Saturday, October 31, 2009

5 Month Old Puppy

Forest was born on May 30th, so Friday was his 5 month birthday! We didn’t do anything special to celebrate, just gave him a well needed bath. God that puppy gets smelly at doggy day care. I don’t know if it’s from playing with other dogs, or sleeping in the vet’s crates or what, but by the end of the week Forest sometime has a strong funk on him. So on Friday we gave him a bath, which unfortunately terrifies the puppy. We’ve only had to give Forest like three baths since we’ve owned him (the vet and groomers have had that pleasure several more times) but I think Forest remembers our baths because he won’t willingly enter the bathroom where he takes his baths. It’s all worth it though, he smells so much better now!

In honor of Forest’s birthday (and a nice smelling doggy) here’s a bunch of Forest photos covering his short but sweet life so far.

Forest at 5 months:

Forest at 4 months:

Forest at 3 months:

Forest at 2 months:

Forest at 1 month:


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Forest Got Snipped

Sorry lady pups (and let’s face it, male pups too, those horny fellows) Forest is officially off the market.

On November 14th, little Forest got neutered. We didn’t really have a choice in this matter, the contract we had with the breeder stipulated that Forest had to be neutered before he turned 6 months old. I felt bad making this kind of decision for Forest, they are his balls after all, but I wasn’t against the idea. Nick however didn’t want anything to do with it. He didn’t want to talk about it, hear about it or participate in any planning. He knew it had to be done, but I guess the subject of snipping a male puppy was a little too squeamish for him. Luckily I was able to schedule the procedure to take place while he was out of town on business.

When I was in college, I had a cat named Skylar. When my kitty was neutered, there were no post-operation instructions, no follow-up visits, no extra pain meds, nothing. It all seemed very easy. So I was surprised at how serious this turned out to be for Forest (which Nick would say is a huge understatement). For 10 days, Forest wasn’t allowed to be around other dogs, run, take walks, jump or play rough. I didn’t realize this before I scheduled the procedure, but fortunately Forest got neutered the day after his last obedience class (where he participated in all of the events listed above, and then some).

I had to choose between two types of stitches: one that would disintegrate or fall out on its own but was more fragile, and another that would need to be manually removed by the vet but was sturdier. Forest is a licker, so I choose the latter. The surgery went as expected and the vet gave me a few extra pain meds to give Forest over the next few days. And of course, they gave us the “buster” collar, or as I called it, Forest’s cone collar. I thought dogs wore cone collars so they wouldn’t chew on the stitches, but I guess the main concern, at least in Forest’s case, is that the dog will lick the stitches, thus delaying the healing process.

Forest is a little guy so his cone collar looked like they cut a regular cone in half. The collar part was a little tight, so I had to kinda grab Forest’s face and squeeze his head thru it. I always thought that would freak Forest out, but surprising he just sat patiently while I struggled to get the cone collar on him. There was no chance of the cone falling off, but it had a thin piece of rope around it so you could tie a knot and keep the cone in place.

Now this sounds mean, but it was pretty funny watching Forest trying to get around with this huge cone on his head. He was constantly bumping into the wall or snagging the edge of the collar on a door frame. He could slowly make it down a flight of stairs, but he couldn’t get up any stairs, the bottom of the cone always hit the first step and Forest would stagger back a little and then try again. I ended up carrying him around a lot.

Forest figured out how to sleep with the cone collar on. Unfortunately he was constantly shifting and rearranging himself so the cone made a lot of noise in his crate at night.

I think the saddest part of the whole experience was how Forest acted right after I put the cone collar on him. I think he thought the cone was punishment because he always got really quiet and tried to cuddle as close to me as possible.

I felt horrible about the possibility that Forest felt guilty when wearing the cone collar, but a small part of me was also thrilled that the cone collar made the dang puppy calm down for awhile. Is this how parent’s secretly feel when their kids get sick? Yes, we’re worried and feel sorry for our babies, but gosh it’s nice to have some quiet time around here :)

Forest: I’m sorry for whatever I did wrong, can you please take this damn thing off me now?

Luckily the whole mess is over with. Forest, sans balls, is doing fine and doesn’t seem to be acting any differently. The vet had to shave his downtown region so hopefully the hair will grow back quickly (it looks we’ve been manscaping the puppy). And not exercising has sped up Forest’s weight gain so he’s around 15 pounds now!!! Sniff, the little puppy is growing up.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Head of the Class

Forest graduated from obedience class last week! I wouldn’t classify Forest as “obedient” yet, but he did learn the sit and down commands. We need some more practice with come, wait/stay and loose leash walking (which isn’t as strict as heel, Forest should just stay relatively close to my side without pulling on the leash or stopping). And we definitely need to train Forest on how to properly greet someone. Jumping up on people is cute now, but I don’t want him to knock over a kid or keep this habit as an adult dog.

Everyone took lots of photos during this last class, especially the instructor. We had a couple group photos with all of the doggy graduates and their parents. Some people had trouble getting their dogs to sit still and look forward, most of the students just wanted to lick themselves or their neighbors. Forest was one of the smaller dogs in the class so luckily I could just pick him up and point him towards the camera. The instructor also had one mini graduation cap that she wanted each dog to wear for individual photos. I think there were like 9 dogs in the class, so it took awhile to get the cap strapped onto each dog and then calm him down enough to snap some photos.

Forest was especially antsy, so I only got one good photo.

Then I got a cute but blurry photo.

At first, Forest was a little confused on how to wear a hat. I think he was trying to stick his face in it.

The instructor for the class was a little kooky, but she was also really passionate about training and raising dogs. She didn’t teach us as many commands as I would have liked, but she did teach us helpful training methods, so I’m hoping Nick and I can continue training Forest to not be a hellion.

Speaking of training, I have like the ultimate command in mind for Forest. There’s this scene in the movie “Shooter” that’s totally unrelated to the plot but looks cool: the main character’s dog is trained to open the refrigerator by pulling on a towel tied to the door handle, then snag a beer in his mouth and carry it back to his owner. Yes I know dogs in movies and TV shows are trained to do all sorts of stunts, but this one seems actually possible :) Unfortunately I’ll have to wait until Forest grows up before I can verify that a can or bottle of beer will fit securely in his mouth. Until then, I’ll guess we’ll keep working on the basics.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Regressed Puppy

Sorry I haven’t written in awhile, I’ll make up for it with a thorough posting :) It’s been a tad crazy in the Forest household lately; Nick and I have had hectic work schedules, illness and end of summer weddings and festivities. Then on top of all that, we’ve been very preoccupied with a certain puppy problem.

For the first two months of his life, Forest was allowed to go potty anywhere he wanted. His doggy-mom tried to teach him not to go where he slept, but anywhere else was fine. Then Forest came home with us. We spent the next two months trying to teach the puppy that pooping in our bedroom was not OK and he should do all of his business outside.

We researched two methods of potty-training: negative reinforcement and positive reinforcement. I think negative reinforcement used to be the popular approach a few years back (find a puddle of dog pee? just rub the dog’s nose it in while yelling, that’ll teach him). But now the general consensus is that negative reinforcement can be just that, negative. So positive reinforcement is the preferred method (find a puddle of dog pee? don’t yell at the dog, just praise him the next time he goes outside). Even if you catch the dog in the act, positive reinforcement emphasizes not yelling at the dog, give him a stern No or your “negative” marker word and take him outside to finish up…don’t forget to praise!

We found that a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement works best for us. If we catch Forest peeing in the house, there’s going to be a hell of a lot of yelling, but then we take him outside and tell him what a good dog he is. The yelling part sounds mean, but Forest just wasn’t catching on to potty training until we started yelling when we caught him. We aren’t even that picky, if the dog wants to go potty on the driveway, have at it, as long as it isn’t inside. And no, if we find a random puddle in the house, we don’t rub his nose in it. If we’re not watching Forest and he takes that opportunity to pee, well then that’s our fault for not keeping an eye on him. He is a puppy after all.

So after two months of potty training, I think Forest was finally starting to get it, he was only having one or two accidents a week in the house. Then Nick and I spent a few days in San Diego visiting some friends. We feel bad asking anyone to puppy-sit Forest until he’s fully potty trained, so we decided to board him at the vet. We dropped Forest off Friday morning and picked him up Tuesday evening. San Diego was fabulous, but I missed the puppy. That was the longest I’d ever been away from him so I was pretty excited to get Forest home.

The excitement was short-lived. Forest was only home for like an hour before he peed inside. Luckily, I caught him in the act and got a “No no no no bad bad dog!” out before Forest stopped midstream and cowered with his tail between his legs (now I understand why nature engineered puppies to be so adorable. I was surrounded by dog pee but felt absolutely horrible about yelling at him for it).

After 5 days at the boarders, Forest had regressed back to I’ll-go-potty-anywhere-I-want-to puppy. We couldn’t blame the boarders, they’re not responsible for potty-training all the dogs they watch. But I can’t believe how quickly Forest slipped back to bad habits. He peed inside again a few hours after I caught him that first time. The next night, I look over and he’s taking a big dump in the middle of the kitchen. And a day later we were playing in the bedroom and found little wet spots streaked across the carpet, which we determined were caused by Forest running and pissing at the same time.

Friday and Saturday passed without accidents so we started feeling a little more confident, like maybe Forest was remembering that peeing in the house = bad puppy. But Sunday night did not go well. No, it did not go well at all. Forest was hanging out with Nick in our basement. We have two huge bean bags made of pleather-like material in the basement. I love them, they’re super comfy and can fit 2-3 people on them. Forest also loves them and will often drag his toys on top of them to play.

Nick said that at one point, the puppy was standing on a bean bag and watching TV (which just sounds so cute) when he suddenly jumped off and came over to sit on Nick’s foot. Nick said the puppy felt a little wet and looked guilty. Sure enough, Forest had piddled all over one of the bean bags. Nick said he had never given much thought to the design of a bean bag before, but unfortunately the crevices and dips in the bean bag makes this sort of accident look like lakes and streams of puppy piss (which I never got to see, the sweet boy had cleaned it all up before he told me about it).

After almost two weeks of cleaning up mess after mess, we got Forest sort of retrained. Then we had to board the puppy again to attend the wedding of Nick’s brother. Sure enough, Forest was piddling all over the place when we got him home.

So we’ve gone back to checking on the puppy every few minutes, fun times! Experts say dogs have no concept of “revenge,” but I’ll say, it certainly looks like Forest is punishing us for boarding him (that’ll teach us).