Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?
IN MY OPINION
Read in 2008
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31 March 2008
Things change very quickly with puppies, I'm learning.
We were doing so well. I've been working hard at giving Russell treats for coming to me when I call him and he's started taking treats out of Walt's hand too, where before he wouldn't go anywhere near him.
Mealtime around here is a zoo, literally. The dogs get fed in three different parts of the room and really Lizzie and Sheila are pretty respectful of each other's bowls, standing back until the other leaves her bowl before helping themselves to whatever might be leftover.
Puppies don't know the rules, of course, and so puppies learn the hard way not to try to sneak food from the big dogs' bowls. The dogs don't hurt them, but they get Very Big and they get Very Loud and even the bravest puppy runs crying loudly to the farthest corner of the house. Unfortunately, as I have seen over and over, they don't extrapolate from one dog scolding them for trying to steal food that ALL dogs will scold them for trying to steal food.
By the time they have been chastised by both dogs, they are very skittish about eating from any bowl. So the way they eat is to take a piece of food, back off and eat it away from their own bowl. This, of course, makes the bowl look abandoned to the older dogs, who then feel that they should be able to come in and take the food. When I have time, I solve this problem by standing in the kitchen to protect the puppy. Sheila stands at one end of the kitchen and Lizzie at the other and neither takes her eye off of the puppy bowl. Only when the puppy has walked away, obviously full, do I give them permission to finish the leftovers.
This can be, however, a very time-consuming process, especially with a puppy like Russell, who seems to savor every mouthful and who does not inhale his meal that way, say, Half Pint did. (That chihuahua's tummy could be seen to swell up, she ate so fast--and so much!)
Not surprisingly, there are some days when I just don't feel like standing in the kitchen guarding the puppy for 15 minutes. I have, in the past, solved this problem by feeding the puppy in the cage, where I can close both doors and they are safe from attack by the other dogs. I don't leave them in the cage. As soon as they finish, I open the door.
This seemed to be fine while Jack was here, but now that Russell is an only puppy, he does. not. want. to. go. in. the. cage. Not no way, not no how.
Well, I didn't realize that until yesterday. Before that, he would poke his head in tentatively, leaving his legs safely outside and I would gently push his rump inside and close the door. But he was now onto my trick and was having none of it last night. So I took the treat lure and held out the cheese he loves so much. He came close to me and, stupid me, I grabbed him. This caused immediate yelping and yelping and he peed everywhere. I put him in the cage and he ate, but ever since then he won't come near me or near Walt if we have treats in our hands.
Oh, he'll still jump in my lap for a cuddle but he is extremely wary of any attempt to catch him when he's on the ground, so he won't join the older dogs when I give them a treat any more. So I'm back to square one, trying to earn his trust all over again and he's going to be less eager to give it this time around because I've found that while dogs can't remember a simple command like "stay" for more than 3 seconds, an incident like this one will be imbedded in their psyches the rest of their lives!
Things have also changed around here with respect to bedtime. Jack and Russell had been very good about going to sleep in the cage at night and I wondered how Russell would do without Jack here.
The night Jack left, I took him outside to pee, as I always do and he came in the house and ran right into his bed in the cage. This was going to be a cinch!
Well. Not exactly. The next night I had to chase him to get him into the cage and he protested loudly. The same thing happend the following night, only that night in the middle of the night Lizzie started growling and barking at "something" in the family room in the middle of the night. When I woke up, I wasn't actually sure if it was Lizzie growling and barking, or if it was Russell. I got up to check and Lizzie was standing in the door of the living room, looking toward the back of the house, growling. BUT, at the same time, I heard Russell jump off of a chair in the living room. Somehow I guess I hadn't shut his cage as tightly as I thought and he had managed to escape.
I just gave up and brought him with me onto the couch.
Now Russell's favorite place in the world is draped around my body, wherever he can manage to find a space (his favorite place is draped across the back of my neck), so he was just in hog heaven when I put him under the blanket. He draped himself across my waist and to my amazement, we both slept until 7 a.m., long after the sky had become light. It was the best night of sleep I'd had in a long time.
So I made the decision to just let him sleep with me. He's the puppy who needs to feel comfortable around people so he can find himself a forever home. I know that crate training is ideal, but at this point I'm going for bonding...and for sleep for me! I didn't even try the crate last night, but just took him into the living room when I went to sleep. I couldn't see his face, but his body language gave me the impression that he felt he had just won the jackpot. He hardly moved all night and we again woke up sometime around 7 a.m.
I could get to like this. I'm afraid his forever family is going to have to establish their own preferred nighttime rituals. I'm liking this new situation a lot more than listening to him cry when I crate him and getting up at 4 a.m. to take him outside to pee.
We are on "baby watch" tonight--there may be news tomorrow.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Russell's favorite place to be is on my shoulder or behind my neck.
MILES TO NOWHERE: