First class

We went to his first class tonight. I feel like I've done virtually nothing with him as far as training is concerned, but apparently he and I are playing together quite well.

We missed the first week or two of the class. There were a lot of puppies in a not-overly-large space, along with a dozen stations, each with a different piece of equipment varying from rocking boards to simple stools, a ladder to walk through, boxes to sit in. Getting him into the room was a bit of a nightmare (we were a bit late). We basically dragged across the room on a VERY tight leash as he tried to see all the puppies and people and commotion, so instead of taking a station, we took a chair in a quieter corner.

I kept him on a snug leash but let him look around without interfering. He looked. He pulled. He looked some more. Then he suddenly turned to me and asked for a treat. OK! I gave him one, then another. He looked back at the room. And then he turned back, looked at me, and sat. Treat!

As the class progressed, he was willing to work for the treats, to turn his back to the other dogs and people. He was unfazed by the commotion. When another puppy came too close, he turned to it with a tight leash but after a bit of a sniff, he was willing to come back and work again. I did NOTHING to get his attention, he was occasionally overwhelmed by the situation but came back on his own every time.

When the pups had worked on the equipment, we practised sits, downs, and floor Zen. The last was a new concept for Spider, but he figured it out right away.

On the drive home, I thought about the blessing of a good breeder. His temperament is utterly solid. He had no moment of insecurity during the class. Precisely NONE of the equipment gave him pause. He walked onto it, over it, or under it as necessary without hesitation or concern. He had a little trouble with a rocking yoga mat, but not mentally. It bucked him off once. He didn't care. He just climbed back on and was able to sit and lie down on it.

He was interested - very interested in the other puppies, and he loved up any human that looked at him. If I was test-driving him, I'd've had my money down before the end of the class.

So Marina Raukhverger of Firestone Giant Schnauzers, you done good. You made an absolutely happy, adventurous, solid, solid puppy. Thank you.

A guy and his dog...

Ron, who is usually pleasantly oblivious to dogs until they're at least civilized and more usually old, appears to be bonding. He's buying the kid a new car - but that was on the list anyway, it's just been stepped up a few months. No, the big deal is that he's volunteering to keep the puppy at home while I go visit my parents.

When we're camping, Ron goes for long walks with the pup. Spider, who really needs more exercise than he gets on a leash while we're camping, discovered sand on one of their hikes. When they got back to the trailer, Ron announced that we'll be getting a load of sand for the dog yard since Spike had such a great time rolling and digging in the sand.

Ron is not a techie. He doesn't do this sort of thing - this morning he sent me a video of Syn (!) playing with Spider.

OK, I've seen them do better, but the points are - a) Syn, who never plays with anybody, is playing with Spider, and b) Ron noticed and thought it was important enough to send me a video. I'm a happy person.


Last night I commented on the huge bulges in his gums where his adult molars are waiting, and Ron asked when his teeth would start falling out. "Oh, any time now, coupla weeks" I said, smiling to myself because he's WAY too young for his teeth to start coming in.

This morning after I posted his ears while cuddling him I looked in his mouth and
holy crow, my widdle booboo has real teeth! That's like his first day of school...

WHOA! Did I mention he has teeth?

Brothers and sisters, these are the hours that will sorely test our faith!

Let me count the ways.

His topline flops up and down like a loose clothesline.
His front feet flop around on the end of his legs like pillows tied to a hockey stick.
It takes him, literally (I timed it) 17 minutes of trying to figure out trotting. It's a very difficult procedure, his legs are too long and his body is too short.
OMG his tailset! Where did it go? His tail is down around his hocks and he's got ZERO drive in the rea... oh wait, he had to poop. OK. Where was I?
He can't gallop. He tries but getting four feet to work together at anything faster than a walk appears impossible. Last week he looked like a rhino running. Today he looks like a baby giraffe. He's fallen on his nose several times, and no, there weren't any gopher holes where he did it.
His ears are lying flat across the top of his head giving me the finger.
He peed in the laundry room. Again. On the other hand, I'd just finished posting his ears and he might have been standing in there pouting and just forgot to move.

Only another 5 or 6 months until all his teeth are in. I'm counting the minutes.

Exercise? What is this "exercise"?

Today was definitely one day too many cooped up in a trailer and going for "walks" - which from a puppy point of view are nothing more than humans pretending they're giving a puppy exercise. Every second time I took him out he got the rips - fortunately he was on leash so I could reward him for ripping around ME instead of around the PARK. Syn is getting fed up. She's snarling at him a lot, and when she snarls at him he sits back and barks at her (he doesn't take kindly to frustration). He's not being rude about trying to take her food or her toys, he's just being a jerk in general, lying too close to her, jumping on her, being where she wants to be, getting in between her and the the back of the couch and then pushing her off.

His leash work has gone to pot. He's dashed the trailer door four or five times, leaping out before anybody's ready for him. Some kids went by when he was on the deck and he escaped out a tiny space between the deck fence and the trailer, jumping (or dropping) a metre to the ground.

And then he was wonderful in the car on the way home. What a good boy!

He and Syn immediately went out into the dog yard and stayed out for several hours, coming in once in a while to say hello, get a drink, and then go out again. Noise from the yard sounds like the raptor pen in Jurassic Park. He'll be back to normal tomorrow now that he's had some physical effort.

A balanced day

This morning Ron and I went to play mini golf and left Syn and Spider in their crates in the truck in the shade with the windows open. Didn't hear a peep from them, so he's got the idea of being quiet in a crate in a vehicle, not just when it's moving. Good to know.

On the way back we got them some soft ice cream. Not sure he's purebred. He's a dainty little tongue-dipper. Syn kept looking at him like "hurry up! Are you stupid? You can eat the styrofoam dish too, you know!". I'm sure he'll figure out how to eat a gallon in one bite when he grows up.

Then back to the trailer for a nap and then for a walk in the (slightly above freezing) forest where we sat down on a log and ran through our Level 1 behaviours - Sit (mostly on cue), Down (on hand lure), Zen (he recognized the Zen hand first thing and stayed away), and Target (is he starting to see the difference between a Target hand and a Zen hand? Yes, I think he is).

With half his lunch left to go, we started working more on eye contact. I had both hands where he could see them so it took a few minutes for him to stop flicking his eyes from hand to hand and glance up. Yes! It was a slow start. I couldn't help but think of Syn, who had eye contact in the litter box. While all the other pups were squealing ME! ME! PICK ME!, Syn was quietly following me with a firm grip on my eyes. Still, by the time we were done, he was mostly coming back to my eyes right away. I thought I might get some duration towards the end but... nope. Not yet. OK, I can wait.

Then a lovely mostly-loose-leash walk back to the trailer. He jumped after a dragonfly, but otherwise was only pleased to see children and adults and bikes and cars. Lumps of grass and fire pits were more of a distraction, but he got lots of treats and we managed. Dear little tat.

In the evening when it was cool we went for another walk. We worked on walking on a loose leash. I gave him a LOT of treats for keeping the leash loose, and more for thinking about tightening it but realizing that might mean treats so coming back to me instead. We found a volleyball game FULL of kids that was especially fun as they kept knocking the ball out of bounds and chasing it. He only tightened the lead a couple of times and came right back when he felt it tighten. When he walked out to the end of it and stood like a European show dog watching the game, I let him look as long as he wanted to. What a gorgeous puppy!

More kids on bikes, lots of shouting and whooping from the volleyball game, the smell of cooking burgers, hot dogs, and s'mores. We walked by a smaller dog tied on a long line, yapping its fool head off. The owner apologized, saying "she's only a year old, she doesn't know any better. Not like your big guy! How old is he?"

Snicker. He looked at the screaming mop for a second, then turned back to me and sat for his treat.

I was planning on doing some shaping on the walk, but when I found a picnic table to it down at, he climbed up on it so we did a bit of Relax work on his side (which was harder than usual because I had a chunk of wiener on the table by his head). Then I took him down to start shaping but he remembered this morning's work on eye contact and was doing such a good job that I stuck with that until we walked on.

All week the hardest part of our walks has been coming back to the trailer. He wants to rush to get back to Ron and Syn. Tonight he walked three steps forward, stopped and looked back, got a treat, walked three steps forward, stopped and got a treat. It was beautiful.

Good night little man.

Canadian Snowflake


And I mean that in the Canadian sense, not in the American political sense.

It's 18 degrees outside, we're going for a walk, and he's mad because I won't let him walk in the shade. He was so good about the leash yesterday, today he won't keep it loose for love, money, or wieners because he's pulling toward the shade of every garbage can, tree, picnic table, and electric post we pass. When we get into the shade of something large enough to bother with, like a tree, he doesn't want to walk back out into the sun. Dude! It's EIGHTEEN DEGREES! He's not even PANTING!

I guess I've just been served notice about his future in herding, tracking, agility, and drafting...

He was terrific all night. Ron was at the observatory until all hours and let him out before putting him to bed. When I got up he was still asleep but allowed as how breakfast might be a good idea.

The only thing he's destroyed so far today was a full, closed can of Diet Coke, which started spraying all over my computer and me and everything else within four feet. He thought that was funny. It's in the contract that the breeder isn't responsible for any damage he does after I get him... maybe I should have thought a bit more about that particular paragraph...

First things first

First thing in the morning, we go for a very long walk. Some lawns, some forest. He's very good on leash. When I tap it, he comes right back for a treat. Now that I'm awake enough to look at him, Ron was right. He's grown a lot. Surely he wasn't this big the last time I saw him!

And I see that he and Stitch have come to a meeting of the minds on whether or not he can bite her tail:
That's a big ol' scab. I guess he's lost his official Puppy License!

We had a good time on our walk. We practised all sorts of things - loose leash, coming when called, name recognition, whether he can walk on the other side of a light post from me (he can't), whether he can climb over fallen logs (he can). Only one thing gave him pause - the bright white jagged stump of a fallen tree looked pretty suspicious. He was approaching it slowly, so I went ahead and touched it and he followed me right up and gave it a good sniff. I put some treats on it to cement his victory in his mind. He ate rocks and pine cones and pine needles and grass and wood and what was probably a very young poplar and a dry rotten old log. Then we found a picnic table and did some work on sits and downs and relaxing on his side on a table for handling.

He was (thankfully) tired when we got back to the trailer and ready for a nap. I bought a very large bone yesterday when I was getting groceries. I let Syn work on it while he was asleep. By the time he woke up she had the cap off the femoral head so I gave that to him, which kept him quiet until he needed a short walk and another nap.

Having a puppy in a trailer is a good idea, since he can't get too far from me and I don't have to keep him on a leash. Also he's right in front of me all the time so I can't forget to take him outside. Plus every time he goes out he's on leash so I get to use my cue (Go Outside, Go On, Hurry Up).

The stream now reaches his front legs, but he's usually pretty good about aiming between them...

We meet again

Ron and I meet in a small town in the middle of Alberta and continue to our campsite in the Cypress Hills. The pup is sort of a non-entity because I'm tired and we're in a hurry. He walks on a leash, he pees, he poops, he eats, he drinks. Good pup.

Ron tells me that he got out of the chain link run we have out the back door that nobody in 30 years has gotten out of, not even my Papillon-in-law, and then he got out of the big dog run that also nobody has ever gotten out of, so that the hired guy found him and Stitch wandering around in the farm yard eating cat poop. Good guy found and fixed the two teensy little holes and deposited the wanderers back where they belonged.

And once again I'm thrilled by how well he rides in the car. Absolutely quiet, and sound asleep.

Of course that meant he slept all day, which meant he was a hooligan in the evening, barking at Syn, walking around like a buzz saw
but Ron takes mercy on me and handles him until morning.

3 more days

I miss his little black face and his little black eyes and his big black paws.

Ron says he's grown an inch in 3 days and is starting to whine that if I have to get a Suburban to chauffeur Spider around then he wants a one-ton truck.

Syn has a friend

No. Just. No. Binkie, you don't understand. Portuguese Water Dogs countersurf. Giants stay comfortably and securely on the FLOOR. Heard a noise around he corner and found him standing on top of his crate. He seemed a trifle surprised but not upset. "Things look different from up here!"

Syn just offered Spider tennis ball and now they're lying on top of each other on the floor quietly playing bitey-face. I must be living in an alternate dimension.

I do have a life...

Wasted day as far as teaching is concerned. One of the items I need for the water trial next weekend packed it in, it's a holiday weekend and I was running all over town trying to find a new one.

He has sort of given up on Stitch. She's boring except when he's tugging on her tail. Syn, though... if I didn't know dogs I'd have thought they were trying to kill each other this evening, rolling and tackling and snarling and snapping. Then they decided to retrieve sticks together. A good time was had by all.

Next week's going to be worse. I'm leaving on Tuesday for a weekend of water trials with Syn. Ron's working half days, so Gonzo and Stitch will be home alone for half of each day. Fortunately he's good at entertaining himself, especially now that he can shoot up with a tennis ball. He was throwing it for himself this morning. Then on Monday we'll all go camping for a week. I'm gobsmacked that Ron volunteered to look after him for the week. "Just two guys together" (and Stitch).

And now we're ready for bed.
He's 13 weeks old and those are 8" tiles. That's all I have to say.

Fabulous day at the park

I had a hair appointment on the other side of town this afternoon. It was raining and overcast so I took him along. He lay quietly in the crate in the truck for the half-hour I was inside, then we went to the park again.

Things we worked on:

- walking on a loose leash. Brilliant. He remember the routine from last time - look around, enjoy the sights, check in, get a treat. The only tight leashes we had were towards goose poop.

- giving to collar pressure. A bit of latent learning happened there. He didn't appear to have a clue last time we worked on it, but today he's moving left and/or right with very little thought.

- goose poop. Since there's goose poop all around, there's no opportunity here for advance and retreat (as I mentioned before), so I just tightened the leash when he saw poop and waited for him. Staring at poop isn't at all rewarding, and he couldn't make me move closer to it, so this worked. It's a long block from where I park the truck to the edge of the lake where we meet and greet, and the same long block home again. The first block I stopped him maybe 10 times, waited for him to realize he wasn't getting any closer to it. Then he'd look back at me, get a treat, and we'd walk on. On the way back, though, he had the Plan. a) he stopped scanning for goose poop and looked instead for leaves and twigs, and b) when he did rest his eyes on poop, he sidestepped away from it and turned immediately to me for a treat. I think I stopped him once all the way back to the truck, though he got a full wiener's worth of treats for looking at me.

- eye contact. He's almost got the looking-in-my-direction part, and he's starting to think that my eyes are involved as well. Still scanning the horizon trying to figure out what I'm paying for for too long for me to insist on eye contact though. I'm out of practise with beautiful black eyes - Syn's eyes spoiled me because they're so easy to read:


- sit and down. He already knew Sit when he came, but he made good strides on sitting to a hand signal as well as a voice cue, and he's now understanding that standing up from a sit when I'm luring a down is counterproductive. He pops up nicely into a sit from a down on a hand signal.

- name recognition. Did a little more simple pairing of his name and a treat.

- distractions. Am I crazy? Is it possible that Spider won't HAVE any distractions in another couple of weeks? I suppose if that's true it'll change when he discovers girls, but for now, WOW. 15 feet from a dozen Canada geese, he's offering me focus. 5 feet from joggers he's offering me focus. The same 5 feet for teenagers on skateboards and little kids on bicycles. 10 feet from other dogs. 5 feet from running motorcycles. He looks at all this stuff and then he looks at me with a big grin on his face. Ha ha, can't fool me! He's amazing. Sometimes he doesn't even look, he just flicks his eyes over and then back.

- relax on his side. He had a little trouble with this today. He really wanted to wrestle with my hand, but he did relax, and I did lift his feet, examine his teeth, and play with his toenails.

- talking to people. That's going to need help from some trained people. He still thinks love bites on the chin are an appropriate way to greet people. For some reason some people don't like that. Still, he is just enthusiastic, he's not insane about greeting. In fact is not insane about anything. He's really very sensible. I guess I forgot that about Giant Schnauzers.

- when we got back to the truck, I opened the crate door and he tried to climb right in. It would've been super, except none of his feet were where he thought they were. He tried to get in twice, and then I picked him up and helped him. I'm sure by tomorrow he'll be able to retrieve the truck, never mind climbing into it.

What a fabulous outing. We are going to have so much fun together! And I've got the night off because he's going to be exhausted.


And... he's not exhausted. Unfortunately, we are going to have either a real fight, or a serious Come To Jesus. He had such a good time grabbing Stitch's tail yesterday that he's continuing it. I just rescued it from him TUGGING on it. Sh won't hurt him too badly when she flips out on him. I hope he gives up immediately when he sees that she's serious. I don't want him to hurt her.

Because the little wretch wasn't appropriately exhausted, I chose tonight to introduce him to hard drugs. I know he's had soft stuff before, both at the breeder's and here - jeans, shirt sleeves, flirt toys, etc - but tonight I brought out the hard stuff. A tennis ball. It was a real experience watching his little pupils expand, his expression soften. The best part was that he was generous enough to want to share with me - he kept bringing it back close enough for me to take. Sometimes he'd lie down partway back and have a little personal time under the influence, but then he'd get up and offer it to me again. He even brought it back into the house with him when we came in. He can really handle the stuff - his mouth is so big it's hard to tell when he's under the influence and when he isn't. Two good things came of this evening - he should certainly be exhausted NOW, and he's going to sell me his soul for a fix for the rest of his life, he's well and truly hooked now.

Picture day

He was in distress when I got up this morning. He'd peed in his crate. He was wet, crate was wet, crate pad was wet. So he needed a bath. No problem there, he stood like a trouper. Rinsed him off, towelled him a bit, turned him loose to clean up the tub. When I came back into the living room I realized that there's really only one place for a wet puppy to be... in my chair.

Are you seeing how enormous this brute is?

Later he felt he needed a little company so he joined old Stitch. She really IS a saint.

And then I took him out to the fifth wheel. He was very well-behaved and then when we left he chose the logical path to the ground
Yep, green arrow. Epic face plant on the pavement.

This afternoon I took them to the dugout (because of course that's what you do with a clean puppy). Stitch, who is old and deaf and wanders off, is attached to Syn's harness with a tracking line. Spider thought that was great fun. NOT helping, little guy!

Grabbing her leash just annoys the Old Bag, but what else he's doing is going to get his clock cleaned. He thinks it's funny to bite her tail every time she comes out of the water:


And then we came home and had supper and relaxed. Remember that funny little round puppy I brought home two weeks ago? He's growing nicely into his rightful place - his toes reach my heels, and his big squidgy nose* fits right under my chin.

*Thanks to Elaine Mitchell for so aptly describing the Giant Schnauzer nose!

And, in addition to a new car, I'm going to have to buy him a canoodling chair. He's growing so fast he's started falling out of the regular chairs while he's sleeping. Sometimes he doesn't notice.

First evil secret

Uh oh. As soon as the store opens I'll be making a lifesaving drive to get some fencing. When I went to feed the dogs this morning, Spider was outside alone. First time that's happened. I looked out the window and saw him lounging... in the middle of Ron's garden train setup, munching on what appears to have been a dentist's office. This is a pup who learned how to get on the couch 2 days ago. The garden train is 3 feet above ground level and surrounded by a 3-wire fence to keep the dogs out. Uh oh.

And when I brought him inside, he and Syn started tugging on a toy. Syn never tugs with ANYBODY. So Syn and I will keep him. Not sure Ron will be keeping any of us...

This afternoon he gave me his first CLOP. Giants have such big jaws, and such big heads which are apparently completely empty, that when they clop their jaws together in a particular way, it echoes. His first CLOP. Baby's growing up!

Another trip to the park

We looked at a Buick tonight, and the ugliest SUV ever made - the Ford Flex.
We're down to the Flex and the Highlander.

But back to the cause of the Car Concerns.

This morning Syn and Spider went out several times to wrestle in the yard. It was wonderful listening to them snarling and snapping. Syn finally came whizzing in through the dog door, launched herself at me, and just lay in my lap laughing about all the fun she was having.

Then the little Toad wandered over to look at something on the fireplace bricks, looked around, saw me, and peed all over the bricks.

However, this evening - wow, we had a super visit to the park where we went before. There were lots of people - people walking, baby strollers, joggers, kids, kids on skateboards, kids on bikes, kids running and wrestling, Indians in saris, Sikhs in turbans, and a whole busload of chattering teenage Japanese tourists. Lots of dogs on leashes. And yes, lots and lots of goose poop.

Spider still has zero cares about what people look like, smell like, or wear. He loves them all. He loves their children. He loves their dogs. He loves loves loves goose poop.

We started in a relatively unpopulated part of the path. He looked around and then looked back at me. He got a bit of wiener for looking at me. He looked around some more, and then casually back at me, and casually got another wiener bit. Then we started walking. That went well for a few steps until he saw some goose poop. He jammed out toward it and I stopped the leash, holding him away from it. Not an ideal situation for teach Loose Leash Walking since there was more behind us. If I'd backed up, I'd have ended up swinging him around in circles as he dove toward one deposit and then another. Since I didn't want him leaning on the leash, I bumped it gently to set him back an inch so I could give him that inch of leash to be loose. He tightened it, I bumped it, he tightened it, I bumped it.

That third time, he stood his ground, keeping it loose. He looked at the goose poop, then he looked back at me. I gave him a bit of wiener. We walked on. Came to another deposit. This time he needed two bumps before he stopped trying to go forward, turned to me, and got his wiener.

We walked on. Some kids passed us on skateboards. He followed them until he felt the leash tighten, then he turned back and looked at me. Wiener.

A dog crossed ahead of us. He surged forward until he felt the leash tighten, then he turned back and looked at me. Wiener.

That continued through the entire walk.

Please note I was not giving him a leash correction. I was giving him a soft "push" with the leash to tell him that he couldn't go any farther in that direction.

When we got to the lake, where there were even more people of all persuasions going by at various speeds and decibel levels, we started doing our homework. The place was exciting and he forgot what "Sit" meant, but we worked it for a minute and he remembered. Sit, down, hand Zen, touch. A few stands thrown in. Every time he heard the clatter of a skateboard or other enthusiasm he watched it for a moment, then turned to make eye contact with me, obviously expecting - and getting! - a treat. He didn't look at anything because he was concerned about it, but only because it was interesting.

Finally we walked back to the car on a loose leash almost all the time. By then he was watching and wagging rather than aiming for people and dogs. The only thing that still got the leash to tighten was the goose poop and even that seemed a bit half-hearted. More testing to be sure he understood the rules than actually thinking he was going to get to it.

Then we came home, he had a light supper (being already stuffed with hot dog), and then a nap. He just woke up from his nap, started to walk into the kitchen, stopped, thought about the situation for a moment, then trotted outside to pee. Dear little Tat.

Puppies can't pee outside in the rain

The good - Ron reports that Spider and Syn were out rolling and wrestling in the alfalfa this morning, ripping and tearing (in a good way). That's thrilling because Syn is afraid of other dogs in a fun-police way, she has very few friends and wants to be sure anybody who comes within 5' of her is capable of behaving properly. Life would be fine for Spider whether Syn likes it or not (she's not a killer stalker), but life will be great for Syn if she thinks he's a friend.

Also he's doing an amazing job of sitting while I deliver meal dishes to other dogs. One thing I really want each of my dogs to know is that when another dog gets a treat, it's a pretty good bet they're going to get one too. Guarding isn't necessary. ANY dog getting a treat is a GOOD THING.

The bad - first thing this morning he jumped in the recliner with me, grabbed my foot in his very gentle maw, and then fell off the recliner, which twisted his head (and his teeth) in unintended directions. No stitches required at least.

The ugly - am I going to have to start carrying a flashlight to be sure I can tell the difference between beard-wipes and puppy dribbles? Or I could always just stop and smell my wet feet...

Had his second shaping lesson this morning. Got a really good head turn to the left (towards his open crate door) with almost no head turns to the right, then once he ended up on the other side of the crate and gave me a very deliberate head turn toward the crate from there. That was exciting.

And for more excitement, we went outside to get in the truck to go into town. I opened the truck door and his crate door and we went off on adventures of his own. The honeymoon is over. He's discovered that four legs can go faster than two and that there better things to do than going in the truck crate, thank you very much. So now when we go out the front door, he goes on a leash until he's trained enough to come when he's called out in the yard.

Clever lad - I got a salad from Wendy's for supper and told him not to stick his nose in it, so instead he climbed up with me on the recliner, then managed to climb up beside me and ended up draped over my head ostentatiously not putting his nose in my salad.

And tonight (after he peed on the floor because puppies can't pee outside when it rains) for the first time he went into his crate when I asked him to without a bribe.

And, I guess I can officially say he's staying, because Ron and I went out this afternoon on the first leg of our search for a bigger car for the bigger crate we're going to need for our bigger dog...
Toyota Highlander in the running

Subaru Outback stalled at the starting gate with no rear climate control.