Tag Archives: puppies

Charlie Needs a Job, Murphy Interviews, Gandalf Walks Out

Standard

For a rescue dog that didn’t cost us any money to acquire, not even a fee at the local animal shelter, Charlie has proven to be a monetary sinkhole in his pursuits of destruction. He is a southern boy, he speaks with deliberation, as Matthew McConoughy? McConnoughay? McConaughey? … Googling… McConaughey. Got it. 

Murphy is a breeder-born, thoroughbred Golden Retriever from the Blue Ridge raised by a Tidewater Virginian. Murphy cost us $1,200 initially, but he’s proven himself to be an absolute gentleman, save for his zealous crotch torpedoing. Apparently that’s de rigeur for goldens. Murphy is mature, efficient and speaks sparingly, preferring to let what he doesn’t say say what he actually means.  

Seeing as how Charlie is in the red now, he needs to get a job. Murphy with our cat Gandalf (the one with the other family across the street) take on the arduous task of interviewing Charlie. Below is a portion of the experience.

The meeting takes place on our deck. Murphy is lying on his side, sunning himself and Gandalf is on a railing, looking down on Charlie as he always does, and also keeping a safe distance because Charlie can’t control himself around Gandalf. He simply sees him as something to eat or maim or destroy; but in a fun, lighthearted way. I believe the Geneva Convention would define Charlie’s tactics as torture.

C: I brought my resume:

IMG_3287

This was an instrument of repression. I renovated it to suit my needs of never having to wear it again.

M: What is the type of job you feel is best suited toward your … natural talents and gifts? 

C: Yes.

M: What?

C: I did that. All by myself. From inside my crate. Well, that’s not exactly true. It was outside my crate, but I pulled it through to inside the crate and then I did that.

M: How?

C: I just said. Through the crate. Look, pretty boy, I have many skills. I prefer to think of myself as a diet counselor / deconstructionist / renovator / incidental gardener / toy acquirer / media specialist / innovative package opener / threat prognosticator / vermin exciter and conjurer of magic.

M: Come again? Conjurer of magic?

C: I see things that others can not. I bark at things that are not there. I can’t tell if that’s more ‘threat prognosticator’ or magic conjurer …

M: In the dog world, we consider this, asinine. The lady and the man don’t like it either. Do you know what ‘shut the hell up!’ means?

C: To shut up hell. That’s also what I do. In the back yard, I can smell sulfur, so I dig to hell and cover it up with other dirt or tree parts or tennis balls. See where it says, ‘incidental gardener’? Got that covered. Ha. No pun intended. Proceed.

M: This is truly dazzling. Gandalf, you’re quiet today. Anything to add?

G: Yes. Stop. Now. All of this. Charlie, you are

C: Amazing, I know. It is dazzling; that a puppy like me, who’s from the sticks and has who knows what –other than awesome!– running through his bloodlines can accomplish so much in so little time.

G: Yes. Let’s talk about how much you’ve accomplished. That incident with the carpet in the playroom… what’s going on here?

sulfur! right here!

sulfur! right here! in front of my chest.

C: This? I smelled sulfur. I eradicated it. The family is safe. Next? 

G: Diet counselor?

C: You like that crap they give you? I think it’s terrible, so I spare you from it. Plus, uh, you’re looking a little wonky on the chassis, G. What’s with the loose belly swing when you walk? It’s like you’ve got a chest of pirate’s booty in your gut.

IMG_2552

G: I don’t have to take this. That photo is undignified.

C: Get over yourself. You weigh 17 pounds. That’s twice the size of that rodent dog next door. The neighbors have a nice warm spot for you if you need. I can chase you there if you want. Help you work up an appetite for all that sitting around you do…

M: This is no way to treat a co-worker. If you’re looking for a job, Charlie, you can’t be disrespectful like that.

C: I’m sorry. He’s gone. ‘Co-worker!?’ GO ON! TRAITOR! TURNCOAT! CAAAAAT!

GO COMPLAIN ABOUT US ALL IN THAT HOUSE WITH ALL ITS SHADE, AIR FRESHENERS and NO DOGS or KIDS … He comes back smelling like a Glade Plug-In after he’s been over there. Uch. He has no dignity. Plug him in, plug him in…

His sister… ay chihuahua. Now she’s feisty. She’s all hissy and growly and then jumps from a tube sock. She’s a klutz though.

M: It’s just that you’re spirited.

C: You mean, enthusiastic.

M: We’re off track. Tell me about your other skills.

C: I can alert the family to a vacuum in the room from my crate behind a closed door.

M: What do you mean? Vacuum in the room?

C: When there’s a vacuum in the room, and I’m alone and in my crate, I tell the family they forgot it. Or, when it’s running, and I’m having an imposed nap in my crate, behind a closed door and I hear the vacuum, then they clearly need to know about it. One time I decided to decommission a vacuum.

M: You mean when you chewed through the cord? That repair cost

C: I mean when I SAVED THE FAMILY. Vacuums are dangerous. So are lawnmowers, brooms and large garbage bins. And toddlers. Toddlers are always getting into trouble which means they are very dangerous. They are drunk, unstable walkers. That’s why I take away their chips — they could choke on them — and then I knock them down. They need to stay on their bottoms at all times where I can keep an eye on them. Chips are very sharp. And tasty. They don’t need that kind of food. They need apples and carrots and strawberries, which are also very tasty. Toddlers don’t need anything actually. They should just stay away.

M: Yes. I remember that. When that little boy was over this summer. You were very nice to him the first time.

C: I didn’t know what he was the first time. Of course I’m going to be all, “Hey, little … thing…? What’s in your pants? That smells like dinner…” Then he was all over the place. Chucking tennis balls into trees, and flinging frisbees into the dirt, and swinging around tree branches. I saved him. Those things can kill a kid. I had to put a stop to it. So now he cries whenever he sees me. I certainly don’t recall you not enjoying that bag of pretzels he knocked off the table.

M: Very good. Do you feel you’re misunderstood?

C: Why is this starting to sound like a therapy session?

M: I’m sorry. You’re right. What else would you like to highlight?

C: I can be very patient.

M: How?

C: Well, like right now. You’re chewing on my nylabone and I am lying here by your elbow gently biting it.

M: The lady just found that nylabone this morning. Along with this:

 

those were artfully placed under the sofa. i'm an interior decorator too.

those were artfully placed under the sofa. i’m an interior decorator too.

IMG_3280

this is the dog bed i prefer. the lady didn’t just clean up for this photo. she cleaned up last night at 10pm because she was angry about something. so she cleaned instead of slept. that’s when i told her to beware the vacuum.

 

this is the dog bed they gave me. i use this to encourage the humans, as well as a giant stuffed toy.

this is the dog bed they gave me. i use this to encourage the humans, as well as a giant stuffed toy.

M: Yes, here in this picture above, you’re chewing on a newfound old nylabone. Not the one I have now.

C: Yes. But I want the one you have now. Not the one in this picture, even though it’s right in front of me. I want what you have.

M: This is not cooperative.

C: I’m an independent contributor.

M: Let’s see… you also have listed: “I have an uncanny ability to come out of nowhere at top speeds and careen with a size 3 soccer ball between my teeth and leap small ottomans in a single bound.”

C: Size 3. That’s the best. Yeah.

M: Media specialist?

C: I like books, the classics and some new age…

I'm no snob.

I’m no snob.

M: This is a bummer, you know. LotF is a literary master —

C: Don’t talk to me about master anything. Listen, when it storms, this is what you do:

IMG_2707

C: Really classy. For a so-called “gun dog,” this is an embarrassment to your lineage. On the Fourth of July this year, I was out with the sparklers, bored to TEARS while you were inside shivering in a corner.

M: I never said I was a hero. You can’t swim.

IMG_2596

C: I suppose you’re right about that. I … didn’t list it on my résumé. I see you’re quite relaxed there. I am a dog of action.

IMG_2716

C: Oops. Wrong pic.

IMG_2543

C: Much better. This was taken right after they cut off my balls. I needed something, a bigger ball, to feel somewhat normal again.

M: I remember that leash.

C: Yeah. Tasted good too.

C & M: Ahhhaahahaaaa!

IMG_2872

M: I hate leashes.

C: Not as much as you hate baths.

IMG_2795

M: True. I do hate baths. Well, this ends our interview for today. Next time we will talk about grooming and not vomiting in the car. Do you think you can handle that?  … Charlie…?

C: Later! Lady’s doing yoga. I need to help her.

Heels down...

Heels down…

This post is dedicated to my dear friends whose favorite things I write are the posts about the dogs. We love you! Go Notre Dame!

Thank you.

DNA Results are In. Charlie is ….

Standard

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,

Standard

Dear Diary,

It’s me, Charlie, the puppy here at the human’s house. Today, the lady gave me a bath. She was all alone or there would be humiliating photos of me with suds on my face and me sitting in the kitchen sink (i peed in it just to get back at her) looking like a wet rat.

Instead, she waited until the towel she put on me could hold no more water and took me outside for a picture. Here I am looking like an electrocuted wet rat:

20140207-144934.jpg

She gave me the bath because I experienced the misfortune of placing my head under Murphy’s penis while he watered a plant this morning on our walk. It was my fault, I own it completely, but I did not like the bath. I did not think I smelled that bad. When the lady gave me a bath, I made sure that her shirt got very wet and that she got very cold because she ignored my dagger fangs on her wrist and my calls to any nearby wolves to release me. Serves her right. The lady kept on giving me treats while she scrubbed me; she thinks that will eventually make me like baths.

She is stupid.

Murphy said to just go along with it because the suds, the treats and the massaging are excellent.

This is Murphy, he is very cool:

20140207-143553.jpg

He plays guitar with his tail.

When I run around this house and I try to steer, my feet slide on the floor and I slam into things at full speed. My fluffy hairs do not provide traction. The humans make sounds like they are having trouble breathing whenever this happens.

About four weeks ago, I was rescued from a hole in the ground in South Carolina. The lady and the man who have brought me here to run their home said that they did not plan on bringing me here at all but that the man saw a picture of me where I fell asleep in my food and he had to have me.

20140207-144125.jpg

I do not know why this picture is what did it. I think I look like an idiot. I am embarrassed by this image; I have no self control.

I like this one better where I’m super cute. I was faking sleeping:

20140207-163438.jpg

But “people are stupid; there’s no accounting for taste,” says Murphy. He is cool, so I believe him. He lets me knit with his tail hair. I know he likes it because he moans when I do it.

20140207-145305.jpg

Since coming here, I have taught these humans how to do chores properly. No one understood the point of a dishwasher. I do.

20140207-145509.jpg

It took many days for Murphy to warm up to me being his boss. He tries to act all big and 83 pounds, but we know that’s just a phase. The lady was so sad when he succumbed to my authority, she spoke into a small plastic box and shouted into it, “They’re getting along! They’re playing!” I do not think she understood what was going on. I was not playing. I was having a private meeting with Murphy expressing my domination; I have determined that hypnosis is best. Look into my eyes… You will do what I want…

20140207-145748.jpg

I feel this photo is like one of those sensitive moments captured by White House photographers when JFK was in the middle of the Bay of Pigs crisis. Why did he not like the idea of a bay of pigs? Mud and bacon. What is not to like?

The lady tells Murphy not to drink from the white bowl in the small room. She growls in a stupid way, it sounds nothing like a dog. Murphy laughs at her and does it anyway. Here he is teaching me how it’s done. I can not reach the bowl. One day I will. She says, “Charlie, do not pick up that habit.”

20140207-150351.jpg

Instead, I picked up this habit while I wait to get tall:

20140207-150853.jpg

Here is Murphy pretending he is the boss:

20140207-150926.jpg

On second thought, he looks very scary there. I will remember this picture. He does not like it when I try to eat his food when he is eating it. The lady feeds me last. That is mean. She says something like, “You are not alpha. I am alpha. Murphy is above you. You are Mu or Sigma….” Mu. That is stupid. But I try anyway.

20140207-151335.jpg

It snowed here a couple weeks ago. I had a great time sitting on Murphy in it.

20140207-151435.jpg

I am doing well. My mom, brother and sisters are living nearby. When the weather warms up, we will get together and have fun, the lady says. I have put on almost eight pounds since living here. Every time I wake up from a nap, a boy here says I have gotten bigger.

This is me, about to take a nap, so I can grow:

20140207-151657.jpg

I have gotten the lady to do tricks; every time I sit down, I get her to use a clicker and then she gives me a treat and pats me on the face. She also does this when I decide to lie down and I have just started to go after things and then leave them alone and I get her to give me a treat. She also gives me one for taking a nap in my box. She is stupid.

I got a treat for this:

20140207-154731.jpg

She keeps saying, “STAY. STAY… STAAAAAY.” I do nothing, and then I get her to give me a treat. Humans. They are so easily trained.

I like to think of this place as my toilet. The lady does not like that, so she has started to feed me off the floor.

20140207-154929.jpg

Now I do not want to pee there so much anymore. But sometimes I forget. So now, she “wears” me by attaching herself to me wherever we go. It is funny, I never thought she would want to go where I get her to go.

I am glad I do not live in a hole in South Carolina.

Thank you.

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

Standard

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.