Connect and Reconnect

I finally decided that I needed to visit my dentist for a cleaning, and realized that CoVid 19 would no longer provide a good enough excuse. Teeth cleaned. My dentist wants to see me again in December. I needed to replace my tired electric toothbrush, and I purchased an updated version.

Not my toothbrush. Just an image of something I found while out taking pictures.

I quickly discovered that many changes have been made over the years. Now I needed a booklet of instructions. I read over the safety directions. My last brush had an on and off switch. I have 6 choices for various parts of my mouth: teeth, tongue, and gums, etc. One light lets me know if it is charging, and another tells me if I am pressing too hard. Ok, I understand the need for those lights. But I stop at the point of blue tooth connection. My brush can keep track of how well I brush each part of my mouth. Do I really need to know this? Maybe if I had problems with my teeth. I do not!

I have an Apple watch. Let me say straight out that I refuse to take directions from my watch when it tells me to stand or breathe. I purchased the watch feature to keep track of steps and listen to podcasts and music when out walking. I started to use it to answer my cell phone “Dick Tracy” style. Remarkably, most people I speak with don’t even know I am talking on my watch. Setting a timer, checking the weather, reading messages are helpful features. Sometimes I am asked if I fell and should I need help. Luckily, this necessary feature has not been used, yet. But last week I found that my watch let me know if I was washing my hands long enough. 20 seconds = Good job or Well done! Maybe the app developers are working on a way to let me know if I am standing too close to another person. Corona help me.

The telephone on the left depended on an operator to put through your call. It probably was part of a party-line based on the numbers on the dial at the top. The telephone on the right reminds me of my first experience with a telephone. As a telephone operator, I still put through a couple of party line calls in 1970’s.

One of my jobs while in college was that of a ATT switchboard operator. Boy do I have many stories about that time.
Early in my marriage I worked for a private company and ran the office switchboard. Voice mail has replaced this job.

Having a cell phone makes the pay phone a thing of the past. No more hunting for change. Looking for a working phone that won’t eat your nickels and dimes. No need to make collect calls.

In my first apartment when I worked for the telephone company, I did not have a telephone. My landlady’s phone was downstairs and if needed I could use it. In my second apartment, there was a payphone downstairs in the foyer. To reduce our rent we helped the landlord by doing odd jobs around Magnolia Manor. Many “interesting” characters lived in this house divided into one-room apartments. Hence, the continuous emergency calls.

Many an emergency call made late at night after searching for change under the bed.

I still have a landline as a backup. When it rings my dog Charlie gets all excited. I’m not exactly sure why. The phone is located near the front door, and he acts like he may miss an important call. So funny.

How many of you have a landline? I remember being connected with a cord and having to wait and wait and wait for a doctor to answer. Stuck. Cutting the cord was a BIG improvement. Cordless made its debut with an added addition of voice mail.

If you think about it our mobile phones have not been around for very long. In 1997 I connected using what looked like a large rectangular box. Searching the Internet I came across this article, The Evolution of Cell Phones. Now most everyone is dependent on using pocketable cell phones for much more than connecting with others.

In this time of isolation, I see more people reaching out by computer. And I often do this. But sometimes I just get the nerve and call someone that I haven’t spoken to in years. I find this a daunting task, but so far reactions have been well received. I have two aunts in their 90’s living on the east coast. The last time I saw them was 2004, and it was good to hear their voices. After the death of a second cousin early on in the pandemic I just felt the need to reach out to his wife (second cousin in law). I barely knew her, and she only knew of me through my parents, but I felt that she had been left alone in her house for the first time in probably over 60 years and she could use the company. She is not online, and her cell phone is her only connection. Forty-five years pass so quickly. With the help of the Internet, I was able to locate a college friend and call her up. Now if only Corona leaves we may get to visit. It turns out that her son now lives near me.

My Doodle Charlie helps me connect. Many doodle owners come together from all over and share. I sent out and received around 50-holiday greetings from other members of DoodleKisses. It’s fun to see all the different dogs. I reconnected with my friend Carly who is a CCI trainer. I wanted advice on socializing Charlie. Now Charlie and I attend class masked and outside with some very well behaved CCI pups in training. I belong to a couple of Doodle groups on FB. Feeling connected when raising a new puppy is important. We met other doodle owners at a local park in October. Charlie enjoyed his cup of whipped creme “Puppichino”. The larger doodles are teaching him how to share.

CoVid interferes with getting together now with the pandemic surge. Something to look forward to in 2021.

Zoom has helped many of my groups stay connected. Having a meeting scheduled gives my day some structure. It goes on my calendar, and I feel like I have made a commitment to attend. My brother and sister-in-law organized a Bingo Event, Birthday celebration, and Chanukah Party. I may not have gotten to eat any cake, but the connection is made!

Here’s to connecting and reconnecting in 2021!

How to train Charlie?

Charlie finished his 6-week Baxter & Bella Online Puppy Training. After a brief break we are enrolled in Intermediate Training. When in training mode, he is right there. After 1 hour he is tuckered out. He becomes a wild pup, and need a time out before he takes his afternoon nap. I feel so bad when he looks at me and barks. I know he is saying something. They are not just random barks. I think he is saying now make my time with you exciting or I’ll zoom around, jump in the air, and make trouble. Funny, how a cute puppy can make you feel like you’re just boring. After more time with Charlie I now think I am experiencing a puppy version of an overtired toddler having a tantrum. So maybe I am not boring.

When I say “Settle” he gives me his smooch-face!

Group classes are still not widely available. Not being sure I was able to change some of Charlie’s less than desirable habits I searched out help. Albree Dog Training and Alan Miller was recommended by a friend. After spending over an hour I am more confused. All my reading, training, and practice were discounted by this trainer. We were not a good fit. I guess I’m not ready to go the chokehold route. So this week I am returning to my Baxter & Bella zoom Intermediate class and I’ll keep on practicing.

Like a growing toddler, my Charlie grew out of his small plastic crate. I thought I would take him out to Petco and pick up a larger crate. I am trying to expand his world. Well, with all the smells, other dogs, and friendly employees I thought this would be a positive experience. Nope. A loud noise in the parking lot changed his mind, and he wanted to get back in the car. Not to be deterred I encouraged Charlie to enter the store. His mind would not be changed, and when we were in the middle of the store he pulled his leash out of my hand and took off for the front of the store. I followed and saw that the automatic doors were wide open. Out he went, and ran right over to my car, and sat down and waited for me to catch up. My heart was pounding, Charlie jumped right into the car, and that was the end of our shopping trip. Now I know he is smart, but I didn’t think he would be able to recognize my Subaru Outback from other cars in a parking lot. Go figure.

We just got past a double whammy. Ten days of record-breaking heatwave (110+ degrees) and fires breaking out all over California. Not much outdoor time, and certainly no long, leisurely walks. When the asphalt gets hot, I have to remember that my Charlie is walking along in his bare paws. This is the west coast version of being snowed in. So I have to be patient with my training and Charlie’s lack of socialization. It will happen, just a bit slower than I would have liked.

Charlie is always ready to fetch a ball!

Trying to stay focused on positive experiences!

The Psychology of Selecting Toys

Puppies have a lot of energy. Well, much more than I have. They play hard and then fall asleep. My foot serves as Charlie’s pillow. This way I am required to stay in place while he naps. Did I say he is so smart?

Charlie is 6 months old. Sometimes I feel like I am getting better at being able to read his mind. Other times, I know that he knows how to manipulate me to his whims. So how do I keep my Charlie amused, tired, and out of trouble? A game of Fetch is a good start. We look for a ball, I throw, he retrieves, and gives it back. Repeat. This works for both the outside and inside. Food is a good motivator and a frozen Kong in his “room” can occupy about 15 minutes, tops. Then … off to look for something to chew.

He just loves to chew, and chew, and chew. Given Charlie’s determination to chew I have to watch him with his toys. He sleeps with his Snuggle Puppy, but the other day he proudly took his puppy out of his room (crate). Then proceeded to shake it wildly. Ok, not a problem. Then he settled down, and quickly eliminated the tail. In short order, I looked and his puppy was tailless and missing an ear. I felt bad taking the toy away, but now I worried if this toy would create a health issue. Carefully watching his behavior, and reading his poop. Yup, my new pup has put me in charge of poop patrol. Given a stuffed toy he picks an appendage and works at it until it just disappears. Swallowed up. I am so nervous that he will hurt himself with his compulsive eviscerating of stuffed toys. Even called my vet, and asked if I should be worried. The advice given was if he eats, plays, and poops without a problem then he is probably ok. The fibers are probably concealed.

So now I am searching for that toy that will satisfy the urge to chew that lasts more than 10 minutes. I look online, read reviews from other pet owners, and visit my local Petco.

I skip past all the cute stuffed chew toys. Even the ones that say “Tuff”. I brought home a toy made from the same material as a fire hose. No problem for Charlie. Then I enter the aisle with hard stuff for chewing. I have one blue dog bone that I had for Libby. She never cared for it. I liked the fact that it was actually made here in the USA. Well, Charlie is not a fan either. I guess that is why it looks perfectly new. No teeth marks. I look at some softer rubber toys in a variety of shapes.

What appeals to a puppy? Does your puppy have a favorite toy?

This looks like a long stick, and the material has some give to it.

As you can see, not destroyed, but not a winner either.

Again, Charlie pretty much ignores it. I looked in the bargain bin. Figuring if it gets destroyed my pocket won’t feel too bad. Here is a squeaky bright green figure of a character doing a yoga pose. I start up a conversation with another pet owner. I tell her that there is another larger “Yoga Hero” in the bin for $4.00, but she says her retriever would attack the foot in a matter of minutes. I can’t tell if it will be too big for Charlie’s mouth but I decide to take a chance. It is a hit with Charlie. He likes to make it squeak. When thrown Yoga bounces randomly. It took a while but the yoga foot has been crippled.

Charlie will search for his Yoga toy on command

Luckily, I found the missing piece, so there will be no ongoing poop search.

Charlie loves food. He perks up when he hears the word Kong. I freeze his kibble and top it off with peanut butter.

Charlie is about to consume his frozen Kong

But the search to find the best chew toy continues. I just have to learn to think like a puppy!

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.