Tag Archives: Charlie’s story

Walking Two Dogs — A Charlie & Murphy Experience

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The weather has been very lovely the past few days with a rain here and there. Grasses are greening and the trees are continuing their brief 2-month hiatus from dropping anything — branches, leaves, dead leaves, pollen, pollen buds, bud covers, pollen, squirrels — from themselves every freakin’ day. You know winter is in full swing when the trees hang on to whatever they can to conserve energy.

Yesterday, I took the dogs for a 3.3 mile walk. The distance was unintentional, but the spirit moved me to keep going and they certainly didn’t mind.

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If ever a pair that needed to meet, these two are it.

For the 6,782 time, it struck me hilarious: the distinction between the two dogs.

I’ve said it before and often: Murphy, our 7-yo Golden Retriever is a dog of intention; he was engineered to be here. Who knows if his parents would’ve ever met otherwise? Those arranged marriages so common in the dog world create beautiful beasts for persons (raises hand) seeking a certain temperament, history and reasonable predictability within a dog. We’ve “ordered” Goldens because we have a family and young children. Murphy has been A DREAM for us. Mellow, stable, soft, huge, warm, furry, soft, reliable, funny, soft, smart, entertaining, patient, friendly, soft, and energetic. 

Charlie, our 18-month-old foundling, our gift of fate and love, is this fascinating mixture of canid and drunken dirt bike rider / rugby player / rancher / shoe salesman / bovine / ticket scalper and frustrated mall cop.

Murphy is all people-oriented. A sight dog: What’s that? Who’s there? Squirrel. Cat. Bird. Treat. Leash. Bee. Murphy is nigh unflappable, save for when someone, anyone ventures to the second floor of our house. Then … he retreats to a space between the bed and the wall in our guest room and burrows himself as much as possible into the carpet and concrete foundation beneath it. I have no idea why. He won’t tell me.

To get him out of his place, we call him with ruses of “WALK!!!” or “LEASHES!!” or “PLAY BALL!” and then it’s short-term memory gone. Sometimes we try to recondition him or retrain him: hold a bag of treats as someone pretends to go up the stairs. Or we close off his access to that room. Instead of going to that space, he then skulks to a spot, the smallest place in the area: between his food bowl and a bookcase. He doesn’t tremble or whine or even attempt to draw much attention to himself. He just … hides. “YOU DON’T SEE ME!!” he chastens, inwardly, anyone who tries to offer a pat or a snuggle.

Charlie is all Charlie-oriented. A self dog: Share some? My foe? Bad cat? This shoe? Chase me? Sit here? Bury this? Charlie reminds me of the three SNL characters who inspired the bad film, “Night at the Roxbury.”

Murphy is like a massive lumbering Cadillac. He glides and saunters on the walks. He loves to sniff things, naturally. Save for the start of our walks, when he’s an unkinked knot with feet and a tail, he stays on the left side of me, as he should because that’s how I trained him.

LET'S GO!!!

LET’S GO!!! I let them out of the gates with some energy and then pull back on the leashes to bring them to heel.

Charlie walks widely and wildly and without cause or intention. It’s so bizarre. It’s only when we’re on a run together that he’s all business. He heels, he does not lunge at bushes or chase bees. When he knows it’s a “50 new smells a day” stroll, he is all over the place. Like a medicated alien toddler in an M5 tank, he bounds over to Murphy’s side, shoving him out of the way to smell something better, stronger, faster, deeper, longer, bestest ever. Ever. Ever.

dog's nose perspective of something on the ground which was fascinating.

A dog’s nose perspective of something on the ground which was utterly fascinating. They could’ve stayed in this spot for an hour, easy.

So Murph give ups, he recedes, finds a new spot, which Charlie must yet again dominate, investigate, populate, masticate, agitate, and irrigate. When he does that, Murphy has moved on, but Charlie makes sure to spew, foist, push and kick whatever remaining flora all over my statuesque 83# thoroughbred.

Murphy actually sighed when that happened to him yesterday. We were at a tree in the forest, one of their favorite trees, and Charlie, who was busy somewhere else, caught Murph trotting up to the haunt and dashed over to pee first. Murphy, who seems to put on the air of “I was done anyway” backed off and sighed. If he could shake his head, I’d totally understand. Then we’d go find a quiet spot at the bar and order a couple Old Fashioneds.

Charlie looks up to Murphy. Lots of mouth licking and grooming going on from Charlie to Murphy. Part of me chalks that up to Charlie’s spartan beginnings, being a dog who likely wouldn’t have made it. His mother went begging for scraps, and that’s how he was eventually found.  So I think Charlie is looking for morsels of food. Murphy sort of resembles Charlie’s mother too, so there’s that. They are a terrific team and it’s Charlie’s enthusiasm and near-constant court jester attitude which keeps Murphy energetic and youthful, even at his white-faced 7 years.

Friday? They know when it's Friday.

Friday? They know when it’s Friday.

Murphy is king, alpha and the decidifier of all acceptable behaviors. The moment Murphy comes out to the deck to an already outside Charlie, he is greeted with the boundless enthusiasm of a child on Christmas morning. “AOOOOMAAAIIIGGGAAADDD!! YOU’RE HERE!!!!” It’s contagious. Murphy starts to perk up, bound a little and grab a toy and the two are at it, in a game of tug-of-war, or keep away, or chase me, or look a squirrel. They are a team. If Murphy has a bone or a rawhide or a toy he’s enjoying, such as fleecing a tennis ball, Charlie will stand by, as if to offer his assistance:

C: You want me to help you with that?

M: No.

C: You need any help with that?

M: No.

C: If you need me, I’ll be over here.

C: Are you sure you got it? I see a spot …

M: No.

C: That sure looks good. Do you want this sock?

M: No.

C: I have the lady’s shoe. You want?

M: No. Put it back.

C: Make me.

And so it goes…

Right now, they are wrestling under the table I’m typing on outside on our deck, and Murphy loves it. Maybe he knows he’s still much bigger than Charlie and at least 20 pounds heavier; he still sees him as a baby and Charlie still sees Murphy as a grown dog versus his wee 12 pounds when he was a baby.

Or Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing the hell out of these dogs like a crazy cat lady and I have no clue what I’m talking about.

The wrestling goes on for a half hour sometimes. It wipes them both out.

The wrestling goes on for a half hour sometimes. It wipes them both out.

Yesterday on our walk, they encountered a dead turtle. Murph was very interested at first, thinking it was alive but moved on. Charlie stayed there, almost begging it to move so he could have something to do.

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For the first 25 minutes of any walk with them, they’re all “LET’S GO HERE! I’LL LEAD! LET’S DO THIS! THAT’S A FLOWER! I SMELL BACON! DON’T YOU? ARE YOU BACON??” After that, they’re basically putty. The panting begins and the leashes slacken a bit. The muzzle nudges, lean-ins, slowdowns, speed-ups, backward glances at me, with somewhat ambivalent expressions, “You sure you wanna keep going? Don’t we usually turn back at this rock? No? Here? Or here?” really gear up.

Ready to turn back?

Ready to turn back?

If I haven’t turned around yet, after 35 minutes, the panting has really set in. Tongues are fat and pink, hanging over the molars. Nudges intensify. They are hot, tired and sort of stupid. They bump into each other, snap at butterflies, trip on sticks. Once I turn around, they are all about it. They jump up for their leashes, “I KNOW THE WAY!” I GOT IT!” and they head home, all about the destination with very little sniffing going on.

I’m writing this because the dogs crack me up. They also bring joy to our family.

If you’re on the fence about getting a first dog, or a second dog for your first dog…

1) Seriously think about it. Some dogs do NOT warm up to each other. Make sure you have a breed which is good with other dogs — either coming in or welcoming aboard.

2) If both are adults, have them meet in a neutral spot so neither feels territorial, and back out of the scene a bit.

3) Does gender mixing matter? I’ve been told by strangers that it’s unusual that two male dogs are getting along so well, but I think it’s worked out because of the age difference and the fact that they’re both neutered.

4) Shed your narcissism: nothing in this world is an extension of yourself. Treat your dogs like dogs and everyone will be happy. Let them walk, sniff, jump, wrestle, bound, hide and careen; don’t carry them in a purse or put them in a stroller. If you need something in a purse, buy some gum; if you need something in a stroller, have a baby, buy a doll. Put your purse in it. Now you’re halfway to being a crazy bag person. Don’t get a dog.

5) Test drive dog ownership by taking IN a friends’ dog to your home during travel; if your friend needs a safe place for Fido, be that safe place. This way, you will learn what it’s sort of like to have your a dog in your own space on your schedule. If however, you discover Fido has destroyed your sofa while you slept, bring him back home and stay with him there. Fido might not like your house and just needs to be somewhere familiar.

6) Dogs wrestle. My father was convinced at first that Charlie and Murphy were trying to kill each other. Neighbors ask the same thing. No. The dogs are being playmates and dogly when they rumble. If any aggression continues past a yelp then there’s an issue. Charlie or Murphy will yelp, “HEY! OW!” and the other will back off, head low with contrition and the game continues. Murphy also has this “GET LOST!” roar he occasionally unfurls on Charlie, and that does the trick.

7) Be a strong leader. I will concede that we got lucky. I’ve heard stories of two dogs just NOT getting along. I know more people whose dogs do get along more than not. I believe a lot of it stems from the dogs feeling deeply territorial about the “Mom” or “Food Source.” If you make it known from the start that you won’t tolerate any hostility, they will generally follow suit.

8) Shed your neediness. Feeding off #7 and similar to #4, you have to get your personality weirdnesses and lack of assertiveness out of your relationship with all beings, but if your dog senses your weakness and that YOU JUUUST WOVE HEEEEM SOOOO MUUUUUCCCCHHH AND HEEEE’S DA BESSSSHT TING DAT EVEAH HAPPEN TO YOUUUUU… go audition for a Shirley Temple impersonation program. Don’t get a dog. That dog will “LOVE” you back in the form of neurotic outbursts, separation anxiety, aggression toward anything that smiles at you and generally any similar form of Kardashian behavior.

9) That said, don’t take any crap from your dog: you wouldn’t let a human being torpedo your crotch, jump on you the moment you come through a door, race to beat you to the door, pull you around by the wrist, yell at your friends, yell at their friends, take food from your kid, shit on the rug, tear up your shoes, sit on your lap, and beg for your food, so don’t let your dog.

Dogs are awesome, but they’re not flawless. They tolerate a lot of crap from us too.

10) Crates. Lots of people think this is cruelty, I say it’s not. Every dog is different. If you start with a puppy, using a crate is very easy and it becomes their “room” where they get to be all the time and no one is allowed in. It’s like their “NO HUMANS” zone. You remember your “NO GROWN UPS” zone, right? Still have it? Think of giving one of those to your dog(s). Charlie and Murphy each have one, side by side and they love them. They use them in the off hours. Crates are only controversial if you think it’s controversial. See #4.

11) Walk your dogs. I read somewhere that dogs need at least fifty new smells a day to stave off depression. They are born blind, using their noses to survive… take them for walks.

This is them when we got home yesterday:

resting on the nice cool bricks and stones.

resting on the nice cool bricks and stones; they’re so happy they don’t even care about that sock my son left out after practice the day before.

Thank you.

DNA Results are In. Charlie is ….

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Well, here’s the deal. Charlie is a mutt, we know this. So a couple weeks ago, my husband and I went to Petco and picked up a DNA kit. After seeing the results of two of his litter mates, I was very curious to know what might be coursing through his little veins. His brother had different sire markers than his sister; but they shared the same dam markers… so because Charlie seems to be the only one in his brood with all his unique Bernese Mountain Dog / Border Collie -esque markings, we thought: if they can have different dads, then so can he. What I didn’t expect was the totally WHAT?! results we got. If you read these three together, you’d say that Charlie was a stowaway.

Anyway… back to two weeks ago: after a three-hour rest in his crate and on a snow-day, my son held him quietly and I swabbed between his inner cheek and his teeth.

Charlie’s cheek, not my son’s.

And then I sealed up the kit and sent it to the lab for reading. The lab received it on March 10. After much curiosity and ado, Charlie’s DNA results came in over email last night at 11:21.

I woke this morning, after expressing my gratitude for waking and being healthy, I rolled over, kissed my husband, then rolled back over, sat up, scratched my head, did a quick cat / cow to wake my back and then woke my son. After that, I went to get my smartphone and read my email.

At the bottom of a long line of messages, mostly of newspaper alerts and Daily Om messages, was a note from the DNA people.

I know you’re champing at the bit. So here… Read below … toot.

WHAT ?!? DACHSUND?! Are you kidding me?!

WHAT ?!? DACHSUND?! Are you $)@!(&% kidding me?!

Dachsund.

My heart literally stopped for a moment.

Small dog. Wiener dog.

“Labrador retriever” went right past me. Didn’t even register.

Dachsund. All I could think about was the Dachsund part.

NO NO NO NO NO.

I am a Big Dog Person. I see small dogs and immediately I go into “snarly nasty gnashing clawing” dog-vision mode. I am biased. But beyond that, I mean… no. Charlie’s legs are probably 15″ long and his proportions are … proportional. I don’t dislike small dogs, I just don’t like them. Every small dog I’ve ever met on a walk with The Murph has been nasty and unpleasant.

I contacted the owners of his siblings to let them know the results because we’re all in this together, and as I mentioned, they had the same DNA test performed on Charlie’s sister and brother, and their results didn’t mention D…ach…sund (uch. I can’t even say it.) at all.

The fact that the lineage goes alllllllllllllll the way back to his great grandparents and only one on each side out of eight means I get a refund annnnnnd further analysis of their veterinary team and other dog people (not people who are actually dogs) who will look at his pictures and compare his results with his siblings’ results (which look more comprehensive than Charlie’s) and they’ll get back to me with more guesses.

What this means to me, is that basically, they will have people like me who love dogs and who know breeds and who love dogs and who will look at pictures and talk about how cool looking he is and that will be it.

His sibs each have a mention of Basenji in them. I liked that. They don’t shed. (I’m hoping for something beneficial beyond utter cuteness and boundless affection.)

“Rescue”

It brings me great joy to say about Charlie that when we talk about the term “rescue” that it has always been a foreign concept to me. All my dogs have been bred for captivity. All of them are thoroughbreds. All of them were “spoken for” here before they were born. I’ve mentioned this before, but I didn’t really understand what was going on here, when we took in Charlie. His presence in this family has rescued us. It has lifted up our collective spirits after a time of great loss.

When we first met Charlie, he was 12# 4oz. He couldn’t reach the ottoman in our family room. He was smaller than our cats. He could slide under the kitchen chairs and noodle into the crick of your elbow and fall asleep there, likely dreaming of his dark and roofless caved-in deserted home that he knew for all of his life before he came to know car rides, warm laps, children’s laughter, music, carpeting, safety, and predictable mealtimes.

I remember fondly the first moment we had together outside after his inaugural night here. He trotted out the back door of our home and licked the dewy grass that was glistening in the low morning sun. That was how he got water. I took him out front and he lapped from a puddle of rainwater on the street. He didn’t know about bowls. He didn’t know about doors and steps and leashes. He was a wild dog.

Oh! How he hated his crate. He howled like a pentecostal preacher whenever he’d get in it. Yelping in tongues; if he had a can to drag against the grid, he would. After about a week of that, he began to understand that the crate was his new cave; his new refuge and that every time he went in it — no matter how often a day, a treat was always waiting for him. All we have to do now is say “kennel!” and he takes off like a jackrabbit and careens through the house to zip like a snake into his crate where he is practically smiling waiting for a treat. He has become a true Virginia Gentleman: ready at the door to greet with a smile and sincere good cheer.

Oh, how his beautiful little ears flop and bounce in the wind when he runs; his lean teenager legs taking him wherever his eyes wander. Squirrels, birds, the dogs across the fence. Gandalf. Ohhhh… if he could eat / mate / kill / harvest Gandalf, how happy he would be.

Charlie rescued Murphy, our six-year-old Golden, who was becoming more reclusive with the months. Something has spooked Murphy, we’ll never know what it is because he can’t talk, but Charlie has encouraged him to come back to us, to beg for a treat, to compete for a snuggle and lunge for a tennis ball again.

Yin and Yang.

Yin and Yang.

We talk about “rescue” as if we are doing the saving.

We talk about “rescue” as if we are somehow the better person, the more noble endeavor that shows our heart and our bigness to the world: Look at me save this animal from a tragic end; look at me, how big my heart is, to let in this creature who had no where else to go…  

What we don’t realize is that we are the ones who are saved.

It doesn’t matter what breed Charlie “is.” It’s purely a matter of curiosity and predicted dog behavior for me; I want to make sure I could train him right and understand any tendencies he showed. But in the end, aren’t most dogs the same? They bark, they play, they whine, they need love, they need protection and they are fiercely loyal. Charlie didn’t come to us as an adult. His only story is 8-10 weeks older than when we met him.

He can clear the couch effortlessly now.

He can clear the couch effortlessly now.

Today, he is about 33# and stands about 18″ tall. He has a mighty front chest; we’re talking very broad. His fur rivals that of a brushed sheep. His hair (on his head) is still just … crazy; he always has bed head. His eyes are deep dark chocolate. I don’t know what kind of dog has dark eyes like that… maybe a poodle? Does any of it matter? If he stayed this size, I’d be thrilled. Charlie has turned me into a Small Dog Person because he has a big heart.

We know what Charlie is. Charlie is our dog and Murphy’s brother.

Look! No snow! (For now.) I shot this today.

Look! No snow! (For now.) I shot this today.

Thank you.

ps — it’s so nice to be writing again. This is my 400th post! 🙂

Dear Diary … #dogs who #blog

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Dear Diary,

Hello. It is me, Charlie. Murphy. Charlie. Murphy. It is Murphy. I have some things to get off my beautiful, tufted, flaxen thoroughbred chest.

The rodent “dog” that has come to live with us thinks I am a cow. He is super stupid.

Ha ha. “Super stupid rodent.” I should be that for halloween.

He nips at my heels every moment I stand. Or walk. Or stand. Or breathe. He does not know how to walk. He only hops. That makes him a rabbit. I prefer to say “rodent” though.

here i am trying to get him off my leg on a ledge at the Great Falls park. i should have let him have a great fall. i missed my chance.

here i am trying to get him off my leg on a ledge at the Great Falls park. i should have let him have a great fall. i missed my chance.

I like to stand. Now I must sit all the time he is out of his cage, where he belongs forever, or snap and growl at him which I do not like to do because that is unbecoming for a dog of my lineage.

I am a golden retriever. We do not growl. Except at rodents and people who walk up to my front door and want to sell windowssidingroofdeckstrimguttersordoors to my lady. But rodents? We growl at rodents all the time. Like the one here they call Charlie who has come to not go away again.

If he is not nipping at me, he is trying to eat his own tail. He is so stupid.

The lady has started to snuggle with the rodent. That makes me sad inside. Then she gives me a pat and a long hug and some steak. Then it is not so bad.

The rodent does not get steak.

That makes me happy.

I have to go. The rodent is coming back from his time being outside watering the plants and making dirt. He does not do it outside very well. He thinks the inside is our outside. That is what comes from being born in a hole.

=-=-=

Rodent, er, Charlie here.

I am now almost four months old. The lady put a box with a long tube on it against her face and pushed a button to get this image of me:

this is not bad hair.  what do YOU know?

this is not bad hair.
what do YOU know?

Do not listen to that big blonde. HE is the stupid one. We took the lady for a walk the other day. We showed her the giant birds that sit on the frozen water. Murphy said they are “stupid, no-good geese.”

they look good to me.

even far away near the top of this picture, they look good to me.

I am sad.

My image of the lady as perfect has been chewed up and left for someone else to pick up.

She told a lie to a strange man on our walk. First, she let him touch me; that was not so bad. Then she told the man that I am a “Cape Breton cheveaux mauvais” for a breed. The man said, “Oh.”

HE BELIEVED HER. SHE IS A SERPENT. HE IS STUPID TOO.

I overheard her talking to the tall boy a couple days ago. HE said that those words mean “bad hair” in French. Look at that picture of me again. Does that look like bad hair?

And what is Cape Breton but a very cold place where ‘bad hair’ is ok because people wear hats all the days??

far away from south carolina, which is where i am from.

far away from south carolina, which is where i am from.

She said her friend from high school (low school if you ask me) came up with “Cape Breton.” It is a place so far away that no one can say it is untrue because nothing lives there. How can it? It is not here.

Humans lie.

is a stuffed kong as good as freedom? i say no.

is a peanut butter -stuffed kong as good as freedom? i say no.

They make “going to the kennel!” sound very fun. They call me and say, “Come here, Charlie! Time to go kennel!” and they have treats and then they close the door and lock it. When I am finished with the treats, they are in bed. Or watching the pictures on the wall.

What happened there? I lost. That is what happened. I am cut off from the paper on the wall near the always cold water bowl in the small room; I am apart from the things with strings the humans wear on their feet. The lady wears the kind that are long and have fur inside them. I miss those the most when I am in my crate.

I am training them still though. When I go by the door they get up. Fast.

Living here is different than living in South Carolina where there were no rules. I have tried to reach out to Murphy. He is stuck up.

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he does not like my blonde jokes.

I love to decorate and arrange furniture. The humans do NOT know how to live.

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everyone should have a stuffed toy tied to a string to keep the doors closed. and a floor rug in a dog bed. this is how the world should live.

Nate Berkus better watch his back.

Nate Berkus better watch his back.

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here i am having a chat with my cat, Gandalf. I am reminding him how close the neighbor’s house is.

I am also an artist: That mark on the wall? It is a Charlie original. I was helping the lady catch the cat when she had a basket of clothes in her arms. She slipped off the bottom step and the collar she wears on one arm made that mark. I helped her do that.

This is me playing the piano. I was playing the same song again and again: “Chopsticks.” I hate that song. I wanted to play “He’s a Tramp.”

they say i am musical.

they say i am musical. here i am singing the blues.

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this is much better than a peanut butter -stuffed kong in a kennel.

I heard the man in the house yell something about snowmen and wanting winter to stop.

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this just about sums up how he felt.

But I like winter. I like to sit on the deck and stalk our cat.

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i am finally bigger than the cat. here i am encouraging him to go live with the neighbors.

If I can’t encourage him, the lady tries:

dancing cat.

Gandalf is our unhappy dancing cat. here is the lady wearing my favorite foot coverings with strings. this was before she told the lies about me being Canadian. Canadian… of all things. Socialists!

When I am not in my kennel, I am doing lots of things, most of them get the lady to sing out loud at me, “Nooooooo! Charrrrlieeeee!”

this is my hole. do you like it?

this is my hole. do you like it? what?

But even when it is quiet, and I am doing nothing wrong, I am afraid I am doing nothing right. Here I am watching TV with one of the humans.

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the small one and i like “30 Rock”; that Kenneth gets me every time.

Murphy told me a joke the other day and I tried to tell him one back. I laughed. He did not.

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high four. no? ok.

Because I run everywhere and slide into things, the lady thinks I am a “spaz.” I do not know what that means. I am just getting used to being Canadian. I am a puppy, and that sliding into things thing is normal for me. She gets it but she does not like it when I do this on our walks:

i do not see the problem. i am trying to tell her to relax, slow down a bit... STOP.

i do not see the problem. i am trying let her take in the moment.

Also, she will not let me have the goose food. Do you see that little piece of goose food on the ground? she keeps on calling it “LEAVE IT!” but we all know it is “EAT IT!”

So to stop me from getting her to rest on our walks and to keep the goose food where it is, for the gooses to eat, she got me a collar that a horse wears. I do not like it.

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Here I am hiding from the camera. I am ashamed. What has happened to me? I am a Canadian Horse. “Neigh… Eh.” I hate this collar. 

 

But the small one does not understand how stupid that collar is; so I have trained him to let me pull him wherever I want. Here in this picture, Murphy, the blonde, is trying to catch me laughing at me.

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the small one is my pet.

But the lady keeps putting that collar on me.

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get me out of this collar.

Bye. For now.

Housebreaking a Puppy (or Likely a Rescued Adult Dog Too)

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Hi there.

Charlie has been growing like a weed. He put on two pounds each week he’s been here and one time when I walked him for a pee break after a long nap, I was positive his legs had grown. His body continues to lengthen and he’s developed a waist.

We don’t know exactly when his birthday is, but the vet estimated when she first met him about three weeks ago that he was between eight and ten weeks of age.

So he’s been with us for almost three weeks and that would put him to almost three months old, which I feel is pretty close to where he is. If he continues at this rate, he will be about 25 pounds at about four months, which is the point when you double the weight to get a close guess of what his final weight will be. So, probably in the neighborhood of 50 pounds, which is where I was thinking.

Lots of people ask me about his breed. I have no clue other than to suggest that he’s a serious herder and his legs are showing that characteristic marbling that so many border collies possess. But specifics on his breed elude, so my son and I came up with one, but it’s in German, to sound exotic: he’s a verlassen Hund, which translates to “forsaken dog.” If you’re new to his story, please go here to read about his rescue; it’s a “page turner” and “an amazing story about heroism for our four-legged friends who have no where else to turn.” –Me.

But you didn’t come here to learn about him as much as you might’ve come to check out my housebreaking tip(s).

I’ve made many comparisons between our verlassen Hund, Charlie, and my six-year-old golden retriever, Murphy. Because Charlie was a rescue, who’d likely never seen a human until the night he was scooped up and placed in a hatchback, we’re working on his manners. These include:

  • Not snarling and snapping at anything that dares to give or take a toy or go near his food.
  • Not pissing and shitting wherever he feels like it.

I thought I’d have a longer list (and believe me, I do, but those two top it), so, that’s pretty much it. This is all new to me; rescue dogs, every dog I’ve ever had with my family has been a dog from a breeder and with them, you hope (at least) there’s lots of human interaction before the dog comes home.

Charlie, being a verlassen Hund, has a different aspect on all of this “training” business. To him, it’s all noise. “I shat. Where’s the treat?” is all he’s about.

I love training dogs though, so we’re doing lots of affirmative “clicker” training to help him understand when he’s doing something right and repeating it. When he does something that needs refining, we stay at it until he’s better.

The not-snarling thing is something that we’re learning (due to his lack of human interaction and my inkling on his breed, if he’s a Border Collie, he’s going to be a nipper genetically) needs to be performed in every area of the house / property — especially outdoors, because that’s where he was whelped and raised, along with repetition and reinforcement.

The housebreaking is going to be a little harder, and I’m coming to realize, it will also need to be performed in every area of the house as well. This is all given with the caveat that you’re crate training your dog for overnights and while you’re away; you’re not letting your dog sleep in his detritus, and that you’re taking him out several times a day to eliminate.

Here’s my tip: dogs don’t want to eat where they shit.

That’s it.

How do we fix this? How to we reinforce positive behavior? Two three ways:

  1. Feed them in every area of the house on the floor surface. That means put kibble down on the bare wood or tile or carpet and let your pup / untrained / rescue dog eat off that surface.
  2. Let them be with you in those areas of the house under supervision for several hours a day and play with them there and do training / tricks in there so that their scent joins your scent and they begin to understand that your home is one giant crate that they don’t want to shit in.
  3. When you take the dog outside to poop or pee, use the clicker when the dog is finished eliminating and immediately give a treat along with your specific praise for the act. In our house, we do this: Click, say “Good outside!” and give a treat along with a quick rub on the back of the dog.
This is Charlie learning to not shit where he eats. It will take some time, but it will be worth it.

This is Charlie learning to not shit where he eats. It will take some time, but it will be worth it.

For us, as a friend just said, Charlie spent likely seven to nine weeks without a human. It’s going to take at least that long for him to get this right. If he gets it right sooner, then he’s a genius and we should nominate him for a Peece Prize. I’m not placing any bets. It’s frustrating to walk into a room immediately after he pees outside for a treat and a smooch to encounter a warm puddle and his wee sparkly black eyes saying, “HI! I FEEL BETTER!”

Charlie is a great little guy; he’s like a clown. He greets us with kisses and wags his tail so hard I feel like it’s going to fall off one of these days. He is full of enthusiasm and genuine curiosity. He makes us all laugh. He is one grateful albeit mannerless verlassen Hund. Every time I walk in on him and Murphy playing, it’s like I’ve interrupted their scheming to overthrow the world.

… Just gotta get that “don’t shit where you eat” thing down and we’re off to the races. Or the cattle show.

Thank you.