A Long Overdue Update

Wow. I didn’t realize I hadn’t written here in as long as I haven’t. One day blends into the next, and next thing you know, a month has passed.

Well, I think Hilda may well be taller than Leno now, and certainly at least 50 pounds. She’s getting a little bit of that alert/protective vibe going now, barking at people sometimes when they come to visit. She barked at the next door dog, but I think he may have barked at her first. She still wants to be everybody’s friend, and she’s starting to jump less high, and even sort of thinking about not jumping. Slow and steady progress.

We’ve had a few socialization outings. She’s getting pretty good about riding in the car, considering how little she’s been able to do it. We had lots of fun at a picnic, where she got to play with another dog and met lots of nice people and ignore food. She did get a hot dog, but she was allowed. I think she also lost her rabies tag and name tag at the picnic, so I have to see about getting a new rabies tag if possible. At least I do have her rabies paperwork in the folder. We also have gone to the drugstore a couple times, more on that later.

I’ve started putting the harness on her, not necessarily for working, but just to get her used to wearing it. Now, she even has stuck her head into it on her own. While I say it’s not for working, I have exposed her to working in ot. We’ve walked across the house, and she walks fast and enthusiastically across the house and down the walk in front of our house. She’s even stopping at the corner, and we’re reinforcing this on walks when we aren’t pretend guiding. She’s also still very good about stopping at the top and bottom of the stairs here at the house.

On one of these walks, I’ve determined that, indeed, she isn’t noise shy. The day before this, she didn’t react to all the war sounds and hurricane sounds in Forrest Gump, some of which played right over her head on the surround sound speakers. But anyway, we were at the corner. Leno was working, Hilda was walking on my right. We stopped at the corner, Hilda sat. We waited for the light to change. A truck zoomed past us pulling a rattly trailer behind it. Lots of noise, and Hilda didn’t move a muscle. There are fireworks going off now, and she’s in her crate for bedtime, and absolutely not a peep. Nothing. I tell you, this dog is solid.

I’ve decided I don’t like nylon training collars. Specifically, nylon slip collars, and most specifically, the nylon Snaparound Collar. The one I have is adjustable, which is great for a growing puppy, and not so great for action. But I think that the adjustable buckle isn’t the main beef I have with it, even if I got a fixed length, I think I’d have the same complaint…or at least, observation. You definitely don’t get the same sort of tactile feedback from a correction with a nylon slip collar as with a chain slip collar. You also don’t get a consistent action depending on which way you snap. If you snap the leash upwards, you get the best sort of reaction. Any other direction leads to less than satisfactory results, owing, I think, to the small size of the rings used and the flatness of the nylon. I have Hermsprenger toggle collars on order, but in the meantime, I’m using a slip collar I happened to have here. It’s a bit large, but I like its action better than i did the nylon one.

So. Our trips to the drugstore. She only tried to jump on a counter once. That was when I took her on her own with the cane. But she didn’t really try to jump on any people that trip. There were a couple of cool things that happened on yesterday’s trip though, and all of them on the way home. At this one street corner, Leno knew we’d be turning left, and he stopped me at a curb. Hilda tried to take me to the blended part of the curb though. She also sat at a couple curbs without being prompted. (This is something we’re doing to reinforce that stopping at curbs is a good thing to do.) I’m not sure if this going to the blended part of the curb was a coincidence, a distraction, or a conscious act on her part. She also sat nicely, or pretty nicely, to be petted by a couple of people we met. On the trip Monday, we walked past barking dogs without much fuss. Friday’s trip, however, saw Hilda try to turn around completely and try to go back towards a thing that interested her. We kept moving, and she got the idea pretty quickly that this wasn’t going to be a good idea.

Then, a funny thing happened. I’m not sure whether this was Leno being distracted, Leno not thinking about what he was doing, or Leno trying to impart a teachable moment, like, “If you do this, this is what happens”. He ran a couple of down curbs. No biggie, they were quiet side streets, but he ran them anyway, which he does only extremely rarely. When he ran the curbs, we did what we always do: we backed up a few steps and approached them again, and of course he did them perfectly. So. Was his mind wandering, or was he playing instructor? We’ll never know for sure, and perhaps thinking he might have done it on purpose is a bit towards anthropomorphizing. I’m not sure. I can’t say he definitely did, but I can’t say he categorically did not either.

I see more two dog trips, anyway, a thing that I wasn’t sure I’d see for a while yet with Hilda’s exuberance. Pretty exciting stuff.

Where’d the time go?

What happened? It was just last week yesterday.

We did not go to the final puppy class. That’s because Hilda got some very loose stools. I couldn’t pick some of them up at all. Fortunately, by Saturday and skipping one meal, and a couple of half meals, she got back to normal. But the potential for something unfortunate in the back of a cab or an Uber kept us home. I expect it was OK, and I’m not terribly heartbroken that Hilda did not get her puppy kindergarten diploma. Certificate. Graduation…thingy.

Teething is officially a thing. She’s lost four teeth, at least four that I’ve caught, but there sure seem to be lots of bigger teeth than that. Not sure how long all 42 will take to come in, but it’s definitely happening.

Monday’s weigh in at the vet puts Hilda at 35 pounds. I’d measure her, but she doesn’t stand still long enough, and she might try to eat the tape measure. She’s all legs though, and getting really close to Leno in height. Admittedly, Leno is small for a lab, but still. Anyway, all the shots, including lime vaccine, are done now. We want to stay away from the vet until spaying time in several months. I plan to have her go through her first heat cycle and spay after.

Housebreaking is going all right. We’ve had fewer in-crate accidents, and none on the carpet, I don’t think. There’s been at least one #2. But this is seriously improvement. Also, less complaining at being left alone. That’s difficult, as everyone knows, they see a setup a mile off. Still, less is better, and some of it is likely barking at the cat(s). Speaking of, I’m still waiting for the cats to seriously smack her down a time or two. I think Jasper has at least once, but they definitely need to give her a couple more lessons. She hasn’t actually hurt them, but boy howdy can she slobber when she’s chewing on their ears/necks. Besides the cats, she likes to stalk the broom when someone is sweeping. She also likes to carry around socks or towels, but especially socks when she finds them. I think maybe fetch could be a thing for her.

Walking on a loose leash is still a work in progress, though there’s definitely improvement here, too. She’ll even sometimes walk past a cat without pulling to get at the cat. That’s kind of huge.

She’s getting a little bit of time to run around the house. Not much, and only after I’m sure she’s very empty. Recall is something that will need work. “Leave it” is, believe it or not, something that’s going pretty well. Si and down are very reliable, and stand is only starting to be understood. “Rest” (AKA “stay”) is…challenging, though waiting at doorways is pretty good, though not exactly solid yet. One other thing that I’m getting her to do is to put her front paws on the first step going upstairs. This is a little bit challenging, because she wants to put her feet on the second step instead. Still when she’s on leash, she does stop at the bottom or top of the steps before we go up or down. That really is huge.

The Last Few Days

There really isn’t a lot to say about the last few days. Progress will probably be incremental, rather than in leaps and bounds. Still, progress is progress.

Not at all incremental is how Hilda is growing. Stepping on the scale with her Saturday tells me she’s something around 18 pounds. And probably needs her food intake increased again. Which we’ve done. As predicted, her coat seems to be lightening, according to Alena anyhow. She still has soft puppy fur. And, since Thursday, her left ear is drooping at the end again a little, but that’s coming back up, too. We’ve also noticed watery eyes, so we’ll ask the vet about that on Friday when she gets her 12-week shots and they see a stool sample.

Thursday, we had visitors. Heidi, who has another of Sharon’s dogs, came over with her family to help with annoying paperwork and to play with pups. They even brought pizza. They did a nice job of wearing out the pup, too.

Hilda is definitely not attempting to chew on me or her leash as much these days. She also seems to be a little more tuned in and attentive to me. Also more willing to sleep, or rest, in the crate, and more quietly most of the time. I think most of her complaints are to do with “I don’t want to take a nap!” And “Hey, where you going?!” And of course, the ever present “Ooh! Cat!!!! Want!!!!”

Sunday, I had an activity with Alena, which meant I was going to be gone longer than the usual or recommended time. All together, we were gone for over five hours, so I opened up the big crate and stuck some newspaper in it. Yeah, all that junk mail is handy. She was sure to express to the newspaper her displeasure at being penned up, as we found lots of shredded newspaper thrown out of the crate. Fortunately, however, we also found soiled newspaper where we expected to find it, so all was well. I think taking her around the block helped to tire her out for that, at least, I hope so, because it sure tired me out! She of course wanted to go here and there and check out dogs she heard behind doors. She jumped. She stepped in front of me, and consequently got stepped on more than once, but she’s no worse for it. We’ve definitely got a long way to go before walking with Leno will be fun and easy. We did, however, make it the whole way around, if not exactly gracefully.

By the way. Long-lasting bully sticks? Don’t believe a word of it. Leno finished one in five minutes or less. Hilda took a bit longer, but still made short work of it. Fiona got one today, and she was not well pleased when I took it away after about 10 minutes. These things must be like doggie crack, because all the dogs just love them. I find this vaguely disturbing, considering what they’re made out of. There’s probably a subtext in there somewhere which I don’t really care to examine.