Thursday, September 29, 2011

Big news

I have big, big, big news...


wait for it...


You're not going to believe it....


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Orent's challenges (or, really, my challenges in raising Orent)

  • While Orent likes to play, he likes to eat & sniff & lick more. So outdoor play doesn't wear him out much, and indoor play isn't quite as effective. If only he had a big brother or sister or best friend with a fenced in yard in the neighborhood! When we play outdoors with no other dogs, he'll run to the ball, and either run back without it or stop and eat the ground where the ball landed. And sometimes he'll do everything he can to initiate chase, wrestle, and tug. Orent, those are dog games, for playing with dog friends. Silly dog!
  • Raising him, a super dog, still takes infinite patience. I just don't always have that. His high energy points correspond to my low energy points (7am crazy dog, 11pm run down the hallway, seriously dog?). When we want him to "speak" he's silent and incredibly well behaved. When we want him to behave he jumps and mouths and barks and grabs the leash! I don't know how we could ever raise a non-CCI puppy!
  • CCI puppies come with some extra guilt. If we raise a non-CCI bad dog, it's embarrassing and might annoy the neighbors. If we raise a CCI bad dog, we've failed. I know that's not really true and a) we're doing a pretty well, and b) it's not about being perfect. But still, when he fights to get out of the bathtub I think, "how will this work if your partner has cerebral palsy and needs to bathe you from a wheelchair?" When he jumps up on toddlers I think, "what if your job is to be a companion for a young person with brittle bones?" Lots of times when I ask myself, "what is he learning?" the answer is "bad habits!"
  • September is a hard month, because I work in schools and with teachers and everyone has extra needs in September. I don't feel like I'm giving him enough "be a puppy" time because, frankly, he's annoying & exhausting to be around when he's being a puppy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Growin' Up! (or, 43 things for 43 pounds)

I've never raised a lab puppy before, but I think crossing the 40lb threshold at the age of 4.5 months is pretty impressive. The internet suggests that he will reach 50lbs by 7 months, so I think he's ahead of the curve!

So, here are 43 things that show me Orent is growing up, for his 43 lb birthday:
  1. He jumps up less! It's still an occasional response to a command he doesn't think he knows, or a really exciting event like turning the faucet on, but he's increasingly likely to sit instead.
  2. He is consistent with "Drop" when there are treats involved, so we can play fetch. And we can wean him off the treats and focus on the game after a few tosses!
  3. He goes for longer walks with fewer balks.
  4. He sleeps until 7am.
  5. When he's healthy and we aren't too slow (note: find shoes and leash before waking a dog from nap!), he's accident-free.
  6. When we meet other puppies, he's the big dog that has to be reminded to play gently.
  7. He asks to play with other dogs more politely now.
  8. He makes better decisions about what to do with stuff on the floor like shoes or dropped food. Maybe 60% of the time he walks by it with only passing interest.
  9. He wags his tail when we come home, and wants to say hello.
  10. He's enormous. He almost bumps his head sitting up in his large dog crate, and when stretched out can touch opposite corners of it.

The tooth fairy comes tonight

Orent lost 2 teeth! That means the tooth fairy gets to come tonight and bring him little bits of kibble to eat. Lucky dog!

Max found the first tooth the other day, while they were playing "chase the toy down the hall, and then bring it back". Orent is good at the first half of the game. We need to work on the second half...

Then, yesterday at the creek, we noticed his mouth was bleeding. There was some glass around, so we were worried he'd swallowed some of it. Much fussing from the dog ensued, as we sat there in the field, trying to look in his mouth. Eventually, we saw another tooth was missing. Phew!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Another comparison

July 3, 2011 (approx 14 lbs)
September 25, 2011 (approx 42 lbs)

For comparison's sake

July 1, 2011 (13 lbs or so)
September 17, 2011 (40 lbs or so)

Care for a dip?

Orent is a dog that loves water. We all know that. He's played in baby pools (twice, actually), and he loves the fire hydrant. He even had a blast at the creek, but he didn't really like the water.

So this afternoon, Max and I decided we needed to tire the puppy out, and the best way to do that was to get him to go swimming with us. We ventured to Swarthmore again, because the water's less toxic and there are fewer broken bottles to deal with. 

We had a nice walk out to the creek. Orent was so good. It was probably because there was kibble nearby and he didn't want to get too far away from the goodies!

Just past this little waterfall, there was a very calm area for the dog to swim. It was perfect.

At first, Orent wasn't having it. He didn't like swimming in creeks, and even Max wading all the way out to waist deep wasn't enough to convince him.

But then, just like that, he jumped in and SWAM like he'd been doing it forever! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"I bark at the sea! Bark, bark at the sea!"

The quote in the title of this post is from Roy Blount Jr., whose book of poems, If Only You Knew How Much I Smell You, is about the best collection of dogs' thoughts there is.

Orent's people apologize for the blog silence. Back to school has been a hard transition this year, and keeping up with a 4-month old puppy and increased work demands took up a lot of energy. Keeping up with his adoring fans slid a little bit!

But Orent has, nonetheless, had adventures!

Last Saturday, he went to the sea. Now that Labor Day is past and he doesn't have to content with anyone in white shoes, he can walk on the beaches of New Jersey.

We took him to Margate, near Lucy the Elephant. There, he encountered LOTS of new things:

  • Sand: tickles the paws, makes you jump, and really good for digging.
  • Snails, mussels, and other shells: fun to pick up in your mouth, but not good to eat. And you get told "don't" when you pick them up.
  • The ocean: It's like a pool or a creek but IT COMES AT YOU! That's weird. Interesting, but weird. Sometimes it's deep and sometimes it's shallow, so you never know when your belly will get wet. Also, it's water but it's not good for drinking. It has a sort of sneezy smell and taste.
  • Currents: it's hard to walk straight when all the smells are swirling around your ankles!
  • Horseshoe crabs: they smell like alive things and food, but they're hard. They are confusing and need to be jumped on and barked at. Move, bizarre thing! Prove you're alive!
On the way home, he also encountered barbecued chicken. We stopped at the remarkable Twin Kiss ice-cream stand (which is listed on various websites as a food selling place but, at least in September, is not). Behind Twin Kiss was a guy with lots of opinions and a big smoker selling really tasty BBQ chicken (and 2 sides). Orent practiced "under" and worked valiantly on not being a nudge around extra-yummy food. Kaytee and I celebrated the not-quite-summer-not-quite-fall by sharing a pumpkin ice cream with marshmallow syrup.

Then, the little guy was kind enough to pose for some silly photos in his paratrooper outfit. Thanks buddy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Happy 4-month old birthday

I didn't think to do a 2 things about Orent for his 2-month birthday, or 3 things for his 3-month, so I'll recreate them now, but starting with... 4 things about Orent for his 4-month birthday!

Orent sleeping under his bed. Silly dog!
  1. Orent loves his kibble! He'll drop anything, even a stolen shoe or lil' giraffe friend, to come galumphing over for a single piece. Lucky for us!
  2. He's only fallen asleep on his bed once... and under his bed several times! Most of the time he sleeps in his kennel or on the floor.
  3. He went on a long walk for the very first time, and made it most of the way without turning into Mr. Wrinkles.
  4. He learned the roll command in just a few training sessions (about 3, I'd say). I think that's his favorite because he gets kibble and a belly rub. Lucky guy!
Now, back into the time machine... bzzz click beep whirrr beeep... 3 things about Orent for his 3-month birthday:
Wet dog!
  1. Orent is a water dog. Whether it's splashing in hydrants or visiting friends with wading pools, he loves swimming (but not baths)
  2. He's pretty relaxed about everything... his first two months included thunderstorms, socialization trips to lots of ice cream places, little kids, a heatwave, even a power outage. And was chill through it all, with the help of a little ice.
  3. He walked up and down the stairs, and learned to do it without having accidents. But it still involved a lot of coaxing and some decidedly ungraceful moves.
And finally, 2 things about Orent from way back at his 2-month birthday:
Meeting Orent for the first time
  1. He was little! But growing fast!
  2. He was cute!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's time for you to meet Robot

Dear friendly blog readers -

You come here to learn about our dog. Yes, he's cute. And new. And he interacts with us and doesn't shed all over the keyboard, so it's easy to write about him. But... there is another animal in the house too. Her name is Robot, and she's my cat.

She's fluffier than a stuffed animal, and softer too. Also, she weighs 1/4 of what Orent weighs, meaning that when I pick her up, I practically toss her up to the ceiling. I got her three years ago at a shelter. She was a week or so away from being euthanized. I can't imagine why, but thank goodness I found her. She's sometimes very cuddly, but mostly is off in the loft chasing toys or hacking hairballs. She seems to enjoy her life.

Well, at least she did... before the dog showed up!

Robot does not like the dog. In fact, she seems to like to set little traps for him, to screw him up. For example, she batted a screw off the wall, and then left it for him to try and eat. She sits in the hallway when he's running, and hisses as he goes by. She has opinions about this dog. Little does she know that if she messes him up, he's probably staying with us for a lot longer!

She's like six years old or so. I love her very much.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Update on his case of the Mondays

Orent the dog has officially driven me crazy, and I've only been up with him for two hours. He was so excited to get his toy he missed me and bit my hand instead, making me bleed a bit. Nothing dramatic, but still...

Any tips on how to get the dog to stop mouthing (nearly biting) us to get attention or toys? Turning our backs only works sometimes, and it's hard to do that when the dog is hurting us or playing another favorite game - tugging on my dress until he puts holes in it!

On the upside, we had some good running up and down the hallway this morning, and now he's asleep in his crate.

A case of the Mondays?

Orent had a great Labor Day weekend, but he was annoying as all get-out on Tuesday. I'm wondering if he had a case of back-to-work blahs? Even though it was a Tuesday, maybe he had a case of the Mondays?

Monday night we went to Kaytee's cousin's house. He did some things well (fetched a tennis ball in their fenced in yard), but when it rained and we had to go inside, he was Mr. Excited. He wanted to meet the cats, eat their food, chase toys, knock things over, drink my beer, jump, and mouth people. Basically, if he wasn't getting a treat right now he was being a crazy puppy. When we got to the mouthing people time, we made a graceful exit... we will have to work on proper visiting manners, especially as he nears his 5-month birthday.

Then was Tuesday. The day started out rough and took a long time to improve. Orent woke me up at the usual time (6:30) and I threw on shorts and a t-shirt. When I got outside to discover it was rainy and in the 50s, I was already grouchy! Then I thought I'd be clever and help Orent re-learn how to "hurry" on the pavement. What I got instead was a dog who completely refused to hurry. Another thing to work on...

And then he was just a little too pushy in our romp through the field. He was jumpier and mouthier than usual. Combine that with my guilt about his bad hurrying-on-the-pavement experience and general goosebumpy miserableness, I just wasn't happy.

I left for work, a bit relieved not to be on dog duty today. Kaytee reports that every two hours he was barking and whining, but when they want out he didn't need to do anything (except lick the wet sidewalk, a favorite rainy-day pastime of his).

Really, his day didn't improve until his last trip outside. He did his business pretty promptly for a rainy day, and the galumphed around. I figured he had some pent-up puppy energy to release. After all, the last 3 days he'd gotten lots more outings than he gets on weekdays. So we spent twenty minutes throwing his toys down the hallway. I don't think he stopped running full tilt (except when he ran into a wall) for the first ten minutes straight. After that, he was winded and slept well!

Today he seems a bit calmer. We'll see!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"Wow, guys, these things you call 'weekends' are awesome!" - Orent

The title of this post is what Orent muttered as he fell sound asleep in the backseat today... He has had lots of adventures for such a little guy (4 months old in a few days!)

His Saturday started off slowly, so when we took him to the park for dinner and a show (seriously) Saturday night, he was full of pent-up puppy energy. The show was a puppet extravaganza and variety show, complete with an acoustic carousel (i.e. no electricity involved). Kaytee was hired by Metromix Philadelphia to photograph the event, part of the Philly Fringe Festival.

Orent didn't stay long at the show (after trying to eat what appeared to be sheep shearings that later showed up as part of a giant wig!) though he did enjoy getting petted by some folks in the crowd. No, he and I headed down to "the bowl," a big muddy field down the hill from the show. The bowl is about the size of two soccer fields and is the local spot for catch, frisbee, soccer, football, dog running, and general socializing. He's been to the bowl before and likes to chase his frisbee and tennis balls and meet other (nice!) dogs* for a good romp.

Today, the bowl was extra fun because it was getting dark and we met some really interesting people.

First, Orent was running on his long leash, chasing a tennis ball in the twilight, when out of nowhere there appears a kid (about 6 yrs old, I'd say), dressed in bright red and yellow. The kid must be really good with dogs because he stood still like a statue while Orent calmly sniffed him. He introduced himself to me saying, "Hi, I'm Duncan." When I said, "Nice to meet you Duncan, I'm Max," he shook my hand. Then he wanted to know all about Orent. He thought Orent was a very good dog, and I agreed!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Putting the fun back in fundraiser

Thursday night Orent encouraged Kaytee, my friend Deborah, and I to go to a fundraiser for an organization he gives "4 paws up!" New Leash on Life pairs shelter dogs who would otherwise be euthanized with people serving jail time, who train and care for the dogs. Once their dogs are fully trained and 100% adoptable, they are found forever homes. Their incarcerated trainers are given opportunities to build their resumes, learn new skills, and earn credit towards getting parole. The dogs even help the incarcerated folks and COs get along, which is a miracle.

Anyway, Orent heard that a local bar would be hosting a happy hour for dogs and their humans to support the cause. He said, "guys, it's a really good cause and a great opportunity for me to socialize. Please? It'll be educational." We said, "what the heck!"

So Orent got to hang out on a little patio in a weird piazza in the weird Northern Liberties neighborhood. There was a giant (like, several stories tall) screen playing a movie, busy servers, food being served, and lots of other dogs! From 3 8-week old chihuahua/jack russel puppies, to a massive great dane, to 4 little puggles, to a grouchy older curly-haired mutt, Orent met a lot of other dogs!

He was super chill though. Among the things I'm proudest of are:

  • Even though we were outdoors, he didn't hurry on the patio! I guess it's an advantage sometimes that he doesn't like to hurry on concrete... But he'll do it in a pinch and he didn't at the fundraiser.
  • He didn't beg or pay attention to the food. It helped that we were eating standing up at a counter, but still...
  • He was able to lay down and just watch, he didn't need to be in everyone's business.
His less stellar moments included trying to chew and lick the plant near our table, the table legs, the concrete, the little bits of grass on the sidewalk, etc. But overall he was calm and able to enjoy himself in a new, chaotic, noisy setting, which is amazing.

Plus, he encouraged us to support the cause by buying an arm's length of raffle tickets (we used my arm's length, since being 6' tall has its advantages). And we won a trip to a dog spa for Orent, plus a collar that's much too fancy to wear.

Overall, a good time was had by all. No photos though, the resident photographer was too busy with dog handling, eating, meeting other dogs, and generally having a good time.

Adventures of the Early Morning Puppy

Orent and Max have a nice routine going. Orent wakes Max up between 6:05 and 6:15am, and they go play in the field at the rec center nearby for an hour or so, to tire the puppy out. This morning, I decided to tag along.

Orent is a sleepy dog at first
It's probably because the sun is just waking up
But don't worry, he gets energetic really fast!
It's really beautiful in the morning on the field