Clap along if you feel…

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

Sky just goes from awesome to awesomer.

He truly has ‘wait’ down now, and will just stop at gates, doors, and in front of food until I say ‘okay’. We have also been doing some more leadwork, and he is really getting the idea of walking with me! I am going to have to get him a harness as he does drag at his collar and then panic if he gets distracted and tries to wander off. A harness would be much safer and more comfortable. But this morning we were able to practice walking from room to room and even out into the garden without him chewing on or playing tug with the lead. And it was a really good chance to practice/reinforce ‘leave it’ too, every time he took it in his mouth. I think he has had most of his day’s food as training treats rather than in his bowl! I keep the sessions short of course, but I am going to do some more work with him tomorrow morning and hopefully get (or get Nick to take) a video that I can upload.

He is also going longer in the night before asking to go out, so I have adjusted my alarms a bit. When he first came home, he needed to be out every 2.5-3 hours, but now he sleeps for about four in between each garden trip. It’s making a big difference already. It’s so good to be able to go to bed at 10, just to get up at 2 and then 6, spend a bit of time with him and give him breakfast at 6:30, then go back to bed again until 11. I’m still tired but I am able to cope a lot better. We usually do some training and/or playing before lunch at 12pm; then he sleeps on my feet for a bit. At about 2-3pm he goes out then into his crate and I run errands, then I come back and we do some more training and playing. Nick gets back at about 5:30pm. I go and lie down again at that point, Nick feeds Sky his supper at 6 and plays, then at about 7:30 I come down and sort out my own food. Sky follows me, watches me and sits on me the whole time! Then sometimes a bit more training, a big cuddle, supper at 9:20, then garden and bed at 10. He always sleeps beside me in his crate at night, too, so he isn’t often alone – just enough to keep him used to being left so he doesn’t develop separation anxiety, and we are building that time up gradually too.

 

…This is probably why I am not holding it against him that he jumped up and dragged Alfie’s water bowl off the table this morning. Cough.

I mean, we feed Alf on a small picnic thing, so he is up off the floor and he (and his food) are theoretically out of range of Skylerish investigation. All I could do was watch from across the kitchen – there was just no way I could get to him in time – as he pulled the stoneware bowl over the edge and let go… I am just hoping that the resounding crash and spray of water will at least deter him from getting up there again. I whisked him into the garden and shut the door while I cleared up, lest he hurt his paws on the splinters, and by the time I was done hoovering about ten minutes later, I went out to find him half under the hedge, wriggling joyfully around on his back with all his paws in the air, wrestling with a bundle of torn-down puppy proofing. I’m going to have to stop calling it that.

Thank goodness I have a date for the fence now! It’s going to be put up on the 3rd and 4th of July and I. Cannot. Wait.

 

This afternoon we were off-routine a bit, though. I went out earlier than usual, straight after lunch, to replace the water dish. We got a blue PLASTIC one this time… and Sky bought Alfie a special pouch of food to say sorry.

Afterwards, at 4pm, Skyler had his second vaccination appointment. He only just fitted in his carrier! We saw the nurse this time and she was also lovely; I think she was even more cuddly and melty with Sky than the vet had been. She made a huge fuss of him, weighed him (7.8 kilos!!), checked his teeth (‘beautiful’), and gave the injection. He didn’t react at all, I am not honestly convinced that he even felt it… She asked how his training was going, too, and looked really surprised when I told her. Her immediate question was ‘ooh, are you going to work him?’, so I think maybe he is pretty exceptional for nine weeks, even among retrievers.

I replied that… actually… yes, I was… that he was going into training as a PTSD assistance dog for me, under the CGI charity. And she was so genuinely enthusiastic. Her face really lit up. “Oh wow – that is so special – hey, you’ve got a really important job to do, boy!” Her response meant so, so much to me.

 

We came away with six months’ worth of flea/worming spot-on and some VERY exciting news… the vet hadn’t actually told me how long to wait before taking Sky outside after his second vaccination, only that it would be fully effective from fourteen days. When I asked the nurse, she said that they only suggest waiting for seven of those, then it is pretty safe, and of course socialisation needs to get going as soon as possible.

So this time next week we will have gone for our very first walk! Eeek, I can’t wait, and I don’t think he can either. He has so much energy, and from the way he has been whenever I have taken him out in the backpack he is obviously eager to explore. He adores people and loves meeting everyone and anyone who comes to the house so I don’t think he will have any problems being fussed over by strangers! Obviously I will build up to traffic and crowds at his pace, starting with shorter quieter routes first, but I really can’t see him being worried.

This means leadwork is essential this week! I want him to be calm and happy with it by the time he is ready to go out, so he can just enjoy all the new things. I’m going to do little bursts several times each day, maybe starting with five minutes early morning, late morning, and a couple of times each afternoon/evening. I’m going to put brushing and teeth on hold for this week while we get it sorted out, he’s so young still that I can always come back to them later. I just don’t want to overwhelm him.

Once he is going out and about it will be all about socialising him and keeping his focus on me around different distractions. That is going to take time, of course, but it’s vital to work on that from day one with a trainee assistance dog – it’s such a crucial skill.

 

Puppy classes start on July 11th. He already has a lot of the things that will be taught, but it will be really good to go back over everything and for Caroline to see how we are working together and make any corrections or tweaks that she needs to – and of course, for him to meet other people and puppies of all kinds. In the classes we will start learning stays, stopping, settle and recall in more challenging situations (he will come whenever I call him in the house and garden but I can’t promise he would feel the same in a big field with five other pups!). We will also really get him solid with ‘leave it’, because at the moment he tends to take his time.

 

It’s all so exciting! So much to look forward to, to do and learn and see together. So much future.

Although the present isn’t too bad either…

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Xx

 

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The materiality of light

I like the thingness, the materiality of light itself. So it feels like it’s occupying the space, making a plane, being something that was there, not just passing through.

It has been a strangely beautiful evening. The hot stretch of weather is winding to an end, here at least, and everything is airy and warm and still, the birds’ songs fading in and out across the dusk, and the occasional car murmuring beyond the rooftops and the gardens.

It is one of those evenings when the quality of light is so striking and eerie that  it takes on an almost physical presence. The point stops being about how it transforms things, and instead becomes about how things show its transformations. It is redrussetcopperpinkgoldness itself. It always makes me think about James Turrell’s work – he is an American artist I love – and his ideas on and experiments with light and space. He has said a lot of brilliant things about it, and the quote above is one of his…

 

Sky thinks it is a good evening too. He isn’t too hot, nor too cold, and the grass tastes interesting and the stones feel nice under his paws and all the little creatures are making their exciting noises. Everything is right with the world.

He had his first long brush after supper, when he was full and sleepy, and he really enjoyed it. He is gorgeously fluffy now, the little leaves are out of his fur and the mud is gone from his legs. For tonight.

He has had a brilliant morning, then a bonkers afternoon, then a really good evening again. He settled himself in the downstairs crate with his Kong today while I went out, and stopped crying before I left the house. When I got back he was sleeping on his vetbed, in no rush to get out. He is eating just fine at every meal, and likes his kibble enough that I can easily use it for training.

 

On which note…

 

 

Xx

All the Words for Joy

For the world will soon be waking/To a summer’s day

Long time no blog post!

Things have been going along steadily here. I had a bit of a rough weekend, I got very tired again and slept most of it away while Nick looked after Skyler. My ed has also been really out of hand, the worst it has for a while, so I am trying to reign it back in now. New week, new start. I feel very shaky though.

 

I don’t know what the neighbours are growing, but I have also had really awful hay fever! I don’t usually get more than a sniffle, but it has been so bad that my face and arms have been itching, I’ve been sneezing, tight chested, burning eyes, the lot. I have been terrified that I might actually be allergic to Sky: it’s worse in the morning and evening which is when the pollen is highest, but is also the time when I am down on the floor playing with Skyler the most. It seems to have eased a little this afternoon though (which it wouldn’t have if it were somehow a reaction to him), and I am doing pretty well right now.

 

Sky has been a STAR! He is getting so big, he was just over 4kg when he came home at seven weeks, I think, and today (at a little over nine weeks) he weighs 7.3. He has a new best friend, too…

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His training just keeps getting better. He definitely knows ‘wait’ now, and the hand-signal that goes with it (I hold up one finger for sit and two for wait). He has been getting better and better about holding back before taking a treat until I have said ‘okay’, and waiting longer and longer times while I put it down on the floor and watch him. He has also been getting much better about holding back at thresholds, like the crate door or kitchen stairgate, and will wait for permission to go through those most of the time now, too. The biggest breakthrough has been with his food bowl though. It suddenly clicked yesterday evening, so clearly that I could actually see it happen!

When he first came home, he would barrel his head straight in before I had got it lower than hip-height. Now he sits watching while it goes on the floor and stays put until I say ‘okay’.

I am so proud!!

 

He also toilets on command – I can take him out and tell him ‘cucu’ to prompt him before I need to put him in his crate and he obliges pretty much straight off.

He knows ‘sit’ without any hand signals or gestures, and is learning to same with ‘lie down’.

He is getting faster and faster at responding to ‘off’ and ‘leave it’. Better and better at not jumping up and pulling or chewing on clothes, or digging in the garden.

On Saturday I introduced him to his lead for a few moments. He just wants to play tug with it so far, but we will get past that! He chews at his slicker brush but he enjoys the feel of it, his little back legs wiggle around, and we haven’t really done tooth-brushing yet but that is next on my list.

 

Today I put frozen peas and carrots in his water bowl. They cooled it down nicely for him, and he had a cheerful ten minutes trying to plunge his head in to fish them out. I am definitely going to try that one again, the next time the weather gets really hot.

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I do need to play with him more though. He is still very mouthy and he has started to have mad bursts of energy now that he is growing bigger and settling in. He can be very bouncy, trying to jump up and pull everything out of your hands and steal shoes off your feet and eat your clothes, so I need to find more things for him to have fun doing with me. It’s so so lovely to see his personality developing and his confidence growing though. And he is amazingly sweet and gentle for his age. I really wasn’t expecting him to be this much company, or this lovely to live with, until he was quite a bit older.

I completely adore him, and I am so so proud of him.

 

Ah, that said, he was so silly this afternoon! I put him in his crate while I nipped to Tesco and because it was so hot I put his water bowl in with him even though I wasn’t going to be gone long at all.

I came back to this:

IMG_2539.JPGI think that is the most morose I have ever seen him… I felt mean but I just couldn’t help but laugh.

He also had an accident on the kitchen floor after I had let him out and opened the door to the garden, because he was too busy complaining to me about being all wet to remember what he was meant to be doing! I took him, his bedding and his toys out to dry off in the sunshine while I cleaned up. He had a really good play and seemed much happier and less soggy afterwards.

 

Last bit of news, I think – the ‘puppy proofing’ that I got a local handyman to put up for me lasted all of a week. The person does have his own dogs, so I trusted him to make it sound, but I am starting to think that perhaps he has chihuahuas… Certainly, Sky has chewed right through it! It only took him about ten unsupervised minutes one morning while I was trying to get up to date with the housework.

It means that I have to watch him very, very carefully in the garden for the time being. It is not ideal – I do end up feeling stressed and ill, dizzy getting up and down all the time, and I don’t like the feeling that I am following him every second and breathing down his neck – so I have asked a few people to come and give quotes for putting in proper, secure wooden fencing along in front of the hedge instead. I am really anxious about that. The idea of having a truly escape-proof, safe garden that Sky can just patter freely in and out of and totally please himself in is almost unspeakably wonderful. It would be a massive weight off me, and so lovely for him! It’s just about whether I can cover it.

 

I am actually falling asleep as I type! These are the dangers of writing a blog post from a comfy bed. That is something Sky really has changed almost instantly for me – I can settle and fall asleep a lot more easily at night now, even though I am also more tired in the day. For the first time in so long, I am starting to feel hopeful…

xx

The safe place where we can go

It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday

Skyler and I had a day of settling in today. Lots of things just fell into place and I feel so much better at the end than I did at the start.

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First of all – this morning I realised that actually, it’s okay for me to put him back in his crate next to me and go back to sleep for another three hours after breakfast. This is a huge breakthrough for me. I have insomnia and various other problems that make me exhausted during a lot of the day. I finally sleep sometime after 1am, though Sky and I are always settled in bed from around 10pm (I’m a bit later tonight but I’ll be going up as soon as I have finished this post!). I can’t ever drop off sooner than this, regardless of what I do, and when I am sleeping I have a lot of nightmares and am up and down a lot through the night. This means that I will crash and need to rest more in the daytime.

Before Sky, I would sleep on and off during the morning and that way, at least I would be able to function a bit in the afternoon and evening, and help Nick after his long days at work. It’s not ideal but it was what made life manageable for us. But since Sky I have felt like I HAD to get up and stay up at 7am (his breakfast time) no matter what, and then be constantly awake with him at least until my partner came home in the evening. Only then did I feel it was okay for me to lie down and rest. I have been feeling so, so ill…

I can’t make myself leave him alone out of his crate, his toilet training is going beautifully but I don’t want him to have an accident or get into something he shouldn’t; and I can’t leave him with access to the garden on his own for hours, in case he manages to get through the puppy proofing and out. Plus I think he really just wants to be where I am, anyway.

I tried making a bed downstairs for the daytime, but of course it just ended up with Sky waking me by sitting on me with soil everywhere. I was still tired and in pain, too. I need to be in my bed if I am going to rest.

This morning I woke up at seven feeling really bad. So much so that I went down, let Sky out and gave him breakfast as usual, then crawled back upstairs with him and put him back in his crate and fell back into bed without really thinking about it.

The world didn’t end.

He just went right back to sleep.

We got up properly and started our day a little after ten and the difference it has made to me is incredible. I have gone from sitting on the floor crying over the housework and mess and having to bite my tongue not to get ratty with poor Skyler, to feeling calmer, more positive and just enjoying him.

So our night-time routine now is:

10pm – garden then bed

1am – up, garden, bed

4am – up, garden, bed

7am – up, garden, breakfast, bed

10am – up, garden, start the day

 

We have done quite a bit more training together, and had lots of cuddles and fuss. We mostly worked on wait, and he has been doing so well with it that I have literally been jumping for joy each time. This morning we managed

Then this evening, for the very first time, he actually WAITED in  a SIT until I put his food dish on the floor and said ‘okay’! I couldn’t believe it, he has struggled so much more with that than anything else because his meals get him so excited now that I am giving him the Angell Petco. He is really solid with ‘up’ as well as ‘lie down’ and with ‘other one’ as well as ‘paw’, too. So we can add those to the list of things he is getting good at!

I’ve had a small rethink, and after I’ve prioritised ‘wait’ and got that really watertight, I want to teach him ‘off’. As in, ‘off’ (don’t jump up), ‘off’ (the sofa), ‘off’ (of my hand if chewing it). SO I’m going to have ‘off’ if his paws or mouth are somewhere I don’t want them to be; ‘move’ (out of the way when I’m opening a door or stair gate: he is picking this one up just because it’s what I say as I physically nudge him over); ‘leave it’ (sort of negative if he has picked something up or pulled towards something I don’t want him to have); and ‘fetch’ and ‘give’ (positive and specifically to put something into my hand once he has retrieved it for me).

Then I have stays and leadwork to start on. And once I have all of those I will feel pretty confident about moving on through the various levels of the KCGCS, because it will be a really solid foundation to build on.

 

I am so proud of him, I don’t have words for it. He is the most incredible puppy I have ever, ever met. He is looking more gorgeous and grownup by the day, too! His fur is getting longer and starting to wave on his ears, and it is darkening to a beautiful tea colour along his face and back. I weighed him today and even with the trouble over his food, he has gained 0.8kg since Saturday! He is filling out really well. I think he is going to be tall…

xx

Laughter and tears

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.

The less said about pup-monster this morning the better… suffice to say it involved a 5am start, then a 6am start, then digging, mud, and me being woken from a nap by a not-so-golden retriever sitting proudly on my head with soil in my eyes, mouth, hair, streaked across my face, in the blankets, on the pillows and all over my clothes.

Then a solid half an hour of yowling from his crate like he was summoning the RSPCA while I tried to clean up without him tugging everything out of my hands and attacking the cloth and chasing Alfie joyfully across the garden while Alfie made a far less joyful retreat.

It took one calming walk and a large coffee before I was ready to be friends again…

 

He was much easier (and less muddy)  this afternoon. I’d like to think he could tell I was struggling and took pity on me, although it’s more probable that he had just used up his daily allocation of chaos and worn himself out. Cough.

How do they always look so calm and so sweet when they are sleeping?

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We did a bit of training this afternoon, to use up some of his energy and to remind me of all the things I love about him and how amazing he is really. I love teaching him. It’s helping me feel so bonded to him and I think it’s doing something similar for the way he responds to me, too. I introduced ‘up’ for the first time today:

 

 

After that, we spent a while going over ‘wait’. It’s taking a comparatively large amount of perseverance: being a retriever, he’s awesome at mastering anything he can do as fast as possible to get the food, but you can’t really learn to be patient quickly… He’s getting there bit by bit, though. He can now hold off for a couple of seconds in a ‘sit’ when he wants to and I’m really proud of him. It must be a tough one to learn because it goes against such a strong instinct.

 

 

I need to work on getting him to do it every time and as soon as I ask; then when he has got the hang of that, I’m going to start practicing it standing and lying down and for things other than a single treat (being let through a door, out of his crate, for his food bowl).

So – we are currently pretty solid with ‘leave it’ (with treat to swap), ‘sit’, ‘lie down’, ‘come’, ‘paw’, ‘no’, ‘okay’ and ‘cucu’ (for go to the toilet). ‘Up’, ‘off’ (of me or furniture) and ‘wait’ are the things we are going to focus on now until we get them sorted. Then ‘leave it’ (before giving treat or without one at all) and ‘stay’ are the important ones after that.

I’m also teaching ‘move’ as and when he is in my way, to get him to budge so I can get past. It’s not something I’m consciously training for so much as a word and an idea I’m getting him used to whenever it’s needed. ‘Move’ then usher to one side with foot, or nudge back with leg so I can get through a door or past him. Then praise.

As ‘leave it’ gets better, I think he is doing better about clothes. He knows I don’t like it now, and will stop when he forgets himself and I remind him. I’ve been redirecting him to his toys, things that he can chew, and he is now starting to redirect himself. It’s not totally there yet, but I know it’s just a matter of repetition and patience from here.

 

The Angell Petco food is still disappearing, and still working as treats for training, too. I am holding my breath to see how he does on it, but (I hope) I might be placing a proper order very soon. It should certainly make his coat beautiful with all that omega 3…

xx

If you go there, go with me

You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.

 

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This morning, Skyler had his first ever ‘walk’. We didn’t go far, just up the road, along the high street, and back home. But he did SO well, he didn’t seem bothered at all by people, traffic or other dogs. He flinched a bit at a fire engine, but then so did I – that thing was loud! – but a quick treat soon settled him again.

He got so much attention, worn up on my chest. Loads of people smiled at us and wanted to come say hi. Obviously I kept Sky safe and sound in his carrier, but it was good for him to sniff at all the New Things through the mesh. There were one or two individuals who were less kind (I saw one middle-aged woman nudge her friend and heard her say ‘well THAT’S very weird…’ as I walked past), but far more said what a good idea it was, to be able to get him out and about safely before his vaccinations were completed. I had to brace myself pretty hard, it was definitely tough being approached and noticed and smiled at and I had to be calm and confident for Sky or it would just have made him anxious, not desensitised; but I’m glad that I did it for both of us. Hopefully next time will be a bit easier, now I know what to expect.

 

When we got back, we had lots of cuddles and a big fuss. Sky had lunch. He’s still being a bit picky about his food and takes several goes to eat most of it (I’m feeding him to the bottom recommendation of the feeding guide on the bag, so it’s not that I’m just giving him too much), but he is definitely doing better and his tummy upset is completely gone.

 

I went out again this afternoon, without him this time. He stayed sleeping in his crate with Mankyduck 2 (there’s a story behind that… when Alf was a kitten, his favourite toy was a little cuddly mallard, but whereas normal cats would bite and chew it, he just sucked on it. It very quickly got to the point of making an audible ‘squelch’ when you picked it up, or trod on it en route to the loo at 3am. Hence it got named ‘Mankyduck’. Sky now also has a favourite toy, also a duck, which is rapidly descending into a similar state…). I picked up some salad and things for my meal this evening, dropped off some old DVDs in a charity shop and found a couple of new ones to watch, and bought Sky a carton of goats’ milk. I know he is used to it and can tolerate it, as it’s one of the things he started off on when he was tiny, and I’m hoping it may get some extra calories into him without unsettling things again.

 

This afternoon, we have been doing some more training in bursts. He really has caught onto ‘paw’ now! He is a bit better at holding a sit until I say ‘okay’, too. We did a few practices of that, as well as ‘come’ and ‘leave it’. Then we moved onto ‘lie down’ which he responded to beautifully. By the second little session he was doing it every time.

After that, we worked on the most fundamental skill for any self-respecting Golden…

…fetch! It’s such a simple game but it’s a hugely important thing to get him doing as soon as possible, because it forms the basis for so much of the assistance task-training that will come later on.

 

We had a knock at the door a few minutes ago. A delivery man dropped off a free sample of Angell Petco puppy food that I had ordered a while back, when I first started trying to work out what to give Sky in the long term. With everything else in the past week I had forgotten I’d even asked for it. Sky took one sniff in the direction of the box and went ballistic. I have never seen him react to food like that, except for when I am eating an apple perhaps, and he knows he will get to lick the juice off my hands afterwards. I have to be honest, I gave into my curiosity and experimented with a couple of pieces as training treats pretty much straight away: I still honestly wasn’t expecting him to remain interested when it was actually in front of him but I had to test it out. He doesn’t like dry treats or kibble, he won’t touch food in his bowl at all if it isn’t soaked and if I give him a bit from my hand then he just spits it out. But this? This vanished. He was so ridiculously excited that he pretty much forgot all his training so far, and he bounced like a ping-pong ball for a good forty seconds before remembering that he was supposed to sit.

I obviously don’t want to keep switching him around, I know very well that flicking between foods just causes more problems than it ever solves. I also don’t know how it would affect his tummy (it should be okay as it’s hypoallergenic, grain free, fish-only and low in fat, but you still never know). It’s also a bit higher in protein than I would ideally like, at 30%, whereas the Arden Grange I’ve been looking at is 26%. But I’m fairly certain that if I did get him onto the Angell Petco then he would eat it with absolutely zero problems, so it’s something I am going to be thinking seriously about.

For now, if nothing else I do at least have a supply of very healthy, highly motivating training rewards!

 

It really has been a very lively day today, and I am so proud of my pup for taking it all in his stride. We have definitely made up for the quietness of yesterday. Right now, though, he is crashed out at my feet while I pointedly ignore the washing-up and kitchen floor, and I think we have both earned our rest…

xx

Like butter wouldn’t melt

It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.

 

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Sky hid my phone under the sofa this morning. It was not a smart move, because I have all of his mealtime alarms on it so – as I explained to him later, when it had turned up again – if I don’t have it, how can he possibly get fed??

He is so full of mischief! He’s really coming out into his own now and he has such a beautiful, silly, bouncy personality. He loves attacking old cardboard boxes, and any toys made of rope that he can get his back teeth into (Caroline told me about that one and Skyler is definitely grateful). He charges about the garden in a massive if short-lived burst of energy every evening and follows me every time I get up, unless he’s actually asleep in a different room. He doesn’t stress when I go out of sight now, but he greets me hard when I come back.

Sometimes I look at him and I don’t think I could possibly love him more than I do right in that exact second. Other times I can’t wait to see him grown up, all this potential realised. I am so excited for the places we are going to go and things we are going to do, the training classes and the learning, being able to let him move about the whole house with me when I am home and having him at my side when I leave.

 

We are working more together every day. We keep it to short bursts, but he picks it all up so fast. This one has been a very slow Sunday for me – I’ve slept through almost all of it while Nick has been home to keep an eye on pup – but we did some practice this evening too.

 

He was getting a bit tired by the time I took these, it was just before we stopped, but he did so well! He really has ‘sit’ sorted now, along with his name and ‘come’. We are working on ‘leave it’, ‘wait’ (so he doesn’t sit for a nanosecond and then charge at me before his bowl hits the floor!), ‘okay’ and ‘no’, as well as not jumping up.

Toilet training is ticking along with repetition, I don’t really give treats for it any more because he is getting much much better at it – half the time the door is open and he just takes himself. But fuss and praise for him always. : )

What I really need to work on, and would LOVE advice on, is getting him to stop grabbing clothes and hair. He is really gentle with mouthing hands, and we are following standard bite inhibition training (first teach them not to do it hard, then slowly decrease how much they do it at all, then teach them only you get to initiate it, not them). But clothes are a whole other matter.

I am trying to only give him attention when he is being calm, getting him to ‘sit’ before I fuss him or get him into my lap, that kind of thing. But he is a puppy and sometimes he just starts it and won’t be put off…!

Ignoring him doesn’t work because he really doesn’t stop. Neither does ‘OW’ usually, though sometimes it does. I could stand there looking away with my arms folded until I literally wasn’t wearing my skirt any more. I physically can’t leave a room when he gets into it because he is actually attached to me. I say ‘no’ or ‘leave it’ and get ignored. I can sometimes trade/distract him with a toy, but he is now starting to do it because he wants me to get him a toy or to pick it up for him…

I am having to resort to gently opening his mouth to remove myself from it and then leaving the room, but I hate doing it.

Also any tips for discouraging digging would be really gratefully received…

 

Busy day tomorrow! Loads of cleaning to do. The floor is a mess after all the rain we have had, and there just hasn’t been any point in tackling it while the heavens stayed open. It’s forecast to be a drier week now, though, so I shall try to get it sorted in the morning. With ‘help’, naturally…

 

xx

Where the outside world meets the world inside you

“I was looking for cat-beer when I found the dog-beer…”

Conversations in the Badger-Sharland household have got a lot more interesting over the past week. And yes, Dog Beer is a thing:

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Sadly cat-beer is not, however I did find this:

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I am reliably informed that we will be waiting until Sky is 18 (months) though.

 

We have had another good day today. We started it like this:

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with some unintentional but very soothing deep pressure therapy! Then at ten o’clock we set off for our first ever trip outside together, to the vet. Sky (who is exactly eight weeks old now) had his first injection and a checkup. He is six kilos, which is a little above average for a male golden pup of his age, so hopefully this means that he will be on the large side as an adult… He is a lovely build at the moment, his bones, muscles and loose skin all feel good. The vet was really happy with him, and snuck a bit of a cuddle too, which Skyler was only too pleased about. He didn’t even notice the needle!

His microchip is pretty cool, it tells his temperature when scanned. I didn’t know they could do that.

Best of all, he travelled beautifully in his backpack carrier on my lap there and back. I was so proud of him. He doesn’t seem concerned about car journeys at all. I just hope that will transfer over to trains and buses too in time. That’s my big worry, because I completely rely on public transport, and at the same time I can rarely cope with it without anxiety, shutdowns, sensory overload and dissociating. It’s one of the main situations I will need to train Sky to work with me in, so I need him to be secure in himself…

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I was really happy with how comfortable he seemed zipped up in there, and how easy it was for me to wear. Now I know that he isn’t bothered by being inside the backpack, I’m going to try taking him out in it lots more over the next weeks to start socialising him. The first twelve weeks are absolutely crucial for getting puppies used to the world and everything in it, yet a puppy is twelve weeks old by the time they are fully-vaccinated and able to walk on the pavement, go to training classes and mix with other dogs. It’s a tough compromise that every new owner has to try to navigate.

Sky’s tummy does seem a lot more settled now, and he is still eating well. It’s SO good to see it disappearing at each meal and knowing I don’t have to worry. I think I’ve got the hang of soaking his kibble so that he can manage it better, and I’ve got him into a really simple but sound routine that is working for both of us. The only change I still want to make is easing him over onto a more nutritious but also lower-protein dry food in the next few weeks – I didn’t realise it when I chose it, but Fish4Dogs has been bought out fairly recently and the recipe has changed. It’s not working as well as it used to for a lot of people, and it’s a bit too high in protein for a large breed like a retriever puppy. Larger breeds already tend to have very rapid bone-growth, and if they are fed too much protein at a young age then it speeds it up even further. When a dog’s skeleton grows too fast, it can end up weaker in adulthood and lead to bone and joint problems later on. Long, slower, steady growth is best. Around 24-26% protein is about right in large-breed puppy kibble.

Arden Grange seems to be one of the best, and cheaper than Fish4Dogs too. I can walk into town and pick up a small bag in Pets At Home just to wean him over and check that he settles on it okay and will eat it, so it’s probably the one I will choose. I’m thinking of Applaws for when I switch Sky over to adult food at a year, as it is pretty much the next best thing to raw feeding, but their puppy ranges are too high in protein for him at the moment.

I also wanted to add a few pictures from yesterday afternoon. We had an amazing evening; Nick got back early and we all sat together in the conservatory, Skyler and I having duvet-time and Nick in his recliner, watching Simpsons clips, BBC news coverage, and still occasionally lapsing into giggles at May.

 

Skyler continues to win Nick round. He was sleeping on his feet this afternoon – Sky on Nick’s, I mean! –  and Nick looked totally besotted. He refused to make me a hot water bottle lest he disturb the puppy…

xx

Here comes the sun

Birds flyin’ high, you know how I feel

So maybe I’m singing both of the above to Skyler today. A lot. He hasn’t left home yet, though he may be playing dead.

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I have had the loveliest morning. I woke up to this:

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And this:

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And this:

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I had cuddles and fed Sky. He ate it all again, no accidents in the night, and his tummy is totally back to being fine too. : )

I then had a shower and went out into the sunshine. I picked up my prescription, and as I was walking back along an empty street, a £5 note blew into my feet.

So I went into Tesco and got a coffee and these:

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I think I should probably buy a lottery ticket next.

xx