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!

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Words for Maizey: The Happiest Kind of Update.

I haven’t posted any words in so long it’s hard to know where to start. How ’bout with Maizey?

She’s doing fabulous. She’s as stable as she’s ever been and better in many ways. This comment from one of our Instagram pictures sums it up well, “She’s looking very lovely lately. You can tell from the softer expression she has. Calvin was the right move!” Thanks Misskodee, I am very proud of my girl, wether it has anything to do with Calvin or not, she’s certainly happier in general!

She’s still on 10 mg of Fluoxetine. We find her Thundershirt and Composure liquid very helpful. She takes Clonidine for the really bad days. Twice this month, but only once last month so that’s a huge improvement from last year at this time.

Biochemically I don’t know what the change is, other than time on the meds and our Real Life is significantly less stressful in many ways. Training wise we still work counterconditioning and desensitization to her triggers when I can pin them down. It’s extremely hard to desensitize to rain on the windows or wind, but we use the chicken rains from the sky method and it’s slowly helping. We haven’t worked on the dog reactivity at all. One change for the worse is she’s shown a slight in inclination to human reactivity at the park. We have used lots of mat work to condition safe spaces for her to retreat too all around the house. Her stroller is now a piece of furniture in our house. Not the most normal looking “chair” but it gives her a Calvin free zone and safe place that can go wherever I go. We minimize stimulation as much as possible on the bad days. Closing blinds and playing Through a Dogs Ear to cut down on the outside sounds that trigger her. Her recovery time is down to hours instead of days.

Writing it that way it may sound as if she’s deprived, but she’s really not. We have fun together at home, she plays with Calvin and Magnus now. She even asks to play with toys sometimes, though she doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with them. Silly goose! We train lots of tricks. She can be outside now without being over threshold. Even her recall from the front yard and off the neighbors pit bulls is about 90%! That’s something I am so proud of. She also shows some ability to leave the cat alone, which used to be a major trigger. I know she has more thinking brain than fearing brain when she can call off those hard triggers and recover quickly.

She doing so well I’m considering taking the next step to desensitize her to being at work. We finally have a trainer I feel understands us enough and that I trust enough to start working on some other issues. After a loooong talk (Thanks Jamie!) we decided she won’t be able to make progress in training the reactivity until I can manage my worry and anxiety of taking her to the training room with me. So our next step is as much about desensitizing ME.

I guess there’s no one biggest thing that has made a difference, but for me the thing that’s most helpful is having the knowledge and tools to help her when it does get hard. She’s always going to have hard days, but now we both have enough training to handle it and recover.

My main message to people with fearful dogs is this: It starts at home. You are your dogs protector, advocate, doctor and trainer. You MUST make their homes a safe, trigger free zone. If you can’t create an environment for their bodies to recover from stress they will never be able to desensitize to their fears. Don’t push them, be patient. Protect them, speak up for them! Don’t let people approach them, be willing to change your environment, close the blinds, play the music loud, don’t let them go out in a yard alone, do whatever it takes to help them have at least one safe space, even if it means being that crazy lady with the dog stroller. Don’t ask too much of them just to fulfill your needs or wants. The rewards are worth it! Your fearful dogs’ journey is a serious of small climbs and an occasional fall. Love them through it, don’t give up! but most of all protect them!

Next up: The Magnus update. Get ready for this. . . it’s been a scary, strange and miraculous few months!

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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!

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Finally! Some Words for Calvin’s First Weeks Home

Calvin is 14 weeks old and has had quite the exciting 5 weeks since coming home. I’ve had a hard time putting those weeks into words, they have been a journey to say the least. He’s such an interesting boy, I’ve had a hard time putting him into words too.

14 weeks old

Late thursday night after we taught classes his Auntie Nikki sat watching us as I snuggled him. I’d just brought him out of his crate where he’d slept through me teaching Tricks class and us closing up the store, he was still all floppy and sleepy, and she said, “Calvin is just so. . . amazing.”

We sat there quiet for a second watching him and I said, “I know isn’t he just the most. . . interesting puppy?” We both just sat there while he nibbled away at my face, saying hello. I told her I have the hardest time even describing how fascinating he is. He is truly such a unique pup. She says he’s like an old soul who is out for his last hurrah. That’s quite an astute observation and the best words I really have to describe him. He is a thinker. He has to sit back and watch new things, but then he just dives in with gusto! It’s very, very fascinating to watch him think and Mary Bethhad it right when she told me, “I think you’ll be fascinated with his brain.”

11 Weeks

Last week he discovered there was a world above his head. We were sitting under some trees and he sat watching the leaves wave in the breeze. He looked up, then he looked at the shadows they were making on the gravel, then he looked up again, looked down again, watching those shadows. I have no idea what he was learning but he was learning something. After watching, up and down, up and down, suddenly he just pounced and off went gamboling into play like, “Well that was interesting, back to play!”

He constantly makes me laugh and always amazes me. You can see him learning. We have a low profile bed, we got it when Meeka was sick so she could still get on the bed with us. One morning I watched him running around it from one side to other, around and around. He really wanted to get up on that bed! He never did figure it out that morning, but Ry’s been on puppy duty on Monday nights while I’m at work and that night I got this text on my way home, “Are you coming home? I can’t control this monster!” Turns out Calvin had got on the bed and of course peed. Ry said, “I didn’t even know he could get on the bed!” I didn’t either but apparently he’d figured it out that morning.

The whole ordeal with Magnus is really part of the reason I have a hard time putting Calvin’s journey into words. For those of you who don’t know, Magnus has Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia. On September 6, after 4 days of doing all we could do to save him we came home with little hope he would survive. The vet gave him 24-48 hours and the next 12 hours were 12 of the most agonizing hours I’ve ever lived. He had a major GI bleed and had started bleeding into his lungs. Everyone was praying for a medical miracle, but my positivity failed me and I set out to make his last hours as peaceful as possible. Then Friday afternoon, against all odds, he turned it around. He came out of it, the bleeding stopped and he survived.

And this is where I stop having words, some day I’ll put that drama all together, but as of now I’m still processing the whole thing. I’ll just say he is staying stable. He’s on a slew of meds, the worst of which is 20 MG of Prednisone. It makes him miserably ravenous and has totally changed his drive. Thankfully he will be able to be off of it eventually.

So with all of that happening and a few Real Life days I never counted on, Calvin’s first weeks home haven’t looked at all like I thought they would. But they have been amazing.

Each puppy is different. One of the biggest difference with Calvin is me. I’m in this great place where I don’t worry about training. With Maizey I was terrified of messing it up and knew instinctively there was something wrong with her, we did a lot of very structured training sessions. Practice, practice practice. Looking back I can see it didn’t really make her more reliable and was way too much pressure on her.

“I love my sisser!”

With Magnus I was no where near that intense and he was just easier anyways, but I had a lot of goals and expectations. Harldly any of which turned out to be important to me. They affected the training I did with him as a puppy, it changed my focus from puppy fun to preparing him and worrying about not messing anything up.

With Calvin all of that is different. I have just reveled in these weeks. We’ve done tons of training but hardly any structured sessions. We train as part of daily life. Sure some things are falling behind, we still don’t have down on cue. (Which I admit is a bit embarrassing, but he has his whole life to learn boring ol’ downs.) What we do have so far is an unbelievable connection. He’s got great focus, a pretty good little puppy recall, an adorable mat work, just to name a few things. I’m just not worried about it. I’m enjoying him. We all are. He’s fit in wonderfully.

Even Maizey likes him! It didn’t take near as long as it did with Magnus for her to buddy up with him. That was the only side benefit of Magnus getting sick. Because the internal bleeding was so dangerous he couldn’t be with Calvin at all. Calvin bumping him could have caused further bleeding, so they took a weeks vacation from being together. So my Stupendous Man set out to win over his sister, and win he did! They are good buddies now.

I don’t often share pictures of me, but this one is special to me. (Plus it finally shows the 40 pounds I’ve lost in the last two years!) It was taken on the day we found out Magnus was sick. Before we knew he was sick we took a trip to the canyon to celebrate our 14 year anniversary. It was a beautiful, happy day. Calvin has filled a place in our hearts and I just can’t wait to watch his fascinating brain grow!

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Grief and a Tribute

I found out today one of my favorite dog moms and clients is passing away. Since I’ve had my own grief filled month and this quote comforts me I wanted to share it for her, her family and her caregivers and friends. I won’t share her name, but if she’s sees this I want to tell her: It has been my honor to know you and your dogs. Working with her taught me many 4legged lessons and watching her fight has bolstered me to be as strong and honorable person as she is. Thank you for letting me know you and your girls!

I also want to send out thoughts and hugs to a friend that is helping her through this difficult time. She took on a job I wish I could have done myself and it has helped me to know she was there loving our friend and her dogs through this time. You are both incredible women and it’s my honor to know you. We’re sending comfort and peaceful thoughts your way. . .

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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 http://www.beyondthedogdish.com

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.

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Don’t leave me home mom!

Don't leave me home mom!

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