August 20, 2003

Alpha Male ~ Day Five

It could be a mistake, but last night -- night number four-- was by far our most peaceful since pup came home with us five days ago. The crate had confined him through the long night beside the bed for the first three nights, but we endured an agonizingly long period of raucous resistance and plaintiff wails that break a mother's heart. Ann was tied in knots by the time the cage-rattling and moaning finally ended, exhausted by the time to get up early the next day for work.

Last night, Tsuga went to sleep curled up on his soft monkeytoy in his new favorite spot in front of the wood stove -- in a very Orvis-like pose-- and we left him there and slipped quietly off to bed. He was still asleep, and with no wet places on the floor, when Ann got up to plug in the coffee at 3:50 this morning. He has made himself some cozy little nests of security and quiet, and is able to tolerate separation better every day. We're still trying to find our comfort level, balancing the pup's safety and feeling of belonging with our need to preserve our sanity and our furniture and get a good night's sleep. Tsuga wanders into his crate with his favorite toys for short periods, and generally seems a lot more 'at home' here and with us already.

Nature doesn't equip a seven-week-old puppy with much in the way of speed, strength, or smarts, but what they are equipped with is sharp puppy teeth. When they are with their litter mates, their mouths help them establish a pack ranking and identity. It will take some time for him to find other ways to relate and find his place in the local heirarchy (with the two others in his suddenly-smaller pack) other than by using his needle-sharp incisors. Meanwhile, I am thinking maybe I'll see if I can find one of those kevlar suits or shark-proof cages.

He is learning to keep a 'soft mouth' and when possible, I'm sublimating his need to mouth and bite to acceptable substitutes for fingers and toes. I can see him catching himself at times when I know he wants to lunge at my hand hanging over the edge of the couch, and he lunges and licks instead (mostly). He is showing some submissive postures now, will turn over and let me rub his tummy (none of his litter mates did this and it is taking some time to lie back and enjoy it, which he does with a silly grin on his wrinkled little face).

Tsuga has the advantage (and therefore so do we) of a very supportive, relaxed early puppyhood. His breeders are nice, caring people and gave the little ones a lot of early attention. I'm not sure Buster had the same beginnings, living his first weeks in a paper-strewn room in a trailer of a man recently divorced. This may account for Buster's almost autistic early weeks with us versus Tsuga's shot-out-of-a-cannon self confidence. Tsuga's breeders are having a puppy reunion in October, and as many of the eleven litter mates as will come are invited. Their owners, too. We'll be going for sure.

Posted by fred1st at August 20, 2003 07:29 AM | TrackBack

We want a tummy-rub picture!

Posted by: Pascale Soleil at August 20, 2003 10:17 AM

Me, too! And perhaps a group photo? I'm thrilled you're all doing so well. Sounds like he's making a textbook A+ adjustment--and so are you.

Posted by: Rhonda at August 20, 2003 11:30 AM

Living a dog's life, eh? Tsuga sounds like a delight. Our pet population has dwindled down to three very healthy fish and one sick (and old) cat that has only two teeth left and a ferocious will to eat, which gives her plenty of energy to jump up kitchen counters and go for all sorts of foods ... including the packs of food for the fish!

Posted by: maria at August 20, 2003 12:03 PM

The puppy reunion is a great idea- indicates that the breeders love their dogs. When he was two I took my dog to show the breeder - and even though her dog had sired countless pups, she was thrilled to see Doug and to hear some stories.

Posted by: boynton at August 22, 2003 01:59 AM

Crating is one of the best things I ever learned with a puppy. I was surprised at how well Sheila took to it as a pup and how much comfort it brought her as she grew bigger. In our house, the kennel was the off-limits place. If the dog was in the kennel - by choice - NOBODY touched her. She knew that and would often go there to hide when it was time for a med or the flea drops. Silly dog!

If needed, you can always put a wind-up clock in with Tsunga. Always worked for me with puppies.

Posted by: Da Goddess at August 26, 2003 02:51 PM

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