Syn @ 8 Weeks

Mar 19, 2011 | Syn's Story

We test Syn again. Oh! THERE’S my puppy! She’s feeling better today. She races after the ball, grabs it, and flings both the ball and herself bodily into the tester’s lap. She scolds the pan noise and instead of following when the tester walks, she picks her up by the shoes and tosses her gaily over her shoulder. What a bad puppy! Just what I want!

This time when we lie down on the bed, she’s chewing my hand and trying to climb over my head and whining. She talks ALL the time – not whining unless she’s really not getting her way, but growling and rrring and rurr-rurring and purring and grumbling. And she’s ALWAYS looking at me.

At bedtime, I wait until the whole litter is falling asleep and then take her to my room again. She plays with my hand for a few minutes and then settles down for a sleep, but she can hear her sisters muttering and she wakes up and starts screeching so I get her settled and then put her back with the rest. I’ve got a clinic to teach tomorrow and I need some sleep.


Last night at the breeder’s. Most of the other pups left this weekend, there are only 2 left plus Syn. Elaine lends me a little crate which we put on a low table right beside my bed. Wait until the three remaining pups are played out, fed out, pooped and peed out, and starting to droop, then I put Syn on my bed and cuddle her for a few minutes. When she’s nodding off, I put her in the crate and stick my fingers through the bars. She mutters a bit, then goes to sleep. Good pup!

Twice during the night she wakes up and starts crying and I take her out. She pees immediately and heads right back to the door. Back in the crate, mutter mutter, sleep.


We have to get up at 4:30 AM. This is 2:30 AM my-house time, so Syn is well and truly in a bad time-zone spot. We drive an hour to the airport in Detroit while I try desperately to keep her awake. She undoubtedly looks on me now as the worst kind of pest – she’s trying to sleep and I’m poking, prodding, and generally annoying her. At one point I put her front paws on my shoulders and stand her up on her back legs on my lap, and she falls asleep in that position. We stop several times to run her around the car to empty her out and wake her up. We’re failing dismally in the wake-up department. This is the last time she’ll ride in a car without a seatbelt harness or a crate.

At the airport, I stuff her into her little travel bag, hook the travel bag to my rolling suitcase, and off we go. I check the suitcase because I’ve got my purse and the dog bag, and there are shampoos and conditioners in the suitcase for another dog – too much liquid to carry on the plane. That means I have to walk through the airport carrying my purse and the dog bag. She’s up to 8 pounds now, which is, really, nothing, until I hook it over my shoulder and have to walk half a mile carrying it. By the time I get to the gate, I’m convinced that 8 pounds is about the size of a Smart Car. She’s quiet the whole way – maybe the rocking as I walk is calming.

BUT when we get on the plane, she starts muttering in an increasingly loud and shrill voice. I let her lick a bit of kibble, but I don’t want her to eat much in case she has to poop on the flight, and getting teased with it just makes her mad. She starts barking at it, so I give it to her (“Management deals with THIS behavior. Training deals with the NEXT behavior.” – Karen Pryor) and several more. It’s hot in the plane, and even warmer in her bag in spite of the screens all around it. Soon the heat and the little bit of food overcomes her. She acts like a swaddled baby in the close, warm environment. She kind of glazes her eyes over and is absolutely silent until we’ve arrived at home. No trouble on the flights, no trouble in Customs. I step outside the airport and she pees immediately when I set her down. I’ve got a little rust-coloured harness and leash for her (complements her colour very nicely) which, aside from scratching at the harness, she doesn’t mind.

I take a cab home, and she’s still quiet. Take her out to pee and poop again, give her a long drink and another pee, and then turn her over to my husband and friend because I’m so tired my teeth hurt. I go to bed at 6 PM. Thank goodness for babysitters!

Sometime around 10 my husband puts the dog bag on the bed next to me with the sleeping pup in it.

At 1 AM she has to pee, so I take her out. Right back to sleep.

At 3 AM she’s too hot in the dog bag, but I’m still comatose. I can’t do more than take her out of the bag and hold her next to me. She sleeps until 6 and then mutters to herself until 7 when I get up and take her out. I really need to get her out of Elaine’s time zone and into mine, and on the travel day she ate “wrong”, drank “wrong”, slept “wrong” and played “wrong”.

I’ll be a better owner tomorrow.


Excellent morning. I was still tired but feeling much better. Syn is easy to spot when she has to eliminate – she suddenly looks distracted and starts prowling around the edges of the space she has. She had one accident the day we got home as I was bringing in my suitcase. Other than that, she’s been good about waiting and honest about her intentions (and I’ve been watching carefully so far). It would have been polite if her mother had held off coming in season for another month, then I wouldn’t have a pup in deep snow, but oh well. There’s a huge drift with only dog-sized paths in it out the back door, so for now I’m taking her out the front door. She’s eager to go, eliminates immediately, has a little rip to tell me she’s done, and then gallops for the door to go back in the house (we have freezing rain and blowing snow, so outside isn’t much fun).

I started working on sit for breakfast this morning, then remembered I wanted to video the first and passing session of each Step in the Training Levels, which I was too tired to set up yet, so I stuffed the rest of her breakfast into a big rubber hollow toy and to my amazement she spent a solid 10 minutes working to get the food out of it, pawing it, bashing it, lifting and tossing it. What dedication! Whee!

No accidents today at all, though she’s a bit loose because I changed her dog food this afternoon.

I’m shocked at two things.

First, nothing bothers her (yet). She went through the huge airports in Detroit and Minneapolis with nothing but polite interest in what was going on around her. She bounced into my house, examined the dishwasher door, made friends with my husband and decided her place in the world is sitting on him in his lounge chair – or sitting on his lounge chair if he’s not in it. She’s been glad to see everyone she’s met so far (not an overwhelming number – next door neighbour and my kids). She hasn’t heard anything that has bothered her. And she lips off anytime anything happens that isn’t according to her plan.

Second, she has an incredible understanding of where she is in the world. We went into my house once. When I took her out to pee, she knew the way back into the house even though we were on the other side of three parked cars – and I had carried her out.

She and Stitch are trying very hard to play with each other. They each look very attractive from 5′ away. They carry toys to each other – but when they get a foot away from each other, Stitch starts looking large, Syn starts looking strange, and they drop their toys and back off. This evening they came very close to actually playing before they each thought better of it.

And, in spite of me not yet teaching her to sit, she’s started sitting like Stitch does when she wants something we’re holding.

Good day. Tomorrow we start training.


I wonder where my brain was last night. I’ll start training today? I’ve been with her for a week now. She has learned:

– by dint of me accidentally stepping on her paw, her fur, another paw, and her tail, she has learned not to run freely under my feet.
– not to leap boldly out of my hands (fortunately she didn’t have to fall on her head to learn this).
– jumping on her pen doesn’t get her out of the pen, and jumping up on people doesn’t get them to look at her (this isn’t absorbed into her soul yet, but it’s coming), while sitting in front of people who are holding food has a good chance of being productive.
– a loud UH means “don’t do that” – don’t bite fingers too hard, don’t fleabite skin too hard, don’t go behind the big chair where the wires are, don’t eat poop, don’t pull Stitch’s hair, don’t chew on daddy’s leather chair, don’t chew on mom’s computer screen. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t. Sigh. A life bounded by don’ts.
– wrestling with Stitch CAN be fun

Since I changed her food, I cut her back from 1/3 cup 3 times a day to 1/4 cup 4 times a day. She seems better able to handle it, less poop and less thirst. WAY less poop.

Another astonishing thing I have learned. In the Olden Days, besides never training with food, we never used harnesses on dogs. I’ve had an ordinary little harness on her from the beginning and she’s reacting to it brilliantly. None of the bucking and kicking I’d expect from a first introduction to a collar, and when she gallops ahead of me back toward the house and I stop, she bumps the end of the leash, she stops, I talk to her and she turns around and waits for me (or gallops back and bites me on the ankle). Yesterday and today she’s bumped the tight leash very lightly, so it’s teaching her that she’s going to have to wait. I can sure see that if I allowed her to drag me to the house with the leash tight, she’d already be VERY good at dragging me.

Last night I put Stitch in one crate and Syn in another with a big cushy dog bed, then I moved the two crates so their doors were right up against each other. Puppy slept from 10 until 6:30! Tonight they’ll start out the same way, then before I fall asleep I’ll move the doors a little bit apart.

First thing this morning, Sync and Stitch shared a growly little 3-second tug on a toy. Then Syn rolled over on her back and Stitch bunted her tummy a few times – but Syn was growling and kicking her feet, so it wasn’t (totally) a submissive roll. Later Stitch played an enthusiastic game of Keepaway with the pup, though I’m not sure Syn knew there was a game in progress. I think she was just bopping around the room seeing what sort of trouble she could get into. Just now Syn chased Stitch, growling and barking as she ran, and Stitch growled and wagged as she “ran away”. I TOLD her she was going to like her present!

This afternoon we managed to scare the pee right out of her. She was in the dog room with Stitch when Stitch went out the dog door. Syn stood around wondering what happened to her and then… she came back in. She must have looked like the devil come through the wall to eat puppies because Syn screamed and ran for the kitchen. Stitch followed to see what the fuss was about, which didn’t help at all. It took almost a minute for the noise to stop but Syn’s resiliency is amazing. When she finally shut up long enough to think, she ran to me for a cuddle and then scolded Stitch for scaring her. I took some kibble out to the dog door and she wasn’t concerned at all.

I started officially training today. Videoed the first session and didn’t turn on the camera. Tried it again at supper and got beginning sit, Zen, and down. Hope to have it up on YouTube tomorrow.


Binkie slept all night, 10 until 6:15 again. Dear little tat.

After I took her out, she and Stitch had a long, joyous romp. Stitch picked up many different toys and paraded them in front of Syn, inviting her to latch on and have a tug. Syn started out running alongside and underneath, with Stitch dancing sideways and pushing the toys at her. Soon, though, she got enough nerve to grab for the toy – and missed, and sank her nasty little puppy teeth into Stitch’s throat, then stopped running and just hung there, growling and trying to shake Stitch – not easy when her feet didn’t quite touch the ground. Finally Stitch abandoned the smaller toys and picked up a marvellous large tug toy with many long arms that gave them each a chance to grab on without danger.

Between playing with Stitch, learning things, biting my toes, and exploring the house, Sync slept well in her day naps, too.

This morning we went to the vet – yesterday she started peeing two or three times every time I took her out. I diagnosed puppy vaginitis and started her on vitamin C. Vet confirmed diagnosis and treatment. It’s a 20-minute drive. I kept her quiet on the way there by caging a bit of kibble in my hand and letting her lick it. I gave her 5 of them on the trip, so 4 minutes of licking and 10 seconds of chewing on each one. On the way home, she curled up and went to sleep. I used the kibble-lick for the examination as well, and she came through with flying colours.

For lunch, we practised sit, Zen, and down. She’s got an excellent sit, was offering it immediately and I started telling her that the cue will be Park (I am no more up to Sync Sit! than I was up to Stitch Sit!, and I don’t want to start a cue with a sound that might be her name). Down she does readily, though she’s not offering it yet. Zen – not so good, probably because of that kibble-cage I used to get her comfortable in the car. “Hey, howcome I could lick it before but now I can’t? NO FAIR!”

I got caught up on a lot of paperwork today so tomorrow when she’s napping I hope I can scissor around her feet. She looks like she’s wearing snowshoes.


She was tired when I put her to bed last night, so I put her in her crate without Stitch next door. She went to sleep immediately and woke up at 6:20. Took her out to pee and went back to bed until 8:30. Aside from having to watch her every second she’s awake, this isn’t so tough…

Took her out again, trained sit, Zen, and down for breakfast, took her out again, and then let her play with Stitch for an hour until she tried to fall asleep on my foot, so I put her in her exercise pen with her big cuddly bed. She whined and fussed – I decided that’s OK, but climbing on the ex-pen or trying to eat it (it’s cloth) or standing up on it or screaming is not OK. Any of those sins and I go over to her, hold the skin on the back of her neck for a second, say UH!, and walk away. She barked once at me the first time, and settled down the second time and went to sleep. Excellent.

Morning was great, afternoon and evening were bad. I was trying to get something done and she had 4 accidents, only one of which I can attribute to the puppy vaginitis. The rest were strictly my fault. I really have to remember to pay attention ALL the time, or put her on a leash attached to me.