Thus, hoarfrost is formed when the dew point is warmer than surface but colder than the air temperature, and colder than freezing point.

Just what you wanted to know!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rockwell needs a little outdoor exercise time (he insists on chewing on the zipper tags on my fleece vest while I am at the computer). We’ll go over to the drug store and I’ll put his jacket on and we’ll get a little “training” in too. But he’ll have to wait for me to bundle up first! This is what it looks like from the Parliament Hill cam right now:

Although it isn’t that cold out (only minus 9C, 16F) there is a nasty wind which makes the windchill feel like minus 18C (0F). You can always tell when the wind is particularly brisk by how the flag is flying from the Peace Tower. Today it is not just “out” but “up” too. Brr.

Ears in action!
The trip to the vet went well in the end, no poop pun intended. I rent from Enterprise and while I quite like them as a company (and they come pick you up and drop you off), they were an hour and a half late with the car. This set me back a bit. I got my hair cut and then got a trunk full of groceries and a carton of various wines from the LCBO. By the time I got back to the house and had unloaded the groceries, it was 2pm. I managed to have a little lunch and then stuffed Rockwell in the car and we were off to Guide Dogs. Halfway out the ‘hood, the passenger seat belt warning chime was still bonging so I had to stop and do up the seat belt. Rocky was roped to the thing that lets the seat move back and forward on the floor but he had enough room to sit up on the seat (covered with a towel of course) as well and jump into the driver’s seat when I wasn’t in the car. Anyway, we got to CGDB at 2:44 and our appointment was for 2:45. Yay! Then I saw there were three dogs ahead of me and one in with the vet.

One of the dogs waiting was a year old Lab, well on her way to becoming calm and listening to her handler. While the other three puppies were bouncing off each other, this Lab stayed off to the side even though she was very interested in the proceedings. I am hoping this might happen sooner as opposed to later with Rockwell! 25 minutes later, the vet said it could have been anything that Rockwell picked up that caused the diarrhea and unless it persisted, not to worry. She agreed that the only way to administer Pepto was with a syringe, so there is no trick to that. She inspected the rash and said it looked like the previous one just hadn’t been knocked out yet. So when the diarrhea clears up, it’s back on two weeks of antibiotics for Rockwell and then he should be done with that nonsense. When we finally got back to the house it was after 4pm. Rockwell got half his dinner and still hasn’t complained about the rations. This morning, he got a regular breakfast and had a soft but formed poop so I think we are getting back to normal.

In response to Laura’s question in the comments yesterday, here is what I understand about dogs’ signals to go out so they can relieve themselves. Uma never had a real signal either - she would just sit by the door until someone let her out. I guess after a while, someone will say, “hey, where’s the dog?” and then they will notice and let her out. As an adult dog, when she would have diarrhea (for any non-dog owners out there, this is quite common in all dogs), she would sit by the door and if you didn’t notice and she really HAD to go, she would whine to get your attention. This happened only a very few times in the middle of the night during 14 years and each time, she somehow made it clear she had to go NOW. Two nights ago, that is what Rockwell did too. He was in our room with the door shut and he paced around and scratched and then sat by the door which is loose in its frame so it bangs a little when you lean on it. This was enough to wake me up and when I asked him to go back to sleep, he didn’t. He persisted until I got up and we went out. It sure doesn’t sound like a fool-proof method but it seems to work. Plus, for everyday type eliminations, we let the dog out often enough that he shouldn’t have to pee in the house (although he did do that last week but again, I blame myself). Now a question back to Laura. People have asked me how do blind people pick up their dog’s “business”. I was told by CGDB that they arrange to have a sighted person do this for them and that is why the dogs are trained to poop on a rigid schedule, so the whole thing can be planned and coordinated like a military proceeding!

Hmm, here we are, back to talking abut poop again.