Monday, August 8, 2011

Rookie Mistakes

So... where do I begin? This was a long afternoon of rookie mistakes, many which would have been hilarious to have seen on video. At the time, less hilarious.

First of all, I decided to walk Orent to the nearest park-like stretch of grass. It's 2 blocks away, but I went the long way so it's maybe 2.5 blocks. We did, eventually, make it there. There were even a few yards of him walking next to me, head up, at a reasonable pace. Some of him walking next to me, head down, at a reasonable pace, and a few more of him just behind or just ahead of me. And a lot of time with him snorfling around in bushes, sitting or lying down and refusing to walk, etc. He's getting good at eye contact and will often take a few steps on an enthusiastic "let's go," but loose-leash walking is definitely going to be a 3-4 mo. old skill, not a 2 mo. old skill. He turns 3 months old tomorrow, and I'm not expecting overnight miracles.

Which brings me to rookie mistake number one: it's almost dinner time, and I brought NO TREATS on the walk.
Yesterday on our car trip with Orent it was almost people-dinnertime and we broung ONLY A FEW people-snacks and all I could do was whine and think how I wanted to go home. So imagine how poor Orent felt! A couple handfuls of treats would have allowed me to lure him into good walking, keep him from feeling anxious about getting home, and helped him learn from positive walking, not just correction.

Rookie mistake number two was thinking that a 3 mo. old puppy who just walked 2.5 city blocks would want to play at the park. He chased his Frisbee 2.5 times. On the .5 time I had to pick him up and carry him to the Frisbee, since I wasn't about to leave it in the park. Then he flopped down and tried to eat sticks. When I tried to get him to chew the Frisbee, he tried to chew me instead. I gave him a firm don't with a shake of the jowls and he was like, "ok, that was fun, do it again!" From now on I'm turning around and crossing my arms whenever puppy teeth come near me, which seems to work better... Any tips on mouthy, aggressively playful puppies would be much appreciated!

And, interestingly, the same puppy who had no interest in Frisbee chasing wanted to RUN home the whole 2.5 blocks. Which made rookie mistake number three not bringing the Gentle Leader, which nips that running behavior in the bud.

Rookie mistake number four was thinking that water from a spraying fire hydrant would be a clean way to get the pup wet. I forgot to take road grime into account, and the fact that our little half-seal puppy would lay down in any puddles he could find. He had a blast at the fire hydrant, barking and biting at the flowing water, lying in puddles, doing crazy-puppy running in circles, etc. But his belly was now grey and his snout mud-colored! Oh, and in case you thought this wasn't hilarious, just ask the neighbors who opened the hydrant. They kept up a running commentary on everything Orent and I did. For example, "he said 'woo-hoo!' That puppy went in the water and his daddy said 'woo-hoo!'" or "they're both getting wet!" or "he says, 'Daddy, look at me, I'm not leaving!'" In the end, I walked Orent through the spray until I was soaked, but he was still a funny color.

Which led to the GIANT ROOKIE MISTAKE (number five, for those of you still counting). I decided that since we were both soaked I might as well give him a bath. Alone. The smart things I did were bring his dinner into the bathroom. Well, some of it. Here are the things I forgot:

  • A small container for rinsing him off (used a big bucket. Not wise).
  • A towel for drying him off.
  • Dog shampoo.
  • The rest of his dinner.
  • To get the people shampoo and shaving cream and rubber ducks out of the bathtub.
So there were some trips out of the bathroom while I let him sniff around (I did, thankfully, remember to put the toilet paper up).

But that wasn't the big problem. The big problem was I forgot the other pair of arms. Rubbing shampoo on, or dumping a bucket of water on, a wet, squirmy puppy and trying to hold said puppy at the same time is NOT easy. He went completely crackerdogs while I was shampooing him, trying to run around the tub, leap out of the tub, chew my hands, eat the shampoo, etc. The only thing that calmed him down was he did finally get a taste of the shampoo and it made him quite thoughtful for a while. I ended up finishing soaping him while he squirmed wildly on his back chewing a rubber duck and his Frisbee.

Then it was rinsing time. He did not like (and understandably so!) having water dumped on him. But I couldn't leave him soapy. At first I just poured and blocked, or poured and retrieved, and then I thought of Katrina (NE Region puppy-raiser boss) and her phrase, "what is he learning?" I realized he needed to learn to sit calmly in the bath. So I got the rest of his dinner, and would feed him kibble with one hand, dump the bucket with the other, and block with my chest. He got pretty rinsed. At this point, he was sitting there squeaking at me, giving great eye contact, clearly asking, "are we done yet?"

I scooped him up and carried him to the bedroom where a big towel awaited. I'm not very good at getting him dry without him eating the towel, but I tried. He chewed on his giraffe some and the towel some and tried to chew on me a little bit. But he got pretty dry and I think he liked some of the cuddling. Then I put him in the kennel with the giraffe while I cleaned up the bathroom a bit. He cried and cried. I think he thought he was owed more dinner (not true!) and he was also overtired and wound up.

He's finally asleep now, but I would say that this was the 2nd biggest crazy-puppy adventure he's had so far.

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