Tag Archives: puppy training

returning to some routines

snow-roof-deemallonWhat a time has just passed — intense, unbelievable, white, white, white!  The colliding conditions of a record-setting winter and adopting a puppy ‘with issues’ made for a time that was both debilitating and exhilarating. In some ways, the conditions forced simplicity. Can’t go visit friends. Boom. Can’t run errands. Boom. And, the positives were heart-melting and pure — joyful play in the snow with an exuberant creature… warm, snuggles on the couch with a super affectionate dog. Those liquid brown eyes. That wagging tail.  A winter wonderland.

In other ways, the collision forced complicated, constant accommodations that were exhausting. Fence maintenance. In and out multiple times a day in the WORST weather. Scrambling to sign up for canine training classes and finding none for weeks on end because they, like so much else, were cancelled. And then there was the snow removal. And more snow removal. And snow removal yet again.* (*repeat three times).

I felt like I’d been dropped into an alternate universe — one I wasn’t sure I wanted to inhabit.  The loss of the empty-nest compensations (neat house, control of my time) slapped me in the face, every day. Every hour of every day?IMG_8221Inside, a puppy-proofed living space with its bareness and intermittent piles of chewed destruction seemed unreal. A crate where there was once a dining room table. All sewing supplies stashed four-to-five feet up. Outside, the vast banks of snow made us “strangers in a strange land”.*  What happened to the road?  The sidewalk?  Our fence?!!  Could the sky really be delivering yet another foot of snow?!

Writing classes were cancelled because of narrowed streets. K worked from home OFTEN because the T kept shutting down. Social engagements were declined with embarrassed apologies about the slow pace of crate training or road closures. I took to ordering myself groceries online right after I ordered for my sister, whom I did not see for a record three (or was it FOUR?) weeks running. Nothing was business as usual.

I didn’t recognize myself either. I became a person who talks about the weather. . . someone who watches the news and then plans accordingly. To go outside (which was OFTEN, with the dog), I wore two layers of down, leggings under my pants, and kept four pairs of gloves and two pairs of boots at the ready, in various stages of drying. I wore a ‘boarding style’ hat because it hugged the crown and could be pulled low over my forehead.

And… I realized I wasn’t yet a ‘dog person’. Turns out, caring for Jack had been a lot like having a cat. He came to us a sedate two year old, just wanting food and love. So easy!

Finn is a whole other story:  1) he’s a puppy;  2) he’s a working breed; 3) he exhibits leash aggression to other dogs (not people, thank goodness!). In other words, he needs honest-to-goodness training. Can’t really do that WITHOUT becoming a ‘dog person’.

All of this became part of a response to a prompt in last week’s writing class. Maybe I’ll post some of it tomorrow? It’s a full-fledged rant, so we’ll see.  They tend to be revealing.

Anyway, rant or no rant, I’m back. Thanks for returning faithful readers! I can’t wait to catch up on your blogs.

window-snow-shadows-deemallonsnowbanks-deemallonpuppy-snow-deemallon*  (I didn’t know that phrase came out of the lips of the prophet Moses until yesterday, reading W.E.B. Du Bois).

the flip side of house bound sanctuary (with puppy)

2015/02/img_7666.jpgWhat was I saying about peaceful sanctuary?!! Finn is having one of his power puppy naps right now or I’d be pulling on my boots, or taking off my boots, or filling a KONG toy with peanut butter, or removing the book from his mouth that I thought was out of reach (but wasn’t) (have I shared the Chew Literary Ratings yet?), or training him to like the brush, or acting like I’m training him to like his crate (and failing), or texting a friend to babysit him while I go to the dentist, or watching the weather report with a slight air of desperation, or chopping ice off the steps while he watches from the other side of the door, or throwing his rope toy out in the deep, deep piles of snow, and laughing at his leaping retrieval and energetic waggling, or shoveling snow from the fence line because he is fractions of a second from realizing he can STEP over the fence (that honestly, even without snow he could take at a running leap), or walking him while busy scanning the horizon for other dogs, or constructing a barrier to place on top of some fabric laid out in the hopes of constructing some tiny quilts (the final kickstarter rewards) wondering if I’ve hidden them sufficiently (for in canine eyes they are mere provocative chew tidbits).  So, the mantra ‘for now’ sounds perhaps like a spiritual mandate to live in the moment, but it is really part of the strenuous self talk necessary to get through this phase. Say and repeat 20 times:  “this won’t last as long as it did with kids / this won’t last as long as it did with kids… ”

And, just for the record? I refuse to go to that place where I judge that part of me that has historically made life difficult for herself, in all kinds of ways… because I really, really don’t think this is about that, and even if it is — so what? We wanted a dog. We got a great one. And a lot of this is weather-related (the boots, gloves, the insecure perimeter, the cold, the tight channels of snow for walking) — and not about me at all. More snow on the way. And bitter cold, too.  So!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Not a complaint. This is not a complaint. A public scream, perhaps. Perhaps, a flip side of yesterday’s post. Inspired in part by ‘hand stories’ showing-the-back-of-the-cloth post.