My Little One

I think we may have turned a corner and are starting to see light at the end of this tunnel. I’m pretty sure there are some rocks still gonna crop up in this tunnel and the light may be blocked a time or two. But in the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen you change so much – and I can see the dog you’re going to be.

It hasn’t been easy on us. I’ve struggled with accepting that I have to meet you on your terms sometimes, that I can’t make plans and expect you to follow them when you don’t speak English and don’t have a clue what I want. I’ve finally started to listen to you – and most of the time to understand what it is you need.

I made plans before we brought you home. For a while I’ve thought those plans had gone in the dumpster. Maybe I’m a hopeless optimist, but I think maybe some of them may just come out of the trash.

Tomorrow he may have me in tears again. Yesterday and today were amazingly good days and I’m going to bask in this glow as long as it lasts. Pray that the crash isn’t too hard!

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I don’t normally do this, but…………….

one of my friends recommended these treats so I ordered two bags. Maverick about stood on his head for them.

He insisted that I had to tell everyone about them, so if you get a chance, check out https://graciesdoggiedelights.com/

Gracie is a delight, and her treats are, well, Maverick said “they made my mowfee explode!” He pretty much loves them, and he’s finicky.

gimmee!


He seriously is fussy, and not at all food motivated – and a high value treat today will be meh tomorrow. THESE treats look to have staying power, and they’re healthy, and the little girl who runs the company is just freakin adorable. So go and shop and send her a picture of your dog. Do it now. Maverick insists.

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In the blink of an eye

a year went by

Last year, I was so deeply mourning Max, so lost in grief that I thought I’d never smile again.

And a few miles down the road, you were being born. A little red ball of fur, who would wrap his paws around my arm, and lift my shattered heart back into the light.

I’ve fought my way out of the darkness of those days. I’m not all the way out, there are times when I still dissolve at the memories, those last pain filled days of fighting so hard to keep Max alive, to somehow beat the unbeatable, of wanting it to end and dreading the moment that I would have to make that decision.

He was my Monster Boy. You are my Little One. He was a big, blonde, curly boy, who just glowed with love and peace. You are my reddish blonde, curly haired kid, with so much energy and so much curiosity and so much life and joy that you make me laugh even when you try my patience to the limit. (Please stop fighting the harness, it’s not going to kill you, I promise)

I didn’t want to love you this much. I didn’t want to let myself be open to the pain of losing you. You won’t have that, though – you will climb into my lap, and nose boop me and kiss my face, and bite my ankles and let me know in every possible way that I am YOUR Mommah, and you are my Little One.

I will love you forever. Happy Birthday, my Little One.

I love you, Mommah
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Food woes

I was brought up to think of food as a way to express how much you love someone. If you come to my house and go away hungry, it’s your own fault, because if I like you, and you wouldn’t be invited to my house if I didn’t, I will feed you till you don’t need to eat for a week. And then I’ll send you home with leftovers.

If I offer you food, and you refuse it, you’re refusing my affection. It’s ingrained in my soul and it’s one of the reasons I was overweight for so many years.

Max would eat any time you put food in front of him.

And along comes Maverick.
From day one, he’s turned up his nose at the food we’ve given him. There are only two brands of dog food I’ll consider feeding because of the whole grain free mess and DCM, and so his choices of dry are limited, but he gets a variety of toppers to make things interesting.

Apparently I’m offering poison. For awhile I was letting him free feed, but this kid already thinks he’s in charge of everything and I was advised that I needed to put his food down and pick up the bowl in ten minutes if he hasn’t eaten. Tonight we’ve done this routine three times. At 7:30, I will try for the fourth time. And again at 8. And then he’ll go hungry till tomorrow.

This is not the part that makes me want to tear my hair out. I can outlast him. The part that makes me want to check into the looney bin is that so much hinges on him eating his food. Training involves giving rewards in the form of treats. Treats are far preferable to food, so training goes by the wayside when he won’t eat, because I refuse to reward his refusal to eat. Everything, even playing, involves food in some way, and when he won’t eat, I find myself sitting here, counting the minutes till I can one more time heat up the food and try again. (I heat it up because I refuse to throw out three bowls of food for Mr. Pickypants.)

No one gets this frustration. I’ve tried to explain it to my husband, and to my friends, and no one gets it.

So if you don’t hear from me for awhile, just assume I’m in lockdown and pray they’re giving me good drugs.

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Walking and walking and walking some more

I remember a few years ago, my best friend told me that her husband one night, totally frustrated with the behavior of their puppy – who was about 11 months old and full of energy, announced that he was taking the dog for a walk to hopefully work off some of that energy before bed. She had already taken the dog for a walk that day, but decided that it was best to just let him go around the block and walk off his own frustrations.

Off they went, around their development, maybe a mile walk. When they got home, Zeke – the puppy – settled down and napped awhile, and was calm the rest of the evening. They were amazed at how little it took to make such a big difference, and nightly walks commenced along with the morning walks.

Yesterday was not a great day. Maverick and I have been walking on my road for the past week, about a mile – which leaves him happily tired from all the sniffing and gives me an hour or so of peace. But Wednesdays are my long days – I leave home at noon and don’t get back till around 5. I’m normally a bit frazzled from student demands and trying to get stuff done on campus when I’m only there two days each week. When I got home, I fixed his food, and was planning to go for our walk once he ate.

And he wouldn’t eat. Frustration abounded – on my part and I’m sure on his. I didn’t want to train or walk until he ate. He wanted to paw at me and go out to the field every 15 minutes and bark at me and generally be a twit. He refused food until almost 8, by then I was beyond annoyed and wasn’t going to go for a walk in the fast approaching dark.

I realized later that this is what he does every Wednesday. I’m not sure if it’s anxiety from me being away so long, or if he’s pissed off that I was away for so long. It doesn’t really matter, the realization gave me the tools to work with this.

Today we went for a walk before noon. He napped till 2, then I had to leave for about 1/2 hour. When I got back, I got the “treatment” which was cured by intense attention for the next 1/2 hour. I think he got sick of me. 🙂 At 4, I fed him and he cleaned his bowl. Food has been an ongoing battle of wills – so if he cleans his bowl the first time, it’s a major victory. A half hour of training, and back we went for our second walk.

The nap was awesome. The peace and quiet was wonderful.

The happy puppy was the best part. He was so excited to be out THERE, to be sniffing and seeing and sniffing some more! He was so happy, and so content when he got back home.

I love to walk. If we need to go three times a day, then walk three times we shall. When he’s bored with our route, we’ll go further and go down the road THAT way instead of the other way.

One of my goals was to have him walk with me, nicely, for a good couple miles, by September. I had almost given up hope of that happening. Maybe I shouldn’t give up just yet.

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Looking back and looking forward

A year ago, I was sleeping on the sofa, sleeping on the floor beside Max, barely sleeping, listening to him breathe, praying for one more week, one more day, one more ride in the car, one more Golden smile, one more of everything. A year ago, my friends came to see him, to say goodbye to the beautiful boy who brought us together, who made our lives so much brighter, who spread love with every wag of his tail and joy, so much joy. He drove me crazy at times, and I drove him just as crazy – “Just let me out so I can come back in, geesh!” – and through all the days, the bond we shared would never be broken.

I miss him, every day, every minute. He was gone in a moment. I fought for months and then …………..he was gone. My heart shattered. A million pieces, that will never be completely healed.

Two months of crushing sadness gave way to Maverick. Laughter filled the house again, most of the time. Sadness filled the corners. The whirlwind began – the Tiny Terror took over, all my time has been filled with him, worry over Max replaced by worry over this little one – memories of Max always there, seeing Max in Maverick, forgetting the bad days and remembering the good ones, trying to be the mom to Maverick that I tried to be, and often failed, with Max.

I tell Maverick every night, “I will love you forever.” And I whisper to Max, “I will love you forever, too. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Always and forever.”

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Struggling

It’s been almost a year, and every minute that brings me closer to that anniversary is a minute filled with shards of glass in my heart. I knew, from the moment I heard that horrible word, “hemangiosarcoma,” that my life would never be the same, that sadness would creep into the best moments, and darkness would be more often my companion than light. I thought I knew how much it would hurt. I was wrong. It hurts as much today as it did a year ago.

And then there’s the Little One. He’s ruled the house since the day he came home. And as I’ve often preached to others, and failed to preach to myself, what is cute at 10 lbs is not so cute at 70 lbs. I have bruises on top of bruises, and if I were to go to the ER tonight, Bear would surely be accused of abuse.

After a second training class, which consisted of yet another hour of me wrestling with Maverick to get him to stay on his mat, focus on me, stop trying to get to the other dogs, please just freakin look at me! I decided that enough is enough. Tough love commenced on Tuesday. Pray for me, he’s too damned cute and too damned smart and it’s just way too easy to give in.

What keeps me strong is knowing that he can be as great a dog as Max, if I can manage to bring it out of him. It would be a disservice to both of them if I don’t.

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Treats and training and real food would be nice

Here’s my problem – Maverick would rather eat treats any day than his regular food. He’s a stubborn little shit, and will hold out all day, sniff the bowl, maybe take a bite, then walk away.

The “experts” say to pick up the bowl after 15 minutes or less, and let him wait awhile. The “experts” have never met Maverick. He totally could not care if that bowl of food is on the floor or in the fridge, he is NOT about to eat if he doesn’t want to.

The “experts” also say not to worry about it, he’ll eat eventually. Here’s my problem with that. I’m trying hard, every single day, to teach this puppy stuff, to bring out the great dog. He’s so smart – so smart that he knows full well that if he does a certain behavior, he will be treated with something delicious. At least I’ve succeeded in training that. He will NOT do much of anything unless there’s a treat involved.

The “experts” say to use his food as treats. HA! He will sniff it and walk away, with a toss of the head and if he could talk, I know he’d be saying, “fuck that shit.” (Apologies for the language, he’s a teenager, he has a bad attitude.” I know this, because I’ve tried it.

So I’m sitting here with a puppy who won’t eat his food, and won’t work with me unless I give a treat. If I give treats, he won’t eat his food. If I don’t give treats, he won’t work with me. I’d be okay with that, except then he gets bored and gets into stuff and starts destroying things.

The “experts” would probably tell me to call in a behaviorist. They’ve never met my husband, who would first laugh himself stupid at the mere suggestion, and then ask me if I’d lost my mind.

And thus ends my whine for the day. If I physically survive his puppyhood, it will be a surprise to both of us.

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I should be doing stuff

Like reading Ulysses because I signed up for this Greek and Roman mythology course and I’m behind on the reading already. But I don’t feel like it right now, so I’ll complain later that I didn’t do it and be all frazzled and try to get it done before the end of the week.. I will get it done, I just like to moan and groan a bit.

Today we went to the library and worked on “get out of the car without taking Mommah’s arm out of the socket.” I read a lot of books about dog training. This is not to say that I ever put a lot of what i read into practice, but I can carry on a conversation and sound really intelligent about it! However, one of the things every book says is that you need to break behaviors down into small pieces. I live five minutes from the library, so I spent the drive thinking about the steps involved in getting out of the car without taking Mommah’s arm out of the socket.

My right pocket was full of treats, the clicker was attached by a bungee cord to my left wrist, I was ready. I even remembered to use the leash that has the sort of bouncy sections that are supposed to minimize the yanking effect. Damn, I’m good. So we got to the library, pulled into the parking lot, I got out and slowly opened the car door. Many many many treats later, as the door slowly opened, and the clicking and waiting was progressing, he got out of the car. And yanked me across the parking lot. Well, the getting out was good!

I got him back in the car, and we went through this again. By the third time, he was doing much better and I was out of treats, so we came home and had a little celebration. There may be hope for us yet.

Now if he would just take a nap!

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pondering pet rocks

As y’all know if you’ve read anything I write, I have this wonderful, crazy, active, and very smart Golden Retriever puppy. I adore the little shit, but there are times when he stretches my nerves to the snapping point, and then stands on them and spins around.

Few seem to understand the stresses that come with this kind of puppy. He is a ball of energy who won’t settle until there’s no alternative, he just sort of falls asleep all of a sudden and wakes up an hour later, just as full of piss and vinegar as ever.

When people ask about him, my stock answer is, “He’s a handful but he’s a joy!” This is all true, and it avoids me saying, “he had me in tears today because when we got out of the car at Petsmart, he almost took me to the ground, I managed to get him back in the car while a couple of people looked on disapprovingly – they, of course, were not trying to wrestle 70 lbs of puppy into a vehicle when he was bound and bloody determined to go OVER THERE RIGHT NOW!” I don’t say that I cried all the way home because my over active imagination is saying that I will never be able to take him anywhere and that the class we’re about to start is a waste of time and money because I probably won’t be able to get him into the facily or control him once we’re in there, if we DO manage to get inside.

I don’t say a lot because the advice I get is either laughable or just plain stupid, or I tried that and it won’t work. Don’t tell me to “ditch the food bowl.” He could give a shit about the food bowl and would probably go days without eating if I didn’t keep shoving it at him.

And don’t tell me it’s something I have to learn to live with. Do you honestly think that I don’t know that this is who he is, and that he will always be smart and will always test me? It’s part of why I love him – but I learned long ago that you can love someone or some dog and not like everything they do. I don’t like some of his behaviors and we will work on training those away.

There are few places I feel safe saying anything about how difficult it is some days. One of them was apparently less safe than I thought. I should know by now not to trust people. Or maybe I should have adopted a pet rock.

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