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.
  11. He's got some commands down pat. His "sit" is perfect in low-distraction environments, and we can hold his attention with kibble, leash corrections, and sometimes even voice in high-distractions environments.
  12. He's really good at "wait" when we're doing "let's go" and can maintain "wait" and "let's go" (when there's at least the promise of kibble involved) in every setting except another dog walking by.
  13. Did I mention he's enormous? He's got these incredibly long legs, and knees all of a sudden. He used to basically go from sausage body straight to feet. Now that he has long legs and knees you can really see how disproportionate his feet are to the rest of him.
  14. His tail is growing fastest of any part of him. It's long! Fortunately, he doesn't whip it around too aggressively.
  15. He's not the baby of puppy class anymore. That honor went to Denali, briefly, and now to Kent.
  16. Denali
  17. At puppy class, he stays down for a long time, just 'cause we told him to.
  18. When we're training him, he'll stay in a "sit" while we walk around the corner. Then come running on "here!"
  19. He barks less in the morning. He may never learn, "speak" but he's less barky overall.
  20. Speaking of learning "speak," he will sit there staring at us with melt-your-heart puppy eyes for 10, 15, 20 minutes while we try to frustrate him into barking. Nothin' doing. He barely jumps up. His self-control is admirable.
  21. We may have to hire a horseshoe crab to teach him to speak, as it's one of the few things he barks at!
  22. He's getting really strong. When he pulls on the leash ("don't. Orent, let's go!") you feel it! When he tries to play tug-of-war ("don't. Orent, drop!") he's really pulling. That's why we work on "let's go!" and "drop" now!
  23. He consents to having all four feet held for longer. Serene nail clipping is a way's away, still, but he's not the whiney, jittery guy he used to be when you so much as brushed his back paws.
  24. He's had two playdates where he was over at other peoples' houses and he didn't have any accidents or destroy anything (other than a few sticks and a water bowl incident).
  25. We aren't going outside every 2-3 hours. It's nice.
  26. Every once and a while he's graceful. Like while going up stairs or catching a tennis ball on the bounce. Maybe 2% of the time?
  27. His grown-up dog coat is coming in and he's got really handsome whiter and golder patterns. Not to mention two cute little opposite whirls on his hindquarters.
  28. We hear, "that's a beautiful dog" or "that's a good dog" or "what a handsome dog," not just, "what a cute puppy!" 
  29. He spends less time in his crate or X-pen, and is able to be "unboxed" in room. He's done the dishes and cleaned the bedroom with us while tethered, and amused himself safely in the office while we worked or watched TV.
  30. He is calmer when we cradle him (hold him while he lies on his back between our legs).
  31. When he wants to play, he goes to find a toy, not a shoe or a sock. I think it's ok that he tries out polite requests for play, even if one day he will have to learn to wait and not try to demand attention.
  32. He's less likely to mouth you for attention. When he's riled up or you sit on the floor, he can still get mouthy. But it's not like it was!
  33. When we drop treats on his walk or while training him, he'll ignore them, especially if you say, "leave it," and help him focus on the treats still in your hand.
  34. He's adjusting ok to the fact that summer's over and we're a little busier. We make time for him but it's not the constant brief spurts of attention he needed and we had time for when he was littler.
  35. He just doesn't look like such a fluffball anymore. He's not the age that they use to sell, say, toilet paper.
  36. He gives us more eye contact and initiates more interactions. I think it's because we've assumed the role in his world of food dispensers. Which is, I believe, a very good thing!
  37. He smells different. More like a dog and less like a puppy.
  38. He's less weirded out by random things like broken up sidewalks.
  39. He eats 20% fewer leaves, sticks, and random rocks on our walks.
  40. He eats 90% fewer weeds, flowers, and other growing things on our walks.
  41. He's strong enough to practically pull Kaytee down the stairs head first when it's time to go outside.
  42. His favorite food in the world is chicken. Since he got sick that one time, he knows that it's delicious. Now, when we cook chicken, he wanders around sniffing the air aggressively.
  43. He's losing his teeth. Crazy!
  44. He weighs 43 lbs. I am still a bit stunned by that fact.

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