Sunday, July 31, 2011

So much cuteness

Orent went to his first picnic yesterday! Oh boy, he had so much fun. Instead of recapping all the adventures, I'll let the photos (and video!) speak for themselves.

Orent gets greeted by all the other dogs. They're so big!

First splashes!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A cute video for your Saturday

Max and I thought we'd better get a video of Orent being cute going up and down the stairs. So, here you go!

Also, photos from the ice hockey puck adventure!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cool Puppy

As requested, Orent has been photographed with his ice "hockey puck," showing what a cool little guy he is. It's been added to the last post!

In other chill news, he's been sleeping late. Saturday morning we got to sleep 'til 7am, and Sunday 'til 6:30. And he's been waking up quietly and just chewing his green rubber toy. So this morning we decided to try having him walk himself downstairs. And... he was completely successful! He made it all the way downstairs before he had to "hurry" which was amazing considering it had been almost 8 hours. Hooray Orent!

We also got him a bed yesterday, hoping that having a spot would be a good start to teaching him to settle down outside of the crate. We put it in his favorite flop spot (the foot of the bed, near his kennel and water, where we train him and where the AC points) and he loves to flop on it and hear "Bed... good bed, good boy!" He also really, really loves to chew on it and wrestle with it! We're working on that.

After his lunch training it was time for people lunch and so we brought him and the bed into the kitchen. Kaytee worked with him on "Bed," "Sit," and "Down." He did fine until he decided to get off the bed (unrealesed) and come sniff the kitchen. I herded him back towards Kaytee and he ran towards her... faster... faster... and all the way past her full tilt down the hall into the office where he met... Robot the cat! When Kaytee got there a split second later he was sniffing Robot's nose very politely and being hissed at. Kaytee got his attention and sent him out of the room where I helped him into the bedroom and gave him a lovely chew toy for his crate. Oy, little dog! After the toilet paper I think that was his best full-tilt naughty puppy moment!

The rest of the day we kept him busy playing with his puppy friend Violet (only for a few minutes but it wore him out) and his grown-up dog acquaintance Shasta (she tolerates him because their people like each other) and supervising our construction project. We made a lovely fence thingy to go around the bed so he can't get under there any more. He's growing so fast we're worried he'll chase a dust bunny under there, grow an inch, and be stuck forever!

(photos of this coming soon! they're stuck on Kaytee's memory card at the moment.)

Like all Labs I've ever met, he was an excellent project supervisor, keeping a close eye on every aspect of the process. The vacuum cleaning at the end caused him to sit back in a far corner of his crate, but since he'd been (miraculously, to him, I'm sure) provided with a peanut butter-stuffed Kong moments before it whirred to life, he overall thought it was a pretty cool thing.

Speaking of crates, it's only a few more days 'til we'll have to expand his section again. He is growing like Popeye eating a case of spinach, like the Incredible Hulk on a rampage, like, well, like a super-puppy!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

One hot dog

How's that for a creative title?

It was 103 degrees yesterday, with a heat index of 119 at it's peak. Today is supposed to be only slightly less bad. So, here are some tips we've figured out for hot weather:

1. keep the dog in an air conditioned room if possible. We're lucky enough to have AC in our bedroom, and that's where to dog crate is, so he lives there full time right now.
2. Play ice hockey! We made "hockey pucks" by making ice in a muffin tin. Orent loves to play with them in his crate, and even outside. Plus, he looks really cute doing it, because he can't pick them up in his mouth so they just slide all over the place. And it's so hot that the melted water evaporates really fast!
3. We've been bribing orent to go outside. Usually, we just coax him down the stairs with words, but for the past few days, since it's been so hot, he's gotten a treat for every step or two he goes down. So far, he's made it down the stairs with only one accident!
4. Oh, and water. Lots of water.

The most interesting part of the heat's affect on our house has actually been how the cat has reacted. To date, she's mostly been freaked out by the dog and refused to come in the bedroom. Yesterday, she spent almost the entire day sprawled out on the floor in front of the bedroom. But today, because it's hot again, she's actually ventured into the bedroom (with AC!) and hung out on the bed. She seems to mind the dog less in hot weather! Or her fear of heat has overridden her fear of dogs. Who knows?

Anyway, no photos of the dog b/c it's too hot to take photos of him. But here's a photo of the cat!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where was Orent when the power went out?

In the hot, hot apartment!

Orent had a lovely evening, despite of the power failure. Shortly after dinner the air conditioning, internet, lights, refrigerator, stove, etc. ground to a halt on the whole block! For a while, we soaked up what was left of the AC but then Orent started to whine. I had him drink some water and soon he was splashing it all over, which is cooling but not cool. So I put his leash on, grabbed an "ice muffin" from the freezer, and we went outside.

We actually had a great time outside, chasing the ice and sniffing the neighbors who came out to listen to our landlord's hand-cranked radio. Orent wanted to run around so we actually ran for about a block just for the fun of it. Then he clearly announced, "I'm hot, let's go in!" I tried to explain that it was now hotter inside, but it's a tough concept when you don't speak the language or understand electricity.

So we went upstairs to have another drink and check on things. Things were hot. I told him, "you don't have a choice, we're going outside 'til the power comes on." He fussed a little on the stairs but I held firm. I mean, I wasn't about to spend the rest of the evening in a 3rd floor apartment with no fans and very little cross-breeze.

I tethered him on the landing and got some work done. At first he played with his toys, dug up some weeds, and explored. He began to get impatient and was whining on the stairs when suddenly I heard it... the buzz of the neighbors' air conditioner. Sure enough, our porch light was on too. The power was back!

When we went back upstairs, Orent had a big drink and then splashed a little in his water before flopping down in the "shade" of the bed right in front of the AC. I didn't have the heart to send him to his kennel, and he didn't look restless. In fact, he ended up spending 20-30 minutes outside his kennel playing with some plush toys, getting stomach rubs, and being reminded not to gnaw on the underside of the bed. He even went to get some water and walked right past the towel on the floor, the sproingy doorstop, and the puddles of water he'd made earlier. I sang his praises and rubbed his belly for that one!

Interestingly, when he began to get restless (spronging the doorstop, chewing the towel, etc.) and I tossed his bone into his kennel, he followed it right in to the kennel and fell sound asleep immediately. I guess he was doing that toddler thing of getting "over tired."

Prior to this adventure in the hot dark, he had another couple of milestones (and an accident on the stairs and a 5:30am wake-up, lest you think puppy raising is all snuggles and learning):
  • he did a "Down" without cuing 4 times in a row. He's not at 80% but he's expanded his repertoire of "things that if I do them I get pets and treat." Not sure if he knows "down" or if he knows, "if putting my rump on the ground doesn't get a treat, I better put my elbows down too," but it's a start!
  • he learned how to ask for a belly rub. Last week, I think we were food machines, rides to the outdoors, propellers of toys to chase, and openers of doors (when he was thinking well of us; on the flip side we could magically close doors, cause tension on his leash/collar, and take yummy things out of his mouth). This week, he's been looking to us for more kinds of play, affection, and especially belly rubs. He seems to notice coming and going a bit more and want companionship in addition to treats and toys. It's kinda great!
As I was telling a friend who's the mother of a three-year-old, he seems to be in a nice preschooler stage where he's not going through independence/assertiveness stuff and is just soaking up learning. I hope it lasts!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A vet adventure

Orent went to visit the vet today, to get his 10 week shots. He weighs 21.6 lbs! And he did a great job. This time, we got the first appointment of the morning, so there were no scary dogs in the waiting room.

Here are some photos, b/c that's really all you want to see in this blog anyway! :)

Meeting a new friend, a 2 month old boxer
Still cool as a coconut
Adventures on the wide blue table
PS - did you see our new favicon? That's the little icon in the tab or address bar that lets you know what page you're on. Our's is a little Orent! Still just see the orange "B" for blogger? Clear your cache and then you'll see it! It's super cute.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A breakthrough on the house-breaking front?

I'm just back from our last trip down the stairs to "hurry" for the evening, and I think we may have a breakthrough... Orent peed, and then we walked for a few blocks and played chase-the-stick until he was tired. Then it was time to go inside... or so I thought. We got to the door and he refused to come in. So I said "fine, have it your way, we'll just stay out longer". Well, five minutes of nothing but licking the concrete later, and it was definitely time to go in. But he still was refusing to go inside! So we walked down the stairs towards the grass. I don't like him in the grass at night, because I can't see what's in there, and it's hard to clean up after him! So I kept him on a short leash so he'd stay on the sidewalk, and he started running back and forth on the leash, and jumping up and down, like a lunatic. I thought I'd give the "hurry" command to see what happened. And guess what... on command, he poo-ed. Just like that. Then he came inside with me, no questions asked.

A breakthrough? Or a fluke of timing? We'll see how it goes tomorrow...

Guess who's 20 today?!?

Twenty pounds, that is... Orent tipped the scales this afternoon at 20.1 pounds (when we got him two weeks ago, he weighed 13.2 pounds). Good thing he's been working on those stairs (not as a weight-loss program, as a saving Kaytee and Max from hefting a ginormous dog around program).

Lately he's been struggling with not stopping to pee on the landing, but we're working on it. Today I managed to catch him in the act and kinda interrupt him and Kaytee helped him run down the last steps and outside where he finished. And no dog has ever been praised more for peeing... if there is a Nobel prize of pee-ers, he's getting it. So maybe he'll get the message? Anyway, he's getting so big his bladder must be growing too!

We discovered something besides stairs and ice cream trucks* that perturbs our otherwise unflappable pup. He no longer likes having his back paws held to be nail-clipped. It caused lots of angry squeaky barks when we tried it (and that was him in a good mood). He's had them clipped before without incident but I guess he didn't like it or he's gotten older and wiser or something. So we spent a long time today just holding and pressing gently on his paws and praising him when he was quiet about it.

Once he decides he can hold his bladder past 4am, I think he'll be the perfect puppy. At least I hope so. Maybe there's such thing as the terrible 20s?

*Actually, he's bolder about ice cream trucks these days. We haven't gotten as close as the one that freaked him out, but they seem to be fading into the background for him these days.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Little dog in the big world

I thought I'd write a quick update while both my favorite men sleep in the other room. They were both up before the sun, so no wonder they're tired!

The morning started off loudly, with a yappy puppy in a crate. So we took him out and played with him for a bit, but he decided he wanted to investigate the cat who was walking by. Man, that could've been a disaster! But Orent did so well. We held him back so he wouldn't chase Robot the cat, and Robot just sat there and looked at him funny. Then they parted ways. All around, a good first meeting between a dog who was not on a leash and my furry cat!

Then, we took Orent to the Clark Park farmer's market, where he met lots of dogs and all kinds of people. He did really well. Mostly, he wanted to chew on everything - dirt, grass, mulch, tree seed pods, ears of corn... basically whatever was within 5 feet of him. He even wanted to drink my iced coffee, which of course is totally against the rules because coffee is toxic to dogs. He played with toddlers who stuck their hands in his food and kids on skateboards and puppies and other dogs. When one dog borrowed his squeaky toy, Orent just sat there. He's not even a little bit possessive! Best of all, he got to meet the Cupcake Lady, after staring longingly at her truck.

After the Farmer's Market adventure, we took the lil dude to Fishtown to visit our friend Jaice, who was having a sidewalk sale of their stuff to have money to go to Portland and Georgia. I'd promised Jaice that they could meet Orent, and he was super. I also bought a really ridiculous hat that he hated to wear. I never got a photo of him in the hat. Next time...

It was so hot! Mostly Orent just sat on the sidewalk and panted. But he did meet some new people and new dogs. Nothing phases this puppy - even a dog barking at him! He did, however, manage to knock his water bowl all over and make a huge mess to play in. Everyone thought it was cute.

He even got to play with apron strings, as long as he didn't tug - and he didn't! I am constantly amazed at how chill and relaxed the puppy is.

Finally, we went home. He was so sleepy! So I brushed his coat with the nifty zoom groom brush, and then cradled him. One minute, he was whiney and fussy and barking. The next, he was sound asleep in my arms - just like a toddler! It was the sweetest thing ever. 

I think I just might just love this dog!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A miracle

He walked down the stairs! He walked down the stairs! Thank god almighty, he walked down the stairs!

That's right... St. Orent Buster Smithereen McTurnip* had a full bladder and walked down both flights of stairs to pee -- twice!

We've been training him up for this moment. He's been begrudgingly coaxed down the stairs with lots of love and treats, but only on an empty bladder, and even then we've had some accidents. Today, I did some training and lunch-eating with him on the stairs. But he's been so grouchy whenever we want him to walk down the stairs.

Then, today, both for Max and for me, he walked down the stairs all by himself, with only minimal luring and coaxing. It's an absolute miracle! This will make our bi-hour trips outside much less painful.

Will this trend continue, or will he regress to his old, grumpy-about-stairs self? Stay tuned...

*In a fit of silly, Max and I decided before we knew his name that we wanted to call him Saint George Buster Smithereen McTurnip. But his name turned out to be Orent. So, much like my mother used to call me Katherine Andree Riek when she was frustrated, I've taken to calling Orent by his long name - St Orent Buster Smithereen McTurnip - when I'm annoyed with him.

**Update Sat 7/16 10am** He did it again this morning, after not going out for 2.5 hours. I think we're almost house-broken!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oy, Orent, Oy!

***ALERT: This post deals almost entirely with puppy housebreaking. Maybe not breakfast reading?***

The morning started (the real morning, not the 3:30am wide-awake puppy morning) well. Kaytee took Orent out, trained him, and fed him. We played with him outside his crate, no accidents. He got sleepy and went back in his crate where he slept hard. Too hard. For too long.

I forgot we hadn't done a 7-ish outing (blame my lack of uninterrupted sleep, please). So I let him sleep until 8:45 and when he woke up and gave the teensiest whine, I didn't spring to my feet like I would have if I'd been thinking. So... he peed in his crate. It surprised both of us. He's just sitting there in this puddle, looking at it like, "where's that coming from?" If I hadn't know he was a 2-month old puppy, I'd have thought he'd discovered a natural spring.

I scooped him up in a towel, dried him off, and took him downstairs where he pooped. I brought him upstairs, quickly puppy-proofed the bathroom, and put him in there while I squirted some Nature's Miracle in his crate and started a load of laundry. Meanwhile, Orent discovers... toilet paper! God's greatest gift to toddlers and puppies. He was suitable impressed and amused. He didn't want to leave the bathroom!

Then I figured he needed a little more play to let out all that pent-up "I have discovered toilet paper! I am puppy! Hear me yap!" so we played chase the bone in the hallway. All this is unlikely to have taken more than 20 minutes. So I was really surprised when he went into the bedroom and promptly peed on the floor. So surprised that I just stood there and said "Oh, puppy..." while he finished peeing and went to chew on the doorstop spring. I recovered my wits eventually, wiped up the accident before we tracked it around, and decided we were going outside again while his crate finished drying.

Since his bladder was clearly empty, I thought it would be a fine time to walk down the stairs. That and I had already put one shirt in the laundry from holding a pee-y puppy. We made it down the first set with not much fuss, but something about the second set really bothers him. Really. So much so that he peed again on the landing. I still made him walk down the second set of stairs, which he did.

When we got outside, he peed and pooped again. Someone must be feeding and watering him when I'm not looking... Robot, perhaps? Trying to sabotage the project so we have to return him (just kidding, Robot, he's not going anywhere 'til November 2012)?

I brought him upstairs, wiped out his crate with a paper towel to remove any last Nature's Miracle and set him in there after a quick practice at our new and improved (puppy on the floor) cradling. Then I cleaned up the landing (sorry neighbors, the good news Nature's Miracle really is just that) and sat down to vent in this blog post before going to take a shower. Oh, and clean up the toilet paper. And de-puppy-proof the bathroom. And put the laundry in the drier. Oh, Orent, it's a good thing you're cute...

(If you don't believe me, now might be a good time to check for updates to Orent's flickr album and Facebook album)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our first Puppy Class

Orent and I (Kaytee) just arrived back home from our first every puppy class. Orent was very good in the two hour drive to Warminster for the special CCI class. We met lots of other (older and calmer) puppies who were hardly phased by a rambunctious little 2 month old in the room. The owners, however... they were so excited to see a cute puppy! Maybe one of them wants to borrow him for a weekend in a few weeks? :)

Mostly, it was a class for Kaytee. Orent got to be silly, and I learned some good training tips like hand motions to show the dog what you want. Also, I learned that dogs like ice, which is good because it's been really hot recently!

Now, because you've read this far, you may have a cute photo of the puppy, with his new Johnny Depp/Pirates of the Caribbean eyes!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The GIANT Stairs

Guess what, everyone! Orent walked down the big stairs today! All the way from our door down to the sidewalk. That's three steep flights. And let me tell you, he did NOT want to. He pitched a fit at the top of each flight of indoor stairs (the outdoor stairs have been a piece of cake since day 2). Peanut butter did not help. He dug in his (front) heels, wrinkled his brow, and panted, yawned, and squeaked (dog stress). But we knew he could do it! So we just told him how good he was every time he inched forward, that we knew he could do it, and called him to come on. And eventually (when we weren't looking!) he leaned against the wall (dog railing?) and started walking down. He got stuck partway down but persevered!

And then... he did it again! Before dinner I used his training treats (i.e. the first half of his kibble at each meal, no special food for this pup) to entice him down the stairs again. I think I was calmer this time, which helped him be calmer. He was still wrinkly and obstinate and nervous, but less so, for less time. Today he'll probably be even calmer and braver. So far, he's only tried stairs on a pretty empty bladder, but we're hoping that before he's too big to carry he can walk down the stairs while "full" with no accidents.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dogs like weekends!

This was a big adventure weekend... Friday night we met a toddler for the first time (Oona). She liked Orent, 'cause she likes to boss dogs around. She said, "Steuben, sit! Don't!" a lot but she also said "Good boy!" a lot. Steuben is the other dog she knows. At first, crazy Orent wanted to chase her twirly skirt and get in her face, but then he ignored her and was good. It was his first time going to a friend's house and he liked the potential for running laps around the living room. That caused an immediate trip outside where he calmed down, and then he went into his travelling kennel. He didn't like that (he's not as fond of his plastic kennel as he is of the wire one at home. We'll have to help him practice with it before turn-in). He cried some but fell asleep. When he cried, Oona kept going over to tell him, "it's ok!" I wondered if I should tell her we try to ignore him when he cries in his kennel, but she was so matter of fact and calm about it, I thought she was handling it pretty well! And after he fell asleep she talked to him for a long time and played with the handle on top and he stayed asleep. Well done, little guy.

Saturday he was sleepy (he even slept until 6:45am). I think the rain and the baby adventures wore him out. We just had a chill day around the house, doing some training (and still being his stubborn self).

Sunday was much more fun. He had a picnic, a trip to an ice cream store with outdoor seating, and then a bath. On the picnic, we realized that Philly parks take a lot more work to dog-proof. We had to scout for gross litter, chicken bones, and broken glass. But we found a safe spot, managed to eat most of our food without him getting into it (though he stepped on the cookies and scarfed up some of our yummy berries while we weren't paying attention). He did not want to chase anything or play puppy ping-pong. He just wanted to lay around, chew sticks, drink his water, climb on us, and eat our food.
Being good! Look at that loose leash! I think he knew he was on camera...

Orent not trying to play chase or puppy ping-pong

Sleepy guy! Time for ice cream...
At the ice cream place, he fell fast asleep, even when people came over to pet him. They happily gave us cold water for his bowl, which he drank some of, and used the rest to make a mud puddle. He transferred water to the dirt to make mud, then mud back to his bowl to make a delicious brown goo to sleep in... Yes, he fell asleep for a while with his chin in the mud bowl!

Needless to say, he got a bath when we got home. He's allowed 2 a month (otherwise he could get dry skin). He didn't mind having water poured on him, and he loved getting shampooed. I bet it feels like a massage. The toweling off was fun too, good to bite. He doesn't much like the tub itself, and kept trying to climb out, but Kaytee held on tight.
Clean, wet Orent, trying to climb into the towel
Now he's sleeping with his stuffed giraffe, waiting patiently for it to be dinner time.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cool as a coconut (and leaky as one too!)

A giant thunderstorm just rolled through, with lots of loud thunder and bright lightening. Orent, however, was chill in his crate. He woke up from his nap, for sure, but otherwise was totally fine. Here he is, chillin' in his crate during very loud thunder.

However, the chaos happened after the storm passed, but while it was still pouring rain. Lil dude decided he had to pee. I waited a bit to see if he'd stop barking, but he didn't, so I found my raincoat and prepared to stand out in a deluge with a dog who was going to hate the whole experience. 

I smartly grabbed a towel before carrying him down the two flights of stairs to the outside. Once we got outside, he was grouchy! I waited 15 mins in the pouring rain for him to pee, but no luck. So we headed back inside. Of course, the second we crossed into the inside (carpeted!) stairs, he peed! I scooped him up and took him BACK outside, where it was STILL pouring rain. After 10 more mins, he toileted and then we went back inside. 

Let me just say this guy may be cute dry, but he's ugly when he's wet! Clumped up hair all over and he smells like, well, a wet dog. 

But, overall, for a first thunderstorm and adventure to pee in the rain, we both did pretty good!

In other news, today Orent sat down outside when I said "sit", with no treat or anything! Of course, he got lots of love after he did it. But I was very impressed.

I'm going to take my damp self and go bake some chocolate meringues now... tonight, we're going to take the lil guy to a friend's house to hang in her back yard, and I'm bringing the cookies with me! Mmmm....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Something I'm chewing on (so to speak)

Hi, it's Kaytee. I haven't posted yet because I haven't had much to say. But I thought I'd share a quick insight, and then 2 cute photos I took that haven't made it to the blog yet.

Here's my grand insight:

The puppy hardly knows anything. So everything he does is new, and he's learning. And that's gotta be scary. If I were new in the world, all I'd want to do would be to chew on things and flop around, too!

Actually, Dad, if you read this, was I like that when I was tiny?

OK, now on to the pictures:

I wanted to capture that cute wrinkly face before he grows into his skin. Conveniently, he didn't want to come when it was time to go, and that's when he gets the squished face!

One thing I do as a photographer is participate in a monthly scavenger hunt. One of the clues this month is "where you live". Right now, I feel like I live on one end of a leash with a very goofy puppy on the other end.

Good boy!

Why is Orent an especially good boy today? Lots of reasons.

The first is that I didn't blog last night because the little guy went to bed early (he was down by 10:30 so Kaytee and I could be asleep by 11). And then he slept 'til Kaytee took him out at 5:30, and that was her idea, not his. It was a luxurious morning for me, and I didn't even mind the clean-up duty when he had an accident on his way in (still working on the whole stairs=inside thing).

The second is that he fell asleep in my lap while I was cradling him 2 nights ago after the "Stubborn Puppy" blog post. It was adorable. I had to endure lots of grouchy squeaking, whining, howling, panting, barking, and squirming. But I could tell he was winding down, and he got lots of pets and "good boys" as he wound down, and then suddenly he was leaning his head on my shoulder and his eyes were closing. After about 5 minutes of snoozing I put him in the crate and he snuggled in to sleep for the night. Good boy! By the way, Kaytee took two pictures but there's just nothing adorable about his naked belly, so this one's much better!

Third, he went to the vet this morning and was brave and calm. You could tell that the table freaked him out a little, being up in the air and it probably smelled of nervous animals and disinfectant. But he was a trooper and enjoyed having his ears cleaned, his tummy poked, his back legs stretched, and his heart listened to. We hung out outside the waiting room (there was a scary dog in there and lots of germs) so there was plenty of time to get hot, sleepy, and dirty before the vet. We didn't make the best impression cleanliness-wise, but temperament-wise we were champs. We got free vitamins!

Fourth, he met new people and dog friends. Tiffany and Hannah came over and were patient with him as he went on a slooooow walk with them. And Hannah is his new favorite human for her high-quality belly rubs (in fact Hannah seduced at least one other puppy today. She's the dog-whisperer! And another punk hairdo friend for Orent to cross off his socialization list.) And he played with his English Sheepdog friend who's 9 months old and doesn't seem to realize that she's about 5x Orent's size. She kept knocking into him but he bounced up ready for more.

Fifth, and most important for Orent's people (though he has no inkling of this), our puppy-raising chapter president said he was doing well, and better yet, that we were. We'd emailed her the questions in the "Stubborn Puppy" blog post and we got to talk tonight. She helped us remember that we were doing a lot of things right... so even though he had 3 accidents today, we were being smart to both focus on whisking him out of the house every time he changed gears, and it's ok to have accidents. Puppies even wet the bed in their sleep sometimes just like human toddlers! She reminded us that floppy, distracted, chewy puppies are normal, and that it would be just as frustrating if he were floppy and chewing up our yard, not just the sidewalk weeds. And she said it was smart and normal for him to be in his crate when he wasn't outside or having 5-10 minute play and training time... and that of course he's not settling down yet! She had some tips for making sure the house-training was on track for the not-too-distant future when hauling him up and down the stairs isn't realistic (though she reminded us that he's not going to gain a pound a day forever, or he'd be 200+ pounds for his turn-in date!)

And a bonus sixth: he's having good training sessions. He's getting more reliable with his name, he sometimes can sit without any cuing (the little key-lime-sized brain does have thoughts inside it! Like "sit" means butt on the ground!), and best of all, he ate and played in his Gentle Leader without pawing at it! What a champ!

So a day that could have been frustrating (slow walk, accidents, whiney cradling, etc.) ended up feeling good because of the support of our chapter and the fun of having friends coming to visit.

Bonus photo, "Summer in the City":
The lil guy, lying face down in his water bowl after today's outside adventure. It was 92 degrees today!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stubborn Puppy!

There are things Orent is pretty good at. He doesn't do much pulling ahead on his leash (his legs are too short). He hasn't had an accident in the house in 2 days. He is good at sitting with treats and is starting to learn about the word sit. He has good eye contact when he's not in a crazy mood. He settles himself well in his crate and has zero separation anxiety. When he cries in the night, he pees right away when we take him out. He's not afraid of anything but the ice cream truck, but he doesn't pull towards exciting things too much either. He sits and listens to fireworks, trains, trolleys, ambulances, motorcycles, and ATVs.

Here's what's not so good... his manners and his "let's go." I'm worried he's starting to think he's the boss dog, because when he digs in his heels and won't come, we start acting like puppies, making funny noises, getting down to his level, etc. How do we get him to come along with us reliably? Walking him is getting frustrating! What he wants to do is flop down in the grass and chew it, which is not good "let's go" behavior. When we get him going he trots right along to the tune of "good boy!" but getting him going is hard!

Inside, he has a hard time settling down if he's not in his kennel. He's up to investigate each new thing to chew on (furniture legs and door stops) and seems to enjoy getting redirected... sometimes he'll put down his good toys to go chew on the furniture; I think it's to see what we'll do. We try to get excited about his good toys, but I worry he also sees us as getting excited about him chewing the wrong stuff when we go to quietly remove him and replace it with an exciting toy...

Does learning commands teach him obedience and manners? How does he learn to be a dog who looks to us for direction, not a puppy who looks to us for fun (when he feels like it)? When and how do we enforce our status? I'm pretty sure he knows what we want him to do, and he just doesn't want to. Can we say "don't"? Give a correction (and if so, how)? Do we ignore him when he won't come with us or stop chewing? Walk away?

Independence Day

In the puppy world, the equivalent to growing 2 shoe sizes is letting the divider in the crate out two "sections". Orent, who has gained nearly a pound a day since arriving (and that's being restricted to an honest cup at a time, no snitching from your brothers and sisters!) has also gotten longer. We expanded the area of his crate that he can sleep in today, so he has a little more room to turn around... and so maybe he won't be so noisy when he runs in his dreams.

Other independence themes besides growing bigger:

  • playing with a 2.5 year old St. Bernard/Bernese Mountain Dog puppy whose head is bigger than Orent's whole self! The little guy held his own and playdates were arranged. In a neighbor's fenced yard!
  • taking a trip to Swarthmore to frolic in a field. There were no things he wasn't allowed to chew or get into, so he was free to romp, bite leaves, tug on grass, chase tennis balls, splash in his water, and sleep. He had a ball!
  • Here he is, waking up from a nap and looking for adventure
  • no accidents in the house today! That's a first! And definitely a sign that his people are well trained about when to whisk him outside.
  • spending some time tethered in the kitchen, not being confined to the bedroom.
  • in his training session, being so reliable on his luring into "sit" that we started saying the word right before his tush hit the ground. He's going to learn a word! Then we'll have to see if he can transfer the word to a situation besides right before a meal with lots of treats right next to his kennel...
  • not flinching for a second during any fireworks display!
We've also noticed much more energy. The drama of his arrival in Philly is wearing off and he's spending more time in his kennel awake (amusing himself with his new bacon-flavored Nylabone with massage nubs). He spends less of his outdoor time flopping in the grass and more time walking up and down the street. He comes in from the outdoors wanting to play and romp (and hasn't peed while playing indoors in 2 days, suggesting maybe we can let him play for more than 5-10 minutes at a time!) It's a good thing we've invented some fun new chase and fetch games. I'm a little worried about this high energy guy, but he still seems pretty relaxed about life!

Here's some fun photos Kaytee took from today's adventures. We said he'd be a very photographed puppy!

Who needs water in a bowl when you've found a new toy!
Lookin' for adventure... this time, in all the right places.
Big chair, little dog

Posted by Max, on Kaytee's computer.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New things!

Here are new things Orent did today. See below for photos of the lil guy in action!
  • Went for a walk longer than half a block. He had a pretty good loose leash 'cause he has such tiny legs! We just had to keep jollying him along with lots of funny noises.
  • Met somewhat with a "punk haircut," an official CCI socialization task! Thanks, Sam. Sam is very good at jollying puppies along on walks. Maybe it's the hair?
  • Went to a sidewalk cafe. We wore him out so he was content to spill his water and sleep in the mud puddle he created. Iced coffee is the July puppy-raiser's best friend. Actually, Kaytee had iced coffee and I had (really!) a kale smoothie.
  • Met a baby. He was way more interested in the straps dangling from the carrier than its plump little legs. Way to go, little guy!
  • Hear the ice cream truck while out on a walk. It's the only thing so far that's genuinely perturbed him. Ambulances, trolleys, far-off fireworks, pfft. But ice cream truck music? Yipe!
  • Met a puppy in the neighborhood and played with her very sweetly. He's bigger but she has 9 months to his 8 weeks!
  • Had his first photo shoot. Kaytee's a photographer, so it's good the flash didn't bother him one bit.
Here we are on our walk. Look at him go on that loose leash!
Here we are at the cafe. He made such a mess.

Here I am carrying Orent home. He was so tired from all his adventures, and very dirty!

This is from the photo shoot. He looks like he's trying to say something to us... perhaps he wants us to know that it's his bone?

Orent inspects the camera. The lens now has a nice nose print.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hey guys, I'm just 7.5 weeks old!

And I've only had you, Orent, for 36 hours!

Lots of other CCI & assistance puppies have blogs (Ansel, Beto, Ruby, etc.)... Of course, we've been checking them out for cute pictures, tips, and stories. They have lots of stories and even some tips! Most of the stories, of course, are about puppies being good and trainers doing a good job. None of the blogs I found are from first-timers.

Hopefully, this blog can tell some stories of the scariness of first-time puppy raising. It's been hard to remember that Orent's only been on the planet since May 9th, and even more, I've only had a puppy since July 1! There are so many things I just don't know how to do, so I keep doing the "don'ts" -- repeating commands, giving commands I can't guarantee success with, inconsistent rewards, etc. And there's no one here with a squeaky toy and cookies to reward me the second I do it right!

The only reward I have for doing it right is that Orent really does seem to learn quickly. Here are some things I did right:
-Didn't give in to his crying over the stairs. I just told him calmly, "I know you can do this." He is now a grand champ at hopping up stairs. Remember, this all happened in one day! Down still freaks him out but each time I think he gets a little bit braver (and a little bit surer that I expect him to practice and won't swoop in).
-Had a really good training session using the first half of his dinner. I'd seen all these videos of 12-week old puppies with perfect, full-attention sits. I know there's a lot of steps to get there, but I didn't get how you really could master them one tiny puppy step at a time. Today, for the first time, I noticed how he actually can get better at being lead. I saw that as we got good, together, and leading him into a sit, I could start slowly pairing it with the word "sit" and soon he'd be anticipating and sitting on "sit" just like he now anticipates and sits about 1/2 the time I hold a treat near his nose.
-Remembered to make him "wait" before "OK"-ing his dinner and, because he's a distractable puppy, it actually worked. I think he forgot about his dinner until the "OK" reminded him to do something...
-Left him home alone for an hour (while he was sleeping -- he didn't even know we were gone).
-Most important: made friends a little! He's making more eye contact, doggie-smiling more, snuggling a little more, tolerating more kinds of petting, relaxing into a cradle for a few more seconds, etc.

So... a lot of the time it feels like, "how is this little guy every going to learn all that!" and sometimes like, "he's learning so fast, and so many wrong things!" but every once and a while I remember, "his tiny brain is only 7.5 weeks old! And my puppy raising experience is 36 hours old! We have *lots* of time to figure this out, and we won't be very good very quickly, and that's ok."

I know for sure Orent's not in a hurry and doesn't hold anything against me. I'll aspire for a more Orent-like demeanor.

Orent's first days home

Orent II is a super puppy, for sure. Why? Because he's only 8 weeks old and he's already dedicated his life to helping other people. From the time he was born, Orent was destined to be a companion dog for a person who needed him... maybe a Deaf person who needs to be alerted when the phone or doorbell rings, maybe someone who needs help reaching things that fall on the ground or having doors opened and shut, maybe a young person with autism who needs a companion to help them navigate the complex world, or maybe a whole group of people at school, nursing home, etc. Or maybe he'll get to live in the lap of doggy luxury, fathering generations of little helper puppies!

Orent II is a Canine Companion for Independence puppy. He may not get to grow up to fulfill his dream of being a helper dog, but he sure is trying hard!

So far, he seems to be the kind of guy who they give first-time puppy raisers to trick them into raising pup after pup. He slept the entire 4.5 hour car ride home, whining only once when we were just a few miles from a rest stop! After some water and "chase the people" games, he toileted and threw up a little (too much stress? carsick? we'll see...).

Then he got home and flopped down after only a few minutes of sniffing the house. He was happy to be lifted into his kennel, curled up, and slept 'til dinner. At dinner we learned our first lesson: if you're training the little guy to eat in his harness, make sure the food is ready to go before the harness is on. Right now, it doesn't seem like he can be trusted to eat his whole meal in the harness. He stops eating and shoves it off his nose, which is a no-no. I think for now he can get lots of hand-fed kibble in his harness, and then be released to eat in his kennel. Also, feeding him with the harness on makes us forget about saying "OK" before he gets to eat, which is a big deal command. So much for the puppy raisers to remember, and we're the ones with great big brains!

Orent definitely loves his kennel. He'll whine sometimes when we're around and he thinks he can get our attention, but when there's anything at all going on in the room where his kennel is, he'll sit and watch it with that lab-like zen: "something's going on! I better sit and reflect on it thoroughly..." If we're walking down the hallway, he settles better when we close the door.

The great news is he loves it so much that he only whined twice in the night. Once at midnight and once at 5:15am (when he decided it was time to get up). Fortunately, puppies nap a lot so people can too!

We're learning a lot about how complicated it is to be so little. At first, he had a hard time toileting without crying a little first. He's getting better about that, but it was surprising to us that it was a stressful thing for him. He also whines and cries when he's really sleepy and not in the kennel. He has a hard time settling himself down and will flop over, get up, flop over, get up, and cry while he's doing it until he finally heaves a sigh from the very marrow of his bones and goes to sleep.

I'm also not sure he knows when he's going to pee... He's had an accident in the kennel already, and he didn't seem to cry or fuss about it, which surprised us! He's also peed on the floor, since he woke up from a short nap and play session and we didn't take him out right away. Again, he seemed to just be roaming around (looking for something to chew!) and then he was peeing. We'll have to both get better at anticipating when that's going to happen and communicating about it.

So far, though, it seems like Orent is pretty perfect and all we have to do is not mess him up! If everyone's first night with a puppy was this good, CCI would have to be beating the puppy raisers off with sticks!

Overall, Max and Kaytee have a lot to learn about luring a puppy to look at you or "get dressed," saying "OK" before Orent gets to eat, generally being consistent, being prepared, being swift with praise and redirection, and Orent has a little bit to learn about being alive...

Oh, and PS: even if you're a cheapskate like Max, you can *never* have too many chew toys. Think of it as an investment in good landlord relations, lowered vet costs, less replacing of furniture, etc. If you're getting a new puppy, give it lots to chew on!!!