Friday, October 27, 2017

A day in the life of a puppy

We dogs like sunny spots in cold weather.

Best stick of the day!

My silly person thought she'd have time to read with me along

running up the hill to my person

practicing my point

Wondering when my person is going to get off that @%#$@! computer.

I'm resting in the toy/computer room.  She's still on that contraption.

digging a hole

still working on the hole

And what a hole it is!

collecting sticks

This hole just needs a little more work

When my person calls, I run to her.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

One thing and another

It's amazing how often I wake up at 3 AM or earlier, these days.  Sometimes when I head for the coffeepot, Gabe sleeps on for an hour or so longer, closed in his (borrowed) cage.  When that happens I leave him alone until he lets me know by whining that he's ready to get out of there.  We go straight to the front yard, of course, so before I let him out I make sure I have my coat on and leash in hand, with flashlight handy.  He doesn't take long doing his business, although once in awhile he's distracted by a cat.  He is going for longer periods before being taken outside and hasn't had an accident in three days, I believe.  I still don't trust him to let me know when he needs to go out, though.  

I take him down to our nearest woods on the leash and then turn him loose, with no cats or livestock nearby to lead him astray.  He runs in circles, down hills, and back again, always touching bases with me and eventually settling on the ground up against me, chewing contentedly on a stick or some grass.  So that forces me out into the sunshine and fresh air and gives him some time of freedom.  Let's not talk about the beggar-lice I have to clean out of his coat when we come back to the house.   Oh, and if it's the least bit muddy outside, he has to have those fluffy white feet washed off when we come in.  The fur on his feet is a dirt magnet.  I picked up some wet wipes to keep inside the door for his feet.  He's worth it.  

I mentioned in the previous entry that Cliff and I had an intestinal virus last week.  At some point on the afternoon of the worst day, after forcing down water all day and eating nothing but a cracker or two, I suddenly realized I needed 7up.  I knew that was the only thing that would help me!  And why?  Because that's what my mother gave me to soothe an upset stomach when I was a small child.  I told Cliff, "Man, I want some 7up."  

He offered to go to our town Mini Mart and get some, but he was as sick as I was.  Besides, I had my doubts that little store would carry 7up; do people even drink it these days?  And then his efforts would have been in vain.  I finally messaged the grandson's wife and asked her to please get me some 7up on her way home from work.  It was like a magic elixir in my aching belly that evening.  She brought me a whole six-pack, of which I drank two.  The other bottles are stored away for the next bellyache.  I just remembered I never paid her for that.  ::Note to self::  

My mom's doctoring technique was made up of four items always in the medicine cabinet... five if you counted aspirin, but that was only a last resort, because she didn't want us to get "hooked" on aspirin.  I'm serious!  That's how she felt.

First on the list was Vaseline, which was great for all manner of galding, chafing, and heat rashes.  Second, for first aid, was adhesive tape, which Mother thought was curative in its own right, and would place it placed directly on a cut; forget about using a guaze pad with it, because she was confident there was some miraculous healing virtue in the sticky side of that tape.  This reminds me of how happy she was if a wound was bleeding profusely, because then, she said, it would "heal good".  I'm sure this kept me from being afraid of bleeding at a young age.  Blood is a good thing!  That means it's going to heal!  

Another of her remedies I've mentioned many times on this blog is Vicks or Mentholatum, the latter being her choice, I think.  That stuff does more for a coughing cold and chest congestion than anything else I know of, and when I'm rubbing it on my chest, I still remember how soothing it was when Mother applied it.   

And last, for stomach problems, 7up.  Back then their advertisements even said, "You like it, it likes you."  It was right there on every label, so I knew it had to be true.

OK, so enough about my mother's miracle cures.  On to the present, and my favorite subject:  Food! 

We began this round of cutting calories (again) on my birthday, of all times... July 7.  We've had ups and downs, but mostly it's gone pretty well.  Every once in awhile, though, I obsess over home-made biscuits or corn bread.  With just two of us, the only way to handle that sort of thing is to eat one or two servings each (one, at present) and freeze the rest.  This works great, but makes it terribly easy to get a biscuit out of the freezer, thaw it, and have it for breakfast.  You just can't do that every day.  One thing I've started doing with corn bread is to cut the recipe by half.  We want corn bread baked in a preheated cast iron skillet to get that nice, dark, crispy bottom crust, and I happen to have the right size skillet for a half-size recipe.

Here you see the half-sized skillet compared to the one that holds a full recipe.  That larger skillet, which my mom handed down to me when I got my first apartment, is also what I use for biscuits ever since a Kentucky friend suggested that during my search for "Biscuit Nirvana".  Folks, when you want the best biscuits, talk to ladies from the south.  I think they must have invented biscuits.  I wonder how it would work to halve the biscuit recipe; there surely wouldn't be a very big hunk of dough to knead, though.

Last weekend I made the first batch of biscuits since before July 7, a whole batch.  I knew I shouldn't, and that we'd eat too many, but I wanted them to go with the chuck roast I fixed in the Instant Pot, not to mention the mashed potatoes.  All is well, because the grandson and Heather came over and helped us get rid of the roast, potatoes, and the biscuits in fine style.  All is well.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

This business of shopping (random)

Plans yesterday were to do some quick shopping while we were in the city, right?  Our first stop after Cliff was through with radiation was Costco, and I got the few things I needed there.  My plan was to stop at Kohl's next, and try on jeans, but the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to do that.  I decided that my two favorite pairs of Lee jeans, the ones that fit me perfectly now in a size 12 L, can easily be reordered at Amazon for $21.99 each.  I know what size and length I need, and that they fit me perfectly.  The two pairs I already have are in good shape, having spent the last couple of years on a closet shelf because they were too tight.  If I order two more like them, I'll have all the jeans I need.

Yes, I was going to look at a couple other things in Kohl's, but nothing I can't live without.  I planned to stop by Home Goods to check out dog beds, too, but that no longer sounded like a great idea either.

And that's pretty much how I shop.  I start out with intentions to go to four or five stores and in the end, just go to Costco and Walmart.  Then I come home and order the stuff I wanted on Amazon.  

I've been surfing the Internet looking for puppy-training tips (not house-breaking, but other basic training), and now I feel like a failure.  The first couple of weeks with Gabe, I could just take him outside and let him play.  Now I have to use a leash.  Like all puppies, he bites and pulls on the leash constantly.  

See, here's a bigger problem:  In this article I've been studying, I'm told to take the dog to a quiet, closed environment outside to work with him.  Well, we're in the country and don't have a fenced yard, so "closed" is impossible.  So is "quiet and calm" from a puppy's viewpoint, because there's a young cat who loves to wrestle with Gabe and I have allowed this.  Now Buttons the cat is able to lure Gabe away from me at the speed of light.  Even if the cats are absent, there are horses on two sides of our yard and two steers behind the house, and that makes it a huge adventure for a curious puppy.  Add to that thousands of leaves blowing around the yard, just begging to be chased, sniffed, and eaten, and... you get the picture.  Anywhere I go, Gabe is likely to see a critter (even a possum, one early morning!) and then, dog-gone.  I know he'll learn eventually.  Meanwhile, a leash is required, and I am the one who has to learn some things and use patience I don't even own.  I'm not complaining.  I love this puppy, and he's good for me.  Inside, he's doing well with house-breaking, "sit", and "stay".  He knows his name and comes when I call.  Outside, he's a loose cannon.  If I remember correctly, a dog is pretty much a puppy at heart until he reaches the age of two.  I suppose I needed a refresher course on patience anyhow.  By the way, Gabe is on my lap as I type this entry, sleeping soundly.

Facebook friends have been mentioning a new show on Netflix, "Ozark".  So I activated my Netflix account to watch it.  After all, it's set at Lake of the Ozarks.  Cliff was born in that area and it's where both of his parents came from, so I was curious.  I've watched two episodes, and am pretty intrigued by the story line.  But when I saw an aerial view of the lake where the story is being filmed, I knew it wasn't Lake of the Ozarks.  The shoreline had trees all along the shore, right to the water's edge, for miles and miles at a stretch, uninterupted by anything man-made.  I've been on that lake in boats and have never seen such a wooded stretch.  It's an old lake and is quite commercialized, with docks and houses and resorts all along the shore.  Google tells me the show is actually being filmed at a lake in Georgia.  I have seen a couple of random shots taken in Missouri, but otherwise, there's little similarity.  I can live with this.  After all, as crowded as the lake area in Missouri is, they wouldn't get any filming done due to local people and tourists lining up for autographs.  But I wonder how many people who have never been to Missouri will decide to visit the pristine wooded shores shown in this series and wonder where on earth they've landed when they get to, say, Camdenton or Osage Beach.  

My problem with Netfix shows is that they're all so dark and depressing.  I watch one or two episodes, find out it's another show where things will keep going from bad to worse and many innocent people will die in a bloody and excruciatingly painful way, and give up.  I don't even care for books like that, which is why I seldom read Stephen King books.  Right now I'm struggling with a book, "Cold Cold Heart", by Tami Hoag, which appears to be following the same formula:  Starts out scary, bloody, and sad, then gets worse.  I even peeked at a later chapter to see if that's how it will continue.  Apparently it is.  Don't bet on my finishing it.

We have a cooling trend going on locally, so this morning is quite windy.  The first hard freeze is forecast for this weekend.  Our propane tank is full, so bring it on.  

I'm still experimenting with my Instant Pot pressure cooker, if anyone is interested.  I've made two roasts in it now (Cliff pronounced them delicious), baked potatoes, split pea soup, and pinto beans.  I still haven't gotten up my nerve to try cheesecake in it, which is probably a good thing for our calorie-counting.  

Someone on Facebook mentioned apples and caramel dip recently:  I have Fuji apples from our favorite orchard, so yesterday I bought caramel dip.  At 130 calories for two tablespoons, I thought I'd be in trouble, but it turns out two tablespoons was just right for the great big Fuji I was going to eat.  So I think I'll do OK with an apple a day.  

Gabe and I bid you peace.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hello out there!

Who knew that having a puppy and a four-year-old in the house at the same time could keep me so busy?  Especially when neither of them likes to see me on the computer.  The four-year-old goes home in the evening and is usually only here four days a week.  But the puppy stays, and wants constant attention, which he can't get if I'm doing a blog entry.  I've tried holding him on my lap while I surf, but when he sees my fingers dancing over the keyboard, he assumes it's a new game, and that he is supposed to bite them.  This doesn't work too well for me.

Cliff is happy to see weekends arrive these days; he only has to drive to the city for radiation on weekdays, and he's glad to have a two-day break.  So far everything is going well.  He still isn't having any problems from his treatment, or side effects from the estrogen implant, if that's the right term.  I wasn't with him when the doctor talked to him about that, and am not sure what it's called; it releases over a period of six months.  However, in his weekly conference with the doctor, he was told, "You WILL eventually have hot flashes."

Our little girl is in Iowa with grandparents for the coming week, so I'll probably ride to St. Luke's East along with Cliff the next few days.  The trip takes fifty minutes one way; the actual radiation only takes six minutes, and they usually take him right in, even if he's early.  He goes by way of Blue Valley Parkway heading in (very little traffic), then takes I-70 coming home, which takes us past almost any store I might want to stop by, Costco being one I'm always happy to visit.  I might sneak briefly into Kohl's, since I've lost some weight and some of my jeans are getting ridiculously loose.  I'd order some on Amazon, but since each brand's sizes differ from one another, I'll need to try some on.  I HATE tight jeans.  Cliff has lost 28 pounds, I've lost 13.  As usual, we don't "diet", we count calories.  I take that back; I count calories for both of us.  Don't get the idea I'm bragging, because in my entire history of weight loss, I've never kept it off long.  Maybe this will be the time it turns out different.    

We got a little boost this week that worked for the cause:  A horrible intestinal virus hit us both on the same day.  I don't think it was anything we ate, because our little girl's dad had the same thing that hit him 12 hours before we woke up sick.  That child would be the common link for all of us, and her daddy mentioned early in the week that she had a brief problem, although nothing anywhere as bad as our bout with the scourge.  Thank you, Little Princess, for the extra two pounds I lost over a period of 24 hours... OK, it was actually three pounds, but one came back.

Our Holstein steers are a year old and will go to the butcher shop as soon as deer season is over; the shop doesn't take anything in except deer during the hunting season.  That's about all they can handle.  I don't think we will need to raise a calf for ourselves this coming year, but the grandson wants another one, and also my daughter and her husband.  The Holstein bull calves are really cheap now, $120 each, last time I checked.  At $40 per bag, buying three or four bags of milk replacer for each calf is where most of the other expense comes in.    

I hope I've at least caught everybody up on the goings-on around here.  


Saturday, October 07, 2017

Puppy stuff

Many people told me I'd be better off adopting a shelter dog that was already grown rather than a puppy, because that way I wouldn't have the trials of housebreaking, chewed-up shoes and furniture, and so forth.  I told them I didn't want another dog with "issues" like Iris, and I know what to do about the chewing.  Oh, and housebreaking?  A piece of cake.  

And really, it was going smoothly for the first five days, with only a couple of minor accidents.  Then came the poop-storm on Thursday.  Gabe was very ill and wouldn't eat or drink, but was obviously feeling better that evening, even playing and drinking a little water.  Yesterday, Friday, on his first time outside the house for the day his bowels were obviously back to normal.  Crisis over, right?  He played, frisked, and ate like there was no tomorrow.  I decided to ride to the city with Cliff for his 2 minutes of radiation, so I put Gabe in his kennel, turned on the Alexa Tap and set it on his cage playing country music, and left.  When we returned I opened the door of the cage and released my happy, playful puppy, who ran circles around the room.  Took him out, he peed and I gave him more time in case something more urgent came up.  The only thing that came up was his cat playmate, which distracted him from any business he might have conducted.  Back in the house I started our mid-day meal.  I looked around and didn't see a puppy, so I called him.  He came running from my bedroom, happy to be of service.  A little later I walked through the bedroom to the bathroom and said, "What's that smell?"

Yeah, way over, hidden in the farthest corner, was a nice little puppy mess.  Could have been worse, though.  No diarrhea.    But yesterday evening he went out of sight behind a chair in the living room WITH ME WATCHING HIM GO BACK THERE!!!  Once hidden, he made a puddle of liquid poop there.  I put him outside with a sigh and fetched a bucket of Spic-and-Span water and the Spot Shot.  Cliff remarked that if this keeps up, I'll have the whole carpet cleaned, one spot at a time.  He's a barrel of laughs.  At least, though, Gabe felt fine.  I have seen many toddlers hide someplace to poop, but never a dog.  I guess he's modest.  

Did I mention we've had three rainy days in a row?  If you've ever had a house dog, you know how they hate to go potty on a rainy day, or even just in wet grass.  So there's that.  The first rainy day I looked around at the outbuildings and lean-tos on our place and figured I'd be better off taking him into one of those shelters when it's raining.  It wouldn't hurt for Gabe to do his mess there; after all, the neighbor's dog does.  It was a perfect solution, except that I'd have to walk through rain to get him to an outbuilding, but I'm fine with that.  And then I realized Cliff had put carpet in every single outbuilding.  Yes, he's a carpet freak.  It keeps down the dust, I assume.  But I don't want to train my dog to potty on carpets.  Besides, he obviously has acquired that skill already; I don't want to encourage it.  

When friends or relatives are putting down new carpet, they call Cliff to see if he wants the old stuff and he gladly takes it.  I finally remembered one shelter that wasn't carpeted:  The part of the barn where I milked cows.  So that's where I take my puppy on rainy days, and it works fine except for his feet.  Folks, the only long-haired breed I've ever had before was Brandy, a Chow, and she was mostly an outside dog.  Canines with fuzzy feet pick up mud like crazy; I've learned this over the last few rainy days.  So I now keep a damp washcloth near the front door, carry my puppy inside after carousing with the cats in the barn, and carefully wipe off all fours.  Did I really sign up for this?  (It's worth it.)

So, in an ideal world with no rain and where diarrhea is non-existent, house-training is a piece of cake.  In an imperfect world, though, ones patience is tried.  We'll get through this, but it reminds me of a preacher I used to hear, and his favorite sermon; at least I think it must have been, since over a period of five or six years I heard it at least four times.  It was based on a single verse in the Old Testament about David's mighty men, and here it is:    "Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, mighty in deeds, struck down the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion inside a pit on a snowy day."  I Chronicles 11:22

The title of the sermon seemed to be "The Very Bad Day".  I never really got the whole lesson from it, since anybody fool enough to go chasing after a lion alone pretty much deserves what he gets.  Poor guy went out on a snowy day, so that was his choice.  He should have stayed home near the fire.  As stupid as he was, I wouldn't be surprised if he was the one who dug the pit he fell into.  

But I digress.  My point is that I feel a little like that man today.  

"I got a puppy.  The puppy got diarrhea.  And then it rained."  Donna 73:10 (my age and the month of the year).  

Not quite the end of the story, though, because I love my puppy and we will work through this and come out smiling (or, in his case, barking) and the rug will be clean.  Unlike Benaiah, I'm willing to admit that I DID sign up for this.  On the bright side, 1500 years from now no preacher will be making a sermon out of my story, and my name will be long forgotten.  Although I admit I have lived through some stories that WOULD make sermon fodder, most of them featuring me as a bad example. 


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Another day in the life of a woman with a new puppy.

First, I'll let you know my husband went for his first radiation treatment this morning, because husbands top dogs in importance.  I won't be going along for the ride most days, since our Little Princess is usually here on weekdays.  Today, though, is a rainy day, there's no child here, and yet I'm at home.  Why?  Because at 5 AM I decided to make my favorite honey-wheat bread in the bread machine, forgetting how long it takes the bread to get done.  Twenty minutes sooner and I'd have gone with him.

On the puppy front, though, my being home may be a good thing:  Gabe is doing fine in the crate beside the bed at night, but I know if we leave him in there at a different time, without my voice to comfort him, he'll be whining and crying for quite a while before he wears out.  I hate to do that to him so early in his time with us.  Not to mention puppy diarrhea!  

Yes, I took him out as soon as I uncrated him this morning and he did all the business a puppy should and could do.  It was dark, so I couldn't monitor everything closely, but I do know he pooped (straining for quite a while) and peed.  I'm glad that when he has to go, he doesn't mind rainy weather and soaking wet grass.  

After I brought him in, he didn't do his usual eating, running, and playing.  He only wanted to lay on my lap.  Odd, I thought, but maybe he's just now settling in.  I took him out again when I went to feed the cats after waking Cliff up.  I put him back inside before I started to distribute the cat food, since I couldn't feed them as usual outside on their table because of rain; I opened the door to the back porch and let them eat there, on the floor.  As I put Gabe inside, I told Cliff, "He just peed, so he should be OK."

When I came he was at the north window watching outside, but five minutes later I saw him sniffing around at the front door and figured he might want out.  That's when I saw poop puddles all around the vicinity of the door.  At that point I realized why he hadn't been so perky earlier:  bellyache!  On the bright side, he chose to do this at the front door where I generally let him out, so he may have already learned where to go when he wants out.  I cleaned up the mess with some Spic-and-Span and Spot-Shot.  

Once this incident was behind us, Gabe got the burst of energy he usually has right out of bed.  I have no idea what brought the tummy issues on, since he's on the same food he's always had at his birth home.  Perhaps the cat poop he ate didn't agree with him?  Or maybe the roly-poly, ugly white worm he had as a snack yesterday.

Yesterday we took him to the local vet for his first visit; one of the breeder's requirements, if we wanted their health guarantee to hold up, was a vet visit within the first seven days.  I had Gabe chipped, and got his first application of Ivermectin.  The lady at the front desk remarked that he was much calmer than most puppies; I told her he seems very smart, and already knows his name and the meaning of "no".  She was quite impressed when later, as we were getting ready to leave, he began chewing at my finger, I said "no", and he immediately stopped chewing.  I felt like a proud mom (I know what you're thinking as you read this last statement, Cliff... don't judge).

Both Cliff's sisters, even the one in St. Louis, swear by the vet at Lexington because he charges so much less than city vets; that's what took me in that direction.  Honestly, I think I like the ones in Odessa better and the prices probably are no higher.  But now that I've started, I'll stay put unless there's a reason to switch.

Once again I'm wondering how people can afford to have two or three dogs:  The maintenance is higher than a non-pet-owner could ever imagine, or maybe they know, and that's why they are pet-free.  I haven't yet priced grooming, four or more times yearly.  I don't have a comb and brush for Gabe yet, or even a real dog bed!  All this expense comes as no surprise, though.  I thought it through before getting a dog and decided it was worth it at this point in my life.  I didn't want a dog that sheds, and grooming is just part of the expense.

I promise this isn't going to be a blog all about my dog, but I'm on a journey I haven't been on since I had my mongrel puppy, Mandy, and she was an inside/outside dog; so there wasn't really any housebreaking to be done.  

So I leave this with you and hope those of my readers who aren't crazy about dogs will put up with my enthusiasm for now.  I'm sure the puppy-blogging will fade into the background eventually.  


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Puppy report (and a report on my husband)

First, I'll let you know that Cliff saw his radiologist yesterday and will soon be starting radiation, probably within a week.  Meanwhile he stays busy working on the Ford tractor he recently purchased, which keeps him occupied while Gabe and our Little Princess occupy me.  

Gabe has bonded tightly with me and knows I'm his human.  He has now made one puddle on a carpet, but it's my own fault.  I woke him up to move him to another room to nap with the me and the kid.  Cliff said, "You'd better take him out to pee."  I didn't listen, and Gabe peed.  

Gabe is learning his name, and the meaning of "No!"  He isn't much of a chewer, which is surprising on a pup so young.  The three times I caught him with a charging cord in his mouth, a stern "No!" has been enough for him to drop the cord and move along to a toy that's permissible.  It's the same with licking:  He isn't terrible at licking people, but he does occasionally try, and "no" stops that.  I don't care to have any dog lick me, especially in the face.  More especially not a little Schnauzer I saw outside eating what appeared to be a tootsie roll, but turned out to be cat poop.  Yuck. 

Gabe seems to enjoy Little Princess, in spite of the fact she wants to carry him everywhere.  I'm trying to get the point across to her that he's happier on the floor or the ground, running around and following her.  She'll figure it out before long.  

As long as I go to bed as soon as I put him in the kennel beside my bed at night, he only whines softly a couple of times to make sure I'm there to talk to him, then is quiet the rest of the night.  I get up to go to the bathroom at least three times nightly and don't hear a peep out of him, but even though the cage is covered, he knows when I finally get up and head for the kitchen at 3 or 4 AM, and barks to remind me he's still captive.  I release him and take him outside first thing; then he has to have some lap time with lots of petting.  That done, he eats and drinks a bit and grabs a toy to play with.  

He has such a strong bond with me that yesterday evening when our daughter was visiting and offered to take him outside to potty, he refused to perform until I made an appearance.  I've been told this breed sometimes forms a strong attachment to one person, and I guess I'm the lucky person Gabe is attached to.   

Oh yes, and Gabe has made a friend of Buttons, the youngest cat in my clowder of felines.  Buttons was in need of a friend, since the older cats barely tolerate him; he's a little too full of vinegar and playfulness to suit their tastes.
I honestly didn't get a puppy so I'd have something to blog about, but apparently Gabe does serve that purpose.

Before I stop, I want to tell you how I ended up getting a Schnauzer.  Some years ago, Cliff stopped at an auto parts store.  As I was sitting in the car, a man drove in and parked beside me.  I noticed a distinguished-looking dog with little pointy ears sitting beside him in the seat.  The man got out of the car, but the little dog didn't budge from his spot, still seated in a dignified manner while keeping his eyes on his master.  When the man returned, the dog didn't jump up and squirm all over him, he simply looked up at his owner's face in adoration.

I came home and googled "dog with a beard".  The pictures I found looked like the little guy, so I knew what breed he was.  I had a problem dog at the time, and wasn't about to have another dog until she died.  That was Iris, who ran away and ended up right down the road at the home of some people who obviously loved her, despite her flaws.  I will always credit God for that turn of events. 

When Iris left, I had the tiny Princess to watch over and remained happily dog-free.  Iris had been such a shedder, I wasn't sure I'd even want another dog, ever!  The hair alone was enough to turn one against house-dogs for life.  

Then I read a book, "Following Atticus".  The hero of this biographical-type book was Atticus, a Mini-Schnauzer.  Again, I told myself if I ever got another dog, that would be the breed.  But I still didn't make a move, because my "puppy" was a human toddler who was all Cliff and I needed in our lives at the time.  Cliff, by the way, likes dogs OK, but he can take them or leave them.  In the case of house dogs, he'd rather leave them.  

Finally, the child we tended wasn't a baby any more, and I was ready:  Enter Gabe, stage right.


Sunday, October 01, 2017

I have a dog. He owns me.

We went to Plattsburg, Missouri, to pick Gabe up.  He already had this name, sort of:  His registered name is Gabz, followed by a string of strange-sounding other names.  I first saw it as "Gabe" and decided I liked it, so Gabe he is.

I held him on my lap on the hourlong ride home, stroking and petting him all the way.  It didn't take long for him to settle down and go to sleep for the journey.  I had originally thought I'd make a deposit for one of a litter that wasn't ready to wean, and so assumed I had lots of time to purchase things one needs for a dog in the house:  bowls, bed, a kennel.  So when I switched options and bought the only remaining pup in a litter that was ready to go, I wasn't sure what I'd do about the situation.  

Everyone who has seen Gabe's picture and then sees him in person is surprised at how tiny he is.  The pictures make him look like a good-sized dog, but he's small.
Here he is on his day of arrival, sitting in the kitchen... a kitchen that will henceforth be littered with tiny chunks of dry dog food, since Gabe is a messy eater.  Cliff, unlike me, is tender-footed, so I'm not sure how this will work out for him when he gets up in the morning.

We made a quick stop at Walmart on our way home.  I left Cliff in charge of dog-sitting and ran in to buy a couple of dog dishes.  I couldn't resist grabbing a couple of chew toys.  He really didn't need toys, since the folks who sold him to me sent a nice care package along that included a couple of toys.  But a puppy can't have too many toys.  I glanced at beds but decided to simply fold up a blanket to start with.  We were going to have to get a kennel of some sort to restrain him at night, but Cliff and I had agreed that we could come up with something that would contain such a small dog for a night or two until we found a reasonably-priced pet taxi.  

When we got home I gave him time to stroll around the yard and pee, then we went in.  It seems as though we had bonded on the ride home, because ever since then he follows me everywhere.  He might be sound asleep on his blanket-bed, but if I get up from my chair he follows so closely to my feet, I have to watch out not to step on him.  

Inside, I laid the folded-up blanket down next to my chair and patted it, then sat down in the chair.  He came to my hand, smelled around, and laid down.  Since that first time, he knew that was where he was supposed to be.
The little pawprint blanket and pillow were gifts from the seller.  She told us these had the scent of his mother on them.  I took this shot on his first evening here, right beside my chair.  Even now, as I type this, Gabe is laying at my side on his blanket in the computer room, curled up asleep.

The Little Princess we babysit came by with her mom and their puppy that first afternoon.  Her dog is a tiny terrier that is "as wound up as an eight-day clock", always moving and, when she stops running, shaking with nervous energy.  She's approaching one year old, but is smaller than eight-week-old Gabe.  They sniffed one another's private places and then took turns humping one another for the next five minutes or so.  The kid's mom loaned us a cage-type kennel with a cover to make it dark; this took the rush out of having to shop for a kennel.  I do intend to buy one soon; I prefer one of the pet taxis with a handle on top, but this one will serve the purpose for now.  

Bedtime approached, and I knew things were liable to get pretty noisy once I put Gabe in the cage, which was ready and waiting on the floor at my bedside with a soft, folded-up beach towel spread in the bottom.  I put his special pillow and blanket inside, and then gently placed him in.  Oh yes, things got pretty noisy.  He probably yelped and whined for thirty minutes or more, but he finally get so tired he gave up and went to sleep.  He woke at 2 AM, crying once again, but this time it only lasted perhaps five minutes.  

I always get up at three or four in the morning:  It was dead quiet when I decided to get up, but like an idiot, I woke Gabe.  Later I realized I should have at least let him sleep until he woke on his own.  Anyway, I took him straight outside and let him take care of business.  Once inside, he was a ball of energy, picking up one toy, then another, alternately running in the kitchen for a bite of food and a drink of water, then running back to the living room to grab a toy.

Last night when I put him to bed, he only made a token protest and went soundly to sleep.  He woke at 3, whined softly until I talked softly to him from above, then hushed and slept more.  When he and I got up at four, as always, I took him straight outside again.  Things took a little while this time, since Buttons the cat was on the front porch and decided this was a good time to approach this new creature and see what he was made of.  Morning is Gabe's most active time, so with a cat to play with, he forgot why we were outside in the first place.  Finally I fed the cats on the back porch and took Gabe back around the house, where he went ahead and did what he was supposed to do in the first place.  

This is the start of day three with the puppy, and he hasn't had a single accident in the house.  Of course I can't say he is house-broke until he starts going to the door or barking to let me know he's in distress.  But like most dogs, he can and will pee almost any time, and I've already learned his behavior well enough to know when he shows signs of something more urgent.  He's going to be an easy dog to housebreak.

I've heard mostly good things about Mini-Schnauzers.  So many people wanted me to adopt a shelter dog, but even if I'd found one, I didn't want the risk of getting a dog with issues.  I wanted a puppy so I could raise him to be sensible.  I'm trying to refrain from the baby-talking as we women tend to do with dogs.  I want him calm, not excitable.  I've only heard him bark once, at a cat.  But I'm not going to encourage his barking as I have with other dogs.  He already seems to know what "NO" means, and I don't even have to sound mad when I say it for him to stop what he's doing.  

This appears to be a match made in heaven for me; I hope it turns out that way for Gabe.