Sunday, 25 December 2011

My Christmas Sweetheart


Oh how I dreaded the thought!!  No, not the thought of having 15 very loud relatives over...not the thought of all the cooking, cleaning and preparations I would have to, no, no.  I dreaded the thought of how pup would behave after everyone was gone!

Please, let me explain.  Last October during Thanksgiving, pup had behaved like a dream.  It wasn't until everyone had left, and my overnight guests were getting ready for bed, that pup decided he didn't feel like sleeping.  He actually kept us awake all night, barking from midnight to 8am every hour on the hour.  Well, this time, the only overnight guest we had was my mom, and I certainly didn't want the poor lady to be kept awake.  Hubby decided that today we would do everything the complete opposite of that fateful October day!!

The day started like any other.  We got up, we walked the dog in the morning.  Then, hubby and I proceeded to clean the house and start up the cooking...but, learning from our mistakes, we tried to keep to pup's routine as much possible.  At lunch time, I dropped everything I was doing, and took pup out for a walk (he's used to me coming home at lunchtime every day, and I kept to the same route).  After we came home, I continued my cooking and cleaning, and pup took his usual midday nap (man that pup sleeps a heck of a lot!!)
As hubby and I continued our work, we put on soothing Christmas music instead of the upbeat rock we listened to during our cooking last October.  Pup seemed good with that as he lay on the floor and had a deep, deep sleep.

Around 4pm..roughly an hour and a half before the guests would arrive, son took pup out for another walk.  Once again, pup is used to son walking him after school, so once again, in pup's mind, he was just following his usual routine.

Once the guests started arriving and the noise got louder and louder, hubby and I exchanged nervous glances..but it was OK..pup wasn't too excited with all of this.  He was just happy to have new people around him showering him with affection.

As we sat at the dining room table, carving the turkey, pouring the wine, and everyone talking above everyone else, pup just sat and looked at us..perfectly happy with all this life and activity in the house.  At one point, I asked hubby if he knew where pup was (as I had noticed he wasn't in his usual spot).  One of the guests told me that pup was under the table, sitting on one of the guests' bare feet..keeping them toasty warm.

I have to say, after 7 months of putting up with his biting, pulling, growling, jumping, leash-biting habits, this was the first time that pup really felt like the family pet.  He was just wonderful.  A real pleasure!!

Finally, once all the guests were gone and the dishes cleared, hubby took him on his last walk of the day.  The snow had started falling heavily at that point, and, as I looked out the window, I could see pup frolicking out in the snow, trying to grab snowflakes out of the sky.  I finally felt something that had been evading me for 7 months.  I finally started feeling a warmth spread over me as I saw how happy he was.  Yep, on that Christmas day, my pup gave me the greatest present of all....pup gave me the gift of love.

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Sunday, 18 December 2011


Our wonderful little puppy was born on April 1st, 2011.  We brought home our little April fool on May 28th, 2011.  All of 8 weeks old.  We went through a challenging Spring together, and an easier Fall.  However, this is everyone's 1st Winter together.

When we used to go for walks in the dead heat of the August sun, Winter was barely on anyone's mind.  Our quest to look for sprinklers and water fountains pushed the menace of winter further and further out of our minds.  Pup, of course, would have absolutely no idea that this white stuff even existed!!  As Summer faded slowly into Fall, and the days got shorter and the wind got brisker, we'd throw on an extra sweater and laugh at how pup would put his nose up in the air to smell the unique aromas that Fall brings.

Then it happened!!!  The weather started getting much colder.  Now, to be fair, I have to say, it's December 18th and we still haven't had any snow on the ground.  But, it has gotten considerably colder.  At first, I felt kinda sorry for pup.  I went out and bought him boots so his little feet wouldn't be too cold.  I put them on him, and the poor thing hated them.  He kept walking on his ankles.  At one point, he had the strap of his front paw in his mouth.  There he was, walking on 3 legs with the other leg at a right angle, foot in mouth!!!!  All this before he had reached the end of the driveway!!!  Needless to say, I took the boots off him.  He seemed much happier, and, get this, the cold didn't seem to bother him at all!!!  He loved it!!!  It was as though the cold air made him come alive!

My husband has a theory.  Although my little Portuguese Water Dog's roots are in southern Europe, this breed was originally bred to carry messages from boat to boat in the rough seas of the Atlantic.  That's gotta be some seriously cold water!!  So, although they are moderate climate dogs, they love the cold.  At first I laughed at this logic, but the more I saw my little pup frolicking on the cold frozen ground, the more I realized that this pup will really give me a run for my money when the snow starts falling.  My fantasies about sitting in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine and the dog at my feet are now shattered.  I foresee a long cold winter, me dressed in layers upon layers of clothes...nose and eyes watering in the cold...while pup will be running up snow-banks, digging tunnels, getting drenched in the cold, cold snow, and crying when it's time to go inside!!!!

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Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Allure of the Wood

My 8 month old PWD loves WOOD!!!  Lots and lots of WOOD!!!  He doesn't care how big, small, rough, smooth  wet, brittle, treated it is...he just can't get enough WOOD!!

When he was just a pup, our walks would be very frustrating because his nose was so low to the ground, that absolutely everything would go in his mouth.  Rocks, paper, grass, mud, really didn't matter.  However, as pup started getting older, his tastes became more refined.  Sure, he still likes to kick back with the occasional used Kleenex, but his real passion lies in wood.  Twigs, branches, tree bark, long as it once belonged to the tree family, he's in!!

Every lunchtime walk starts out the same.  I put the leash on him, up goes the garage door, pup waits for me to lead the way!!  He's an angel.  Right up until that first pee 4 seconds later!!  Once he's been properly relieved, he begins his never ending quest for that perfect twig.

At any given time, I look down and he's got a small branch in his mouth.  He chews on it until it's almost gone, spits it out and continues the hunt.  The next branch might be much larger.  He loves dragging humongous branches, with all sorts of off-shoots, and all the leaves still in place, down the street!!   Most times, the branches are larger than he is, but that only makes it more fun!!  Many times, I'll be walking him, when all of a sudden, I'll feel a whip like sensation across my shins.  I'll look down in pain, only to see him carrying a skinny twig, about 4 feet long, happily in his mouth whipping everyone on either side of him (Mostly me..of course). Getting the wood out of his mouth is never an easy task.  The stronger I pull, he more he resists.  The more he resists, the more excited he gets.  The more excited he gets, the harder it is to pull the wood out of his mouth. Actually, I've found that the only thing that works to get him to drop the stick, is to entice him with another stick!!!  My 14 year old thinks I'm nuts.  He's sure pup will choke on the wood someday.  I'm not so sure, however.  The appeal for more and more fresh wood is enough to keep him alive forever!!

Last week, during one of our walks, I let him onto a lawn to relieve himself.  He grabbed what I thought was a skinny twig.  I was wrong!!  Turns out the people who lived in that house must have been winterizing their front yard....chopping down bushes, covering plants, etc...  My pup came back with a 4 foot rose bush twig!!!  I knew I couldn't pry it out of his mouth because he would swallow, or get hurt by all of the thorns.  Let me tell you, he was not going to let go!!!  I tried everything I could think of.  I tried to be authoritarian..make him drop the twig.  Hah!!!  That wasn't gonna happen.  I tried to gently pry his mouth open, trying hard not to stick him with any-more thorns...fat chance of pup letting go!!!  I tried to entice him with more wood, but pup was really happy with this new flavour and sensation in his mouth so that wasn't gonna happen either.  Then, in desperation, I thought of the only thing I could.  I started running with him...we ran really fast, we ran for over 3 blocks!!!  My rationale was that if he started panting, he would eventually let go of the bush!!  What a sight we, holding onto a leash, running like the 8 month old pup, tail wagging, running beside me...a rose bush branch firmly embedded in his mouth, whipping my legs, and the thorns tearing into my pants!!!  Needless to say, this plan did not work!!

Finally, after all that exercise, pup sat down and in the time it takes to blink your eye...I had taken the branch and flung it across the street.

I'm OK with wood as long as it's outside of the house, but today, as I was dusting my living room antique coffee table, I noticed a corner had quite a few teeth-marks in it.  I wondered if that wonderful antique table was made from rosewood :(

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Sunday, 4 December 2011

The 10 Minute Demolition

10 minutes!!  That's all it takes for anything to last in my home once pup's been at it.

Before we got our Portuguese Water Dog, hubby and I did lots and lots of research.  We knew that PWD puppies were notorious chewers, and, because they are classified as "working dogs", we knew that unless they had lots of stimuli, they got bored really easily.  Unfortunately, in a PWD's case, boredom = destruction.

So, because we knew all this, hubby and I went out and bought him every toy we could think of.  We bought him squeaky toys, balls, unstuffed animals, stuffed animals, kongs, and strong braided rope-like toys.  Well, let me tell you, it doesn't matter what pup has in his mouth, he will destroy it in 10 minutes or less.  We have had pup for exactly 6 months now, and absolutely NOTHING lasts.  Every toy he gets is ABSOLUTELY RUINED before the 10 minutes is up.  How could he be so fast?  Each toy we get him is "designed for the serious chewer".  However, nothing, but nothing lasts.

It would be great if the story ended there, but alas it does not.  As I mentioned, PWD's are working dogs so they constantly need something in their mouths.  Now, since the toys didn't last very long, my pup started dragging the cushions off the sofa.  So, I've started putting all the cushions in a closet.  I have to remember to take them out when people come over.  So, no cushions, equals no chewing..right?  Wrong.  Now pup sees the sofa as his empty canvas.  We've had to take 3 of the seats to be reupholstered this week.  The guy at the shop told us there was not much he could do, so he's just kind turning them around and flipping them over.   Sob!!!

Does the story end there?  Of course not.  Since pup has chewed up all his toys, cushions and seats, I've taken to giving him used bits of clothing.  An old running shoe that doesn't fit my son any-more, an old T-shirt that's got a couple of holes in it..the list goes on.  Each time, pup gets a hold of the new article and it is DEMOLISHED  in less than 10 minutes!!!  My 14 year old son, who has more sense than I do, pleads with me to stop giving pup clothing.  That we are helping him develop a whole new set of BAD habits.  Deep down I know he's right, but I just can't help it...pup's gotta chew and I have to be able to leave him out of my sight for a few minutes to get ready in the mornings.

When it was warmer outside, I use to tie him up in the backyard while I got ready.  Well, after he chewed through his 4th leash, I started using a bike chain.  No, not the metal ones, the ones that are coated in plastic and are pliable.  He couldn't chew through them and I felt confident he wouldn't escape the yard.  Well, now in December, it's started getting colder.  Although we still don't have snow on the ground, I feel uncomfortable leaving him outside.  So, being the conscientious (doormat) owner I am, I started putting him in the vestibule (a little foyer, if you will, between the front door and the inner door to the house).  I figured he'd like it there, 2 large windows to look out of, and lots of space.  Well, in the 2 times that I put him in the vestibule, I started noticing that my baseboards were shrinking!  Yep, that's right.  Not only has he eaten his toys, clothes, cushions and our wonderful 8 month old dog has started eating the HOUSE!!!  By the way, yes I feed him enough food, yes it's very good food, yes he gets plenty of exercise!!!  He just loves to chew and chew.

So...last week, hubby and I went out and bought "bitter apple" spray.  This is "supposed" to deter dogs from chewing on furniture and baseboards, etc..  The smell makes me gag and I certainly never finish my breakfast or coffee after hubby has sprayed the furniture.  My son gets up from a deep, deep sleep and closes his bedroom door to block out the putrid smell.  Pup, on the other-hand, walks over to the remaining frame of the sofa...his tongue out, as he licks up every last drop of that wonderful spray....

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