Do not allow a puppy to leave his squeaky toy–the one with sixteen squeakers!–in the middle of the bedroom floor. Stepping on such a squeaky toy, which feels both furry and slimy underfoot, at 2 AM on the way to the bathroom is a guaranteed way to wake all dogs and all people.
Yesterday Dancer had some minor surgery–a few lumps that needed to be removed for biopsy (results next week but the vet’s hunch is that they’re benign, so I’m not worrying (too much))–so Elly and Rush and I went to visit Deena. She has a magical backyard that was Elly’s idea of heaven. It’s large, and there are trails through the bushes, and chickens to watch, and a big pond with koi to watch, and places to lie in the sun and places to lie in the shade. I was pleased that Elly did not manage to escape this paradise; good fences are essential with Elly.
Rush and Elly explored every inch of the yard. Rush fell in the pond and Deena helped him find his way out (that’s his first time swimming and he did very well). Deena’s two dogs, Magic and Jenny, played nicely with Rush.
It was a lovely, exhausting day–Rush slept until 7 this morning!
(Oh, and in the morning, while Dancer was being checked in at the vet’s, I worked on Rush enjoying the vet’s office. Rush got treats from everyone; he got his paws touched and got treats; he got his ears checked and got treats; he got his teeth checked and got treats; he got treats just for being at the vets. Elly got treats and got weighed, too. Her weight is holding nicely at 52 pounds.)
I did not teach Rush to do this: Rush retrieves. He woke up this morning and the whole behavior chain was there. He sits until I throw the ball. He goes after it. He brings it to me and drops it into my hands (sometimes he likes to tug a bit as he drops it).
Yesterday was a busy busy day for Rush. Elizabeth came to visit with her two corgis. We went to the warehouse. We went to barn time (Rush learned to do the tunnel–with it short and straight, of course). We went to the vet’s and he got thoroughly checked out (17.4 pounds of healthy happy puppy, with good teeth). We went out to dinner with friends and he hung out with us while we ate–and was duly admired by people walking by. He’s very content to lie at my feet and watch people. It’s kind of amazing.
This morning I made this video of him playing with a roll of adding machine paper:
Rush and paper tape
Rush is absolutely at his best at 6 AM, right after he gets up and has his morning pee and poop. He’s perky, alert, hungry, and just dying to earn his breakfast. This morning I gave the girls their morning snack, gave Rush a few pieces of kibble in a bowl at the same time (he ran right into his ex-pen when he saw me getting the girls’ breakfast), and then put the girls back in the bedroom with Jay while I worked with Rush.
We started out with working on pivoting around an upside-down bowl–both front paws on the top, standing, and rotating by moving the back feet. He’s starting to get really good at that! We moved from there to the upside-down Bosu ball and not coming off until I say “okay!” which means “come to me for your treat!”; we practiced that with the right-side-up Bosu too (he now thinks it’s ridiculous easy to balance on the ball when it’s right-side-up).
We walked down to the lower yard and played down there. There’s a spot of loose dirt on the side of the hill and he had great fun pouncing on the dirt at the top and then sliding down the hill. He did that over and over. We played “Chase Me!” and then rewarded in the Reinforcement Zone* on both sides. We played throw-the-tug with a dish towel and he brought it back to me to play tug (from five feet away) six times before I put it away. He tugs with great vigor and ferociousness!
We moved back up to the patio and I played Throw-the-treat/Come! with him. I could throw the treat ten feet and he’d rush off after it, then whirl around to come to me (and be rewarded in the RZ) as soon as I called. Then I let Dancer join us, and rewarded them both in turn for their Bosu ball behaviors; Dancer puts her rear feet on it and pivots on her back feet; Rush sits on it. They were trying to be on the ball at the same time in the determination to play the game with me. That was fun.
After all that, Rush was still relaxed and eager to work, so I put him on the grooming table and worked on clicking-and-treating for letting me pick up his feet, one at a time, and look in his ears, and check under his tail, and all that. I didn’t have a clipper or Dremel, though. That’s tomorrow, when Jay can help me. As it was, I had the clicker under my foot so I had both hands free. That’s a challenge!
Rush worked with me for half an hour! Amazing puppy!
*Reinforcement Zone (RZ): the sweet spot at your side where your hand falls if you’re walking normally and your dog is walking next to you.
Rush has learned to sit when he wants something:
Today’s excursion was to a cafe near OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). OMSI is underneath two freeways, basically, at the edge of the industrial district, and right next to the Willamette River. There were lots of trucks, and freeway noise, and a train went by (and blew its whistle at the level crossing)–and Rush was unflappable. We walked down a steep ramp to a dock on the Willamette, and he carefully stepped over the slats that are designed to help the two-footed climb up the ramp safely. He watched boats go by, curious, and watched the water and balanced on the edge of the dock to watch waves go under the dock. He watched children and cyclists and generally just drank it all in, quite relaxed. He walked right next to me on a loose leash until he was just too tired and asked to be carried back to the car.
He slept in the car on our way to the warehouse, and then followed me around the warehouse, politely greeting people but always staying with me when asked. We drove home, all the dogs had lunch, and then Rush slept, deeply, for almost three hours.
This morning I used the clicker to teach him to sit on the scale. He weighs 15 pounds today.
Rush stayed home today, and people came to him. Deena came with her two dogs, who are NOT poodles. They’ve visited before, but this time they played with him. Apparently this was exhausting, because he’s sound asleep now.
I took Rush to train with Debbie. (He met horses! Oh my! They’re very big. But they were calm horses and they didn’t scare him.) She suggested we turn the Bosu upside down and see if he could balance on it that way.
The results: Rush on the Bosu version 2.
This morning I woke up and looked over at Rush’s crate to see him sitting up and staring at me. Not a sound, but he was ready to get up. Smart puppy! I took him and the girls out and he went right behind a bush to pee. Smart puppy! We came back in and I got out the kibble to feed everyone their morning snack–and he saw me put food in Elly’s bowl, and he saw me move toward Dancer’s bowl, and he ran into his ex-pen for his breakfast instead of trying to get a bite out of their bowls. Smart puppy!
He is now ten weeks old and weighs just a hair more than 14 pounds.
This photo from an exhibition of dog photography in London (17 photos are included in this article: Dog Photography) shows what poodles looked like in the days before electrical clippers, blow dryers, and hairspray.