It’s been stupid cold. No really. Daytime temperatures in the minus thirties and overnights colder. Throw a stiff breeze into that and we were getting feels-like minus forty-five days for most of February. It finally broke into the minus teens over the last day or two, but for a puppy filled with energy who really, really, REALLY wants to go for a walk, it has resulted in three or four too short walks a day while we all hunkered down in the house and dreaded opening the doors. We made do and had lots of indoor action to keep her engaged and worn out, but even the reprieve of a backyard pee didn’t provide much opportunity to enjoy all that fresh snow, what with the stupid, stupid cold.
i big girl nowz
What? A puppy is growing, you say?! She has outgrown her first walking harness, though, so from among of the first things we bought her (and she was virtually swimming in it when she moved in) we now have an outgrown in pile. And while extended family circle of puppies is growing with my parents adopting a Schnoodle a couple weeks ago and my sister welcoming a German Shepherd cross a month or two prior to that, Cricket might still be among the smallest of the group and not bring much value for handing down her hand-me-downs.
i playz fetch
A random tennis ball became an object of fascination in our living room for long enough that I sourced out a trio of Cricket-sized versions from the pet store, by which I mean they were about half the diameter and appropriate for my pup … not used in the popular sport cricket. Those three balls have become beloved treasures, particularly in the cold weather, as we burned off a load of excess energy playing Cricket-in-the-middle and learning the fundamentals of fetch.
treeetz frum my brane box
Finally, as the bell-ringing at dinner time (ie. oh, I see you are eating and not paying attention to me so I will ring this bell at the door not for what you intended which was as an indicator I need to go outside, but rather as a way to provoke your attentions upon me) officially became annoying, we discovered a puzzle box. The pup now spends part of our dinner time trying to unlock the various compartments in which bits of her daily treat have been hidden. Flip, turn, poke, slide… it keeps her busy for five minutes so that we can have a few warm bites. I think we’re graduating to the next level quite soon, tho.
We marked our two month #adoptaversary this past weekend, and made some general observations that despite her continued small stature, the pup has actually grown quite a bit since she came to live with us. I went looking for an app or a website or even a blog plugin to document all this stuff, and then I figured that routine updates here on significant milestones is probably just as good, maybe even better, than any of those things. So, on the four month birthday date, here is another pup/date… even tho it’s only been about ten days since my last.
wize wee wak so fur?
The weather has been generously warm, at least for a January. By warm, I mean it has been hovering around freezing for the last two weeks or so. This is warmer than the expected average temperatures of this time of year, which generally hover around holy-shit-it’s-cold-out degrees. The benefit of this relative warmth has been that we’ve worked our way up to walks as long as three kilometers with the pup. In fact on Saturday we ventured out further than we’d ever taken her, putzed through the neighbourhood for over an hour, and explored some of the local trails. She was in a state of well-earned tired by the time we got back home, though that tail never stopped wagging.
ridin in dat big squarry weel box
Since I last wrote we’ve been on a couple casual car rides. The odd thing about having a new puppy during a pandemic is that (a) if it wasn’t for the pandemic we likely wouldn’t have had a chance to have a puppy and (b) we don’t go anywhere (literally… like nowhere) ourselves so we don’t have a reason to get in the car and train her to be a good passenger. Still, we had a trip to the vet about ten days ago for some of those final puppy shots, and then on the weekend we thought it would be nice to enjoy the warm weather (see previous blurb) and go for ice cream. The pup rode nicely in the backseat without too much fuss or getting carsick again… tho still didn’t get of her own any ice cream.
gud mornin hooman
In the last two months we have established a respectably rigid sleep schedule. I’m imagining this will relax a bit as the pup grows older. We all go to bed at the same time. A routine has been set up of taking her outside, leading her into her crate, removing her collar, settling her with a small treat, and turning down all the house lights. Then in the morning, I have my alarm set for about 6am, and I let her outside, fill her dishes, make a cup of tea, and we play for 30 minutes to an hour until everyone else wakes up. (As the weather warms and the sun rises earlier, I’m hoping this becomes a dawn walk.) All in all though it makes for a fairly settled pup who hasn’t been awake in the middle of the night in six weeks.
She’s been with us for going on nearly two months, and life is anything but routine. That said, our work/life routine has started to settle back into the pandemic-lockdown-normal once again, which is to say that over are our two weeks of unstructured slothing around the house with literally nothing to do but eat and ponder life. The pup has continued to grow bit-by-bit and tackle new skills brought on by more challenging requests.
c’mere a minitt
We have this fun game we’ve been playing. I ask the pup to come see me so I can pick her up or lead her somewhere we need to go. She runs around like crazy avoiding me and hiding, bum in the air and tail wagging, so that I can’t. I’ve introduced a brand new game to her over the last couple weeks called “Co’mere!” It’s simple. I say come here (which comes out more like “co’mere”) and if she walks up to me and let’s me take her by the collar she gets a treat. I admit, it’s less fun than the old version, but we’ve had a great time actually going to other rooms in the house.
wuk wuk wuk treeeet!
Walking has not come naturally to the pup. The pup’s pal (we’ll call her S) who lives a couple blocks away is only about a week older than she and S has been tackling walks of three or four kilometers for a month now. We on the other hand enjoy sitting on the asphalt and contemplating a walk rather than … y’know … actually taking one. I did some research and discovered a loose-leash training strategy to encourage heeling and walking. We’ve been testing it out on short strolls for the last week (and luckily the weather is cooperating!) She gets a lot of (tiny) treats, but we’ve had some solid 8/10 quality walks this past week.
A couple weeks ago we hung a bell at the back door. The idea is that the pup learns to ring it when she wants to go outside. Training hasn’t been as tough as we thought it would be, but it has taken the full of those two weeks to get her into the habit of understanding that ring-a-ling means that the door opens and she can go out. It’s only been in the last two days or so that we’ve hit a milestone of deliberately pawing the bells (followed by a sly glance back to us) to show that she gets the signal. Trouble is, as we train this we want her to ring to go out to do her business… but she’s figured out that we’ll let her out no matter whenever she rings. In a word: playtime!
Christmas came and went. When we had first planned the prospective puppy timeline, and based on some very early guesses from the breeder, I had placed my bet in the “we’re getting a puppy” pool on a vague date between my birthday (near the end of November) and Christmas. So, in my imaginary, completely unrealistic sketchy planning we had a puppy for the holidays. It all worked out in the end, but not because I’m a good predictor of puppy breeding cycles.
“becuz mer paws are kold”
I’ve had a little more than a whole week off work as I write this, and another week to follow, so we’ve been working on ways to kill some of the free time that results from a pandemic-timed vacation when you can’t really go anywhere of significance. The pup and I have been (safely) touring the local greenspace, avoiding contact with other dogs for her (because of diseases) and avoiding contact with other humans for me (because of COVID). She is getting better. It actually hasn’t come easy. We’re working into the walking habit, but she is very reluctant and spends the first hundred meters or so cautiously planting and inching forward.
“i peeze alone now”
One of the greatest development has come in a minor upgrade to her potty training. Step one was getting her to stop peeing inside. Step two was taking her outside and having her pee. Step three (ta-da!) has been opening the backdoor and letting her out to pee. It’s not quite the deepest bitter cold heart of winter yet, but that’s coming up soon, and the less I need to dash outside in my pajamas to make the pup squat the better for me. I love her, but I’m all for independence for some of this stuff.
“take it er leave it”
The complexity of behaviors that we’re working on has increased. The basic SIT and SHAKE commands are fun and all, but as we’ve been increasing our range around the house and beyond, the pup needs to understand more obedience-focused rules. To that end we’ve been trying to build up some understanding of the TAKE IT and LEAVE IT commands. She’s a smart puppy, but this is a tricky set of rules that mean ignoring the natural inclination to eat everything. We’re officially working against instinct now.