Sometimes it feels like I should open a post with, “Captain’s Logue, star date 08.12.2104,” as I continue (somewhat irregularly) the tales of raising Cinder. It seems with our dogs, I am the captain of the ship in charge of all things dog. Moving forward with updates of the last few weeks, this is Captain Chris advising you to grab a beverage and get comfy. Perhaps some “tea, Earl Grey” would fit this episode of Raising Cinder, a Border Collie Puppy as we journey on the more than five year mission to explore new worlds.
As of last week, Cinder had a quick trip to the veterinarian on Monday because she had become sick with what I was sure was probably, and in fact turned out to be, a case of Giardiasis. Since Cinder LOVES swimming and has been swimming most days to that point, Giardia was a pretty likely problem we were bound to encounter. It’s a common issue with dogs that swim, wade, or drink from natural water sources like ponds, small creeks, and puddles. It typically affects puppies and elderly dogs or dogs with compromised immune systems more than “middle-aged dogs” so Cinder having it without the older boys getting it isn’t a great surprise. Additionally, she’s been given the lion’s share of opportunities for more exposure than the boys because I’ve been taking her on more outings than they’ve been on in an effort to concentrate on her training and reactivity. Once we got the meds for the Giardiasis, 24 hours later and Cinder was pretty well back to normal, but I didn’t want to take her anywhere until I was sure she was past all symptoms. Last week was a bit boring for both of us.
Last Thursday, Cinder went on her first trek to the "horse house" without Gilley and Buzz. While it seems simple, you have to know it's not. There are 340 acres of farm for her to run off and become lost or engaged in bad situations; with an adjacent 200 acres of other farms on one side, 150 acre gun club on one side; and two highly traveled roads on two other sides. It could be disasterous to take a pup on an outing with that much open space flanked by serious dangers of the outside world. The boys have been raised there and have AWESOME recalls from distances so when Cinder's with them, we know she'll stick close to them. It's a new thing to take a walk without them and be loose. I had to try it. We had a lovely little jaunt on the wooded trails. I took a "flyer" (soft Frisbee) to see if she would engage in playing with it along the way as does Gilley. I've found that taking walks with a flyer means Gilley and Buzz get about seven miles of running for every mile I walk. I was hoping that could be true for Cinder too, even though her actuallybringing them back to me is a little less than perfect. As it turned out, about a quarter mile in to our walk, Cinder began tugging at my pocket, wanting the flyer. Throughout our little jaunt, she played the game as I'd hoped-even bringing it all the way back to me, dropping it at my feet. It was warm so Cinder needed a drink. She had to learn to drink from a plastic baggie since that was all I had to pour water in for her on the trail. We got back to car, parked in a field, and she wanted to continue playing the game
with our flyer. A few throws later and she began jumping to catch the flyer-something I hadn't thought she'd do. I had to curtail the game because of her desire to do too much high, twisting jumping. I have to admit, I will enjoy that with her when she's old enough to let her go for it with the jumps! She has a mission to boldly go wherever she goes!
Sunday evening, I decided it was time for all the dogs to have real baths, but I didn’treally feel like bathing them in our bathroom because I didn’t want to clean up the mess afterwards. Instead, I thought it a good time to go to the self-serve dog wash/car wash-it would be Cinder’s first visit. Cinder’s had many baths so that’s not new. Going to the dog wash is new. It also meant using a ramp into the steel tub and back out; while also experiencing a different bath experience than those she gets at home. When we arrived at the dog wash, imagine my surprise when I patted my hand on the ramp to the tub and Cinder got right on and up it, into the tub and sat down as if she’d done it many times. She sat quietly and calmly for her bath and seemed to enjoy it. I had no idea it would go so well. Yay!
Sunday night and Monday, I was deathly ill. I won’t go into detail, but my husband, Brian, was ready to take me to the Emergency Room. I wouldn’t let him. I said it takes three days of illness like that before I’m willing to go. I slept all day yesterday. None of the three dogs were away from me! All three were on the bed, snuggled beside me. When I got up, wobbly and sick, they assumed positions beside me and went with me. Even Cinder, a seven month old puppy, was glued to me. Instead of being her normal bouncy self, wanting to play all day, she snuggled on the bed by my feet and never moved unless I got up-for over 16 hours! Brian had to go to work last evening in order for his overtime to be counted as overtime-something we desperately need with me unemployed. He’d wanted to crate Cinder in his absence, afraid she’d get into things or generally be too needy for me to rest. He called a couple times to check on me; and I’m sure he expected that although I’d said Cinder need not be crated while he was gone, he was sure I’d be crying for him to come home and rescue me from Hurricane Cinder. I told him each time he called that she was still on the bed with me. Cinder never left me and didn’t make any messes of any kind anywhere while he was at work. He came in and marveled that we were all snuggled up almost the same as we’d been when he left. One has to wonder if it’s just her nature to stay with me of her own accord; or was it the influence of Gilley and Buzz, my constant companions and guardians? Either way, staying with me the entire day without being bothersome and without leaving for even a few minutes to go potty, get a toy, or something is pretty impressive for a seven month old pup.
Today I am MUCH better and decided it was a good day to put Cinder back to doing our regular outings to various places in which we may encounter a few dogs in different settings so we can work on her reactivity. After over a week off from our reactivity work, I wasn’t sure what to expect. First we went to the local farm store. She was as good as gold with impeccable manners the whole time. Alas, there were no other dogs there while we were there so it was a good experience overall, but yielded no challenge to test her reactivity. We then went to PetSmart. During the weekdays, PetSmart is fairly safe because there is a slow, steady stream of dogs-usually no more than three in the store simultaneously during the day. That’s doable for us because it means we can find an aisle to retreat to away from other dogs for her to regroup if she is reactive. They also have doggy daycare dogs in the play room with a viewing glass wall. That is a good thing for us because Cinder can see, hear, and smell the other dogs but we have complete safety from them with built-in exits down the aisles.
We went in the store and right away, there was an elderly woman shopping with her sweet Poodle. Cinder saw the Poodle, but since it didn’t come toward her or bark, she seemed to think it was okay. We were able to walk within six feet of it several times without her reacting at all; and without me having to redirect her. Then we went to the harness aisle since it’s about time Cinder gets a larger car harness. However there was a man and his dog trying EVERY harness style on his dog WITHOUT a leash on his dog while doing it. We skimmed past that aisle fast! That dog seemed friendly and being off leash, I’m sure would’ve come over to Cinder if we’d gone down that aisle. I wasn’t willing to tempt fate that much.
The last time Cinder went to PetSmart, she’d done pretty well sitting about 10 feet from the doggy daycare window, but closer presented enough tension that we walked by, but didn’t linger any closer than 10 feet. Today I decided to push that envelope a bit. We got about six feet from the window and she sat looking, alert but quiet and non-reactive. After a few minutes, I moved her about four feet away. Then a couple terriers just had to start jumping and barking at her. The moment they jumped, Cinder was reactive so we had to walk away. It took some work and a few minutes for her to quiet again. We went back a few more times and each time, Cinder was good until another dog either jumped or barked-even with constant temptation of CHEESE. I took her back once more and sat her at the 6-8 foot range and moved her away before anything could happen so we’d end on a positive note. We went back to the harness aisle-guess who was STILL there trying harnesses on! So we bypassed that aisle and went down another with the Poodle on it. She went past the Poodle again just fine!!! YAY! PROGRESS! We then hovered on the main middle aisle and a Boxer came by. Cinder was non-reactive until the dog sniffed the tip of her tail, then she was startled and jumped up, but wasn’t reactive about it as the Boxer moved on. Yay! Next a noisy, spastic Schnauzer came in. I had Cinder sit and face the dog’s direction so she wouldn’t be surprised by him, but as he strained on his leash, I stepped back a few feet to keep him from getting in Cinder’s “air space.” She didn’t react, but he’s the kind that would’ve elicited it if I hadn’t stepped back from him. Basically, the only reactivity she expressed was at the doggy daycare dogs that jumped and barked. Overall, one very great day at PetSmart for Cinder! I’m not sure how or why things seemed better today than other visits, but whatever the reason, I don’t really care. I’m just glad to see ANY improvements so I’ll take them and not worry about it.
Overall, Cinder’s growing up faster than I’d like. At seven months old, it’s hard to tell by looking at her that she’s still a puppy. I rather miss the little puppy she was last winter because of course, all puppies are cute and lovable. But, I also love that even though she’s more like a young adult to look at, she’s still all puppy with gusts of seeming like an experienced old pro. Her new discoveries and her improving abilities are always fun and entertaining. Her loving, fun-loving prankster youthfulness combined with her devotion as a companion and friend never cease to keep us laughing. Sometimes I think she’s got the raw deal, stuck in a family of two aging adult humans with two aging adult uncles. Sometimes I’m equally sure she’s the perfect fit for all of us. Her loyalty and devotion were proven with my short bout of nasty flu. Sometimes she is a bit “bossy.” Most of the time she’s simply wonderful and we wouldn’t trade a minute with her for a minute without her.
Oh, I forgot to mention, Princess Cinder isn’t ALWAYS wonderful. She managed to swipe and eat a half stick of butter from the counter this morning without even moving the glass butter dish on the edge of the counter! However, the upside is that at least she didn’t steal and eat the stack of pancakes Brian had sitting beside the butter she stole. Clearly, we have a counter-surfer on our hands! I’ve NEVER had one of those so we are embarking on yet a whole other adventure in the ongoing endeavor of raising Cinder.
“Live long and prosper.”
End logue entry, star date: 8.12.2014