Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wow, I feel like shaking my butt!

I must say that I feel so great! Better than I have in a long time. I'm spunky and playful and I'm having the best time with our 7 month old puppy Jet. I feel like shaking my butt again! It looks like my treatment for all my tick related issues is done. I have to get another series of blood tests done next month, just to be sure that I'm AOK. I hit the tick jackpot, you know. But now, I can be silly again and luckily, Jet likes to play special Aussie games just like I do. First, I grab her face...then, she grabs my face...then she somehow runs underneath me...then, we play tug with a plastic bottle...
then, I tell her off...then, I chase her inside and she tells me off. As if!Jenn says that it won't be too much longer that we'll be taking all this foolishness on a little trip to the beach. I love the beach and I cannot wait to show Jet how much fun it is. She's going to love it too. Bernie likes the beach too, but he never wants to play my chase games. Bernie just wants to be thoughtful and peaceful and watch the seabirds. He gets a little annoyed with me, so maybe on this trip, I won't bother him so much.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bernie's Bastille Birthday

Today is Bernie's 6th birthday! It coincides with Bastille Day, the French holiday. So every year we celebrate Bernie Bastille Birthday and the specialness of our Bernie. Now Bernie's birthday doesn't have the grandeur of my annual birthday party. Bernie likes to keep things low key. Jenn says that Bernie was always a laid back dude even as a puppy. Here's a cute picture of Bernie as a puppy:Jenn told me that she and Eric adopted Bernie in December of 2004. But there's a little story about how Bernie came to live with them and how Bernie actually has two families. Bernie and his sister were 10 weeks old when they were brought into the Orange County Animal Shelter as strays in September of 2004. Bernie's sister was adopted quickly, but Bernie sat in the shelter waiting and waiting. He was such a cute puppy, but he was a bit mis-labeled as a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, and I guess potential adopters thought he might grow into a really big 100 pound dog like this Berner:
After a few weeks of waiting at the shelter, Bernie was lucky enough to be selected to go to the Animal Protection Society's new adoption center in Mebane (now called Paws4Ever). He arrived in early October. Coincidentally, Jenn and her friend Laura were attending a Tellington TTouch workshop at Paws4Ever and they got to work with the dogs at the adoption center during the training. Laura and Jenn were quite smitten with puppy Bernie and they got to thinking that Bernie might be kind and gentle enough to live with Jenn, Eric, and their dogs Lambchop and Big Sandy. I never knew Lambchop, but Jenn tells me she was a dog with special needs they had before me. She was also an Aussie, a tiny white girl, and she was blind. She got scared very easily and sometimes felt threatened by the world. Most other dogs scared her, so Jenn and Eric knew that bringing another dog into their home was going to be a challenge.

But a thoughtful dog with a low key nature, might work out perfectly. Laura and her husband Anthony agreed to foster Bernie while she and Jenn introduced Bernie and Lambchop using lots of TTouch to keep everyone relaxed and balanced. Introducing dogs to each other needs to be done in a slow way for sensitive dogs. So, Bernie lived at Laura and Anthony's house while Lambchop learned to trust him.Very slowly, first on leash, letting them sniff each other through a fence, then off-leash in a neutral place for short periods of time, Bernie and Lambchop got to know each other over the days and weeks. One day Bernie came over to spend the night and he never left.
He and Lambchop become great friends and Bernie became very skilled at playing with Lambchop in a way that made her feel safe. He exaggerated all his calming signals and even though she couldn't see him, she responded.Bernie really helped Lambchop have a better life. Bernie makes everyone happy for that matter. And luckily, Bernie didn't grow into a Bernese Mountain Dog, as he's only about 45 pounds. Bernie might be an English Shepherd?
And Bernie gets around-he spends time with his other family regularly (Laura and Anthony and their dog Mona and other Bernie, another English Shepherd, owned by Laura's mother). And he and Laura march in the Paws4Ever Drill Team with me and Jenn.He's one pretty terrific pup. So today we celebrate-Happy Bernie Bastille Birthday!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Need Some Help With Your Teenage Puppy?

We have a teenager in the house! Her name used to be Jet, but I've started calling her "Jet-Nasty", since she started chewing up all my toys (how annoying!). I've been attempting to give Jet-Nasty the cold shoulder, but she keeps wanting to curl up with me and lick my mouth. Please! I guess I will just have to be more patient with her since she is now a "teenager" and no longer a puppy. But seriously, how long do I have to put with this?
Puppies enter adolescent around six months of age and it can last up to 2 years of age. I cannot imagine that I was this much trouble for that long! So the good news is that puppy adolescence doesn't last nearly as long as human adolescence, but it is a very intense time for many puppies.You may start to notice some troubling changes in your sweet and adoring pup once they creep into being a teenager. They may not listen when you call them, they may be suddenly fearful of strangers or objects, or they may become destructive in their chewing (tell me about that one).

Now is not the time to think "they will grow out of it". Now is the time to amp up your puppy's training and socialization into an action plan:

Get into reward based dog training classes. If you haven't taken your puppy to classes yet, you need to start yesterday. Classes can help with communication, continued socialization and keeping your puppy learning and focusing. Find a professional trainer and get started on your puppy's education. Check Jenn's website ( and see when she has classes available. Or find a trainer in your area at or

Your puppy needs lots of outlets for their physical and mental energy. So, lots of appropriate things to chew, chew, chew, toys that provide mental stimulation (see Jenn's suggestions), playtimes with other well socialized puppies...and walks with you each and every day.Here are some helpful articles by Dr. Ian Dunbar for more tips on surviving your puppy's adolescence on adolescent changes and preventing adolescent problems.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Puppy destructive chewing leads to path of destruction!

Boy, it doesn't take long for me to eat my words! Remember how I said that Jet was such a good puppy? Well, that was before she started annihilating all my toys! It happened so fast, like a remorseless destruction monster took over Jet's body overnight.

Witness "Jet Nasty's" path of destruction...
This was Bernie's octopus. It's so sad that Jet Nasty amputated all the legs one by one. Look at her! She's ready to finish off the other two legs!
Then she hit my Pogo Plush...
and this used to be my pheasant before she ripped the wing off and pulled all the stuffing out...and one of my tug toys...
Oh Polly Piggy, not you too!!

Why, Jet Nasty, why??!!

In my anguish, Jenn reminded me that I went through a phase like this too. Right about the time I turned six months old. All of a sudden, I started ripping things apart, even toys I really liked and seemed to cherish. Hmmm. It's called Secondary Chewing Phase and every puppy goes through it. Now that I remember, it felt really good on my teeth to tear things. My mouth was hurting from all those setting molars and the only relief was using my jaws to tear, rip and destroy things. So, this is just a stage! That's good news. The bad news is that it is going to be a phase that could go on for months and months.

What will we do to survive the wrath of Jet Nasty?? What can you do to keep your puppy from destroying your house during Secondary Chewing Phase??

  1. Be patient. It is a stage and may go on for months, but it is a stage.
  2. Puppy Proof. Anything you don't want in your puppy's mouth needs to be out of reach.
  3. Supervise. Can't be said enough. If you are not watching your puppy, you cannot guide them on what it OK to chew or not. Watch them or put them in their crate.
  4. Channel puppy's destruction and give your puppy lots of things that they can rip apart and chew safely. Jenn gives Jet cardboard boxes to rip apart, Nylabones and stuffed Kongs to work her jaws, and raw meaty femur bones from the butcher to give her something to gnaw on.
  5. Don't spend your money on cheapy plush toys unless you don't mind that they get destroyed in 30 seconds.
Jenn promised to "rehab" some of my toys, especially Polly Piggy. And she'll put away my other favorite soft toys until Jet Nasty is past this stage. Whew!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jet is 6 Months Old and Celebrates at Saxy General Store

Our puppy Jet is 6 months old! She is getting to be one big puppy, but not as big as me, or course. She now weighs 40 lbs!To celebrate, Jet went to her favorite restaurant, the Saxapahaw General Store. Jenn says that it is the best meal that anyone will ever have at a gas station. And they have an outdoor seating area where well behaved puppies can sit while their people eat dinner. Jenn took treats for Jet and a stuffed Kong so she could be occupied with the people were eating. She did a great job and was only whiny when Eric left the table to get some napkins.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fireworks!? It's Thundershirt time!

It's that time of year-when people like explosions and loud noises. Not such a great time for animals that are sensitive to sound or afraid of really loud sounds. But I'm happy to say that I'll have my Thundershirt on tonight, which always makes me more comfortable when I hear loud noises.  It also helps me when I feel storms coming with thunder and lightening.  Jenn makes sure to get my Thundershirt on before the noises begin, or before the barometric pressure changes.  That way, I don't panic.Jenn has a Thundershirt on hand for Jet too, in case she starts to get nervous too. I've outlined some tips for you to help your puppy have an uneventful holiday celebration:

1. Please don't take your puppy to a fireworks display. This may sound like fun and a possible socialization experience, but it can be terribly scary and overwhelming for a puppy.  And don't take your puppy to the fireworks display and leave them in the car. 

2. Leave your puppy safely inside at home (not out in the yard) with some nice music turned up the drown out the pops and bangs. Many dogs panic during fireworks or storms, which can make them want to escape the noise and run away, bolting out of their yard.  Make sure your dog is wearing their ID tag just in case.

3. Do not allow your children near your dog when they are using sparklers or any sort of popping explosive, not matter how safe you think it is.  Dogs can be hurt by the flying sparks or just plain scared out of our wits.  

4. Give your puppy some special things to chew or a stuffed Kong toy to keep them occupied while the fireworks go off.

5. Relax. Don't feed your puppy's fears by trying to comfort them. Try using the Thundershirt body wrap instead of coddling, which can have a calming, settling effect on many dogs with noise related anxieties. Check out this page for more on using the Thundershirt for noise anxiety.

And have a happy 4th!