Twenty-Three Minus Seven

Sixteen weeks together with Charlie, my Australian Labradoodle (ALD). My puppy has changed so much in the past 4 months. Hard to believe.

I brought home a seven-pound seven-week-old puppy. I now have a 26 pound twenty-three-week old puppy. Charlie is definitely food motivated. He now gets two meals a day, and plenty of training bits. And by bits, I mean the tiniest crumb of a treat. Some days he enjoys a frozen kibble stuffed Kong in his crate.

It is amazing at how many food-related words he knows. Are you hungry? I get a loud woof! How about a Kong? He goes straight to the freezer. Have some water. Treat. With my Libby, I had a bed close by the dinner table where she would stay while we ate. Tried that, but Charlie put the bed to other uses, and so one bed is gone. So Charlie now lies down under the table near my feet. But there is no begging. My husband would like to see Charlie behave more like the mature dog Libby. Charlie is still in training mode.

After dinner, Charlie wants to help with my dishwashing. It was hard for a while, but since I use the “Place” command, he does a down-stay on his mat and watches me fill the dishwasher. I just don’t want Charlie to get into some food that may be bad for his digestion. Jo started my puppy with Life’s Abundance for small/medium puppies. No digestive issues, no scratching, no problems. So why change? Delivery is simple. An email reminds me of an upcoming order. Changes to the order is easy. I have also used some of their treats, and training treats. All meet with Charlie’s approval.

We finished five weeks of a six-week training class. Baxter and Bella Online Training. Amy provides lifetime live training sessions that are also recorded so I can watch again. After class, an email arrives with homework for the week. Each day I emphasize a different command. Today, the command is “Wait” and “Go to your room” (crate). There is a FB group for member support about anything dog related. Interesting to hear from other pet owners going through the same experience. I have not used the “one on one” video chat with Amy yet, but I know it is there if I need it. Games, podcasts, videos, and written charts/instructions are always available.

Life is ruff, for my boy!

I see such growth in his learning. I know he understands all of the commands. And last week he was put to the test. My daughter left her teacup Pomeranian Max at my house while Charlie and I were out. This afternoon, Charlie was barking. I told him shhh, and down. And he did it with no treats around. There is 1 more lesson to complete the Puppy Class. He has learned – Sit, Down, Leave It, Come, Touch, Wait, and Loose leash walking. Now we practice in a variety of places, with distractions, distance, and duration. Progress is being made. My husband remembers my well trained 9 year-old Lab and still wonders if Charlie will ever get there. Adding bells to my back door, and potty training is on the done side! I have become Charlie’s doorman as my sister-in-law kindly pointed out to me. Though today I learned that if I am busy elsewhere I will hear the bells being frantically rung. Smart guy! Who is training whom?

I caught Charlie chewing on something, and went to investigate. He had lost a molar and was chewing on it. Yes, his adult teeth are replacing the shark teeth. Three canines out, one sharp canine still to go. Our arms are now healing.

Charlie has soft, fluffy hair that started to hide his beautiful eyes.

Charlie before his haircut.

He experienced his first puppy cut, and he and I survived. It was hard to have Charlie away from me and with someone he never met for an hour.

I can see again! Notice his ear is flipped over. It’s cooler this way!

I haven’t decided on a permanent groomer. With CoVid19 it is hard to meet anyone face to face. And smart as Charlie is he can’t talk. So I depend more on recommendations and reviews. My neighbor acts as a “grandparent” to a golden doodle in the neighborhood so I asked where Buster got his haircut. Buster is a standard golden doodle with very curly poodle-type wool hair with hair shaved way short for the summer. Not a match for Charlie who has long, fleece-like hair. But the groomer also had good reviews on Yelp. One price, one hour, one dog at a time, and no cages got me to make the appointment. I brought a paper with my instructions, and photo to the appointment. He looked at it briefly and handed it back to me. The groomer is close so I left Charlie and went home. Returned in one hour and the puppy cut was done. So what is the hesitation to return? My instruction sheet was given a cursory glance. I said not to cut Charlie’s eyelashes, and they were cut. I know, they grow back. His sanitary trim was only so so. I was given a discount since this was only a puppy cut and only facial hair was cut. So I will continue to ask around for Labradoodle groomer recommendations.

So my life has gone to the dogs! Well, actually only my one and only Charlie.

Charlie meets the world!

As a new puppy owner, I know that all puppies need to be protected from Parvo/Distemper, so being quarantined at home did not concern me. Sunset VCA takes precautions to keep everyone safe because of CoVid 19. We park in a numbered space and call. My vet sends out a technician to carry Charlie into the building. I am surprised that he goes along with this. I have not actually met Dr. Wallace, but my friend recommends all the vets here. At 16 weeks he has all his puppy shots, and Charlie can take walks in our neighborhood.

Master of the backyard!

In the past few days, he met some of my neighbors in a more personal way. My leash is 6 feet long, and he shows interest in the people he encounters. I know that his socialization has been slowed by this pandemic, but I think he is making up for lost time. His tail is wagging, and Charlie takes two steps forward, and three backward. Playing this little game. After 5 minutes he is ready to give some puppy love. That means puppy kisses on the toes.

With Libby, I enrolled her in Puppy Kindergarten at 10 weeks. This time around I relied on some books, and BAXTER & Bella Online Training. I heard of this program from my breeder Jo at Serenity Springs Labradoodles. I tuned into lesson 4 – Puppy Games, and we played some games. The focus of these games were commands for “Leave It”, “Find It”, “Come”, and “Watch me”. I learned a new way to reinforce these learned commands. I just started a 6-week course of Puppy Class with Charlie.

Something spooked Charlie during our first walk around the block. I think it was a truck driving past us.

This truck looks so large next to a puppy.

So now we are taking it slow and practicing loose leash walking to our mailbox. When he is outside, treats have less of an effect. He doesn’t want to lose sight of his house. I usually take one step and stop until Charlie realizes that if he wants to continue to move he needs to watch me. I also change direction on Charlie and we make our way back home in a zig-zag way.

From the end of the road the house looks so very far away from a puppy perspective.

My neighbor has two Golden Retrievers, and the other day Bailey came over for a playdate. It went well. Bailey has a 1-year-old Golden named Phoebe who usually gets her way, so he is used to puppy energy. He chased Charlie and Charlie got nice and tired out.

A couple of times a day we practice various commands. Baxter & Bella describes 4 puppy zones: Calm, Playful, Energized, and Over Threshold. Before Charlie gets wild, I start a training session. Puppy push-ups (sit, down, sit). Touch, Settle, Watch Me. Come. Stay. Quiet (Shhh).

Now when Charlie goes for his car ride he sits safely in the back seat. I have a seat cover that connects with the front seat to create a hammock effect. His harness is buckled into the existing seat belt.

Charlie’s new harness. Looking Good!

A couple of barks, and then quiet. But those sharp little barks are startling to a driver. It takes time to prepare for our time in town. Treats, check. Water, check. Water dish, check but forgot to take it out of the car. Poop bags, check. Not sure if Charlie will need this since he just went.

So the plan was to meet my daughter, and 4 grandsons in downtown Fair Oaks (about 5 minutes from my house) around 10 a.m. In Fair Oaks, I need to take notice of the weather. Too hot, and little paws may burn. Didn’t expect the sensory overload upon arriving on Main Street. Fair Oaks is known for its wild chickens and roosters wandering all over town.

Rooster crowing at the break of dawn, and any other time!

My dog Libby immediately was amused and wanted to make friends by chasing chickens. Charlie heard the rooster’s crowing and then pretty much ignored them.

Cars and trucks passing on the road was another thing. Recognize any of these models?

This car is not going anywhere! LOL

We passed a quiet guitar player sitting on a bench until a pickup truck pulled in with his stereo blasting. The driver left the music on and told the guitar player that he should be playing along with the stereo.

Stopped in its place. Flat tire isn’t the only problem.
This truck does not have loud speakers so it was put out to pasture!
Making a very CLEAR statement!

Problematic was the 3 loud motorcycles roaring down the street, causing Charlie’s tail to end up between his legs.

We kept walking, and with my grandson’s arrival, Charlie felt good enough to raise his tail up. Eli really has a way with him. Charlie walked nicely next to the stroller. He met a couple of calm dogs and enjoyed water from a cup. We stopped at O Café and took our pastries to-go. I noticed some social distancing, and some face masks in town. Not everyone is observing this practice though.

Fire Engines roared through town, but this sound didn’t disturb Charlie. Well, only one of these actually drove down Main Street. Can you guess which one?

After this adventure, Charlie went home, had some lunch, and fell asleep in his crate. This was a first. A nap during the day in his crate! Yay!!

No photos were captured today, but all were captured by me at another time or place. Luckily I have my catalog organized in Lightroom Classic. This time I was too involved in the whole adventure. Next time I’ll remember to at least pull out my iPhone.

So as they say, “… I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Here’s to many more adventures, near and far.

Charlie: Toy Destroyer!

Photograph of my Charlie and me taken by my BFF Anne! Thanks!

Sometime between week 5 and week 7 Charlie’s little shark teeth became remarkably determines to chew, chew, chew. One by one his toys became the victim. And one by one I had to remove them from his repertoire to playthings. At first I could amputate the destroyed parts. Then the patient reached the point of no coming back from the destruction. The toy now became dangerous.

First off was ” Kong Elephant”. Unlike his alligator friend, Elephant was called ultra. So the tusks were gone in a couple of minutes. Next, the ears were targeted, and eventually removed.

Now the seams are targeted for elimination. So sorry “ultra” elephant.

Wubba Puppy suffered a tear around the head, and Wubba Bear Friend lost a tentacle. There still was some life left in each toy, but I kept a careful watch for distress.

Well loved in its own way.

Goat lost various parts, but still is holding on. Squeaky Duck lost some stuffing, but still can be used to retrieve. A stuffed unicorn rope thing was thoroughly loved, and marked the end to stuffed toys.

Charlie’s persistent chewing on Unicorn and Bear Wubba cause their demise

So on to tougher toys. Charlie still enjoys small classic red Kong stuffed with kibble and peanut butter. Recently I purchased a Kong puppy tire made of rubber. This one is stuffable as well. Charlie likes chewing on it.

For my first Mother’s Day, Charlie got me this tee shirt. Well, he is a little young to use a credit card so he told me this is the one to get.

Charlie is quite the “Foodie”. Makes it easier to train. Charlie says, “Will do anything for food, just as long as you make it clear what I need to do!”

I guess that is always the case. It is best to be able to communicate what it is you need honestly and clearly.

Take care. Stay Safe. And wear a MASK!

Six weeks with my doodle!

I have been living with Charlie for 6 weeks. He is now 13 weeks old. At 3 months this little guy is showing us his smarts.

I want to remember when he fit under the chair. This is where is settles when we are eating. I may change this to his “place” when he stops destroying beds.

The last time I trained a puppy was ten years ago. At that time I enrolled my puppy in classes at Pet Smart. She started at ten weeks. My Labrador Retriever crate trained and potty trained easily. With CoVid 19 training and socialization is on hold. My breeder Jo at Serenity Springs Labradoodles sent out emails with tips to prepare me for my new puppy. So I rely on what I remember and my updated reading and YouTube training sessions. I purchased Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5-week program using the Power of Positive Reinforcement. I found much information is found on the Internet, and most are in agreement. Zak George (Dog Training Revolution/Pupford), Rachel Fusaro (Save all the damn dogs), and Ian Stone (Simpawtico). Consistency, patience, and positivity. I also joined the online group, Doodle Kisses, and am getting support on the Forum.

Charlie loves his Wubba Bear Friend. This one remains in one piece. His Ultra-strong Kong Elephant immediately lost its tusks, and I needed to amputate the remaining bit of tusk. The ears are on the way out.

This week I have seen real progress in our day to day living. For one thing, potty training is progressing nicely. Not going through as many rolls of Bounty. My mother collected South East Asian bells. I hung some up on my slider and Charlie now rings the bell when he wants to go out to potty. We are getting the message! Just have to make sure to come inside before playtime. Then we go out again. Well sometimes there are false alarms, but better to go out than ignore.

After he rings the bell he often heads to his very large bed/playground near the door.

In the past few weeks I have worked on some basic commands. Of course, all these commands are being tried in various rooms in the house, but not under many conditions. Sit, Down, Off (no jumping), Leave It, Look at me, Come, Give, Go Potty, Go to your room (crate), Bed (place), Paw, Gentle, and Settle, and I am working of Stay. I think that is it.

“Charlie, Look at me!”

Today is Mother’s Day, and my puppy Charlie ordered me a tee shirt. Can’t wait to wear it in his honor.

My daughter and family stopped by this morning. Brought me some homemade cupcakes from two mini bakers. I will enjoy this with dinner tonight. CoVid 19 stay at home directives have left Charlie to interact with me and my husband. Today, all at once he had three boys ages 2, 4, and 8 all surrounding him. At first he wanted to go back to the house. I held him and introduced my grandsons. He met my son-in-law and daughter and had some “real-time petting”. After a short while, he was on the ground, wagging his tail and giving puppy kisses. In the six weeks he is making progress and getting over his shyness with new experiences. 

Shopping for groceries the CoVid way, online is becoming easier. Now there are more time slots for order pickup. A few weeks ago, I needed to place an order with Bel Air, and expect to pick up groceries in a week. Yesterday I placed my order and today most everything was delivered to my car. I am getting into the routine. Items that I can’t get at a grocery store I order from Target. Their website is a bit different, but I figured it out, and I can pick up my order within 4 hours. This is the new normal.

One thing that most puppy preparation books forget to include are bandaids. Oh my goodness. Those shark teeth have been getting me lately. And it is not from nipping or biting per se. Charlie got me good while we were having a fun game of fetch. I almost always say “Give” and wait for the ball to be dropped. This time our signals were crossed and he grabbed the ball as I was about to throw it, (ready, set, go), and sliced into my finger. Wow. Blood pouring out. This required two bandaids one on top of the other! Now I am sporting 4 bandaids. Numerous scratches, cuts, and nibbles are now healing. Once stores are open for shoppers I will recommend bandaids be sold at pet stores. Maybe a line of cute bandaids for new puppy owners should be designed! Sending ideas out for the creative entrepreneurs.

This week Charlie heads to Sunset VCA for his second visit. With safety in mind, once we park we call inside and a Vet Tech comes to get Charlie. I remain in the car. Keeping “Socially Distant” and safe. I wonder what I would do without wifi and cell phones. Thoughts for another time.