Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Cuteness Factor

  The "cuteness factor" is simple:  God made puppies cute so it's a lot harder to get mad and/or kill the little buggers for doing the many things they do that truly are bothersome, annoying, or downright bad. The cuteness factor is all part of species survival.
        I'm sure you're wondering how I dare say such a thing but let's be real about the sweet little creatures.  Realistically if you've ever had a puppy -or a baby anything - you know they're pre-programmed to do many things that if another adult human did, you'd probably resort to fistfights as acceptable parts of the resolution process. 
       Oh the agonies of raising babies-any kind.  Late nights; early mornings. Chewed shoes, clothes, remotes, furniture and cars.  Wet spots you know are from the south end of a north-bound puppy; mounds of goo that stick to the shoe and smell bad too.  These are a few of the woes of being a puppy parent and only a few of the reasons I say that the cuteness factor saves lives and thus is the reason puppies (and most baby anything) are so dang cute. 
     One of the first things I tell people who ask me about a puppy is, "Do not be easily deceived by how cute they are!  Cute puppies do some not so cute things and they have NO clue what things are good or bad." It's up to humans to be the guiding light of love and learning for those sharp little teeth and the squirting south end of the north-bound pup. 
     Knowing the scope of care and training required, one can still never account for the many ways in which puppies will test your patience.  They can reduce you to a mass of questioning Jello filled with wonder and amazement that you actually thought you could raise a puppy and have it turn out to be an outstanding adult dog with no problems.  They can take you a on tilt-a-whirl of turmoil, provide tears of joy and pride, and turn you into a hysterical madwoman (or madman) in the blink of an eye. If you really want to experience the gammut of emotions you never thought possible, just get a puppy or have a baby - either will take you through a range of emotions and experiences that lead to understanding the cuteness factor.  
     I'd sort of forgotten what it can be to have a puppy in the house.  It's full of chaos and cuteness.  It's full of responsibility, work; and lost sleep spent taking a pup outside to potty.  It's filled with telling everyone about the latest things the puppy did as if they're your child or grandchild. Laughter abounds as you witness their hysterically funny antics. Great joy fills your sould when they learn a new skill or trick; and love is never greater than when they lavish their puppy kisses on your face while wagging their tails.  Puppy parenting is filled with the hopes of having a superdog - or at least a good dog.  But mostly it's filled with the hope of having that pup grow older with you as your companion, your canine BFF.    Imagine the future of what's yet ahead for us as we continue raising Cinder!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cinder-Pack Princess

  Cinder's new title will be, "Cinder, Pack Princess."  After three weeks, Gilley went from a firm "zero tolerance" policy to being Cinder's new BFF.  Unlike Buzz, who really doesn't play so much as he tolerates play, Gilley actually engages with Cinder in fun and meaningful ways-he actively plays and wrestles with her.
    I'm not sure what caused Gilley's criteria to shift from one extreme to the other, but if I had to guess, it was that Cinder needed time. She was so small and feisty when she arrived that even though she may have earned a lot of reprimands, they were hard to issue without actually hurting her or bordering it.  Her biting and jumping was over the top for the two "grumpy old men" who have long ago established a quiet routine within the house. Avoidance and evasive maneuvering seemed to be their key to not hurting her and not letting her hurt them.  It made life a little rough and forced me to be her primary interactive entertainment while also giving them the option of deciding for themselves exactly how and when they chose to interact with her.  Size-wise, she may have needed to grow for those couple of weeks for the boys to be more comfortable with exacting their lessons in decorum with snarls, snips and a few real well-placed nips and not be so small she was endangered.  It's hard to know if any or all of those things came into play, but the bottom line is that the initial cold shoulder and zero tolerance policies seem to be over after three weeks.  I am personally doing the dance of joy since that means I now have help puppy-sitting in meaningful ways for her.
     As I'm writing this, Cinder has come into the office and curled up with Gilley beside my chair. I think that punctuates his total acceptance of Cinder as the new pack princess and his new BFF.  Buzz is currently on the bed to have some respite from all that is the new norm of chaotic activity surrounding the little princess.
     Meanwhile, another new development for Cinder so far this week seems to be the ability to now easily scale the living room loveseat and chairs to safely land atop them.  Of course with any new skill she develops there is also a downside and that now means she's capable of reaching anything on all the furniture now.  Hide the remotes! Hide the books! DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING on the end tables because Cinder may invade and ingest anything in her paths both at and above ground level now!  Yippee!  Another set of adventures in daily life raising Cinder.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Breakthrough Weekend!

     Hi everyone!
     I had a busy weekend and I gotta tell ya about Uncle Gilley!  HE PLAYED WITH ME-A LOT!  I have pictures and video too! 

     Saturday I went for a ride in a car with Chris & Brian.  At first I didn't think I liked it because I had to sit on Brian's lap and not explore; and it seemed like a really long time; and I was a little bit scared.  But at the end of the ride, we were at my real mom and dad's, where I was born! I got to see my mom and some of my brothers and sisters and cousins-and my very first hu-mom and young humans!  I am glad we went for that ride! I got to play and visit but we had to get back in the car thingy to come back home again.  I like Chris and Brian and Uncle Buzz and Uncle Gilley, but I kinda miss my first family a little bit.  Chris said I will get to go back for more visits.
     When we got back from the car ride, I got to play a little while, but then I had to go in my special space while Chris and Brian went to visit Brian's mom for supper on her birthday. They were gone a long time so I had a nap, but when they came back, I got out to play and stuff.  It was fun because Uncle Gilley played with me outside again!  Then he played with me in the house a little bit!  I told you he really likes me! I just have to not bite him-he doesn't like that.
     Sunday I got up and played for a really long time. Chris said I played for four hours before I had a nap.  They taked care of Ebbie (I haven't met her yet because she's a horse and lives at a place a little ways from the house-what IS a horse anyway?) and they came back with a different kitchen table.  I heard Chris say they traded tables with Brian's mom. I like the new table-it has better legs for me to chew on and more space under it to play! 
     Then I got to play more.  Sometimes I played with Uncle Buzz and sometimes I played with Uncle Gilley.  Then I mostly played with Uncle Gilley because he likes to play "rope pull" with me. We played a long time outside while Chris and Brian did something called, "winter end potty pick-up." Playing with Uncle Gilley and Uncle Buzz seemed way more fun than Chris and Brian's game!  At night, we kept playing and then went to sleep. 
     I sleeped ALL NIGHT and Chris waked me up this morning and said I was really good. That's what I did all weekend.  I hope you had a fun weekend too! I have to go potty and have snack now.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Cinder Takes Over

Hi Everyone! My hu-mom, Chris, said it's my turn to say stuff. I can't type or spell so she's doing it for me.
     A lot happened yesterday:
My snowmound melting
My snow's all gone

See my footprints!
     My snow went away and a lot of water and wet dirt and green stuff is in my yard now.  I miss my snow. I liked my snow mountain my hu-dad, Brian, made for me. Chris said I'll get to start having more fun with the snow all gone but it's 8:00AM and I'm not having more fun yet.  I made footprints in the kitchen a lot and Chris kept wiping them all gone. I think I like the footprint game.
     When Chris was in her office, I sneaked in. Uncle Grumpy Gilley was laying on the floor by Chris' chair and so I was really, really good and I got down by him nose-to-nose and we both were there. I scooted over by Uncle Gilley and we snuggled real nice while Chris was doing stuff on her desk. That's the first nice, quiet time we ever shared and I tried to be really good. I think Uncle Gilley is starting to like me better. I'm trying really hard to figure him out but I'm pretty sure he likes really likes me-he's just grumpy so I won't hang onto his tail and slide on the floor like I do with Uncle Buzz.
     Chris got me a new toy yesterday.  She thought I'd like it 'cuz it makes a squeal noise-like my brothers and sisters made when we played. I can't figure out how to make it squeal yet, but the fuzzy stuff on it is like my tennis balls and I like chewing it.
     Chris moved my house back to that place where she had it when I first came.  She said my house was in the way in my play zone and the kitchen and that it's time for me to learn to go to my house where I'm 'posed to be when I grow up. She also said if I go back there, that Uncle Buzz and Uncle Gilley will be happier 'cuz they will come out of the bedroom whenever I'm napping in my house. I take lots of naps so maybe they won't be as mad at me if they can play with Chris more while I'm sleeping. I'm bigger now so I can do it-I can sleep in my big girl place!
Sitting to go out

Sitting near "Snowy" my toy
   I am learning new stuff. I think some of the stuff Chris is teaching me is strange, but I will do it for her. Besides, she gives me yummy treats! So far, I've got this "sit" thing pretty good. I'm not sure why she wants me to watch her, she never does anything all that fun, but I do it anyway. I am good at "down" but I pop up to sit quick for the next thing she wants. I'm getting good at crawling, but I did that when I was a little baby so I don't know why she wants me to keep doing that.  I'm doing touching my nose on her hand. I'm learning to "shake"-that's when I put a paw in her hand and she shakes it.  I don't know what makes it so fun for her, but I'm good at it and it makes her happy. I'm learning to sit up and it's kinda hard because I can't get my balance very well. But Chris thinks I can if we practice and I am getting better at it.
     My hu-dad, Brian, is starting to get be more fun. When Chris calls me, I really like to go to her really fast and sometimes she lets me jump into her arms! Brian tried to let me do that and I liked it but he almost didn't catch me! He said it won't be so much fun when I'm 50 pounds. Chris laughed about it and said she always wanted a dog that would jump in her arms but Brian said, "Yeah, eight years ago when it was Gilley, that might've been good, but in eight years from now, when you're an old woman, you might not be so glad Cinder does it." I think that might mean we can't play the run and jump into their arms game anymore-but it's so much fun.
     Last night, Brian went to someplace not home called "work." Chris went away at the same time. They were gone a really long time and then Chris came back. I was so glad because I had to potty and it was past my supper time so I was HUNGRY! After we all ate (not Brian 'cuz he was still at work), we went outside and when we came back in, Uncle Buzz and Uncle Gilley both stayed out of the bedroom with me for a while!  Usually only Uncle Buzz stays out with me and Uncle Gilley goes to bed. I told ya Uncle Gilley really likes me-I told ya he does, he does, he does!  I was bein' hAved with 'em and they stayed out a long time but when I started biting and grabbing their tails, they got mad and left.  But they stayed out with me a long time before they left and I was really happy because I really want them to like and play with me.
I was like this when Chris rubbed my tummy.
  When it was just me and Chris, I was gettin' tired so she rubbed my belly.  I REALLY like tummy rubs! They're nice.  Chris said Uncle Buzz-kill and Uncle Grumpy won't ever, ever roll over so she likes that I do and she hopes I will always like tummy rubs.  I don't know why anyone would not like tummy rubs!
      Last night, something called "high winds" came outside our house.  When I went out to potty, the wind and a lot of wet drops falling out of the sky scared me at first, but Chris went out with me so I stayed by her and she was brave so I was brave. I didn't like all the noises or getting those drops on my head, but I was brave anyway 'cuz Chris was there.  I don't think I'm gonna like those winds much.
    Then is it was my bedtime at 11:30 in the dark.  That's what happened yesterday.  Sure seemed like a LOT of stuff.  I was pretty tired.  But today is another day and I'm excited so I gotta go have some fun now! Chris said it's another new day raising Cinder!  I'm so special! 

Ta Ta For Now!
Cinder, the Border Collie Puppy

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

No Snow?

      I haven't been able to get any pictures or videos to post so you'll have to imagine the scene:  our back yard was heavily laden with snow with a shoveled path alongside the back of our house and our patio. That is the way things have been for the last month-as long as we've had Cinder, we've had a snow covered yard.
The last couple days have been warm enough for things to melt. We still have about 2"-3" of snow in most of the yard, but it's now very wet, dirty, crusty snow on top and beneath it is all the water of it melting. As you walk through it now, it's slush on top and pure water and mud beneath.  There are spots that are melted away and bare, little tufts of grass peeking out through the mud.
     I hadn't given it a thought before but Cinder has NO idea what it is not to have snow. She was born just before Christmas and ever since, there has been snow and cold. She doesn't have a clue what warm sunshine and grass are like!
     Cinder went out this morning and it was significantly warmer, wetter and far less appealing. Just outside the back door, at the patio edge we created a sizeable mound of snow from shoveling the patio. Cinder's first time out, the mound was so large she had to scale it like a rock climber to get over it. Within a week, the older boys had cleared a low spot that Cinder was quick to find and learned to run from the door, then jump on top and fly over it into the fluffy snowy yard beyond. By last week, we'd had more snow and the mound grew again, but so did Cinder! Out the door and in one quick and easy jump, over she went as if she'd done it all her life-oh wait, she practically has! She's had a ball scaling, jumping, walking on top and tunneling into that snow mound. Today she went out ready to jump and run with the big boys and it was, sadly, much smaller. She went over it and on the other side is pure slush and a water puddle that just didn't yield the fun she's had the last two weeks. She stopped, turned to look at me as if to say, "What's wrong? Where is my snow? Whatever this is, you can send it back and get my snow back. This is not so much fun."  She strode out into the yard a bit farther, sinking through the melting mess with each step. She was clearly confused by the melting snow.  She did her potty and immediately ran back to me at the door. Each time she's gone out today there is less snow, more water and mud, and less fun.
     I wonder what her reaction will be when she goes out and all the snow is completely gone.  I totally expect she'll look around cautiously and give me the same look I got this morning with the question in her mind, "No snow? Now what do I do for fun?" What she doesn't know is no snow means that's when all the real fun starts. I wish I could show pictures of her, but at 4:30AM - 8:00AM grabbing the phone or camera is not on my mind and if I did, the pictures would be in the dark anyway.  It must be an odd world to Cinder, born in a winter with a lot of snow and cold, only to find out it goes away. Raising Cinder has ups and downs so I'm not sure how we classify the discovery that her snow mound playground is melting away.


Training Books-From Tricks & Treats to Awesome Feats

    Whether you get a new puppy or older dog, training is vital to successful life with a dog. Training doesn't have to be like rocket science-it can be fun and relatively easy. It doesn't need to cost a fortune.  If you're willing to invest some time and do some reading, you can learn a lot that will help you along the path to creating a harmonious life with your dog.
     A number of people seem impressed Cinder is already doing some basic tricks (she is now only nine weeks old); and they've inquired how I've done it. The answer is simple: I've spent five minutes at a time, three times a day focusing on teaching her something. She learns 2-3 new things each week and hones everything she's learned before.  Border Collie puppies are very anxious to learn new things all the time so they like to learn tricks and I like it when we get it. 
      I am not some training guru by any means. I have a background in canine behavior, training and competition in breed shows. Otherwise I talk to trainers and mostly, I read a lot of books. I've been re-reading a bunch of books since we found out we were getting Cinder.  Below are some you may find quite useful if you have a new puppy or adult dog you want to train to do things. These are some of the best books I've found for learning to work with a high drive dog, teaching basics and teaching tricks along with what most people would consider awesome feats:
Personally, I love Kyra Sundance and the way she trains. Any book by her is bound to contain something you can learn and use for your puppy or adult dog. There are MANY good books that you could use to learn how to teach your puppy and/or adult dogs just about anything you can imagine and a few things you never thought of.  
   Teaching Cinder also includes honing some of the older boys' skills and behaviors too. Having the two older dogs means sharing the time and attention in meaningful ways and trying to create a good balance of time and attention for each dog.  Ultimately, creating a harmonious life with all three dogs together and individually is the goal as we continue raising Cinder.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Training at 9 Weeks Old

     This week, we will be continuing to hone the last two weeks of  "tricks/skills" training we began with Cinder and adding a couple new ones.  This system of honing and building will continue throughout Cinder's next couple years of life.  Each new trick is either building on previous ones or completely new for a little variety and as a means of testing her "learning style."
     Many people don't think about their dog's capacity for learning or learning style. They never have a real plan on what they hope their dog can do or learn beyond the basics of  sit, down, stay, walking on a leash; and things like chasing balls and sticks.  If you have Border Collies, you know [or should know] that you really are better off with a plan to teach your dog as much as you can to keep their minds as busy as their bodies.  Border Collies really do require a LOT of mental stimulation and usually, the earlier in their lives that you provide it, the better outcome for all. Puppies of all breeds can start learning as young as six weeks or whenever they're weaned. The difference between breeds is the amount of time, repetitions, and types of tricks or skills they can learn and the pace at which they learn.  Border Collie puppies seem to be hardwired from birth to be fast learners-which is both blessing and curse!
     I've been spending about 5-7 minutes at a time working with Cinder to teach her some tricks; three times a day. I've never taxed her attention span so I know we COULD work a little longer, but it's better to break the sessions into smaller time frames and maintain her attention the whole time than to push her to her limits-yet.  We've worked on some basics: sit, down, watch me, sit up, crawl, roll [over], give paw [shake], touch.  She's learning each thing very well and very quickly-usually less than three tries and she's got the idea of each thing. Once she has the idea, we repeat the lesson at least six times and stop. Each time we have a session, I vary the area, time of day, and the order of things I ask her to do.  She does quite well so far. Her drive to learn is obvious-she's HIGHLY food motivated!  Again, both blessing and curse, the food is the only thing she understands as a reason to do her tricks right now, even though I always give her lots of general praise.  However, she is only nine weeks old so hoping for her to learn to do things just because I ask is pushing things a little, but definitely clues me that I need step up my game on handling the whole "reward for work" system.  In review, I guess she is  starting to make some connections between our lessons and her playtime actions: I have called her to "come" from outside or other rooms successfully; I've diverted her attention from Buzz a few times recently by saying, "Cinder, watch me" and breaking her focus on him to give her a toy to get her to stop chomping Buzz (for a fleeting minute).  She is learning to sit as part of the process before and after going outside and at dinner time.  All things considered, I guess she really is starting to connect some of the dots aside from our training sessions.
     What is my goal for Cinder's education?  I'm not entirely sure beyond teaching her as many fun things as I can that I know will be good for her no matter what else she learns.  She will be put to work on learning obedience and once we achieve that, we'll have a better idea of her personality to decide what else to try with her.  We will do some agility work, but it's doubtful we would ever compete because of my own limitations.  We won't do herding because we don't now and never will have anything for her to herd-we live in a small midwestern city so our outdoor activities are done at friend's farms and parks. I'd like her to try disk dog and maybe flyball, although the nearest flyball trainers and teams are at least an hour away. Again, we have to wait to see what her personality and temperament seem best suited for to decide where we'll end up.  Right now, we just learn as much as her little brain will tolerate and go as far as I can with her.  It's all part of the adventure in raising Cinder!


Dog Food-Info to Consider

     Last night and again this morning, I was speaking with friends and the subject turned to dog food.  Not very interesting conversation I suppose, but sometimes very helpful and enlightening to share information. It's interesting to learn what and why people choose the dog food they feed their dogs. As one may expect, budget and accessibility are forefront for most, but there are definitely other considerations too.  This is NOT an advertisment or in any way supportive of a particular brand, just a statement of what we use. Other brands exist and probably offer great options and benefits, but we are using products that work for our dogs and are easily accessible in our location. We may change brands as we find other products that are somehow better suited to our needs.
     Cinder's eating Blue Buffalo's Life Protection chicken and brown rice puppy formula. Our choice was based not by cost, but by the ingredients list.  Gilley developed a nasty odor, "hot spots," and he incessantly licked his front legs.  First I tried bathing him in several different bath formulas to see if it was something he'd gotten into and nothing changed.  Right after his baths, he still stunk and his hot spots and licking continued.  I began researching online about the kinds of things that could cause his symptoms and the resounding theme across many resources was food allergies. After more research, I decided to change Gilley's (and Buzz's) diet and within only one week of eliminating wheat and corn based food, he stopped licking and his odor subsided. BINGO! Food allergies!  We've kept Gilley on grain free food since and he's never had another issue. Our choice to pursue that for Cinder wasn't about eliminating grain for her (although that was a consideration) as much as knowing that our older boys may by happenstance, get into some of Cinder's food and we didn't want to run the chance that it would cause Gilley's allergies to flare up. 
     In another discussion regarding dog food, three people said they'd tried feeding various forms of grain free dog foods containing salmon or other fish as the base meat. Those people stated their dogs wouldn't eat that fish based food.  In our experience, neither Gilley or Buster would eat the salmon based food either. Buster will eat about anything so when he turned his nose up at it, I paid attention because he all but said, "I'm not a CAT, I'm a DOG and FISH is NOT DOG food.  I want something good and fish is NOT it!" 
     We've tried to stay away from food combinations using sweet potatoes too. In my world, sweet potatoes are a carb-heavy filler and full of sugar so Border Collies who aren't out herding on a farm or otherwise working hard every day really don't need the sugar and carbs of potatoes.  However, the Blue Buffalo puppy food contains potato starch, fish meal, and other ingredients I'd rather the older boys not have, but the ingredient list is full of a variety of quality items for growing puppies.  In general, for the boys (and Cinder when she's an adult) we stick to the meat only or meat and rice combinations. Rice adds carbs, but the carbs from rice are fewer than potatoes and not from sugar, making those carbs healthier than potatoes.  I'm okay with rice, but as the boys age, their weight will be a bigger issue. I'm trying to keep them lean so their aging bodies will have less strain.  
     As Cinder ages and we see what her "job" will be, we'll make choices for her foods based on her needs.  However, since they all eat in a common space and the possibility exists that they may play clean-up crew for each other, the one constant will be grain free food. Once in a while we really do have to make decisions based on things other than raising Cinder!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Growing Up is Hard to Do

     Last week my horse came up with an abscess in her hoof requiring my attention so my time for blogging was pretty limited. Brian being home to puppy-sit Cinder has freed me for a few minutes to catch up.     
     You may recall my post regarding Cinder playing among the kitchen chairs, weaving between all the chair rungs and generally considering them like her personal monkey bars for Cinder tricks.  Those days are already history since she's already outgrown even fitting under the chair seats without ducking.  However, it doesn't stop her from trying to do it, only to be frustrated and leave the kitchen frustrated that her kitchen gymnastics equipment no longer accommodates her growing size.  This discovery was hardest felt when she got stuck and I had to rescue her because she couldn't lift her back legs over a rung without hitting the underside of the chair seat. Growing up is hard sometimes.

     We added a couple new tricks to her repertoire: "crawl, up, and roll." She caught onto each one fairly quickly but hasn't  quite got enough balance to actually sit up, but she has the idea and tries very hard. Oddly, rolling over has been easy to teach with a treat, but I'm not sure how she'll learn it as a command or sign quite yet.  This week we'll work on honing all the tricks she's learned so far and start putting a little distance between she and I to build toward working on sit and down stays in a few weeks. Otherwise, she's been doing quite well for just turning nine weeks old.  She's decided to learn a new trick on her own and  learned how to climb onto the loveseat and jump off.  That's a trick to be discouraged for at least a couple months since she really shouldn't be jumping down onto the hard floor so young. Aside from the jumping, it now means leaving things on our end tables has to stop or she'll soon be chewing things like our TV remote and books (about training dogs, which we need)!  Her other self-taught trick is continuing to find creative ways of getting her toys out of her toy crate. She isn't happy having only a few toys out at once and MUST get ALL the toys out.  I'm sensing that teaching her to put her toys away will not be so easy either! But, she is a puppy and if she's playing with her toys she's not eating furniture.
      Last week Gilley and Buzz decided to venture out to endure their luck being outside their safety zone in our bedroom to see how much they could take of the Cinder the munch-mouth monster. I think Gilley's thrilled to see that she loves Buzz and Buzz apparently likes her enough to spend significant time with her.  Buzz has been obsessed with Gilley since we rescued him, always butting his way into everything Gilley does. I think Gilley sees Cinder as a welcome diversion for Buzz, freeing him to be able to do what he wants without Buzz on top of him. Buzz has been spending more and more time patiently allowing Cinder to brutally bite, jump on, and drag him across floors by his tail until he just can't take any more. He endures a good deal of brutal puppy chomping before he finally snaps at her, but even when he snaps and growls, Cinder yields very temporarily and the cycle starts anew.  However, Cinder is learning when she's pushed the limits of her puppy license and is starting to recognize when Buzz really means "LEAVE ME ALONE or I WILL EAT YOU FOR A SNACK."  

     Buzz attempts playing with Cinder, but he's so huge and she's still so small that it's very hard
Buzz shows Cinder the snow-free route
for him to play well with her and not result in being a little too rough sometimes.  Cinder takes it in stride, but I try to keep a lid on the real rough play until she gets a little bigger. I'm waiting for Buzz's signature move he used on our Corgi: she'd bother him and he'd simply put his paw on her forehead and pin her head to the floor for a minute, then bark or growl in her face and let her up.  I think he'll eventually try that with Cinder and it'll be interesting to see if it's as successful with her.  
     Gilley is finally starting to be more assertive with her in his time with her but still only snapping at her when I tell him to "get her Gilley." He's starting to realize he really can get a little edgy with her and he won't be in trouble for it so long as he doesn't actually hurt her.  I still maintain that when Cinder's bigger and can really start to run and play, Gilley will come to love romping with her. Gilley loves to swim so I'm also hoping he'll teach Cinder to swim this summer. Until they can get out and do those kinds of things, Gilley sees her pretty much as a waste of his attention, choosing to retreat to the bedroom after a brief time with Cinder. I guess Gilley just doesn't remember that growing up is hard to do.  
     Brian's been more involved with Cinder this week.  He's helped quite a lot and he's starting to learn more about dog training and making rules that are more concrete and less wishy-washy. He's made a batch of new training treats and per my request he made them very tiny so I don't need to break them any more. He split the batch into two kinds-peanut butter and parmesan cheese. He takes a lot of pictures and sits with her in his lap or beside him on the loveseat quite often.  I think he's got a case of real puppy love!  He's quite pleased that she selects curling up between his feet to sleep almost as often as she curls up between mine.
     Overall, we've had Cinder two weeks and one day and it's hard to imagine that we would not want her forever. She's already made our lives more busy and full keeping up with her, but she's also added more life and fun back into our house.  There's no way I'd ever say my older boys are in any way boring-they are not.  They're wonderful but older and more settled-until now.  Cinder is contributing to their quality of life by contributing to their mental and physical fitness too.  While she has not been completely accepted by the boys, she is growing more so each week. Spring will help solidify her role in our lives and the three dog pack.  Meanwhile, we look forward to more fun and mayhem that is part of raising Cinder.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Fun is About to Start!

     Raising Cinder has it's awesome moments and some less than.  The awesome ones are pretty much when she's being cute, learning new [good] things. The less awesome things include: chewing things, snooping, and getting into things she shouldn't.
Buzz & Cinder
   This week I'm trying to keep the older boys out of the bedroom to interact with Cinder more often and longer each time. However there comes the time of understanding their agonies and building frustrations with her and opening that door to their escape. Gilley's at a loss to interact with her much because she seems to prefer Buzz. She essentially mauls Buzz leaving Gilley alone most of the time. However, it doesn't take much before Gilley's on overload and rather than snapping at her, he'd rather leave-he's a lover not a fighter. Buzz is somewhat amused at least part of the time-when he's not snapping at her about jumping on him and biting him (which is a LOT).  Since we've been doing it more often, Cinder is improving at not being quite as aggressive about the jumping and biting, but she has a LONG way to go before either of the boys will give her much quarter. I think
 once the weather breaks enough to be outside more we'll begin to see more interactions and ultimately, settling into a threesome. I think they boys will always reach a point at which they want to retreat for peace  and respite from her chaos, but they will mellow and she will become another member of the family-eventually.

     Cinder's getting much better at sleeping or being quiet in her crate for longer periods at night, if only she'd get on OUR bedtime schedule instead of hers!  Right now she manages to stay up playing until about 9:30PM and then we make a dash for bed soon after she crashes in order to get enough sleep to function. This morning, her wake-up call was at 2:30AM, so I was eating a spinach salad lunch at 9:40AM!
     Cinder's learning to get her toys out of her milk crate toy box. We modified a full-sized milk crate so it has a false bottom, elevating her toys to a level she can reach.  She's funny to watch because she has two methods for getting the toys: sneak up on the crate, jump up on the edge, and stretch to reach over and grab the toys; OR, climb into the crate, sit down, pick out the toy she wants, then jump out with it.

     This week, Cinder's much bigger than she was last week which means the fun is about to start! She's already figured out how to climb onto the loveseat and jump down, so I'm working at discouraging that until she's older. She can reach more things such as the tops of end tables, so now we have to be sure to remove things we don't want her to have-like the TV remote! Goodness knows we neither want her changing channels in the middle of our shows or eating the remote and thebatteries! On one hand, I'm glad she's getting bigger fast; on the other hand, I almost wish she'd stay a cute little puppy for a while-if she didn't have such sharp little puppy teeth and know how to use them!
      Overall, things are going about as we expected.  So far it's about Cinder learning to handle life in the house and the rules of order with the older boys. She's learning some tricks to help her learn to focus on me and keep her little brain busy. All of us are learning to adjust life daily as needed for raising Cinder. 


Cinder's Puppy Agility Practice

The above is the video I took of Cinder playing with her ball under, over, around, and through the kitchen chairs.  I think it's self-inflicted puppy agility practice. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Weaving, Hurdling, & Balls-Oh My!

     There really are some fun things about an active Border Collie puppy that you just don't encounter as much in other breeds. First and foremost, they have an abundance of energy both for play and fighting sleep! The next is an intensity and focus on things other puppies just don't have. These are the things for which Border Collies are most famous as adult dogs; and the things that make them such great herders, athletes, and agility dogs.
     This week, our focus is honing skills we learned last week and adding some new ones. Last week Cinder learned, "sit, down, and watch me."  This week we begin varying the lengths of time and distance; and add "roll and crawl."  She's also learning to get her toys out of her toy crate-when she isn't busy trying to sit in it! We may also work on ball retrieval since chasing a ball is one of her favorite activities. She also loves weaving herself in, around, under, over and through our kitchen chairs and the latest variation to that game is carrying her balls in to the chair area and nosing or pawing them around while she weaves herself through the chairs. It's a hilarious little game and I'm almost convinced it's a self-inflicted form of puppy agility practice! Actually, it seems to be more multipurpose as she also plays ball and works on stalking the balls simultaneous to the weaving and hurdling the chair rungs.  She's already grown so much since last week that weaving among the chairs is very different this week and I anticipate that by next week, a new variation of the game will evolve as she gets bigger and less able to fit in the ways she does now.  I got video, but for some reason, I'm unable to upload it. I will try again when I have more time.
   Last weekend, my horse had a fairly significant issue arise and unfortunately, it is severe enough that it could mean she will need to be euthanized.  As I sat crying last evening, Cinder
displayed uncanny and remarkable caring by climbing into my lap and licking my tears until I stopped.  For an eight week old puppy to have that much attention and comprehension is prettyimpressive and it did make me feel a little better.
     Raising Cinder is such a fun job and I'm so glad I have her to pass the hours of each day of our unusually bitter winter.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Stranger in the House & The Learning Curve

     Friday evening we had a visitor to the house-the first we've had since Cinder came.  Luckily I was able to warn her of my little Tazmanian Devil that masquerades as a cute, innocent puppy.  She came prepared for a puppy, but I'm not sure how prepared she was to meet CINDER. 
     I was on the living room floor playing with Cinder when our guest arrived. I yelled out to come on in and when she did, in a very normal manner, she stopped just in the door. Cinder was mortified! She jumped from my arms, over my leg and ran to hide under an end table. Our guest patiently stood as I crawled over and coaxed Cinder out; and she returned to sit in my lap. I had our guest put her things down and grab a few of our broken cookie treats to bring back and offer Cinder to help make friends.  At first Cinder was hesitant, but her love of food got the best of her and she finally ate one. Our guest sat across the room and we had normal conversation and after a few minutes, Cinder's curiosity got the better of her and she went over to our guest and they became friendly.  No more "Stranger Danger." When our guest left, Cinder went looking for her and came to look at me as if to say, "I was just getting to know her and she's gone. Why? Where did she go? I liked her." Cinder's initial reactions tell me she will need outside socialization, but once we begin that kind of work, she will probably adapt quickly to new people and places.
     Over the weekend, Brian had an opportunity to taste firsthand how much work Cinder can be. He missed a lot of the work when Gilley was a puppy because he was on the late shift and I did the active puppy chores and training. His new favorite catch phrase is, "Help! I'm outnumbered! There's one Border Collie puppy and only one of me!"  
     While Brian's new saying is kinda funny, it's also often very true! Sometimes a Border Collie REALLY IS like 10 other puppies in terms of energy and their need to ALWAYS be busy. Redirection isn't something you do, it's something you live!  You're constantly redirecting them from doing something bad to doing something-anything-else. Brian was prideful about the fact that Cinder's shredded my hands and arms but he had no wounds because she didn't bite him. I looked at him and said, "That's because you haven't gotten down on her level and played with her or had to be the one to redirect her from everything all day; you aren't the one who's been wrangling her when she's like a wild Kangaroo or Tazmanian Devil!" Saturday afternoon, I had to do a few things around the house and Cinder could not be part of them so Brian watched her and 15 minutes later I heard, "Damn! You have sharp little teeth you little bugger! You need to bite this toy instead of me!" I knew then that his boast was toast-she nailed him too because he was finally the one playing with her.  
     Brian's presence meant we could safely encourage more interaction between Cinder and the older boys. We let them out to potty and didn't let them scurry back to the bedroom as they usually do when they came in again.  During that time, we soon saw that Gilley is still just annoyed with her. He probably thinks, "Take her back to where you got her and NO in-store exchanges!" Buzz however seems to think Cinder's annoying, but he's been good enough to play with her a few times.  Cinder's new favorite thing is to grab Buzz's tail and use it for "skiijoring" through the house on the slick floors. Buzz saw the humor in that the first three times, but the fourth was too much. Her learning curve on understanding the care and handling of two grumpy, old men is apparently steeper than her learning curve on learning tricks I've been teaching herl
     Brian is starting to read the books I've gotten on training and he's starting to want to understand more about training Cinder.  This is an awesome thing!
     Crate training has been improved dramatically. House training has not been an issue-she's only made one accident so far.
     That's life with Cinder for today. Stay tuned for more about Raising Cinder!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Puppy Power Naps-Good for Puppies, not Necessarily for their Humans

     I have discovered that puppy power naps are excellent for Cinder and give us all 45-90 minutes of respite from the cute little needle-toothed devil. The problem is that her power naps may be good for her, but I'm not convinced they're all that good for ME.  
     Puppy power naps are necessary for a puppy to re-energize (as if that's a problem) and gives their bodies down time for their bodies to grow. The advantage for the human (and any other residents in the home) is the needed respite from the constant supervision and interactions required to keep a high drive puppy from getting into trouble.  The problem is that you can never gauge the length of puppy power naps so it's rarely a time for the human to nap.  You dare not do much that may wake the puppy because you really need that downtime, yet doing nothing is non-productive and counter-intuitive. What can you do?  Read books on training high drive dogs so you may stand a chance at keeping the puppy engaged and learning effectively.
    All said and done, I've managed to sneak in about four hours of the day for myself during which I'm able to get a few things done. Otherwise, right now, Cinder is my welcome little diversion from an otherwise pretty bland life. She is fun and highly entertaining to watch as she plays and I can see her sharp little brain figuring out a lot of things.  Border Collies really are inherently smart-they start as puppies trying to find solutions to problems with their toys and their world.  If a toy gets stuck under an end table, they don't leave it to go find another toy to play with-they work to get that dang toy back-including attempts to dig it out or eat the end table! My job is to keep her from being destructive while she tries to keep her toys in play or in their pile; and make sure no floors, doors, or furniture die a horrible death by dog! Really though, I don't mind the battle of wits with her. She's sharpening my body and mind as she's honing hers. She's smart and in our mini training sessions, she's quick to learn and tries hard to figure out how I want her to earn her rewards. She actually started begging to do a training session just because she wants the rewards! 
    The big boys remain highly annoyed by her presence so they make appearances only to go out and race back to the bedroom to avoid her.  I can't wait until she can jump that high-that will shock them (and her) and then we'll know the bedroom door is most surely their only saving grace. That is bound to be yet another chapter in life raising Cinder.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Veterinary Visit #1 & Stalker Mode Engaged!

     No matter how good your animal care is and regardless of all things being right in the world, sometimes we just need a veterinarian to take care of things that aren't right with our animal's health.  Yesterday was such a day for Cinder.
     Cinder developed some symptoms which initially seemed to point to nothing significant-most likely expelling some worms after being dewormed a week before we picked her up. However, as the week progressed, she developed a few more symptoms which could still point to a case of worms, but I was starting to think of other possibilities.  Yesterday, Cinder woke up with a rather subdued tone from her previous days, but she wolfed down breakfast. Then she had to potty and tried to go to the door, but just in front of it, couldn't wait and started a little puddle until I got to her and outside we went.  Outside, she tried to pee repeatedly and nothing came out (very easy to see and fresh snow makes confirmation easy).  Then she tried to have a bowel movement and strained repeatedly to no no avail.  We came inside and a few minutes later, she was acting like she was going to vomit, but again, nothing but the motions.  We went outside several times and bless her for trying, nothing happened.  We came in and she started to play but quickly ran out of energy and THAT is not Cinder. She's an Energizer girl-she keeps on going and going until she just can't. When she came to me and layed on my feet in a ball, I knew most certainly that she didn't feel well. Combined with her other symptoms, I felt sure we were dealing with a case of worms or some kind of urinary infection, but the possibilities are endless and I'm not a veterinarian so it was time to call one. 
     We got into the veterinary clinic yesterday afternoon and saw my favorite veterinarian for the last 10 years. I was so glad we got lucky to have Dr. G.  Cinder had slept for two hours before our clinic visit and essentially slept through most of her exam despite the things Dr. G. did and the assortment of noises, sights and sounds that usually excite a puppy. We discussed Cinder's symptoms and the exam revealed a fairly common minor issue-"juvenile/puppy vaginitis."  Essentially the vulva and vaginal area becomes inflamed and causes some generally mild discomfort, but typically cures itself and requires no veterinary interventions. However, some cases can cause more moderate or severe symptoms and discomfort so some intervention may be required.  Cinder's case needed some medication because her symptoms were too severe to ignore. Apparently this is a common thing in female pups six weeks to six months old-prior to their first heat cycle. Once they have a heat cycle or are spayed, it apparently doesn't recur, hence the name "juvenile vaginitis." They don't know why or what causes it although a couple things are known to be possible causes: getting some foreign object (piece of dirt or feces) in the vulva and causing the irritation.  That isn't necessarily a cause, but can be. It's not contagious so it's not contracted by being around another animal with it.  Even when it causes severe symptoms and discomfort, it's a pretty minor issue. Prognosis is she should improve within 24-48 hours of the first pill. Otherwise, Cinder's perfectly healthy and everyone in the clinic loves her.
     Today, Cinder's still got a few symptoms but overall, she's bright and energetic again; full of the devil that a Border Collie puppy can be.  We've already had a very good little training session in which she has learned a new item ("down") and we're starting a little game of varying what I ask for to see she really is connecting the right actions with the commands as we do things like, " watch me, sit, down, sit and watch me."  She is a sharp little thing and so are her little puppy teeth! My arms and hands look like I've been through a briar patch! 
     She's started chasing tennis balls and watching her as she does is fun-especially since the ball and her head are about the same size! This morning's ball chase game included a new approach: STALKER MODE! Full on stalking the ball in the reknown Border Collie crouched stalking stance is fully engaged!  At seven weeks old, she's crouching, moving forward one foot carefully placed at a time, intensely focused on the prey and the climactic POUNCE, with a nose bump sending the ball rolling to its new position; then the game begins anew. I think we can agree that since she's never seen the big dogs in that stalking mode, she is seriously genetically preprogrammed with it.  This could mean I have my work cut out for me to keep her busy enough to be happy.  Gilley was challenging eight years ago, but we've both slowed down considerably so Cinder will be some serious work on my part for the next two years. This is one of those times I really wish we'd found the small farm we wanted, but one makes do with what one has and friends with big farms is one of those things. 
     Admittedly, I am now feeling my age as the week of Cinder care progresses.  I'm getting more sleep at one time than we started out, but it's not really feeling like it. I can't wait until she can do five whole hours in a crate at night before she wakes and MUST potty. However, I'm glad she's got the hang of house training enough that she won't go potty in her crate. Just wishing for the five hour stretches! Momma needs a little extra hour of sleep after a hard day of puppy play! Losing a little sleep and having hands and arms that look like I've been through razor wire are only a few minor challenges of the many ahead while raising Cinder! 


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Crate Training Revised & Surprising Dynamics

     Yesterday I revised the crate training plan for Cinder as she was having a hard time and beginning to rebel about it.  Since I moved her crate into the living room and opted to let her use one of the boys' crates in the computer room, she's been much better because she can see and hear us.  Once she becomes convinced her crate isn't an evil place, we can begin to relocate it to a more suitable location.
     The dynamics between Cinder and the older boys is not at all what I expected.  Gilley has ALWAYS been my fun-loving, gregarious natured boy who ALWAYS plays well with others of any age or size-except Cinder.  He finds her extremely annoying (which she is right now) and does everything he can to avoid her most of the time, which usually means he's in the bedroom on our bed (which is quite high).  Buzz has often exhibited questionable appreciation of other dogs unless they match or exceed his size; and he's got an insane obsession with Gilley, his BFF.  Buzz is the one exhibiting a wonderfully tolerant and, at times, concerned interest in Cinder.  He doesn't like her jumping on and biting him at all, but he's tolerant as long as one can be before he either wants to go outside or go with Gilley to the bedroom on the bed to avoid her.  Both boys are largely annoyed with Cinder, but Buzz's tolerance exceeding Gilley's by far is the greater surprise. You can see that they understand she's a baby, but they are not afraid to let her know the limits of her puppy license-and they definitely draw the line at two bites or yanks on their tails! In their minds, surely they think we need to send her away and if she comes back, it shouldn't be until she quits biting and yanking on their tails!  For Brian and me, she is indeed a welcome addition to our family and much needed diversion from mundane daily tasks and job searching; and a joy to watch as she learns new things every day. It will be a rough month as we continue life in a virtual lock-down due to unusual winter weather, but we'll muddle through on the continuing journey of raising Cinder.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Crate Training Crazies

     I've always been a proponent of crate training from an early age and with the dogs I've had it's always been successful. I believe crate training is very important for numerous reasons, starting with the of need veterinary care or kenneling over night and other reasons. Gilley came home and instantly began crate training-always loving his crate and going into it quite willingly and contentedly.  Buzz had to learn when he came because he had no house manners and needed to learn to be in a crate to travel.  Cinder is proving a little more challenging than some of my other pups.
    Cinder's had a dislike for her crate that Gilley never displayed.  However, I shouldn't compare them because they're totally different. I also keep forgetting that when Gilley came home, he was about two weeks older and already completely weaned. Cinder was not fully weaned because the weather turned too sour and the puppies too young to live in a barn without their momma during the coldest winter weather Ohio has had in over 40 years.  Both age and not being fully weaned are valid reasons Cinder's having more trouble adjusting. Of course she feels abandoned when we put her in a crate that is totally removed from the hub of the house-even with the bedroom door open to her area and the TV on!
     Once I thought about how we crate trained Gilley and the differences between he and Cinder, I realized that sometimes I need to back up and try another approach. Cinder's younger and her weaning was started but not completed when we picked her up-she still needs security of knowing her packmates are close.  I've moved her crate into the living room, beside our kitchen. That location is central to most of our house-bound activities and provides more visibility to us.
     I played with Cinder until she curled up to sleep. I picked her up and brought her back to the computer room and placed her in Buzz's crate while I'm in there working online. That way I'm in complete view and earshot of her.  She whined about a minute and curled up to sleep.
  Right now, moving the crate is somewhat a crutch-maybe as much or more for me than she! But, she seems far more accepting of it when she sees me nearby. Another week or so of making the crate less hated can't be a bad thing.


Night #3 with Cinder

     Last night we pondered the way we handle winding Cinder down and putting her to bed for the night.  I don't always want to be the one who does the routine things with her-Brian also needs to do them.  Cinder needs Brian to learn to work with her too. There should be no "good cop, bad cop" when it comes to dogs in families! Everyone should be equally responsible for and able to provide consistent care and handling-it's in everyone's best interest and especially the dog's! 
     Since I usually run on only four or five hours of sleep, I'm usually the last one to bed and first one awake.  My sleep habits won't change, but I can change how things are done and one is that Brian needs to do some puppy care even when I'm awake and available. Luckily for him, putting her in her crate went relatively easily and she went to sleep without fuss because she was so tired.  Last night, Brian was a little uncertain of my motives for having him take over some of her evening care, even after explaining why, but hopefully he'll come to understand the value of his equal share in raising Cinder. 
   Yesterday, Cinder got her first bath. Since she was housed in a barn based kennel, she came
with a little dust and dirt, but she added something she found to roll in while outside that was utterly disgusting.  Right now she's small enough to fit in my large kitchen sink, making it easier to bathe her. She had no knowledge of water and it was definitely a minor trauma getting wet-until she also got a mildly soapy rub down. I didn't use the sprayer on her because I figured the pressure would be too harsh and the overall experience might make her hate bathing. After her bath, I went to use the sink sprayer to rinse the sink but I wasn't paying attention when I pulled the trigger and shot myself with water. Lesson for the human: be sure the sink sprayer is facing the right direction before pulling the trigger on it!
   After her bath, we both needed to dry out.  I pulled off both my soaked shirts and took Cinder to the bathroom for some blow drying.  She wasn't happy with the sound, but I think she liked the warm air and rubbing which warmed and dried her pretty well.  She was so exhausted. I wrapped her in a warm towel and as I layed her on the bed while I got another sweatshirt, Buzz got on the bed and crawled over to her, looking at her as though he wanted to help her but had no idea how-and didn't want a tail chomping or lip pulling for his attempt! He nudged at me as I put
on my sweatshirt, looking at Cinder as she layed there. I picked her up and went to the recliner to let her rest in my lap and get her air dried before she woke up and went out in the cold again to potty.
 Gilley is feeling extremely displaced and goes to our bed instead of interacting with and being a chew toy for Cinder. Buzz, amazingly, is attempting a more tolerant approach, trying to stay out of the way of her needle teeth bites and bold jumps on him while also anxious to show her the way of life in our home and even trying to help her when he thinks she may be hurt or scared. These dynamics are much different than I'd anticipated and will probably evolve differently over time for all of them as the big boys learn to cope and live raising Cinder.


Puppy Training Begins

     People often think training a puppy doesn't begin until a certain age, size, or until they sign into a puppy training class.  Wrong! Puppy training begins as soon as we establish routine behaviors and as soon as we choose to spend a few minutes working on something.
     Cinder's attention span is about two minutes-good for her age. I send the big boys to bed for respite from Cinder (in their minds, a demon tail-biting dynamo) while I spend a little time playing with her, working on a few simple things that hopefully shape some future training. Right now, we're working on "come, sit and watch me."  She's getting "come and sit" quite well so far, but "watch me" is a nanosecond thing (good for first tries, but needs improvement). We're also working on "settle" as she learns to lay on her back quietly-for slightly longer than a nanosecond to be released from it. She's got that down when she's already a little tired, but when she's wound, she thinks it's about playing. It will improve.  Once we have these few things down pretty well, we can build on a couple more.  She's only seven weeks old so she's already learned a LOT. Hopefully, by the time Spring actually comes, she'll already have a pretty good foundation for moving to doing things outside. Already her "come" is strong enough we're starting to vary letting her go to other rooms for the purpose of calling her-it's working quite well for now (until she starts finding things more interesting than coming to me).
     The hardest part of working with her is sharing the process with my husband, Brian, who has limited time and limited understanding of dog behavior and training.  I've ordered some books online which I hope will give him better comprehension of the process. As usual, training the humans is often harder than training the dogs-including refreshing my own knowledge and training skills!  It's one thing to know and understand what you SHOULD do; often it's another when attempting to apply what you know! That's where friends who train dogs  (including Border Collies) comes in handy. It's always wonderful when you have someone who can help you.


Kong Toys are Wonderful Things

 Teething puppies are just like teething babies-everything goes into their mouths including furniture, walls and other dogs' tails. Help curbing the puppy urge to taste test everything is a puppy Kong toy. Kong toys are great. We have the pink one for Cinder and Gilley still has his puppy Kong eight years later!  
   Buying insertable Kong treats isn't necessary if you have a jar of peanut butter or some plain yogurt and honey.  Plain yogurt has many of the same benefits for dogs as humans and mixing some honey in it makes it a high value sweet treat. We don't feed yogurt from the container-it gets frozen into yogurt ice cubes which can be inserted in the Kong for a highly desirable entertainment treat.  Cinder's entertained by it for at leat five minutes - long enough for ME to go potty  and another cup of coffee!
    The other benefit of using Kong as a diversionary treat is that it can be used to lure Cinder to her crate for some quiet time, making the crate experience a little less a punishment and more a quiet pleasure.  
     One caveat about using frozen yogurt ice cubes is that they can create a mess as they melt. I stongly suggest NOT using them on any carpets, rugs or furniture. Don't bounce them until you've rinsed them out either-the melted yogurt cube or warm peanut butter will splatter out on bouncing! I won't tell you how I know that tidbit.