Saturday, August 31, 2013

Peter has had some more crate time today--in the crate, and on the crate.

He didn't sleep well last night. He yawned and sighed and moved around a lot. I think he wasn't being crated overnight at his last home (although he was crated at earlier foster homes), so it's probably just a matter of getting used to it again--of him resigning himself to the idea that his foster mom isn't going to let him out just because he makes a little noise. His future adopters might not want to crate him, but if they need to crate him, I don't want him to react badly to that decision. He's been kenneled for most of his life; there's no reason he can't tolerate a kennel again now--especially one with padding, a blanket he can dig a nest in, and with water, a Kong, and something to chew on.

He stayed peacefully in his crate while Silver went to obedience classes. He had a Kong to keep him busy at first. Then, I'm betting, he slept.

We got home from obedience and he had another Kong. I was working with my back to him when I heard a noise. I turned around--and found him standing on top of his 3-foot-tall crate. He wanted out of the ex-pen, but he thinks it's too flimsy and unstable for him to climb. A nice, stable crate is a much better platform for an escape; the ex-pen is bungee-corded to the crate for some stability--but clearly, Peter doesn't think it's stable enough.

When I told Peter to get down, he did--jumping back into the ex-pen. This is scary, though: aside from the risks of having a slightly crazy new boy wandering anywhere he likes in my condo, there's the danger that Peter could take a bad fall on a very hard floor if he keeps staging escapes from the ex-pen. (I've seen what lies under my vinyl-that-looks-like-stone floor: it's a concrete slab.)


Peter spent some time out of the crate and pen this afternoon, sleeping snuggled up to me. He ate dinner in his crate (his decision; I was all set to feed him in the ex-pen, but he went into the crate). After dinner and a late walk, we settled down to watch the Braves game. When the game ends--or sooner if Peter seems to want to go to bed (this game has gone to extra innings)--I'll settle him in the crate with a Kong.

Tomorrow, he can be in the ex-pen when I can watch him. The rest of the time--or if he's trying to escape from the pen--he'll be back in his crate.

When he's out of the crate and pen, he's muzzled, and Silver often is muzzled, too. These guys are new to each other. Silver is known to be a grump about being touched when she's sleeping, even when she likes the other dog; let sleeping dogs lie isn't just a quaint old expression. Peter's reaction to contact he wasn't expecting hasn't always been predictable, so we'll be snuggling with muzzles for a while. So far, the dogs have been fine together, but taking a chance with their temperaments right now could mean stitches for one or the other, and I won't risk that. (Neither dog likes the muzzle; they both try to wipe the muzzle against the wall to dislodge it. But it doesn't interfere with anyone's ability to sleep.) Peter also wears his collar and leash when he's out of the crate and ex-pen so I can steer him out of trouble if he starts to wander. (Keeping him leashed is called "tethering": where you keep the dog on leash until you're sure he won't get out of your sight to pee or otherwise get into trouble. Tethering won't be necessary for long--he's shown no inclination to pee in the house--but I don't want to set him up to fail Housetraining 101 because I wasn't watching him.)


Some good news: Peter and I were outside when it started to thunder, and he didn't react badly to it--just cocked his head in that direction. Later, back in the house, there was a really loud bang that startled him, but he settled right down again: he's not thunder-phobic.

I want to make it clear: Peter isn't a bad dog. He's sweet, gorgeous, curious, bold, inquisitive, responsive, and an absolute darling. When I told him to get off the top of his crate (he's the first dog I've ever had do that, so I really wasn't prepared)-- When I corrected him he got down immediately. He hasn't once been sullen or snarky. If I've told him "no" over something he was interested in, he left it alone. But you need to let him know his limits, because he'll push against the universe until it pushes back.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Starting Again...

Peter had some problems in his first home. After a brief honeymoon period, he got off on the wrong foot and it was decided that he'd do better back at SEGA until he could find a new home.

GRA Peter

So today he came home with me--to be the foster brother of my 8-year-old girl, Silver--until he remembers his manners and SEGA finds him a new home. He was nervous, panting, and stressed when he arrived (and ignoring his stuffed Kong); that lasted about 30 minutes. Then he took a nap.

GRA Peter

I got a close-up photo of him, and that woke him up. No longer stressed, he was willing to clean out his Kong (kibble, vanilla yogurt, and a couple of mini-marshmallows, frozen).

GRA Peter
Look closely. There's a dog hiding on that bed.

He took another nap. When he woke up again, he was a bit bored. One thing he's going to learn here is how to chill when he's awake; naps are great, but sometimes he needs to be awake and calm. So he's in an ex-pen to keep him from wandering around and getting into trouble, and when he wakes up and is bored, he yawns. Loudly. And sighs--loudly. I'm sitting where he can see me, but I have my back to him while I work, and his yawns and sighs get louder and louder as he hopes for my attention (and I'm smothering my giggles). When he doesn't get noticed, he just goes back to sleep.

And that's how we want it. He'll learn to be calm and relaxed while his adopters go to work.

He's had his dinner and now is napping (again). In a little while, he'll get another quick walk, and Peter, Silver, and I will settle down in the living room to watch the Braves game. At bedtime, he'll get another quick walk, then have a Kong in his crate. Tomorrow morning, he'll be left home alone (and crated) while Silver goes to an obedience class. We'll see how he does then.

Peter's adoption photo, February 2013

One thing I want to add: This boy is gorgeous. When you see him in person, you realize that his coloring is much more vivid than it looked in bright sunlight during his adoption photos. His head is nice and slender, and he's not very large. He raced at a variety of weights ranging from 64 to 71 pounds; that's a wider range than most racers. Today, on the scales at Lake City, he weighed just under 69 pounds, and he looks great. He travels well in the car, too; the boy rode for more than 80 miles today.

* * *

Holey moley! He just came over the top of the ex-pen! (Ignore his sighs at your peril.) It's time for the Braves game, so I gave him his post-dinner walk, and I'm letting him stay out of the ex-pen. Bedtime (for him) at 10pm or so, and we'll work on ex-pen tolerance tomorrow. He has to learn the ex-pen is his friend. The alternative is the crate, and the bed there isn't as cushy.