Kenai, 11 1/2 wks old, “Rain Rain Go Away, Let Me Come Outside and Play!”
Rain is a bummer when ya don’t like to get wet. Kenai doesn’t understand the weather forecast, and it’s a good thing, since he would have great puppy coniptions if he knew it was going to pour buckets for two entire days. With areas still flooded from the last big dump, this time it’s going to be bad. And indoors isn’t going to be much fun, either, since he can’t go run off his excess energy.
Now that the tummy troubles are calming down, Kenai actually wants to practice for puppy school. He was bugging me about something yesterday, and it finally dawned on me he wanted to practice! So we spent a solid ten minutes doing downs, sits, heel, walk, and even short stays. He’s an awfully good boy when he wants to be!
He’s also discovered that BB isn’t the only one who plays good! Momma ain’t chopped liver after all, appearantly. Tennis balls are pretty cool too. Puppies really start getting into toys around 12 weeks, and tommorrow that’s how old the two tots will be. Since they also get their shots tommorrow, maybe we’ll call Tuesday their birthday and have some fun. They won’t know the difference!
As for the boys’ biting and fussing with each other, I’m starting to make some progress: Kenai knows the word “off”, and will sometimes move with just a warning. They still can’t be left alone or somebody’s crying in a matter of seconds. But last night, glory be, they eventually curled up on the couch, in a big puppy pile and went to sleep on each other, no teeth!
An upside for being stuck in the house is Kenai will run and almost retrieve more. He’s good at chasing something down and picking it up. It’s the coming back to me with it that is the kink in the hose. Inside he comes back with it about 60% of the time, and most other times he at least comes in my direction. And I do play tug a little while I’m still stronger than him, but he’s very good about “let go” so I can toss it again. We’re getting there!
One thing about Kenai is that he’s not going to let me off the hook about his exercise. He gets wound up and in trouble if he doesn’t get a run or two a day. I’ve gotta get off my tush and find a treadmill. The exercise is making him very strong for a little boy. He’s already quite the muscle man–his chest is almost 7″ across when standing.
I’ve never seen a Dane pup grow like Kenai: he’s almost entirely European with some American genes. His breeder tells me that a pure European Dane takes months to catch up in growth to a part American Dane. But the Euro-American cross like Kenai grows by leaps and bounds, being far stronger and very vigorous. Kenai is an absolute tank, 19″ tall and long, and weighing a whopping 35.6 pounds. At 12 weeks old. He is his Big Daddy’s little big boy! Kenai looks so much like his sire, Benicio.
BB has more of his part American Mom, growing tall and skinny right now, 18″ tall and 26 pounds. His head is more refined and soft, like an American Dane. And like most American Danes, he’s growing up before filling out. Of course, if he was able to run and play with his brother’s enthusiasm, he might have more muscle. So it’s hard to judge how BB will grow until his leg is straight and strong.
One day BB stood up, and just seemed so very tall all of a sudden! I’m looking forward to seeing him run instead of bunny hop, with a beautiful straight leg and be able to just be a normal puppy. I really hope the vets at U. of Missouri can give him that. He’s had a tough start to his life, and I would hate to see him become arthritic before it is time.
Well we’ve defied the odds in the past with our boys: we were told Shabah would be dead by 5, and he was almost 10 when we had to put him down. And Riptide lived to 12. So if BB is happy and healthy at 4 or 5, we’ve beaten the prognosis. The boy got spunk enough, and we got love enough to do what it takes.
When our pastor gets over the flu, the two toddlers are trotting their little selves up to church for a special blessing. If clergy can bless ships and houses, they can bless living creatures too! Especially considering these two tykes each have a very special purpose, in addition to being our companions. Kenai the service dog will give me a fuller life, and BB the special needs pup will give Mom the confidence to have a life apart from me.
I think I will teach Kenai to play in the rain, and enjoy it. He’s taken a walk in a light rain and found that the smells were different and interesting. So MAYBE he’ll stop being so prissy about getting wet. If so, that pool of ours will give me a break from the field wanders in the summer. My legs are so sore and clumsy. All part of the fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. But at least Kenai can “hold it” at night so we’re up to 7 hours of sleep now. That helps.
The pool will be stripped, repainted, and stairs poured in next month. So I could get lucky and clog the filter with puppy hair instead of exhausting myself! All I have to do is get doggie life jackets and take pictures. That’d be fun.
Quote from a friend: “being miserable and changing your attitude takes the same amount of effort, so why be miserable if you can help it?”
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on March 30, 2008
Kenai learning about gardens, 11 wks old
Post By Lisa Harmon
Being a warm spring day, today was Kenai’s first gardening lesson. Namely, some flowers taste good and leaf piles are gobs of fun to pounce on. The fact that flowerbeds aren’t meant to be walked in hasn’t quite sunk in yet, and seems fated to join the pile of other gradually learned lessons! A lesson for me is that dirt in pulled weeds also taste good to puppies, so they have to go in a container too tall for him to stick his little nose in…
And the first ticks are being found on little beige bottoms, so we’ve added critter checks to the coming inside ritual of wet towel wipe downs, muddy feet cleanings, and briar removals. All part of living in the country. The upside is Kenai already knows what deer look like, the sounds of foxes, and has the space of 3 acres to explore. The downside is having to watch for snakes, coyotes, loose packs of neighbor’s dogs, groundhogs, and bobcats.
And BB also got in on the fun, picking up and carrying off the twigs and small branches as I pruned. The multiple ice storms and tornados made a mess of the trees, sadly enough. But my dogwoods and redbuds made it out in good shape. The peach trees and cherries weren’t so lucky.
Kenai seems to be in quite the growth spurt right now, nibbling his back legs and not wanting to take the stairs to our bedroom. I can tell from carrying him he’s packed on several more pounds since his last weigh in. He and BB both will get their ever treacherous 12 week shots in 4 days, so I will be watching them very, very closely for reactions.
April 14 little BB is going to University of Missouri veterinary clinic to see a specialist about his leg. The exercise everyone thought would help straighten his leg may actually be twisting the tibia farther out of alignment. He is in pain alot, so he gets a little “massage” with a homeopathic pain rub I’ve used in the past, on Taj and Shabah. There is no smell, and no irritation to the skin. A very light touch doesn’t bother him much, and he perks up for a time afterwards. Poor sweet fella.
To make matters worse, both boys have loose stools with bouts of diarrhea and have since we picked them up over 2 weeks ago. The vet gave us pro-pectalin, but it has not been helpful. It seems another puppy from the litter was diagnosed with coccidia infection. It is an intestinal parasite, and so tomorrow involves a trip to the vet for Sulfadimethoxine. Depending on how they respond to treatment, the vaccinations may have to wait.
But poopy troubles haven’t stopped them from having a grand old time in our finally sunny yard. Kenai gallops and leaps like an antelope, his taped ears bobbing up and down like antlers. And BB bunny hops along picking up sticks and helping add to the debris piles his brother makes a mess of. They both are getting lots of puppy lessons just by being puppies and trying new tricks–rosebushes have pickers, Momma don’t like digging AT ALL, running off down the road gets a boy scolded and put in the house… And yes, some flowers taste good!
Puppy class starts in a week and a half, and wouldn’t ya know it lands right in the middle of their stubborn stage! But this too shall pass, and hopefully soon–Kenai has lots of training and tricks to learn in the next two years, as he grows into being a service dog.
It is difficult to resist getting in a rush to train Kenai, which is a flaw of mine. With so much for the both of us to learn, I have that nagging, nasty concern in the back of my head that my energy will run out at the worst possible time. The fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue have a schedule of their own, without concern for the stages of puppy development.
I’ve said it before, but when I do go down in a flare, it’s seriously out of the game, as in game over. CFIDS is so hard to explain to someone else. It is beyond exhaution, like the worst case of mono ever recorded. Even when not in a flare, every activity of every day is analyzed, rearranged or postponed according to the amount of effort it takes. I suppose I worry some that I will fail Kenai in this endeavor. More by far than I worry that he will not have the desire and drive to finish his training.
I look at him gallavanting about, worriless and joyful, and I wish I could join him. Sometimes I think he wishes I would join him. Hopefully soon he will retrieve better, so we can have that fun together. Until then, I walk, and it is getting harder to do. All the same, we can enjoy the less vigorous fun, and just enjoy the sunshine together. That too is a good thing for a dog. Sun and fun, even if the daffodils and leaf piles take a beating!
to a dog, sunshine, tummy rubs, summer fields, and fresh water is all that is needed for contentment…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on March 27, 2008
Dogs make most of us happy, just to look at. And seeing them in unexpected places can be a treat. There is no question that a Great Dane in a supermarket will cause a bit of a stir! But the only Dane you’ll find in a supermarket is there for a special purpose–as a service dog. I hear a horror story at least once a week from other SD owners and trainers, about access issues and people who can be downright rude. I’m sure there are lots of events that are not troublesome which just don’t get reported, too.
Since Kenai will not be going into places like malls, grocery stores, and restaurants until after obedience class, I don’t have any stories of my own yet. Business owners are required by federal law to allow unhindered access to a service dog team anywhere the general public is allowed, regardless of any state and local laws. They cannot be harrassed, charged extra, or discriminated against. And there are criminal penalties for injuring either dog or handler, because it has happened, believe it or not.
But just as much difficulty comes from the general public, though rarely as hostile. Most of the time the problems are kind but thoughtless. Occationally people are rude and ill mannered to those with disabilities, but typically it is just a not-thinking sort of thing. So I would like to suggest some simple ideas for average folks, about approaching a service dog team with politeness and respect for the work they do. And teaching these to children is a valuable way to pass on lessons of respectfullness and good behavior towards those who may be different in some way.
First, recognize that the service dog is not a pet –they aren’t out in public for fun. They are a persons’ cane, their picker-upper, their medical alert, their needed help. Many years of lobbying and enduring outright mistreatment went into passing the laws that allow a service dog team access to places the average person goes every day without a thought. And the large volume of complaints concerning access is testimony to the suspicion and difficulty that a person with a disability and a service dog still must wrestle with.
Service dog teams are held to a very high standard of behavior that even a good pet would not be able to accomplish. They must not show interest in people, pets, merchandise or be distruptive. The personality of the dog must be extremely stable, he must have extraordinary obedience, and at least one specialized skill to assist the person.
Hundreds of hours of practice and training are standing behind that service dog vest, requiring years of hard work and persistance. If you’ve ever trained a dog before and recall how much work it was, imagine doing that and far more training with a disability. Training a service dog isn’t done for fun or showing off, but because there is a definite need in a person’s life that makes it worth the substantial effort.
Second, have a look at the dog’s vest. If there is a patch that says “do not pet”, then please don’t. A lady reported an incident at an ATM where a stranger kept demanding to know why she couldn’t pet the service dog, and did it anyway regardless. PLEASE, respect the fact that the dog has a tremendously difficult job to do, and the owner doesn’t want them distracted from it. Wish them well and go on with your day.
Disabled people are busy too, and may not have the time to stop and chat. Everyone has good days and bad days. Having a disability can be struggle enough without someone saying “you don’t look disabled to me” ( that is a painfully frequent occurance unless you’re obiviously blind or in a wheelchair). You would be surprised how often even family members can behave so dismissively!
An “in training” patch should also let you know that the dog hasn’t mastered his job yet, being trained on purpose to ignore people and other distractions. Developing the focus to pay full attention to a single person with all the smells, sights, and sounds of a busy shopping mall is no small feat! Please don’t make it harder for them.
If you see a patch that says “Ask to pet me”, then please ask before petting the dog. This is basic good manners anyway, speaking to the human before helping yourself to their dog, be it a pet or a service animal. It can be hard to resist, and is rarely ill intentioned, but frustrating none the less at times to the handler.
With all the hardships people with disabilities face, politeness isn’t really that big of a burden. And I can tell you the rave reviews people whose children are thoughtfull and kind get on service dog group posts! Somedays, a good encounter can truely keep someone from giving up on the effort of service training a dog. And somedays, it can restore a person’s faith in the goodness of others.
A little random kindness is never pointless…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on March 23, 2008
”Why should I come?” 3/21/08
Just in time for puppy class, the cute little dears hit the first of two stages of development that can only be described as “pigheaded”. Around 3-4 months old, and again at 12-18 months, pups get an “I do what I wants” attitude! In some pups it is a mild sort of independence, not following you around as much or exploring without you more often. They are developing a sense of themselves and their abilities, which is necessary.
In other pups, it is a little more belligerent–they look at you then decide not to come when you call. They play the catch me if you can game. Or the I don’t want to get up game. And there is always the I get into the food bag myself game… You find yourself correcting not only new behaviors, but ones you had thought were taken care of last month. The darling that walked so perfectly on a leash now decides to fight the leash when they don’t want to leave the enticing beef chew on the rack.
Pliable pups become a bit more persistant, and persistant pups try to become dominant. In our house, we have one of each: BB is a nuuudge now, and Kenai yips and talks back or tries to get what he wants for himself. Kenai has also discovered “catch me if you can”, taking off down the gravel road instead of staying in the field. Three acres isn’t enough, you see, because he hasn’t been OVER THERE!!
Oh my…all your best treat distractions fail, all the gentle “no, do this” suggestions are ignored, and you are left wondering what to do now. Posititive training works, but positive training without appropriate correction doesn’t. It doesn’t work on human kids, and it doesn’t work on puppies either. I’m gonna get hate mail about this, but sometimes you have to correct a stubborn puppy and make it count.
I listened to trainers, and others with littermates who had told me just to let them fuss and carry on. I was told not to physically correct or intervene because it would “damage my bond” with Kenai. I was told they have to establish which of the two is dominant. What I got after less than a week was two wild puppies, out of control and unresponsive to any kind of training. It had reached the point that I was seriously considering returning one of the pups. I was miserable, and they were stressed too.
Canine Mom doesn’t refuse to discipline her pups, and we can’t either or they end up out of control and ill-behaved. I DO NOT advocate hitting your puppy, screaming at, or causing them pain–that is not discipline, it is abuse. But a good scruff shake and a “NO” in a low growling voice like their mom would do, makes the point when nothing else does.
So when I finally had had enough, I returned to what I knew was the only way to live peaceably with my hard headed Danes: the only one who’s dominant is ME. And let me clarify that there is a vast difference between dominant and aggressive!
During the last rip-em-up fight of their lives, I took a deep breath, got them both by the scruff and told them “NO” LIKE I DARN WELL MEANT IT. Now, all I have to do is warn them in a deep voice when I see them starting a behavior I don’t want, and give them an acceptable option.
Yes, there were hiccups, and hiding noses under blankets, and “I not look at you” for a little while. But I have now spared them the turmoil of having to fight every time they see each other, compete for toys and food, and generally be on guard. You don’t have to frighten or hurt your pups, but you do have to allow yourself to use as much discipline as they require to live within your rules, no more, no less. The house is peaceful and fun again, as it should be.
Most of the time Kenai is remarkably easy to live with, and quite tolerant. But sometimes he pushes the boundaries to see if I will enforce the rules. It’s normal. And being frustrated or completely quashing their independence doesn’t result in a good dog, either. They just can’t be allowed to stubbornly insist on doing what they want, or you’ll have a lifetime of being bullied by your dog. When it’s a Great Dane, that’s not just trouble, it’s giant trouble.
Sometimes it’s really funny to listen to Kenai complain and talk back, and I have to stiffle a grin to say “hey” and tell him hush. I laugh at his antics, so long as they don’t break the rules. I enjoy watching him develop and yet I cannot allow him to be mouthy because he will do it in public during his service dog access training. I cannot allow him to mooch for food either, despite the hilarity of the Great Dane “mooch ooch”, crawling across the floor as stealthily as a Dane can crawl…
So I continue to train sit, down, stay, stand, and heel, but I have become more firm about let go, no, come, and leave it when I need to. I rarely have to do more than a “hey”, or “no” now. To prevent another run away, Kenai now also has a 20 foot leash so he can run but I can recall him when I need to.
He’s a happy boy, enjoying his romps and outings. It’s all part of growing up, and goodness he is growing fast. He’s 5″ taller, longer, and 8 pounds heavier in just the 10 days I’ve had him. There are so many new things in store for us both…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on March 21, 2008
Record Rains in SW Missouri, 3/18/08
Great Danes are notoriously prissy about getting wet. Kenai and BB, aka the Brothers Grin, are no different, I have learned! The puddles weren’t just outside yesterday, the little stinkers. They would come in, get dried and feet wiped, then sneak off and go on the floor. Oh, the scoldings and remorseful faces, poor little dears. Housebreaking and heavy rain don’t mix!
They became the Brothers Grim for a day! But we got them settled down and they stood leashed in the cold rain until they went, not a shred of sympathy until they were getting dried off. Then “shiney up the puppy” was the best game ever! Rubbing the rumps, they did the funny flamingo dance, lifting one foot and then the other. I think the goofy nerve is located back there…
After their soggy ordeals, they got a drink of slightly warm water, and curled up in blankets to warm up. They looked so pitiful, snuggled under their fleece and sleeping off the stress. Littermates are considerably more effort, so if you’re getting a second pup to keep the first company, think again. I’m exhausted from putting a stop to the incessant tussles the brothers get in.
Most people keep telling me to “let them be puppies” and tussle, but they don’t just wrestle and play–they ignore toys, me, and even food so they can chew and bulldoze until somebody gets mad and the growling starts. Besides, they are Great Danes, pushing 3 months old and 30 pounds. If I don’t stop it now, then do I try it when they are 6 months old and top the scales at 50 pounds or more? Or a year old at well over 100 pounds? If I could manhandle them at that size, I wouldn’t need a service dog.
No, rule number one in my house, and hopefully yours if you have Danes, is PLAY GENTLE. There is nothing gentle about fighting, and I won’t have it in my house, puppies or not. The older they get, the more dangerous it becomes, so I’m stopping the habit now. My breeder agrees, and in her words, told me to give them both “a meetin’ with Jesus” until the foolishness stopped.
But these little guys are so FAST, it’s hard to prevent all the fusses. And angelic little BB, all sweetness and cuddles, takes every opportunity to chomp his brother when Kenai isn’t looking. Yesterday he got a bite of far too delicate male apparatus and got himself tanked really hard by big brother before I could intervene. He had it coming, but got his bowed leg badly torqued. So he sat on the couch with frozen peas and pain rub on his knee while Kenai and I played.
Think long and hard before coming home with littermates. They take far more work, as they have to have an opportunity to exist outside the confines of their relationship. They must have the chance to develop their own bonds with others, their own personalities, skills, and tastes. We’re already doing what most trainers recommend–they sleep seperately, crated in different rooms, and are trained seperately most of the time so they can become individuals.
They are twice the entertainment, but also twice the work. Being males, unneutered until adulthood, fights and dominance must be vigilantly controlled. BB won’t be neutered at all, considering his brush with death from anesthesia during the hernia repairs. Kenai won’t be neutered until 18 months to allow him to develop the full bone density and heavy musculature that he will need as a working dog. But teenage ironheadedness will come along with the package, so I have to be prepared. Another reason to clamp down on the roughness and fighting right now…
It’s a delicate balance with a pair of brothers, and personally, I don’t think I will do it again in my current state of health. But BB and Kenai are indeed sweet guys and easy to train and live with, at least when they are seperated. We’re working on easy when together. They are only 10 wks old, and have to learn that they aren’t in the litter yard anymore, so patience and persitence are my best tools. That and making it count when I say “No” to them. There are times I run short of patience, but I’m learning too.
There is a breaking in period for people as well, when a puppy or two comes home. Habits I had developed without knowing get made clear, like doing what I felt like when I felt like it. Now I have to take into account little bladders that really “can’t hold it anymore, Mom”. And be able to keep one eye on them and one on supper so it doesn’t burn instead of watching the news while I cook. These are things that get forgotten after awhile, and not always remembered when buying a puppy.
The Brothers Grin are alot of work right now, but they are such fun little fellows too. Kenai is vocal, and complains mightily, making us laugh at his indignation. And BB is a sensitive cuddler, wanting to lay his paws on your leg, and rest his head on your lap. They still make baby noises, and suckle in their sleep. And watching big brother Kenai encourage little BB to come down the porch stairs by himself, and go into places that he’s skittish of is really remarkable. They look after each other, when they aren’t chewing holes in each other!
To own a Great Dane, one must be prepared for funny looks when the panting makes the entire car shake…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on March 19, 2008
Kenai and his best Spock impersonation BB and his gentle eyes
Oh my, I had forgotten the crate crying! We all got home Sunday March 9, from a two day drive. Kenai and I stay upstairs most of the time, so he can bond with me instead of deriving comfort from his brother, who is downstairs with Mom. That’s important since he’s going to be my service dog. He’s doing quite well for a 9 week old puppy. I’m very proud of him!!
He’s a happy little guy, but I’m so tired and hurting by evening, I find myself having a short fuse with the boys. It seems they are wilder then, and that is my fault: the misbehavior is a response to my anxious and frustrated emotions. I have to stop that, fibro and fatigue be hanged. So it’s time to crack down on myself!!!
I’m saddened and upset for having reverted back to selfishly being irritable with my boy so quickly, and so instinctively. Especially since I have felt guilty that I had been so cross when my past love Taj would wake me up at night with his HOD pain. It wasn’t right then, and it isn’t right now. I have a choice how to respond and the option of deliberate self-control. Fun little Kenai is a dog, and they simply feel what they feel, and react to what we feel.
So I am developing a bedtime routine of going upstairs with Kenai when he is sleepy, having a little cuddles on my bed with me, then putting him in the crate. I leave the door open and sit with him for a while, then close the crate. Lights off, in bed, and if I calmly ignore the crying, he quits crying (after having a noisy fit, of course). I ignore it when he wakes me up during the night, and just before the dawn, I take him out of the crate to cuddle on my bed. When the alarm goes off at 5 am, we go outside for RELIEF and then have breakfast. I think he will adjust quickly. Probably faster than I will get over the sleep deprivation!!
Since the 14 stairs to my bedroom are narrow, slick, and have a short tread, I’m carrying him upstairs for now, all 25.7 pounds of him. I let him climb a little, but he gets tired. Thursday I’ll get more of the nonslip tape for the stairs, and climbing them with me will be safer for us both. One of my biggest fears is that he will fall down the stairs and get hurt. Have to control that too, so he doesn’t become skittish of them too. I have fallen on those stairs many times in the past couple years.
Kenai is getting more confident and exploring. Hence, we have to work on his recall because he’s becoming confident enough to ignore me. Not going to have that–broke out the treats. He’ll follow when I leave him, but coming when called needs work. He sits beautifully, and is always happy to be with me. But OMG I had forgotten just how much work pups are.
As for little BB, the transition is harder for him. He’s used to always having someone with him, having been so sick. He misses his former “kitchen pack”, and cries terribly at night. He’s urinating on his beds and our living room couch, even though he’s out frequently. I think it’s anxiety, as he is a sensitive little fellow, and Mom’s frustration isn’t helping. Poor baby. When he hears Kenai and I going out and having breakfast at 5AM, he gets really upset, and wakes Mom up crying. I’ve started going to get him, because Mom goes to bed late.
Seperately, the boys do pretty well, but together they are difficult! I can’t get them to quit the biting and fussing, competing for toys and playing keep away. I normally would let them rumpus all they want, but it takes time getting Kenai not to chew on me afterwards–cannot have that in a service dog. So we have to re-teach them to play without nipping, and sharing without fuss. BB especially is a chompmonster and Kenai likes to bulldoze his smaller brother.
But oh, the baby noises and cuddles are soooo sweet. It’s wonderful to have such happy faces following me around! There’s hope in them thar little eyes, and lots of love. The boys need us to love them back, and be patient with them. So my work for this week is to control my own emotions when tired and in pain. If anyone is the praying type, wear out your knees for me and Mom!
Peacefullness is a state of mind…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on March 11, 2008