August 18, 2003

A Day in the Life...

... of a dog. How fast they change. In the one full day we've known Tsuga, there are definite changes in his coordination, awareness, acceptance and courage.

Yesterday when we brought him home he could not get up the 8" riser onto the back porch. Today (Sunday) he can get up readily (if not consistently or gracefully). Getting off the porch yesterday was a slightly controlled fall-- today became a joyous leap into mid-air like a hunting retriever plunging off a pier to fetch a brace of downed ducks. He has a ways to go on sticking the landing, however. He was so funny yesterday watching him try to negotiate the sloping yard; he had not been outside very much at the breeder's house (ever tried watching 11 puppies at once!?) and even at that, had been out on level ground. He had no proprioceptive experience adjusting his stance and gait to a slope where two legs were lower than the others, and he fell all over himself in every conceivable direction. He couldn't walk five feet without falling. Today, you could tell he accommodated the slope much better, and purposefully body surfed down the hill rather than falling all the way down it. Yesterday on day one, all his first ventures expanding his experience of the yard were tentative, leaning, creeping forward cautiously; today, he charged to the edges of his 'known' universe here, but got a little less brave at the frontier. Every day he'll learn more about his body and his new 'pack' and his territory. I'm glad we got a puppy just to watch this happen.

You know, having a puppy around is not altogether unlike having a baby on board. We take turns eating/showering/sleeping so one of us can be in charge of the 'baby'. We tiptoe around when he sleeps so as to have just a few precious personal moments before all of a sudden he's awake and ready to play. We maintain a constant vigilance so that Tsuga doesn't get into too much trouble, put something in his exploring mouth that might hurt him, get too near the edge of a wall or into a mess of ants or hornets. At this point, he is 95% mouth like a newborn human, but with lightning fast speed of a diminutive greyhound. He communicates, too, with his mouth, and biting and mouthing is his language. And I have many of his words etched on my forearms. He's getting better about being too aggressive, realizing now that he does'nt have to bite harder and faster now that he is apart from his dog-eat-dog liter mates. We must stock up on a variety of mouth-safe toys, or be nibbled to death by an exuberant piranha puppy mouth!

We drove over to get him yesterday wondering 'what have we done?' thinking how irrational this venture is in some ways. I know that as much as I was needing some time for my projects, with the pup around, they are not going to happen as I had envisioned. They will get done in fits and starts while puppy naps, at least for a few months. If we had it to do over again, yep, we'd do it, and I'd hope to get a new dog in our lives just like the one we brought home.

(Remind me I said that in a few weeks. I'll probably deny it.)

Posted by fred1st at August 18, 2003 04:52 AM | TrackBack

RE: Mouth Toys

If you arent already familiar with this product, then by all means go get one!

they are the greatest dog toy (especially labs and retrievers and any other mouthy dog) ever. Period. No if ands or buts.

Virtually indestructable (I've had one last two puppys now).

The dogs love them, and you'll learn to love them too. One of my favorite things to do is to fill them with peanut butter , give it to the pup, and be able to have a nice long 'quiet time' as the pup industriously trys to lick it all out.

Posted by: dave at August 18, 2003 07:50 AM

Yes, we've heard the peanut butter story. Some friends of ours make it last even longer by storing it in the freezer. How the heck do they get it all out? And what becomes of left-over PB inside? Whatever. If it works to preserve my poor hands and forearms from puppy incisors, I'm all for it! He'll have a Kong tonight!

Posted by: fredf at August 18, 2003 09:31 AM

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