Thursday, August 27, 2015

A requiem, a new start.

Dogs. Napoleon wondered how one dog could give him such heartache, when Napoleon himself had knowingly sent thousands of men to their deaths.

Sara was 14. She had been diagnosed with cancer months ago. We were looking for new dogs to join our family even as we helped her enjoy her last days.

Klinger was 7. He was a great dog. The best trained dog we have ever had. He was devoted to us. He started having problems, like a spider bite that went necrotic - like a brown recluse type thing. But he kept having other issues - and we could find nothing wrong. This went on for a couple of months. It always seemed like this was something that he could recover from. Except Klinger kept getting worse. Not eating. Painful joints. This went on about 2 months, and he slowly kept getting a little worse. But never really really sick, you know? Finally we decided to up the ante, and went to a specialist. Did an ultrasound, found lots of cancer, but small, and distributed all over. Which was why we did not find anything by feeling for lumps and painful spots. Klinger was dead 4 days later. And that was hard. Very, very hard.

Ok, that is done.

We'd been looking, right? We had found a couple great candidates. One had a strong prey reaction to cats - nogo. Another had 12 people in front of us on an adoption list. We saw a LOT of marginal candidates for us. I mean, sure, and I'd like to save all the dogs, but I don't have 100's of acres for them and I can't pay a staff to care for them. We've got to be a little selective and pick the best dogs that we can care for and that will fit best into how we live. A few days after Klinger passed, Suzanne looked at the Saveadog site. There were three excellent candidates there. So on Saturday, we went visiting. I wasn't much into it, but I knew I should go.

Well, turned out all three were super dogs. And two were a brother and sister act. And that was our intro to Amy and Andy. And that was how it went.

Amy and Andy. Ok - we have already had LOTS of adventures - and it has only been a week? No, a week + 1/2. First, Amy got sick - some sort of GI infection - and would not eat. Passed it to Andy, of course! But it was like a human 2 day "flu" thingy - sick as a dog for a short time - then better. Huh. The wordplay was unintentional, but I left it in - realized how bad it was as soon as I wrote it!

Anyway, after a week they are both eating MUCH better and are VERY vigorous and energetic. They got TWO daily runs yesterday and today and that still was not enough. Thank heavens they love to play with each other! Suzanne has posted a couple of vids of them playing on her page.
Past 3 days they've been eating well - about 150% of what they need to maintain their weight. At this point, that is A-Ok - as they still need to add some weight. Amy is still awfully bony. Andy is better - looks more like he has filled out to an optimal weight - but Amy needs to add some flesh.

When we started running a week or so ago - they would not break into a run. Dog trot was their fastest speed. Couple days ago was a red-letter day, when Amy was willing to break into a run. Today they went 2.5 miles in the aft, and then came home and chased each other around the house and yard at top speed. MAN, I am glad they can entertain each other! If they didn't, the boredom for them would be hazardous to us.

So let me tell you about the mischief! And they are mischievous! They get along with the cats 110% A-ok. But they WILL tease the cats. Today, both cats came indoors around lunchtime to munch on their kibble. Amy knows where that kibble is (on top of a buffet), and she has stolen it a couple of times already. But she knows she is not supposed to steal it. The cats come in and start munchiing, and Amy jumps up and pops her head up right next to them for the startle effect! "GOTCHYA!" Oy, the cats jumped and hissed, and Amy looked pleased. Mind you, the cats do not regard Amy or Andy as a particular threat - or this would have been a problem.

I've resorted to what I think of as shutzhund type training for these two - a treat within a few seconds - for excellent results. I know it isn't just shutzhund trainers that use this - it seems to be popular amongst trainers these days. But I've always regarded the offering of food at every performance as a sub-par method. Anyway, WHAT-ever, eh? Today I need what works.

Remember, Amy and Andy are adult dogs, and, hmmmm . . ., let me think . . . what mischief they might get into?  So far . . .they have opened a covered trash can . . . dug into the can recyling bin (for empty cat food cans) . . .picked up a number of shoes and socks as personal chew toys . . . pee'ed inside the house (in full view of us!) . . . jumped the fence . . . and I forget what else!

On the other hand, they are a dream on leash. On our afternoon run today, we startled live turkeys.  Andy in particular, but both were VERY interested! And they started to chase. But, they only pulled slightly and then settled down. Since I run them while riding a bike, this is important! Our last dogs - Sara and Klinger - pulled me head over tea-kettle more than once when we were working on running together. And, when A&A jumped the fence, they did not take off for parts unkown. They've stayed pretty much in our larger yard. When Sara used to get out - she was gone a mile before you could shout. And Klinger just followed right along!

When A & A run with me - they can run shoulder to shoulder - actually touching, no problem. They often look like they are in lockstep and it is beautiful. They already show understanding of come, sit, stay, down, get right, get left (very useful with me on the bicycle!), and more. We still have a lot of problem spots to work on. The indoor urination, the attraction to our shoes and socks, the jumping the fence, for instance.

And we have a number of lesser quirks. For instance, they seem afraid to get close to the pond that marks the midway spot on our long runs! Won't drink the water, won't go close to the water's edge.

They are smart enough, and clever enough, that training these guys is different from training Klinger or Sara. I can't quite tell what they are thinking or how they see a situation. Unlike Sara and Klinger. Well, we are working it, tho!

Smart, they are. Energetic. Yup. Playful, cheerful, a bit timid and cautious, great dogs. I hope we can continue to provide them with sufficient activity. I think leaving these two alone for 8 hours a day would not work very well. But they are obviously glad to have a home where they get some good feedback! And we are glad to have the company!

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