- Kenai and BB, way back at 10 wks old
I had a post ready to go up yesterday but couldn’t get online. I would have put it up today except we had another run to the emergency vet with BB. Little brother is vomiting and straining to poop again. They gave him a shot for nausea, and gave us a bottle of laxative in case he is merely a little too constipated. If he vomits again, back we go for x-rays to see if he’s obstructed. Nobody wants to crack that belly for a 3rd time, so let’s hope he gets a good old case of diarrhea. Get some die-in-the-rears love!
The moment BB started the second bout of barfing, Kenai lost it. He knows that means a trip to the vet like last time. He ran upstairs and tried to hide under my pillows. I wasn’t about to leave him, and he would have gone wild if I had, so into the car the four of us went. Big Brown hid in the corner with his head on BB’s tail, and his shoulders on me.
Even coming home, I don’t think he believed we were actually going home. He whined and tried repeatedly to climb into the front seat to sit on Mom’s lap. When we did get home, he was too restless to go to bed, so I got to sit up all night instead of half of it. The BB watching vigil once more, poor fellas.
This pic is an old one, some 24 weeks ago. But it’s the quintessential Brothers Grin photo: Kenai stands guard while BB checks out what big bro shows him is cool to sniff. As long as the two were together at the vet (or anywhere else), BB is brave. He’s got a 115 pound security blanket.
When I took Kenai out of the exam room to settle him down, BB lost his courage and cried until we came back. That’s the Brother’s Grin. As much as they torment each other, seperation is unbearable. If BB keeps this up, Kenai will need tranquilizers!
I ordered a new used camera since the bill to repair my old one would be 3 times the cost of a new one. Seems nothing gets repaired anymore–it’s always buy a new one. Still, I couldn’t imagine the boy’s blogs without pictures. How blah would that be? We’ve missed weeks 33 and 34, but we’ll pic back up (ha, bad pun) at 35 weeks.
Sometimes wordpress drives me crazy. They got the picture thing fixed, but now I can’t cut and paste from Word documents. How many people do they think never will cut and paste from Word? Hello! I don’t always sit down and write an entire post in one fell swoop, and I don’t always have access to the internet when I’m writing. Grrr to wordpress.
Kenai and I went out on Tuesday, and it was a long outing. Four hours is just about more than my body’s fuel tanks can support. But I had to get some special bloodwork done for a doctor’s visit Wednesday, at a special lab. And Friday we hit the road again.
The idea was to just take BB out for the morning. My niece was to be in the house: he’s backsliding on tolerating her calmly the past couple weeks. Bet he’s as tired of the chronic grind as we are. As much as I love my niece, I’ve gotten to where I don’t even want to see her. It’s awful, but there it is. Mom’s got the same problem. There’s only 6 1/2 weeks before October 15, when Mike has to be entirely out of the house.
Kenai did need the practice Friday, though. Twice a week isn’t as good as 4 times a week, but it’s better than one, right? He’s gone everywhere I usually do, which is good for his style of learning. Some dogs are very operant, meaning their focus is on the handler’s commands in any given environment.
Kenai is a particularly associative learner, meaning he associates what he does with the environment. Nearly all the Danes I’ve had are associative rather than operant. There are exceptions, but generally, I believe Great Danes are not highly operant as a breed.
Take Kenai to a familiar place, and he will repeat the behaviors he’s done in the past there. Pretty much all dogs learn by association, though an operant dog will more easily change their routine activities at a given location if the handler asks them to. That’s not my toffee tush. Mess with his routine, and he’s not a happy camper: he doesn’t like not knowing what he’s supposed to do before I ask.
Having over 300 hours of public practice under his vest already, he knows the drill for every place I go. He doesn’t always want to do it, puppy bad hair days happen. But he knows. The only place I’ve avoided is Wal-mart. The Department of Justice is investigating them for a nation wide pattern of denying access to service dog teams. When I am confident enough in Kenai’s obedience to walk in and hardly pay attention to him, then I take on Wal-mart.
One place I am going to be spending alot of time in that we haven’t been to much is college. So I stopped there Friday, and paid a call on the folks at disability services. I wanted them to know well ahead of spring semester that I’ll have a giant brown butt taking up space in their building! They’re cool people, having had SD teams before. They loved him on sight, the softies.
I also wanted to let them know that I plan to come once or twice a week from now on. The idea is to allow Kenai plenty of opportunity to associate school with long down stays, and ignoring people who don’t ignore him. We’ll hit the open computer labs, gathering spots, empty classrooms, AND teach him to actually come into the toilet stall far enough for me to shut the darn door.
For some reason, he has decided that even the big stalls are not good places to be. Not a clue why that came to be, but I doubt he has any idea that his in a girlie place, so it can’t be his manly pride. Lesson number 40 million and one learned: SD boy number 2 will find his tiny toddle self in public bathrooms at the decrepit age of 9 weeks.
Just 6 1/2 more weeks, and we get to return to our lives. Is there a fast forward button?
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on August 30, 2008
enjoying the sunshine!
I’m slowly regaining my optimistic outlook. I’ve had a couple days to get my emotional legs back under me, despite the almost traumatic two weeks we’ve had. I was awfully distressed Friday night, finding out Mom’s shoved Mike’s move out date back. I’ve lost half of spring, all of summer, and now most of fall to the BB-can’t-handle-the-little-kid-and-Mom’s-not-helping crisis. My disillusionment was enormous, so I hope you cut me some slack and kept reading about Kenai and me.
It’s not over yet, but I must return my attention and time to my pup. He has a crucial job to learn, and he cannot do that getting the leftovers of my inadequate energy. Kenai is my priority, and BB has to return to Mom’s responsibility. I have to stabilize this home for him, bring some peace and calm to our lives, and get back to focusing on Big Brown.
By mid-October when Mike is gone, he’ll be just over 10 months old and there’s lots of new things for him to start learning, as well as perfecting the basics:
1) Wearing a pack and harness, without weight of course.
2) Holding long down stays for my college classes next year.
3) Getting the teenage rumpus out of his system: treadmill time.
4) hanging out in the yard while I work, without making me eagle-eye his beautiful bum.
How’s that for an ambitious list? Add to that changing my diet back to low-carb to get rid of these migraines and bouts of low-blood sugar. Also trying to get some of this cruddy weight off from having to eat all those starches: I’ve put on 30 pounds in the nearly 5 months since my brother moved in, despite eating less than 1700 calories. Think my thyroid meds need increasing? I want to loose 70 pounds total, back to my pre-illness 120 pounds. I’ll give it all to Kenai, all 70 pounds, and won’t miss an ounce of it.
Uh-oh, I feel determination stirring…
As for the Bull Elephant’s current state, he’s got a touch of the blahs at times. I absolutely laid down the law about his roughness for the past two weeks—it took 3 days of the Head Bitch treatment to get the point across that he is not allowed to be a bully. So he’s a little subdued, and is getting the cuddle and love treatment now. He’s as stressed as me, surrounded by tension and not sure how to handle it. That certainly contributes to the extensiveness of his puppy mood swings. It does me, why not him?
Sunday we had a lovely morning outdoor time, having a long leashed walk around the front yard and part of the field. Then he got to run about and play hide and seek: I move behind a patch of tall grass and he follows my voice. When he sees me, it’s rocket runs and clods of sod flying by! Then I move to another place and we do it again.
Lastly, we went up to the pool where I cleaned off our feet in the water and rested a bit. We had a good time, he got some exercise, and he almost put his front foot in the pool to splash like I was doing. All total, we were outside for over 40 minutes. I didn’t do diddly the rest of the day, but still we had an easy and enjoyable play time that morning.
In between runs, we had a lovely bed sharing nap. He’s gotten to really like that, now. Rare is the time he will be still for my laying on him, but we do quite nicely napping back to back. After his supper the toffee tank turns to tiny puppy again, snoozing away, and I spend most of the evening with a sasquatch paw touching me somewhere. By bedtime, he’s ooched in his sleep until his nose is usually right next to me, too. The fine art is growing on him.
When he gets a bully stick down to about 15”, I start watching to take it away, since silly likes to swallow the short ends. If I get up, there’s a quick escape in case I’m after his bully! He carries it with one end sticking straight out of his mouth, and gives me the ‘long face’ that dogs can do: head tilted down until his lips hang. Considering how tall his ears are and how far his lips can hang, he looks like a moose with a cigar!
Mr. Moose and I haven’t gone anywhere since Wednesday of last week, so we were long overdue for an outing my Monday. We need groceries, but the list is long, so I hesitated to take Kenai. I like having the option of being able to leave if he isn’t behaving well—nobody complains if someone’s kids are difficult, but a service dog doesn’t get the luxury of tolerance. Certainly not from me if the SD is mine! I’d be irritated if forced to abandon a full shopping cart. Short lists he can handle, I don’t know about the long ones, yet.
Instead I moseyed on up to town and made a proper public outing of it for Kenai. I tried to get to the small engine shop with him, and checked on the state of our mowers. The grass is knee high, even in patches of the front yard! Unfortunately the city had asphalted Main Street, but didn’t level it with the road I needed to turn on. My small car can’t take a 6 inch drop off! So that was scrapped.
We went to the vet for his weekly weigh in, and he’s lost almost half a pound: 109.8 lbs. That’s okay for one week, since he’d packed on nearly 4 the previous week. A business owner next door stopped and gave him some affection, which he soaked up. The last thing we did was stop at the favorite puppy store.
He went off leash, and got to be just a pup. They tossed toys for him to chase, let him follow them around, and sniff things. He came home with a new bone, and brought BB his most bestest ever liver treats. Monday was a good day! Unfortunately it wore me out, so Kenai was bored all afternoon while I slept. He’s always been very good about not disturbing me—maybe he can tell I need it?
Tuesday started late by an hour, getting up at 7 am instead of the usual 6 am. I had to get some special lab work done for a doctor’s appointment, which meant a 3 hour round trip drive. I can’t be sure, but I think Mom wants to go, having twice offered to drive if I wasn’t feeling good. She seems to be feeling housebound, or just sick of having Mike in the house 24/7 for nearly 3 weeks while he’s unemployed. I believe I’ll ask if she has other plans or not: have a four pack outing!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on August 26, 2008
Kenai enjoying his teddy bear baby
I just keep trying to write a post, and they all keep turning out downers. This is attempt number 3, heavily edited. Somehow, I’m starting to lose the ability to find funny and positive things in my life to talk about. I keep trying, but it’s getting harder.
One positive thing is Kenai was much better behaved Saturday than he has been in a couple weeks: he decided it was fun again to play come and go outside. That was encouraging. I’m feeling generally disheartened here lately, so every little good thing will be deliberately and fantastically blown out of proportion!
Kenai’s been cuddly more than usual, even going so far as to spend most of the night on my bed with me. I don’t remember him getting up there, but we’d managed to arrange ourselves comfortably so I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m starting to think I spend too much of my free time on the computer or sleeping, and not enough just hangin’ with him. Maybe he’s feeling a little lonely.
It’s entirely possible to be lonely, no matter how many people are around causing problems. Ever have that experience? Lonely, with too many people around? I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s feeling a little neglected with me trying to keep the madness to a minimum. If he’s not misbehaving, I don’t have the luxury of giving him much attention: too busy putting out fires, if you know what I mean.
Mom foolishly allowed Emily come here Thursday, despite her being gone during the weekdays. So BB had to face his greatest fear (kids) for 3 solid days without his Mom here for 2 of them. I had to face more than 11 hours alone with the pups in 2 days. Controlling BB’s reactivity to a fit pitching 2 year old by myself doesn’t leave much for Big Brown, poor guy.
I had a mantra: just 5 more weeks and all this is over. Just 5 more weeks. Then I find out Friday night, after 2 horrendous days, that Mom’s decided to postpone my brother’s deadline to leave until he’s had 3 paychecks. I’m looking at a minimum of 2 months, plus however long it takes him to actually get a blasted darn job.
Okay, so now you know why I’m in such low spirits: I despise helplessness, and I’m having enormous quantities of it rammed down my throat with a coal shovel.
Maybe the “Desert Fathers”, the hermits of the pre-Benedictine Church, had an idea: no other people equals no unnecessary crap. If I hit the lotto, I’m buying a 2 bedroom house, and using one bedroom for a quilting room! Just me and toffee tush. BB can come to visit, of course, but any humans will have to be vetted and background checked! I wonder if that attitude will earn me a tiny, ramshackle corner of heaven, populated only by dust bunnies?
ARE there any ramshackle corners in heaven? I don’t believe there’s a purgatory, despite the nun’s best efforts to convert this Protestant child in my Catholic school days. Guess I was stubborn then too. I’m no theologian, but I do have a philosophical bent, so I kick around such considerations during idle times: what heaven would be like. Chronic fatigue gives me lots of idle time, but I have yet to nail down a satisfactory view of it.
“Life me up above the shadows, place my feet on higher ground. Lift me up above my grief Lord, where the pure sunshine is found. Lift me up above my weakness, lift me up into Thy strength. Lift me up above the shadows, ‘till in heaven I stand at length…” –Southern Gospel song. I have no clue who wrote it, but I like it!
Needing so much down time, when I can be emotionally drained too, is part of my problem with Kenai, I think. He is one of those confident pups that requires an assertive, ever steady person to relax and behave as perfectly as he’s capable of. He’s calm (usually), he’s not destructive, he’s not a difficult dog outside of the current puppy phase.
If he had an owner with the vigor to give him more exercise, and a strong energy he could trust wouldn’t wax and wane, Kenai would be a truly outstanding companion. What he’s got is me, and “ever steady” is not an accurate description of me anymore! We are mismatched partners.
Mismatched or not, I completely believe Kenai was meant to be my dog. Easy it ain’t, but preordained all the same. Guess I’d better be more careful what I pray for: ask to become more calm and even-keeled, and what should appear but a puppy who’ll make you pull your hair out if you’re not!
Does that mean the positive method doesn’t train me, so the negative avoidance method does? Hummm.
We seem to have hit a holding pattern with Kenai’s training, waiting out the belligerent stage he’s in, and my strength to return. He’s getting more of a maintenance program than an intensive curriculum. He wouldn’t respond to rigorous right now, even if I had the oomph to try it. So why try it?
What I want from him when we’re out is a loose leash heel, down stays, and ignoring distractions. Those three alone are plenty! He doesn’t need to be a ‘trick pony’, with more commands than he will use. I’ve slowly whittled down the things I need to focus on, tailored now at the “Big Three” that are the foundation behaviors he needs.
If we’re moving, the heel is adequate enough. As he gets older, and cares less about distractions, I’m hoping he won’t need any more leave it or slow commands very much. When we stop and stand, say to look at merchandise or pay at a counter, is when he struggles to just be still and ignore.
Dogs don’t multitask, so if he’s not moving, he’s looking around, and if he’s looking around, he’s getting interested in the presence of other dogs or people that might pet him. Most pups have that difficulty.
His down stays are improving, if I have the sense and wherewithal to get him a good long run before depositing his majesty in the car. When he’s really tired, he’ll give me a solid hour of down if I’m sitting and nobody bothers him. Most days there’ll be a pop up or a whiney, but not always.
That’s closer to the hour and a half for a Tuesday/Thursday college class. Should I be overly ambitious and hope for a 2-2 ½ hour once a week class? Nah. Pushing my luck. But the day he can down until further notice, I’m uncorking a bottle of wine and slapping some lobster on a plate! Won’t that be grand?
Also grand is that the Neosporin is doing the job for Kenai’s acne and sores between his toes. Fiddlyfoo me didn’t put it on him Saturday at all, but the 2-3 times a day was making a noticeable difference. I wipe the webbing and chin with apple cider vinegar then grease them up with ointment. The trick is to swipe and grease when he’s going to do something: if he lays down, the ointment gets wiped off his chin. So ups with the pups and off we go.
And his cropped ears are holding without posts. I can live with a single tiny tippy wilt on those vaulting poles. Yikes they were cropped long. There hasn’t been any piglet ears, or fold flops in a long time. Yay! He still occasionally criss crosses them, or leans one in, but they stand straight practically all the time.
His antler days I believe are done, and the fencepost pokes are a thing of the past. We just had to wait for the adult teeth to finish coming up for the ears to set. I still have a couple of his baby teeth, though. They’re soooooo small! The amazing thing is, those teeny tiny daggers fit him back when he was a little toddles, just a few months ago.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on August 24, 2008
- Kenai giving me a photogenic moment, 32 wks
The pic is from 32 wks old, but he is now 33 wks: still waiting for my camera!
Okay, Kenai is in some pre-teen phase. The increasing roughness of his play and interactions is simply intolerable, and he’s gone from ignore-yous to go-to-you-know-where. The true teenage stage won’t hit until around 1 year old, and that’s 4 months away. Still, he’s being a butt. Intense is the word for him, and the behavior is anxious/dominant.
His brother BB is also rebellious, and I’ve fielded some questions on the blog stats from people whose 8 month olds are suddenly hard to handle, too. I’m pretty sure there’s some sub-stage of development I haven’t found in the few books I’ve read on the subject.
Kenai’s intensity has been trying to assert itself for a couple weeks, but this week I had to get just as commanding about my corrections. Hard running I don’t mind, because it helps him burn it off. But not running hard in the house, plowing into BB, shoving his way around, trying to bolt out the door, and other such nonsense. He destroyed a 36” bully stick down to 8” in one 3 hour nap. I won’t leave chews down when I’m sleeping now.
Monday was not a good day with Kenai, right from the start. The soap opera went on all day, really, from sun up to sun down. Mom went to PT, so I dealt with the snippy snappy over the expen, hushed the barking when the pool guys came, fed the Brothers Grin one at a time… they were just constantly starting trouble.
Monday evening, I grit my teeth to take the rhino for a run outside, pain be hanged, and he started off just fine. Wonderful, in fact. We had a nice unleashed walk around together for a few minutes, then he moved up to trotting around exploring. When I lost sight of him in the taller grass, he came right over when I called. It was a marvelous feeling! We had hugs, plenty of affection, and a nice tushie rub for such an easy recall.
Maybe he’s allergic to being good, because he ignored me like I was shrubbery from that point on.
He ranged and roamed, nose on the ground. He blatantly blew off my leave it command, and belligerently flicked his ears at my come command, all so he could eat critter poop because he bloody well felt like it. That brown coated, rump roasted, pain in my parts had the dangling participles to give me a doggie “go to hell”… I was half tempted to give him a reason to have crooked ears!
I did give him a growl like he’s never heard, which puzzled him just enough to look up, and I told him off. Of course the words meant nothing to him, but he seemed to get the point that our relationship had just imploded. I walked away, not with an angry “I don’t care if he comes”, but an honest to goodness I don’t care anymore.
I wouldn’t have cared if he rolled in that pile of poop and slept in the woods. I was done trying. “If I can’t trust him, rely on him, after six solid months of training, bonding, and effort on my part, then why am I going through all this exertion?” was the way I was feeling. Tired and sick of it, ya know?
He came along and I ignored him. He followed me up the stairs, and I ignored him. He laid down next to me and I ignored him. It was my turn to treat him like he didn’t exist for a change. I was totally disgusted with him, feeling like he’s yet another “person” making demands on what little strength I have, with no signs of reciprocating.
As much as I loved him, Kenai was starting to feel like dead weight adding to the rest of the people on my breaking back. If he isn’t going to team up, then I’m not wasting anymore of my waning energy on the socialization and public access that goes above and beyond a companion. Can ya tell he hit a nerve?
All temporary emotions aside, I’ve had this nagging worry about his independent nature since I brought him home. Most people would have sent him back to the breeder by 4 months old because independence is something of a fatal flaw in a service dog. But I wouldn’t give up on him. Maybe I have a fatal flaw?
I have watched him carefully for months, looking for signs of his focus shifting to me, and for his behavior to reflect what I’ve worked so hard to teach him. I’ve been thrilled with the occasional indications of willingness to help me when I needed him.
There’s been a few signals that he’s at least aware of what he’s supposed to do as a working dog, and good days when he’s easy to handle and fun to be with. Most days though, he just doesn’t allow me to not pay attention. I can’t really trust him yet: he makes me keep an eye on him, and insist that he follows commands he learned at 10 wks old. Then there’s days like Monday, when it really all goes to tarnation with a cherry on top.
I was still ambivilent concerning Kenai’s training Tuesday morning, though we had a short list of errands, including a weigh in at the vet (110.2 pounds). Which reminds me, I need to update his growth page. Then to All About Dogs for a bag of food, and his homeopathic joint pain drops.
Kenai is able to remember the order of 2 or sometimes 3 activities, if I say “(this) first, then (this)”. He usually acts like he’s ready for the next activity once the first one is done, so I’m pretty sure he grasps at least the edges of the concept. I asked Mom if she wanted to go, and while she was getting dressed, I took Kenai for a run with his squeaky bone.
We weren’t even to the field when the “intense” reared up, and he decided he could bully the toy out of my hand. He leaped around me, blocked my path, bumped me, tried to grab it, and wouldn’t let up. Each correction got more stern. He was just ramping up, not at all backing off.
When he put his front feet in my middle I bit him, literally. No finger bite, but a bite-with-teeth bite, right on his muzzle. That arrested his attention! Then I walked right at him like he was in the way and I was gonna plow clean through him. He moved to the side and started heeling off leash.
I’m not going to put up with this bullying pre-teen BS. Excited or not, those SUV sized paws don’t lay into me, and the teeth don’t touch me. Period. He’s old enough to know better, and he DOES know better. He’s just seeing what he can pull off. He knows he can coerce his brother, and is trying use his body to intimidate me now. Grrr.
All puppies will eventually have a period of stubbornness, where they test your resolve to enforce the rules of behavior. The problem for many people is the size of a Dane puppy that is trying to boss you around. Kenai’s 110 pounds can put alot of force behind a jump, or a ram and shove.
I can’t withstand much of a wallop anymore, so I have to make absolutely plain that there will be a piper to pay if he does it again. With my physical limitations, there cannot be a second time.That’s why I bit him. I skipped the human vocal response and switched right into the doggie language of growl and bite. No confusion there!
It worked because he wasn’t being aggressive. Responding to aggression with a physical correction will get you chewed up, so please know the difference! Aggressive dogs need a very different approach than the head-on response I gave Kenai.
Most people would unknowingly chalk up his leaping and bumping as simple over-excitement wanting the toy, and would give it or throw it for them to chase. BIG MISTAKE. Kenai’s hitting me that hard, using his body to force the toy away from me is an unquestionable dominance challenge. It’s an in-your-face demand for what he wants.
I had to respond with just as much force and even more authority. Had I let him have it, he would have been rewarded for his wild behavior. And he would do it again. I would also have had seemingly unrelated problems appear, like chewing up the dresser, or pushy mooching at the table. If he gets to push you around, you no longer have the right to make any decisions because you aren’t the leader anymore.
Most of my problem is I have a weaker energy than I did before I got sick, being so exhausted from the CFIDS. If you can have and maintain a confidence and strength in your emotions, you’ll prevent quite a bit of the leader challenging that I’m getting from Kenai. There are times I need him to step up and take over, to help me, to figure out what I need without my saying.
This “in charge” then “not in charge” can confuse a puppy. Kenai has to learn that the only times he gets to do this is when I’m injured or incapacitated. That’s tough for a little big guy. If what you have is a companion, there should not be any times when your dog is “in charge”. That means YOU make all the decisions, especially the small ones: when to play, which turn to take on a walk, what toys they can have, who eats first, etc.
Having lost that battle, Kenai decided to run a while, then “get lost” in the Johnson’s grass when I called him. I called him one more time. One “come”, and I went to the house to change my shirt and shoes for our errands. When he realized I was getting ready to leave without him, by goodness he came. And he camped out right by the door.
We had decided to take both boys in one car (tight!), and I wasn’t going to crawl around putting the barrier up. They would lay down, no nipping and fussing over the seat or there’d be some reminding of where their puppy place was in this pack. They tried me. They failed, too.
Both Kenai and BB went into the pet store, both with a gentle leader, and a pack leader not in the mood for shenanigans. Time for The Brothers Grin to toe the mark! They tried their tussling, and got their snouts snatched up. Once I had my boy’s attention, I told his majesty he was going to knock it off or find his royal bum in the car.
He knows “knock it off” and “in the car”, and has ample brains to have put the two together: he looked out the window at our car. He lowered his tail to a neutral position, walked much better, and there was no more fussing with his brother. A few crappy, hunkered down glances earned him no-nonsense correction. But there wasn’t any more jumping each other or yanking me around.
It wasn’t all grim, for the Brothers Grin, though. They got treats from the employees (If they were polite), and lots of attention too. While they’re doing what they’re supposed to they can tell I’m pleased and all is well. Kenai’s just been in this mode of not caring what pleases or displeases me.
I reward when they do something good, especially if it isn’t easy, like walking away from a nip while on leash, or laying down in a stay while the other dog gets attention. Some things are hard for puppies to do, and 8 months old is young enough to still be improving their self-control. It’s roughly equivalent to a human 10 or 11 year old child. Long way to grow, and grow up before Kenai reaches adulthood.
I know better than to think I should keep a do it or die emotion the entire time, because that hard, negative energy will actually cause a dog to misbehave. But the change in my emotions from satisfied to intolerant was forceful, and surprisingly effective. I’m sure that will wear off if I use it too much!
I don’t get that unforgiving very often, so it made an impression. I still encourage and give them a “good boy”, because they are in fact puppies. Kenai in particular can easily become discouraged and depressed if the hard energy goes on too long or too frequently. That’s why a positive training method works so well for him: I am looking for things to reward, not correct. Nobody likes to feel as if nothing they do is right!
So by the time we stopped for lunch, I think Kenai was glad to be going in without his brother. They get in trouble far more when together—if it’s not one starting a fuss, it’s the other. Toffee tush plopped himself down for an hour of relaxation. He held that stay big-time in our usual corner!
A lady came over to get a better look at him, and rather than walk back the way she came, she stepped between his legs then over his rump to go along the wall to her seat. He didn’t move, either. I slipped him a bil-jack for that! Having a stranger in such intimate proximity without the usual greeting rituals is really hard for some dogs to handle.
He did get up just once when a man sat another table nearby. There was something about him Kenai didn’t like, because he watched him until we left. He doesn’t show any dislike of men in general, but once in a while there’ll be a man or woman that seems to make him wary. I can’t tell why by looking more often than not. But dogs are a lot more sensitive to a person’s true nature than we are. All he same, he got put back on his down stay.
This pre-teen stage of Kenai’s feels more like adolescence. I don’t want to think that stage could be worse than this one! Kenai is feeling his oats, seeing if he can break the long established rules. He knows his size, he knows his strength, and he knows when I’m weak. He’s just forgotten that weak or not, I’m still the meanest bitch in this pack. Estrogen has an up side, ladies, for all its mood swinging, hot flashing, menstrual cramping, faults!
I’m not cherishing the possibility of having to ride herd on an obstinate bull for the next year or more until he’s an adult… I hope this phase goes away as quickly as the 3 month old “stubborns” did, in just 2-3 weeks. One month I can survive with my sanity undamaged!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on August 21, 2008
I know you got my bone, I know you do! Kenai 32 wks
Here’s a good pic of Kenai, concentrating very hard since I have his squeaky bone in my hand! Any second now, there’ll be a rocket run right to me. The only thing to do is stand still: he likes to see how close he can get without running into me. I usually goose his tush on the way by, which sets off a round of hilarious goober runs, aka, zoomies.
Some pics let you see your dog as others would, and here he looks less like my young buddy than an intimidating dog. He certainly has a presence, very stoic and strong. I know the gentle nature of these Gentle Giants, but Great Danes can be formidable if you’re skittish of large dogs. Kenai looks like he COULD hunt down a bear in this pic! But there’s no bear hunting, no turkey chasing, no rabbit running down. He only gets to look at them, and listen to the foxes play.
I had myself a wonderful weekend, with no yelling, no barking, no tantrums, and no guilt for taking a much needed nap. Didn’t have to worry about BB losing his puppy mind or Kenai getting bent out of shape with my niece carrying on. All I had to do was take my camera up to ship for repairs (idiot-I let it get dropped in water).
I should have gone into Springfield for the boy’s homeopathic pain reliever drops, but decided it could wait. Two falls in one week’s left me hurting and bruised. We have some herbal pills, that don’t work as well, but at least help. Kenai wasn’t satisfied with the quickie outing, and didn’t want to get out of the car when we got home. Spoiled brat!
I made supper, but Brown’s second playtime went down the tubes from one of Mom’s cleaning fits. In fact, so did BB’s only playtime for the day. She has this habit of biting off more than she can finish, then bugs me to get it done. I’ve been bugging her to be more realistic about her capabilities since she isn’t 30 anymore, and neither am I.
A steady “little bit a day” gets more accomplished than spurts and sputters, ya know? Especially if you plan out what has to be done in a prioritized order and work your way down. Tortoise and the Hare rules. Lessons from the land of chronic fatigue, passed along.
While we’re on the topic of spurts and sputters, Kenai’s training has lapsed into a slow crawl. He’s in a phase or something right now where he’s reverted to the ignore-yous, and seems rather anxious/excitable. We’ll stay with 3-4 outings a week, while I wait out the fussies. I still have at least 10 months before his weight bearing tasks can begin, when the growth plates of his bones close.
Once we have our home and lives back in October, and the immense stress my brother brings is gone, I have an inkling that Kenai’s mood swings will stabilize as the household stabilizes. Believe it or not, we had a happy little home with our happy little four-pack before all this lunacy began last April. At least for a few weeks.
I swear I’m going to have the house cleansed and blessed in October, so there won’t be any vestiges of negative energy, or bad juju, or whatever you happen to call it. The only leftovers I want are in the fridge!
It might take a month or two after my brother leaves to regain enough strength, but I WILL get back to my boy’s regular-as-fiber, 2 a day outdoor playtimes. Nothing like sufficient exercise to settle down the puppy difficulties. That will be just in time, too, since his full-out teenage spell will be hitting around the holidays. Or should I say clobbering?
Teenage dogs can be insufferable, to human and canine companions alike! Their intensity requires considerable calmness and determination to manage. Let’s cross our fingers and hope Kenai’s will be a relatively minor period of madness. I know better, but still… I’ve gotten shades of his adolescence, when he gets into a stubborn or harder to manage stage. I have the feeling I’ll be riding herd on a willful bull for a few months. We’ll both be glad when it’s over.
Second on the priority list is returning to his daily obedience practices, at home and in public. And having fun doing it, too. Why do I feel like we’re at another déjà vu moment, always trying to rebuild our rapport after something messes it up? Anyway, it will be back to exercise, play/practice, and affection. Do one thing and do it well…then do it again when Kenai decides he doesn’t feel like it! Puppy moods are something else.
Sunday we had a stop at a gas station, but I was just too tired for more than get-r-done: only the one stop. We stood in line, and the nosey butt was determined to sniff the lady’s behind ahead of us… people aren’t dogs, Kenai! Stay out of the privates, or you’re sergeant stripes will be busted to PFC.
What was really rewarding, was when the lady turned to leave she startled, saying she didn’t even know he was there. A 100+ pound dog, 6 inches from you, not being noticed at all. That’s the point, an unobtrusive service dog. And the glory of it all was he did it without a gentle leader! I had to correct alot more for pulling and sniffing around, but he was managable with just a collar.
I did have a lovely long nap when we got back, then BB’s dip in the pool finished all hopes of a second run for Kenai. Oh, to get my energy back…when I do, you’d better dust off your dancing shoes darling, ‘cause you and me are gonna hit the town!
My tawny toots may finally be nearing the end of trying to stand his great big ears. They’ve been tape free for two weeks, with just one suffering from the tippy wilts. Some days it stands perfectly, though, especially if he’s paying attention to something.
Bat boy hasn’t quite grown into them yet, so when he gives me a long droopy face he’s awfully funny looking. Wombat buddy! Moose Mooch! Those long ears have been a six month challenge. I hope he’s all done with the taping, and oily tape removals that preserve his fur.
I heard some really good news Saturday, that one of the boy’s older “cousins” got her championship! I have a very special place in my heart for Gracie, the shy little girl whose soulful eyes and gentle energy lead me to the Brother’s Grin. Something about her picture on the internet was enchanting, and I clicked a link to her breeder.
There before me was Bennie, the kennel stud, and yowza! He was just exactly what I wanted: calm eyes, gentle spirit, and built like a storm shelter. So sweet Gracie, here’s to ya, lovely girl!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on August 18, 2008
Kenai listening to his brother moving about downstairs, 32 wks old
I took my camera outside to get some pics of BB in the pool. It got wet, of course…DUH! So you’ll have pics of Kenai at 32 weeks or younger until I get it fixed. Good thing I had a bumper crop of them this week. I don’t know what I’ll do with BB’s blog, since I don’t get as many pics of him. Well, there’s no point in being stupid if it don’t show, right?
Being the pre-teen that he is, Kenai has acne. Not a big deal, common with the undeveloped immune systems of puppies, but still needs attention. I wipe his mouth after eating and drinking, but Dane pups drool a lot more often than that. Some people use a vinegar wipe, the acidity drying out and killing bacteria. Others opt to boost the pup’s immune system, or use antibiotics. I’ve used Ox-e drops to wipe with, but it’s water soluble so the first drool and it’s gone.
Thinking a little, I’ve decided to try a triple antibiotic ointment, since the petroleum base is not at all easy to slobber off. And at night when he’s sleepy and isn’t going to drool much, I touch on some antibacterial soap full strength. If his skin doesn’t agree with the Dial, I’ll stop it, and return to the tea tree oil soap. The joy of home remedies—cheaper than seeing a vet for minor stuff.
Thursday is usually Mom’s day in town, and that means I have both puppies for a 6 hour plus stretch. She didn’t go this week, so I helped myself to her hair appointment slot. It’s the first cut I’ve had in a year or more, which I guess made me a little overdue. We whacked a solid inch and a half of damaged ends off, the last of the layers all gone at last. It’s amazing what even a simple hair cut can do for your outlook!
Also good for my outlook was FINALLY getting the mowers in for repairs. I managed to smash my hand between the trailer hitch and the truck, but it’s not so painful now as I thought it would be. The big mower’s going to kill us, needing all new tires, a new blade, and a good cleaning. At several hundred pounds, it’s way too big to turn over and clean underneath. The push mower won’t start since Mike was messing with it, so that’s in the shop too. Big bill coming. Ouch.
Friday morning, my brother was supposed to go back to work, and Mom and I planned on having brunch. Pancakes and bacon, with jam and syrup, and yes I was going to enjoy every last bite. We were going to have our house to ourselves again, all day. You might have already guessed, but it didn’t happen. So my lovely brunch is put off until Monday.
Despite the exertion of getting BB in the pool Friday, Kenai got his grand self a second run outside for the first time in weeks. The exercise was as good for his outlook, as a hair cut was for mine. BUT…He’s reverted back to the ignore-you games again darn it. It’s really starting to tick me off. I don’t like having to ride herd on a wilful pup, but I can’t have this nonsense.
When I need him to come, I need him to come! And Friday evening, I needed him, taking another fall outside. I guess he heard the change in my voice as I called for Mom to help me get up, and he turned up the same time she did. He did lots of kisses, sniffing and whining with puppy anxiety. He was very careful and cautious the rest of the evening.
Lord, I’ll be glad when I’ve gotten the boy grown and trained. He’s too immature at just 8 months old to expect adult behavior all the time, or to use him for getting up. Still, he’s old enough to be more reliable on his recall, especially after all the effort I’ve put into it. Grrr.
At least the weekend is an Emily Free one, so I don’t have to be listening for her approach and popping up off the couch for BB’s “look at that” game. My ankle is swollen, and the second hard bounce in a week makes every part hurt. I still have to be careful not to leave the boys alone in the house with my brother, BB in particular.
Monday, Monday, glorious Monday… who the heck actually looks forward to Mondays? ME! I won’t have to keep track of where the boys are, and if my brother or his daughter are nearby. BB is glad for the weekend free of a fussy little girl, I’m sure.
Just 6 or 7 weeks ago, BB would growl and snap at any child that came near him. Kids are a common fear for timid puppies. He would bark and hide everytime he so much as heard her coming. To make things worse, My 2 year old niece was loose and unsupervised every weekend for months around him, while my brother laid on our couch.
Em was chasing little Beebs, cornering him, throwing toys at him, hitting him with bones, yelling commands at him, and even hurting him when Mom or I weren’t there to make her stop. Naturally, he was terrified of her and added snapping to the barking, growling, and hiding. I’m surprised it took so long.
So I started a couple new traditions: BB is NEVER alone when Mike or Emily is in the house–Mom or I are with him. Secondly, I began a game called “Look at that” with him, where the moment he sees or hears Emily, he looks back at me and gets a treat for redirecting his attention.
The idea came from a book by Leslie McDevitt, called “Control Unleashed”. This reconditioning is to change not just behavior, but the emotions behind BB’s reactive barking. Instead of “screaming 2 year old = I’m gonna die”, the feeling is “Emily appears = I get treats”. He’s started associating good things with her, and knows he’s protected.
She gets out of line, or BB is getting too upset, she has to leave the room. All their interactions are tightly controlled, and heavily supervised. She’s a little hesitant of Beebs, and I guess she should be. Kenai she can muck about with all she wants, and enjoys it. But she should understand, especially as she gets older (almost 3 now), that not all dogs are going to enjoy her attention, nor be tolerant as Kenai.
Sure it’s sad that her innocent perception of dogs has to be altered a bit, but the world isn’t a perfect happy place. Hitting some dogs with bones or pulling on their tails can get her chewed on. BB would run long before he bit, but any dog will draw blood under the right circumstances. They aren’t stuffed toys.
Most dogs are really gentle with small children, but not all. She has to learn to approach them politely, and respect them if they don’t want to be messed with. She’s not learned to be respectful yet, being not quite 3. That’s life. You want a perfect world, don’t live on this planet…
After 6 weekends of the new rules, roughly 12 days, BB can walk up to Em, sit quietly by her chair, take treats from her hand, and sometimes even sit on the floor and play with her. His experiential reactions, ones based on his past experience of her, are vastly different now.
He still cannot handle being run at or cornered, which is an instinctual reactivity. Changing experiences isn’t so hard, but changing a defensive instinct takes repetitive, controlled encounters to ingrain the response you want. Time, time, and more time is needed, without a single reversion to defensiveness or you start over.
12 days to go from freak out to friendly most of the time is a supersonic change. If you walked into a psychologists’ office saying you where terrified of elevators and wanted to be able to get on one without any discomfort, and by the way, you have 12 days to get it done… they’d laugh you out of the building.
I think BB has made astonishing improvement. I spent 3 years working with my beloved late Shabah before I could trust him to walk into PetsMart without growling at men and children. He never wanted their attention, and never changed his mind about it. Perhaps if I had known about the “look at that game” he would have. Who knows? Less than 2 weeks for BB is absolutely warp speed! Good for you little boy…
It’s interesting how some habits and nicknames stick with a dog from the start. Kenai has gone through lots of changes, picking up new behaviors, dropping old ones, getting nicknames and loosing them. But he has some that haven’t gone away. One tradition is the 2nd step stretch. He will go down 2 steps on our bedroom stairs, then stretch. He never forgets, getting every last millimeter out of that stretch before moving on.
Another Kenai tradition is the silent alarm clock. He wakes me up in the morning at 6 am on the dot, by walking over to my side of the bed and resting his head on a leg or arm. Never fails, 6 am. Even if I’m up already, he will stay put until 6, then get up from his bed to say good morning. And if I’m napping during the day, I get precisely 3 hours. No more, no less. He’s a silent alarm clock, that never needs winding. Sometimes he needs unwinding, but power outages don’t cause any flashing or resetting.
Kenai has 2 toys that he cannot live without, that were waiting for him when he came home with us: fleecy lamb baby, and yellow ducky baby. He will pine for them and refuse to play if I put them away in favor of other toys. They have to be down where he can see them, even if he doesn’t play with them for a few days. God forbid they should ever become too damaged to repair, or the sorrow would drown us all in puppy tears. Good thing he is gentle with his toys.
Of his training commands, there are a couple he learned and has never looked back on. These haven’t slipped into needing practice again: let go, and up/stand. Some commands are typically good with only occasional slippage, some are typically not so good with occasional solidness. But let go has never been an issue, and neither has up (from down to sit) or stand (getting to his feet).
His final tradition from day one has been ham bones. He will pass up food for those darned old messy things. That’s the only thing he passes up food for. We go through spells where he likes pressed rawhide bones and spells where he’d rather chew nothing at all than chew them. Bully sticks are a new discovery of mine this summer, and they are destined to become forever favorites. But his firstest and truest love is ham bones.
Of course, nicknames are habits of mine, unlike toys and stretching. Kenai’s had himself an oversized suitcase full of nicknames over his short 8 months of life. Some have gone into the vaults when he was suddenly too big for them: little toddles, tiny tots, and baby buddy. Some I’ve just forgotten and had to read old posts to remember for listing here: platypus puppy, wumpy rump, slurpy burpy, and whiney hiney. Some I forget about then recall from time to time: rhino baby, goober puppy, beige bottoms, and buff beauty.
Other nicknames have just stuck on my little big man. The most common are toffee tank and toffee tush, bull elephant, and Sasquatch. I call him by those like second names. I wonder which ones will still be in use next year? He’ll always have big feet, so money goes on Sasquatch staying around. I’d also bet on toffee tush, the way it rolls off my tongue real easy and affectionate. Guess I’ll find out in a year.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on August 16, 2008
Kenai concentrating, 32 wks old. If he had telepathy, he wouldn’t have to earn his bone…
Monday was not my best day, taking a hard bounce on the stairs when my legs muscles gave way. Bouncing is better than tumbling, though, so a sore butt and simple jarring is getting off lucky. Kenai’s behavior afterwards finally clicked on the light bulbs with me, about how he behaves differently depending on what I’m struggling with. I hadn’t really placed the whole picture together, chalking up most things to just “puppiness”.
When I’m anxious, so is he, which is pretty normal for dogs, though he’s a lot more sensitive to it than most. When I’m fatigued he often takes advantage of the weak energy to try getting away with things he doesn’t normally try. That’s normal too, for a self-reliant sort of dog especially. But if I am in pain, like Monday, Kenai is obvious about being willfully obedient, rather than willfully not.
When I fell, he didn’t take off to the kitchen to monkey about with his brother as usual, just standing there waiting for me and watching me intently. He didn’t pull on his collar that I was holding for a little balance when we did go to the kitchen. Later when we were playing with his toys, he was unusually delicate. Outside, I walked a little in the field, and he stayed within 30 feet, keeping one eye on me.
Pain seems to be something he understands, something that he intuitively knows requires extra of him. Anxiety or weakness causes fairly normal “doggie” responses, but pain is something that will cause him to alter his own habits and desires without my really asking him too.
Anything more than the typical pain level, any fall or accident, and Kenai has astonishing self-control. Last night he even got up from a ham bone, refusing to stay in the living room when I would venture into the kitchen to check on dinner. He doesn’t get up from those bones, not for anything.
Tuesday, pain or not, Mom and I headed out early. My brother had his daughter here for the day, since he “agreed” she couldn’t come this weekend. Agreed my whatsits—he was told, and there was not going to be any argument tolerated. BB has only had a 2 day break from Emily, and he was just settling back down. He needs time to detox, especially after her last 3 day stay, and won’t get it unless we get him out of the house. We can’t be gone all day, but we can reduce his exposure. Any bets on whether or not having her stay overnight will be tried?
So there were several errands planned, spread out through the day. First, Mom and I went to have breakfast at the Gateway, which meant Kenai had a good run before we left. And boy did he run to shame a racehorse. Wow. Intense. I often get comments from people about being able to ride him, as most Dane owners do. If he can run like that to town and back, I’d save on gas…
He just does better in public after a run, being calmer, less apt to pop up and have to be returned to a down stay. There’s less whining, and general fussiness, with all those happy endorphins in his brain from the exercise. He held his down stay, with only 2 pop ups, and two whinies during the hour.
I needed to stop by the vet, for a weigh in and to see if they have his pancreatic enzymes in tablets yet, instead of the powder they gave us last time. Powders are not as accurate and so the dose he gets isn’t as consistent. Besides, I try to get him weighed once a week, to keep track of how fast he’s growing, and keep his growth page updated. He comes in at 106.4 pounds now.
Two pounds a week is good and slow, just right for his age now that he’s past the heavy duty growing stages. His legs are bothering him noticably less, too, thank goodness. I’ll be making a new page for his growth, covering the 8-12 month age, like I did with his training progress journal.
I also had to take a leash back to the All Pets puppy store: the clip won’t open. Leashes aren’t very helpful if you can’t hook them up… It’s for BB, who got a matching gentle leader, since he’s a plow ox on leash. He hasn’t had anywhere near the training his brother’s had, spending so much of his short life in the puppy hospital.
He’s just a bouncy, enthusiastic little boy who goes ga-ga with fun when he’s with a people person! He zigs, he zags, he bumps, and he wiggles. That’s our Beebs, the perennial 3 month old, even at 8 months. I think he always will be puppish in spirit, more happy than he can contain.
Next on our deliberately stacked up to-do list was All About Dogs, a second puppy store for food. We tend to go to lots of different pet stores, for the socialization mostly, and because we’ve found each store has it’s strengths and weaknesses. All Pets has the best selection of leashes, toys, and chews so that’s where we get those things.
The All About Dogs store has the Eagle Pack formula we have the boys on, and a natural odor remover. Natural Goodness is the Brother’s Grin’s playground away from home, where they can go off leash and have a good time. A place for everything, and everything the pups need…
Then it was off to Melba’s again. Kenai stayed in the car for this one, since our objective was for BB to exhaust himself with Chloe the fearless lab. I wasn’t up to manhandling an overly excited Kenai anyway. I didn’t stay long, since there was one more stop on my way home and my muscles were giving out. But we got a couple recipes swapped and chatted a tad. Mom and Beebs hung out after I took off, enjoying a nice portion of dump cake.
Here’s the stop I was looking forward to: school! All I have to do to be ready to register for spring semester is update my account info, notify the disability services that I’ll have a service dog with me, and fill out the form for the fall/spring Pell Grant. That’s all, and I’m ready to sign up for spring semester in November! Spring in November for me, the once again college student.
I could sign up for fall, but then I’d have to pay most of the tuition. With all the bills my brother’s jacked up to the moon, there just isn’t the money, even at a community college tuition. So spring it is, and that’s wiser anyway, giving Kenai another 5 months to mature.
I sometimes wonder if that’s what’s wrong with college kids these days–they need more time to mature, and grow out of the binge drinking, pot smoking, and generalized stupidity. It seems to be taking longer for kids to mature emotionally compared to past generations. By the time you’re in your late 20′s, married, working, college isn’t about booze anymore. You just want to get in, get done, get out.
Anyway, all of that took 4 hours, which is my absolute max. I knew I would pay for the adrenaline dump it took to get through the outings—the side effect of adrenaline is heightened pain and stiffness 8 or so hours after the adrenal glands dumped it into the bloodstream. A good day with the boys was worth it. At least I could chose to push my physical limits, rather than get driven past them.
Got home a 2pm, fed the pre-teen rhino, and crashed. I woke up at just after 5 to BB barking in the living room, so I got dressed. Emily will abandon Beebs in favor of Kenai, since she can mess about with him. He’s a lot more graceful about it! It gave the little Beeber stink a break. Em had awakened him, I was told, so needless to stay he had a momentary melt down.
He was tired, and I found out later that he got a hard torque on his bad leg by Chloe the lab at Melba’s. He was hurting pretty good. That makes anyone touchy. He got a nice massage with a pain rub, all soothing and soft, when Em went away, and settled in for another big snore. Until then, it was “look at that” game in whispers so he really had to be listening for my voice.
I had a moment of accidental inspiration though! Em noticed my clicker sitting out and asked what it was. She was supposed to be eating supper, but wasn’t. With a handful of lamb treats, I not only got BB to play look at that, but Kenai to do obedience practice, AND got Emily to eat her supper without a battle of wills: every clicker trick the boys did equaled one mouthful of kiddie food.
She could help do the clicker, but she had to pause long enough for a bite in between tricks, or the lamb treats stopped and the tricks did too! That redirected the whining, squirming, and getting down instead of eating. It also redirected BB’s headlong plunge towards freak out, and Kenai got to show off.
I saw on a nature program that one zoo uses clicker training on big cats for making a vet visit easier. If it can work on lions and leopards, why not fussy 2 year old humans?
“When in doubt of how to help, take a page from the doggie book: touch, sit beside, love, and make ‘em laugh. That never goes wrong.”
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on August 13, 2008
Kenai checking things out, 31 wks old
Today is Kenai’s last day to be 7 months old–tomorrow he will be 8 months old. It’s astonishing how different he looks now compared to his 9 wk old toddly self he was when I brought him home. He has grown tremendously fast, as Dane pups do. From 30 pounds to 104 pounds in 22 weeks.
The only way I could gain that kind of weight is if I go off my thyroid meds! Then I could give you a competition, my boy! Diminutive little brother BB is still under 80 pounds, poor guy. But that keeps him from having more orthopedic problems than he already does, so that’s okay. He’ll be our perennial puppy, both in body and spirit.
There’s not a lot really to report on the Kenai front since Friday, besides a trip (finally) to the puppy store for chew toys. I’m trying to keep all quiet on the Midwestern Front, resting up as much as he’ll let me. Puppy energy doesn’t go away just because I need to rest. It gets stored up, and sometimes comes out sideways if not burned off regularly. So being sedentary isn’t an option. Still, I’ll get as many naps as I can out of him.
The date has been chosen! My brother will supposedly be gone by the end of September. Come October 1st, there’ll be a champagne party hosted by yours truly. I’m gonna drink at least 2 glasses, and hibernate for a month. Might have to hibernate from a hangover if I drink more than 3 glasses! Seven more weeks, Lord give me strength.
That will make a grand total of 25 weeks that my life has been pitched into survival mode, more than 6 months of just barely containing the crises. It’s felt like that game at fairs and Chuck-e-Cheese where you have a hammer and have to hit the targets that pop up out of a hole. Stamp out this emergency, deal with that situation, look out to the left, scrap those plans…
When playing such a game, it’s not really possible to do anything else. My list of what’s not getting done is pitifully long. Not a pleasant way to spend half a year. I could have done without it, most certainly. I won’t miss the turmoil one iota.
I will enjoy the small things I’ve missed, like being able to linger on the internet to answer emails and return later to read group postings. Or making something for supper I actually want, not something picked because it’s inexpensive even in the massive quantities my brother eats.
Oh, and not having to pop up the moment my niece unexpectedly appears and sets BB off will be sumptuous. No more having to hide the keys to my truck, the mower, and other expensive equipment so they don’t get damaged. Buying one loaf of bread at a time… wow.
Any hassles will be of our own making, Mom and I, not thrust on us by someone else’s lack of consideration. Those hassles will be deserved. What an eccentric sense of freedom it is, being happy to just make your own problems. Borrowed trouble is bad enough if you’re foolish enough to take it on, but imposed trouble…Oh to be released from it! And pray to God that Mom’s learned her lesson? Three times of Mike moving in is enough to make the Dali Lama hurl off a mountain.
I just have to endure 7 more weeks (it’d better not be more, Mom) of this weekly exhaust myself and recover cycle. If I can hold onto my legs, keep the migraines controlled, and manage the stress, October will be paradise. Then I can return to my healthier diet, focus on Kenai’s training, and recharge my depleted energy reserves. Stress is not good for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, not good at all.
Maybe even start back with my yoga practices? Right now the only asanas I can manage are passive poses, for relaxing and stretching. But the best thing will be to see about registering for a spring semester college class again. No way could I have managed the study time with all this foolishness going on. I want to go back to school next spring!
Kenai will go with me, and that is such a glorious thought–the hard work paying off! I doubt I’ll let him join a fraternity, though. I’d love for him to retrieve, but not out of my underwear drawer! He’ll be over a year old, in full adolescence, so no panty raids or beer. Nope, he’s going to be a scholar, despite having the size and speed to make a terrific half-back for a football team.
Which class to take is still in the air, though I’m waffling between finishing the math or political science classes I had to drop last spring. I’ll start my boy off with one class, so getting a consistent full hour of silent and still down stays is on his training menu. If I can get an hour and a half, then I can take class on the Tuesday/Thursday schedule, and only go twice a week instead of 3 days a week.
I believe I will add a stop at school Monday to the errand list, to see what I need to do to be ready for spring semester. If I do pick the math or poly sci class, I won’t need to buy books. Yep, it’s one of those two, and I’m leaning towards math. Uh-oh, I’m getting excited–Kenai, do a goober run for me! A great big silly one, please, with lots of funny wiggles. He doesn’t feel like it, so hold on while I goose the baby bottoms…
Our trip to the puppy store Saturday was fruitful, finding plenty of buy 2 get 1 deals on bones, pressed rawhide, giant bully sticks, and other boy toys. The bully sticks lost 12” by Saturday night, and the bones were getting wrecked too, so nasty me took them up. Kenai stood there staring at the bookcase pining for them! You know he’s figuring out how to get them down…
Kenai would chew till he threw up (or worse), so I get the thankless job of restricting their intake of bits and pieces. BB’s already done that plug-up-my-bowels thing, and I’m not having repeats. Bent bottom Beebs already has an impressive collection of scar tissue. He doesn’t need more, and Kenai doesn’t need any.
Rain came again Saturday, and I was glad about it—didn’t feel guilty for not getting Kenai’s afternoon run in. He went out to potty without a problem, but didn’t loiter any. Besides, last month was really hot and dry. Even below normal rain for July, we’re still 20+ inches ahead on precipitation for the year, which means we should finally have some decent fall color from the trees. Another reason to look forward to October!
Flaming red maples, glowing yellow ash trees, fiery oranges, rose hips and holly… how very beautiful fall is around here in SW Missouri, with all the native hardwood forests. Those forests have taken a severe beating the past 5 years, with drought, pests, wildfires, record ice storms, and floods.
A wetter, cooler summer seemed to nurse them back from the brink, though a few trees did die. I’ve got a 90 foot oak in my front yard that’s dead as can be, and no money to pay an arborist to take it down. The water tables were down more than 17” last summer, too, and are back up now. Good thing, since people were having to drill wells for water, looking for deeper tables.
If I seem to be waxing lyrical about autumn, bear with me. It’s always been my most cherished time of year, surpassing even spring. This break in the summer heat has given me a taste of autumn! As much as I love the thousands of daffodils and crocus I’ve planted, the cooler temps of fall refresh me.
After a long winter, cool springs aren’t refreshing. The short days, muddy grey light, and storminess just doesn’t feel like relief from the doldrums. But after a long bout of withering heat, 50 F degrees is. The snakes are gone, the sky isn’t hazy, humidity drops enough to breathe, and yard work changes from a necessary chore into a delight for my senses. And who doesn’t like wearing big soft sweaters?
Best of all is the color…Color is a powerful thing, and affects me intensely. Having once been a ceramic artist before the Lyme disease took my hands away, I could not live without rich hues and bold swaths of color. My house is full of saturated pigments, from warm yellows, terra cotta washes, deep blue bedrooms, and olive green baths.
The only pastel walls are in Mom’s room, as mint green is her favorite color. And despite the Lyme disease stealing from me the finer brushes needed for ceramics, I’ve painted large landscapes and garden murals where I could without going overboard.
To me, a bright and blazing fall has more renewal in it than spring ever could. Spring’s flowers are a promise—life is coming back, blooming despite the short overcast days. It’s a sort of “hold on, better is coming”. Autumn is an extravagant display, an over the top rejoicing that the hardships of the spring storms and summer heat is done with.
Maybe that’s why I like it so much: it’s a reward for enduring. I’ve done a fair amount of enduring in my life, and look forward to the times when adversity is over for awhile. I guess then, that it is entirely appropriate that this October is when I get my life back. Or at least can start rebuilding it again.
adversity is a catalyst for wisdom, unless you have chosen to let it make you bitter…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on August 11, 2008
Kenai having a look around, 31 wks old
Well, I changed my mind and took Kenai to Melba’s house with Mom and BB Friday, since passing up her cooking is probably a sacrilege of some kind. The Brother’s Grin gave us almost 5 minutes of off leash wandering the back yard and being brothers before the bad boy games began. It was the most marvelous feeling watching them sniff about without bugging each other.
But it wasn’t long before the teeth came out, and I corrected that. Kenai got into the rocket run mode from the correction and BB tried jumping him in mid run. He got his way smaller puppy self knocked cockeyed. We went back to the leashes, with a “you down here” and a “you down there” (and every where a down, down. Old McDonald had a farm…)
Inside, Chloe the lab pup fearlessly took on each of our boys one at a time, and I had to demand Kenai lay down. He’s more than 50 pounds heavier and a foot taller than her, so she was getting beat up by his rough excitement. Sweet girl is too submissive to complain. My overgrown baby needs a real diva of a lady who’s not afraid to teach him r-e-s-p-e-c-t. In the absence of such a fur coated female, I got the job.
After he got the idea that I was not going to allow him up to smush and knock her around, Kenai and Chloe had the best time laying on the floor playing nip and swat. Kenai got to act like a puppy with another puppy, which doesn’t happen too often for him. He’s vastly bigger than most anyone his age, and that makes him too scary to play with! Older dogs his size aren’t into puppy games…
He had a blast, but managing his overall excitement required the Gentle Leader, because he was using his weight to pull me at times. We stayed some 3 hours, and then I had to go home: all out of brawn. It was past Kenai’s lunch time, anyway. So home it was, for a doggie meal and up to bed for a nap.
I don’t worry anymore about sleeping so long I wake up with a headache, because Kenai is an alarm clock with whiskers. He gives me 3 hours of daytime snoozing, then suddenly there’s a heavy, slobbering head resting on my feet. He heard Mom and BB come home. Man those ears are good: they weren’t even out of the garage yet!
Speaking of ears, there’s been a couple folks leaving comments on an older post about my being a sick animal torturer, barbaric, etc because I had chosen to have Kenai’s ears cropped. I decided to have him cropped after consideration of many things, mostly veterinary problems that can occur with Danes who have extremely long and heavy ears.
I don’t really understand why some find it so terribly impossible to maintain an attitude of respect for other people. I fully appreciate someone’s decision not to crop based on their feelings about it, and would just as fully defend them from personal attack.
When any discussion disintegrates to such inflammatory extremes, it is worse than a waste of time. It’s tragic that public discourse has generally become more than contentious, but absolutely contemptuous in the recent decades. Not only in this country, and not only concerning animal care, either. With such increased attention on “tolerance” in social interaction the past few years, how odd that there is less of it now than ever.
“In our civilized country…” is how one of the comments began, ending with an epic condemnation of pretty much thousands of people. I would have left it alone, as an expression of how the person felt, had she not crossed a line she didn’t seem to know existed: there is no excuse for disagreements to become demonizing. The civilization of a country isn’t measured by its laws, but by the civility of its people. Truly civilized societies are not vicious about those who disagree with them.
I keep thinking about a line from Masterpiece Theater’s production of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, where Mr. Darcy says he was taught moral values as a child, but “left to follow them in pride and conceit.” Perhaps not admiring humility and kindness anymore is to blame for the rampant spread of this strangely disproportionate regard for our own opinions. After all, we become what we admire. If what we admire most is ourselves, we become selfish. Selfish lives to belittle, and knows only how to deride. It’s malignant.
I enjoy reading comments, hearing what other people think and feel about things, and have no discomfort at all with opposing viewpoints. Yet I am a firm believer in the sanctity of valuing other people’s thoughts and feelings. The golden rule might be in death throes elsewhere, but not on my blog!
So anyone who launches from “I think that’s cruel” to “you’re evil”, gets warned, then blocked as spam. I never could abide hateful people, and still can’t because of the destruction their abusiveness wreaks. I certainly won’t give them a forum to spit venom: there’s too much of that in the world already.
Okay, before my bent for the philosophical gets too involved with what has happened to humanity… The blog is about human-dog interactions, namely mine and Kenai’s. Back to that, huh?
Once the afternoon nap was done yesterday, I came down to find BB crashing in his expen, my brother and my niece still in the living room. Kenai was nice and calm even while Emily wanted to mess with him. He just watches her mostly, walks past her when he’s going somewhere, and typically takes her noisiness in dignified stride.
Then she decided to act like she was a dog, crawling around under him and carrying her Dora doll in her mouth. He stepped around her a few times, and I made him lay down so Sasquatch didn’t squish her accidentally. Em was told to stop by her Dad, and come eat her supper.
She completely ignored him, and I was just about to take her baby doll away and move her myself. I wish I had. She stood up, so I relaxed and assumed Em was going to do what she was told. Not. She then pounced on her doll the way a puppy would. I never saw that paw coming…
That was the end of the play-like-a-dog game. He didn’t do it hard, just plopping down a big old paw on the kiddie arm, but her skin is delicate and his pads are rough. Oh dear. Neosporin on the abrasion time. I guess I need to find a more effective strategy to make the “no feet” rule stick in his puppy mind. Right now, he’s snoozing, so play practice of the “no feet” shall have to wait. I do have to come up with a bright idea or two about it.
He did the take myself to bed again, last night: going up to bedtime on his own at 9 pm. The late feedings messed with his bowel schedule, so he passed gas like a convenience store all night. It’s strange, that some dogs can let smellies you hardly know happened, and others could be used as weapons of mass destruction.
Kenai usually only gets stinky when he needs to go “leave things behind”, and it is a mercy too. He is a something-crawled-in-there-and-died farter. The green fog actually woke me up a couple times. Oy. Thank God we’re having a cool spell, so the windows can be opened again! See if I mess with his feeding schedule again anytime soon…
I am so enjoying this cooler weather! The night time temps have been almost chilly, down in the 60’s F. Heavenly. The roses are perking up, veggies aren’t wilting, wasps are slow enough to shoo away. Believe me, we’re taking advantage of the refreshing mornings to play good and hard in Kenai’s field. I come in dew soaked to the knees, and still able to breathe without an inhaler, so all is good about that.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on August 9, 2008
Kenai doing some head stands, 31 wks old
Kenai had his fine puppy self a come-uppins Wednesday, as the local old timers say. He’s been getting rougher with his play, and sometimes just out of control bordering on wild. No doubt frustration and boredom play a part, as is trying to reduce his pancreatic supplement. But no way do I allow him to behave like that.
In the past few days he’s started running in the house, pushing his way around, leaping onto the couch, will not keep his teeth off people, and swats with those oversized feet. Totally unacceptable! Normally, stern warnings shut it down, but Wednesday was just a bad day. I was not feeling well at all, and that weak energy means both boys tried to take advantage of it.
By suppertime, I had a hair trigger. Then Kenai came racing from the kitchen, leaped on the couch and slammed me right in the face with a paw. Now he’s extraordinarily well co-ordinated, so that was no accident. He bloodied my nose and split my lip, so you can guess what kind of intensity I came up off that couch with… There was hell to pay!
Jesus be jumping, I was infuriated. He got snatched and pinned to the couch with some serious growling and “don’t you ever do that again”. I got downright aggressive about it, which I know I shouldn’t do (calm but absolute is better). The angry response did stop the carrying on dead in it’s tracks, but also depressed him.
I had crossed the line between correction and too much, and knew it as soon as the confrontation was over. Big boy was sad and lethargic the rest of the night, not wanting to play at all, not wanting his bone, not wanting touch or attention. He was still withdrawn the next morning. Dammit, I wish I could maintain my energy better.
So Thursday, I began the morning with breathing exercises, watched carefully my posture and tension levels, and our time together was far more intimate. We had one burst of wild while I was digging through the freezer outside without him, and came in to find a houseplant overturned by his running. So it was a scolding, there. But he was coming out of the blahs.
We were just settling down to relax after an outside romp, about 10 am, when who should appear at the door but my 2 year old niece. Mike and Shannon decided that Emily would be dropped off for a 4 day weekend. No one mentioned it to Mom or I, either, let alone a “would that be okay”. Em was in rare form, far worse than I had ever seen her behave—whining, howling, defiant literally the entire day. BB was so panicked by the end of it, a grasshopper in the driveway made him pee on himself.
Instead of getting my own stuff done, I spent the day playing the “look at that” game with a highly reactive BB, and trying to keep in touch with a depressed Kenai. My day was shot: there was no yard work, no trip to the pet store, afternoon playtime, or relaxing to watch the news for even a few minutes. Kenai got relegated to the back burner while I was forced to manage the BB-can’t-take-the-little-kid day of crisis.
The only bright spot about Thursday was Mom got madder as the day went on, starting with the rude way her granddaughter was dumped off on her without a moment’s consideration of her wishes. She walked in after a day of paperwork at the Veterans Administration to a screaming fit. By dark she was a snake’s grin shy of telling Mike to take that child home and don’t dare bring her through the door again.
Mom says that next weekend Em will not be coming here, and that when Mike starts his new job a week from tomorrow, he’ll be given a date to be out of our house… the angels sang, the sun shone brighter! Hope at last that the end is in sight. I won’t hold my breath, though. I wouldn’t be surprised (enraged, but not surprised) if he’s still here at Thanksgiving. Mom’s proven over and over that you can’t believe her when it comes to my brother. I’m tired of being disappointed and upset when Mom breaks a promise to me, so I just won’t expect her to keep it.
I tried to get Kenai out for another run, but Mike and Emily ran up and down those stairs the entire day. When they weren’t coming up the stairwell, the yowling and howling was. That’s all BB needed to come unglued time after time. He was so uptight. Normally, you can just about dribble him like a ball-on-a-stick with all his extra skin, but yesterday I couldn’t even get half an inch of stretch. No lycra in that thar puppy skin!
It was a day of unending uproar. Wasn’t even 15 minutes to leave BB so Kenai could go play outside. He had tried to sneak out of the living room on me several times around 8:30 pm, after BB peed on the floor. Little bro whizzes when he’s freaked out, and I assumed that Kenai was just wanting to go wait at the door for him to come back inside. Chief protector kind of thing. So no, go lay down was the chorus. The last time, Mr. Shiny Shedder got by me while I scrubbed the piddle out of the rug, and ran straight upstairs to bed by himself.
He wasn’t coming down either. So I joined him! It didn’t really take a bunch of arm twisting. Poor BB, Auntie Lisa with the goodie bag and soothing touch left him. Not to worry, though, because steaming red hot Grammy was ready to go off in his defense. Mike must have gotten the vibes, because he took Em to bed before I had my jammies on. If they came back up, if there was one more hissy, I’m half convinced Mom would have locked them both in a car to suffocate.
Upstairs in the island of sanctuary, I put on a chakra balancing CD Kenai likes, got a bone, and gave a thorough puppy massage. He drifted off to sleep about 9:30. I never did get my shower and clean sheets…
Today, the plan is to get BB out of the house. Nothing short of catastrophic fire would get Mike’s ass out the door. Beebs and Mom are heading to Melba’s house again, for some R&R, with a few bouts of puppy play thrown in. Kenai and I were invited, but honestly, making the two boys behave together for any length of time is more exhausting and stressful than the horrid day we’d just endured. I’ll deal with that situation when I’m not running about managing crisis.
I’ll be taking Kenai for some outdoor fun instead, since the heat has eased off. A trip to the puppy store for our $10 of free stuff with the discount card we got will do him a world of good. The boys need chew toys badly, and at home, I can just go upstairs to be left alone, as long as I don’t have to worry about Beebs.
We can find ways to entertain ourselves, me and the balding eagle. Lord, but Kenai is shedding something ferocious. Hopefully we’ll be done with that soon. His summer coat is in, all shiney and cooler. The coat before it is decorating my rug. It’s a lovely warm caramel color, in desperate need of a vacuming!
Hell, if this madness keeps up, I’ll shed with him! 18 weeks of upheaval…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on August 8, 2008