Category Archives: Bad Dog NO

The Accidental Play Date

Most days around 5pm, I open our front door so Truman can watch out the storm door for the pack leader to get home while I’m busy with dinner.

Yesterday I heard him barking, which was only odd because I hadn’t also heard the telltale diesel engine sounds of the pack leader’s car. A quick glance out the window revealed an empty parking space, so I went to see what Roo was so excited about. I found him, tail wagging high and play-with-me hackles straight up, woofing and sniffing at the bottom corner of the doorjamb. And on the other side of the storm door? Someone else who was ready to play, bouncing happily around my front porch.

It looked like Toby, my neighbor’s Houdini Spaniel (sure to become an AKC recognized breed). This wasn’t Toby’s first solo flight around the neighborhood; I’d helped my neighbor corral him before. So with one hand on Truman’s collar and one hand on the door handle, I invited him in so I could get a closer look at his tags and verify his identity.

Ha ha ha.

Why did I not see this next part coming? Because I’m an idiot. As soon as the dog had two nostrils and a toenail inside my house, he and Truman went warp drive and zoomed around my living room, chasing and spinning in an attempt to break the Labrador land speed record. I reached for my leash after I somehow managed to get two hands on the spaniel and confirm his Tobyness, but fortunately, I didn’t have to try to break up the party. Just then, I spied my neighbor and waved her over. “I’ve got him!” The poor woman, who had only minutes before returned from an out-of-state trip because her flight home had been delayed three days due to good ol’ Sandy, was relieved.

When I refocused my attention on the furricane in my living room, I saw Truman do something that he has never, ever, ever — in his entire history of living with me, EVER — done before. He picked up one of my slippers and ran with it. Now, this may not seem like a big deal to anyone who’s ever owned a dog, but those of you who followed this blog during Truman’s early puppyhood will remember that he was many naughty things, but he was never a chewer, or even a thief, of inappropriate items. His efforts were focused on epic power struggles with me for ultimate authority (otherwise known as Conquering Earth One Human At A Time). But never did he even so much as put his wee puppy tongue on a shoe or sock.

Totally weird. So I yelled as though he could understand English.

“What are you DOING? There are half a dozen perfectly acceptable dog toys on the floor right there, where you are!”

After telling him to drop it (which he did, instantly) and letting my neighbor in, we gave the dogs another minute or two of NASCAR time. Then we agreed the boys should have a real play date soon, Toby went home, and I retrieved my soggy slipper with an eyebrow raise toward Roo before getting back to prepping the salad.

We sooooooo need a fenced back yard.

Someone’s Teething

Chewing is good. It cleans teeth and releases serotonin, which makes a puppy happy. The dogs will frequently go to town on a nice, solid Nylabone, which makes a noise I enjoy (but which many people find grating). And often, the dogs will prop said Nylabone against a wall or another dog or a piece of furniture in order to get a better angle and a nice, steady chew. This, depending on the surface, can amplify or even slightly alter the noise. At any rate, I’m accustomed to those sounds and can usually identify them even if I can’t see what’s happening.

Occasionally, though, there’s a moment when I suddenly become aware of a sound I don’t recognize. For example, today, when I was in the kitchen making a sandwich. I had left Jethro with a huge Nylabone. He had propped it against the coffee table and was happily crunching away.

Two minutes later, he’d taken up woodworking.

After the initial yelling, I explained to him that Ikea particle board isn’t really wood, and that he should take up a new hobby. Something less…deconstructionist. I think I offended his inner artiste.

I can never get too upset with him about this kind of thing, though. Ultimately, it was my fault for leaving him out of eyesight for more than 12.7 seconds. Also, he’s teething. He has kind of a hillbilly mouth right now: some big teeth, some little teeth, some holes where teeth should be.

And to be honest, this just means one less piece of furniture to have to put on a moving truck in a couple of months. I’m just sayin’.

Curses! Foiled Again

So, in a discussion with our puppy kindergarten teacher about my little Tom Cruise’s couch-jumping problem, she offered a creative solution.

I had tried everything I could think of by this point. He’d outsmarted me on regular leash, and even on the retractable leash I keep only for in-house training purposes (good for mysterious “self-corrections” from across the room when a dog is too sniffy or wants to jump, and thinks it has freedom to do so). Thus far the casual “I think I’ll go lounge on the couch” kind of jumping had been taken care of, but I’d still been struggling to arrest the “I’m so crazed and playful right now that my ten-legged momentum dictates that I simply must use the couch for a canine parkour party” kind of jumping. I had no ideas left. But Yvette had a good one.

Aluminum foil.

You read right! I went home, put the puppy to bed in the other room so he couldn’t see what I was doing, pulled my trusty extra-wide roll of aluminum foil off the baking shelf, then set to work covering the seats of my couches end to end with nice long strips. Heh heh hehhhhhh….

The next morning was hilarious. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to get it on video.

Truman and Jethro had their morning playtime, and started chasing each other around the living room.

Shuffle shuffle shuffle bark shuffle shuffle zoom zoom BOING (*crinkle*) “WHAT THE %*^& WAS THAT?!?!?”

He was off the couch as quickly as he’d gotten on; all it took was four little paws on that unpleasant surface — the feel of it, the weird noise — and a couple of hot-coals-dance foot prances, and he was back on the floor, with ears up and a furrowed brow, looking at the foil as if it were going to come to life and kill us all. I could hardly contain myself. I think my belly-laughs at his expense offended him, because he started running around again and tried it on the other couch.

Same thing. It was awesome.

The couches were safe for the rest of the day.

NaughtyPants Back On

Jethro has discovered he can pick up the dog food/water bowl, trot into the living room with it, and prance about as he flings it to and fro with joyous metal cacophony.

This isn’t quite as scary-smart as the time I came home from work to a report from Wolf that indicated Jethro had attempted to open a door — by the knob, with his front paws — but it’s a pretty silly scene to behold.

Death From Above

Jethro has discovered…the couches.

Sometimes he casually saunters over to one of them, eyeballs it for a second, then jumps up and makes himself comfortable. But usually, it’s in the middle of a frenzied shuffle of pent-up energy, racing around the living room with Truman, that he will all of a sudden spring onto the couch and run/hop BOING-BOING-BOING-BOING-BOING back and forth until he either responds to my “NO!” or decides to attack Truman from on high in a flying dive-bomb blur of crazy. One time, he simply used Truman as a springboard so he could make his long jump even longer.

He’s on leash around the house most of the time, but like any self-respecting puppy, Jethro is a sneaky little opportunist. In the 30 seconds it takes me to clean up a mess or pour myself a glass of water in the off-limits kitchen, he’s put on his NaughtyPants and is busily finding something to do that he knows is specifically verboten.

Smart dog. That’s the blessing and the curse of puppy raising, as it turns out.

He’s not a big believer in “NO!” — in fact, most loud noises I’ve attempted to make as a startle-him-into-attention maneuver have had no effect. He’s a pretty confident dog. I’ve tried throwing a toy onto the couch in an effort to “set him up” and correct him when he goes for it; that lasted about two times before he figured out that he’d better behave when he’s on leash. But he knows he won’t be on leash forever…MUWAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA….

House manners are hugely important to a future guide dog user, and puppy raisers are the only people who can effectively teach them to the future guide dog. We’re working on it.

Road Trip! Part Three

Another post in my continuing “Days of Yore” series, catching up on long-overdue photos of Truman’s final days as a puppy-in-training….

July 18-22, 2008 — Road Trip! Part Three

Once we hit ABQ, we stayed with some wonderful friends who love both trains and dogs (which is, in part, why they are such wonderful friends). Truman made friends with the considerably older Arrow (a black Lab/Chow mix) and Cedar (a chocolate Lab), who were quite kind to him despite his meeting them on their turf and being full of I’ve-been-in-a-car-forEVER-and-need-to-play-NOW enthusiasm. Funny, all I wanted to do when I got out of the vehicle was sleep.

Saturday morning, we headed over to the property where our friends are helping to restore the historic Santa Fe 2926 steam locomotive. Wolf makes a trip out there a few times a year to lend his engineering experience with things like calculating the thickness of the metal in different spots on the boiler, so they’ll know where to reinforce, repair or replace it.

The soon-to-be-grand-again lady was stuck in a park for years and years, exposed to the elements, so the restoration is quite an effort! She may look rusty now, but she’s a tough old gal and she’ll be gorgeous when she’s done. I can’t wait to see her restored to her former glory, gleaming in the Albuquerque sunshine and barreling down the tracks to the wonder and delight of those who remember her heyday and those who’ve never experienced anything like her.

To give you some sense of scale, here’s a shot of Truman in front of the wheels, and of me and Wolf inside the fire box.

Also pictured are the historic Santa Fe railroad shops in downtown Albuquerque. And for my fellow Southern Californians, I’ve included one shot with a blue sky that you will not believe…partly because you may never have seen one.

Post Plunge TowelingWe ended our day with a swim in our friends’ pool. Truman enjoyed it so much that he decided to take an unauthorized dip AGAIN just before we were about to leave for church the next morning. There was a little more “pew!” in the pews that Sunday. “Yes, ma’am. He’s a guide dog puppy in training. No, the wet dog smell isn’t on purpose so the blind person will know where he is.”

After church, we had lunch at the Route 66 Cafe, bid our friends farewell, and hopped back on the road to our next stop: Arizona.

To be continued…

A Q&A with Bronx

Bronx waited until the last couple of days with us to put on his NaughtyPants. Seriously, he is such a good and sweet little dog…but when he decides to do something against the law, he goes into stealth mode and does it quickly and quietly. Now, I am a vigilant puppy raiser, but this one flew under my radar, and he did it repeatedly.

A Bronx Q&A from the last few days:

Jenny: “What is my shoe doing off the shoe rack? And where is the other one?”
Bronx: “Check the living room, where you were just two minutes ago. It tastes like Disneyland.”

Jenny: “Is that an ink pen sticking out of both sides of your mouth?”
Bronx: “Mmhmmf.”

Jenny: “Where did my hair tie go? I could have sworn I had it this morning….”
Bronx: “You’ll see it again. Probably just after dinner.”

Jenny: “What’s that giant black lump in the middle of my bed?”
Bronx: “Oh, hi. Enjoy your three-minute bathroom break? The yellow dog just jumped off and ran away, muttering something about the cops, but I’m lovin’ this TempurPedic mattress. Wanna join me?”

Jenny: “What are you eating? Open up.”
Bronx: “I believe it’s excrement. You’re gonna wanna wash those fingers.”

CSI: My Apartment

May 27, 2008 — The phone call from my roommate came at the end of the day.

Amy: When are you going to be home?

Me: I’m on the road even as we speak. Why?

Amy (laughing): I have to show you something….

When I got back to the apartment, she was sitting against the headboard of her bed, reading a book. She invited me to come in and sit where she was, to get her vantage point.

You may already know that dogs are not allowed in Amy’s bedroom. You may also have read here that Truman has grown into a well-mannered dog, trustworthy around the house.

You may not know that my roommate often puts a bath towel on her floor on which she sets “lay flat to dry” clothing.

Click to enlarge the evidence.

I went over the events of the day in my head, and realized he would have had exactly one window of opportunity in which to perpetrate this act of sneakitude: while I was in the bathroom that evening, for approximately three minutes. Stealth Dog strikes again…but he is apparently not smart enough to cover his tracks.

It May Be Worse Than I Thought

So, the vet put him under, looked up both nostrils, and found nothing up the boy’s nose. Nada. No foxtail, not even mucous membrane damage to indicate that a foxtail had been there. What could it be? According to the vet:

1.) Could be an allergy of some kind.
2.) Could be a foxtail that has somehow been snorted wayyyyyy up there, only detectable by the use of a pediatric endoscope through the mouth and up the back way into his nasal workings. That’s apparently specialist domain; regular vets don’t typically have to do this.
3.) Could be something else. (Thanks, that was helpful.)

At any rate, I was instructed to keep an eye on him for further sneezing episodes, which would apparently get worse; excessive discharge, in colors that would indicate the presence of infection; and/or blood, which is just never what you want to see in any case.

So today I went downstairs for a couple of minutes to get something out of the truck, and when I got back up to the apartment, my roommate and I had the following exchange:

Amy: “Um, Truman was making this awful gagging/choking noise, and then he spat something on the floor.”

Me: “What was it?”

Amy (holding open a napkin): “This.”

Me (freaking out, after a split-second look at what was once a spider): “EWW! You could have just said! You didn’t have to SHOW me!”

It was a few minutes before it dawned on me that the spider could have been our option number three. Makes sense, in a way — no mucous membrane damage, possibly bit him in the mouth or nose and caused irritation that might result in sneezing. Also makes sense that Truman would find a way to present me with some kind of horrible nightmare starring creatures that freak me out more than just about anything else.

He is still sneezing occasionally, but it’s just once or twice instead of the crazy, minute-long violent sneezing jags he had on Wednesday and Thursday. No funny-colored dog snot, no blood.

My dog the spider-snorter. Figures.

Reason #517 Not to Be Sniffy

It’s foxtail season.

Apparently, someone — who shall remain nameless — stuck his nose where it didn’t belong, when no one was looking, and is now at the vet, having surgery.

He’ll be fine, but it’s derailed our plans for his big weekend visit with his sister Tori. Hopefully this will teach him not to go snorting up the vegetation.

Never seen a foxtail? This handy foxtail info page will show you what you should be looking out for, especially if you live here in Southern California….