Kenai, Long and Tall, 21 weeks old.
Kenai’s streak of scatterbrained continued today, all the way through his outside training class this morning. If we didn’t have an appointment time, I wouldn’t have picked up his leash: I’m not having a good day. I’m scattered myself, foggy, anxious, and fairly uncomfortable. Oh the aching!
In an effort to get him to stop pulling and pay attention to me, I tried doing some quick turns, every time he was distracted. Which was most of the time. He was sniffing, he was looking around, he wouldn’t sit even with treats, his muscles were tense…the same thing while Linda worked with him. All the quick turns did, was what I didn’t want: it made him jumpier, waiting for the next hard yank.
Inside it went no better for him. He wouldn’t hold a down stay, and whined quite a lot. Then Linda squirted him with water, and it was all over from there. He hid behind me, he wouldn’t go near her…you get the idea. She took his leash, and made him down stay, but even stuck in a fog bank, I could see how fretful he was.
It is true that I baby Kenai quite a lot. I don’t allow him to run away from what startles him but I’m cautious about how much I expose him to at one time. He’s been put through more socialization than any other puppy I’ve had. Only one or two things have caused him to lose it, and re-introducing them has been more carefully approached.
Not only to prevent that fear from becoming a habit, but because a full blown implosion will beat the holy hell out of me. He’s more than large and strong enough to take me clean off my feet and keep going, even at 5 months old. 75 pounds of freaked can put some serious horsepower behind it.
Water is a hated thing for him, and honestly, I have been putting off the bath because I don’t want to fight the fight a full sudsing will be. His first exposure at 10 weeks old left him shaking and wimpering, and back then he wouldn’t have jumped if a gas main exploded next door. I’ve been slowly getting parts of him wet since then, little by little. Tossing him in a shower could go very badly for us both!
I don’t allow him to be reactive to noises or people, so when an umbrella set him off awhile back, we worked on it until he hardly notices now. Skateboards I haven’t tried yet, after he nearly got away from me the first time. I want a little more control over him first. That could get us both hurt.
I have put Kenai through it more than any other pup I’ve had, and expected more of him. Those three things have been the only triggers he’s shown in the 12 weeks we’ve been buddies. Considering all the experiences I put him through, that’s fairly impressive.
I’m not likely to drop him off the deep end into a world of wildness and motorcycle gangs though! There is such a thing as too much. I am a gradual person these days, I guess. Hurry up and hit it usually hits me back, right between the shoulder blades, the back of the hips, the arms…
The rest of the day, I have been trying to form my thoughts into something coherent, bringing up feelings (including over-protectiveness) and separating them from the intuition that has disquieted me about this morning’s class.
There are times that we can know something and not be able to pin it down in explainable terms, or even really comprehend it ourselves. Slowly, though, I’m beginning to grasp the handles of what has disturbed me.
I can come down on him hard when he needs it. But I haven’t ever seen Kenai shy away from people. I’ve never seen that “won’t you rescue me” look in his eye. My instincts were screaming that this was counterproductive.
How could I explain it, though? What the trainers were telling me was sensible and from experience. Yet something wouldn’t let me be comfortable about it, like last week. Hard on me I can accept because John and Linda are never personal about it. But seeing fearfulness in Kenai, I have difficulty not finding another way of managing his anxiousness.
He is a consummately confident dog by nature, very friendly and people oriented. That image of him with his eyes wide and tail tucked bothers me. Not because he was skittish of a skateboard or a tub of water, but because his trepidation was about people. About walking with and being with people he knew. With us. Ultimately, with me.
I’ve tried all afternoon and evening to shake that feeling, that’s more than a feeling really. It’s more than a tendency to baby him. We were making him miserable. When I went to put on his leash this afternoon, he shied away. I have a lingering sense that I did more harm than good this morning.
I have in my head, 2 competing schools of thought about dog training: the positive experience training, and the dominant obedience training. Seems I muddle them up from time to time, rather that taking what works from each and making a functional program of the principles. (I muddle a lot of things, thanks be to fibromyalgia).
Positive experience training is based upon encouraging the dog to think and act of his own fruition to do what you want. For example, Kenai would be encouraged to watch me with greater and greater concentration through rewards (re-patterning is the fancy term). Or BB’s timidity would be reduced through gradual exposure to what frightens him, and reward for remaining calm as the intensity of exposure increases (sub-threshold reconditioning).
The other camp is based upon dominant pack status, teaching and expecting the dog to do as we ask because we are the leader and they are in a submissive role. In other words, Kenai would have stopped pulling because I demanded it of him, using the quick turns as reminders to pay attention to avoid correction. And BB’s timid reactions would be remedied by full exposure without escape from the things he is skittish of: facing his fear.
These explanations are very nearly over-simplified, but you can see the two poles I’m walking between in my thoughts about how best to work with Kenai. If they were fences and I was on the road between them, I’d be wobbling about like a drunken sailor some days!
My doggie skills are far different now than even 10 years ago, because my abilities are far different. The quick turns were as painful for me as they were worrisome for Kenai. Since man-handling Kenai is no longer an option for me, I’ve been forced to look for ways to mind-handle him. To communicate.
I’ve gone much farther into the world of positive training than ever before. I’ve found it confusing to remember the “rules” when I’m foggy or tired, and difficult to replicate the results. The two big achievements of this has been a untidy training program, and bucketfuls of second-guessing myself. My confidence is a little shaken, and Kenai isn’t going along with the mixed up mess from my head to my hand.
We don’t go back to the training class until June 18th, so between now and then, my goal for myself is to learn how to relax him when he’s stressed. That’s it. Nothing else. I have three weeks, and by then I’m really hoping to take him back to Linda as a much more relaxed and easy pup again.
His focus, his obedience, his desire to look to me for guidance will all follow behind my ability to calm down excitement and reassure him when he needs it. The question is, how? The dominant obedience work today was a blazing failure. Guess that leaves the other end of the training spectrum.
There are two avenues I have in mind, that have been in my head for a couple weeks. One is more frequent and consistent work on “come and go” practice from the book “Control Unleashed”. The other is called “Tellington Touch”, a type of therapeutic touch for animals.
Once again, it’s all new to me, and they both take me out of my head: they are intuitive and immediate. My weaknesses…oh that there was an expert on TTouch nearby to get some instruction from! There’s not, so my buddy and me have to figure it out together.
Books can only give you information, they can’t provide the wisdom to use it effectively. Kenai has his ways, his likes, and those are the confines we work within. It’s a little scary, something so very new to me, that requires me to stop analyzing, and just feel. At the same time, I have a sense that this will deepen the trust between us.
I’ve been a hard person for him to talk to, I think. I don’t hear as well as I used to. He’s a hard puppy to hear, too. His signals are subtle. He maintains a dignified solidity about him, unless deeply distressed. I miss a lot. I’ve missed too much. If I occasionally want to shake him out of his hide when he’s driving me nuts, I bet the feeling is mutual!
Take some Dramamine boyfriend, and hang on: we’ll figure it out together.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on May 29, 2008
Kenai and the daisies, 20 weeks
I’ll make a gardener out of him yet! After a couple of times stopping Kenai, and pointing out the flowers, he’s started stopping to sniff them on his own. He also doesn’t trample through them after that! Kenai has his tall grass patch again, since I cannot bear to make myself cut down flowers.
The field looks scraggly in places, but too bad. Maybe next year I’ll sow some wildflower seeds and make a garden of it. That’d be really pretty, a pic of my big buddy in the wildflowers. It’d be pretty without him too, come to think of it.
It’s been a relatively tough day for my baby bottoms, being left upstairs twice this morning. Once when I went to wake up Mom so she could get BB out and walked, and once while I went down to work on BB’s physical therapy. Kenai had a huge fit, clawing at the door, and wiggling the handle. He’s on the cusp of figuring out how to open it, Lord help me.
So to improve his day, we went for a little car ride after a nice long run. He ran, I walked, just to be clear. No way do I run, save for emergencies. We’ve had more rain, so I have one pair of shoes that don’t squish when I walk. And with all the weeds around here, given the ample moisture, I wouldn’t be half surprised if my shoes sprouted.
Everytime I think the ground has dried out enough to pulls some weeds, it rains again. I hesitate to really complain about it, or we’ll have miserably hot dry weather all summer. But still, I’m overrun by weeds. It’s been a week since I worked outside, and I can’t tell by looking where I’d been!
Kenai has hardly whined at all today, when he wasn’t stuck upstairs. He’s just so glad to be where I am, he’s quiet. We’ve only had one indoor playtime this morning, but that will have to do until after my nap. He’s taking one now, recovering from the humid air in the car. But I’ll be waking him up for his lunch when I’m done here.
I’ve never fed my boys more than twice a day before, but these two can’t seem to go that long with empty tummies. Better adding lunch than having upset tums. So thrice a day it is. Kenai’s getting a little heavy, though, so I’ll have to cut the amount back once I’ve used up the leftover bags that we took up for BB.
I had portioned out his meals and taken them to the vet for him, using more food to get weight back on his bones. He won’t finish a bowl now, so we put a little in his bowl, and add to it if he finishes it. I do like the convenience of just dumping in a ziplock bag full and adding water in the bowls. I may continue that.
One thing that has frustrated me, and I didn’t expect, was having lost the ability to “read” a dog’s overall body language. It used to be easy for me, but since the fibromyalgia took hold, I have develped a strange sort of “tunnel vision”. I can focus on one thing, but not 4.
When you look at a dog to guage its’ state of mind, you look at the position of the head, the ears, the eyes, the tail, the legs, and the hair on their back. I can’t seem to do it anymore. I can look at the head and the ears, but miss the tail. If I look at the tail, I miss the head. It’s terribly frustrating.
Appearantly, I’m not the only one to whom this has happened. That tunnel vision seems to be common with people who have disabilities. Maybe it’s because I generally have to really focus so hard on one thing, like making dinner, just to get it done. If I try watching TV or something, we eat charcoal or call for delivery!
It’s a good thing I don’t have a job building skyscrapers I guess. Dogs’ll cut you slack, but 40 stories won’t. I could muck up a doctor’s office worse than they already are–aren’t ya glad I’m not a receptionist? Next time you go the doctor’s, be grateful you don’t see me.
My lack of observational skills is fast turning me off to doing more than nibbling around the edges of clicker training, which requires a keen eye and fast response. I can’t keep up with Kenai’s every movement. I don’t even see alot of what Kenai’s doing, so clicking and rewarding it consistantly would not happen.
Still, the “come and go” exercise in the book, “Control Unleashed” has had some very positive effects. The principle is to let the dog be sniffing or looking around, and the moment he looks either in your direction or at you, mark the event with a sound (click, yes, good, etc), and give a treat. Then send them back to what they were doing.
I’ve found Kenai looking at me more, bringing the toy I tossed afterward right back, and generally being less absorbed in other things. If nothing else, I’m glad to have learned the exercise for it teaching him to fetch for fun.
Now I can throw his ball outside and he chases it down for more exercise without me having to walk longer and farther as he grows. He’s not always good about the bringing back outside, but I’m grateful for what I get!
My boy’s getting so very big. I don’t always notice it until we’re cuddling on the bed and he decides to stretch out. I can be getting smooches, and his butt’s all the way down at my knees. Wow! He’s got a big enough chest now to give him a right proper bear hug! Still, he’s a baby in mind and spirit, teething, napping, and playing like a 10 pound pup.
It’s sort of like having a baby hippo: you may want to play, but for God’s sake don’t let them sit on you. I have to watch when he’s running towards me because he can’t make turns all that fast. He’s only bumped me twice, but the last one left a dent since he was 40 pounds heavier than the first. If he ever decided to run me over, I’d barely be a speed bump.
That’s the reason behind teaching your Dane to BE GENTLE with people. They’re clumsy, but big, like some stumble-toed elephant. I can’t count the number of Dane pups that gave me a chuckle because they just tripped over their own feet on a regular basis. Kenai hasn’t done that, being remarkably co-ordinated, but Danes are bumble butts until a year or more old.
Yesterday Kenai decided to use his body to pin me against the wall so he could tug his squeaky toy out of my hand. He’s always enjoyed that, but he was small enough for me to reach over him and goose something for fun. Not anymore…
There I was, squished and getting a snoot full of dog hair, and all I could do was grunt like some cartoon character! Needless to say, I don’t lean against anything now when I’m sitting on the floor playing with him.
That’s a Dane for ya, wondering why everything around him is shrinking. They must stop and ponder which turn it was that took them to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The same couch that they used to roll over on suddenly drops them on their heads. The very same crate they used to stretch out in doesn’t have room for butt and head both…
Life is hard enough when you’re little without everything getting littler!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on May 26, 2008
Kenai’s “I don’t like it” face, taking his frustrations out on a toy, 20 wks
I don’t care what Hollywood directors say, the HULK IS NOT GREEN. He’s brown. A sort of burnt sugar caramel color with a black face. He sleeps on a futon mattress next to my bed. And snores. Kenai is pushing 75 pounds, and could bench press at least twice that if he had thumbs. I got such a howl at Mom’s face while she unwillingly scooted across the couch since he didn’t want anymore smoochies…then I scolded him. But I laughed first!
BB’s first day home was a whiney one for Kenai, not surprisingly. We got up at our usual time, he had his breakfast and potty run, and as soon as we woke Mom up we got out of Dodge. Mom’s not a morning person by any stretch, so it’s a great temptation for her to ask me to run BB out and feed him. She can’t ask if I’m not there…
Kenai and I go upstairs after his breakfast normally. I like to give his tummy a couple of hours to digest before taking him out for his morning dash about. He’s actually very good about laying on his bed while I check emails and other needful things. Taj, or any of my other higher energy pups of the past would never have been able to do that.
It would have been Nightmare on Turtle Pond Drive. Crashing, smashing, thundering feet…no end to the noise and destruction if they didn’t get to run a good nights’ sleep off! Thankfully, Kenai is a tranquil sidekick. Most of the time. Except when he’s not.
He’s taken an affinity to whining though, and it’s become really annoying. Whining is often a manifestation of anxiety in dogs, and I can get it in stereo. As soon as one mopey pup starts, the other joins in for moral support. The hard thing is knowing when to ignore it, and when to tell them to hush. Or “HUSH!!!”, depending on how long and horrid the sound.
Puppy whines are a language in and of themselves. The pitch, inflection, duration, all vary according to what they want and how bad they want it. Personally I could have gone without acquiring an intimate knowledge of Kenai’s newly discovered language of nerves. But learning is what I’m doing, want to or not.
Some of his whines are minor protests ending with an indignant snort, some are pitiful, vibrato sounding things when he knows he’s not going to win the stubbornness contest, and some are so desperate you’d think he was suffering crucifixion. Or a bladder emergency, depending on which you’d decide is worse.
The best way to ensure the non-emergency kind continues and increases for the next 10 years is to give in. Giving in, by the way, includes getting irritated as well as letting them have what they wanted. If you get angry, they get even more anxious and whiney. Banging the crate at 2 am or tossing a new bone to shut them up both backfire in the long run.
It’s best not to respond at all. They like to act deaf when coming is less interesting than going, so why shouldn’t we furless critters get to fake deafness? Paybacks are fair, right? Kenai gives up pretty easy, either dozing off or entertaining himself on his bed. But if it just goes on and starts increasing his agitation, I will quietly tell him to hush or give him a poke.
If I do have to correct him for whining, I take into account how hard it is for him to comply. For instance, if he’s whining because his brother is 2 feet away doing the same thing, a few moments without noise gets a small treat. Whining correction that inspires him to stand up and try to get the toy on the shelf by himself does not get a treat—it gets another correction. Oh the trials of a little boy!
Speaking of trials, I think his teething is really uncomfortable for him, more than when the baby teeth came in. He wants desperately to gnaw a bone, but he doesn’t for long. I think it’s too hard. The softer filled, man made things he could destroy all day if I let him.
Kenai has done something new this go around with cutting teeth—he tore something up. First time. It was an atlas we keep in the pocket of the car. It’s usable since someone noticed, but still…think I’ll hold off on the attempt to leave Kenai loose in the house when I’m gone for a time. Don’t want him to discover he could tear things up. That’s a hard habit to break.
And he’s going back to wanting my hands to clamp down on. He used to enjoy sucking my fingers when he was sleepy or upset as a little baby. I don’t let him do it anymore since I worked so hard to wean him off the activity. But he’s going for hands again, poor kid. Softer and squishier, fingers are. They must give just enough to make getting bigger adult teeth through the gums less painful.
Kenai is frustrated, poor pup. His mouth is sore, he can’t bugger with his brother, and all the world is icky because of it. He paces around BB’s pen, looking for a way in until I make him lay down. He gets scolded if he bashes it, so that won’t do the trick. He can’t get to his brother, and he can’t steal his brother’s toys. What kind of fun is there besides that?
It’s tough for him, I know. They eat seperately, they go out seperately. It’s a hard thing for littermates. But it has to be. BB is way too fragile to handle the Hulk’s vigor. Vet orders, and common sense too. Once in a while I let BB out so they can be together, but Kenai is leashed and there is nothing more than noses and nuzles allowed. No swatting, no smushing, no nipping.
One of the best things about Danes is their gentleness. Kenai will lay down with the very young without being told to and let them maul him. Like the 6 week old Boxer awhile back, or the other day when Emily was on one of his beds. He will carefully place his feet not to step on them, then gently lay down.
I wish that gentleness translated to his brother, though. They have never willingly lay next to each other and not brought out the teeth or fussed over toys. BB’s more than a little spoiled, and Kenai has a dominant streak with other dogs he thinks he can take. So they tussle for status, if I let them.
Mom thinks it will stop as they mature, but I think it will get worse: BB won’t be neutered (after all his surgeries, why another that isn’t really neccessary?), and Kenai will keep his pecan until he’s done growing. We’ll have 2 unneutered males for the next year and a half. It’ll get worse, and more intense as adolescence approaches. Guess we’ll see who’s right soon enough.
Another great thing about Great Danes are the jowels. They are sooooo soft, and perfect for stroking. Kenai’s fur is rather coarse on his back now that the puppy coat is shed. But the jowels are like folds of silk and always will be. Fun to play with too.
the soft jowels of a Dane! Kenai, 20 weeks old.
Kenai’s had himself alot more inside play with me, and the extra attention helps with his frustration level. He likes to tease me with a baby, have me grab it and tug. No problem with him letting go, thankfully. Sometimes I don’t even have to say it, if I touch his chin. Then a toss and chase is on!
He knows when the treats are out too, so the lightweight obedience practices are rocking along. We aren’t as intense and frequent with them while he’s stressed. It’s mostly having him wait at the door to come out, or stay while I straighten up his bed before he gets on it.
For a 5 month old, the repetoire of commands he does reliably is pretty big: sit, down, wait, come, and stay with words or hand signals. On your bed, let go, leave it, slow, back, up (from down to sit), stand, look, hush, fetch, pull, don’t pull, and off. Not bad, little boy. Not bad at all.
He’s just about perfected the auto-sit again. I just hold the treat until he sits to figure out what I want. He’s doing the same thing with down, the smart little buddy. His command learning is pretty much done for now, so it’s all about perfecting obedience and socialization until we start with his “task training” for service work.
Right now Kenai’s a puppy, more of a companion really. His service dog task training is way in the future. Oh, his vest was shipped last week, and he’s going to adjust himself to that and a bigger pack, but at his age, obedience and socialization lay the groundwork.
Our SD trainers are right that he’s dead on where he should be for a puppy. I trust their judgement. Ya gotta grow ‘em up a little before you can expect them to take everything in stride. I think though, once the excessive stress is out of Kenai’s life, he’s going to really surprise everyone with his maturity.
I know he’s young, and is going through all the normal puppy phases. But I’ve seen glimpses of what he is going to become, and I remember them when he’s chewing the atlas, or looking for a way to free is brother from the pen. Those confident, unflappable, figure it out glimpses are encouragment to hang on when he’s driving me nuts.
He’s a puppy, and he has his bad hair days where he leaves you no doubt that he’s got alot of growing up to do. But I have seen and sensed the noble calmness he is capable of, and let me tell you, I really like what I see. He’s going to be an outstanding friend.
I feel a little different about Kenai than maybe some people feel about their dogs. I don’t own him, I owe him. For all the years of service he will give me, I am immensely grateful. But for the greater number of years he will be my ever present, loving friend, I feel privileged. Even when I feel like snatching him bald and shaking him until he’s sea sick!! (I wouldn’t do it, but the thought does come to you…). Kenai is a gift.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on May 25, 2008
Remember this? The itty bitty little 9 week old, already bigger than the entire collection of toy breeds? What a cutie, and soooo easy to love.
WARNING: long post. Amusing if you can make fun of lunacy…
Kenai did not go along with my plans for an easy day yesterday. And my new devotion to reducing my stress (to reduce Kenai’s) found itself in trial by fire. As soon as Mom left on her drive to pick up BB, Kenai started with the anxious puppy stuff. This time it wasn’t me causing it: I was really and truly in a good, relaxed, confident mood.
Kenai saw the car pull away and he started right in: he cried, he parked on the bed in the kitchen and wouldn’t move when I called him, he wouldn’t lay down when I sat on the couch…and let me tell you, he was a total ass outside.
I calmly re-leashed and aborted two field runs because his first act after peeing was to play the runaway “catch me if you cans”. No way does he get to play after that—it just rewards the wrong behavior. It sounds mean, but when you have a dog, everything he gets has to be earned, just like it would in an all doggie pack. Playtime is by my rules. It has to be.
But you would be proud of me: I remained patient, remarkably not frustrated. I’ve cut my meds in half since they were making my anxiety worse, and I can tell a big difference in how I feel. I was still chipper enough to try the field fun again, knowing how he enjoys it, and it settles his puppy hash on bad hair days.
The third brave attempt at outside play that morning was also cut short, because he returned again and again to drag around this junky old canvas that had been sprayed by a skunk. Four times, mind you, despite increasing correction. And that was between eating critter poop pellets at the edge of the field and pretending to be hard of hearing. Ugh.
I had no idea what had gotten him turned sideways. I couldn’t have felt more deliberate and composed if I’d been shot up with Ketamine. At least I was assured that this day’s wonkiness was not due to my own anxiety.
But something certainly had my little bandito’s sombrero on crooked! I used some yoga breathing to keep myself from sliding sideways too, and laughed at how very wrong my plans for the day had gone.
After the fourth skunk stinking canvas event, I took Kenai’s funky butt upstairs and laid down for a nap. He brought that to an abrupt end too, whining between bouts of crashing a ball around the room. I calmly took the balls up, and was willing to live peaceably with squeaky toys. Patted him on the head and gave him a chew, calm and certain he’ll settle down if any more silliness was ignored.
Like crate training a new puppy, ignoring anxious behavior that doesn’t reach the level of needing correction is a good way to go. The less you respond, the less it continues. Unfortunately, 20 minutes of whining and growling about a neighbor’s screeching Terrier in the distance got the better of me.
I snatched Kenai’s scruff on his way by my bed for the umpteenth time, and did a little growling of my own. That would not have been a good time to ask “What can Brown do for you” (a UPS commercial slogan), because my answer would not have been repeatable in polite company!
No longer sleepy, I still hunkered down in bed for an hour to cool off and release tension. Biofeedback time for moi. Kenai was sleeping off his sudden brush with death. Nothing like a near death experience to sort one’s socks, you know.
Once my dander was down again, I got up and took him downstairs to watch a movie, in hopes he’d continue his nap on the couch. I don’t remember seeing much of the first half. So I got a very special, rarely used ball and ran his goober gumps until he was panting. Then we went inside and yes to one and all, I do indeed recall how the movie ended.
Victory in Jesus! My laying on of hands about the Terrier seemed to make the point clear to him. Good thing, since I knew he was gonna go nuts when his brother showed up. Determined by that time to thoroughly burn off all traces of his rumpus before BB came through the door, I took Kenai back outside.
A tired dog is an easier dog to handle, and heat makes every animal tired! You see, there’s a plan in all this. Today was an exercise in heading off puppy misbehavior before it happens. Ya just have to be smarter than the puppy. Sometimes I am. Sometimes it even works!
It was hotter than I usually take him out in, so we just walked around the shaded front yard. He seems to have absorbed the fact that out front where the flowerbeds are is not a place to get his goober runs out the system. He only gets taken out front after running it off in the field.
I was pleased to see he wanted to go inside fairly soon, since I was drenched and smelly as that old canvas. The skunk would have run upwind of me! The turkey buzzards were circling, looking for the carcass…
Finally too hot and tired to behave like a nincompuppy, Kenai flopped under a fan and crashed. By the time I got out of the shower, it was 3 o’clock, and I had an hour or two before Mom came home to get BB’s bed moved and ready for him. At least I had the heads up he was coming, and had been given time to finish off Kenai for the evening. Or so I thought.
Let me pause here to say he has never, NEVER acted like this. Not even when I was at my worst anxiety levels, or when he hit the ‘terrible twos’! Come to find out, someone who shall go unnamed but will be fragrantly blessed all the same…someone had given Kenai the heads up that morning about his brother coming home. Oh hellfire and hookworms, how I wish they hadn’t done that! Well intentioned, but not well thought out…
I expected the insanity when BB was there on the bed and Kenai couldn’t get to him because of the ex-pen. I was prepared for the crazy scramble to figure out how to get the Brothers Grin fed and out to relieve themselves separately. I had plans for how to respond to the whiney wumps and puppy pouts. I handled it quite well, patient and not in a fizz.
But my wonderful-world-of-Disney provisions forgot Mom’s irritating habit of making important stuff wait while she piddles with the insignificant. When I was a kid, we had to sit at the dinner table, looking at the food, while she washed the pots and pans. I get up to get her up, 3 hours before she has to leave so she can watch TV and go back to sleep on the couch.
Mom is the slow sort of person that always makes you wait while Rome burns. Just who she is. Problem is, that don’t work out well when you put puppies in the stew.
We had just gotten BB fed, and instead of taking him out, Mom suddenly feels the urge to go to the kitchen to empty the bags of his stuff that came home with him, and put together his raised feeder (after he ate?). 10 minutes and several warnings from me later, BB is howling to be let out, and my 70 pounder is in full panic mode at his brother’s crying.
When BB’s crooked bottom started getting ready to unload right on the bed, I jumped up to distract him and yelled at Mom to drop whatever the hell she was doing, and her response was, “I can’t, you take him out”…OMG here we go again. Didn’t we deal with this once before? Or twice?
I guess she heard the crash, because she came back to the living room and took her own pup out. I was not happy. Calm went by the wayside. Relaxed was a distant mirage. All of this because she had to empty bags rather than let BB empty his tush like every puppy does after eating.
Tonight is the first time Kenai has EVER knocked anything over, and I was lucky to grab the lamp flying off the end table before it too hit ground. I had to scold him. I had to really get harsh with him to shut down the wildness, and none of that incident was his fault. He didn’t deserve that experience, and I wish I had just gone upstairs to bed when I had intended to. I did after that!
As you can tell, my plans for a down day before the weekend’s craziness did not go well. But I managed to keep a calm, assertive attitude through most of it. Ahhh, this does not bode well for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I’m thinking about how I can keep Kenai from another day like this one, because HE needs to calm down, the poor kiddo.
So the plan is to be scarce for awhile. BB’s needs are up to Mom and Kenai’s are mine. Kenai doesn’t need unnecessary stress while trying to ease his colitis. Not being allowed to play with his brother or go places he goes is heartache enough for the little big galloot. Adding my sweet niece Emily to the madman’s ball Sunday and Monday…I’ll deal with that Sunday.
If BB soils the bed, Mom’ll figure out what actually has to be done now, and what can wait. I’m more than willing to help with his thrice daily PT when needed, but the basics are still up to Mom. I really hope we don’t have to grind this sausage again! I think we will, now that the Beebs is bigger, more active, and less trained than a regular pup his age.
I love the Beebs, and would never hesitate to assist his recovery. I just have to be careful or I’ll find that all of it winds up in my hands, while Mom wrings hers. Or doesn’t do it this day because she stayed up too late, or skips it on that day because the laundry seems so vital. I don’t even like underwear…who cares if I go bra-less? Don’t answer that!
So my day of rest was shot down over enemy territory. Oh well. The weather is getting too hot to have outings in the afternoons, so that’s going to be my upstairs nap time, even though the bedroom is 10 degrees warmer than the downstairs. That’s why Jesus made portable fans, right?
Mornings are my best time anyway. In the morning I can move around with relative co-ordination, my brain can use 6 of 8 cylinders, I’m usually the only one up…Mornings are clear, so that’s when Kenai and I have our public appearances.
It’s afternoons when the mental sky turns green, and the body begins it’s protests. By evening I’m a blank, so reading for comprehension is out of the question. Balancing a checkbook is not a good idea. Dinner can be a challenge! Damn legs, always the first to go! Oh, and burnt onions really stink, by the way.
A scarcity of me is possible using this schedule. Mornings gone, afternoons resting, evenings too dumb to live, bedtime by 9pm…that should keep the Alice in Wonderland anxiety from overwhelming me, and the funhouse effect down to a minimum for Kenai.
Transitions are never smooth, and we are in one now, since we are once again a four-pack. It’s a joy to have Beebers home. Just working out logistics is the stressful stuff. The four-pack is back! Got one home, now if we could get my brother and the craziness that comes with him out of the house…
That pic of a happy little toddles of 9 weeks is a reminder of how carefully I created a stable and happy environment for our boys. How is it that lunacy took over? It’s long past time to re-create that stable house again, for all of us.
trying to keep the sharks at bay…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on May 24, 2008
Kenai’s favorite ball, 20 weeks old.
My buddy had himself a good day yesterday, once the ear taping was over. Those ears are heavy and loooonnngggg, poor kid. The taping is far from done, but his head will most definitely grow into them, and way before adulthood. Bless his heart, he looks like a fruit bat when they’re untaped and facing forward! When they’re taped, Kenai’s my little spike buck…
His poopy troubles seem to be on the mend. What I’m thinking was the antibiotic took care of the bacterial overgrowth, but then proceeded to give him a case of colitis. I broke down waiting for the vet’s medicine and diet remedy to do the trick and gave Kenai one of my Mom’s pills that slows her gut down.
He was pooping right after meals, which is normal, then again 2 hours or less after eating, and nothing was stopping the jet stream. I mean NOTHING. It takes 2 hours to get the food out of the stomach, but going through the intestines that fast wasn’t normal. There’s no way he was getting much nutrient from it either. I wasn’t going to mess around any longer.
So Mom’ Levbid slowed things down the first dose, some 11 days after the diarrhea started. By today’s dose, the stools were normal and the frequency was too. He’s still getting the vet’s meds, but at $2 a pill, that can’t go on long. Hopefully after a few days he won’t need the meds anymore.
Not having to poop himself silly gave him more playtime, and we enjoyed ourselves until the temps hit 85 F, then came in for a needed nap. Since using the Frontline Plus, I haven’t found a single tick on him. A far cry from 5-10 after each run, and much preferable to both of us! He didn’t have any reaction to the Frontline, thank goodness.
My boy does love his outdoor fun. Can’t imagine why the fresh air and sunshine is so enticing…it’s not like he’s a dog or anything. But then, rhinos live outside too! Kenai is now over 71 pounds, at all of 5 months old. His growth fascinates me, not by its speed but by its evenness.
He has always grown as much in muscle and width as he has height. Not once has Kenai looked lanky or scrawny like most Dane pups. Pictures don’t really do him justice, anymore than they do his sire, Bennie. I can’t wrap my hand around Kenai’s front leg anymore, and haven’t since he was 4 months old. The fingers don’t touch. Those bones are substantial, in ALL CAPS.
We’ve got all day to ourselves, Kenai and I. My big plans are a nap, a little play, and possibly another nap. Mom is heading up to Columbia to see BB and his vets, with our dear friend, Melba. Mike won’t be home until after 4 pm. And everything on the TV tonight is re-runs.
I might be daring enough to watch a movie. But that’s about it, unless Kenai throws a bone in the works, like wanting very much to go someplace. The best he’ll get today though is the nearby mom and pop puppy store for a chew. I refuse to even take a shower. How’s that for lazy?
This holiday weekend is going to be quiet and pleasant, and PEACEFUL for the first time in 5 weeks. Already made up my mind, and I’m ready for the head butting session: Mike and his daughter can leave us alone, in the living room or anywhere else we happen to be, when Mom and I want to be left alone. I will sit in my own recliner, and smoke without having to go outside or hole up in the bathroom and lock the door so Emily doesn’t burst in.
I’ll play with her for awhile, and enjoy it too, but when it’s been long enough, it’s been long enough. That’s why I don’t have children of my own: I can’t physically keep up with them. I can play and have fun for awhile, then I can send them home when it’s not possible or enjoyable anymore.
It’s not that I don’t like kids, I simply can’t withstand long periods with them. Just how it is, whether I like it or not. Whether anyone likes it or not. The day after suffering when I don’t have the option of ending our time together is intense beyond most people’s comprehension. It usually involves blinding headaches, vomiting, severe muscle pain, weakness…you get the idea. Limitations suck, but they’re a reality.
So, as much as I love my neice, and have a ball with her: no more chasing Kenai and I around when her Dad has parked his ass on the couch and doesn’t feel like playing with her. No more howling up the stairs when she’s bored and lonely, waking me up. He’s the parent, not me. Not Mom either. She’s 70, and has a perfect right to say no in her own home.
And I don’t mean I’m hiding upstairs with Kenai for some quiet ever again. They’re the visitors, and when we’ve had enough, Mike gets up and takes her away. Emily’s a normal active 2 year old, and there is no normal 2 year old who can sit quietly on the couch for days at a time. Mike don’t like it, he can get his own place. 5 weeks is long enough for even family to wear holes in a welcome.
Saturday and Sunday Kenai and I can enjoy a couple hours of yard work/chase the ball, and Monday too, unless I need the rest or we hit 90 degrees Farenheit. Nope, after tonight, we’re gonna hole up and wait for the drunks and the crazies to go back to work Tuesday!
It’s Memorial Day Weekend, by the way, for any non-American’s reading. Officially it’s a national holiday to remember our loved ones who have died and military veterans. Unofficially, it’s the kick off to summer. Around this neck of the woods, it’s the start of drink till you’re blind and drown yourself in the lake season. Those that don’t drown, drive home. I don’t get out much on weekends.
Speaking of memorials, I’ve already let Kenai’s breeder know I really want another pup from his dad, Benicio in about 5 years. That’s when it’s time to start raising and training a new pup so Kenai can retire from public life at 7 or so. 7 years old is when even healthy Danes start showing their age and slowing down, sadly enough.
Bennie is 6 now, so fathering another litter in 5 years is going to require a fancy batch of dry ice! I’m thinking a formal name like Shakira’s Tribute, and calling the new baby, Beno. The wonderful Bennie deserves a tribute, and if he could live forever, I’d never want another sire.
In case you’re wondering, Kenai will be nuetered around 18 months old. That’s the contract, and I’d do it anyway: I don’t show my dogs, so I have no business being a breeder. Conformation shows aren’t just beauty pageants–they make certain that a breeder’s dogs measure up to the ideals of the breed.
Teri knows what she’s doing! I really have never, ever, in all my life been so completely amazed and impressed with a puppy, as I am with Kenai. He’s a total package: stunning conformation, ideal temperment, and brains out the wazoo. A perfect copy of his daddy, and I’m in love with Bennie too. He wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, though, so I couldn’t sneak him home with us. Drat.
I don’t recall seeing if Bennie had any white marks, but both our boys do. BB has a tiny little spot on his chest, and Kenai has an arrow. Yes, an arrow. There’s a very thin line about 2 inches long of white on his chest, with an honest to goodness point at the top.
I guess he spends so much time flaked out on his back he needs it to remind him which way’s up. Maybe it’s directions for where to send the food. Perhaps he just lost his “this way to the complaint department” sign. I don’t know, but it is cute having pointy ears and a pointy on his chest too. Uh-oh, I feel a new nickname coming on…”pointy pooch”.
See what a little sleep deprivation can do to a perfectly normal person? Okay, not entirely normal, but close enough…
“You’re just jealous because the voices only talk to me…”
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on May 23, 2008
A good sniff about, Kenai 20 wks old
One of my few vivid childhood memories was sitting at the dinner table one evening, desperately trying to come up with a way to stop the building danger. Out of my mouth came “how was your day”, and my brother’s answer was “fine”. Dad exploded, Mike got a beating so bad he couldn’t get up. I remember wanting to hide behind the washing machine and never come out again. It didn’t have to be said, I knew it was my fault.
I was the only one who could influence my Dad’s mood. Being the girl he had always wanted and hadn’t had, I was the only person able to avert disaster when he was angry. If I was perfect, there was no screaming, cursing, or hitting. If I failed, it was my fault. I was 5 when I figured all that out. It was plain as day to me. It was up to me to protect us.
I was 30 when I finally decided the abuse my Mom and brother recieved wasn’t my fault. I had become so ill that I couldn’t function anymore, and I had been so sure that was somehow my fault. Doctors told me my symptoms were all in my head, or I was exaggerating for attention or so I didn’t have to work. Fibromyalgia patients get that all the time. But they laid that on me, and I finally had taken all the blame I was willing to take. By God it was not my fault…
So having believed all those feelings were dealt with years before, I was really stunned when the same sickening feeling I had felt throughout most of my childhood came upon me yesterday at the trainer’s house. Kenai’s recent difficulty was not him. It was me.
They tried to explain that he was reacting to my stress, not his own. All I could hear was “it was my fault”, and because I was “failing” him, he was suffering, just like Dad had done to us. If I didn’t control my anxiety, Kenai wouldn’t make it as a service dog, and that would be my fault. I’d taken a bombproof pup and made him nervous. I didn’t know whether to cry or throw up, or both. If there had been a washing machine in the room, I would have crawled behind it.
Dogs feel what we feel. I know that a calm leader makes for a calm dog. Lord knows I say it enough. Lord knows I’ve learned it enough. Sometimes it seems like we have to learn the same lessons over and over. But I wonder if we really just learn them deeper. Learn them in a new place, or a new way. Like a puppy who is fine in one pet store, but not in another because the environment is a bit different.
My feelings about Kenai have always been that he gets the credit, I take the blame. Kenai’s current behavior changes are actually rather mild compared to some dogs, but for him it is a significant change. It’s been a hard realization this week. I just had no idea how totally uncalm I was. I didn’t want to hear it from my little toffee tush pup, nor face that depth of fault again, especially if his distress was really and truely my fault.
I had been trying to create a type of emotional “sheild” around him, a permeable bubble that let in how much I loved him and enjoyed having him be my most important friend, while at the same time blocking out the carcinogenic effects of my stress. Doesn’t work like that. Deep relationships don’t allow for sunblock.
It took awhile to come around to the ever increasing anxiety I was feeling, and what was fueling it. Once it was out, the strangest thing happened. I relaxed. And so did Kenai. Interesting…duh.
I’m not really as neurotic as you might think! It’s a new phase of growth, like Kenai’s stubborness at 3 months old, or his renewed vigor in chewing now that he’s losing his baby teeth. Everyone gets into ravines where the only way out is to climb the bank. Since it’s my stress worsening his, then I have to find a way to reduce it.
The most important thing, is NO MORE SUNBLOCK. Dogs are the best therapists around, and relatively cost effective! They make you deal with stuff, they make you look inside, and let stuff go. Kenai’s opened another chapter of that for me. Thank God he’s here, my baby tank, all 70 pounds of toothless love.
Anxiety isn’t that easy to get rid of, of course. The “practice” time needs just as much frequency and effort as training a pup. But if it’s possible to recondition dogs to relax, surely I can figure a way for myself. Kenai has his biofeedback, and I have mine. He lets me know when I need to practice, too, by acting all weird and whiney. How’s that for teamwork…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on May 22, 2008
No I won’t stand up pretty, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t. Kenai, 19 weeks
We have reached another stage in Kenai’s puppyhood: he’s losing his baby teeth. The first one came out last night, a few hours after his brother did the same thing. So Mom and I each have a little box, with our boy’s first lost tooth. It’s a little silly, but so what? I gave him a favorite treat, and kept on playing.
So Kenai is going to be teething again, and that means he’s returning to the chew-every-bone-in-the-house. He can gnaw down a big bone really fast, the gummy lug. Little Big Boy is growing up on me. Yo, slow down!
Kenai and I drove to Columbia MO to see BB yesterday, and had a wonderful time. BB’s student vet, Jessica, got the Beebs settled in a sunny patch outside, and I decided to let Kenai see him. It was amazing, watching them play and nuzzle and snap at each other again. The Brother’s Grin are Back!!
I didn’t like how difficult Kenai was around all the other people and dogs, but we haven’t really had time to change the trigger of strangers from excitement to relaxation yet, using the “twilight time” as biofeedback. Going from excited to relaxed will come.
But Like all things doggie, reconditioning takes time and practice. I’m really starting to think a group obedience class would be a good idea for him. The visit with BB seemed to make Kenai feel better, and still does. His overall wumpiness is down!
He’s been outside to play twice already this morning, and been all through his toy box. For him, this is alot of playtime. And our “come and go” training is showing results too, increasing his attentiveness and recall.
I missed two of his antibiotic doses yesterday, having forgotten to put them in my purse. His stools were normal yesterday evening, and I SLEPT ALL NIGHT. No running outside. I’m thinking the antibiotic was contributing to the poopy troubles. So I’ve stopped the pills, and returned his feeding schedule to normal. His last stool, though, was pretty loose. Could it be the well water? Hum.
Boy did I need that full night’s sleep. And Kenai needed to see his little bro. He’s been happier, and wanting more attention ever since. He didn’t get a run outside last night because it was so warm-85-and he’d been in a car all day. But with the summer starting, we’re going to have to get out earlier and again when the sun is going down. I won’t run him when it’s over 80. He just gets too hot.
With Danes, you have to watch them for bloat when the temps get high. Like all deep chested dogs, Danes shouldn’t have food or water right before or right after running around. They aren’t dogs that can take temperature extremes in stride. Kenai is getting to that age where bloat can become a concern, so I’ll just make playing in the cooler times of the day part of the regular routine.
Gotta take care of my big little boy! And gotta enjoy him to. I love watching him run and play, all tough and tumble boy. It does my heart good when Kenai is happy and content. There is something spiritual about playing with a dog: their spirit and yours being happy together because of being together.
Sometimes Kenai can be very self-contained, as if his contemnent doesn’t really need my involvement. It’s a good thing that he’s wanting to interact with me again, playing and practicing. The obedience practice is playtime too. It requires both of us, unlike the field runs where he can entertain himself.
He’s not possessed of a great big personality, like his brother, or some of my past loves. It doesn’t come up and greet you, instead it waits for you to come and find it. At first introduction, he seems friendly, but, well, bland. You have to watch him, and interact to get to know him.
Most of my boys I could describe in one or two colorful adjectives. Kenai’s adjective is dignified. He’s not aloof at all, Lord knows he pulls that leash and wants attention. He is the type of dog, or at least was, that can be called “bombproof”.
When I first brought him home, you couldn’t make him startle or get excited if you tried. I miss that, wondering sometimes if this recent anxiousness is more than just stress. Have I created it without knowing, or will it go away when the stress of BB being missing is gone?
I want him to be “bombproof” again, for his sake. Nothing got him in a flap, and he was just a happy little toddler. I really hope that comes back. He was such a very unconcerned fellow. We meet with the trainers tomorrow. Maybe they will have some answers to my wonderings.
In the meantime, Kenai and I just hang out and be buddies…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on May 20, 2008
Why did we have to come here, Mom, ’cause I really don’t like this place much…Kenai at the vet, 19 wks
Poor kiddo, he still got his tummy troubles. 6 days of diarrhea, and if I go to Colombia to see his littermate in the puppy hospital, I can’t get Kenai in to the vet until Tuesday. The antibiotics don’t seem to be helping at all. Neither has rice, fiber, pepto, immodium, probiotics, digestive enzymes, or any combination of them.
He’s not vomiting, not even refluxing, nor does he have a temp. Hum. It doesn’t seem to be slowing him down any: he’s gained weight, now topping in at 70 pounds, and he is playful and alert. But still, a week of die-in-the-rears isn’t good. Especially since I can’t seem to get control of it. Whatever the cootie is he’s picked up, it’s a nasty one.
Living in the country, his field of play also gets traffic from coyotes, stray dogs, cats, and critters of all kinds. No telling where the bug came from. He’s a country boy, so there’s no way to avoid it, really. I’m sorry buddy.
I tried the “twilight time” technique when Kenai got excited at the pet store yesterday, and it was not a smashing success. I tried it at home again, and that wasn’t much better. Hum. I know he loves his ear massages, but I can’t exactly do that with his ears taped.
I think I’ll have Mom give it a try: I tend to hold anxiety myself, so it may be coming through my touch into him. Mom has a calming effect on people and dogs. My anxiety isn’t going away, but I’m wondering if Mom can help get the process started, maybe Kenai and I can calm each other down.
He’s just such a very independent little fellow, my Kenai. In a way that’s good, and in a way that’s not good. It makes him confident, but it also makes him look to me less. I also tried the “come and go” training outside, the book “Control Unleashed” described. But he simply didn’t turn towards me more than twice. He just walked around me to the end of the leash and looked around, sniffing, and waiting. Methinks this is going to take some ingenuity.
Kenai seems now to get into this state of low level excitement when we are out somewhere, and his native confidence makes him less attentive to me. Since his brother’s been gone, he’s also restless and inattentive at home. I expected that, Danes having tremendously deep bonding abilities. They get very upset when things aren’t “normal” in their pack.
He’s not a reactive dog, per se, swinging about to see what’s around him or showing anxiety. I just seem to slip off his radar, and so does food. He’s always been food driven, but not now. That’s a new development, and I’m sure it’s related to excitement level.
This excitement is something I really need to talk to his trainers about, because I’m loosing ground with him. He’s not even sitting when I ask, and he’s been great about that since I brought him home. He came home with an auto sit for crying out loud.
I’m thinking that really working hard on the twilight times will help, which can condition him to relax instead. It’s like the biofeedback I’ve half learned for my own health problems. Seeing another dog becomes a cue to chill, or another person. Both of which have to be ignored when his vest is on.
And I’m going to start marking and rewarding every sit and down he does on his own, too, to make them a default behavior. If I can hold onto the sits and get his downs reliable…It’s like everything he’s learned has gone out the window. And correcting him when he’s excited only makes him worse, which is normal. Like the last post said: a new approach is needed.
It’s a little disconcerting to feel like I’m starting over with his training. But then, that’s how it is with dogs sometimes. They get into a new phase, or develop a new habit, and it’s “back to basics”. When he hits his teenage years, Kenai will likely do what most dogs (and kids) do: act like he’s never had a moments’ training nor show much interest in it!
Maybe it’s good that this blurp has happened now, so I’ll have some ideas to handle it when he’s packed 100 pounds onto his current 70! It’s not like we’re never going to encounter places where he will get excited, roaming about with me as my service dog.
Happily, though, the “come and go” training from the book is working nicely with inside play. Kenai is bringing his toys back to me more reliably (fetch!!), and he looks at me more. I’m saving the clicking sound for when I want him to look at me, since I can’t always call his name. It’s a kind of signal.
While he is in this depressed and anxious state with his littermate gone, I am hoping to teach him only two things: to relax, and to focus. Everything else I think will come back once he can do that. Poor little furry buddy, having such a hard time without his brother. Hang on, sweetie, Momma’s gonna figure it out…
“Smooth seas do not make a skillful sailor…”
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on May 18, 2008