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, May 31, 2006

he's got that look on his face again
Nothing new to blog about. It is so hot and humid that even Rockwell recognizes the benefits of air conditioning. We go out early for our main walk of the day, before the heat hits. I was sitting here blogging about sewing when he came down the stairs with a bone hanging out of his mouth and gave me a look that says, "Mom, I'm bored!"

Monday, May 29, 2006

The tantrums continue. This morning as we left the house, Rockwell was fine but we passed a mother with a small child. I am not good with kids' ages so I guess this one was maybe four years old? Anyway, something transpired between them and the kid started wailing and the mother was pulling him along. I looked back at her as Rockwell was hauling me off to a particular patch of grass and mutual sympathy and understanding passed between us.

Later over at the reflecting pond, Rockwell decided he would play tug of war with his leash so I stood there and ignored him. And stood there, and stood there. At one point, he decided he needed a better purchase on the leash so he let go and re-grabbed but since my back was to him and since the leash was attached to my wrist which was also behind my back, he actually bit me on the bum as he went for the leash! Of course, I am not wounded except in dignity. It took him a while before he gave it up and decided he would rather have my attention than play with the leash.

I find it interesting that before I decided to go with the depriving-him-of-attention ploy, I felt exhausted mentally and physically when he pulled a tantrum. Now I am tired physically because of all the pulling and trying to maintain my balance and position, but I don't feel bad mentally. I am not despairing, I don't feel bad because I'm fighting with him, and today, a passerby thought it was "cute" so I don't feel bad about how it looks either. Although, as you know, it is NOT cute. Anyway, I am happy to continue on this path for a while. And I still think he will out grow it.
Who, me?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Rockwell is still learning cause and effect but he already amazes me at what connexions he does make. For instance, when he is lying on the hardwood floor, he will gently push the Kong away from him and watch it roll in an arc across the floor, stop and roll back to him. Then he will push it again and watch it again. He will do this until he pushes it too hard or it gets stuck somewhere. I don't know if other dogs do this but I find it fascinating to watch.

This morning we walked over to the city hall and walked around the large reflecting pond. The fountain in the middle wasn't on so the water was very still except for periodically around the perimeter, where water jetted into the pond just under the surface. This made a disturbance on top of the water every 10 feet or so and Rockwell stopped in excitement at the first jet he saw. He wanted to go into the water to investigate but I didn't allow that - he is not supposed to go swimming as a guide dog. So we watched the water for a while and then I moved him on to the next jet, where he was excited again to watch the water. By the time we reached the fifth or sixth jet, he was all blase about it, having at least figured out that this phenomenon was normal for this pond.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

We all went for a walk this morning and stopped at the end to talk with our neighbour who had his hanging plant stolen from right outside his front door. If the folks in this hood who read this blog see a peach coloured hanging basket somewhere else, let us know! Anyway, after that excitement, Rockwell was nicely tired out and after breakfast, he lay under the table and chewed his bone on my foot.
I didn't realize how filthy my sneakers were until I saw this photo. Sorry.
Then we were in the kitchen doing the dishes and spotted this scene and just had to preserve it. Look at that paw.
Whose bone is that?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Another lovely weather day - currently 24C (75F) and sunny. Our morning walk was very nice. If all you think I do is walk with this dog well it's not entirely true. I also sit and commune with him and we sew together and blog together and watch tv together and occasionally go to the pub. But the morning walk tends to be where the action is for the day!

I decided to walk around some of the strictly suburban loops that open onto Centrepointe, like Pinetrail and Mapleview. You turn off the main road and onto these subdivision roads with no sidewalks. The only traffic is people leaving their driveways to go to work. And some school buses. I used to walk there with Uma when she still could walk and it's very quiet, lots of bird song (Rockwell stopped to look when a robin whistled for him) and lovely, well-tended gardens. I guess I haven't been with Rockwell until today because I thought he should have traffic around him to get used to it.

We left at about 8am and I packed a lunch because I thought we might be out there for a while, based on the previous two days. I was determined to keep him out as long as possible and look for signs that he might actually want to go home. [But I'm just kidding about the lunch - we were home by 9.] I kept him moving but let him look at things as we went by. A couple of times, I let him stop to sniff a post. Eventually when I saw his tongue start hanging out, I turned for home and got no quarrel -- until we were actually in sight of home. And then he grabbed the leash in his mouth and started dancing around. I tried to get it from him by jerking it out of his mouth but that didn't work. I remembered the thought from yesterday (expressed in comments!) that maybe ignoring the bad behaviour had an effect. Amazingly, I turned my back on him, crossed my arms on my chest like Stanley Coren suggests (I saw it on his tv show once upon a time) and looked up. He stopped pulling! I waited and started forward again and he went for the leash. Stop, look away, ignore the dog and he stopped pulling. Of course, I realize this may not work tomorrow but I'm pretty happy about it today!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I had a good visit with my PW supervisor and we discussed the hissy fits, as she calls them. First of all, he's not the only dog having them so that's a relief. Secondly, she thinks not having a fenced yard may be a factor. The other dogs having tantrums also don't have free-run play time in a yard and they might be getting cranky when their only outdoor time is on a leash. Thirdly, she agrees that it may have something to do with the dog not getting what he wants. I want to go home and he doesn't - tantrum.

I'm going to work on being more assertive in not putting up with tantrums. And we're going to look for a fenced area where Rockwell can run around. She said there was a public school near here that gave permission for a guide dog to use the yard as long as it was wearing the jacket. High schools don't usually have a completely fenced and gated yard so I'm going to look for the nearest public school and see if I can get permission for Rockwell to romp on the weekends.

Finally, we went for a walk in Westboro where there is plenty of distraction including lots of people, kids, dogs, street food vendors, and Rockwell performed like the star he can be. So that was really successful too. With the break on the weather and my new-found optimism regarding Rockwell, I feel much better.

I'm trying to develop a theory of Rockwell's bad behaviour. It's only the one thing - where he goes all "mad dog" on me and refuses to listen. He usually grabs his leash in his mouth and then dances away from me, pulling me around and around in a circle. I'm not sure if this is the same thing as his "mad dog" in the house routine, where he runs around, kicking up carpets and barking wildly.

This morning, I thought I would walk him someplace new and thought about the government buildings that used to be the Nortel buildings. They're all surrounded with nice new sidewalks and he's never been there before. I thought it would be a chance to test my theory that he goes "mad dog" when we turn for home. He was very good for the first 15 minutes. Then, I walked him back out to the main road and asked him to "sit" which he did, very nicely. I don't think he knew where he was although we could see the park from where we were. Then he grabbed the leash and we were off. Not physically, because we ended up crouching on the corner of the sidewalk for the next 5 minutes, but mentally. He wouldn't let go of the leash and I persisted in saying "leave" and trying to jerk it out of his mouth. That didn't work very well. I grabbed his collar and held on to it on both sides of his neck and said "sit" and "leave", depending. All I got in response was mad barking and growling and pulling away. We ended up on the ground with me hanging onto the loose skin around his neck and him on his back but still fighting, with passersby looking askance at us but thankfully not saying anything.

So I'm thinking, it's not the location, it's not turning for home, it's nothing I said... I finally give up and try to head home with him bouncing around at the end of the leash. Because he likes to bounce around in circles, it was difficult. I'd stop every moment to straighten myself out and then we'd continue our bizarre progress. However, this morning, the sun is out and it's warm so I wasn't despairing at least. Suddenly, he stopped misbehaving. I carried on walking and he walked right beside me. I didn't have to get angry (I had stayed remarkably calm before) and I didn't do anything like try to distract him. He just stopped misbehaving and walked calmly all the way home. Whew. So that's why I'm working on a theory - leaving it to random chance like that is not my first choice.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Okay, that was better! We went out for our LONG afternoon walk. This time, I brought treats in my pocket (just kibble), the temperature had doubled (from 7 to 14C, 44 to 57F) and the sun was out so I was in a better frame of mind at least. Rockwell might have still been a bit subdued from this morning's fiasco, I'm not sure. I was determined to keep his attention and did for most of the time. At one point, we were confronted by someone walking a Shitzu type puppy so I took Rockwell way off the path to one side and asked him to sit while they went by. He mostly sat but did lunge a bit. After they were gone, I lead him onto the path again and then asked him to sit and when he did, I gave him a single kibble.

Every now and then on the walk, I would stop (unexpectedly I hoped), ask him to sit and then give him a kibble when he did. Unfortunately (or maybe just coincidentally) near the end of the walk, I got a phone call and while I stood talking, he lay down - a good thing. However, when we went to get going again, he grabbed the leash in his mouth and did the tug-of-war thing that resulted this morning in the struggle. This time, I snapped the leash out of his mouth and right away said, "SIT!" and he did. Then I took a step away from him to the end of the leash and said, "come!" and he did. This seemed to distract him and we did this another three or four times, working our way down the sidewalk. Finally, I decided to try walking normally and we got within sight of the house before he lay down in the street and refused to move.

In our little subdivision, there are no sidewalks but there also isn't much traffic. When he plopped down on the pavement, I let him lie there for a moment and then went to the end of the leash, called "come!" and hauled him right onto his feet and kept on moving until I hit the front door. As you can tell, this afternoon's walk was not an unmitigated success but -- I've had worse.

Well, that was one of the more tiresome mornings I have had in a while. We had almost completed our circuit of the park when Rockwell started one of his I-don't-want-to-go-home tantrums. I had anticipated it and when he showed signs, I turned around and headed to the picnic table by the ball diamond where I sat on the bench for a while, thinking he would forget about it. Wrong. It was cold and windy and not sunny so I wanted to go home. I thought he should obey my wishes because I am supposed to be the boss. Also, it is my goal to get him to actually listen to me so I tried heading home again. And there we were, struggling, when this woman with the two Shelties comes along and feels she must lecture me about how incorrect I am in handling my dog. I try to get away but Rockwell isn't having any of it so I cave in and listen to her lecture. Oh she meant well but it helps to be humble and you can't be humble if you think you know it all. She didn't know me or him or our circumstances or the fact that even though we were having this power struggle, we had vastly improved over the Winter. So I had to be humble for us both. Of course, humility doesn't work with obstreperous puppies.

Anyway, she grabbed him by the collar to make him sit and he flopped on his back on the ground and she tried to make him sit and he jumped on her so I was secretly happy. My bad. Eventually, she went away but then Rockwell still didn't want to go home. By then, I had made it to the next bench and was sitting there, wondering how to get home when the by-law enforcement officer drove by in a truck. He stopped to let me know dogs weren't allowed in this park. I feigned ignorance by saying I thought the by-laws had changed with city amalgamation. I didn't play any cards about Rockwell being a guide dog puppy because he wasn't interested in giving me a ticket. Plus I was embarrassed I had no control over this dog so I didn't want to say I was supposed to be training it. Good grief. And I had decided I NEVER wanted to go to the park with Rockwell EVER again so it didn't matter.

Finally, I called Peter to vent even though I knew he couldn't help in any way, being at work and all. My venting on the phone seemed to put the fear of god into Rockwell because after I hung up, he walked home with me on a short leash as good as gold. I have been ignoring him since I got home and he has been lying to the landing looking subdued. He knows something is wrong but I don't think he connects it with his bad behaviour in the park. We will have to go for another working walk today (and every day) so I shall try to be more boss-like. And now I will go sit on the stairs with that dog and he will make me forget all about bad behaviour.
the big stretch

Monday, May 22, 2006

sitting up at the table
Another shot from the coffee table series. "Bad dog!" Yeah, right.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

When we woke up this morning, the rain was thumping on the roof but I thought we should go for a walk in the park anyway. By the time we actually made it out the door, the rain had almost stopped and for most of our walk around the park, we had no rain at all! Timing is everything.
In the park
Here, we have just entered the park and made a left, heading West around the path. The wind blew down some tree blossoms on the path.
Across the ball diamond
Peter took a short cut across the grass and looked back to catch us walking on the path near the subdivision. He's looking across a baseball diamond and seagulls are standing around on it. The park has at least two diamonds and at least three soccer pitches (I don't know why I can't count them and remember how many there are).
On the bridge
There's a large ornamental pond in the park and it is designed so that it looks like a stream feeds into it. This is a footbridge that crosses the marshy area leading into the pond.
Geese and goslingsMallard family
The pond supports a surprising number of birds. At least one nesting pair of Canada geese have goslings and I think I have seen two families of Mallards.
Big puddle
Here's that big puddle I was blogging about yesterday.
And now the sun has started to come out!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I've noticed that Rockwell loves to be outdoors. Even when there is a houseful of people, he will go out for a walk without hesitation. This morning, we had to walk in the rain and still, he appeared to love it out there. It has been raining steadily for over a week but we have been lucky and our morning walks in the park have been dry. Not so this morning. So I put on my wellies and my GoreTex jacket and hat and out we went.

We usually pass quite a few people but today I only saw two Chinese women with a little dog. They were carrying umbrellas and had them braced against the wind. The tiny dog (some kind of miniature poodle looking thing) was dressed in a jacket and was not on the leash. He was obviously an old dog and while he glanced at Rockwell, he otherwise ignored him as we went by. Actually, "went by" is a misnomer because I had to haul Rockwell off the path and make him sit on the grass as they went by so he wouldn't leap on the poor little animal. I tried to point out the other dog's good behaviour as an example to Rockwell but didn't have much success.

Near the end of the loop, there is a large puddle that stretches across the path. If it hasn't been raining for some hours, the puddle disappears but it poured last night and the puddle was as big as I've seen it in a while. Since we were wet already and I had Wellies on, I decided to walk Rockwell right through it. It was a few inches deep and I splashed as I walked through. Rockwell stopped to watch the splashed water in fascination and so I splashed some just for him. He didn't quite make the connection between the water that moved and my boots making it move but I think he will the next time.

Since we were near the end of the walk (and he knows it) he decided he wanted a big branch that had blown down in the night and when I said, "no," he had a little hissy fit. These are the "attacks" I described despairingly over the Winter, when I thought he would never obey me. He still has them from time to time but today, I managed to snap him out of it pretty quickly. However, after he knew I had won that battle, he just lay down in the grass and refused to move. The immovable object confronted by me, the irresistible force. After I allowed him to lie there for a while, I got him up and walking by appearing to head back in the direction we had come and he followed me, even when I turned around and headed home. Hey, I got him in the door the other day by saying "lunchie, lunchie" so I am not above trickery.
mmm, coffee table crumbs
Finally, we have a couple of photos as evidence of how Rockwell loves to lick the coffee table after we have had food there. His tongue isn't out but trust me, he's inhaling those molecules.
the lateral lick

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Since the gate at the top of the basement stairs came down, I've been interested in what Rockwell might do. It turns out that he is so used to being barred from the stairs that, after his initial curiosity was satisfied, he has no interest in going down there.
looking down the basement stairs
Here is what the stairs look like from the top. They are wood and so they are slippery. Peter and I have each fallen down them on occasion (not so much in recent years!). When we first moved in, our Lab Uma fell down them twice and thereafter refused to go near them. Even when her toy would bounce down to the bottom, she would just lie at the top and moan about it. When we got Rockwell, we imagined him sliding down the stairs too so we put up the gate. And it isn't just the falling down part we were concerned with - the basement is a nightmare of junk and we worried about a puppy getting into the wrong stuff.

When the gate came down, I simply shut the door which is on the landing, to prevent access to the junk-fest. Rockwell went down to the landing and lay there for a while - I think because it was cooler on a hot day. Lately, it has been cool so he doesn't even venture down there. One day I was down doing the laundry and I heard him creep down the first set of steps and I got this photo of him standing looking down the rest of the steps.
Curious at the top of the slippery stairs
When I heard him start down the steps, I called out and said, "Rockwell, STAY!". Not his best-obeyed command but that's the photo above - him staying as I asked!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Our big adventure today was getting Rockwell's blood tested prior to starting heartworm medication in June. The CGDB had set an appointment for 11:30 today so I called and reserved a rental car for 10:30am. Because I was only renting it for 2 hours, they don't offer pick-up so I biked over. It is only 5 km away and I made it in 15 minutes total time (13 minutes on the bike at 23kph). I felt like I'd busted a lung to get there because I didn't want to be late but it felt good to be out zooming along and not just puttering on a bike as I do when I get groceries. I locked my bike to a sign post and drove back home where I outfitted the back seat in a sheet for Rockwell. Because I had given myself 2 hours for the rental, I didn't feel rushed.

I decided to go early and we left the house before 11. He is so good in a car and I don't worry about him while we drive, which I appreciate. When we got to the kennels, there was no other dog ahead of me and so they saw Rockwell right away. Someone lifted him onto the exam table and then put him in a headlock. The vet stuck a needle in his arm and drew blood. Just when she got the minimum amount of blood that she needed, Rockwell squirmed out of the hold and they were done. They gave me the heartworm stuff and some worming pills, filled out his health card and we were out of there.

Rockwell very obligingly peed before getting back in the car and we drove home. I dropped him off at the house, took the sheet out of the car and drove back to the rental place. Once paperwork was finished there, it had started raining again. Eastern Ontario has been under a low pressure cell for a week now and I had been hoping the rain would hold off while I was on the road but you can't have everything. So I biked home and got a little damp but it just added to the sense of a mini adventure.

This photo is from the weekend, after my sisters and kids had gone home. Rockwell has collapsed at my parents' feet.
pooped pooch

Monday, May 15, 2006

My parental units came for the weekend and Rockwell was thrilled to see them again. Actually, they were pretty happy to see him too. Mum thinks he has calmed down a bit since the Big Snip and I remembered that the PW supervisor also said the adult dog food would help him to calm down too, so it could be a combination effect. Of course, this morning he did the freak-out, run through the house and kick up all the carpets routine, something he hasn't done in weeks. I think it could be because they left yesterday and afterwards, we just sat around and moped and watched tv. It didn't help that it rained all day either. So by this morning he was revved up and ready to rock and roll. I lured him into his crate by tossing the small Kong into it and saying, "where's your toy?" I had done this only once before but he learns fast and I was surprised he fell for it this morning. I doubt he will go for it again.
There were a few quiet moments during the weekend.
any place is a good one for a nap
snoozing on the feet

Thursday, May 11, 2006

It's interesting what will perturb a puppy, and what won't. Last night when I wasn't here, Peter noticed that Rockwell was asleep upside down in the hall as he often is. He was close to the makeshift baby gate we had attached to the railing at the top of the slippery basement stairs. When Peter was in another room, he suddenly heard all kinds of banging and crashing and ran to see what was going on.

Rockwell must have caught a leg or some body part under the gate and in trying to extricate himself, he ripped it right off the railing. It had been attached by nylon zip ties so I thought it was pretty secure. Apparently not! Anyway, Peter checked him all over and there wasn't a mark on him. Plus, during the struggle and afterwards, Rockwell didn't cry or bark or vocalize at all. He was unfazed by what could have been a traumatic experience.

In contrast, yesterday morning we went for our walk and as we passed by a neighbour's house, Rockwell spotted two of those large 10 gallon water jugs sitting outside on the step for pick up. You'd have thought we were being invaded by aliens. Bark, bark, bark! If that were not enough, this afternoon, one of those extra large, buzzy house flies got in the house and Rockwell acted as if it were on a personal mission to freak him out. He tried to catch it but when it was in another part of the house entirely, Rockwell was still jumping at the slightest sound and whipping around to look at his own bum. Funny, but really.

maple blossoms
All that yellow is the result of whatever the two maple trees in front of the house drop every Spring. Some kind of tiny blossom. Yesterday, I was standing in the driveway talking with a neighbour and Rockwell decided to see how many of those flowerets he could lick off the driveway before I changed my location. This morning, I saw the result. His poop was as big as and looked just like a horse's. You know how horse poop is all full of oats and the chaff that they eat? That's what his looked like - all full of bulk from the blossoms. And it was a two-bagger.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mmm, tasty.

The Big Snip Part V
Since the operation last week, I have had more success in getting Rockwell to leave people alone. When we meet up with people in the street, his first reaction is to lunge at them in hopes of planting a big wet one. Now, I ask him to sit and after about a minute, he actually does sit and remains sitting while we talk. Then after another minute, this person who we met can reach out and pet him without suffering too much puppy attention. Sometimes the mere act of reaching out to him can get him up on his feet and lunging but more and more, he listens when I ask him to stay seated. It's amazing. Don't get me wrong - it's not perfect and there's still a lot of work to do. But it's a great start.

Now that I take him for a proper walk around the park in the mornings, he leaves me along for a longer time while I work on the computer. However, after a while, he still gets bored and comes over to harass me. He sits right next to the electrical outlet where my computer is plugged in and barks at me. When I go to shush him, he flops over on his side, kicking the carpet over and resting his head perilously close to the plug. Then I either cave and take him out a second time or chase him away and upstairs where he can look out the window for a while.
growling at me

Monday, May 08, 2006

There may not be a single cause but this walking in the park first thing in the morning seems to have helped with regulating his poop schedule. Now he goes right after breakfast, as soon as we enter the park. Of course, then I have to carry the poop all the way around with me but, I’ve had worse. Some people don’t pick up at all (shame!). Some people do pick up but they act as if it is radioactive waste and throw it away in the nearest bin outside. I prefer to take it home and flush it because that’s where poop is supposed to be dealt with - in the sewage system. If you do this twice a day, every day, it quickly becomes an easy habit.

When we got home, while we were still in the parking area, Rockwell suddenly focussed every ounce of his being on a spot in someone’s driveway. I looked but it wasn’t until the mouse moved that I saw it. It was just a deer mouse with a white belly and it looked lost somehow, trundling back and forth, looking for something. Rockwell was entranced and followed the mouse visually all the way around the perimeter of the housing unit, sitting in one spot where I asked him to but shuffling his bottom every so often to keep square to the busy little mouse.
just chillin'

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Big Snip - Part IV
I suppose the saga is pretty much over but anyway. I was thinking about taking a photo of the afflicted area but it really does look too awful for a blog. It’s the Betadine that was spread on the incision that makes it look as bad as it does, I think, and they shaved the area too so it just seems worse than it is. In spite of what they said at kennels, he seems to be paying his wound no attention at all. He even did his ablutions this morning and didn’t go past washing the important part.

Instead, here is a photo of his face where the other dog gnawed on him a little. Some scabs formed and when they fell off, so did the hair.
cheek boo boo
So now he has a bald spot on his face along with the other thing. Poor guy! At least he is not vain. He may admire himself in the mirror but this bald spot doesn’t seem to bother him in the least. I know it will grow back and you don’t see it much when you look at him face-on. Let’s hope this will be the most he ever has to endure.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Big Snip - Part III
After Rockwell got home, we went back outside to work on the patio and finish the lawn work before it rained. Then I had to return the rental car. While I was away doing that, Peter was alone with Rockwell and took him for a short walk, figuring one was due. It wasn’t until they were back in the house that Peter noticed Rockwell had peed on the landing of the stairs. He must have done it while we were outside working. Poor little guy - he was obviously dehydrated when he got home and drank a lot of water. And when you gotta go, you gotta go. We blame ourselves. It took a whole roll of paper towels to sop it up - good thing I’m planning to replace that carpet one day anyway!

The Big Snip - Part II
There probably aren’t any more Parts to the saga but since I started with “Part I” I thought I would continue.

I picked Rockwell up at the kennel at about noon today. He was being kept apart from the other dogs in a small examination room. I met up with the kennel guy and he gave me instructions for post-operative care. They used dissolving stitches, not glue and the kennel guy told me Rockwell had been licking at his stitches. so he gave me some bitter stuff to put on the stitches. I also still have Uma’s old cone so I can use that in a pinch. Our talking in the hall started a dog barking and that’s when I realized it was Rockwell barking. The kennel guy opened the door and Rockwell started to come out, not subdued at all. I hoped he would greet me like a long-lost but just then, the resident cat ran into the exam room and Rockwell turned right around to run after him. Maybe if I’d been chopped liver, he might have paid me more attention but I was pretty much ignored.

Rockwell finally agreed to come with me and when we left the kennel building, he had a very long pee and looked relieved. When we got to the car, he ran for the grass first and had a giant, dry poop. Obviously, he’d been holding it all in while he was away. He was happy to get in the car and sat most of the way home with his bum on the back seat and his front legs on the floor and his head between the seats. Once we got home, he preferred to sniff around rather than greet Peter like a long-lost also. You want them to love you and miss you but really, it’s better if they don’t get overly attached. Now he is peacefully snoozing after having had quite a lot of water to drink. We’re supposed to keep him quiet for a few days - shorter walks, no rough-housing. I think he’ll be just fine.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Big Snip - Part I
Today’s the big day. Well, not ‘big’ as much as traumatic. And of course, the trauma started early because Rockwell can’t have breakfast or even water before the operation. I know he feels confused but I feel bad eating my breakfast while he is (literally) gnawing on a bare bone under the table. I took him for a walk in the park (not a metaphor) and he actually pooped for me without even anything in his stomach. I will never understand his pooping schedules.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Since the weather is stunningly beautiful, I decided to make a little change in our morning routine. Normally, I get up and shower and then I feed Rockwell and then we go out in the yard for his first pee (and sometimes poo) of the day. Then I have my breakfast and before I can have my coffee, he is barking at me to go OUT. This morning, I got dressed to go for a proper walk (when you’re in the yard, you can wear any old thing) and right after he had breakfast, I put his leash on and we went out into the park. I decided to use the short leash, even though I planned to let him sniff around because I wanted him to know I was in control.

As soon as we got to the park, he actually had a poop, which was rewarding in itself. :) I picked it up and we continued slowly around this internal path. Half way around, there is a large pond where geese and ducks like to hang out and I made Rockwell sit and just watch them until I felt he had grown accustomed to the distraction. There was a woman doing tai chi so I made him sit and watch her for a while. About three quarters of the way around, there is a ball diamond with a picnic table behind home plate so I sat down and Rockwell sniffed around.

Then I saw it before he did. A woman was out walking her brace of Shelties. They were off leash and she was walking quite slowly toward us. She spotted Rockwell then and called her dogs to her and they walked obediently toward us. Rockwell spotted them and started to whine a little. I got my hand in his collar and couldn’t make him sit. The woman stopped a ways away and commanded her dogs to sit, which they did, making a perfect picture of obedience. She asked from a safe distance if they could “say hello” and I said I would rather not as my dog would go ballistic and I’d never get him to listen. She actually understood and continued on her way and we exchanged further pleasantries from a distance. She said her dogs were 9 years old and I explained that he was only 10 months old but that he was losing a certain part of his anatomy tomorrow and then he might listen after that.

So the walk was very nice. I mostly got him to listen by being quiet when I said things like “leave”. I got to stand by him while he sat and watch the world too. He failed to listen at all when the other dogs were there but I expected that. And I so enjoy the early morning that the work with Rockwell was more than worthwhile.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I was thinking as we went on our first, shorter, poop walk this morning, that it depends on where you see us, whether you think I am walking an unruly pup or a well-behaved dog. Before he pooped and when he was in the grip of the urge to poop, Rockwell nearly pulled me off my feet with his need to get onto the grass. Of course, this doesn’t happen only at the moment he has to go but for a few minutes before then so there is a lot of pulling and hauling and “no! no!” from me. FInally, he assumes the position and produces a prodigious amount of poop. It was a two-bagger.

After that, he listens to me again and stays on the path and we walk along nicely for a minute. Suddenly, I spot another dog coming toward us and I put myself into the ready position for dog wrangling. Sure enough, Rockwell spots the other dog and goes ballistic. I finally have to put the poop bags down and just hang onto him until the other dog leaves the vicinity.

On the last leg, coming home, I have him on a slack leash, Occasionally when he sees a squirrel, I just have to gently twitch the leash and say “leave” and he continues to walk nicely. That’s when a neighbour passed us in his car and didn’t stop to chat because he knows Rockwell goes bananas. Rockwell must have looked like the angel he sometimes is - little did Robert suspect what had just happened a few moments before.
enjoying the sunshine

It’s been a few days. I had end of semester things to do like the final exam and marking papers. Rockwell had a visit from the PW supervisor on Friday. We discussed his sensitive nature and possible over-eagerness to please. We don’t want him to burn out. We agreed that we should take the summer slow and work on letting him know it is okay to relax. I know I have lots of fun photos of Rockwell in all poses of relaxation! But when he is out even just walking, with nothing else, he tries too hard.

We went to the Home Depot to walk around and I had him to begin with and he walked like a little angel in his jacket. Then I gave him to Sheila and she was so pleased with how well he is behaving - I was just grateful there were no other dogs at the Home Depot! He saw so many people that he didn’t feel the urge to jump on all of them, and so left them all alone. At one point, when I was walking behind Sheila with Rockwell and observing them, I told her, “I’m such a proud Mama!”

I also got a phone call from the CGDB folks and they have booked Rockwell’s appointment to be neutered. That’s coming up in two days. Apparently, they have really improved anaesthetics so that’s not so rough on the pups any more. And they glue the wound back together so the pup doesn’t even get to worry at stitches and so doesn’t need a cone. I just have to find out if he stays overnight - I wasn’t clear on the details.

We finally got to sit out on the patio again, after a couple of weeks of cold and rain.
posing on the patio
After a while, Rockwell got to be too distracting, so I put him inside for a bit. He was not amused.
the accusatory look