Monday, 2 July 2012

The Marine

So here we were, our little Portuguese Water Dog had been a member of our family for just over a year.  Cute as a button, loyal as heck to the 2 men in my family.  A real "family" pet.  He followed everyone around, he played with us in the back yard, he had his favourite toys, his favourite resting spots, his favourite games, heck, even his favourite friends.  His best friend was a Golden Doodle just 2 months older than him.  He just couldn't get enough of his favourite little missy,  and could play with her for hours on end.

Now my relationship with my little 14 month old dog was a completely different ball-game.  Although he'd let me pet him, he'd try to sit on me all the time.  Believe me, at 60 lbs, this got to be a little ugly.  When I'd gently pull him off me, he'd get agitated and try to sit on me no matter what I did.  My husband and son told me that it was a form of domination over me.  The only thing that would work was if I got up from my spot.

Back when my doggy was a 3 month old puppy, we had taken him to puppy training.  Our trainer at the time had told us that the way dogs assert their dominance over others was to take up their space.  In the canine world, if they are the "boss", they push each other out of the way.  That's why, in the wild, the pack leader usually eats 1st, followed by the other members of the pack.  The lowliest member gets to eat last.  Well, such was the case in my house.  Hubby and son would sit comfortably, but every time I'd try to occupy a space, doggy would be all over me....and that was domination just in the house.

Our walks were always horrible.  It had been over a year and I'd still come home from a walk in tears.  I had tried everything...long leash, short leash, tying him around my waist, giving him a chew toy on the walks, bringing treats along, wearing gloves (so my skin wouldn't tear from the constant chafing caused by the leash biting/pulling), I'd walk fast/slow, I'd ignore/pet the dog...never made a difference.  My dog would continue (after more than a year) to bite and pull the leash.  I think it's fitting that I mention we are on leash #11.

And so it went....I'd try to walk him much more often than the other members of the family..but to no avail.  Doggy was brutal with me.  The growling had gotten really bad too.  Lately, it was not only the biting and pulling of the leash, but it was the biting and growling at me that made it worse.  Of course they are very smart animals..for sure he would sense my apprehension as soon as the garage door would open.  But, in my very small world of master and servant, I did tense up as soon as we would leave the house.

I knew this wasn't normal.  People couldn't believe that this was happening a year later.  People couldn't believe that it was getting worse instead of better.  I finally knew what I had to do.  I had to call the Marine!!

The Marine is a local trainer here in my city.  I had heard both great and horrible things about him.  It seemed that the people who loved him, LOVED him.  Those that hated him....well you know.  There was no in-between with this guy.  I did lots of research on line about him.  I started noticing that all the bad reviews seemed to sound alike..almost if they were all written by the same person using a different alias..  Of course, I can't prove it, so I went to the people that loved him.  I thoroughly interrogated them...wanting to know what the Marine was really like.  In case after case, each person said that the Marine never trains the dog..he trains you, the owner.  Once again, dogs are really smart, so they can always pick up on your mood, etc...The Marine had helped these dog owners find themselves, had helped them open the lines of communication between dog and owner, and had helped the owner "talk" to the dog in canine terms.

I decided to give it a shot.

The Marine 1st came to my home to assess the situation.  He saw me interact with the dog.  He immediately began to correct the way I held the leash, the tone of my voice, and my stance.  He was really good with my doggy.  The Marine was not the "Marine" I had expected at all.  He spent over an hour with me.  After he left, I tried the walk on my own.  It went well for about 3 blocks (longer than ever before), and then the biting/pulling started.  I knew I wasn't going to see the Marine again for another week and a half...but...the difference between this training and the training I had had a year ago was huge.  A year ago, I had no idea what I was doing, and, no idea how the dog would react to me.  This time, I had a full year under my belt, and I knew how important it was to be "consistent", "persistent", and "insistent" when you're training a puppy/dog.

That week and a half was touch and go.  We had OK walks, and some that were nightmarish.  I went to the 2nd class (group classes from now on), then the 3rd, and the 4th.  I have to say that for about 1 week now, I've been holding the leash loosely in my left doggie walks right beside me..and he sits at every street corner.  Occasionally he'll get that crazy urge to bite the leash but it usually only lasts 2 minutes.  I still have a couple of lessons left.  I hope that my doggie will stop chasing squirrels (he tries to run out into the street), or will wait until we walk up to another doggy on our walks instead of running to the end of his leash trying to get to the other dog...all the while jumping on and off the sidewalk.

My goal is to keep doggie safe for ever..I want to keep him alive.  The dog is still the same dog he always's me that's been trained now..

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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Master and Servant

Back in the late 80's-early 90's, I'd go out a lot!  I just loved to dance.  I never drank, never flirted, never regretted any of my actions...I'd just dance, dance, dance the night away.

I had favourite groups too.  I just loved Depeche Mode.  To me, a young kid barely the legal age limit, I never really listened to their lyrics..just danced to the beat of their music, all night long.  One of my favourite songs that they had was "Master and Servant".  Like I said, I was very young and didn't really understand the undertones of the song.  All I knew was that it had a great club beat to it, and I could just close my eyes and get carried away with the music and rhythm. 

A few weeks back, as I was walking my little PWD devil dog, I started singing the words to "Master and Servant" to myself:

There's a new game
We like to play you see
A game with added reality
You treat me like a dog
Get me down on my knees
We call it master and servant
We call it master and servant

Now of course, as an adult, I see how inappropriate the words may seem to some people...but when I was walking my little devil dog on that warm evening, the words just popped in my head.

My doggie is definitely the "Master" in this relationship.  I'm not exactly "Servant", though.  In order for me to be a servant, the doggie would have to acknowledge me as Human.  Unfortunately, that is not the case in our complicated relationship. 

Our hierarchy is as follows:
15-year old son
Other Doggies

I wish that I could be the master in the relationship.  I see the other members of my family, I see the other people walking their doggies down the street...and I think, "One day, one day when I'm singing this song in my head...I'll actually be in charge..I'll actually be the boss..."  But for now, I'm down on my knees....while 14 month old doggie hold the leash.

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Grab Yer Pardner..Do-Si-Do

My 14 month old Portuguese Water Dog is in great shape.  He's lean, he's trim, and he's STRONG!!  Weighing in at just under 60 lbs, he's got the strength to pull down children, joggers, little old ladies, and of course, me!!!

He sure loves to pull..especially when the leash is in his mouth!!  He knows that once he's got that sucker firmly placed between his spectacularly white teeth, there is no way that anyone can make him budge.  (NOTE: husband and 15 year old son possess a power over my PWD that I haven't figured out yet...doggy walks exceptionally well with them)

Many moons ago, when doggy was but a 3 month old pup, we had taken him to a doggy training course.  Even then, when pup was at such an early age, the trainer could see that he would be giving me problems in the long run.  She would take me aside and give me secret tips she wasn't giving the other puppy owners in the class.  Actually, one day, she tied the pup's leash around my waist.  She said that if the pup could feel my movements, he would be better inclined to keep up with me and walk with me.  I felt like a moron.  There were all the other puppy owners walking like true masters, and I was the only chump with a dog tied around my waist.  That did not last long!!  I untied myself from the dog and tried to walk like everyone else.......

Fast forward one year later.  I still can't walk my dog.  He bites, pulls, jumps up, and always has the leash in his mouth (once again, let's be clear..only with else)  Walking him for 12 months has been the worse experience of my life.  There has been no bonding.  The only things he has given me is a twisted finger and tendinitis.  Oh, I also have shin splints from the awkward positions he puts me in while pulling.

One afternoon, while contemplating the next 14 years with my tormentor, I decided to watch an episode of the Dog Whisperer.  Cesar just made everything look so easy.  Then, I really took notice.  He was talking to a lady that had a demon dog.  He suggested that she tie the leash around her waist.  He did it with his own waist and the dog was walking perfectly next to him within a matter of moments.  She then tied the dog to her own waist.  Within a half hour, her doggy was the best walker ever!!!

So I thought, hey, my 1st trainer had suggested I do it, and then Cesar did it...what do I have to lose??

Yeah..TV, man nothing ever works out the way it does on TV.  Real life is so DIFFERENT..

I tied my doggy around my waist and started walking.  He kept pulling me on to lawns, up against trees, and out on the street.  He tried to pull me in front of a moving bus!!  He still pulled and bit the leash, but because he was so close to me now, he could nip at my hand or butt as well.

And so it goes, every-time I'm out walking, instead of holding the leash I have it tied around me.  I just keep hoping doggy won't go after squirrels, that hurts the most as he dashes out at a moment's notice and the leash jabs itself between my ribs.  Most of the time, though, I just look like I'm square around my dog down the street.  He's got me round the waist and he's just spinning me...spinning me..spinning me....

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Sunday, 10 June 2012

Dog Walk-Moon Walk

So here's the deal.  When I got my Portuguese Water Dog just over a year ago, he weighed all of 11 lbs.  Although he was not trained at all, he was pretty easy to control.  As Summer turned into Fall, and the weather got cooler, I started wearing gloves on our walks.

Then of course, with the cold Winter months, my gloves got heavier.  Doggy got heavier also, but I had no problem holding onto the leash and trying to get our walks under control.    He'd pull like crazy, but the leash always stayed firmly in my hand.

Then a strange thing happened...the snow started melting away and the weather started getting warmer.  By now, (March), doggie was close to 55 lbs.  As I started shedding layers of clothing to go out on our walks, the gloves got lighter.  Doggie never learnt to walk properly with me.  In the year that I had him, our walks had gone from bad to worse.  He still pulled and pulled...he bit the leash, he jumped on me and other poor unsuspecting passers-by.  He was getting to be a big dog who was completely out of control.

Back to the gloves.  One day, mid-March, the weather was wonderful.  All I needed to wear was a heavy gloves!  I took doggie out and the nightmare began.  The leash whipped across the palm of my hand.  I had horrible rope-burn on the fleshy part between my thumb and my forefinger.  IT HURT!!.

The next day, I took him out again, no gloves again, and with all his jumping and pulling, I twisted the pinky of my left hand!!  And so on, and so on..every time I would go out without any gloves, my hands would come back looking like raw meat.

Then it hit me, I started carrying 1 glove in my pocket.  Ever time I'd take little pooch out, I'd make sure I had my cell phone, 3 poop bags, and my right glove.  It didn't look too awkward in March and April.  In May I started getting weird looks.  By June, it was downright ridiculous!!  I'd be in shorts and a tank top, wearing my right glove, and I'd be flying down the street trailing after my pulling dog!!!

Look, I know I have the Michael Jackson thing going don't have to point, you don't have to laugh, you don't have to tell me.  I'm well aware of how crazy I look...but hey, the flesh has healed on my hands, my palms are no longer whipped, and I'm practicing my moonwalk too!!!

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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Bye-bye, Martha Stewart

When my husband and I first got married 17 years ago, we had fact we had less than nothing!!  Mind you, it could be argued that we had 2 things: 1-We had each other, and 2-we had a massive amount of debt!

But, we got ourselves a tiny 2 bedroom apartment, and slowly began to eradicate the debt. Slowly, over the years, we were finally able to save up enough pennies to put a down-payment on a house. We did finally buy a tiny little townhouse.  It was perfect for the 2 of us, and our little 3 year old son.  The house was small, but it suited us just fine.  We had a tiny garden/yard, and an even smaller deck.  The deck was only big enough for the BBQ and a very small round white plastic table with 3 chairs.  (The 4th chair had to be kept underneath the deck and would only come out if we had A guest!!)

For 8 years, we lived like that, but as our son got older, we started running out of room.  A 12 year old boy takes up a lot of space!!  We finally sold that house and moved to the one we live in now.  It's still not the mansion of my dreams, but it will do.  We moved at the end of the summer of 2009.  We finally had a deck that could actually fit a real table and chairs, but, because it was at the end of the season, the only outdoor furniture we could find was either way over priced, or really really bad quality.

So, onto 2010.  In April/May, we started looking for garden furniture.  The only thing we could find within our price range was a Martha Stewart collection at Home Depot.  Unfortunately, we were really early in the season so all the pieces weren't in yet.  We bought the table and chairs, but we had to wait 2 months for the parasol. I guess it wasn't such a bad thing, though, as 2010 produced a very rainy summer, so we hardly ever sat outside.

In 2011, we finally found the matching chaise longue and side table. We found it in October.  It had taken 2 years, but our set was finally complete!!  Late in the season, but complete nonetheless.

Finally, 2012 rolls around.  We've had an amazing year so far.  It's been warm, it's been sunny, and I've finally started enjoying my garden furniture that I had started piecing together 3 years ago.

Then, last week, I tied my little 14 month old Portuguese Water Dog outside for 15 minutes one morning.  I was running late and needed a little extra non-distracted time to fix my hair and make-up before I left for work.  The dog was out there between 645am-7am.  When I was ready, I went outside to bring him back in.  It was at that moment that I saw the carnage.  It took me a few seconds to process what my eyes were seeing.  There, lying on it's back, was one of my Martha Stewart lawn of a set of 6 around the glass top table.  The back of the chair was on the ground, and the seat was pointing up.  My doggie was on the chair, eating up every bit of it.  In fact, you could not even tell that it was a chair at all.  Bits of cloth, plastic and stuffing were strewn all over the yard.  There was no cushion left, no backing, no "nothing". I could barley make out the iron frame.

Bye-bye, Martha Stewart...I hardly knew ya!!

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Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Chiropractor

In my line of work, I get to meet many people from many walks of life.  Some people are quite fascinating.  I learn a lot from them.

The other day, I met a doctor of Chiropractic Medicine, I.E., "Chiropractor".  He was quite interesting.  He told me all about his he manipulates one's spine to work out kinks, cure sore necks, and adjust one's posture.  He showed me diagrams of the spine and neck and showed me how he uses his hands to align one's back.  Fascinating!

That night, after dinner, I took my lovely 13 month old doggy out for a walk.  The weather was mild and lots of people were out with their kids, walking their dogs, or even just sitting on their front porches.  My doggy loves an audience, and with so many people out, he just HAD to show them his chiropractic skills!!

In a split second, he went from walking calmly beside me, to whipping around behind me.  He tried to pull my arm out of its socket!!  He then whipped around in front of me...spinning me 180 degrees.  Once I got my bearings, I realized that he had the leash wrapped around his when I bent down to help him, he jumped back resulting in propelling me forward with my arm outstretched...At this point, I was sure that he had indeed dislocated my shoulder.  Fortunately, though, it wasn't my shoulder that was dislocated, but he had managed to sprain my finger.  Dozens of people looked on, but because I had a forced smile on my face, they couldn't see that I was in distress!!

In the evening, after a long hard day, I sat staring at this ball of fluff at my feet.  I pondered about his career as a chiropractor and thanked my lucky stars that he didn't want to be a yoga instructor!!!!

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Sunday, 20 May 2012

Menthol, Please

In exactly 8 days, I will have had my PWD for 1 full year.  It's been a crazy year, one of ups and downs, happiness and pain (mostly mine!), and much, much learning.

In this year, I've learned a lot about myself:
A) I'm a real softy
B) I can be a doormat to those big brown eyes
C) I'm way, way, WAY too interested in my dog's poop!!!

So now, I'm also wondering what this second year will bring.  The 1st year (AKA the puppy year), I learnt that my dog has the will power of a superhero.  This dog will never back down from something once he's put his mind to it.  I also learnt that just because something is under 1 years old, it doesn't mean that he's not strong.  In this year, I've been pulled, dragged, bitten, and thrown to the ground.  I've also had my thumbs and fingers twisted and times.

I've been told that the 1st dog year is equivalent to 7 human years, therefore, by all logic, my dog will be a teenager before this next year is up.  GREAT!!  I already have a teenager in the house.  He's a great kid, but my son is prone to mood swings, rolling his eyes, and listening to really loud music.  I have a feeling, doggy's teenage years will be just as tumultuous.  My teenage doggy is already picking up some pretty bad habits...between you and me...I think my doggy secretly SMOKES!!

Let me explain.  When hubby or teenage son walk our adolescent dog, he never strays from them, always dutiful by their side.  However, when I walk him, it becomes a game of "hold on to the leash", as he tries to get on every lawn, pee on every tree, and go into every public garbage can in the city.  Now doggy doesn't like all garbage, he's very particular.  But, doggy will pick up every single cigarette butt or discarded cigarette package he finds.  I don't know where this habit came from!  No one in my family smokes, yet, when out for a walk, in the evening, after his dinner, he likes to kick back and enjoy a smoke.  If this keeps this up, I'm afraid I'm going to have to lock up the brandy.

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Sunday, 13 May 2012

Would You Like Fries With That?

My doggy's favourite day of the week is Tuesday.  Tuesday is not only garbage day, but as an added bonus it's recycling day as well.

Because recycling is only once a week, the bins tend to overflow with stuff.  Well meaning homeowners, eager to help the environment, fill the bins to the brim with paper, plastic cups, wrappers, and bottles.  Now, this is a good thing when the weather is nice, but not such a good thing when it's the slightest bit windy.  When it's windy, the pretty streets are lined with garbage.  And, that's when doggy is happiest!!  Walking him down the street is a nightmare, because he picks up EVERYTHING!!!

Just this week alone, he picked up an empty paper coffee cup from Tim Hortons, a bunch of napkins from McDonalds, and a pack of empty Export A's.  His favourite thing, though, was a McDonalds hamburger wrapper.  He would not let go of that at all.  He put it in his mouth at the beginning of our walk, and did not drop it till we were back home 40 minutes later.  I keep having visions of the vet doing blood tests on my 1 year old and finding out that he has high cholesterol and the bone density of a 90 year old!

A few days ago, we got a letter in the mail telling us that garbage pick up would be down to one day a week as well....oohhh what fun my doggy will have.  I can hardly wait to see what other 3 course meal, followed by a cigarette my doggy will have next Tuesday!!

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Sunday, 6 May 2012

One, Two, Cha Cha Cha

I love to dance.  Ever since I was a little girl, I'd listen to my sister's Beatles' albums and move my little feet.
As I got older, still too young to understand that Disco sucked, but old enough to get together with my friends on Saturday nights, we'd practice our boogie moves in their basements till 8pm!! (Oh yes, I was a wild one back then).

The 80's and 90's was where it was at for me.  I would start dancing on Friday night and not stop till Sunday night.  For me, it was always about music and movement.  I still love music, I still love dancing, but now I can appreciate other types of dance.  I marvel at the Meringue, I love the Paso Doble, the jive makes me smile.

Now, as an adult, I've come to understand where dance originated.  Dance is an extension of life, and depending on the people and culture of that particular dance, it can describe the life, loves and ills of a culture.

Such was my discovery when I finally came to the realization that my relationship with my dog is very much like dancing the Cha Cha.  With my doggy, every time I make any headway, I just slide back to the place I was before.  With my doggy, it's like taking 2 steps forward-3 steps back (1-2-cha-cha-cha).  No matter what I do with him, any training, any progress-it barely lasts 2 days.  By the 3rd day, I'm right back where I started.

This became painfully clear to me, after I had my 7th straight PERFECT walk with him.  One week prior to our perfect walks, I had begun to step on the leash when he bit it.  I did this for a few days, and it looked like he finally started making the connection between biting the leash and lying flat on his stomach barely able to move. I took him out on a Sunday night, and poof, the magic had happened.  We walked perfectly together.  Then, the next afternoon it was the same...and the day after that as well.  From Sunday night to the next Friday, my walks were wonderful!!!  I was finally starting to feel good about having a dog!  For the 1st time in almost a year, I wasn't questioning why I had gotten one in the first place.  I was happy!!!

Then, Friday happened.  Friday was the day he was going to get groomed.  I walked him to the groomer-but since it wasn't the regular time I walk him, he was acting up a little bit.  He didn't bite the leash, but he was pulling so hard, I got leash-burn on my palm!!  I dropped him off at the groomer, and a black cloud immediately lifted off my shoulders-I felt free!!!  I remember having the very same feeling the 1st time I went out on my own without my newborn son-I remember feeling weightless.

I had a great Friday.  I had lunch with my co-workers that day-something that I hadn't done in a year.  I was never so relaxed.  It was the perfect Friday.  That afternoon, I got the call from the groomer to tell me that my doggy was ready.  I still felt good because I knew that things had been looking up between my doggy and me.  I knew I was finally able to handle him.

I got the the groomer, and my gorgeous doggy came out running.  He was so excited to see me!!!  He was jumping all over the place, he was nipping, licking, you name it.  Now, in retrospect, what I should have done is ignore my pooch.  I should have waited till he calmed down before we left.  However, I was too eager to show him off.  The groomer had done an excellent job with the PWD pet retriever cut.  He just looked too cute.

So, while he was jumping and nipping, I put the leash on him and left.  The walk was a nightmare.  There was so much leash-biting, pulling, and jumping, that it actually took us 45 minutes to walk 20 feet!!  This dog was in the zone!!  Absolutely nothing was going to snap him out of it!!! It took us about an hour to get home-the same walk usually takes about 12 minutes!

When I finally got home, muddy, bitten and in tears-I put him in his crate.  The second he went in, he fell into a deep, deep, sleep.

Two steps forward, three steps back...One, two cha, cha, cha!!!

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Sunday, 29 April 2012

I'm Putting my Foot Down!!!

There are not too many things in life I hate.  I dislike a few things (traffic jams, obnoxious people, sour milk after it's been poured into my coffee), but not much I hate.  I guess I could say I hate not getting enough sleep, or growing older, but those are things that many people have in common, and it's always easy to vent to a co-worker or friend, and feel better afterwards.

But, I can say without hesitation, I HATE walking my dog.  I really do.  It's not the going outside in all types of weather, or even the waking up early, coming home at lunchtime, or even the after dinner walk.  I totally get the health benefits of doing that.  I know that if it wasn't for my little pooch, I would always come up with an excuse for not going outside to exercise.  The weather, the time, my schedule would all play a nice role in keeping me from exercising.  Therefore it's not the walk that I's the walk WITH my dog that sends a cold shiver down my spine.

Hard to believe we've had him for almost a year now, but it's true.  We picked him up from the breeder on May 28th, 2011.  A little 8 week old munchkin just waiting to be taken home to a nice, loving happy family.  Now one would think that after having had a dog for almost 1 year, and, said dog not having had any prior experiences with any other owners, one would think that life would be easy for everyone...WRONG!!!  Life is easy for hubby.  Life is easy for 15 year old is a nightmare for me!!!!  After almost a year of living in our home, our dog still does not respect me.  True, the biting has stopped, but the nano-second that hubby leaves the house, doggy goes on a rampage.  I have to lock up all the sofa cushions in the guest bedroom, have to hide the dish cloths on top of the stove, have to put all waste-paper baskets on top of tables, have to put our shoes on top of the dryer.  When doggy sees he has nothing but his toys to play with, he tries to take the carpet out of the hallway and drag it up the stairs.  Once I roll up this carpet and put it in the closet, doggy starts eating our plants!!!  It NEVER ends!!!  He only does this when I'm alone with him!!!

Now this is why I hate my walks.  When I go for a walk accompanied by hubby or son, doggy just walks between us like an angel.  But, when I'm alone, he goes for the leash in the nanosecond it takes for me to step out of the garage!!  I've tried everything.  I've tried staying in the garage with him for 40 minutes waiting for him to go into a calm, submissive state.  That did not last long!  I've tried being very assertive when the leash is in his mouth, that is, snapping the leash, making him stop walking, being firm.  That never worked.  I've also tried ignoring him when he's biting or yanking the leash, but that works even less.  I longer I ignore him, the more excited he becomes by having the leash in his mouth and he works himself into a frenzy!!  I've tried the harness too.  That worked great up until doggy turned 45 lbs.  Then it was harder than ever to control the pulling and biting.

One day I was walking him when hubby called me.  As usual, I was fighting back the tears as doggy was trying his best to dislocate my arm from its shoulder.  Then, hubby suggested I step on the leash.  So I did.  As doggy was whipping himself up into a leash biting frenzy, I stepped on the leash and brought my foot down as close as possible to the start of the leash nearest his neck.  Doggy did not like that one bit.  I never heard him growl like that.  Actually, I was sure he would bite my foot off, but he never did!  I stayed like that for a few minutes and started the walk again.  He began with the leash again, so I stepped on it again.  This time I stayed there for 5 minutes.  Cars driving by pointed and stared, but I didn't care.  My doggy was actually lying down and was going into a calm state.

So now, this is my life.  Sometimes I only have to step on the leash once, sometimes I have to step on it more than 7 times, I'm just hoping that one day, doggy will make the correlation between leash biting, and not being able to move.

Only time,( and a steel belted leash) will tell.

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Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Sound of Grinding, Crunching Metal

My year old doggy pulls.  He pulls and pulls during our walks. Sometimes, he pulls like crazy just until he poops, and then he's calmer.  Most of the time, however, he's just crazy!!  The pulling never stops.

So, I do what any one in my position would do...I'm constantly on the lookout for twigs that I can give him during our walk.  My rationale is that if he's busy with something in his mouth, he won't pull so hard.  This plan has been know to backfire however.  Because he's so use to having something in his mouth when I'm walking him, his nose is always low to the ground.  He runs onto any lawn he sees and constantly tries to pick something off the front yards.  Most times it's twigs...but, many, many times it will be blown over Kleenexes, Q-tips, paper bags, empty cigarette packs, or Styrofoam coffee cups.  Doggy just loves recycling day!!

He's a clever little guy, my little doggy.  He knows that once this stuff is in his mouth, he has to run to the end of his leash to keep as far away from me as possible.  He knows that he has to pull with all his might against me (as I try to reel him in), because once he gets close to me, I'm going to be prying his jaws apart trying to get the foreign objects out!  He just HATES that.  He looks at me with a rather puzzled look thinking, "OK Lady.  Twigs-yes, Kleenex-no?  C'mon, what's the diff?"  And he's right.  I should never have started this on our walks, but now I don't know how to stop it :(

Yesterday, I knew I had to end this practice.  There we were, walking our usual walk...pulling, yanking, biting the leash...(I keep waiting for that wonderful bonding moment between master and doggy...), when, in the blink of an eye, doggy ran onto someone's lawn and snatched something off the front stoop.  At first, I didn't think anything of it.  We just kept walking and doggy was quite calm.  Then, I noticed that he wasn't closing his mouth!!  There was something in there!!  It was small enough to fit in there, and I couldn't see what it was.  As soon as doggy got wind of the fact that I wanted to peer into his mouth, he ran to the end of his leash and pulled as hard as he could.  There was NO WAY he was going to let me look into his mouth and take away the tasty mystery morsel!!

And then, it started...the grinding, crunching sound that made my stomach turn.  I had absolutely no idea what was in there, but doggy loved it.  For close to a dozen times, I tried to get him to open his mouth so that I could see what was in there..but to no avail.  This was one time that doggy was NEVER going to let me win!!  This taste was too new...too different.  The sound went on and on.  Crunching, grinding..sounded like he was crushing his teeth against a metal beam.  It was so gross.

Each time I looked at him, his mouth was opened but the mystery object was not about to come out.  This sound, and thus the chewing, continued for about 20 minutes.  I kept imagining this steel object making it's way through my doggy..trying to come out the next day!!!  That evening, after explaining to my hubby, we put doggy on watch.  I was petrified of what would come out of him.  The next day he was fine, and the day after that as well.  Whatever he had eaten, did not seem to have affected him in any way.

The next night, as we were walking, I saw a snail on the street...I closed my eyes and made a secret wish that it was a snail (shell and all) that puppy had eaten 2 days ago.  I'll never know for sure, but I'll start carrying around garlic butter with me...just in case.

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Sunday, 15 April 2012

I Saw that Look!

So, anyone that has been following my blog since July, will know that I have not had an easy time walking my little PWD.  I've had good periods...which consist of maybe 2 good walks in a row (out of about 1 trillion), but for the most part, it's been a nightmare.

It's not that my little PWD is a "bad" dog either!  He's great!  He's very respectful of other dogs, he knows when to play and when to walk away.  He definitely knows his place in the complicated echelons of the canine world. He knows his place in our home too.  In the grand hierarchy of his mind, at the very top is hubby (the only person in the family that has no interest in the dog whatsoever).  Hubby doesn't care if we have a dog or not, hubby only walks him in the mornings, and the only reason for that is that hubby wants to get his daily exercise.  Hubby has made it very clear that he doesn't care if we were to give away our little PWD tomorrow.  Somehow, this indifference has translated itself to reverence in our dog's mind.  He WORSHIPS the very ground hubby walks on!!!  Hubby had become the prime alpha member of the family!! Wherever hubby goes, doggy is sure to follow...makes my tummy turn if you ask me!!!

Soon-to-be-15 year old son is next in line.  No matter what antics doggy is up to (whether I'm chasing him around the dining room table trying to get the dish rag out of his mouth, or chasing him around the house trying to keep him from eating the baseboards), as soon as son enters the room, doggy drops everything he's doing, and he just sits there, angelic-like, waiting to be pet or played with.

Now of course, there's me!  I have absolutely no status in my doggy's mind whatsoever!  I am below hubby and son, below other doggies and their owners, below sticks, rocks twigs and moss...I have zero status.  Whenever I take him out for a walk (2ce a day minimum), he tugs and pulls on the leash..bites the leash, plays name it.  What I find has helped my walks a bit, is that if I ignore him for a full day, he will walk slightly better with me.  He'll still pull me down the street so hard that I have to run to keep up with him, but at least he won't put the leash in his mouth..that is...until I make eye contact with him.  I try to avoid doing so at all costs.  Once we establish eye contact, I know I'm finished.  It's in that nanosecond of our pupils aligning, that he jumps in front of me, grabs the leash and never lets go.

When I'm out with him, I look ahead of me, I look up, I look to the side...doggy does everything in his power to make sure I see him.  He runs out in front of me to face him, I quickly dart my eyes to the side to avert his stare.  He runs to my side..then accidentally, I'll smile at an elderly lady waiting at the bus stop.  I see she's looking at doggy, naturally, my eyes go down to him.  Uh oh!!!  I panic.  He's noticed we made eye contact and for the next 30 minutes of our walk, he'll be biting, pulling, tugging...and he'll be oh so HAPPY!!!!

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Sunday, 8 April 2012

Dahhling...the pillow clashes with your scarf....

I've heard it said over and over again , "In my previous life, I was...."  Some religions are based on this belief, others, just believe in reincarnation based on characteristics we have.

Hubby and I think our son was probably a fish in his previous life..based on his love of the water.  In my early 20's, I thought that I was a black panther in my previous life based on the fact that I always wore head to toe black clothing.  I've had friends think they were reincarnated from Egyptian royalty based on the fact that they love to wear a lot of gold.  I've always thought it was funny that we claim to be come we were never the slave that got squished between the 2 pillars while building the pyramids?

I also think it's odd that most of the people that believe in this sort of thing, believe they were an animal first...What if it were the other way around?  What if animals were reincarnated from people?  No question that Winston Churchill was a bulldog, and Phyllis Diller was an Ostrich.

My Portuguese Water Dog was most definitely an Interior Decorator before he became a dog.  He sits there, in front of the couch, eyeing the silk throw pillows.  You just know he's thinking, "What in the world are my masters thinking.  How can they possibly have a rust coloured cushion on this brown couch...Oh no, no, belongs there, on the floor behind the dining room that's Feng Shui!!!"

Then, he'll walk past a runner (a longish carpet that we have in the hallway on our main floor).  He puts it in his mouth, drags it up a flight of stairs and leaves it in the kitchen.   He then takes the dish rag that's hanging on the handle of our oven, and he'll bring that into the laundry room.  "There, much better..I sure hope those pesky masters don't destroy my work...I'll only have to do it over again if they do"..

Our little PWD absolutely hates the guest bedroom.  He's always pulling the comforter off the bed and tries to drag it to the foyer.  I guess I should be grateful to floors are always nice and shiny from all that material being dragged across the floor.

The other day, he decided that he no longer liked the sheets on my son's bed.  One morning, while son was still sleeping, my little portie managed to get the top sheet off him and run downstairs.  I found my son's sheet in the basement, full of holes.  When I went upstairs to check on son, I saw that his pillow cases (the corners) were eaten away!!!   Son had never woken up!!!!

When I was buying my son his new sheet set, I tried to make a careful selection.  I didn't want to get anything that might disagree with my dogs sense of style!!

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Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Birthday Boy little terror turned 1 years old today!!!!  The irony of my little guy being born on April Fool's Day is not lost on me.  From the second we got him , I knew my life would change forever.

I have been feeling nostalgic all day.....

It all began 8 years ago.  My son, 6 years old at the time, and I kept harassing hubby to get a dog.  I had grown up with cats all my life, and son had a goldfish for 4 years (darned thing just kept hanging on!!!)  Hubby, on the other hand, had never, ever had a pet.  Both son and I kept at him, and then one day...he said "yes".

Hubby and I did lots of research on hyper-allergenic dogs.  Hubby and son wanted a medium to larger sized dog, so our list kept getting narrower and narrower.  Then one evening, as hubby was playing softball, a lady and her PWD came strolling by.  Hubby took one look at that dog and he was smitten.  He came home that night and announced that we'd be getting a PWD.  That night, and for the next few months, hubby and I did lots of research on the breed.  We found out about their mouthiness, their tendency to jump on you,  their extremely high energy levels, and of course, their need for constant exercise.  We knew that this would be quite the commitment.

When we found our reputable breeder, the breeder suggested that we spend a few hours with the dogs to see hubby's reaction to them.  Hubby has always been allergic to animals, and suffers from asthma, so we had to be really sure. We got to the breeder, and 6 adult PWD's came running at us.  They were all over us.  They sat on us, they licked us (boy oh boy does that breed like to lick!!), and they won us over.  We knew right then and there, that we wanted a curly-haired male.  And, most importantly, we knew that this breed was perfect for hubby!!

When we found out that one of the dogs was pregnant, hubby, son, and I were beside ourselves.  We were just as excited as if one of us were pregnant (OK, maybe just me since I'm the only female in the family).  We waited and waited until we got that faithful call, the mother had given birth to a litter of 9....5 females, and 4 males...and, of the 4 males, only 1 of them was curly-haired.  When the pups were 5 weeks old, we went over to meet them.  There they were, the 9 of them, falling all over themselves, biting each other, and competing to feed off their mother.  There sat our little guy, on his own.  He was very quiet.  He observed all the sights and sounds around him.  He was not very active at all.  At one point, he found a spot and sat down...only the spot was his brother's head!!  After 10 minutes, he looked down at the lump, and walked away.  I was actually worried that something might be wrong with him.  He didn't have anywhere near the energy level of his siblings.  We asked the breeder if this was a sign of his personalty.  "Was he always going to be so calm, docile and quiet?"  The breeder just laughed, looked at us and said it was just "Marketing".  Pup would show us what he was really like soon enough.

When we finally brought him home at 2 months old, we realized that he was NOT that calm puppy we had met at the breeder's place.  This pup could run laps around the Tasmanian Devil!!!   He could jump down a flight of stairs on a single bound, he could destroy every toy he had in 10 minutes...

In the 10 months we've had him, we've definitely had our ups and downs...but today, looking into his big brown eyes... I look forward to the surprises this new year will bring!!

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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Down, boy, down!!!

Portuguese Water Dogs are an active breed.  Before we got him, hubby and I did lots and lots of research.  We got him, primarily because it was one of the few dogs that hubby was not allergic to.  But, we also knew that they needed lots and lots of exercise.  Needing a lifestyle change, hubby and I decided to kick start our healthy habits and pretty much use the dog to get healthier.

Dogs need to be walked.  They don't care if it's sunny, rainy, snowy, or if it's the end of the world...they have to go out.  Therefore, hubby and I knew we could never use the weather as an excuse not to get out there.  Actually, in the 10 months that we've had our puppy, we can honestly say that we've spent just as much times outdoors, as we do indoors.  Our TV consumption is down to a minimum, we wake up early...and as a consequence, go to bed early.  Hubby had lost 30 lbs, suits that I bought 10 years ago fit me perfectly, and 14 year old son now plans walks with his buddies (as opposed to sitting n front of the TV playing video games)

Pup is still in a pain in the butt, though.  Anyone that has been following my blogs for the last 8 months will know all the trials and tribulations I've gone through.  For the most part, pup is starting to calm down...with one exception. He JUMPS!!!

Once again, hubby and I had done plenty of research before settling on a PWD.  Everything we read stated that this particular breed is very agile, and, it likes to jump.  In fact, that is one of the primary traits of this dog.  At home, we've trained him not to jump on us or the furniture.  When people come over, he does run to them, but once we've instructed our guests to ignore pup for the 1st few minutes, then pup just walks away.  The big problem is when we're out walking the dog (which in our case is very, very often).  He'll see some poor unsuspecting jogger and run to the end of his leash, all the while trying to jump on them.  Because he's over 55 lbs now, the momentum of his run and jump also propels me forward towards the jogger.  I usually get very dirty looks from the joggers because from their point of view, it looks like I'm actually steering my dog towards them and encouraging the jump!!

He doesn't only jump at joggers.  He also jumps at other dogs.  Not so bad when the other dog is taller...but a bit of a disaster if the other dog is shorter.  A taller dog will be able to take my pup's weight...but a shorter dog kind of turns into a pancake.  They get angry and start biting at pup's tummy.   This gets my pup excited and then he wants to play!!  The other dog, however, having been flattened, wants to kill!!  Not the best combination for play-dates!!

Pup also jumps at little old ladies..maybe because he can smell their frail bones.  I've had many a dirty look from these ladies that think I'm sicking my pup on them on purpose in order to rob them!!!  The worse, of course is other dog owners.  Let me explain.  We don't give our puppy treats, but there are legions of dog owners out there that carry bags and bags of treats.  Well let me tell you, one whiff of those bacon, chicken, liver treats is enough to send my pup into a frenzy.  He's constantly jumping on these poor unsuspecting dog-owners.  I try to get him off them, but the leashes always end up getting tangled and pup's nose is usually right up the other dog-owners pocket!!

Yesterday, he jumped up on a 5 year old girl.  They were the same height when pup was on his hind legs.  He kind of put his paws around her so she couldn't  move away, and then he decided to take advantage of his position by proceeding to "hump" her.  I spent the next 15 minutes trying to explain to her father that my 11 month old pup was neutered and really had no idea what he was doing!!!

I've looked up ways to get pup to stop jumping up.  Advice ranges from putting your knee up while he's in mid-air, to grabbing his front paws and walking him backwards.  Yeah, I'm trying to figure out a way to tell that to the joggers as they run from me, or the little old ladies who are trying to swat me with their purses!

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Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Kennel

So there I was...partly looking forward to leaving my 11 month old pup at the kennel for a week...but partly missing him like nuts.

He and I have a very complex relationship.  He relies on me for food, walks, healthcare, love...but he also tries to dominate me every chance he gets.  He has never seen me as Alpha..not in the 9 months that we've had him.  He jumps at me, he pulls away or bites the leash incessantly when I walk him, he tries to occupy my space, he never listens to any of my commands.

So, when my family and I were planning our Spring Break vacation, I looked forward to a "Spring Break" from pup as well.  Hubby and I did lots of research.  We couldn't just leave him with anyone (too many horror stories).  It took us a while but we finally came up with a kennel in the country.  Hubby and I visited it and we liked what we saw.  It was clean, the dogs looked happy, and there was plenty of free space for the dogs to run around.  In short..we were happy with our decision.

When it was time to take pup there, we made it a family trip.  Hubby and I sat in the front seats of the car, 14 year old son and pup sat in the back.  (with lots and lots of towels just in case pup would get car sick).  We also brought along pup's food, his bed, 4 of his favourite toys, and one of the towels from the car (so that it would smell like home).  As soon as we got there, pup couldn't wait to get out of the car...he heard so much barking, all he wanted to do was play and play.  Given it was his supper time, we gave him his food.  He went at it and never looked up as we were trying to say a sweet "good-bye" to him.  He had positively no interest in us.  We stared at him for a while, but when he made it clear he was too busy to give us any attention, we just kind of left.  So much for the tearful good-bye I had envisioned.

That evening was really weird.  The 3 of us ate dinner in silence.  It was strange not to have pup around sniffing at our feet.  It was strange not going out for a walk after supper.  I really missed the little guy..hubby and son..not so much.  But I missed him like crazy.

So today, after a full week, we went back to the kennel to pick him up.  Son went to the car to get pup's leash, so hubby and I were in the office alone, waiting for our dog.  As soon as pup came out, he ran right past me and was all over hubby.  He jumped on hubby, he licked hubby, he stuffed his nose up hubby's private areas...he could not get enough of hubby.  I just stood there, next to hubby, staring.  Then, 14 year old son walked into the room.  Pup left hubby and jumped on son.  He licked son, he played with son, he sniffed son. I started to feel like the 3rd wheel so I tried to get pup's attention.  I tried to get pup off son so he could actually focus on me...the only one who missed him!!  Pup didn't like me prying him away from hubby and son, so he turned around and NIPPED my hand!!!

That's when it hit me.  All this time I've always thought my dog hated me.  Now I know the truth...he doesn't hate me.  I'm just a non-entity to him.  I feed him and walk him, but I'm a NOBODY to him...sniff..sniff..

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Sunday, 4 March 2012

Goodbye Cruel World

Well, it's finally happened.  I think I finally know what's going through my 11 month old puppy's brain!!!  I use to think the answer was "not much", but now I've finally figured it out.  Puppy wants to end it all!!  Yep, he wants to grab his big ole bone, lap some water out of his dish, maybe mark his territory on a tree or two, and then he wants to go out like a flash!!

Let me explain.  Why else would puppy try to run out on the street while I'm walking him?  Why else does he go to the end of his leash, trying with all his might to run onto oncoming traffic?  I can see it now, as he sits by the living-room window..looking out onto the street in front of him.  I can see that bubble forming on top of his head.  The bubble with the words clearly stating his thoughts.  "Hmm", he thinks, "living with these humans has been fun, but now I must go.  All they do is exercise me 4 times a day, groom me, brush my teeth".  Yes it's a tough life for this pooch.  His thoughts continue, "Well, I'm 11 months old now.  I've tasted every Kleenex, I've marked every tree, and I've played with every dog in the world "....true..his is a small world.  "I've eaten really healthy food as my masters don't give me junk or snacks, I've destroyed every room in their home, I've torn all their cushions, chewed on shoes and socks.  I've been to every dog park, soccer field, golf course, and water fountain.  Now I have nothing left"

Then as I take him out for our walks, he starts.  Pull, pull, pull the leash.  Put leash in mouth and jump into the street while I try to reel him in only inches away from an oncoming bus!!.  We have an overpass near our house which looks down 20 feet onto train tracks.  Sometimes you can see the train in the distance, sometimes it's directly underneath us.  Most times, however, there is no train...and what should be a 30 second walk across the overpass, becomes a 10 minute ordeal as pup pulls and pulls...all the while I'm making his leash shorter and shorter so that he doesn't fall through the barrier and 20 feet down onto the tracks!!

I'm not sure if puppy really thinks this way...but for now, I'm just focused on keeping him least long enough so that he can experience his first birthday next month!!

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Sunday, 26 February 2012

Awww...what's in the dog's mouth now!!!!

The Portuguese Water Dog is a mouthy breed.  That's what all the textbooks and magazines say.  PWD's always have t have something in their mouth.  My question is, "WHY DIDN'T I LISTEN??"

My 10 month old is never without something in his mouth.  We've bought him all kinds of chew toys (both stuffed and unstuffed), we've bought him squeaky toys (they last about 10 minutes in those big strong teeth), we've given him special bones, balls, name it...there is no lack of objects for our pup to chew on...


Why the heck does he have to pick up strange objects off the street when we're walking!!!  We'll be walking along, he'll have his (annihilated unstuffed) ferret in his mouth, happy as a clam.  In the blink of an eye, the ferret is tossed aside and a new, foreign object is in his mouth!!!  How he does this so quickly will forever remain a mystery to me!!  I can be seen at any given corner trying to pry his jaws open, all the while pulling out used Kleenex, bounce sheets, Tim Horton coffee cups, branches,  cigarette packs (thankfully empty)!

Last week, as we were walking, I saw his head swoop down...but I didn't see anything sticking out of his mouth.  We kept walking a little further when he turned to look at me.  There, sticking out of his mouth, a used Q-Tip!!  Ick.  What could possibly have attracted him to that!!  I tried to pull it out, but let me tell you, I have enough trouble pulling out a stick or least they're wide enough for me to be able to get a good hold on them.  But a Q-Tip??  There's nothing to hold onto!! And I sure as heck didn't want to touch the cotton swab portion!!  So,  I did what I've always done..I looked for another piece of garbage to tempt him with, and once his mouth was opened and the Q-Tip fell out, I grabbed the leash and started running as fast as I could away from the offensive Q-Tip!!

Lately, pup has started going in my bathroom to sniff around.  I tend to keep the door closed, but he's learned that if he rams his head hard enough against the door, it will open for him!!   Let me explain a little bit about my bathroom.  This bathroom is mine!!  I share my home with my hubby and my 14 year old son, so this bathroom is off-limits to them.  It's my sanctuary.  I keep my make-up there, my cologne, smelly pot-pourris and of course, the things that my husband or son can never use..simply because they're male!!  So, what does puppy come out of the bathroom with?  Yep!!!  Now, excuse me while I try prying that out of his mouth..all the while looking for taller shelves to keep things on!

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Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Pedicure

We take care of our little 10 month old.  We brush his hair and teeth daily, we give him monthly baths, we are careful to feed him the right type of food, we limit his snacks, give him monthly pedicures and of course we give him lots and lots of exercise.

In the 8 months that we've had the little pup, hubby has lost 30 lbs and his blood pressure is at the healthiest level in years.  Our 14 year old son has grown about a foot in this time and his build is starting to get quite athletic.  Me?  Although pup and I do not see eye to eye on anything, although he and I have yet to bond, although he makes my life a living hell, still, I can't deny that I'm really happy with the way my body has changed.

Pup has changed too!!  He's a PWD of the curly variety.  Awfully cute, but when we had let his hair grow longer for the winter, he just looked like a puff ball.  Actually, although we knew his weight was perfect for his age and size, the occasional (well-meaning?) neighbour would make a comment about how BIG, pup was getting.  Hubby and I, always ready to come to our puppy's honour, would immediately tell the neighbour just how wrong he was.  We would tell our neighbour that pup was just PERFECT!!

Well, after his wonderful little curls started getting all knotted up because of the snow, rain, mud, etc....we had to get him shaved.  Well let me tell you, pup looked like a different dog!!  Apart from looking suspiciously like a schnauzer, pup now looked really skinny!!!  Too skinny if you ask me.  People, especially our neighbours, started remarking on how fit and trim pup was underneath all that curly fur!!  People couldn't believe that it was the same dog!!

Now, because we walk him so much, from June till January, we only had to cut his nails once per month.  The pavement would wear them down and they never got too long.  But, never ever having had a dog before, hubby and I didn't think that his nails might need cutting more often now that there was snow and ice on the ground!! The day that we took him to get shaven, he came home and we could still hear his nails clicking on our floor.  A couple of days later, I took him back to the groomer, thinking that they had forgotten to trim his nails.  Actually, the groomer told me the opposite.  Because pup's nails had gotten so long, the quick had gotten long as well.  She could only cut a bit...any more and the poor thing would bleed.  So, now we were in a predicament where we had to get his nails trimmed every 10 days...just so that the quick would shorten. We did this for a few weeks.

Yesterday, I took pup to the groomer again.  This time, the quick had gotten back to normal and she told me that I could start coming back again every 3-4 weeks.  Relieved, I mentioned that I had no idea that due to the fact that there was ice and snow on the ground, this would keep pup's nails from wearing out.  I told the groomer that I'd make a point of going more often when the next winter season would begin.  She looked at me and told me that was only one side of the equation.  She then said something that completely blew me away!!!  She said that most PWD's she sees are overweight.  This is due to the fact that they are such a high energy dog and the masters can't keep up with them.  But, she said that our dog was in phenomenal shape!!  She said that in all her years of grooming PWD's, she had never seen one as trim and healthy looking as ours. She said that the other reason his nails were growing so long, was that he didn't have all that extra weight that heavier dogs have, bearing down on his paws!!  There was no pressure on his nails at all!!  That got me thinking as to how lucky our pup was that he had committed owners that gave him the exercise his breed requires...but, most importantly, how lucky we were to have this pup that was helping us lose weight and not put so much pressure on our feet (organs, etc.)

Despite the fact that this pup makes me nuts with anger at times, I have to thank him for helping my family get healthier and happier.  Maybe one day, when I'm old and grey, I'll look back with fond memories about how much this dog meant to me...but for now...ugh, I'm off to walk him again, this time in the pouring rain!!!

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Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Fabulous Ferret

So here we are, having had pup for just over 8 months now.  He loves my hubby and my son...he LOVES them.    When they walk, pup is right next to them...heaven forbid he leaves their side..why he'd never forgive himself if something nasty were to happen to them.  He listens to their every command, and he is obedient when he's in the house with them.

And then there's me!!

Pup HATES me.  He doesn't care if anything were to happen to me on our fact, I believe he secretly hopes that I run away or better yet, fall into an open manhole cover, far down, away into the sewer...swept away by the tide only to re-emerge far, far into some far off ocean in some far off land.  You don't believe me?  Well why else would he walk so far away from me when I'm holding the leash?  Not only does he go to the end of the leash, but he starts running so that he can get as far away from me as possible.  When it becomes evident to him that I am not about to let go of the leash, he then turns towards me and puts the leash in his mouth, tugging hard, trying to make me loosen my grip.  He actually went through leash #8 this week.  Remember, we've had pup for 8 months and this is his 9th leash!!!!  I wonder if they make Kevlar leashes??

So anyway, along with the tugging, biting and pulling, my pup tries to get away from me by running back and forth (always at the end of the leash), either trying to wear me down or dislocate my shoulder.  Each time I get back from my walk, all sweaty and dishevelled, I always make a solemn vow that that was my last walk with him..Then of course, a few hours later, I take him out again.  Yes, pup and I have a real, "master and servant" thing going on..only he thinks HE'S the one in charge.

One night, I took him out and he started playing with his best friend, a lovely year old Golden-Doodle.  As they played, I noticed he kept taking a toy from her.  The Golden's master told me it was an unstuffed ferret and that my dog probably loved playing with it more that his dog did.  All of a sudden, a light bulb went off over my head.  The next day, I went out and bought a white, unstuffed ferret and hid it from him until it was my turn to walk him.  That afternoon, the second I showed him the ferret, he smiled, grabbed it and never let go.  The walk was priceless.  It was the best walk I had had with him in 8 months.  We walked everywhere together, for close to an hour!!

Next day, same thing, day after that, same thing.  Now, the 4th walk was kinda dicey.  The ferret, after 3 days, had become really filthy, and, because the weather had been quite mild, there was quite a bit of water on the ground.  Pup had been dragging the ferret in his mouth, but the water was seeping into the ferret, and it was getting heavier and heavier.  I guess pup wasn't use to having to lug around a heavy, wet ferret and just left it in the middle of the street.  In the nano second it took for the ferret to leave his mouth, the leash was back in pup's mouth!!  I kept trying to put the ferret back in there but it was impossible!!!  For those of you who have tried to pry something out of your dog's mouth, try imagining trying to do the opposite!!  The pup just would not put the heavy wet ferret in his mouth!

So, being rather resourceful, I kept looking for imaginative ways to keep the ferret there.  At first I tried to wrap the ferret around the pup's head.  I figured it wouldn't be too heavy and he had easy access to his mouth.  What was I thinking??
Then, I wrapped the ferret around his leash.  That way, every time he'd go for the leash, he'd find the ferret there instead.  Once again, what was I thinking??
So, I did the only thing I could do.  As I walked him I had the leash in one hand and the ferret held out in front of his like a carrot in the other.  Believe it or not, this worked really well.  The last 4 walks have been like this.  I just hold it out in front of him and he walks perfectly.  People on the street give me peculiar glances, but I don't care one bit!!  It works.

Now about a week later, my son took pup out for a walk.  When son came back, he casually mentioned that he had LOST the ferret in a school yard.  Horrified, I had looked at the empty hook in the garage that was home to the ferret for a full week.  As my eyes were filling up with tears, I started putting on my sweater, scarf, snow pants, hat, boots, gloves...and ran out of the house in search of the ferret.  I entered the school yard, and in the distance, I could see this dirty grey clump on top of the pure white snow.  I ran to that ferret, picked it up, brought it home and put it back on its hook.  Every member of my family knows never to touch that ferret again..It's MINE!!!!  It's the only way I can walk my dog and not come back with a dislocated shoulder.  The fabulous ferret saved the day!!!

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Sunday, 29 January 2012

I Pity the Fool

So there I was, finally making some progress with my 9 month old pup.  Both Cesar Millan (via TV of course), and our doggy trainer had told me that in order for me to gain the respect of  my dog, I would have to ignore him.

And I did.  I ignored him for about 1 1/2 weeks.  He had finally started listening to me in the house.  Finally, he'd drop a cushion when I told him, and finally he'd stop chewing on our plants and towels and dish cloths.  Finally.  Of course our walks were a completely different story.  We still hadn't mastered that yet.  The walks were still a nightmare, and yes, today I bought leash #9 even though we've had the pup for under 8 months!!

But, for a while, things started to take on a sunny appearance.  Then, the inevitable happened.  One perfectly normal evening, long after the last walk of the day was taken, long after he had been combed and his teeth had been brushed, he developed a limp.  It could had happened while he was chasing his tail and he slipped on the rug, or, maybe when he was taking those flying leaps off the stairs from the forth step up.  But somehow, he developed a limp out of nowhere.  He was still able to go up the stairs, and still able to go into the backyard to relieve himself, but you could tell that something was not quite right.  He slept quite well that night, but the next morning when we took him out of his crate, he would not put his foot down.  Hubby just walked him to the end of the street and back, just enough for pup to do what he had to do, and then pup slept at the top of the stairs as I got ready in the morning.

I felt really bad for the little guy, and all the "ignoring" went out the window.  All I did was pet him and kiss him and let him sit on me.  I called the vet later that morning and they suggested I keep him off his feet for the day.  If the limp persisted the next day, then I would have to take him for x-rays.  So, at lunch time, when I came home from work, instead of walking him, I let him out into the back yard, and then spent the entire hour just petting him on the floor of my living-room.  He sat on me, I held his toys while he played with them (heaven forbid the toys slipped away from him), and just spoiled him rotten.

After work, I let him sit on me again and I just pet him and pet him.  Both hubby and son told me to stop showing him so much pity.  They both told me that pity does not exist in the canine world.  Deep down, I knew they were right...but pup was just so darned cute!!!  And the poor thing, he had a limp (which, by the way, was barely noticeable by the end of the day).

The next day, the limp was all but gone.  Hubby was able to take him around the block that morning (we decided to ease him back into his long walks).  When I came home for lunch and let him out of his crate, pup was super happy to see me.  He ran up the stairs knowing that he'd be going out soon.  I decided that his walk would also just be around the block.  I didn't want to aggravate his healed limp.  The walk was terrible, one of the worst one in weeks.  Pup was pulling me and biting the leash.  He was uncontrollable.  Back in the house, he grabbed every pillow he could find and ran circles around the dining room table.  He wouldn't listen to me ordering him to drop what he had in his mouth, nor would he listen to my commands to stop.  In fact, pup wouldn't wouldn't listen to anything at all that I had to say!!!

That evening, my son and hubby gave me knowing looks.  They knew the truth...the truth that I had fought hard to resist.  By showing my puppy sympathy and pity, by caring for him and allowing him to sit on me, by showering him with affection.....I became that lesser being in pup's eyes again.  I now had to start ignoring  him all over again.  Once again, I have to start right up again...trying hard to gain his respect...

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Sunday, 22 January 2012

My Dog: The Goat of the Canine World

Hubby, son and I are the perfect dog owners!!  We've read every book, watched every Cesar Millan episode, even uploaded every Youtube funny we could see on PWD's.  In short, we've tried to do everything right!!!  Never, ever having had a dog before, somehow we found ourselves giving advice to people that had grown up with dogs!!!  (What the heck were we thinking!!)

But, there is one thing we did wrong....through no fault of our own.  But, we'll get to that later!

So, back to being perfect...faithful readers of this blog know that we walk our little 9 month old pooch a lot.  We've come to believe that we are the 1st PWD owners in history that can actually tire out the dog before we even get tired.  We try to walk and run him as much as possible.  We also have him very socialized.  He knows how to play with other dogs very well.  He can be rough when the Berneses  whack him with their giant paws, or he can be gentle when playing with the littlest Bichon Frise in the neighbourhood.

Inside the house, I have begun to encroach upon Lord and Master status.  He does listen to me MOST of the time.  However, I have noticed new baseboards being eaten up when I'm not on him 24/7.  He only eats the wood in the house when I'm home alone with him.  He does this because he associates me with wood.  Huh? You ask?  Well, I am definitely NOT lord and master on our walks.  Far from it.  When he's not biting the leash or pulling me down the icy street, he always has wood in his mouth.  In fact, he chews so much wood when he's with me, that he just sees this as normal.  Of course, the only reason I let him chew wood is because if his mouth is full of wood, then he does not bite the leash.  I know, I know, this is a terrible reason to encourage his love of the branch, but I have to tell you, at 52 lbs, he almost broke my pinky finger biting and pulling the leash.   Somehow my finger had got caught in the loop of the leash and when pup pulled hard, my finger either broke or got sprained.  Either way, it HURTS!!

So, back to the exercise.  We live in an area with many green spaces.  Now, green spaces mean lots of places for pup to run about in, but it also means a lot of vegetation.  Different types of vegetation from fir trees, to low lying shrubbery.  Now somehow, this low-lying shrubbery seems to be a favourite of my puppy. He walks up to the bushes and sniffs, tries to bite, and jumps on them.  Problem is, a lot of this shrubbery that he likes to jump on is covered in burs.  Well, take one curly coated Portuguese Water Dog, add a bush full of burs into the equation, and that equals 1 1/2 hour worth of trying to brush out all the needles.  Luckily, pup is used to being groomed because hubby brushes his coat and teeth nightly.

Now....earlier in this blog, I mentioned that we did one thing wrong through no fault of our own.  That one thing we did was use the WRONG brush on our pup.  Because pup is out a lot and gets full of burs....because pup hops through the snowbanks like a bunny....because he's always wrestling and tumbling with other dogs, and most importantly, because his puppy fur is now slowly weaving into the adult fur coming out, our little pup, the one that is so meticulously groomed every night, that same pup had to be SHAVED.  Had we used the proper brush, we would have averted this.  His belly was so full of knots, the groomer said he'd look ridiculous if she trimmed his locks but had a shorn stomach.  So, all the fur is gone.  He looks like he has a buzz cut.  Luckily, the groomer left the little poof at the end of his tail (the only tell-tale sign that he's a PWD).  So son comes home from school that day, takes one look at pup, and says, "Ugh, he looks like a goat!"  And you know, after hubby and I heard this, we've come to realize that not only does he look like a goat, but my little pup also has goat-like tendencies...eating the house room by room.

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Sunday, 15 January 2012

I'm at the End of my Leash!!!!!

So here I am again, hapless puppy owner..ooh sorry, I meant Clueless puppy owner.  We've had our 9 month old for 7 months now.  He's gone from being a terror to being one of the family (well, within reason of course..most of the humans in our family don't chew on the sofa or the baseboards..well, at least not when they're sober).

Inside the house he's a little angel.  When he's not in a deep sleep, he's usually playing with one of his toys.  Sometimes he'll curl up next to one of us and lick our hands and legs.  He loves to get pet..a lot.  Occasionally, he'll run circles around the house and try to annihilate a pillow or bedspread, but for the most part, he's pretty good.  Even when I'm alone in the house with him, he's really calmed down from that biting beastie he use to be.

 But, outside of the house, things aren't as smooth.

When hubby or son walk him, he is a dream dog.  Other owners stop and marvel at how well behaved such a young pup can be.  Total strangers stop to talk to them and ask them for the secrets to their success.  When I am holding the leash, but still walking with either hubby or son, pup may pull a bit and try to get onto every lawn within a 20 km radius, but he's still pretty much OK.  A quick tug on the leash and most times he's beside me again.  The real problem is when I walk him alone.  Without the comfort of testosterone, pup goes completely nuts.  The second the garage door opens, he tries to make a run for it.  I've learnt over the months, to make sure we don't leave the house unless he is in a completely submissive state.  Sometimes, I'll just stand there, leash in hand, the garage door up, pup and I standing on the threshold.  I won't leave until he's calm.  Luckily this no longer takes too long.  Luckier still, because with the windchill, it's been minus 30 this week.  Occasionally, my hubby will open the door leading from the garage into the home, and he'll scream out something about the house freezing up.  Of course, with my hat, earmuffs, hoodie, and hooded ski jacket, all I hear is a muffle that sounds a bit like a squeaky toy.  It's not until I notice his red face and his hand pointing to the thermostat, that I've realized I've been letting minus 30 into the house for about 10 minutes!!!  But hey, I figure that's the price to pay for leaving the comfort of my home with a calm dog.

This calmness does not last very long!!  The second the garage door is down, the leash is in pup's mouth.  There is absolutely nothing I can do about it.  He gets into this trance-like state.  His eyes glaze over.  All he sees is the leash and he must bite it.  He wraps it around his head so that I can't pull it out of his mouth.  He just growls and barks and pulls.  The only time he lets go is when he takes a moment to relieve himself.   Then it's back to all the biting and pulling.  I can't stand it.  He gets so hyper and excited when he's doing this that he will not hear any command.  I'll try using the words he knows..I'll try snapping it out of his mouth.  Nothing.  He pulls and pulls and pulls.  He pulls in front of me, he pulls next to me, he pulls behind me.  Actually, I think he's either broken or sprained my pinkie.  This happened when I was holding the looped portion of the leash and he quickly pulled without any warning.  My little finger snapped back.  This happened a week ago and it still makes a little snapping noise when I move it around.

Our walks are barely around the block.  To do the math, I'm 130 lbs.  Pup is close to 53 lbs.  When he uses all his might to yank, he propels me in every direction conceivable.  The only thing that stops him from going any further is that once he reaches the end of the leash, he flips back in the opposite direction, turning me back and forth like a weather vane!!!  When I try to reign him in, he just pulls the leash over his snout and grabs the rest of it in his mouth.  This happens every single time we go out!!!  I have come to the end of my leash at this point.  People walking past us blush when they hear the names I call him.  Logically, I know that dogs don't understand words, so my screaming at him is useless.  Also, I know that dogs sense when you've lost control, so I know it's in my best interest to remain calm.  But I just can't!!  This adorable ball of fluff has turned me into a blubbering idiot on the street.

Finally, today I had just had it!!  I knew that due to circumstances in my home (namely football!!), the men in my house would not be walking pup today.  I knew that I'd be walking him for 3 of his 4 walks.  I was bracing myself for the worst.  Well, that 1st walk I had was horrible.  I came home 10 minutes later in tears.  Once inside the house, pup became that adorable family pet that we all loved.  A few hours later, I started dreading that second walk.  Well, once again, as soon as the garage door went down, pup had leash in his mouth.  I walked just long enough for him to void and then I started heading for home.  He began pulling and pulling.  I couldn't take it (plus broken finger was throbbing).  I just stopped walking, turned toward him and kept walking toward him, into him.  The more he hopped away, the more I kept walking into him.  At one point I had him cornered into some bushes.  Still I kept walking into him, changing his path with my body.  Then I noticed that the leash was no longer in his mouth.  He was walking where I wanted him to go!!  By then, we were home, but I was curious to see what our last walk would be like.

Well, I just got home from our last walk.  Yes, he pulled quite a bit, but, there was absolutely no leash-biting. We walked about 40 minutes and I almost enjoyed it!!  Now, it might just be a coincidence, but, just to be sure, tomorrow afternoon, when I take him out, I'll see if I can use my body again to make him stop biting the leash.

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Monday, 9 January 2012

Sigh, NOT the Sharpest Tool in the Shed

Way back, before hubby and I decided on a PWD, we had done research on the breed.  Lots and lots of research.  We knew about the high energy level, the kind of coat they had, their fondness for water.  We knew well in advance about their need to have something constantly in their mouth, their agility, and of course, their very playful personality.

We also read up on training.  Every piece of literature on PWD's alluded to the fact that this breed was so smart, that you constantly had to outwit them before they outwitted you!!  We read that because of their brilliance, you always had to assert your place in the hierarchy, because, if a PWD sensed you were not in charge, well then they'd walk all over you and completely destroy your home and environment.

Well, anyone who's been reading my blog since July, will know the struggles I've faced with this adorable little pup (9 months) of mine.  They'll know how I took him to puppy school, gave him lots and lots of toys to keep him from getting bored, and I give him tons of exercise.  (I don't know this for a fact but I suspect that dogs that live in the country only get half the exercise of this city pooch!)

So, you can imagine my frustration when, at every turn, this pup constantly outwits me.  We've gone through 8 leashes, hundreds of dollars worth of toys, shoes, clothes, bed comforters, sofa seats and cushions.  I still can't walk with him without him pulling me down the street (he's over 50lbs), without him jumping in front of me pulling the leash, and without him shredding the leash with his lovely bright white well brushed teeth.

So, like any PWD owner, I turned to a friend who also has one.  Hers is older, so I always look to her for advise as to how to break certain bad habits.  So there I was, sipping a tea and venting my frustrations over the phone, when I said to my friend, "Well, if I'm going to be outsmarted on a daily basis, at least it's by one of the top 10 smartest dogs in the world!"  Hmmm, over the phone I heard a noise that sounded suspiciously like my friend spitting out a liquid, choking, and then laughing hysterically.  I did not like the sound of this at all.  After she got herself together, she said, "I hate to break it to you, but PWD's are not in the top 10....not even in the top 75"!  I couldn't believe it!  Everything I had read told me the opposite.  Then my wonderful PWD-loving friend pointed out that the only lists or magazines that place PWDs in the top 10 are actual PORTUGUESE WATER DOG MAGAZINES AND LISTS.  Fearing the worst, I opened up a couple of links she sent me.  There it was, in black and white...every list not sponsored by the PWD association listed Boarder Collies first, followed by Poodles second, etc. down the list it went.  List after list, it was always almost the same.  Then after about the 6th or 7th list, I went to the PWD site.  There it was, in black and white, Boarder Collies and Poodles were always #1 and #2.....but somehow, PWDs had sneaked onto the list at #10.

After the shock wore off, I realized that I was not getting outwitted by a genius, no, no, no far from it.  This university educated snob was being outsmarted by a moron (but I mean it in the nicest possible way ;))  All this time, I accredited his wily ways to his smarts.  Now I realize that I'm just a bad trainer with a slow learner!!!

Oh well, I'm off to buy him yet another leash and go on yet another disastrous walk.  And, maybe on the road I'll stop by a magazine store and pick up a PWD magazine....not to learn anything new about the bread, just to make ME feel better about my brilliant dog that's smarter than me...

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Sunday, 1 January 2012

My Dog Hates Me

Pup turned 9 months old today.  I still can't believe that I've had him for 7 months!!  I never, ever had a dog before, so I never had any idea what my life would be like.  People with dogs always made it look so easy.  They'd walk their dogs, feed, their dogs, and play with their dogs.  Everyone always told me how dogs were their best friends.  Everyone said that having a dog would be the best thing ever....

...I'm not so sure....

Of course I see the benefits to having a dog immediately.  Because our dog is so high energy, hubby, son and I walk the little fella a lot.  Whenever possible, we run him, take him to parks and socialize him.  (Pup actually has a 12 month old girlfriend...a pretty Golden-doodle that has the same energy level as he does)  We walk him morning, noon, and night.  This puppy has forced us to go from being sedentary people, to being real out-doorsy kind of people.  I love what all this exercise has done for us.  Hubby has lost close to 30 pounds just by walking.  I look GREAT in a skirt!!!  For the first time ever, I can honestly say I love my legs.  Also, walking right before or after meals has many health benefits too.  So, for this, I am very grateful for my little puppy.


Pup hates me!!  He does not see me as alpha at all.  In his eyes, the chain of command is "Hubby", followed by "14 year old son", followed by the pup himself,... followed by various twigs, rocks, and toys...maybe followed by a few other dogs, an afternoon nap, his favourite meal...and maybe, just maybe, I might be hiding in a little corner of his mind as an afterthought!!  Pup does not respect me not one iota!!!  When he was 3 months old and we took him to puppy school, the trainer actually had hubby and son sit in a corner of the room.  She worked hard to get the pup to listen to me.  A few times before and after the classes, we had the trainer come over to the house so she could observe my relationship with the dog.  This dog just would not listen to me.

So, fast forward 6 months after the courses were over, and pup still won't listen to me!!  Whenever I'm alone with him, he'll jump up on the furniture, hump the cushions and eat our shoes.  Pup does not DARE do this when hubby and son are around.  The worst is our walks.  I come home from work ever day at lunchtime to walk him.  Well I gotta tell you, the walks have been getting shorter and shorter.  The reason being is that as soon as I put the leash on him, he jumps in front of me, puts the leash in his mouth, growls and pulls.  It makes no difference if I put the leash on his collar or on a harness...the outcome is always the same..he pulls, barks and growls at me.  We went from taking 40 minute walks to only one quick walk around the block.

Last week I was in tears!!!  I couldn't believe that this is what my life had been for the last 6 months.  I saw no end in sight...and sadly, pup's behaviour with me was really hindering me from bonding with him.  It's not that I didn't love's just that I really didn't like him all that much...and I'm absolutely certain the feeling was mutual on his part.  Finally, after another disastrous walk, as I sat on the stairs in my house, sobbing, when hubby told me that he had left a message for the trainer.  Almost on cue, the phone rang and there was that comforting voice on the other end of the line.  All she told me was one thing, "Ignore the dog".

So I did. I acted as though there was no dog in the house. I walked right past him, I only paid attention to the humans in the house.  Also, instead of telling him what to do, I only used silent cues, finger snapping etc..  Three days later, a miracle happened.  Hubby was asleep and son was in the basement watching TV.  Pup was alone with me.  I saw that twinkle in his eye as he went for the Christmas tree.  I snapped my fingers and blocked his way with my body.  Seeing he couldn't get to the tree, he ran for the cushions on the couch.  Once again, I snapped my fingers, blocked his way with my body, and put my hand out indicating that he should sit.  3 days ago, had I done this, he would have barked or growled at me all the while ignoring my commands and going for the couch.  But, because I had ignored him for 3 days, all of a sudden my status was elevated!  He sat down at my (silent) command, and then lay down next to the tree.  He started whimpering.  He was not happy.  This went on for about 10 minutes.  When he saw that I wasn't going to back down, he just lay there until I walked away.  He then went to the top of the stairs, whimpered some more, and fell asleep.

I felt strangely liberated that night.  Like a huge weight was taken off my shoulders.  Now I'm at 5 days of ignoring him.  Our walks aren't perfect but they have gotten better.  Time can only tell.  The only thing I am looking forward to now, is that bonding sensation so many people have told me about.  I'm hoping that in time, he too will become my best friend.

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