Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Extra Baby Teeth Finally Fell Out!

Some of Delilah's puppy teeth didn't fall out when the adult teeth grew in, most notably her canines. She had double sets of teeth for awhile, which crowded her mouth and I think contributed to her TERRIBLE breath (note the gunk in between the two canines- that built up every day)!  Well, guess who doesn't have to floss their dog's teeth anymore or pay for surgical removal!

Double canines- the hooked one is the puppy tooth.

Anyways, training class tonight!  We've been doing our homework- she knows sit, down, touch, and her name like the back of her paw.  For mat work, we were supposed to teach them to run to their mat and automatically lie down for the rest of the homework.  She'll run to her mat, but I have to cue the down, not doing it automatically yet so I'm probably going to ask the trainer for tips.  I tried just waiting without cuing the down to see if she would offer the behavior on her own so I could capture it but she just sits and stares at me.  When she realizes that doesn't work she'll start jumping off her "mat" (a bed) and jumping back on and staring at me and the clicker.  Well, we'll get there.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Delilah's First Training Class

On Wednesday evening Delilah, the bf, and I went to our first training class!  It's a positive reinforcement clicker training class that teaches basic manners and obedience.  I think this is the first step to agility. For the first class we just went over a lot of basic stuff- sit, down, responding to name, touch, and mat work.  I had already started teaching her the first four things so she was a pro at class.

When we got there we had to wait outside before the class but we aren't allowed to let dogs greet each other before/during/after class.  I saw a friend from work who's also taking this class with her lab and we talked a little but we couldn't get close enough for the dogs to greet.

Mat work during class.
Delilah yapped a little outside- there's a feed store right next door and they were unloading hay in the parking lot and the noise and movement scared her.  Once we got inside there was a circle of chairs spaced far apart with mats next to them for the dogs.  There were some young adult/adolescent dogs like Delilah and there were also a couple of puppies and a couple of adult dogs.  I was so worried Delilah was going to yap at the other dogs or people but she was fine!  Even when the trainer came over to meet her while I left to register and pay, she didn't yap, she was friendly!  I'm so proud!

Demonstrating the "name game" with the trainer.  Good girl!
Since a lot of the other dogs were young and hyper some of them would bark so the only time she yapped during the class was in response to another dog barking.  I had taught her a kissing noise as a positive interrupter and as a cue to focus on me (see video below by Kikopup/Emily Larlham for more information).  So whenever she started yapping or when I anticipated that she would start yapping I made the noise and she'd come over and look at me and be quiet.

The good news is my boyfriend's pretty enthusiastic about this class and has been doing the homework with Delilah!  Even though he says "it wasn't that fun" I think he secretly liked it.  I had a lot of fun, and I know Delilah did.  It was just a big cookie party for her- treats and dogs and games- so exciting!

Also, we bought her this cute jacket after class.  She'll come to appreciate it in another month or so.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Thus Far: Counting our Blessings and Things to Overcome

I've had Delilah for a couple of months now.  We've had our ups and downs.  She has her problems, but also good qualities.  Just to catch you guys up before our first training class tonight, this post will be a list of these things- things we're working on, problems we've had, but also "counting our blessings" with the good things too.

By the way, I'm really super excited for this class we're taking- it's called Good Manners and it's through a local positive reinforcement based training facility called Show Me the Biscuit that has an agility program I want to get into with Delilah.  I don't have any personal experience with them but I've heard good things and they also do a lot of demos at local dog events so I've seen them around.  Really stoked.  My boyfriend and I have had this conversation pretty much every night for the past couple of weeks:

Me: Aren't you so excited for Delilah's class to start?
BF: Yeah, kind of, I guess.  I'm excited for her to be trained.
Me: Yeah, I'm so excited, I'm really really excited.  I can't wait!
BF: ... I know -__-

Delilah's pretty excited too.

Anyways, I will start with the bad things because when you get a new dog, these are the things that tend to stand out at first until you can start appreciating the dog you have rather than longing for the dog you wanted.

Low Points:

1) Bonding:  The scariest problem I faced after adopting Delilah is that we didn't seem to bond right away.  In fact, I kind of resented her.  It's really common for people to get the "puppy blues" after adopting a new dog or puppy, but I thought I was prepared.  The second day we had her I had to work a nine hour shift and she had spent the whole day with my boyfriend.  They were lying on the bed and I walked in the house and she started yapping and snarling at me.  I was so scared she liked him more than me and she wouldn't bond with me.  She also had/has some other behavioral issues which made it harder to deal with the change of bringing home a dog.  I had been excited for my whippet puppy and I was starting to regret adopting Delilah.  But I spoke to other owners on the dog forum I go on (Dog Forum) and they were all really helpful and supportive.  It was reassuring to talk to other owners that didn't bond with their dogs right away, and some of them had dogs with behavioral issues too.  They also linked me to some great articles like this one by Patricia McConnell about adjusting to a new dog and the new dog adjusting to its new life as well.  Another member told me that as she gets more confident in her new home her behavioral problems will get worse because she's still insecure but not so insecure to suppress them.  And then when she becomes even more confident and comfortable they will get better.  That's pretty much what happened- her problems are better than they were, but we're still working on them.  I'm glad to say we have bonded now and I like having her around.

2) Yapping/Fear/Reactivity:  One behavioral problem that really came out was her being fear reactive towards people.  On leash, off leash, in the apartment- when she feels too much social pressure or when people move or act strangely.  She yaps, snarls, and occasionally darts in like she's going to bite.  This has been getting much better on leash but she still reacts to people who make her nervous- generally men and children- including my dad. :(  This has been hard to train because a lot of people don't take her seriously- there have been a number of people who will come up and try to pet her from behind (without either of us knowing they're even there), who tease her, who think that she's cute or funny because she "thinks she's tough" (she doesn't, she's SCARED!), or who don't listen to me when I tell them how to interact with her.  Because of this, I'm not really letting anyone interact with her anymore unless they are a close friend or family member that she's going to have to get used to anyways, or I know that they understand dog behavior and will listen to my instructions.  Trying some counter-conditioning but I think I'll probably have to do a behavioral consultation in the future if I don't see an improvement on my own.  I feel a lot of pressure to have a really well behaved dog because everyone who knows me says I'm really great with dogs and they all expect me to have a well behaved one.  Also, she's a rescue and a tiny dog so I don't want to have a stereotypical yappy little dog or a rescue dog with issues- I want to break those stereotypes and show people that they can be great pets.  But Delilah's not ready for that and I need to get my ego out of this.

3) Screaming:  Delilah SCREAMS when she is excited or frustrated.  It's terrible, it really is.  I can't take her to work until it's colder out and we're not using the hose, because when we're trying to hose off the yard she screams bloody murder and makes a target of herself.  Of course the other dogs are going to want to "play with" the tiny, screaming animal.  I took Delilah and Mia hiking a couple of weeks ago and I was giving Mia a bath in the driveway with the hose.  I had tied Delilah to my car so she wouldn't try to attack the water during Mia's bath.  She screamed so badly that my mom ran out thinking she had gotten hit by a car or attacked or something.  We're working on impulse control right now and it's working with her toys (she screams at some of those too) but water is too much for her at the moment.  This video shows only mild excitement, it's worse with hoses:

Good Things:

1) She is relatively healthy:  No heartworm (thank God).  During her first checkup a couple of days after I got her, the vet noticed one of her knees was a little loose and we weren't sure whether it was luxating patella or if it would stabilize with growth and development.  About a month later we went back and it was much less loose so it looks like it will go away or at least get better as her joints finish developing.  The only thing is she still has a lot of her baby teeth (they won't come out on their own) and it's crowding her mouth and making her breath STINK so we're going to have to get those removed down the road.

2) High Drive:  She is very food, toy, and praise motivated and she LOVES to play.  This has made it pretty easy to train her and will be great for agility.  It's made me really excited about training her for agility, and I'm also considering terrier racing (UKC Drag Racing) if I can find an active enough community in Vermont.  She loves to tug, chase, run, jump.  She is also very intelligent.

No need for a flirt pole, she's small enough for a cat toy!

3) Pretty good in the house and her crate:  She's had a few accidents and she's not 100% house trained but she's been really good as long as she's supervised.  She's even started asking to go out.  She's okay in her crate too.  Sometimes she will make awful noises that sound like a mix between screaming and yodeling if she doesn't want to be in there but she always settles down within a few minutes, and loves her new crate we just got her.  It's bigger and has a comfy pillow in it, so she'll even hang out in there on her own when it's open.  Also, no separation anxiety!  That's a big one!

4) Good with other animals:  She's a bit of a jerk- she'll steal things that other dogs have even if she didn't want that thing in the first place.  She just wants to take it for herself if another dog thinks it's valuable.  But other than that she is very friendly and playful towards new dogs and gets along great with Mia (although Mia's a little scared of her).  She's also been great with my rabbit, Sophie, from the start.  Fairly playful and respectful towards her.

Playing with Sophie bunny.

Well, that's it for now- so excited for our first class later tonight.  I'll try to write about it later tonight or tomorrow and let you know how it goes!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Welcome Home Delilah!

The weeks leading up to our new dog's homecoming were filled with anticipation and excitement.  One of the foremost obstacles we were facing was deciding on a name.  This dog's name was Tianna, but we would have called her Tia for short, which sounded way too much like Mia.  We polled our friends and relatives, and bounced names off each other.  One rule I had was that there couldn't be a dog at the dog daycare I work at with the same name.  It gets too confusing for the dogs when there are multiple dogs with the same name in a group, especially when one is naughty and gets in trouble for say, humping or bullying.  The good dog with the same name still thinks it's getting told off even though it was the other dog that actually was in trouble.  Plus I just like unique names, I don't want to have a dog that has the same name as a bunch of other dogs.

My boyfriend suggested Isabella, "we could call her Izzy or Bella for short."  Well that was out- those are two very popular names.  My ideas were shot down too- Numi, Twilla, Talulah, Pepsi.  One day my boyfriend suggested Delilah, kind of out of the blue.  He got the idea from a Grateful Dead song, "Brown Eyed Women."  I really liked the name and I also like the song "Hey There Delilah" so it was a good compromise.  So far I haven't met a dog named Delilah before so that was a plus too!


On July 18th, Saturday morning, my sister Anna and I drove almost two hours south to Brattleboro, VT, which was the furthest north the transport went.  Coincidentally, that morning the whippet breeder I had been talking to told me that her bitch had been bred and they were expecting puppies in September.  I regretfully declined, wondering if I was making the right decision.

Anna and I reached Brattleboro about an hour early and spent the morning waiting in anticipation.  We went to get lunch (crepes, yum!) but I was worried we would miss the transport so we ate fast.  Finally, after waiting in the Burger King parking lot for another 20 minutes or so, a large cargo transport truck pulled up behind the restaurant.  There were about a half dozen other families there eagerly awaiting their new additions.  I will say I was horrified to see parents letting their children run right up to their new terrified dog and stick their faces right in the dog's face.  My heart stopped each time.  Luckily nothing came of it, but God, give the dog a little space!

The last dog.

I watched dog after dog be led or carried off of the transport and presented to its new family.  I anxiously watched, hoping my dog would be next.  Finally, I saw the man come out once last time with a tiny brown and white dog in his arms.  She was much smaller than I expected, and looked understandably frightened.  He handed the fragile little dog to me with her paperwork, and I took her, feeling a whole plethora of emotions- fear, love, wonder, regret, anxiety, joy.  This was MY dog.  Oh God.

So scared.
We walked her around a little.  She was too scared to come over to us on her own or really walk much, but she peed and pooped and took some water and smelly treats from us that we had brought along.  I picked her up to bring her to the car, and felt a big lump under her belly.  At first I thought they had mislabeled her sex and she was a boy dog!  But upon further inspection it appeared her spay incision was still very swollen.  I was a little worried about infection.

Finally in the car she began to calm down a little, and gave me kisses.  She then proceeded to curl up on my lap and sleep for most of the ride up to Burlington.


My tiny little angel baby.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Things Don't Always Go As Planned

I never wanted a terrier.  I still don't want a terrier.  I just have one.

I always said when I got my own dog I'd start a blog.  It took a while after I got her to actually start blogging, I was still coming to terms with this dog not being what I expected.

A little less than a year ago I began the search for my own dog.  I was getting ready to graduate from college and was excited to be able to finally have a pup of my own.  I was looking for a medium sized athletic dog, easy to train, friendly, people oriented.  I grew up with a cockapoo, Mia, who is probably one of the sweetest, gentlest dogs I've ever met.  I was looking for a dog with a similar temperament, but a higher energy level and drive to train in agility.  I really love Australian Shepherds and spaniels, my boyfriend loves terriers- particularly Jack Russells and Norfolks.  I said absolutely not.  Terriers were said to be everything I didn't want in a dog- stubborn, sassy, independent, yappy, difficult to train.  We compromised on a whippet, a dog that fit my size and athletic requirements and seemed to have a temperament in between what we each wanted.  We contacted a few breeders, got on a waiting list, and excitedly prepared for our new addition.

Not something I really wanted in my apartment...

After I graduated from college, my rabbit- Sophie- and I moved in with my boyfriend.  And we waited.  While we were waiting, certain friends and relatives of mine were really pushing the rescue thing.  I had always wanted to rescue a dog, but for my first dog I really wanted the experience of watching a puppy grow up and having control over its early socialization and training.  I also wanted to know that my dog had good genetics- that the parents were health tested and proven sport dogs.  My boyfriend definitely didn't want a rescue dog at all- he didn't understand the appeal in getting a "second hand" dog and was shocked when he learned that they actually cost money to adopt.  He didn't see why dogs that "no one wanted" should cost anything, he thought shelters were trying to get rid of them.  So we were going to get a puppy from a breeder.

But it was hard for me to wait and I began browsing  Ahh Petfinder, a website of temptation.  At first it was just for fun, just as a "what if."  But you know how it goes, you see that face you just can't say no to.  And one day I saw that face.

He was a 6 month old brindle border collie cairn terrier mix.  Absolutely adorable, and a cross between breeds that me and my boyfriend each liked.  His temperament sounded just like what I was looking for and when I showed him to my boyfriend, he couldn't resist either.  So we filled out an application and waited.  Well, as it turned out, the shelter this pup was at "discovered" that he was "bonded" to the dog he came in with.  WTF.  This is a puppy, he'd adjust!  And if he's not confident on his own then keeping him with the other dog won't certainly wouldn't help him ever become confident and independent.  We were very disappointed, we weren't looking to adopt two dogs, so we passed on both of them.  It's okay, we still had that whippet we were waiting for.

But now that my boyfriend discovered the magic and wonder of Petfinder, he started becoming more open to rescue dogs, and began sending me profiles of local rescue dogs on a near daily basis.  I said that if we were going to adopt a rescue dog, we'd absolutely have to meet it first to make sure it had a good temperament and no major health problems.  And certainly no dogs from the south, which often come up with heartworm and other health issues.

Then one night I was browsing Petfinder and another face, or rather ears, caught my eye.  I saw a picture of a little dog with the BIGGEST ears I've ever seen.  I called my boyfriend over and told him to look.  He said we needed to adopt that dog.  Petfinder indicated she was a state away- in New Hampshire- so I figured we'd apply and then drive over during the weekend to meet her.

We filled out the application and received a call about 10 minutes later from the rescue.  They thought we sounded like a good home for this dog, Tianna!  One problem though, she wasn't actually in New Hampshire, she was in Tennessee.  We'd have to adopt her before we met her, which was something I didn't want to do.  I was also worried about her health- she was heartworm negative and vaccinated, but I knew that heartworm negative dogs sometimes had heartworm if the worms weren't mature enough to be detected during the test.  I also knew she was tiny- 7.5 lbs I was told- and I was worried about luxating patella, a condition common in small dogs where the knee cap doesn't stay in the socket and slides around, which she wasn't checked for.  If she had this it might not be safe to train her in agility.  So I told them I'd think about it and call them back.

Well my boyfriend was very upset about this, and said I had to call them back right away and just adopt her.  But I wasn't sure.  We couldn't meet her, she might be unhealthy, and she was definitely a terrier.  

I took a few days to think about it, and I couldn't get her out of my mind.  She was one of the few dogs my boyfriend and I both liked, and she really was adorable.  I decided to take the chance, but only after I got my boyfriend to promise that if I couldn't do agility with her, I could get a second dog in a year or two that I could do agility with.

After a few more days of playing phone tag with the rescue they finally got a hold of me and we committed to adopting this puppy.  She would be transported to Vermont in about two weeks- July 18th.