Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Dog Diaries: Week 2

Week 1 of the dog was certainly eventful.  Week 2 is proving to be a little easier.  Chevy continues to steal food, but we are doing better with crating issues.  Just yesterday morning I put a new cube of butter in the butter tray and then went to use it a few minutes later.  I couldn't find it anywhere.  I thought I was going crazy until I remembered that I now own a dog.  Sure enough, I found that Chevy had "borrowed" the butter tray and licked it clean.  Hopefully the "back end" of that problem isn't too gross! 

Yesterday I took Chevy for his first vet appointment.  Thank goodness for qualified, caring professionals.  Our vet, Dr. Erin Russell at Brookfield Vet Hospital in Redmond, was FABULOUS.  She had so much to say and I, being a dog newbie, have so much to learn.  My take home list of things to do/think about from the vet appointment is a tad overwhelming.  Here's my "to do" list:
  • Register Chevy with King County
  • Order a chain leash that he can't bite through
  • give heartworm medicine tonight
  • give  heartworm medicine again in 2 weeks
  • bring in a stool sample in 2 weeks for follow up parasite testing
  • order Trifexis, a flea/heartworm/parasite medication
  • look into Trupanion insurance for his first year
  • consider the Leptospirosis vaccine (because we spend time in Eastern WA)
  • review vacation boarding suggestions (for our trip in March)
  • get a dog shampoo with oatmeal for dry skin
  • buy some "greeny" dental chews for his teeth
  • get a Kong or related toy for playing with while he's in the crate
  • figure out a fence solution (no more playing fetch with him in the back yard without a leash! bad mommy)
  • consider buying a weighted vest for him to wear on walks to better exercise him
  • consider "calming" options to help him when we leave him alone and to help with training
    • a "behaviorist"
    • a hugging vest
    • a calming pheremone collar
    • herbal medication
    • doggie prozac
It may take me awhile to get through all that.  The vet called back this morning and said that Chevy does have a parasite, so I need to get him started on some medication and give him a bath.  Hmmm....I wonder how the first bath is going to go?  I think Scott will be helping with that one!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Dog Diaries: Days 7 & 8

How I would love to tell you all that everything has settled down and the dog is now a well-behaved part of our family, but I’d be lying. Instead I must choose which of the stories of the last two days to tell…

Yesterday wasn’t actually too bad. The dog stole some food, chewed on a shoe, and knocked a kid or two into a wall, but he also played nicely in the yard, behaved for a trip to PetSmart, and handled the presence of lots of little children well.

Today it would be hard to give the dog a passing grade. Today he snuck past me to get out of the car at the bank, nearly knocking me over, slipped off his collar when I tried to catch him and generally refused to behave when I tried to recapture him. That was fun (for him). But that wasn’t the naughtiest part. The naughtiest part was when he locked me out of the house.

We’ve been working on crate training. This morning, Chevy successfully hung out in a locked crate for 15 minutes while I quickly drove my preschooler to school. So this afternoon, I thought I’d try it again for a half hour. I decided to take the kids door to door selling Girl Scout cookies. Chevy might have been hard to control if there were other dogs around, so I put him in his crate and gave him a treat to keep him occupied. Then out the door we went.

We were gone about 30 minutes. I knew I was in trouble as we walked up to our house and I could see the dog through the front window. Umm…wasn’t he supposed to be in his crate? Then (of course!) the kids started yelling “mom, the front door is locked, the front door is locked”. Apparently Chevy had been able to slide the catch on the top of his crate door and squirm out the top. The crate door was still locked from the bottom, but the top wasn’t. He must have really had to fight to get himself through the half-locked crate door because the crate was not in the same physical placement as when I left. Then he proceeded to the front door where he scratched the door, trying to get out. In the process, he turned the knob on the dead bolt…and locked us out. Of course, the garage door keypad was out of batteries and my parents weren’t home and I didn’t bring a cell phone with me.

It took me just a minute to figure out how to burglarize my parents’ garage door keypad to steal their battery and install it into my keypad. When we got into our house, I found that the dog had helped himself to more treats and spilled a glass of milk all over the floor. Besides that and the scratched front door, there wasn’t much damage.

Still, what’s next? Do I actually have to put a lock on the crate?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Dog Diaries: Days 4 through 6

Naughtiness continues...

After the first three days with the dog, I thought he was really well behaved at home and with the kids.  He might have had some behavioral probalems when I tried to confine him or leave him, but he was great in our presence.  I'm reconsidering that label of "great" and sticking with "naughty".

That dang dog is getting into everything.  I've learned to be concerned if I realize he hasn't been in the room with me for more than 5 minutes.  I realized last night that I hadn't seen him for a few minutes and went downstairs to figure out what he was doing.  He had knocked a closed tupperware container off my kitchen counter, opened it up (all over my floor), and was proceeding to eat the chicken noodle soup it contained.  Bad Dog!  I should make him do the mopping.   I'm fairly sure he ate some cookies off the counter too.

We've gotten pretty adept at ignoring him or shoving him away when he's pestering us at the dinner table.  But yesterday, I had several different little children playing at my house during the day.  The dog is bigger than the tots and his size is scary for them.  I tried and tried to keep that dog from going over to lick them "hello".  I finally put him on a leash and kept him next to me as I chatted with the moms..  What did that dog do?  He ate through the leash again.  Chevy says "what part of NO CONFINEMENT don't you understand?"

I booked a training class through the Seattle Humane Society that will start in 2 weeks, but how am I going to get through the next two weeks with a dog that can't be out of my sight?  If I seriously have to spend my date-night babysitting money on a dog sitter so I can go to the grocery store, I'm gonna be unhappy! 

On the up side, he laid by my side and snored while I watched TV last night.  I had to turn up the volume a little to hear over the pooch, but I still kinda liked it.  =)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Dog Diaries: Days 1 through 3. What have we gotten ourselves into?

We’ve been looking for a family dog. On Friday we headed down to the Humane Society and selected a lovely black lab/german pointer that we named Chevy. He’s a year old, but a pretty good sized pup. When we brought him home on Friday night, we put him in the back of our Honda Pilot. Unfortunately for us, he didn’t stay there on the way home. Despite our best efforts to keep him in the back, he was seated across Scott’s lap in the middle row by the time we reached Sammamish.
Knowing that we were going to need Chevy to be a good car dog (given all our trips across the mountains), we went out a bought a barrier system for the back of the Pilot. It’s a barrier system designed for large dogs. We thought we’d be fine.
So Sunday morning, Scott headed off to work and I put the kids and the dog in the car and headed off to church. Chevy started whimpering pretty quickly and by the time we were half way to church the kids were informing me that he was chewing threw the rear seatbelts. Seatbelt 1 was severed. What do you do when the dog is chewing the seatbelt? I could stop the car, but that would leave me on the side of a road with 3 kids, a dog and a severed seatbelt. So I kept going. I probably should have turned the car around, but I didn’t. I drove to church and took the dog out for a quick walk. I made sure he had his warm blanket in the back of the car and plenty of fresh air, and put him back into the car.
When I came back after 45 minutes, Chevy had eaten through both rear seatbelts, moved the barrier system so he could squeeze by it, and helped himself to whatever he wanted in the front of the car …including my coffee and the other three middle row seatbelts. I then tried securing him with his leash, but that didn’t take long for him to chew through that as well.
Sigh. I love this dog, but those seatbelts are going to be expensive to replace, not to mention the annoyance of not being able to use my car to cart my children around. Sweetness (I’ve really got to fine a new moniker for her during these tween years) cried all the way home from church; she was just certain that her mommy would never keep a dog that destroyed her car AND drank her coffee. I don’t want to get rid of the dog. I already adore him. I just need him to not be so…naughty!
 So I find myself wondering, is it the confinement of being stuck in the back of the car, or is it the abandonment that we left him behind when we went inside? I’m leaning toward the confinement issue because he was chewing the seatbelts while we were still in the car with him. Still, I NEED to be able to leave this dog alone and I can’t trust him to leave him wandering around my house…so I need to be able to crate him and that’s confinement. But that’s non-negotiable, right? I’d better go look into some training classes.