Shelley Widhalm

Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Puppy Kindergarten

In Dog training, Going on walks, Hand feeding on July 25, 2010 at 5:22 pm

I thought training a dog wouldn’t be too hard after growing up with a poodle mix my family and I named Tuffy. My dad trained Tuffy to sit, come and potty outside, but I didn’t watch the training process, so I was unaware of the work it took.

I taught Tuffy to go on walks, at first using a leash to pull him around the block, because he wouldn’t walk on his own. After weeks of this, he began to adore the leash, maybe because it allowed him to see more than the back or front yards. He would come whenever anyone jingled it, even if we were out in the open camping on property my family had owned.

Zoey is a different story. I initially pulled her on our walks to give her the message we were moving forward. She would walk but not in a straight line unless we were heading home. She had to stop for smells and did not want to leave until she was done, and if I interrupted her, she dug in her paws and became a cute pull-toy.

The walks became one of many indications I was inexperienced with dog training, so I signed Zoey up for puppy kindergarten.

On the first day of class, Zoey scooted behind my chair and turned away from the seven or eight other dogs with their owners and looked out a large window at the rest of the pet store. She seemed to not get the commands and wasn’t interested in the treats when she was overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity of the room and the other dogs.

The trainer said to mix in treats with Zoey’s regular food, and then training became fun for Zoey, at least in the comfort of our home. She would sit, roll over, stand on her hind legs, spin and do other tricks for the handful of treats and food in a baggie. She wanted to be fed by hand and began to neglect her food bowl in order to make eating a contact sport.

Graduation day came and if I was the evaluator, I would have given us a C+. We did some of the tricks, but as for walking, we did not move through the store without some pulling. It sure was a drag, but we got our photo with Zoey in a miniature graduation cap.

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My furry child

In First moments, Journaling, Journaling about dogs, Scrapbooking, Wardrobes on July 18, 2010 at 10:01 pm

I did not expect that when I adopted a puppy, that I would mistake her for a child. First, I bought her a mini wardrobe of a couple of sweaters, a coat, a skirt and T-shirts, all of which she refuses to wear. She slips out of her clothes by running and rolling on the ground, lifting up the middle of her back as if she has a great itch to get rid of the extra material. The task is easy for a determined, long skinny thing forced into clothes made for the chunkier, non-wiener shaped.

I then put together a scrapbook, using doggie and heart stickers on each page, of Zoey’s cute moments at play, in a basket, in a boot and asleep in her favorite spots, such as the back of the couch, the armchair, the floor in the sun and, as a last resort, her blue doggie bed.

Zoey’s other first moments got a place in my journal, like the time I waited outside with her during a potty break and she heard her first birdsong. She looked up, turning this way and that with a big look of wonder on her face, and then held still as she tried to determine the source of the mysterious warbling.

Another first moment was her mastery of the stairs, a moment my mother witnessed. My mother said that Zoey looked so proud of herself and was sort of strutting with a look on her face that said, “Boy, look at what I did.”

Dog Training 101

In Alpha dog status, Deaf to the word "no", Dog training, First puppy on July 12, 2010 at 2:46 am

Zoey, my miniature dachshund, is very cute and sweet, as many people who meet her tell me, but she also is a bit naughty and very deaf to the word “no.” This made her a difficult trainee during our battle for alpha dog status. Granted, she was my first dog, and I didn’t know what I was doing, despite buying how-to books on puppies, dogs and dachshunds and putting her through puppy kindergarten.

Potty training is a given difficulty in puppy training. I sat outside with Zoey every couple of hours (when I wasn’t at work) to try to convince her that the outdoors was her toilet bowl, not the carpet or the rugs. I think she figured I was accompanying her in the backyard, so I could watch her chew on the wood on the deck stairs or run around, sniffing for thrills. She got treats (and still does) for a successful potty and, after five or six weeks, caught on to the Pavlov response of peeing for treats.

Potty wasn’t so bad, compared to Zoey’s propensity for chewing furniture, biting at pant legs and body parts for attention, barking like a 100-pound dog at the smallest of noises and wanting to go in and out, in and out all day long, as if the grass were greener on whichever side of the fence she did not dominate.

When she was naughty, she would not stop if I told her “no” and was even more determined to continue. If I ignored her or she wanted my attention now! she would become even more mischievous. She was stubborn, manipulative and wanted her own way.

I considered throwing in the towel, selling her, returning her, taking her to the pound. But I loved her, even so.

I tried everything to get her to behave. I told her “no” so often, my vocabulary became stunted. I ignored her, squirted her with a water gun, clapped and made lots of noise, lightly spanked her behind and put her in time-outs. Nothing seemed to work, except time and waiting for her to learn and to grow up. And I, too, had to learn how to understand her and love her back, even when I felt like the runt of our litter.

Fourth of July without Zoey

In Holidays, Leaving Zoey, Missing each other, Weathering the weather on July 5, 2010 at 2:38 am

Zoey and I decided to take a break from talking about our first 18 months together to describe our Fourth of July. Zoey is a miniature dachshund I adopted from a mall pet store almost 16 months ago when she was nine weeks old.

Zoey and I started out the weekend day as usual – a kiss indicating it’s time for me to let her out – and a return to bed for a lie-in. Zoey pulled on my hair – Come on, let’s play! – and jumped on me, but I wouldn’t move, so she gave up, curling into her cuddle spot on the pillow I hug.

My father, who lives in Eastern Colorado, came at 11:30 a.m. for a weekend visit, and Zoey did her welcome dance, consisting of barking, jumping on and off the easy chair and lying on her back, inviting a belly rub. Zoey got in an hour of playtime, and then Dad and I went to coffee before she could convince us to play more.

Dad, Mom (who I live with) and I went to my brother’s get-together with his friends. Zoey wasn’t invited because of her tendency to potty on the carpet when excited. At the four-hour limit of leaving Zoey, a pre-tornado dipped down from a wall cloud and the rain ripped. Everyone there agreed we should wait out the storm, and so we did. I started worrying about Zoey, a dog that needs lots of attention, but who also is fine with sleeping. We left an hour after planned, and Zoey was just fine. I didn’t need to worry about the dog I treat like my little girl. I will miss out on the fireworks tonight, if they don’t get canceled by the rain, because I will be staying with her, riding out her barking at the bang-bang, reminding me that another summer is going by.