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, July 29, 2006

Sad news - Peter's mother passed away on Tuesday and we had the funeral on Thursday. It's especially difficult because Peter's father also passed away a month ago, so the summer has been sad and uncertain. I think Rockwell and Peter have become closer because of Peter's raw feelings and somehow, Rockwell seems to know something is going on.
Rockwell understands
Last night we were sitting around and Rockwell was as close to the two of us as he could get. All our feets (as the Manolo would say) were together so I took this little group shot.
And Rockwell can't resist toes.
mmm, toes
A little while later, I glanced down at Rockwell and he had both arms wrapped around Peter's leg. It looked even sweeter in real life but the photo gives a good approximation of what I saw.
that's MY leg!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Today, we had to travel down to Kingston and near Napanee. Peter's mother is very ill and a visit could not wait. I wanted to keep him company so we simply piled Rockwell in the car and headed out. I called my parents who live on the way (in Kingston) and they graciously agreed that I could stay for the day with them. My Dad is very allergic to dogs so I thought we should just hang out at a mall but they said, "nonsense" and insisted I bring Rockwell along to their apartment.
anxious to get going
Rockwell loves riding in cars and if one pulls into the driveway, he leaps out of the house and into the car without a by-your-leave. We draped the back seat with an old sheet and he is looking out the rear window, wondering why we aren't on the road yet.
woo! takin' my picture!
Driving down the highway, I held the camera out at arm's length to take his picture and he pulled back just in time for the photo to catch his ears, catching on the seat.
who's the mom that I love?
While Peter drove on to near Napanee to sit with his mother, my parents took us out to lunch. We sat at a sidewalk cafe and I gave the camera to Mum to take his photo when he popped his head above the table.
waiting patiently
After much licking of the pavement under the table, he settled to watch the world go by (mostly).
Dad being hauled along
At one point, I gave my Dad the leash and got this photo of Rockwell with his tongue hanging out, hauling Dad along the sidewalk as if his life depended on it. Dad's hand is only a little bit blue from having the circulation cut off by the leash.
Parental portrait with Dog
Finally, I got this little portrait of my folks with Rockwell.

Peter had a nice visit with his mother and I got to be grateful for the great parents that I have.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sock Retrieval:

I preface the photo essay with a few comments. All summer long, I never wear socks. Except this morning I wore them to the gym and then, because they didn't get much wear, tucked them into my gym shoes for next time. Rockwell hasn't seen Mom's socks since April and so was inevitably drawn to them. When I saw him sitting on the stairs with something white hanging out of his mouth, I could tell by the set of his ears that he knew he was in the wrong. He therefore did not protest at all when I removed the offending object. Look at those ears in the final photo - he couldn't get a scolding looking that cute.
finding the sock
Discovering where my sock went.
starting the extraction
Posing at the start of the sock extraction.
opening the jaws of death
It was very easy to open his mouth - my knuckles aren't white or anything.
sock retrieved
You can't be mad at that face!

The other day, Peter called to me from the downstairs powder room and said, "there are rocks in the toilet!" I followed him in there and he pointed into the bowl. "You can't see them all the time but after you flush, they sometimes creep out." I look and see a few pebbles where the pipe disappears into the recesses of the commode. "Well," I say, "stick your hand in there and fish them out." "No way!" "Yes way! I keep the toilet clean. Those rocks just aren't getting past the trap."

After some discussion where he didn't even want me to put my hand in there, I go get a couple of paper towels and start fishing out rocks. These are pieces of gravel about 1/2 inch or more in diameter. They have obviously been digested by Rockwell and then, due to their weight, not been able to make it past the trap in the toilet. I end up pulling out almost a cup full of the things. I'm guessing that Rockwell has not necessarily been on a recent rock-eating spree but that they have been accumulating quietly all year and we've only just noticed them now. It was however, an impressive haul of rocks.
The giant doily gives it some class, don't you think?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Our condo corp is replacing all the windows in all the units. Today was our turn. By 8:30 am we had all the window coverings down and the spaces in front of the windows cleared for work.
prep work in the living room
Interestingly, I had just decided to move Rockwell's kennel into the living room, from its first home in the dining room. After I moved it there on Saturday, Rockwell seemed to really like the new spot and went in and out of his home regularly all day. What they say about real estate must be true for dogs too - the most important three things are location, location, location!
waiting for the windows to be finished
While the workmen were busy ripping out the windows, there were bits of insulation and debris everywhere and we thought it was safer to keep Rockwell in his kennel for the duration. I think Peter is reaching for the remote control here.

Rockwell endured the kennel all day long, never barking, keeping a close eye on things, snoozing when it got boring. In short, he was a model prisoner. We gave him the occasional ice cube to keep him happy and took him out for a walk now and then. But it was 33C outside, with a humidex of 43C (91F and 109F) so he was actually happy to come back in where we kept the air conditioning going despite having windows out temporarily.
taking out the old window
The only hitch was when the workmen discovered that wasps had infiltrated the window in my sewing room. They are replacing the windows which are as old as the houses - about 25 years - because of things like leaks and cracks. Obviously, the wasps had found an opening and taken advantage of it. They said they saw about 50 of them fly out when they started to remove that window and they stopped immediately. No point in falling off the ladder while flailing away at stinging insects. So we called the condo corp and asked them to send an exterminator a.s.a.p. because the house would be open to the elements. That was in the morning. By 4:30 no one had showed up so I called them back and they said that Orkin had been unusually busy with wasps and bees this Summer. They usually get them in the Fall but there have been so many this Summer, they are overrun with business. Anyway, the workmen put the old window back and hopefully it will not fall out overnight if there is a thunderstorm. I am also hopeful that Orkin will show up tomorrow so they can finish that one last window.
putting in the new window
This is the bay window in the dining room. Apparently the new windows are so much better insulated and installed than the old ones that they say I won't freeze like I used to at my computer which normally sits in the bay. I'd like to move it anyway but don't have a new location chosen yet. Maybe Rockwell will advise me.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

More Lessons (for us):

Last night, we had two people over who Rockwell hadn't really met but they have two dogs of their own so they understand about dogs. We sat out on the patio for dinner and I left Rockwell in the house because you really need to focus all your attention on him when he is outside or on a leash and that kind of takes away from enjoyable conversation. At one point, Carmen went into the house by herself and when she came back out, she commented that Rockwell was such a good dog. He had tried to jump up on her but she asked him not to and then ignored him and he lay right down on the floor and stayed there. This was a contrast to when the two of us were in the house and then Rockwell wanted to play all the time and wouldn't listen to me.

A little later, Jerome went into the house alone and when he came out, he said the same thing! That is, that Rockwell seems better behaved when I'm not there. Jerome asked Rockwell to go back up the stairs and wait on the landing and so he went. And he didn't try to follow Jerome outside later. Peter wondered if we are doing something wrong in raising Rockwell but I opined that it was simply because Rockwell doesn't know these people very well and he was being a little cautious, a little circumspect. I thought (if I am right) that this was probably a very good thing. It shows he does have respect, that he does pay attention and that he should be successful when he goes off to school. We just get to see him at his most relaxed and carefree, even if it does make me crazy sometimes.

Where does the time go? I invited some friends over for dinner on Saturday so had to do some prep work Friday and just didn't get to blogging until today. On Saturday, I asked Peter to take Rockwell for a nice long (albeit HOT) walk so I could vacuum. I had finished the vacuuming and was just about to do some dishes when the phone rang. It was Peter and he said, "come quick. The dog is loose in the park and I need you to bring some kibble! Turn left when you get to the park and head for the sandbox." Ack! I grabbed some kibble and ran out the door, remembered I should have the dinner whistle too, ran back for that and then out to the park again. As I ran up the path into the park and turned left, I saw Peter slowly walking toward me as Rockwell, collarless, bounced around him in mad circles. Between us on the path was an elderly Chinese woman who seemed to be laughing as Rockwell bounded toward her but was obviously terrified of the rambunctious dog. I stopped and blew three times on the whistle (the signal for lunchie, lunchie) and Rockwell whirled and raced toward me, bashing into my knees when he got to me. I asked him to sit before I would give him a kibble and even in his excitement at being FREE, he actually sat for a second. I gave him a kibble and he took off toward Peter again, pausing to jump on the poor Chinese woman.

After a few back and forths like this, Peter football tackled him and got the collar on him again. We tried to console the poor lady who Rockwell had taken such a shine to but really, she was still smiling even if she wasn't interested in patting Rockwell now that he was under control. It turned out that they had had a really nice walk all the way around Centrepointe and Peter was pleased with Rockwell's behaviour. It was SO hot (at that point, about 38C on the humidex) that Peter decided to walk back to the house using the path that goes around the perimeter of the park. The park was full of people playing soccer and they stopped in the shade to watch them. When Peter went to get going again, Rockwell stopped dead and did that wriggle with his head and the collar (NOT on the tightest hole) slipped right off. Then he was LOOSE! Peter said he decided the best thing to do was sit on the ground and phone me and sure enough, Rockwell didn't run more than 30 feet from him. He just kept loping in circles and sniffing under the bushes and around trees. He wouldn't come over to be caught but he didn't run away either. So it was pretty interesting.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It feels counterintuitive to just stand there, waiting for good behaviour. Especially when I WANT Rockwell to DO something and he's not doing the thing that I want. And especially if I am frustrated in what I want to do, such as get home after a walk. It has taken me a long time but I have learned from Rockwell that he is simply not going to do something just because I want him to. And he is not going to do it if I get upset either because any attention is good attention. So there I am standing out in the road, waiting for him to get up so I can praise him for being on his feet. And once he is on his feet, then I run to the house and he runs with me because running is fun. Whew.
lying down on the job
Really - you cannot MAKE him get up just because you WANT it. We recreated this series of pix but it is pretty much what happens most mornings.
the noodle
Flopping down in the shade like a sack of wet noodles. Impossible to move.
a stick to lure
I thought I might be able to lure him along with the stick he'd picked up.
almost there
He's up and running!
so near and yet so far
So near and yet so far.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I wonder if I just had an epiphany? I have been trying to get Rockwell to understand that when he bites too hard on me, it hurts. You know - the play that dogs do, putting their mouth around your hand. I don't want him to learn that mouthing is necessarily bad - I would prefer he learned to have a very soft mouth on human skin. Just now he came over to see if I would play and my hand ended up in his mouth. When he put a little too much pressure on it, I said "OW!" And he responded by saying "ARF ARF ARF!" Really loudly. So I said "OW" even louder and it degenerated into a shouting match. Which was when I suddenly realized that "ow" sounds an awful lot like "bow wow!" Hmm. So now I have to think of another word that doesn't sound like barking. Not "ouch", that's for sure.

Peter's away for a couple of days so I didn't have him for back-up. I was taking a shower and didn't think to close the bathroom door. Suddenly, there was Rockwell, pushing his nose in where it didn't belong, trying to lick the water coming from the faucet. I tried shooing him away and he'd appear at the other end of the tub. He would stick his whole head under the shower curtain and seemed to really be enjoying himself. I tried to give the command "leave" but I fear I was laughing too much to sound dominant. Mostly, I wanted to rinse off as fast as I could before he got completely soaked or jumped right into the tub with me.
not really subdued
Finally I finished my shower and went to grab the camera which was thankfully just down the hall in my sewing room. I wanted to get a snap of Rockwell before I towelled him off. He may look cowed here but I assure you, he was not.
laughing about being all wet
Then I asked him to sit up so I could get a better photo and this is what I saw. What a dog!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The other day while I had the vacuum out, I decided to keep on going down the basement stairs and so on, into the laundry room. Usually, when I am vacuuming, Rockwell attacks the attachment used to clean the wood floors (as he does with the Swiffer) but he stays clear of the beater bar attachment that I use on the carpets. Because I was vacuuming wooden steps and heading to a tile floor, I left the beater bar upstairs. As well, since the baby gate came down months ago, we have been keeping the basement door shut but he hasn't seemed that interested in heading down there anyway.

So there I was, vacuuming in the laundry room having left the basement door open, when suddenly I see Rockwell peeking around the edge of the stairs at me. He looked pretty cute but I spoke to him and warned him that he shouldn't come down any further. Of course, his curiosity got the better of him and he slowly made it around the corner, sniffing very tentatively as he went. I noticed too, that he kept his hind legs as far back as possible, stretching himself out so he could get a sniff of what was coming but hanging on to the floor with his back toes "just in case". He even goes into this pose outside sometimes, when he is faced with something unusual and thinks he should keep his options open for making a quick getaway.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I've blogged before about how I think Rockwell is a "sensitive soul". I have been observing him of late with that in mind and I believe that he is certainly sensitive about his own feelings but I am not sure he understands that we humans have feelings too. Instead of the temper tantrum, lately he has been simply lying down in the road if he doesn't want to walk in the direction you want to walk. That's amusing for perhaps the first five times but then it gets old. When you're walking and this happens and some other person comes along, you have to pretend you agree with them when they say "isn't that funny" when all along, you are annoyed because the dog will not listen to you when you say "come." But if you get all stern and say "come" in a way that says "I mean business" he doesn't understand. Punishment simply doesn't work on this guy or even the threat of it. Every bit of attention he can get from you is play to him, even if you are trying to pick his limp form up to get him on his feet so you can continue your walk home. So this is still part of the learning process for me - how do I get him to understand that I want him to do something, knowing that he does not respond to "bad dog". For now, I get him up and walking again by running either toward him or away from him, depending, and making a game of it. Then he jumps up and leaps around me in fun. Then I keep on running all the way to the front door so that we are home again. But this is one dog you cannot bend to your will and not out of dominance or even willfulness on his part. No, I fear if you bend him too much, he would break. So it's a delicate balancing act.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I actually and finally started my novel yesterday. I am following The Marshall Plan for writing my first book and it is stimulating all the thoughts that are needed for an idea to become a book. I am still at character development so I can break away easily to do other things without losing the momentum of writing a scene but I can see that blogging might become light if I get carried away with the writing. On the other hand, blogging is a great excuse to procrastinate! So you never know.

A while ago, Peter gave Rockwell an ice cube to chew on because it was so hot. Suddenly, Rockwell has discovered his favourite treat. Now, when you go to the freezer and rattle the ice cubes in the metal container, he appears instantly at the kitchen door, waiting for a treat. When you give him a cube, he grabs it and runs under the dining table to eat his treat in privacy. And he eats it like he chews on stones only because it is ice, it actually gets chewed up and he swallows the little icy bits. Unlike Uma who would often abandon the cube to melt into a little puddle to be stepped in later.
ice cube treat
Here, he didn't even think to close his eyes when the flash went off.
running to hide under the table
There he goes, running around the end of the table.
enjoying the icy crunch
And finally, he gets to enjoy the ice cube crunch.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Long weekend, things to do, no blogging. Anyway. Here is how you hold a dog's nose so a second person can get in there and clean those ears. And as usual, he closed his eyes when the flash went off.
How to hold the dog's nose for ear cleaning
Rockwell is much more resigned to the ear cleaning that when we started. And the ears are in fact totally clean now so I am mostly administering the anti-fungal agent. We do this first thing in the morning and then the day is clear. Actually, we're only doing this first thing because Peter is on holiday. Otherwise, we'd clean the ears when he got home from work because he leaves so early.

Peter called to me the other day and said, "Rockwell has discovered he can get a drink when I'm in the shower." So I went in there with the camera.
Rockwell discovers the shower
Fun stuff!