Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow, Patience, and a Challenge

A big storm hit yesterday and we got about six inches of new snow. If I put the puppies out in the yard, they would disappear! In a couple of weeks they will be ready for some winter outside time but for now they are warmly settled in the living room.

Last night the hurting started -- yes, their play is now capable of causing pain. One puppy was chomping on another and the yelps of pain did not register with the offender. It reminds me how much of puppy behavior is developmental. They will soon have the ability to understand what painful yelps mean but right now they do not -- it is not that the puppy is aggressive or mean but rather that she or he is simply a baby.

So much of what we consider "bad" behavior in a puppy is just normal puppy development. Yes, there is training to do but always with an awareness of what the puppy is truly capable of doing and of being. Chewing on things is a good example -- why is this ever corrected or punished? Think about what human babies do -- everything goes in their mouths. Would it be okay to punish a baby for that? Of course not -- instead we manage the environment so that a baby is not trying to teeth on a sharp knife.

Puppies also explore their world with their mouths and they are also teething for a long time -- of course they chew on things. If the puppy chews up the remote control -- well, whose fault is that? Puppy chew but they do not climb ladders so keep the stuff up and it won't get chewed. None of us are perfect and so stuff gets left out and chewed, but my point is that it seems wrong to correct a puppy for doing what s/he is programmed to do.

At three months old, Zoey likes to chew things. The way I handle this is to have appropriate things to chew -- nylabones, toys, and her big sister, Asia ;) If she is chewing something that should not be chewed, I just take it away and remind myself to keep things up. I do not "correct" her for essentially being a puppy -- how unfair would that be?

Zoey has always had a thing about jumping. She literally can get her nose four feet off the ground -- she is a future agility dog for sure. She also LOVES to eat and so feeding time combines her two great skills -- jumping and eating. Putting down her bowl is a lesson in dexterity -- for me. Zoey leaps and spins and in all ways demonstrates her excellent Air Zoey skills and meanwhile, I am trying to put the bowl down and not spill food all over or have her head hit the bowl.

Now, you may ask why I did not "make" her sit nicely for her food and the answer is that I just started that -- I stand still until her little fluffy butt is on the ground for .00001 seconds and then I say "yes" and feed her. However, I did not start this before because I thought it was an unrealistic expectation for baby Zoey. Instead, I just managed and was patient, knowing that she would soon be developmentally ready for some impulse control.

I think we would all do well not to have unrealistic expectations for our puppies -- and probably each other! Rome was not built in a day, and I have the advantage of dogs of various ages, reminding me that they do grow up and leave so many of those endearing (!) puppy behaviors behind. Abra, the Glitter Litter's great grandma, used to carry and tug on the leash when I walked her -- oh how I wish she were here to do that very thing right now. This precious time goes so quickly, and the "problems" we have now seem so insignificant when we look back with the wisdom of time and experience. So don't sweat the small stuff -- and put your remote control, cell phone, shoes, etc. away!

Our little puppies are now playing with toys in addition to each other and us. They are just adorable puppies -- I cannot say that enough. I love sitting with them and having them crawl in my lap or nibble curiously on me. They have started to play bow, which is so cute. They scamper and have started to twirl (and fall over) and are just active, busy puppies. Today marks four weeks and yes, I will post pictures later.

Today's pictures start off with Cadi and her babies. The puppies love to interact with her and she is so patient with them. I thought the one of her with the tiny feet was such a nice contrast, and look at all eight nursing at once! Cadi eats all day long to keep up with the demands of being a dairy. That is Toronto playing with the toy and also in the photo below. There are close-ups of Geneva, Ireland and Whitby -- that Whitby is one engaging little boy!

I hope your weekend is a good one, and that you will remember that people -- like puppies -- sometimes do things we wish they would not. This presents such a great opportunity to practice forgiveness and patience, and show the wisdom of just letting things go. I challenge all of us to be extra kind today -- it is a stressful time of year and that clerk waiting on you or your partner/spouse could probably use someone to be extra nice -- let it be you :)

Thanks for visiting -- check later for four week pictures.

1 comment:

  1. Your description of Zoe's eating/jumping routine made me laugh, and think ruefully of the days when getting the key into the car ignition without having my hands chewed to bits was a major feat of dexterity.

    Hard to believe that was my Djinn, now a (more or less) sedate eight-year-old. Yes, patience and time.

    And! We have lots of snow here, a rare phenomenon that Djinn is thoroughly enjoying.

    Susan and Djinn