Beautiful misty morning - brisk cool breeze loaded with rain. A morning that made everybody feel like bouncing. Our usual once-around-the-pasture wasn't enough, so we went around one more time. Spider wandered off into the middle following a trail - rabbit? badger? deer? coyote? raccoon? porcupine is a rare possibility. I'd have likely smelled it myself if it was a skunk. He was very brave, and kept an eye on us the whole time as we went around the outside.

When we'd done the second round, Stitch was ready to ride home, Spider wasn't ready but I made him anyway, and Syn was just getting started so we went out on the (private) service road and let 'er rip for another 2 km. I love to ride beside them when they're flat out. I can hardly wait for Spike to be old enough and fit enough to let him put the pedal to the metal. Maybe when he's three, eh?

Lunch was very successful. A large handful seems to be about the right amount of kibble to work a behaviour with. Enough to get somewhere, not enough to bore me or tire him out. There are six handful in a cup, which is his lunch, so six behaviours.

We began with volunteer sits - didn't need any luring or other suggestions today, he was just into it. Moved on to using the word Sit when he was starting the behaviour, then started using the cue to ask for them. Very nice. I don't have the patience (nor do I care enough) to insist on nice tidy tuck sits when he doesn't have the muscle for them, so he gives me about half rock-back sits and half these sits:
In fact that's exactly what he looks like. When we get to tuck sits, he'll be physically ready for them and I'll call them Park.

Then down. Not as good as sit but he's pleased to lie down and he's trying to figure them out. He'll go down from sitting or standing on a signal, but he's not volunteering yet and he doesn't know the cue.

One handful for touch - he's starting to figure out that he doesn't need to touch my hand with his tonsils. He actually left a toothmark on my hand this morning during our saunter. He suddenly realized that an entire wiener was sitting on the console in front of him, so he ate it. I realized it JUST too late and reached down his gullet trying to retrieve it. He was still chewing and when I felt his cute little molar making the skin on my cheeks tingle, I pulled my hand out of his mouth and let him have it. It was too far gone to save anyway. Not his fault in any way. I've already had one finger almost amputated by a faultless Giant, I'll eventually learn to make sure they're awake and aware before I go doing things like that.

One handful for Zen - he's getting very good at that. He came knowing No (when the wiener is already sliding down his throat, it's a bit late for No), and we're getting some nice duration and moving on to floor Zen.

Friend Debbie at Wizard of Paws suggests using a show stack and a bow to stretch his shoulders, so we started on the show stack. Next time I want to move his legs I'll have him on the grooming table, he didn't know what I was doing. He was perfectly willing to let me do it, but he had to look and it was awkward trying to reach around him on the floor. We had a good session of anchoring the back legs in one spot while his front end moved around them, a useful stacking skill. And he has a beautiful natural stack. The anchoring will encourage that and help teaching him to lean forward and knick flick (Conformation Stacking).

The final handful went to working on a bow. Hmmm. Maybe we should have worked on that before the down. It'll be a while before he has the brain and muscle to figure this one out! We'll keep working, though.

Ordinary day

I think he was a little tired from class last night. His morning saunter was more sauntery than usual. He needs a shave.

We got two saunters in today, a training session, and an ear cleaning. And had a couple of small chats about using his indoor voice indoors.

We started with a shaping session for one of my Fenzi classes. Clever little fella!

After that I was going to work on eye contact, but he was so hyped up to do more shaping that I spent half his lunch on getting him to make eye contact with me again. Good, I love shaping.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Things he has really learned:

- when Syn says something, salute.
- when Stitch says something, pretend to comply for half a second and then go back to what you were doing.
- usually good stuff when Sue calls.
- always good stuff when Ron is in the kitchen.
- a 40 pound puppy can still perch on the back of a recliner without tipping it over. As long as Stitch is trying to sleep in it.
- rocks are better than toys.
- you can back into a lake until your butt floats. How cool is that!
- you can walk into a lake until your chest floats. NOT cool.
- a wet puppy is a VERY happy puppy. Especially when there's really tall pasture grass to roll in.
- NO!

What he sort of knows:

- sit.
- come.
- down.
- walk on a loose leash.
- don't run out the door just because it's opening.
- don't stick your head in the refrigerator.
- don't jump in people's laps and try to eat their food before it gets to their mouths.
- how to trot.
- concentrated urine makes Sue happy for some reason.
- don't eat electric cords. Or chairs. Or shoes. Or plants. Or the harness you're wearing. Or coyote poop.
- llamas are Very Very Tall.
- don't run in front of the Gator.
- sit quietly when you're in a Gator. Like a car.

What he'll know in three days:

- 45 pound puppies can't sit on the back of recliners even if Stitch AND Syn are lying on the seat.


This morning he did five bumper retrieves out of the dugout. He had a really good time and even anticipated the last one - but if it goes deeper than butt-floating depth, Syn is gonna have to get it.

This afternoon he got his Man Bark. Not a whine, not a puppy yip. This is a windows-rattling bad-word-swearing I-am-Schnauzer-hear-me-roar bark. Then he realized Ron had come in the front door and was a little embarrassed.

He was NOT, however, embarrassed when he tried it out again on a noisy rude adult Airedale coming in for the next class as we were leaving. When the Airedale bellowed he had a brief moment of "oops, did I do something wrong?" followed immediately by a rousing speech about the Airedale's ancestry, genitalia (or lack thereof), and personal hygiene. He and I will be having Discussions about the correct use of this Weapon of Mass Disruption as the weeks go by! I think next week we'll get out of class early, sit in the parking lot watching the adults go by, and introduce Spider to his new "this noisy rude peasant is beneath our notice" attitude.

Speaking of class, we had another good one. This week we had toys and a can of juicy dog food scattered around the room. The dog food was a tough Zen project, but the toys were pretty easy.

Then we did some work on Go To Mat and going around a pylon. Third time around he knew exactly what he was doing. As I increased distance he did the same circle but in between the pylon and me a couple of times, but when he didn't get a click for that, he went back right away and fixed it.

He met more people that he liked and sniffed a lot of other puppies. Our side of the room is old home week - we were in the middle of a PWD, a Mini Schnauzer cross, and a Bouvier.

Since one wall is entirely mirrors, when we were tired of doing GTM we practised some free stacking and stretching - holy moly he is a pretty boy! Brought a little tear to my eye.

Start the day with a saunter

It's going to be hot again today, so we got our daily saunter in early.

Unbelievable - he's 2" taller than Stitch and a good inch over Syn.

When the dogs get too interested in something and stop coming along, I rev up the Gator and get a little lead on them. Then I stop and wait for them to get ahead of me again. I'm very careful of Gator tires. It's actually a big, heavy vehicle with it's electric batteries. The older dogs mostly know how to stay out from in front of it, but Spider has no clue so I don't move unless I know he's far enough away to be safe.

So this morning they stopped to sniff at what I suspected was coyote poop, so I revved and took off. Syn passed me in about 50', which I expected, but then I looked back and NO WAY! Spider was running right behind me! OK, no more of THAT! First, my intent is not to make my humongous puppy run, and second, if he can run right behind me, he's already caught up and can deke in under the tires. Stitch was still a ways back, but last week the order was very clearly Syn - Stitch - and Spider a distant third.

I love Keflex

13:30 and he hasn't had an accident in the house yet today. Made it through the night without incident as well.

Since we tentatively have both his ears and his bladder behaving, today I'll start him on some light exercises we got from the mmmarvelous Debbie Torraca (on staff at to give him some muscle to support his humongous legs and feet, and tomorrow we'll get serious about the Training Levels. Much as I love how he loves everybody, he'll be able to reach their mouths with his tongue in another week or two, and French kisses are not appreciate by everybody...


Reverse that - I already know he's not a hot-weather person, and neither am I. It's 33 degrees today so we're staying in until the sun goes down.

We decided to work on the Training Levels instead. Very interesting session.

We started with hand Zen. He's pretty good at it, but I decided to train it from the beginning anyway, make sure he was solid, and then start adding the cue.

The first thing I did was get rid of the gaping maw swallowing my hand before he backed off by letting him bump it and come off but not paying for that. When he started obviously ignoring the hand, I clicked and dropped treats. Cute - he's not a starer, he flicks his eyes all around the room waiting for the click. We got the clean behaviour, worked it up to 5 seconds, and then started telling him the cue, which he has apparently already brought into his dictionary from me using it with Syn. I think I could have gotten up to 15 seconds just using the cue.

I moved on to Touch. "I" moved on to Touch. Spidey just looked at me like I was stupid. Hello! Zen. Remember that? Once I talked him into touching the Yes hand, we built easily up to taking three steps to touch and I started using the cue for that as well.

I brought out a metal whisk and we worked on the retrieve hold. Interesting mind he has. He's wide awake when he's working, taking nothing for granted, paying very close attention to what the click is for. So far he's been clicked for putting his mouth over the whisk. To get a longer hold (longer than HitClickTreat) on the handle, I started waiting for two hits on the handle - Hit...HitClickTreat. That was fine with him. So good, in fact, that I immediately waited for the second hit again. No go. The session came to a screeching halt.

I've told a thousand people that when you introduce the second hit, you do it in a series of 1 hit, 1 hit, 1 hit, 2 hits, 1 hit, 1 hit, 1 hit, 1 hit, 2 hits, and so on to make sure the dog is still building faith in his ability to make the click happen.

And I lumped. And Spike said No. Way. Good boy, Spider, thanks for the reminder. You DON'T know everything that every other dog I've trained knew, you're a blank slate. Hope I don't do THAT again (but of course I will... ).

There was an old buoy ball sitting in the parlour (isn't the Good Room where everybody keeps all their old training stuff?), so I decided to shape him to go touch it. And then he taught me something else. It was a GOOD session for me!

When your 15-week-old puppy who had a bladder infection yesterday so bad he peed himself 3 times in 20 minutes (you know where this is going, don't you!) is in the middle of a super shaping session and suddenly loses interest in the click and the treats, HELLO HE NEEDS TO PEE. In spite of the squirt on the white rug in the parlour, AKA training room, I'm really happy about this. It's the first real indication I've seen that he knew he had a problem, which is the first REAL step of housetraining.

Tomorrow I'll see if I can find my housetraining bells and teach him to ring them. Dog doors are wonderful but they don't teach the dog any way to tell us when he needs to go out.


I hate him.

I woke up this morning to his whining. Not urgent whining, just "I'd rather be somewhere else" whining. When I came out of the bedroom I smelled boy urine. Yuck. Strong. Plentiful.

Yup. Put him out at midnight last night, withheld his water after 6, and he woke me up at 5 AM with a flooded crate. This is a plastic crate with a mesa in the middle and a moat around the outside of the mesa. He'd flooded the moat and the mesa was sopping. He was sopping. And when I opened the crate door, of course, he ran all over the dog room, the kitchen, and the living room (where Ron, you may recall, had wisely rolled up the rug).

Took the crate apart, washed it with soap, washed Spider (good boy, excellent job of standing quietly for his bath), took out his ear posts, and washed all the floors. Still smelled urine. Found where he'd peed on Stitch's big comfy CLOTH pillow AND chewed the zipper to bits so I couldn't wash it and had to throw it out.

Then I was doing my online students and taking a brief mind vacation from owning a puppy and I looked around and saw, for one brief second, a good puppy sitting quietly looking at me with two of the most magnificent CORRECT ears EVER. Of course one was already gone by the time I got the camera, but it WAS there.
And he's clean. And the floors are clean. The whole house smell vaguely of vinegar.

I love my puppy. I think it's time for a cuddle.

Went to the vet. Made sure he peed before we got in the car. Stopped after 10 minutes of driving because I smelled urine. He soaked the crate, and crate pad, which sopped up most of it so he and his harness were only mildly damp. Another 10 minutes of driving brought us to the vet where I discovered he had soaked the OTHER crate as well.

Why does the vet look at me funny when she tells me he has a bladder infection and I gasp "Oh thank God!" ? He'll be feeling better (and drier) by tomorrow.

Maybe I still like Spider, though

With all the recent discussions of ears and housetraining, Spidey and I have done a really good job of not liking each other (yes, this is how raising a puppy goes. Yesterday I loved him and today I hate him). He's completely lost the idea of coming to me when I indicate I'd like him to - or when I'm very obvious about it with calling and waving and whistling and stamping and waving treats around.

I believe I have finally got the ears under control with the right combination of racehorse leg wraps, backer rod, colostomy glue and Elastoplast. The posts are still in, the wraps don't look like he got beaten up under the bleachers (because he obviously hasn't been rolling in the dirt), and he's not shaking his head constantly. That's a huge weight off.

So this afternoon we went to the park again. He met lots of people and loved them all up. Friend Barb and I will start a once-a-week working session next week so I can start teaching him how to meet people without totally overwhelming them. He looks pretty cute when he's way over THERE, but when he's right HERE biting their arms, other words come to mind. Also screaming and rapidly backing up.

He wore the front-snap harness I got him the other day, which is much better than work with a collar - more subtle and gives him more leeway to turn back on his own. It'll interfere with his front movement if he wears it forever, but I don't expect him to need it more than a couple of months.

He seems to have forgotten his fascination with goose poop, he mostly ignored the ground, but he did stop at a huge display of purple petunias. He spent several minutes sniffing them. He looked like Ferdinand the Bull sitting in the flowerbed in the park smelling the flowers.

After we'd used up all the people, children, and petunias, we worked on eye contact, hand Zen, target hand, sit, and down. I got enough sits offered to start using a voice cue.

Together, he and I have worked out a new way of explaining loose leash walking. If I click just as the idea of galloping out to tighten the leash occurs to him, it aborts the idea and makes him turn back to me for a treat. I was using this the other day but didn't think about it. Pretty soon I could see the idea of jumping forward pass between his ears and get cut off by the idea of a treat. If I keep working on this, the more enticing the distraction is, the harder and faster he should turn to me. Tomorrow I'll find some of the many geese in the park and see how far we have to be from them for him to be able to handle them as a distraction.

And as I'm writing this, he's wandered over to say hello and get a scratch for the first time in a couple of days. We're OK.

His favourite spot - livin' on the edge, baby!

I hate ears

Well, that was a fun couple of day - not. Spider and I have been arguing about his ears for two days.

I've tried every single taping method ever invented and a few personal ideas. He hates having them taped, and the ears aren't cooperating. Plus he doesn't remember to go outside to pee when he's shaking his head trying to get rid of the tape.

I finally called in the big guns - I posted them and Ron taped them. He practically built a cast around Spider's head like a crown. Then I added a neck pillow around his neck so it's difficult for him to scratch his ears.

Tomorrow we have to do something fun.

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 were camping, Ron went 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 all 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 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 that not even the smaller Parties have noticed, 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.