Undersocialized Charlie and my efforts to have a companion dog!

Among the many problems created by the pandemic is the under socialization of my puppy. My nine-month wait coincided with CoVid 19. Born on February 7th he arrived home just after society was shutting down. Governor Newsom declared a stay at home order in mid-March. We picked up Charlie at 7 weeks rather than chance not being about to make the 2-hour drive to Orland, Ca, and Serenity Springs Labradoodles.

So instead of allowing Charlie to have many social interactions during this critical puppy period, we were busy having our groceries picked up through e-cart, and sanitizing them before bringing them into the home. No one knew what we were up against. Social interactions consisted of listening to Amy teach us on Zoom. Charlie would sit next to my computer and together we learned. Amy’s voice and treats were our first classroom at Baxter & Bella online training. As more was known about CoVid 19 I reached out to my friend Carly and a few months ago we went to our first in-person training with other under-socialized puppies.

Nearing one year of age, Charlie now attends class with the “gifted” pups training to be CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) dogs. Sometimes this works, and sometimes not so much. Skateboarders, cyclists, and motorcycles are triggers (Puppy training language). He was so alert last week, that when I asked for a paw he followed the instruction with his eyes on the road. It was funny to watch but frustrating to teach. In this new 6 feet separation society when you take dogs in public you may not want to let anyone pet your dog. So to be polite, you can say, “Please don’t pet my dog, but if you want he can wave to you.” Giving a paw is the first step in teaching dogs to wave. Good adaptation for the pandemic. Right?

Being anxious is detrimental to learning. To desensitize Charlie I decided to park in front of a store and let him watch the world around him. He feels safe in the car. I give him treats when he is calm. I listened to an NPR interview with Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist. Her research specialty is dog cognition. I have since downloaded one of her audiobooks to take with us. A perfect soundtrack for people watching from the car. While we watch I capture some images with my Fuji x100f. I like this camera for street shooting.

Next time I will park right in front of entrance!
Looking in to the store.
Reading while walking.
Charlie, the ghost dog!

Last weekend my friends planned to walk the Johnny Cash Trail outside of Folsom Prison. Since my focus has been on Charlie I decided to take him with me. I brought my Fuji x100f to simplify the photo walk. This was a real test. I met the group in a shopping mall parking lot next to very busy, fast-moving street traffic. He was doing well considering the noise.

Right outside the razor-wired fence of Folsom Prison.

Group planning doesn’t always work out, so I decided to pass on the trail, and went in search of a nature trail. The Miner’s Ravine Nature Preserve parking lot was 1 1/2 miles down the road.

Came across this interesting tree. Such an expression What does it say to you?
Gave Charlie the command, “Wait!” He allowed me to take my photograph.
Raised manhole cover ahead. My friend Anne sees something else.
Charlie walks around the manhole cover.
I took this photo after our walk. I think the nature preserve was on the side that we did not visit. Or else Charlie did not pay attention to the sign. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!

Charlie relaxed, and when I asked him to wait, he allowed me to capture some images. This was a win-win situation.

He always recognizes our car, and is happy to jump in!

I plan to make a point to take Charlie out with me daily. After all, someday we all will not be homebound. I hope!

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!

My Life in the “New Normal”

My idea of living with the pandemic evolves. When I made the decision to cancel my trip to New York in March I was thinking about a couple of months and then a return to the way I usual do life. As many hunkered down, I prepared for lockdown mode. My pantry had enough provisions, and I bonded with my puppy.

Things opened up, but my husband and I kept to ourselves mostly. Went out only when the risk warranted. Learned how to Zoom, and kept in touch by telephone and FaceTime. I enrolled Charlie in classes online Zoom style. Risk lowered, and the nice weather called me to explore the world. But still I hesitated.

After I took Charlie to the groomer I was tempted to lower my guard and take myself for a haircut. The last time I had my haircut was in early February. It seems like a lifetime ago. For the first time in many, many decades I can pull my hair back into a ponytail. Not exactly the look I was going for in my seventies. So I masked up, called up my stylist, and trimmed up my hair. My hair is now one length, I can still pull it back if I need to, and I feel so much better.

Selfies are not my thing!

So here come the holidays. Halloween just passed, and I decided that I would avoid the “Trick or Treat” scene. My grandsons stopped by in their costumes and looked like they had a fun day.

Actually the only character I recognized was “The Hulk”, but they all looked Super!

As it happens, our block was especially quiet. Not one visitor rang our doorbell. I hope that by next year Charlie will be able to calmly greet costumed kids.

Charlie calmly sharing time with us while we play Zoom BINGO with Ed and Leti!

This year would have been a challenge. Maybe next year I will find a Halloween collar that I know I still have somewhere in the house. I have a full year to decide what if any humiliating costume I will put on Charlie.

For now, I can look over my photos of Halloween over the years. Staring Alyssa, Isaac, Eli, Lucas and Wyatt. Rachel and Sean are along for the ride!

Next year we have another Pumpkin to treat!

Our election is over in everyone’s mind except for you know who. I worry about the next couple of weeks until January 20th. What’s life without something to worry about?

Sanity restoration needed for 2021!

My grandson’s 5th and 3rd birthday sandwich Thanksgiving Day. The country is not moving in a good direction with the pandemic. Numbers are rising, and I hope to ride out CoVid 19 and really have something to celebrate in 2021! So I guess, as all the special occasions that have been delayed these celebrations will need to wait.

For now, I will shop online, be thankful for all that surrounds me, and enjoy the little things that make my life special.

Getting to know you, Charlie!

Charlie is almost 9 months old. The more time passes, the more I understand his needs. I see patterns in his behavior, and his daily life is becoming routine. He is growing up. I imagine he has been watching me carefully and understands me better as well.

About five weeks ago I brought Charlie to a new groomer. The first groomer was booked up through November. That would not do, and besides, I wasn’t happy that no request was made to see shot records. Also, no masks were worn. So with a recommendation and a lengthy talk on the telephone, we headed up to Roseville. Shelly told me she would take it slow since this was his first time. After 5 hours Charlie left Backyard Pet Spa with a new look, and smelling so good!

Doesn’t Charlie look handsome!

Another appointment has been made for November 5th. That’s tomorrow. Wow, time flies and his hair grows!

Back to Charlie’s changes. He has outgrown his first harness I use for car travel. His puppy collar from Lupine Pets was a bit snug so I ordered an ensemble: a coordinated collar, harness, and leash. I was looking for a harness that I could attach in the front when we were out walking, and in the back when I wanted him secure in the car. The helpful person answering my questions at Lupine let me know that these harnesses would not do for car travel and suggested that I look at the Ruff Rider Roadie Harness. I started to research harnesses that were crash tested. I placed my order for the size 2.5 red harness. Charlie has been sporting this harness on our road trips for the past week, and he seems ok with the change. How can I tell? He doesn’t run away when I bring it out!

Training is continuing with Baxter & Bella. Charlie just started the six-week class called Canine Good Citizen. After he finishes and can complete all 10 elements he can earn an AKC Canine Good Citizen badge (CGC). That is as far as I went with training my Libby. Classes with Amy reinforces good behavior when out and about. Our zoom classes are recorded so it is easy to reschedule the lessons when life gets in the way. Charlie and I have plans to enjoy life together!

CoVid 19 prevented Charlie from developing his social skills. His anxiety when visiting Petco made this very clear. I needed professional help, and I thought of my friend Carly who trains CCI (Canine Companion for Independence) dogs. As it happens Charlie has lots of company, and Carly is starting a class for these CoVid puppies. For our first lesson. I was worried that Charlie may not want to get out of the car. I was pleasantly surprised, and the class was just what he needed! Carly’s approach fits perfectly with the zoom classes at Baxter & Bella so all is good. Friday, if weather permits, our class will move to a public space in a shopping center parking lot usually used for the movie theater. It is now empty due to CoVid.

We are working on loose leash walking. I ordered a Gentle Leader upon Carly’s recommendation. I use the Easy Walker around the block, but using it with a travel harness is a bit cumbersome. Maybe one day I will find a safe travel harness that also has a front chest clip for walking. Our routine of walking to the mailbox has morphed into walking almost halfway around the block. Carly gave me some tips to use when Charlie plants himself, and I am slowly making progress. I’m learning all about Charlie’s strengths and challenges.

The other command we are working on is “Wait!”. I must say I felt proud of the progress made when Charlie spotted a squirrel burying nuts in his backyard. Ch

Charlie can’t understand how squirrels can climb up a fence so fast!

Watching from inside he was ready to chase. I opened the screen door, and told him to “wait”. He did! Then I told him it was OK, and off he went. Impulse control is a Charlie strength!

The weather is cooling down slowly, and the air is improving. Time for a short road trip with Charlie. In the fall I usually make at least one trip up to Camino and visit Apple Hill. Usually, my husband and I stop at Boa Vista and pick up an Apple Hill map. Charlie’s reaction was one of high anxiety. I could see it in his tail. I was not feeling too good about the future prospects of traveling with Charlie. We decided to explore some off the beaten path ranches. We found a pumpkin patch and stopped to look around. Charlie’s tail was up, and he was using his nose to explore. Good sign. My daughter suggested we visit Bill’s Apples and Felice’s Dolls. I will make this a stop with my photo group in the future since this time I was focused on my Charlie.