Puppy walking

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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Good point from Lileks today about keeping an eye on your dog for the next few days. Our fireworks are tomorrow and his are the 4th but it's all fireworks.

The fireworks have begun. Occasional detonations up and down the block. Jasper hates them. He will not leave my side. Thunder he can take; my guitar playing unnerves him not. (Which makes him unique.) The sudden screech of a bottle rocket, however, makes him nervous. Last year on the fourth I put him in the garage, but that wasn’t good enough – he tried to get into my car, as I discovered the next day when the sunlight hit the scratches.

This is his worst time of the year. Unexplained large ambient noises without context: dog hell.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Today we went to the vet so she could check out Rockwell's stinky ears. Now that I have decided to put him in the back seat when we're driving, he seems more settled. He can move from side to side and look out the windows back there, as well as glance through the windshield to see what's coming in that direction. I also don't have to struggle with him trying to climb into the driver's seat - not that he wants to drive, necessarily. I just think he is trying to see out of the left side of the car.

We're getting some of the tail end of that weather they've been getting on the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. and it poured while we drove to the CGDB. Miraculously, it let up as we got there and we didn't even get wet running into the building. We met another puppy waiting for the vet. Her name is Queenie and she is also a cross like Rockwell but turned out quite red in colour. As we waited while Queenie was being looked after, two kennel guys kept coming and going from our hallway. At first, Rockwell leaped up every time one appeared and strangled himself on his collar, causing my biceps to increase by another 1/4 inch. Eventually however, he settled and just sat as they went to and fro, as long as they didn't make eye contact with him of course. But, being kennel guys, they know better than that!

When it was our turn, I explained to the vet that I had been cleaning his ears for over a month and for the last two weeks or so with diluted vinegar. She approved of that because with a yeast infection, you want to acidify the environment to keep the yeast from growing. I explained how I had been cleaning with a cotton ball soaked in vinegar and she approved of that too, except for the fact that I wasn't getting deep enough. So she proceeded to show me how to clean with a Q-tip. Well. I have always been warned away from Q-tips by vets who don't trust lay folks with pointy objects. I was quite pleased that she felt confident enough in my abilities to give me this instruction. She also showed me how to work a cotton ball if I didn't feel right with the Q-tip.

All the while she was doing the cleaning and application of the anti-yeast meds, her assistant Rob stood there calmly holding Rockwell's nose. I'll try to get a photo of Peter holding Rockwell that way, because that is what is going to start happening tomorrow night for the next two weeks. I told Peter he would have to do the holding and he was okay with that. As a vet, she is so accustomed to handling dogs that they just become calm around her and don't fret about her poking in their ears. So I have to immediately develop that same calm (and so does Peter) and we will be able to handle Rockwell nicely for the duration of his ear cleaning and medication.

We also talked about how you can over-clean dogs' ears so that they become too sensitive and get worse. I used to do that with Uma's ears until I learned to leave them alone. So I'll do this stint for two weeks and hopefully Rockwell will not only be none-the-worse but better for the ordeal.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Who's been drinking??
Who's been drinking?
I can't believe we got this photo! Rockwell had his head tilted waaay back to look at me behind him. Then when he straightened up, one of his ears was inside out and his tongue was hanging out the side he'd been tilted toward. And then he closed his eyes just as the flash went off. So no, he has not been drinking but it sure looks like it!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

On Monday while I was out teaching, we had a brief but powerful thunder, lightening and rain storm. We lost power twice in the classroom but while it was on, for fun I tracked the blob on the radar on the computer terminal in the classroom. Peter was at home, alone with Rockwell when it hit. Lots of lightening and thunder, maybe more than Rockwell has ever seen during the day time. At one point, Peter turned around while he was in the kitchen making himself a sandwich and there was Rockwell, lying close by his feet. Peter chuffed him up and said, "let's go look at the storm" and so they did.
during the storm
Once Peter showed him there was no reason to fear the storm, then Rockwell was fine about it too. The rain just came in torrents and lashed all the windows.
dog in motion
At the end, there was a huge lake in the parking area but it slowly drained.
apres le deluge
Exciting weather aside, Rockwell's ear has reached the point where I will take him to see the vet at CGDB on Tuesday. Sheila said I was keeping the yeast at bay with the vinegar but it wasn't going away. On this note, may I recommend you go visit this wonderfully written vignette of dog ear cleaning? With pictures and everything. Thanks Gwiz!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Welcome to the Solstice, the first day of summer. More notably, Rockwell turned one year old yesterday. And I didn't even blog about it. Well, in my defence, he didn't know either.

We went out with the PW supervisor yesterday. You may recall that we were planning to go back to Westboro and have a coffee at one of the dog cafes to celebrate his birthday. Unfortunately, it had rained off and on that morning and Sheila said she was tired of getting wet so we were going to Bayshore instead. Well, it's a nice big indoor mall and he'd never been so away we went.

On the way there, we stopped at a light and a cab pulled up beside us. Rockwell stared out the window at the cabbie and finally the driver waved at him. At that encouragement, Rockwell climbed up my chest and tried to get out the window at the door jamb. It was funny but I was left covered in hair and slobber. At Bayshore, we started in the underground garage area where pigeons flew and cars and trucks made loud, rumbly noises. Unfazed by any of that, Rockwell freaked out over a moth and later, over some dandelion fluff. We decided he's a detail man.

Once he settled into wearing his jacket he did his golden boy routine and made us both proud. He saw his first escalator and didn't turn a hair at it, preferring instead to be interested in a cookie crumb at its base. I was directed to travel up the escalator and out of sight and then come back down, to test his reaction. He was quite interested when I disappeared at the top and as I came back down, his tail started to wag slowly as I got closer. Once I got off the escalator however, I was ignored! We also walked into a washroom and Sheila took him into the large handicapped stall and he just sat in the corner when asked.

Bayshore has lots of different floor surfaces - from stone to marble to tile to carpet and Sheila noticed that at every transition, he put his nose down to examine it. This is something they encourage in a real guide dog so she was quite happy to see it. We walked down one long hallway where the floor was striped at frequent intervals by a different colour stone and he stopped looking at each stripe after the first two. Then when we arrived at a court area with a different floor, he looked at the transition as we crossed it.

Finally we had coffee at Second Cup, to celebrate Sheila's birthday which is coming up on Thursday. Rockwell by then was tired and he persisted in licking the floor, trying to chew gum off the underside of the table and trying to get the shim out from under one table leg. We finally gave up, put the lids back on our coffees and called it a day.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I have finally figured out how to clean Rockwell's ears - I can't believe it takes me this long, sometimes, to figure things out. First, I lured him into the bathroom and shut the door. Now I have a captive audience. Then I soaked a cotton ball in the diluted vinegar solution. This way, I don't have liquid spraying all around AND I can warm up the solution a little because I am holding onto the cotton ball. I put the cotton ball in the entrance of the ear canal and just gently massage the ear from the inside. This way, the vinegar goes into the ear canal but is unnoticed by the dog. After a minute, I pull the cotton ball out and it is covered in dirty ear wax. No pain, no fuss, no vinegar anywhere but where I want it. Oh Rockwell still flung himself to the floor and tried to hide but I wasn't trying to dribble liquid from a squeezy bottle into his ears so the process was far simpler.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Why is that dog winking?
We decided that we should get out early for a long walk, before the heat and humidity drove us inside to enjoy the air conditioning. Since all three of us were on the walk, I decided to allow Rockwell the freedom of the expandable leash and he romped with abandon. It was fun to watch him lope along and play with discarded plastic water bottles. Even if I do want to harm those people who toss their trash like they don't belong on this planet - grr.

My theory about ignoring bad behaviour was reinforced recently by an encounter with a middle aged little dog named Casey (I think he is a Lhasa Apso - is that right Kathleen?). Rockwell bounced over to Casey and wanted to play but Casey actually turned his back on Rockwell and ignored him completely. Within less than a minute of being so severely ignored, Rockwell had abandoned the attempt to make Casey play and was lying on the grass, chewing a stick while Kathleen and I continued to talk. A while later, Rockwell tried to get Casey to play again and this time, Casey growled and snapped at Rockwell. This only encouraged my puppy! He bounced all around Casey, oblivious to the fact that the attention he was getting from him was negative. Then Casey gave him the cold shoulder and Rockwell left him alone. Very interesting.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I think I am caught in the difficult place between cleaning Rockwell's ears TOO much and not cleaning them at all. I found with Uma that when I cleaned her ears, the mere act of poking around in there would serve to irritate the ear canal and make matters worse. In the first few years, when her ears would get stinky from yeast, i would get in there and clean and then I'd have to administer the anti-yeast medication we got from the vet. Eventually, I just left the ears alone and after that, she never had a real problem. They might get dirty looking sometimes and smell a bit but they never flared up out of control.

With Rockwell, I was asked to clean his ears and since, you know, "he's not my dog!", I did as requested. Now I am going to water down the vinegar solution even more and try to stay away from the ears. Much to HIS relief I am sure. Boy, he just flings himself to the ground when he sees me coming with a cotton ball! Then he rolls on his back and twists his head so I can't get at the affected ear. Poor guy, but that's my job - to be his "mom". In fact, I remember when I was a kid and my own mother would clean my ears out. I was so relieved when I declared one day that I was old enough to clean them out myself and she agreed with me. Not that she didn't do a good job but it's a whole different thing when it's your own ear that you are poking with a swab.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Having a leisurely week here. Still putting vinegar in his ear. It looks nice and clean but smells a little yeasty by the end of the day so I'll keep at it until that goes away.

Rockwell has always done this - pressed his nose against objects. I have tried to capture it on camera but it doesn't always convey how interesting it looks in reality.
'Nose plant'?
This first shot shows how his muzzle is squashed on the carpet. His eyes are open too which negates naysayers who think he might merely have fallen asleep in that position.
I don't know why he does this
In the next two photos, he deliberately closed his eyes just as the flash went off and the shutter opened, so it looks like he might be asleep, but he is not! In fact, he picked his nose up and then put it back in a slightly different position for the second photo.
Maybe it's the feel of the carpet?
I have speculated that he likes the feel of the carpet but he also presses his muzzle against the glass top on the coffee table so I really don't know why. Maybe it's just me but I find this so fun and fascinating. Maybe I need to get out a little more.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

We had another busy weekend. A friend who Rockwell has never met came to stay for a couple of days and he immediately adopted her into our pack. I really think he is happier the bigger the pack. She was very tolerant of him and even helped me with his stinky ear. As is the way with most lop-eared dogs, one ear is smelling yeasty and I have been keeping it at bay by cleaning it with a dry cotton ball twice a day. However, I really noticed it when Betty was here, probably because I became extra conscious due to having a house guest. One morning, she suggested I try a diluted solution of vinegar and water and I had to slap myself up-side the head. Of course! I only have herbed vinegar that I made myself so when I was done, he smelled, as Betty said, like a salad, but I think the ear is improving already. Anyway, it can't hurt him and it may keep me from having to take him in to the vet.
Our friend Betty

Sunday, June 11, 2006

If you made him sleep in this position, I don't think he would thank you.
nice comfy snooze - not!
And yet he often squashes himself up against the stair rails for a snooze.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Another take on the Dog Whisperer, this time from Dooce.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

That was interesting. I have been working on the "ignore the bad dog" technique for the temper tantrums and while slow to catch on, I can see that it does work eventually. In fact, the behaviour I don't like (pulling on the leash with his teeth, playing tug-of-war) only escalates into a tantrum when I focus on the dog and tell him "no". If I just turn my back and wait, he eventually stops because he isn't getting any attention (it doesn't seem to matter whether the attention is positive or negative to him).

This morning when we got back from our walk, he was still wound up from playing with another dog along the way. So he went into his mad-dog-dash-around-the-house-and-kick-up-carpets routine. The only thing is, Peter was trying to sleep. He's been up for 24 hours on business and this play makes a lot of noise. I tried for a second to shush him (literally by placing my finger on my lips and saying shh like you would do with a human) and that was acknowledged by even louder barking. So I picked up my breakfast and walked away into the kitchen. In a moment, he came to lie in the kitchen doorway and look at me. I kept my back turned and eventually, he sighed and lay down in the hall! Success! Not fast success but success!

Also, I learned that when Rockwell has slobbered big white globs on someone and I try to point it out so they can wipe it off, I shouldn't say "you have dog goop on you" because that sounds just like "dog poop"! Sorry Robert.
the foot love continues

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tonight, I finally took Rockwell to school with me. I am exhausted. But it was a qualified success.

Peter is away overnight and so I thought it was now or never to take Rockwell to work because I've been saying I'll do it but haven't and he's almost a year old already. I packed his small kong, water bowl and a bottle of water from home in my backpack, put him in his jacket and off we went. Things were going well until he spotted what sure looked like a ball of horse manure by Centrepointe Theatre and went for it. I couldn't think what horse poop was doing there but that's what it looked like.

We got sorted out and continued over to the college. I picked up my folder at the continuing ed office in one building and then proceeded to the building I teach in. He was pretty darned good this whole time. When I got to my classroom, there was one student there already but Rockwell didn't seem to want to rush over to smell her so I was happy with that. A few other students started showing up and he was very interested in them but I coached them not to speak to him or make eye contact. That worked pretty well and he ignored them after a while.

I had brought the blue nylon leash and roped it around the leg of the desk so he wouldn't wander off. I put his water bowl under the desk where he wouldn't knock it over so easily and set out his kong. As students arrived before class started, we talked about him and his future and he lay there just as good as gold. I got two pictures before things -- changed, shall we say.
Rockwell's first day at school
Soon I was lecturing and he got bored perhaps and started chewing on the leash. That's another reason I didn't tie him up with the leather leash - it would have been chewed through in minutes. He did manage to fray the nylon one but it wasn't too bad. So I undid him. It turns out he was more interested in chewing the leash than in being free. It took him a while (after I took the leash away) to realize he could roam around the room.

I asked the students to try to ignore him and not make eye contact and they were very good about it. He went from student to student, sometimes pausing to lick at bare toes or sniff a backpack but the students were very cooperative and he just wandered around without getting into anyone's lap or anything (except for one girl near the end of the session who had him as a lap dog for a moment). He found a paper clip and chewed on it until I took it away. Some other times, a student reported that he had found a tic tac or some gum but I let him have those. At one point, he stood up at the back of the room where the windows are and put his paws on the windowsill so he could watch someone walking by.

So I say it was a qualified success because he didn't lie at the front of the class the whole time, snoozing at my feet. But the students were charmed by him and he didn't pee in the room so while we are both exhausted by the experience, it was pretty good all around.
Rockwell's first day at school

In anticipation of the big mattress move tomorrow, Peter took down the railing on "Rockwell's stairs". First, Rockwell had to inspect where the railing had been.
Mmm, tasty
Then he had a long look over the edge.
It's a long way down...
And finally he gave us a look.
You lookin' at me?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Photo today unrelated to the blog - except for thematically.
I lurves my mom's feet - what of it?
Taken out on the patio the other day. Rockwell had found a stone to chew and wanted to lie on my feet to chew it.

We had a house guest last night, an old friend of Peter's who raises and trains horses. He was at the Carp Fairgrounds for a big horse show and consequently smells strongly of horses (to the dog anyway). Rockwell greeted him like a long-lost brother and set to licking his shoes until it got annoying. We left the shoes at the front door and Rockwell proceeded to try to get on this poor fellow's lap and chew on his shirt too. Then, banished to the floor finally, he lay on this guy's feet the whole time. This morning when he was in the bathroom, Rockwell camped outside the door until he could see him again. We're just glad he was understanding about it, as he has two dogs of his own and really loves them and the horses. As far as Rockwell was concerned, it was an entirely successful visit. Now we just have to introduce him to horses and he'll be in heaven.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I am bored.
Sigh. I am so bored. Why must I lie here on the stairs all the time?
I will play with my toy.
All right - I shall play with my toy.
Come play too.
If I roll it down the stairs, will you fetch it for me?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

An interesting look at the Dog Whisperer from different perspectives.

This morning we happened upon a dead baby bird, lying in the grass. As I stood by this small casualty of a cruel world, I watched Rockwell sniff it, move around, sniff it again. I wondered (briefly) if I might see some spark of compassion for a fellow traveller, a sign that this dog had some human qualities that we humans so pathetically look for in animals. As I watched, I saw him bend his front legs and angle his nose toward the ground and boom! He was down and rolling on the dead thing. Sorry, but Rockwell is a dog through and through.