ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 21: Puppy Reunion!!

From almost the moment we all left Petsmart with our new additions, looking equally elated and shell-shocked by what we had just taken on, I had wondered about Archie and Daisy's eight siblings. What did they look like? How big were they? Did they eat tissue like Archie, steal socks like Daisy, and cock their heads inquisitively at unfamiliar sounds? Most of all, did they miss their brothers and sisters who had shared their foster homes and would they recognize each other if they ever happened to see each other again? Several months before the puppies' first birthday, I had my first opportunity to get answers to some of these questions. While manning a booth at a pet event, miles from where we live, a woman came up to my table. After telling her about the nonprofit I was volunteering for, she mentioned that she and her daughter were volunteering at the event too. The organization they were supporting was MOMS VA, an animal rescue organization. "That's so cool! My husband and I adopted two puppies from MOMS VA in December," I said. The woman's eyes widened. "Did you adopt Archie and Larissa?" she asked excitedly. "Larissa" was Daisy's name before we adopted her. "Yes!" I replied. "How did you know?" She knew because Karen had also adopted her puppy, Apollo, from that same litter. Weeks later, again purely by chance, another of the puppy owners just happened to recognize Archie and Daisy at our nearby dog park. Donna had adopted Rhea, renamed Piper, who had shared the same foster home as Daisy. Those two meetings couldn't be a pure coincidence. Maybe they were the nudge I needed to plan a puppy reunion. How hard could [...]

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 21: Puppy Reunion!!2018-10-29T04:33:05-07:00

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 20: Lessons Learned

While the puppies didn't nail all of the "obedience" they learned in school a few months ago, they have mastered "stay." If I have a particularly tasty treat in my hand, I can put them in a "stay" and walk down the hall, open their food closet (typically a surefire way to have puppies jumping around my feet) or even go upstairs and they will barely budge. In fact, I just wowed Don yesterday by putting them into a "stay" and going to the front door and knocking. They didn't bark or run to the door but instead waited for me ... and their treat! However, the catch is they will only do it together. If I take one on a walk and attempt to put the other in a "stay," it works for about half a second. As the rescue organization warned us, littermates bond to one another so tenaciously that everything else, including us humans, comes in a distant second. Today, I decided to work on a critical skill of my own today: bathing the puppies. Their first bath at home (Daisy has also had a couple trips to the groomer) was a bit of a disaster with the terrified pups shaking and climbing their back legs up the back of the tub the entire time (separately, mind you!). Don suggested I try our walk-in shower this time. Archie was the dirtiest, so I tried him first. I suited up in my bathing suit, covered the floor with large towels and then invited the wild child up to our bedroom, where he loves to dig through our trash cans. He eagerly bounded into the room and went straight through the open door of the [...]

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 20: Lessons Learned2018-10-26T11:33:46-07:00

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 19: Teenagers

Photo: Daisy and her new "lamb" do (we're holding her ears in this position) About a month ago, after a particularly frustrating episode with the puppies (of course, it's been replaced by dozens of more frustrating episodes since), I searched online for what to expect from 8-month-olds. They went into a lot of detail, but the upshot was that this age is like a human's teenage years. While a puppy is maturing, he or she is becoming independent and, as a result, unreasonably headstrong and rebellious. That about sums up Archie and Daisy at this moment in puppy life. At the beginning of April, Don and I returned from a week in Amsterdam. While our 21-year-old niece, who house- and puppy-sat for us, continued with the puppies' training (including our complicated feeding ritual), Archie and Daisy were ALMOST back at ground zero when we returned. How is that possible?! They wouldn't sit at curbs before crossing street. They wouldn't focus unless we had a treat under their nose. They'd sit on command, but they wouldn't stay there, popping back up like they had springs in their butts. And Archie was spending most of the day jumping up (only front paws, thankfully) on tables in my office and foyer, so much that he'd scratched all the finish off the edges. Daisy, on the other hand, was spending most of her day scratching at the front door, but most of the time only sniffing when we got outside. We live in a townhouse, so it was a lot of up and down for me. My train of thought had become like a commuter train, i.e., frequent stops and starts. (No wonder I often forget to send half-composed emails!) [...]

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 19: Teenagers2018-10-26T11:51:28-07:00

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 18: Almost “Dogs”!

It's been a little over a month since I last chronicled the puppies' adventures, primarily because I ran out of steam. (Puppies are tiring!) However, Archie and Daisy will soon turn from puppies into dogs and I'd like a record--a Puppy Book, if you will--of how they got there. So, here's the latest in that journey ... This morning, while I was in my office checking email and  they were play-fighting in the hallway, I heard a crash, followed by the two of them scampering into the office. I looked up and saw the iron coat tree, which held no less than 10 coats, four hats and three purses, on its side in the hallway. Coats and whatnot everywhere! (That's what happens when you leave treats in your jacket pockets, Mom!) No one was hurt, although Daisy seemed contrite and maybe a little embarrassed, immediately retreating to a distant corner of the couch and awaiting her fate. Archie simply curled up on the pile of coats on the floor! Since my last writing, we've also started letting the puppies come upstairs with us. It's like a field trip--they run around like mad, sniff everything, jump on the couch and Don's recliner, counter-surf. But they are always happy to go back downstairs (sometimes they even go on their own) to the security of their real "home," where there are toys, treats and wall-to-wall carpeting! The puppies are also almost finished with Obedience School at 2SpeakDog (two more weeks!). They're not exactly what I'd call obedient yet, but they do know "sit," "down," and "wait" and aren't as wild when they encounter another dog or person on a walk (and we know how to handle it now), sit at [...]

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 18: Almost “Dogs”!2018-10-26T11:51:41-07:00

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 17: The Best Valentine’s Gift Ever

I'm lucky in that both of my parents and my stepmom are huge animal lovers, so they've always treated my furry kids just like their human grandkids (well practically ... they don't get money at Christmastime!). This weekend, my dad and stepmom paid us a long-awaited visit from the Eastern Shore of Maryland and met their newest grandchildren, Archie and Daisy, for the very first time. They immediately stepped in to help me walk them. On the first walk, my dad said he felt like he was in Alaska being pulled by sled dogs. (He was only walking Archie!) Then Daddy and Linda wanted to sleep with the pups. As you can probably tell from my posts, these pups are not ready to be left unattended anywhere yet. Don and I laughed thinking about the pups emptying their suitcases all over the floor, shredding everything in the trashcan and have a good ole time with magazines, glasses, and anything left on the nightstand. My office is puppy-proofed. Our spare bedroom, not so much! On one of our many walks throughout the weekend, I let Linda harness Daisy. When we got back, I realized that she had never actually clicked the harness buckle and it was being held on by the leash alone. Thankfully, that was enough! I took over harness duty the rest of the time but gladly turned over a leash to one of them whenever they wanted to join me. Don walks Daisy with me and Archie every morning, but I'm otherwise mainly on my own. It was such a nice treat to have a built-in helper! We also had to make the requisite shopping trip while they were here to get the grandkids [...]

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 17: The Best Valentine’s Gift Ever2018-10-26T11:51:56-07:00

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 16: Driving Miss Daisy to the Groomer

The pups were separated today for the first time since we got them. Daisy went to the groomer to tame her snarled and matted hair, while Archie stayed home alone with me. While I was most worried about Daisy, I think it's safe to say that Archie might have taken it the hardest. Poor guy! When we adopted the litter mates, the rescue organization recommended that we separate them as much as possible to keep them from bonding with each other over bonding with us. Don and I walk them together first thing in the morning, but I also walk them separately two more times each day. And when I take Archie out for his lone walks, Daisy literally wails, but he sleeps when it's her turn. Naturally, I thought Daisy would be pretty inconsolable when I took her away from her brother today. And she did cry--a sad, plaintive whine--the entire drive (20 minutes) to the groomer. However, once we were there, my brave little fluff ball was fine to go inside and wasn't at all reluctant about being handed off to a stranger. Alrighty then! Archie, on the other hand, changed from his usual Jack Russell-ish jumping bean self without his sidekick to a very low-key (he even let the cat sniff his butt!), sleepy pup. When I crated him, he cried and refused to relax. As a result, he had virtually no crate time this morning, but it was ok. He was so calm and well-behaved outside the crate that I could actually focus on my work without worrying about what was chewing or pulling out of the trash while I wasn't watching. I almost didn't recognize Daisy when I retrieved her a few [...]

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 16: Driving Miss Daisy to the Groomer2018-10-26T11:52:14-07:00

ISO Shaggy Dog: Part 15, Milestones in Puppy Life!

If I had a "puppy book," I would record this milestone in it. Archie lifted his leg while peeing for the first time yesterday. Granted, it was purely for convenience--he was so close to a bush that he couldn't put his back leg down and resumed the squatting position the very next time--but it made me proud nonetheless! (I even called Don from my cell phone to tell him his boy was growing up.) While we're on the subject of bathroom habits, Archie is also a walking pooper, which makes it extremely challenging to properly clean up after him, especially when it's dark (sorry, neighbors!). Another big event in the life of my puppies (or at least the girl puppy) will happen on Tuesday. She'll be groomed for the first time. I'm nervous because they may need to clip a lot off because of mats. I'm nervous because she and Archie will be separated for the first time. I'm just plain nervous. Tuesday will be a very long day! We also had our second Puppy Socialization class last night and the teacher used both Archie and Daisy as examples. Before you think it's because they are the smartest students in the class, it's really only because we sit up front ... and they were convenient! However, we did practice "sit" in class yesterday, and they've both already mastered that skill, even at corners before crossing the street. We showed the other dogs how to do it! Last update: We got a new crate mat, and with it, came a tug-of-war rope. They loved it! It was the toy of the hour until Daisy started hacking as if she had gotten a piece of rope stuck in [...]

ISO Shaggy Dog: Part 15, Milestones in Puppy Life!2018-10-26T11:52:54-07:00

ISO Shaggy Dog: Part 14, Rain and a Bad Mani

The past two days, I can not imagine how Noah managed two of every species on his ark. I have struggled with just a male and female dog on mine. This unrelenting rain has meant perpetually damp hair (mine and the pups), wet paws and feet, and just an overall soggy disposition for man and beast alike. I have banged my fingers on a keyboard during the day and drank wine at night to alleviate my frustrations with the weather. The pups have chewed on towels and taken it out on each other in frenzied wrestling matches. Right now, the two of them are so bored from being cooped up more than normal today that Archie is chewing on the wire of the crate while Daisy sniffs every single inch of my office ... for what I do not know. The bad weather has also resulted in two accidents after weeks of being accident-free, and I'm certain that my office smells like the wettest of wet dogs (I can't smell it anymore). Yesterday, after the first day of unceasing rain, I decided to use all this inside time to take a whack at clipping the pups' nails again. Both have been fairly amenable to the chore. However, because they have a mix of black and white nails, I've been hesitant to clip them too short. Before I started, I read online about a little trick that's supposed to cause the nail quick to recede and allow a shorter cut. I started with Daisy because she is literally putty in my hands and allows me (or anyone really) to mold her into just about any position I want. When I set the clippers on the first nail, she yelped [...]

ISO Shaggy Dog: Part 14, Rain and a Bad Mani2018-10-26T11:53:08-07:00

ISO Shaggy Dog: Part 13, First Day of School

Last night was our first Puppy Socialization class. I've been waiting for this day for an entire month, and when it finally arrived, I was pretty nervous. Would our puppies behave? Would they get along with the other puppies? Would they easily catch onto all the new skills? But the first challenge was just getting them into the car. Although I had promised myself that I would not raise a dog who hated the car, like my past two, I simply hadn't had time to practice car riding yet. In the Cesar Milan puppy book I'm reading, the Dog Whisperer recommends not forcing them in or even picking them up and putting them into the car. Instead he says to lure them in with treats ... and waiting them out. We had practiced this for the first time over the weekend and eventually both pups hopped in. Last night, Archie leapt in with little prompting or tempting. Daisy was much more hesitant. Because we only had a few minutes to spare (don't want to be late for the first day of school!), I ended up having to give the girl child a little boost. Then it was time to try out the new seat belts, which is yet another bit of dog paraphernalia that I've never even considered for my dogs but fell for hook, line and sinker this time. It was easy to get them buckled in but in two seconds flat, their belts were crisscrossed. I also realized I had no buckle to plug my own belt into. Oh well! At least the pups would be safe! When we arrived at 2SpeakDog, most of Archie and Daisy's classmates were already there. That meant that [...]

ISO Shaggy Dog: Part 13, First Day of School2018-10-26T11:53:22-07:00

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 12: Snow Day! Let’s Play!

I wanted this next post to be about Puppy Socialization class, but Archie and Daisy’s school was closed just like all the others' kids' schools across the city. On their day off from school, our pups--also like all the other kids--played in the snow, which essentially means shoving their entire heads into the white stuff to find a scent and coming out with blonde faces completely covered in icy crystals. Fortunately, this snow didn’t cause as much trouble as the one two weeks ago. The pups weren’t as tentative about going out in it and did their business, pretty much without incident (or at least without accident). But I can’t tell you how many times I toweled snow balls off Daisy’s legs. Thankfully, they both don’t have that fine, fluffy hair in which everything gets hopelessly snarled! Another exciting thing that’s happened since my last writing is Daisy lost two teeth. She's definitely lost a lot more than that; in fact, she's still missing her too front teeth (so cute!). But these are the first teeth that I've actually found ... and kept. Who knows? Maybe there's a doggie tooth fairy. After losing the second one, I noticed a little blood on the corner of the dog bed she was chewing. I, of course, freaked! The vet assured me that it was perfectly normal. As I’ve mentioned before, Daisy is very much partial to Don and immediately cuddles up to him when he sits on the couch in my office (which has become simply a raised frame to hold their dog beds after I had to remove the actual cushion because they had begun shredding it. In their defense, Ava had started the ripping process.) With [...]

ISO Shaggy Dog, Part 12: Snow Day! Let’s Play!2018-10-26T11:53:34-07:00
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