Pees Like a Big Boy Now!

My baby boy is growing up! It was a day of firsts today and my heart just doesn’t want to accept the reality: He’s not a baby anymore!

December 15, 2012 – 6 months old

Embee’s Stupendous Flying Man!

It started this morning with a text to Mary Beth that said, “I think Calvin is starting to mark!” My next text was to his Auntie Nikki and said, “We need to talk!” Calvin just marked! Aaaah! Nooooo! Eeeek! Aaaaack! Aaaargh!”

That pretty much sums it up! I have never had an intact male dog before. Magnus was an early neuter, by the rescue at 8 weeks, so he doesn’t even lift his leg to pee. (I would NEVER do that again, structurally I can see how it was detrimental to him.) Summit lifted his leg, but I don’t remember him marking really. He was double cryptorchid and neutered at 10 months, so I don’t know if that had anything to do with it. I really don’t know anything about living with a dog who marks! Thus my dramatic texts this morning.

Then this afternoon it happened! He lifted his leg to pee! I am so silly, but I got all emotional about it. I mean he pees like a big boy now! It’s pretty funny cause he doesn’t have good balance and his aim stinks so twice he almost tipped over and once he fell off the curb. I know I shouldn’t laugh, but it made me chuckle.

That wasn’t the only first though. Right after that he came in and hopped right up on my lap with NO help! It was like all day he was telling me, “I aint no baby!” I actually got teary eyed when he did that! I just can’t believe how grown up he is.

He never really went through an observably change at his 14-16 week fear imprint period. I noticed a few small changes, but nothing really notable. So this is the first real developmental change I’ve been able to see affect him.

I could tell he didn’t feel himself today. He was SUPER needy at the store. Barked up a storm while I was with customers for the first half hour or so we were there. Then every time I picked him up he would just burrow in to snuggle my neck. I know he’s not feeling quite himself when he’s that snuggly at the store, normally he’s all about play, play, play there.

We’ve been having so much fun. Walks in the snow, classes, training new tricks and foundation skills. He’s just a blast. He’s got Magus playing and it just makes me laugh. Maizey went though a couple of days where she had just had it with him so he transferred his attention to Magnus and now they go out together and just chase and run. Today they were tugging together. I bet they would be crazy players if Magnus hadn’t got sick when Calvin was little. Oh well, they are making up for lost time now.

He’s as wonderful as every oowie gooey gushy post says he is, even if he is a pee monster now! Each pup sure does come with their own set of lessons and today Calvin’s is lesson is to teach me how to deal with a marking BOY dog!


You are Your Mothers Daughter. . . or Son

Warning: Do not continue reading if you are uncomfortable with gross anthropomorphism.

I raise dogs that are like me. I don’t know how, well I sorta do, but I make dogs that are their mothers daughter or sons. Maybe I raise dogs to be introverts like I am.

I’m doing it again with Calvin and play. He doesn’t love puppy play. He’s okay there, not hiding or afraid, but he doesn’t love it. As a puppy momma I feel the same way. As a trainer I enjoy puppy play. I’m in charge and that must satisfy the control freak in me. As a puppy mom I hate it. I get uncomfortable and nervous. It’s called puppy social for a reason and the word social and I? We aren’t on good terms.

Introverts are most comfortable with just a few people, or even just one. We don’t need a crowd to satisfy our social needs. In fact crowds are overwhelming. To me crowds are like watching 10 TV’s at once, all on different channels, all with the volume full blast. It’s input overload. Put me in a room with 10 families and 10 puppies and my head is absorbing way too much. That’s why introverts like smaller groups. My brain absorbs so much as once, it’s exhausting.

“It’s okay mom, I can be your snuggle puppy!”

It’s not that I don’t like people, I do! I find people fascinating. I love the capacity for showing human compassion we were created with. I love teaching. I love learning. But put me in a group that big and I can only handle it for a short period of time before I want to just shut down. Put me in a group that big with a puppy to protect and I go into overload even faster. That’s where the problem comes in, that’s where I make dogs that are their mothers daughter or sons.

When Maizey was a puppy I was reactive, to say the least. It was a very anxious time of my life and I was having regular panic attacks. None of that equipped me to help her. I know her genetics and my genetics are not a good match. We have a conflictedly parasitic/symbiotic relationship. If there were such a thing. While I’m convinced there are few people equipped to handle her I also know she would be much better off with a calmer person, especially when she was a puppy. Sometimes we do trigger each others anxiety, but we also take care of each other and I think I understand her in a lot ways other don’t and couldn’t.

By the time Magnus came along I was not so reactive and more settled into my introversion. I think it shows, when it comes to dogs he’s a lot like I am with people. He likes dogs, he’s okay with dogs, but he prefers one or two and in small doses.

I can see it happening with Calvin too. I like kids, I don’t have kids, but I like kids. I especially like to interact with one or two kids at a time. I don’t really like the loudness of kids, it goes back to that input overload thing. I prefer adults. He’s already like that with puppies. He doesn’t really like puppy play, but he really loves to play with grown up dogs. Today at puppy play he interacted a little. He doesn’t hide and he would really like to play with the big dogs, but he doesn’t really dive in there and enjoy himself. Then this afternoon this sweet blenheim, Cheeto, came in with his dad. Calvin loved him! LOVED him! They played until Cheeto was pretty sick of Calvin, but Calvin would have just kept on chasing! All Calvin’s work Aunties were so surprised. I told them, he’s his mothers son. He doesn’t like crowds, it takes him a minute to adjust to new environments and he does best one on one with grown ups. I was very similar as a kid.

“It’s okay mom! We can just play with you!”

I worry about it a bit. I don’t care so much of they are doggy introverts as long as, like Magnus, they have the skills to deal with being around dogs peacefully. Calvin is nothing like Maizey was and I bear little resemblance to the mom I was to her, so I’m not worried about him being reactive. I just hate to think I affect them with my stress. It’s a pointless thing to worry about. What I should, and am, more concerned with is giving them the skills to deal with me being their mom and them being their mothers children. But isn’t it crazy how in tune dogs are to us?

It’s their ability for compassion that I love so much, but also makes me worry about them. Maizey especially. It is just crazy how she reads me. I can be totally quiet on the outside, but she knows the instant I reach a certain level of internal anxiety. She comes and taps me and if I don’t calm myself down she insistently smothers me. I love it, but I hate for her to take on that self appointed job.

It will be interesting to see how Calvin grows. He’s certainly more people oriented than either of my other two. We’re working already on when you can say hi and when you can’t. However he turns out I’m proud of who he is already. I can’t help but be who I am and if that makes them a bit more reserved I guess we can deal with it. I don’t believe dogs need to play with other dogs to live fulfilled lives, but I do want them to be comfortable around other dogs. We’ll keep working on puppy play and who knows, maybe I’ll let one of his trainer Aunties take Calvin to play next time!


Puppies Bite

If you have a puppy you know all about sharp, pointy, razor sharp shark teeth constantly tearing at your flesh, or at least that’s how it feels sometimes. You probably also want to know how to stop it.

“I am puppy! I will bite your face!”

So lets get this out of the way first: Your puppy does not bite you because they are bad. They don’t bite because they are aggressive. They don’t bite because they are dominant or don’t see you as a clear leader or alpa. They don’t bite to hurt you make angry.

They bite because they’re puppies. They bite because they explore the world with their mouths. They bite as a way to communicate. They bite hard because they haven’t learned bite inhibition. They haven’t learned bite inhibition because we as mom’s and dad’s haven’t taught them yet. In fact, unwittingly many people reinforce hard biting without even realizing it.

If a puppy bites their mom or one of their litter mates too hard the litter mate will yipe and move away, effectively communicating the bite got too hard and they don’t play with bullies. Thus puppies learn bite inhibition, or to control their jaw muscles and how hard they bite. If a puppy does not learn bite inhibition before they get their adult teeth and they bite, the bite will do damage. Thus there is more importance to teaching bite inhibition than just protecting our own skin. (Although that is important too! Just ask my arms right now!)

So how do you go about teaching a puppy not to rend your flesh? Here’s what not to do: Do not grab your puppy’s muzzle, holding it shut. Do not pinch your puppy’s lip or dig your fingernail into their gums. Our dogs need to be able to trust a human hand coming towards their face so always keep a hand reaching towards your dog a positive experience.

The most effective way to teach bite inhibition is to have a zero tolerance of hard biting policy. There needs to be a consequnce for hard biting. The consequence is all fun ends. Teach your puppy the same way their litter would teach them. If your puppy bites you remove yourself from the puppy. You can exclaim, “Ouch!” but combine that with a consequence. The consequence of biting is mom or dad goes away, game over. I use the cue “Too Bad!” then walk away from Calvin.

“I don’t know why she’s saying I’m a biting machine. I’m a nice boy, I am!”

“Too bad” is my timeout cue and I use it when ever a dog is going to be put in timeout. For biting it’s usually easier to just put your puppy down and walk away. If the puppy follows you close the door or leave them behind a baby gate. If the whole family is there everyone must ignore the puppy. If the puppy is gets attention from another family member after biting hard they will keep biting hard. The same is true if the puppy is allowed to bite dad hard, but not your 8 year old. Consistency is very important. The more consistent the whole family is the faster the puppy will learn not to bite hard.

You can prepare a timeout area for your puppy. This can be his crate, but can also just be an xpen, the bathroom with a baby gate across the door, or any barren, boring, puppy proof space. If using a timeout area, be quick about putting them in there. If you’re outside and have to take the puppy inside he won’t know what the consequence is for. The consequence has to come within a couple of seconds of the hard bite.

Now I’ll take off my dog trainer hat and put on my puppy momma hat and just say, this is hard to do consistently. It’s hard, but it works. My personal survival tip is to keep a toy in my pocket at all times. If the biting gets wild I redirect to the toy. Bullies, cow tails and ears, trachea tubes are all my best friend. Keep healthy chews on hand to give them when they’re having a hard time. Pay attention to the times your puppy is wildest. For Calvin that’s 9:45 PM. If he’s not in bed by then, all bets are off. All bite inhibition ends by then. He gets wild and crazy. My solution? Put him to bed at 9:30 PM.

It also helps me to remember age affects a lot. He’s 14.5 weeks old and entering fear imprint period, I know things in his brain are changing. I also know things will get better and then he’s going to start teething and it will get worse again. Not a hopeful thought, but a fact none the less. Remembering those things helps me be consistent.

As a puppy momma the thing I most want to say is please don’t get mad at your puppies. As a trainer I see so many frustrated puppy moms and dads. I get it. I’m living it and puppies are a full time job, but they don’t bite you to hurt you. They bite you cause they don’t know any better and it’s fun! For them anyways. So if  you’re frustrated by the time out put your puppy in timeout you’ve waited too long. Timeouts are for instruction, for training and should be done with matter of fact calmness. Remember they are only puppies for such a short time, enjoy it if you can!

I admit I bite. . . but I snuggle too!


Sacked out post puppy socialization party

Sacked out post puppy socialization party


Introducing Embee’s Stupendous Man aka My Calvin

On December 10, 2011 I left this comment on Embee Cavaliers, “So, here’s the million dollar question, does this mean Miss Molly’s going to be a momma?;) Sorry I have to ask cause I just love her so much, she is the most gorgeous black and tan I’ve ever seen! I always tease my husband I have to go to Canada for my next puppy.LOL”

I said it mostly in jest, never for a moment imagining Mary Beth’s answer would be, “If all goes well between now and the early next year Molly will have puppies in the spring. Her choice of course on when she wants to come into season. I’m in the process of trying to find her a suitable beau. . . If you ever come to Canada you are more than welcome to come visit and possibly bring something home with you. ;)

I’m so proud to introduce the fulfillment of that first conversation:

Embee’s Stupendous Man, my Calvin.

Photo curtesy of

From Mystic Moon’s Danika (Molly) x GCH. Rossbonny Rebus (Rebus)

I still get chills when I read that comment back. It’s a long ways for Mary Beth to place a puppy, especially from Molly’s first litter. I never dreamed she would entrust me with such a privilege. He was a dream in so many ways and at only 10 weeks is so far living up to that dream in every way.

So what made me want a Molly puppy? It’s hard to define why I love Molly so. For some people with some dogs there is an undefinable attachment. It was like for me that with Meeka I just knew she was mine and I’ve always felt a similar kinship for Molly. It’s more than that though that made me want a Molly puppy. She is the result of three generations of MRI testing and her pedigree is full of good hearts, eyes, hips, patella’s, wonderful temperaments and on and on and on. I should write all the glorious details of how amazing she is, as she and Mary Beth deserve, but all I want to write about is how fabulously stupendous her baby boy is!

I am totally in love. Like gaze lovingly, can’t get anything done ’cause all I want to do it squish and kiss and chase this puppy around in love. I didn’t expect it to be this way. I was all prepared for all the frustrating, full time work of puppyhood, but it hasn’t bothered me at all. It helps that Mary Beth had him practically house and crate trained when I picked him up. He has only had four accidents in a 7 days of being home. Okay, so two of them were on my bed and one was even right between my pillows at 11:00 PM, but even that just made me laugh. That’s how twitterpated I am.

He was wonderfully socialized before I ever came on the scene and that’s the other thing that made this puppy a dream. Buying a puppy from a good breeder is an amazing experience. (I’ll do a post on this one day soon too.) Calvin had met so many people, other dogs, been on many surfaces and in many locations in his home. He had amazing prenatal and early infant care. He was loved since the instant he existed and it shows.

He was the perfect match for our family and that’s the other benefit of going to a wonderful breeder. Mary Beth chose him for me before I ever met him, I trusted her and she was completely spot on in her choice. (Hmm. . . I see I have a list of posts to do to really do this subject justice.)

He is a confident, thinking, loving, friendly, happy, healthy boy puppy. Mary Beth told me, “I think his brain will fascinate you.” She was right. He’s a thinker. He goes into new situations and needs a second to sit back and take it in. Once he’s taken stock he starts wagging his tail and then dives right in. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch him. I can see the cogs turning and with only a week of socialization I can see him getting more confident in each new situation.

sleepy puppy in dads arms

We’ve been working on socialization, which you’ll remember Magnus taught me much about. I’m still quite proud of Magnus’ social puppy list and I plan on Calvin’s being just as complete. It’s a bit easier as I have the best boss and best team ever and he gets to go to work with me most days. His second day home I had a staff meeting and the Calling All Dogs summer BBQ so he got to meet a room full of dogs trainers and their families. It was a golden opportunity and he took it in stride.

I know you’re all dying to know how Maizey and Magnus are doing and the short version is very well! It took Maizey two weeks when Magnus came home to get to the point she is now with Calvin. Magnus is just amazing with him. They are playing so nicely together and Maizey sits back and watches. Within two days she was initiating play with calvin, as much as she knows how to anyway. I have to watch the boys as they get a bit rowdy, but today even when they had the wild zoomies she was trying to get in on the action. It will be fascinating to see how their relationships grow.

I have to give a HUGE, special thanks to Mehusbandy! Ryan has been wonderful. From late night potty trips to picking Calvin up from work for me to puppy sitting so I could get in much needed naps he has been right in the midst of it all. I don’t expect him to do all the crazy dog things I do, but he’s been more than wonderful to help out. He stayed home with the pups while I made the trip to Canada to pick up Calvin and he took such good care of them I think they barely missed me.

We’ve been home just 10 days now and we’re all still settling in. Tonight Maizey played with the boys for the first time, which made me so happy! Calvin’s sleeping through the night, eating well, learning something and teaching me something everyday. He has stolen our hearts.

I want to thank Mary Beth for letting us have him. I also want to thank Debbie for the gorgeous pictures she took of him and shared with me. Both are very kind, special people and it was my honor to meet them.


Sick Boy Tired Momma

Sick boy tired momma

I’ve been auto-publishing all these pics from Instagram. Which is nice since I don’t have time to blog at all, and at least it gives some record for me to remember the whirl wind of life, but I end up posting sub par iphone pictures with cryptic titles like this post.

It’s really not fair for me to post dramatic titles that make things seem like they’re worse than they are, but the truth is I don’t cope well when my puppies don’t feel good! I’m an incredible baby about it and feel so bad for them. I knew Magnus really didn’t feel good this afternoon when he came and asked to be snuggled and cradled when we were outside.

Don’t worry Magnus is okay, both he and Maizey have diarrhea. Maizey’s been struggling with stress colitis for the last month so I figured she would have it since Calvin came home. I just didn’t count of Magnus getting sick belly too. All three have had fecal tests done and there are no parasites or anything scary so I’m not worried about Calvin getting it too. Doesn’t seem like anything a round of good probiotics won’t kick.

I know I really need to publish Calvin’s whole story from beginning to end. It’s quite the saga, but if I haven’t been working I’ve been too busy being totally in love with this puppy! I’ll get to it eventually though. . .


Puppy Dreaming

3 weeks

This is one of 5 puppy’s born to Molly (Mysticmoon’s Danika) on June 15, 2012. Mary Beth has been kind and trusting enough to place one of her precious pup’s with us and I am just thrilled. I’ve been buying puppy things like crazy and am getting really impatient to meet my puppy. We are waiting for temperament tests to be done when they are a bit older and then Mary Beth will choose the right puppy for us. Until then it I’ll just keep dreaming about these adorable faces!

(Photo posted with permission of Embee Cavaliers, please do not copy.)