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.

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.