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.

Sunflowers, Art, and Agriculture in Yolo County

Yolo County opens its farms up to local artists monthly. The last time I took advantage of this event was in July of 2019. Part of the fun of photography is seeing new places, and part is sharing the experience. I finally felt like I could share the experience with one friend, and so we headed out. This was the last part of June, and I was feeling like pushing aside CoVid 19 just a bit.

Sunflowers are showing up all over Yolo county, and there was a field on the Harrison Farm. Not the tallest flowers, not so spectacular, but I was traveling with my Fuji xt2 and my 80mm 2.8 macro lens. The weather was just perfect. With macro photography, even the slightest movement can look like a big magnified blur. Usually, I have experienced a gale-force wind creeps up just as I take out my macro lens. Not this time!

Lots of bees around sunflowers.
Such a flirty face
One amongst many

This Thursday in the last part of June I didn’t expect a large turnout. But I guess others felt the same, and there I was social distancing from a nice group of artists.

Traffic duty. Each car was carefully check in and she explained the guidelines.

Many uses for this pond. The ripples reminds me of an impressionist’s painting inspiration. The rope swings looks like fun. And the kayak and fishing poles is someone’s idea of a relaxing afternoon.

We each tried to capture our selfie wearing our protective CoVid masks.

On this day I carried my Fuji xt2 with three lenses. I heard there were sheep here, and I wanted to grab some animal photographs. Well, the sheep were resting in the corner shaded area. I wanted and finally one ventured out to eat.

Using my xf 55-200 lens I caught this little cutie.
Back in the shady side of the barn
Plein Air artist starting on his canvas
I appreciate the two red barns using my camera
I like the way this gate frames the image.

I wandered around the flower garden for these next photos.

These next images represent still life on the farm.

Backlit lighting on the walnut tree.
Someday I may be found in some baklava. That would be yummy!
Walnut trees. Careful. Drip irrigation leads to muddy sandals.
Pulling away from the walnut orchard was this fire engine kicking up a lot of dirt.

So ends this months Yolo Art & Ag event to the Harrison Farm. Looking forward to my next outing.

The Natural World around me!

I have gone on a couple of photoshoots since the reopening from quarantine. Each was outside and I mostly stayed to myself. Usually, after an outing, my CTD group likes to grab a bite to eat. I’m not there yet and pass on the friendly banter with my fellow photogs.

Old Fair Oaks Village provided the backdrop of my first time out with my friends. Easy for me since it is about 5 minutes away.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

WPA Rock Garden and Land Park Pond provided a nice opportunity to get out and use my Fujifilm 80mm 2.8 macro lens with my Fuji xt2.

I captured the magenta and green combination in the morning light.

Walking around William Land Regional Park I find all kinds of wildlife enjoying the pond. Dragonflies, ducks, and turtles all using the pond in peace.

Since none of the Lotus flowers were in bloom I headed over to Vedanta Society of Sacramento.

Now this is how to keep social distance when meeting friends.

The Sacramento Zoo has now reopened. As a zoo member, I was invited to preview the new format as it reopens. Only members were allowed during the first two days with a set appointment time. CoVid 19 guidelines are stated online. As I entered the zoo I was reminded to stay with my flock, wear a mask, and stay 6 feet away from others. I had a 1pm appointment time. Not my usual zoo time since I like to visit first thing in the morning. I was lucky, and the weather was very mild. Perfect.

The zoo has been closed for 3 months, but the facility has been making some changes to accommodate new zoo occupants. Flamingos welcome the visitors.

I’m practicing social distancing!

And these flamingos have gotten all sorts of mixed signals. It’s confusing! And possibly not in the best interest of the flock, or in the case of flamingos a flamboyance.

Black Crowned Cranes are dealing with issues.
Ok. All is good with Black Crowned Cranes.
Got an itch.

An ostrich, a duck, an emu, and a Himalayan Monal all walk into a …….

Don’t bother me, I’m napping.

Usually, when I arrive at the zoo in the morning the Red Panda is sleeping. Found this one ready to pose for a close-up.

I wonder what the front of this animal looks like?
Here is an Okapi. One of two that reside at the zoo.
Just hangin’ out. Glad to see visitors.

New residents here at the zoo.

A new giraffe joins the tower.
American Alligator takes his place at the Sacramento Zoo.

As a nod to Tom Paxton and the cd Goin’to the Zoo I’ll call this “Allen gator. A little alligator with a great big bite, he was Allen gator he wanted to do what’s right!”

And I hope that everyone does what’s right!!!

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.