Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How cute is my dog?

Seriously.  How cute is my dog?

Brillo sits on the steps for a better view of his pool.  I love it when dogs sit like that.

Poor exhausted boy!

My dog displays his partisanship.  Please, don't hold it against him.  He just likes John McCain's white hair (it matches his) and Sarah Palin's lipstick (he likes hockey moms better than pitbulls).

Brillo is now 11 weeks old (birthday was Tuesday), and he is showing signs of hormonal changes mixed with puppy wild oats.  That's a bad combo.  He really, really likes to bark at his toys and other inanimate objects.  He has been doing that for at least a week or two.  One of his favorite things to bark at is my bathroom scale.  I can't say I blame him for that...  Now, though, he has started barking at me.

In the past week, he has been getting a little too rough in his puppy play.  It started with occassional nips at my legs, and barking and chasing.  Now it has escalated to grabbing onto my pants or shorts, wrapping his front legs around me, and biting.  Hard.  He thinks it's fun and hilarious.  I think it is painful and infuriating.  All my books and everything I read online says I am supposed to redirect his attention to a toy, or tell him to sit, or ignore him.  Under no circumstance am I to use negative reinforcement, lest I accidentally reinforce his bad behaviors by giving him the attention he is seeking.  THAT is easier said than done.  When a full set of needle teeth sink into your flesh, I dare you to hold still and ignore it.  It is a normal human reflex to try to separate one's leg from the vice grip of one's dog's mouth when bitten.

The problem is, the books are right.  I've tested the theory, and using one's hands to push or pry or spank or grab the dog's mouth only makes him more aggressive and determined!  It's very confusing and trying.  When I was a kid, we would grab the dog's snouth, or spank him, and it worked.  The books say negative discipline will erode our relationship, and the section I read again today says a puppy under 12 weeks completely will not get it.  It says it would be like disciplining a one-year-old human infant for pulling hair.  It wouldn't register.  Based on that, I am going to try again to use the positive techniques.  I'll let you know how it goes.  I am hoping the physical and noise discipline I used this morning when he attacked me AND HUMPED MY LEG will stick so he doesn't try again.  That was the first time he tried to establish dominance by humping my leg, or anything else.  I highly doubt it will be the last.  I am shocked that his teensie little "boys" have enough kick in them to alter his behavior already.  Seriously, they are tiny--so much so that my friend Sherri won't stop making fun of him.  Poor baby. He's probably trying to prove something...

I have noticed that most nipping assaults occur when Brillo is tired, and the books confirm that  a tired puppy is more prone to nip.  Nipping and mouthing is the pup's way of telling us he needs something.  I put him in his puppy room when he starts getting rough, and he typically goes right to sleep.  So, these issues are fixable; I just have to be patient and consistent.  Nobody said doggy mommyhood  was supposed to be easy.

Oh, I think we may have had an important breakthrough in the pottytraining today.  I was thinking it was time to take him out, and I was about to do just that.  He was free in the house, and I walked over toward the office to see what he was up to, and he started to pee on Dave's nice rug!  Impulsively, I screamed, "NO, ah, ah, ah," and scared the pee, well, into him.   He was startled and stopped midstream, and I told him, "outside!"  I opened the door (thankfully, he was right by it), and he ran out.  I asked him to go potty, and he finished his business.  Whoopee!  I hope he thinks about that the next time he needs to pee while indoors.

Brillo got into his pool by himself again this morning.  I threw the bottle in there to see if he would push it underwater with his head.  He used his paws, instead.

Here's Brillo's new squeaky toy. Several times, I have heard him whining while he squeaks his toys. I think he's talking to them.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Brillo spends time with his buddy Jake and another new friend in front of Handful of Wildflowers at Oktoberfest.

Brillo and I have been really busy, because we just finished up three days of Oktoberfest here in La Mesa. Why were we busy? Well, because we had to take our twice-daily walks through the festivities, of course. What you need to realize is that this dog is a people magnet, and it takes us 30 min to travel one block during Oktoberfest. EVERYBODY had to stop and pet him and comment on his funny/beautiful coat, and ask what breed he is.

Brillo is the most popular dog I know, besides his Uncle Bentley (the Newfoundland). Most people freely admit they've never heard of a wirehaired pointing griffon, and the few who say they've heard of him have never seen one except in televised dog shows. One lady sort of pissed me off by pretending to know exactly what breed he is. I thought she asked what he is, and I started to answer, and she said, "No, I know what breed he is, I mean, what's his name?" And I was like, "You do? Nobody does." And she pretended to know, but she wanted to call him a German something or other. People often think he is a German wirehaired pointer, or a German shorthair pointer mix. She never did admit she had no idea what a WHPG is, but she sure did like Brillo. We walked by her every day, and she always came out to love on him. Another lady asked me what he was, and I told her, and she said, "What a lovely mix." What? He is such an anomaly that people completely lose their minds over him. Another lady walked toward him and said, "Is he wearing a sweater?" And I thought she was kidding, so I said, "Yeah," in my best "yeah, right" voice. When she got closer, she was seriously bewildered to realize it wasn't a sweater but was really his fur. I can't believe she actually thought he was wearing a furry sweater in mid-70-degree weather. HA!

Let's see....what else do I have to talk about? OH! I know:

Brillo is hoping for a future career in the pool care industry.

A few days ago, I mowed the lawn and used the leaf blower. Brillo's pool was already full of bugs and stuff, and then I filled it with leaves and dust doing the yard work. So, I emptied the pool and refilled it. Brillo had fun playing with the hose while I filled his pool, but that was nothing compared to the fun he had "helping" me put a tarp over it to keep junk out.

Brillo attacked the tarp with gusto, growling and barking and biting it. He continued his attack even after I had finally gotten it into position covering the pool. He eventually crawled onto it, rolling around like a kid on a water bed. It was sooo funny, and it looked like loads of fun.

In other news, Admiral Brillo is proud to have you know he has learned another trick! He was getting really good at "come" and "sit," so I decided to add another word to his vocabulary: "lie down." Well, technically, that is two words. It took a few minutes to teach him how to do it, and ever since I switched from store-bought treats to sliced roasted chicken from my own refrigerator, he is eager to do what it takes for a reward. The books all say to use "down," but my dad always taught "lie down," and old habits are hard to break. You can't teach an old dog owner new tricks. So, even though he learned "down" the first day, he didn't miss a beat when I accidentally switched to the longer version.

He is so cute the way he lies down, too.  Brillo has a mind of his own, and he always acts like he is exhasperated when I ask him to come, and then sit, and then lie down.  It's like he can't really be bothered.  He looks at me as if to say, "I know you have the chicken, lady.  Just give me some, already.  How about if I just sort of do a little twirl and then almost lie down and then jump up?" And even though I'm not supposed to, I tell him, again, to "Lie down!"  And he does another little twirl and gives me a little "Get on with it, chicken lady," and then plops down on my feet. It's sloppy, but he gets there.  I promise you, his come and sit are quick, to the point, and approaching 100%.  Tonight, after talking to a new lady friend who was walking by and had to pet him, he took off to follow her.  I said, "Brillo, come!"  And lo and behold...He DID IT!  My neighbors across the street laughed but agreed with me as I shouted, "He's a genius!" and cuddled him unreservedly. 

In other news, today Brillo met my grandma, his great-grandma.  He piled into his crate, and we drove to Carlsbad for a visit.  She's not a huge dog person, but she couldn't help but admit he is awfully cute.  I think his long coat gave her some concern, but she agreed he is a keeper.  Brillo expressed his deep affection for her by dropping a runny poop right in the middle of her patio rug. To be fair, it wasn't his fault.  We were eating inside at the table, so I made him stay outside on the patio.  We had just returned from a walk, but, true to form, he didn't do more than pee.  I should have thought about that.  He was whining and barking, and I thought it was just because he was pissed he wasn't invited inside.  Then I saw him squatting.  Poor little boy.  He tried to tell me, and I just wasn't catching on. Grandma was good natured about it, but I was fairly mortified.  

Brillo loves the fishy his grandma sent him!

Two totallycute critters.

Cool frisbee!!!

When we returned home from Grandma's, there was a special package of a different sort waiting for us on our porch.  My mom, Brillo's grandma, had sent him a package!  He had a lot of fun opening up the big envelope, with a tiny bit of help from me, and he probably would have been pretty happy even if it had been empty!  But it wasn't empty!  It had two super-awesome goodies inside.  He loved the tiny red-and-white stuffed fishy immediately, and, after a toss or two, he fell deeply in love with his canvas frisbee.  With one toss, he even ran all the way back to me with it!  He might just learn "bring" or "fetch," afterall!  Thanks, Grandma!  Arf, arf!

Well, with that, I think I'll wrap it up.  It's gonna take a while to upload all the photos and videos, and I'm feeling sleepy.  Thanks for tuning in!

Another new toy.  I had to have this.  The fur is tipped, like Brillo's.  Except for the color difference, their coats are very similar!

Handsome boy!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cosmo's, the Kiddie Pool, and a Stroll

Brillo poses with a couple of our good friends: his clicker and my Cosmos latte. See the slideshow in the sidebar for images of him barking at the latte...

Two fools in a pool.

My little drowned rat.

It's a lot easier to take a self-picture of two people. A dog and a person takes more finesse, but I really love this one.

Brillo loves his mama.

Brillo and I had a pretty big day today, and it started early, thanks to the short, four-legged one. B-man got up around 0600, and he was feeling pretty lively. We played for a while, and he ate, and then we walked down to Cosmo's for a coffee and a leg stretch. Brillo was very good on the way there and back, stopping to sit at each intersection and settling down very quickly while his new lady friends admired him over a latte and talked to me about the wirehaired pointing griffon breed.

A couple of times today, some people who had met him a couple of weeks ago remarked on how much he has grown. A few days after his 8-week birthday, Brillo was 11.3 lbs. A week later he was 13 lbs. Today, one day after his 10-week birthday, the big guy weighed in at 17 lbs! Holy cow! Mama's little baby is growing up overnight! He has a doctor's appointment October 9th, so I'll let you know what he weighs in at then. We're both very excited, because he's getting his second round of puppy shots. Pretty soon, his immunities will be up, and he'll get to sniff (meet) the neighborhood dogs! Better still, we'll finally get to go to Dog Beach! YAY!

After Cosmo's, Brillo helped me roll up the hose and put it on its new hanger. He did a very good job attacking, biting, and barking at the hose while I tried to untwist it. He was indefatigable and didn't stop attacking it until it was completely put away. Brillo loves the hose, and he always has fun biting it and drinking out of it when we're playing in the front yard.

Brillo gets seizes an afternoon power nap. He doesn't often get to use his big-boy bed.

After all that excitement, Brillo and I practiced using our drag leash (I leash him to my belt and make him follow me around the house so I can keep an eye on him), and just before he peed on his big-boy bed in the living room (he slipped out of sight behind the sofa for a SPLIT SECOND), the party boy took a little nap.

Brillio shows some interest in his pool toy. I predict he'll be sticking his head under water in a few months.

In the early afternoon, we both decided it was time to play in the backyard. Because of the heatwave we've been experiencing this week, we agreed to take a dip in the pool. I give him props for getting in for a minute or two and playing with his float toy, but he didn't really feel like staying in long enough to turn into a prune. Pruny paws freak him out, apparently. I suspect he'll embrace his inner water dog pretty soon.

After he got out of the pool the first time, he wasn't so sure he wanted back in...even to attack his mini dodge ball.

Brills (that's his British name) slept for a little while in the afternoon, after his swim, but not for as long as usual. He seemed pretty lively at around 6-ish, so we walked through La Mesa Village in the relative cool of the evening. He was hesitant, at first, to leave the yard, but he warmed up to the walk within the first half a block. Again, he sat at each intersection before crossing the street, and he walked without too many sniff-pauses. (Oh, and we FINALLY met someone who has heard of the WPG breed! She owns a kennel and has seen on or two griffs.) In the downtown blocks, he raced along like a big boy, prancing and smiling. We stopped to talk to a new friend, a nice lady named Nanette who lives a couple of blocks away. She was looking for her kitties when she spied the cutest doggie on the planet and had to meet and greet us. She was really cool, and we look forward to seeing her again. Of course, Brillo wasn't psyched about having to wait while we yucked it up for, like, a 1/2 hour, but he was really well behaved and enjoyed lying on the grass and chewing on his squeaky duck. He also didn't mind showing off a couple of sits for her.

When we arrived back home, neighbor Catherine was out in her yard and weilding a hose, so Brillo got another wild burst of energy and played rambunctiously for a while. He showed her a couple of sits, but they were imperfect and reluctant. He has trouble practicing his lessons when there are distractions, so I won't ask him to do that again until he gets a little older and more polished. I was hoping he'd be as excited to show her his new tricks as I was, but the hose was just so much more fun!

I expected the little fellow to crash out as soon as we got back inside, but he was squirley and needed more time to unwind. I suspected he'd need a good poop before his evening nap (he doesn't poop on walks and saves it, like most of us, for the comfort of his own home), and he did. After all that business, he ate, rested briefly, and was awake again! He started getting cranky around 8:30, so I gave him a potty break and put him in his room. He was out like a light before his head hit his pillow...err...towel. I hope he sleeps well, and I especially hope he sleeps LATE. We're both pretty exhausted.

Somebody, and I'm not naming names, has had too much to drink.