Friday, May 23, 2008

Reflections on Bruschi's Puppyhood

(Image: Bruschi at 8 wks and one day old)

I love Bruschi. I honestly and truly love the dog, and wouldn't change anything about him if given the chance... but boy, was he a bad puppy!! Cute as can be, but so, so bad! I say this as I am sandwiched between Pinky, a little 8 week old hound/retriever mix that I am co-fostering on my left leg, and Bruschi, my two year old Puggle who just ate a whole stick of butter, wrapper and all, on my right.

Brian and I got Bruschi at 8 weeks old to the day... picking him up at Dulles Airport (IAD) at midnight, coming in from South Dakota...and our lives have not been the same since. We knew the puppyraising task ahead of us was no small endeavor, would require lots of time, and lots of new types of thinking. We read books, blogs, magazines, internet articles--anything we found. But no book prepared us for what we experienced (although many times we searched for the section on "what to do when your dog just won't release his grip on your purse)."

Bruschi excelled at house breaking, getting down the routine fairly quickly. He also excelled at whining, puppy piranhas (excessive mouthing) and eating possessions, including diamond earrings, hair brushes, cell phone ear pieces, shoes, purses, gum, credit cards, palm pilot cases, and anything else that his nose found. He was a thief, and proudly trounced around the house with our possessions in jaws, showing off his latest prize find. Oh, and did I mention the whining?

Having not had a puppy prior to Bruschi, I didn't know any different. I thought this is just the way it was with the younguns... until I started fostering. The first two foster pups, who will forever have a huge place in my heart as Beetle and Casey, were near-angelic compared to my memory of puppyhood. These little coonhound/lab mixes didn't like the crate at all and howled fiercely once in it, but were perfect gentlemen otherwise. Minimal whining, no stealing, no chewing, no mouthing, no tugging on the leash-- in short, star pupils. And, my latest little foster, who was part of a litter of nine birthed at the training center where I apprentice-- she's just a little peach! She's got some stress and anxiety to get over, but is rivaling Kodi for the "little princess" title right now.

Bruschi was, and continues to be a challenge, but it is just so rewarding to look at him and think about how far he has come, and how much closer to obedient he is with each day. He forces me to think differently about how I communicate, how I measure success, and how I determine what is important in life.

Neither Brian nor I ever thought of giving up on Bruschi, no matter how many time-outs he wracked up in an hour... but we do see people regularly who do give up on their pup, perhaps before really taking a good look at themselves and saying "what can i do to better communicate with my dog." It is both hard and humbling to say "I can not control my puppy, please help," and then being able to listen and implement new methods... but so, so rewarding for an owner and a dog.

The element of unpredictability in what type of puppy yours will be is perhaps both the biggest fear and the greatest excitement. I constantly remind myself to view each new puppy and dog as an individual--there is no one-size-fits-all method for raising a puppy (even though there are some sure-fire ways to train a dog). More shy dogs need different types of stimuli to bring them out of their shell-- more assertive dogs need a certain level and intensity of training. I've also learned that a puppy's love and affection is enough to compensate for all that a human is required to do to maintain that dog.

(Image: Bruschi at 8 weeks and 1 day old)

(Image: Bruschi at 2 yrs and 1 month old)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


With faces this cute, who needs text?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Kodi!

We declared May 14/15 as Kodi's birthday. Why the 14/15 or May? Well, since we don't know when she was actually born, Brian decided that her special day should also honor the late, great, Mr. Frank Sinatra. She'll sport a Martini-collar to celebrate the occasion!

Since I was under the assumption that the birthday was May 15 due to coastal time differences of when Mr. Sinatra passed.... she actually gets a birthday that spans two days!