Sunday, September 1, 2013

This isn't the routine

Dogs pick up on routine fast. Gracie and Gus are no exception. Gus has been very quick to learn the pace of the house. Our weekday morning routines go like clockwork. That is until I threw a monkey-wrench into the works last week.

I needed to be at work really early one morning for an online training course. So I was changing the usual morning potty routine. It didn't go well. 

This was our conversation:

Me:  OK, you two go potty.

Gus: What's this? A leaf!

Gracie: Wait, what? You want me to do what out here? Go...potty, is it? Is this new?  I usually get a walk.

Me: I don't have time for a walk this morning, so go potty!

Gus: And a dirt clod! Look a dirt clod. Chase me!

Me: Gus, give me that. Now, go potty!

Gracie: Here? You want me to go potty here? Well, let me sniff around for a while. I need to inspect each piece of bark dust first. 

Gus: Hey Gracie, what are you doing? Can I sniff, too?

Me: Come on, you two! Go potty!

Gus: I found a pinecone! Yay! 

Gracie: Nope. Can't do it. I'm going to need a walk. 

Me:  Fine! Gus did you go?

Gus: Go? Yep, let's go!

A short while later...

Gracie and I return from our walk -- she did NOT go potty.
Meanwhile, Gus, in his crate, HAD gone potty.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Give him a sedagive!

One of the best scenes in the movie Young Frankenstein is when Dr. Frankenstein performs charades for his coworkers while the monster is choking him. He wants his assistants to give the monster a sedative. Instead, we get hilarious guesses from Igor.

If Gracie could do charades, I think she would have been playing Gene Wilder's role this week. Gus had his neutering surgery on Wednesday. The vet said "keep him calm for two weeks." Seriously? If anything, he's been more wound up since then and constantly picking at Gracie to play. 

I rooted through Gracie's pharmaceutical supply and found some sedatives from her last surgery. So I called my vet to see if I could give a puppy-size dose to Gus. Last night was a bit better, although I still need to keep them separate because Gus can't resist play-attacking his big sis.  

Following the charades scene in Young Frankenstein Dr. F inquires of Igor about the brain he collected. Turns out it belonged to someone named Abbie...Abbie Normal. Sounds a bit like a puppy brain!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

No breakfast this morning

"A spayed or neutered dog is simply much easier to live with. Your Lab will be more focused on you and less on other dogs."
                                                ~Your Labrador Retriever Puppy Month by Month

Gus is scheduled for surgery today. Right now he is blissfully unaware of what is about to happen. (Although he is wondering why Gracie got breakfast and he did not.)

I've noticed an interesting thing the last few weeks. When I tell people Gus is being neutered, I tend to get this reaction from people: "Oh...poor Gus!"  Or some equivalent of that sentiment. I recall when Gracie had her spay surgery so many years ago, that people didn't bat an eye or make a comment. Could there be a gender bias in the dog world? Are we humans subconsciously equating neutering with the emasculation of men? Do we see spaying a female dog as the equivalent of the woman taking responsibility for birth control? 

Oh I know, this is all too much for an early morning blog post. And to paraphrase Freud, sometimes a surgery is just a surgery. 

Regardless, I do feel a twinge at leaving my boy at the vet's office today. On the upside, I'm looking forward to a more low key evening tonight.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bragging rights, part 2

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
                                           ~Proverbs 16:18

Back in July I boasted about the brilliance of my dogs. So smart! Over the last couple of days I also found myself bragging about Gus as a potty-training prodigy. 

But as the proverb reminds us, this kind of talk can only lead to destruction. Thursday night I noticed a flood of pee on the kitchen floor. The back door to the backyard was wide open, but apparently someone waited until the last minute and couldn't make the dash in time. Gus looked at me with wide-eyed innocence. Gracie just shrugged. 

This morning as I was awaiting a visitor, I heard the tell-tale sound of someone peeing on the carpet. How can so much come out such a little guy? As I was cleaning up, Gracie dashed off with the used paper towels. And, no, she wasn't trying to help. Really, you guys!?

This past Thursday and Friday, I attended the Global Leadership Summit and was privileged to hear from some great speakers. Joseph Grenny, the author of Influencer told us how focusing on six key sources can enable us to influence change: personal motivation and ability, social motivation and ability, and structural motivation and ability. As I apply this to potty training Gus, I believe I've been employing at least four these six sources. Time to add the other two.

Also at the Summit, General Colin Powell offered sage advice: get mad, then get over it. Sure I was mad that Gus hadn't availed himself to the outdoors to relieve himself, but I wasn't going to let that ruin my day or my relationship with him.

Last but not least, Dr. Henry Cloud, taking a quote from his book Boundaries for Leaders, reminded us: "In the end, as a leader, you are always going to get a combination of two things: what you create and what you allow." 

As I reflect on these teachings, I'm challenged to apply them to my home life as well as my work life. And when I stumble in these areas, I reminded of another great quote from the literary heroine Scarlett O'Hara:  "After all, tomorrow is another day."

Friday, August 2, 2013

Driving Miss Gracie...and Mr. Gus

Yesterday Gracie and Gus had vet appointments. Gus was due for his second round of booster shots and Gracie to check on a pesky hot spot that keeps flaring up on her chin. Wrangling two dogs into the Jeep, out of the Jeep, and into the vet's office was an adventure. I was so  harried by the experienced that I left my purse at home! Thank goodness I'm a regular at the vet's office and they agreed to mail an invoice to me. 

Gracie is an great car-rider. She settles into her space in the back of the Jeep with little fuss. Her main challenge is getting in and out due to her hip and knee problems. We solved that problem a couple of years ago with an Otto step. She is a great pal to have along on a road trip. She watches the road for a bit and the settles in for a nap until we reach our destination. 

Gus has not taken to car riding as well. Of course, this was only his third car ride so he doesn't have the experience. 

I tried to explain to Gus that car rides meant adventures and we would have great fun wherever we went. He had much to say about that (none of it good) on short drive to the vet's office. 

I want to be able to take my dogs with me when I go places. For now, Gus needs to ride in a crate so that he is safe. And he did not much care for that. So I'll need to keep working him to get him use to the car, the crate, and the feel of the road. 

This will be important because in October we'll take our first major road trip to the beach and then he'll see the payoff for being a good car-rider like Gracie. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dog days of summer

The period from 12 to 16 weeks is a lot of fun for your family and your puppy. This month is also a challenge as your joyful toddler becomes more active. Overenthusiastic about everything, he acts first and things later.
                                              ~Your Labrador Retriever Puppy Month by Month

The phrase "dog days of summer" usually means a low-key, subdued approach to each summer day. The summer heat weighs people down, slowing their walk and their talk. It evokes images of sitting on the front porch sipping ice tea. 

And then there's Gus. 

Overnight, we've gone from a "play hard, sleep hard" puppy, to a "play hard, then play even harder" puppy. Even Gracie is struggling to keep up. We've taken to tag-teaming him - Gracie plays with him until she is worn out, then I take over while she rests. I marvel that I survived this phase when it was just Gracie and me!

It is this stage that reminds me the importance of crate training and I'm thankful that Gus is getting use to his crate. It is working well to have it in the garage next to Gracie's kennel. I still hear the occasional yip, but I think he is now finding it a place of rest. 

And that is a good thing. 

P.S. Photos are getting harder to take. By the time I have the camera ready, Gus has moved on to other things. Things I usually need to pry from his mouth.