Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hadley's Letter to Her Breeder

Dear Auntie Judy,

Remember the day you were getting me ready to leave your farm?  You gave me a bath and told me that you'd found wonderful parents for me who would love me and take care of me and that I'd be very happy.

Well, it's been over a year and I wanted to write and tell you how it's going.  Some stuff is good.  There's always fresh water and soft places to rest.  Mommy and daddy bought me a whole bunch of toys and bones and there's lots of cuddling.  But some stuff I don't really like and some of it is just plain weird!  I mean, I really have to wonder about these two sometimes.  For example:

They named me Hadley, which I think is a pretty cool name, and they spent days teaching me that it was my name.  So, do you think they call me by my name???  Nooooo.....  I hear "mutt" "puppy" "doggy" "mutsky."  And then these two geniuses wonder why I don't come when they call.  Geez!

Right from the start they put this big box filled with newspaper on the floor and they expected me to go potty in it.  Oh, man, you should have seen them go ballistic when I went potty on the floor or the carpet.  You'd have thought I killed someone.  But it took a while for me to understand what they were yammering about.  I mean, I get it now but these two carried on as if I should have been born knowing this stuff!

And they're definitely clean freaks.  I don't really mind getting a bath and it's kinda nice not to have a sticky, itchy butt but I think every week is kind of extreme, don't you?  Plus, why do they gotta try to drown me in there?  If my butt is sticky, I don't know why daddy has to turn the power wash hose on my face.  I can't breath underwater, you know!  And then after they get me all wet, they practically burn me trying to get me dry.  How does that make any sense?  They don't even do a good job.  They must spend like a thousand years drying my ears but don't even bother with my face and feet.  I have to throw myself on the carpet to try to get the water off.  Whatsamatter, run out of towels???

They were so, so happy when I learned how to jump on the sofa and then...mommy immediately ordered me off the sofa.  Huh?  And while we're on the subject of jumping, they keep telling me to jump on the bed, which was hard enough when I was a baby.  But just as I got to be bigger, they went out and bought this new bed that's like 1,000 feet high!  What the hell?  I'm only a foot tall,you know...  So now they just pick me up and put me on the bed but they act all annoyed about it, especially if I jumped off because I had to go potty in my box.  Do they want me to go potty in the bed?

I guess the worst part is the whole food situation.  Daddy keeps saying what a great cook Mommy is but they think I should only eat dog food.  Why?  If they're loving this great food they're eating, why can't I eat it, too?  Mommy went out and bought all these "healthy" dog foods for me to try.  I wasn't really sure what "healthy" meant except that it's obviously a code word for yucky.  You should have seen some of this stuff...the bag it came in would have tasted better.  We finally found one that wasn't too gross and she started putting some cooked hamburger in with it so it wasn't so bad.  Then she took the hamburger away because she said it gave me diarrhea and she switched the food to something that has more "fiber" which I think means "tastes like cardboard."  She's giving me some chicken but it's kinda plain.  I don't get it.  They want me to poop but...not too much?  What's the right amount?

I don't think they get it.  Like...every month mommy gives me this medicine to prevent something called heartworm, which I guess is a bad thing.  The medicine is this big, icky brown mess that she keeps saying is edible.  Hey...that doesn't mean it tastes good, mom!

I'm pretty sure they love me, though.  Mommy tends to watch these TV shows about abused animals and then she cries and hugs me.  And sometimes the two of them start reading this poem to each other about some cat that jumped over a rainbow or ran under a bridge or something and then they both cry and hug me.

There's still a few issues we need to work out like daddy playing this foot attack game and thinking I like it.  And once in a while there's this really big scary shoe that comes out but I just jump in mommy's lap and she protects me from it.

So that's it.  I just wanted to catch you up.  Even though sometimes I think mommy and daddy kind of suck and I want to run away from home and go live with nicer people, I think I'd miss them.  Plus, I can't reach the elevator button.  So I guess I'll just stay here.  Anyway...um...oh, oh...I just heard daddy say "puppy ride" so I gotta go!

Love,
Winter's daughter

Monday, April 19, 2010

Puppy No More!

Friday was Hadley's first birthday. She's a young lady now and I've been waiting for this day since we first brought her home. I've always wanted her to grow up and stop nipping our fingers and peeing on the floor and yipping in the middle of the night and doing all the other annoying things that puppies do.

It was a difficult year in many ways but worth the work. She grew up so nicely. She's obviously gorgeous but also so sweet and playful and well behaved. She's wonderfully friendly, knows lots of commands and, most delightful of all, hasn't peed or pooped on the floor in months. She's an absolute doll of a dog and we love having her.

We fretted so much about whether she eats, how much she eats, will she be the right size, too thin, too heavy... So, over the weekend we took her to be weighed at her vet's office and she is heavier than we expected - 17lb., 14oz. But, she's long so that weight suits her. The doctor said she looks just right and I agree. She's perfect.

And so...my big, year-long adventure of raising my first puppy is over. We had a little party. Her best pal, Cinnamon (a toy poodle) came over to play. I bought some doggie birthday cookies and Cinnamon's mom brought Hadley a new toy. She got indulged and spoiled on her birthday and, although she obviously had no idea why, I'm sure she had a great day.

Today on our walk we ran into a couple of very young puppies and they attracted dozens of admirers...the way Hadley used to. She still attracts people but understandably fewer now that she's grown up. Seeing the small puppies made me slightly nostalgic for when my own baby really was a baby. But it was only slightly and it was fleeting. I still do prefer her grown up.

So happy birthday sweet, beautiful Hadley. You're not a puppy anymore but you'll always be my puppy and I hope you're having a happy life with me.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dismantling the Puppy Pen

For months we've been discussing when to get rid of the puppy pen but had mostly settled on doing it when Hadley was a year old. But it just seemed silly to wait at this point.

She's potty trained and has been reliable for months. She never did do much destructive chewing even when she was teething and certainly doesn't do it now. So, with three weeks to go till her birthday, there were no more reasons to wait. In truth, we've been letting her spend the night outside the pen here and there for several weeks now - always nervous that she'll make a mistake. But she constantly proved herself trustworthy.

And so, today, we finally folded up the pen and put it away. Her bed is in a corner of the living room, her water bowl moved to the kitchen and her toys gathered in a low basket where she can reach for them herself. The apartment feels huge without the pen! :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Extraordinary Cuteness

Another storm dumped nearly a foot of snow on the city yesterday. I managed to get this shot of Hadley inspecting exactly why it was that we weren't going out to play :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Milestones

When we first brought Hadley home we put on the pretty little pink collar we'd bought for her and promptly watched her scratch like hell to try and get rid of it. She fussed for a long time and we relented several times over the weeks. But she's been wearing it full time for a few months now and it just occurred to me that I can't remember the last time I saw her scratch at it. It comes off every week at bath time, of course, and she doesn't even resist when I put it back on. Ahh.

Over the months, several tags went on that collar (rabies, city license, tracking chip, etc.) as well as a couple of attempts at pretty charms. All were promptly chewed - she was absolutely relentless about that. I finally got her one tag that incorporated all the information as well as her name and bought yet another glittering charm. But I also finally wised up and bought a bottle of bitter apple. A few applications of the spray put an end to the tag destruction and now she doesn't even try. Ahh.

The first time we tried to walk Hadley she flattened herself on the ground and refused to budge. Splat! Tugging on her collar just left her coughing and gagging so we promptly bought a harness. That made it possible to pull her without hurting her little neck but it presented a new problem. She started pulling and made walking her quite unpleasant. Another harness, recommended by her trainer, was a different style and was designed to retard her pulling. It actually worked decently well but was a bit of a pain to put on. I'd always wanted to just be able to walk my dog with her leash clipped to her collar like other dogs. The trainer said that could happen in the future and it seems the time has come. Today, for the first time, I walked Hadley with just her collar. I brought the harness with me just in case but there was no need. She walked as well on the collar as she did on the new harness. Ahh.

My little girl is 9 months old and is, apparently, growing up.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Puppy Play Date

Now I really do feel like a mom - my puppy had a play date :) On one of our walks, Hadley and I got into a conversation with a nice woman and her high energy little toy poodle. Turns out, she lives in my building, just one floor down from me. After running into each other in the neighborhood a couple of more times we decided to arrange a play date for our two little doggies and see if they would like each other. More importantly, we were looking for a way to drain some of their excess energy because, as all dog owners know, a tired dog is a good dog :)

I was a bit concerned how Hadley would respond because she's still painfully shy in the small dog run near our house. Brian was quite sure the meeting would flop but I thought it worth a try. Cinnamon, the poodle, and her mom Karly came up to my apartment so Hadley was on her home turf. Still, for the first 10 minutes she acted submissive and shy. But then, it seemed like those two came to some kind of doggie understanding. While Karly and I chatted and got to know each other better, Cinnamon and Hadley tore through the house chasing each other and playing, tails wagging furiously. A big success! Karly and I both agreed to do it again and have had several play dates since then. Both Hadley and Cinnamon really seem to enjoy it and I'm thrilled.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Where'd You Get That Puppy?

Over the past 7 months, I've been stopped at least a dozen times by people wanting to know where I got Hadley. When I tell them it was from a breeder upstate, they all hand me business cards or e-mail addresses and ask me to send them her contact information. I don't blame them. Cavaliers are both beautiful and engaging and Hadley has both qualities in abundance. And we were happy with the breeder we used. She was friendly and accommodating and we liked the way she kept her dogs. She provided us with a wonderfully hearty, healthy puppy. I'm happy to oblige the people who want her name and happy to refer people to her.

In each and every case I have e-mailed people the breeder information either the same day I met them or no later than the following day. But, not one single time has the person who received the information from me responded with a thank you or even with the courtesy of an acknowledgment. Not one single time! It just drives me crazy.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Snow, Shmow

On New Year's weekend, Brian and I drove out to one of the state parks so that Hadley could run off-leash. We didn't realize there would still be so much snow on the ground and it brought back instant memories of how she fussed and carried on a few weeks ago the first time she experienced snow. So, we didn't have much hope as we let her out of the car but, apparently, she's gotten over it. She happily ran and played in the snow until us humans couldn't take the cold anymore.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Making Friends

The closest small dog run to my apartment is not terribly inviting. It's on the river so it's windy and cold on all but the warmest days. It's also relatively small and has vinyl floors instead of soil or grass. Brian and I had looked at it when we first started taking Hadley out for walks and decided it was too dirty, uninviting and filled with overly boisterous dogs. Nope, we won't be putting our clean little darling in there. Well...

Kate, the trainer, felt very strongly that Hadley needed the kind of exercise she could only get by running around with other dogs and that we'd made the wrong decision. So, since I'd followed her advice about everything else, I decided to try this as well.

The first time we brought Hadley in there she was very unsure, barely acknowledged the other dogs or greeted them with her head low and rear end down. Her tail was not tucked...she wasn't afraid...but very submissive and uncertain. The other dogs were very exuberant with each other but obviously sensed her nervous energy and stayed away from her. She spent a lot of the time hiding behind my legs and I felt so guilty for not having socialized her with other dogs sooner. I determined to come to the dog run more often.

The winter weather has been uncooperative but I've still managed a few dog run visits with her and I see an improvement each time. I still wouldn't say she loves it but I'm hoping that one day she will.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Pee Anniversary of Sorts :)

I'd been reporting Hadley's pee accidents and the last one was on September 29th - exactly two months ago today. Hooray!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Right in the Middle, huh?

I was just rereading my post from November 4th where I talked about how Hadley's size seems to have settled and she looks as if she'll be right in the middle in terms of breed standard. Hahahahaha! Talk about wishful thinking! I don't know how that girl managed to grow any longer or taller since she was already long and tall but, she did! And with that length and height comes weight. She was 15lbs., 2 oz. on a recent trip to the vet and still looks thin. The vet assured me she's fine but definitely has room to grow. And, with four more months of growing left...oh, boy!

Um...this is a toy breed, right???

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ahh...Comfy

Ever since Hadley learned to jump on the sofas we've had a hard time getting her off of them. She has two beds, one in her pen and one in my bedroom but I've realized that both are pretty thin. Brian and I bought them before we brought her home and just didn't know any better, I guess. Seeing her take her naps on the couches made me realize that she'd never voluntarily choose to sleep in her bed unless she had one soft and comfortable enough to rival the human furniture.

I'd mentioned to Brian that I've been pricing more luxurious doggie beds so he went ahead and surprised her with a gift of a new bed for the holidays. It's much larger then her old beds so she can stretch out and it's even softer than the couch. She didn't need much convincing :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First Snow

We had our first snow storm of the season last night so today we ventured out to shovel. Hadley's never seen snow before and we had hopes of heading to Central Park and playing in it. But Hadley made other plans as soon as she experienced it! AUF, AUF, AUF, WOOF, WOOF, WOOF! She yelped so loudly we thought someone had stepped on her foot but it was just the wet cold she didn't like. She and I were standing while Brian shoveled and she dove into a fresh mound of snow in a sidewalk tree planter. A few seconds later she jumped out and began the yelping and when we picked her up she was shivering badly. So much for playing in the park.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Practical Medicine

Doctor's instructions for treating puppy's ear infection:
Flush puppy's ears with Epi-Otic. Squeeze small amount of Mometamax into each ear. Massage medicine into ears. Repeat once daily for 7 days.

Practical administration:
1. Capture puppy. (Allow at least 10 minutes for this.)
2. Bring puppy to bathroom and attempt to lift puppy's ear.
3. Capture puppy.
4. Repeat step 2 with bathroom door closed.
5. Sit on edge of bathtub and restrain puppy between legs.
6. Administer medicine as per doctor's instructions while keeping mouth and eyes closed to avoid swallowing or inhaling medicine due to violent puppy head shaking.
7. Open bathroom door and release puppy. Listen to sound of puppy hurling herself on bedroom carpet to remove medicine from ears.
8. Capture puppy.
9. Remove puppy from bedroom and close door.
10. Listen to sound of puppy hurling herself on sofa cushion to remove medicine from ears.
11. Capture puppy.
12. Wipe medicine from clothes, bathroom and sofa surfaces.
13. Take aspirin.
14. Resolve to have boyfriend administer all future doses.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sick Puppy

Over the weekend Brian and I noticed that Hadley was drooling - something she doesn't normally do. It seemed to get worse on Sunday and by Monday morning it was quite extreme. When she woke up I saw that her blanket was soaked and her tail (she sleeps with it tucked under her chin) was sopping wet. I did a quick online search and checked with some dog-experienced friends. All agreed that this required a call to the vet.

Hadley's doctor found swollen gums and glands and a severe ear infection. She also took blood to see if anything else is going on and gave me medicine for her ears. So, how sick is she? Oh, about $300 worth. Honestly! I can't believe the cost of vet care.

Anyway, she'll be on medicine for the next 7 days and, hopefully, the drooling will stop.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Trained Puppy...Sort of

It's been about a month since Kate, the doggie trainer, came. She was was prompt, professional and knowledgeable. She'd been booked for a two hour session but ended up spending almost three hours with me and explained a lot about dogs...some of which I'd already read and some of which was new. So, over the past month, Hadley and I have been practicing what we were taught.

Kate made feeding suggestions that have helped my finicky puppy be less finicky.

Kate made a harness recommendation that has helped my pulling puppy to be under better control on walks.

Kate taught my puppy who wouldn't come on command...to come on command.

Kate taught me how to stop my jumping puppy from jumping on people. Unfortunately, this one requires the cooperation of the people but I've found it easier to train my puppy than the humans around her :)

Kate taught me that dogs do not like to pee and poop in the same place which is why Hadley had been correctly peeing in her box but pooping outside of it. So, I got Hadley a second potty box and we've only had a couple of mistakes since then.

Kate told me my puppy was beautiful, sweet and very smart. I already knew the first two parts but was delighted to have her professional opinion on the third.

So, is she now a wonderfully well-trained dog? Hahahahaha! She's better, though, and much more responsive. Some of that is a result of the training and practice, of course, but some could just be that she's growing up and that would be fine, too.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wow, I Really Am One of Those People :)

I used to secretly laugh at people who dressed their dogs up in sweaters and coats. How ridiculous, I thought. When I got Hadley I decided to research this issue just to be sure that my snickering was justified but it seems I was wrong. Dogs get cold with allowances for breed, coat and temperature, of course.

Although Cavaliers have long hair, they do not have a double coat and Hadley herself let me know how cold was too cold for her. As fall turned into winter, we had a few days with temperatures in the upper 30's and that, it seems, is just too cold for her. So I bought her a sweater - pink to match her collar and leash. Today was absolutely freezing with strong wind gusts and temperatures in the 20's and Hadley got to wear her new sweater. I think she looks adorable in it. And I don't care what anybody else thinks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Um...Did Someone Flip A Switch Somewhere?

Hadley's actually eating lately. She's still not attacking any bit of food the way you'd expect a dog to but...she's eating. For the past couple of weeks I've followed the same routine. In the morning, I fill her bowl with the day's correct amount of California Natural chicken & rice dry kibble. Sometimes she eats a little, sometimes she eats a lot, sometimes she doesn't eat it at all. No matter, it stays in her pen all day for her to choose.

In the evening, I take a good amount of the remaining kibble from her bowl, mix it with a tablespoon of the companion California Natural wet food, throw in a handful of grilled or boiled chicken pieces and add just a teaspoon of water to moisten the whole thing. Hadley's learned this evening routine and waits patiently in the kitchen corner while I prepare her dinner. When I set the plate down on the floor, she usually eats it with some gusto. When she finishes, she'll either walk away or come to my side and look up at me which means she wants more. I then give her half as much of the same mixture as the first plate and she'll usually eat most, but not all, and then run off to play. It feels, for the first time, like this routine is healthy and works for both of us.

She's definitely gained some weight and was 13 lbs. on the morning she was spayed. She's still on the thin side but now looks more in proportion to her length. It's unlikely that she'll grow any longer because she's already on the long side of the breed. In terms of weight, she'll probably put on a couple of more pounds before she's done growing. Breed standard weight is 12 to 18 lbs. and it looks like she'll be right in the middle. Talk about nervous first time doggie parents! All this worry for all these months about her being too big or too small and, meanwhile, she's growing up to be just right :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Mixed Bag of Feelings

Hadley was spayed yesterday. Brian and I dropped her off at the vet in the morning, she was examined, weighed in at 13 lbs. and was taken away to be given a sedative and prepped for surgery.

We were told to call after 4:30 for an update and, when we did, were told that she's doing fine and can be picked up in the morning. I had been very stoic about the whole procedure but suddenly had a weepy moment questioning if my puppy was in pain or frightened or wondering where we were and why we'd left her. The finality also hit me. It was done. She was spayed. She would never have any puppies of her own.

I knew this was for the best but couldn't help being a little sad about what might have been. It's true the world is full of puppies...even Cavalier Spaniel puppies. But there will never be any Hadley puppies...beautiful, sweet-tempered, happy, boisterous, playful Hadley puppies...and that is certainly sad.

She's home now, lying on my lap as I write this. She has stitches in her belly and is a bit out of sorts but mostly appears less traumatized than her mommy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

High Octane Puppy

Hadley has all kinds of great doggie qualities but is definitely extra high energy. Puppy exuberance is all well and good but even her vet recently suggested some professional help. I've spoken to the trainer she recommended and I liked her on the phone. Hadley is due to be spayed next week and, once she recovers, I'll set up a training session.

She never went to puppy kindergarten and I'm still not sure if that was foolish or not. I've taught her a lot of the basic commands and, being a city dog, she's had heaps of socialization. Perhaps this way is best - a personal trainer, focused just on those areas that need improvement. And, at six months old, I know what they are. She needs to be calm on a leash and when greeting people and she needs to respond to my calls even when she's engrossed in play. I think it likely they're all related and she needs to learn to focus on me. Of course, it's not really Hadley that the trainer will train. I suspect that it's me who needs the training :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Forget the Nutritionist...Send in Mom

Oh, it was so nice to think the food issue was resolved, however fleeting the thought. When she was boarded at her vet's I left them enough food for the days we were gone. They returned half to me, uneaten. I wasn't really surprised, she's fussy at home plus the new surroundings...made sense she wouldn't eat well. The first night back home she wolfed down her dinner but has barely eaten since.

She's gained weight since her last doctor's visit - now 12 lbs., 6 oz. up from an even 10 lbs. in August. But she's also grown much taller and longer and her weight has not grown in proportion so she's thinner than she's ever been. She's not emaciated...we can feel her ribs but not see them which is how it should be. But her hip bones are a bit prominent and she looks as if she needs a few more pounds to be in proportion.

Last night, Brian (never an alarmist) and I pondered if she might actually be sick but decided to conduct an experiment. Hadley loves Cesar's Grilled Chicken dog meals. They're little more than junk food for dogs but I always keep a container on hand because it's how I ensure she takes all her heart worm preventative medicine each month. So, I opened the tin and gave it to her. We agreed that if she didn't eat that she was actually sick and would be taken to the vet this morning. But...she ate :) Gobbled, actually. So she's not sick, just a stubborn, fussy little princess. The regular, healthier dog food is back on the menu today and we'll see who is more stubborn. But I do want to discuss this with the vet. If she were an adult I would wait her out but as a puppy her organs are still growing and developing and I want to make sure she has adequate nutrition. Of all the problems you anticipate when you decide to get a dog, not eating was not one of them!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Boarding Lesson

I was concerned that, when I boarded Hadley while Brian and I were on vacation, the other dogs would teach her bad habits. Well, they apparently did teach her something but it certainly wasn't bad. I'd been having trouble getting her to understand that it's good to pee and poop outside when we go for walks. She's always had a potty box at home and was reasonably trained to use it. But when were were out on walks, she had a tendency to hold it in until we got home and she could use her box. I tried giving her the "go potty" command when we were out, I tried bringing newspaper with me and laying it down on the street but nothing had worked yet. But it seems her canine companions were better teachers than I. The boarded doggies are taken out three times a day for relief walks and Hadley obviously got the message because the change was immediate once she came home. Now, when we go for walks, she always takes care of business, sometimes more than once. It's almost as if she thinks it's her duty. Good lesson :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Her Majesty

When I got Hadley I promised myself that I wouldn't let her develop "small dog syndrome" and become a spoiled fussy little diva. I'd watched many dog behavior episodes on television and read many articles on dog rearing and believed that, what wouldn't be acceptable in a large dog shouldn't be tolerated in a small one. I was determined. But...

My favorite thing to tell people when they ask about "typical" dog behavior is that, although I read many articles on the subject, my puppy didn't read any. She does what she does and some of it is what was predictable and some of it isn't. And, in the case of my little Hadley, she came pre-spoiled for my convenience. She didn't want to eat dog food or walk on a leash or tolerate tags on her collar or lots of other things you take for granted in a dog. It felt like I'd spent a large part of my time with her working on un-spoiling her.

I also came to believe that a lot of it was me...unintentionally, of course. I was an insecure, novice dog owner and she was probably picking up on that and taking advantage. I'd almost looked forward to boarding her while we went on vacation so that she could be handled by experienced people for a while.

Now, you know this is building up to something, don't you? When Brian and I got back from Vermont and went to pick Hadley up, we were chatting with her doctor and one of the vet techs, whom we hadn't met before, offered to go downstairs and get our dog. She asked which one was ours and when we said Hadley, she paused, smiled and said "oh, yeah, the princess." I just had to sit down on a chair and laugh.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The (Hopefully) Final Installment of the Puppy Nutritionist

We have a winner...I think.  Hadley has been steadily eating her breakfasts of California Natural Lamb & Rice kibble and her dinners of the same kibble mixed with a couple of tablespoons of California Natural's canned version of the same flavors.  Yummy.  She's also very fond of the chicken & rice formula.  She's enjoying her food more and I enjoy watching her enjoy her food.  All of this regular eating is also resulting in some regular pooping and she seems to be going to her potty box like a good girl.  Oh, I know even as I write this that I've not seen my last poop "accident" but it's progress nonetheless.  I can also now go back to reinforcing the tricks and commands she's learned with healthy treats of fruits and vegetables.

What's interesting is that she likes the taste of this kibble well enough that I can use it as her 'good girl' treat when she's gone potty in the correct place.  But I think there's also something about the fact that the piece of kibble is offered along with lavish praise in my "happy voice" that makes it a prize.  She's also accustomed enough to her weekly bath that cheese incentives are no longer needed.  OK, she does get a biscuit or long-lasting chicken chew to keep the peace when I leave for work but otherwise, this is going to be one hell of a healthy dog.

Other than the fruit and vegetable treats, I don't generally feed her people food...although I do offer grilled chicken when I'm having it for dinner myself.  It's not bad for her and she loves it so!  What I don't like about the California Natural is that they've chosen to add vitamins and minerals rather than including the vegetables themselves.  I think I will cook a weekly batch of sweet potatoes, string beans, pees, carrots and broccoli and keep them in the fridge to add to her food.  I had some sweet potato left over from my dinner yesterday that I added to hers and she found her meal to be extra yummy :)

Otherwise, I'm pretty happy with the choice of food.  I'd made a list of about a dozen foods, in order of excellence but with any one of them being healthy and acceptable.  California Natural fell near the middle of the list, makes a wet and a dry food and comes in a choice of beef, lamb or chicken.  The wet food doesn't upset Hadley's tummy or give her diarrhea and she seems healthy and energetic.  Her ears are a little itchy but they've always been and it's on my list to ask the vet.  She's also always sneezed which the vet said was due to allergies but to what we don't know.  If it's food allergies, the sneezing might improve on the new food but, then again, with summer over they might ease anyway.  Her coat looks good and thick.  We've run into a number of pale looking CKC Spaniels and Hadley's coat is a much deeper and richer shade of chestnut.

In all my reading and discussions on this topic, I've run into extreme opinions on both sides.  To those people who think I'm spending needless money and enabling my fussy puppy, my answer is that I don't know if Hadley will live a longer, healthier life eating high quality food rather than cheap, well-advertised brands.  No one knows.  But I don't feed myself or my boyfriend garbage so why would I give it to her.  If her life will turn out to be short, I will know I'd done the best I could for her.

On the other side of the opinion fence are people who are distrustful of all dog foods and who take the trouble to cook chicken, rice and vegetables for their dogs every day.  Although I've chosen not to go that route, I do admire it.  I remember the big pet food recalls of a couple of years ago and the fact that animals died.  I had no puppy then or immediate plans to get one so the news didn't hit home as much.  Looking back on it now, I can't even imagine the pain and rage I'd feel if my beautiful girl died because the food she trustingly took from my hand was laced with toxic ingredients.  I'm angry after the fact at those responsible and certainly wish them a special place in hell.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One More Time...

I was home from work yesterday and Hadley spent most of the day in the bedroom, playing and napping in her favorite spot on the carpet.  In the afternoon she woke up from a nap, walked to the area near the door, squatted and peed on the rug.  I don't get it.  She gets it right 95% of the time so what goes wrong in her mind the 5% she screws up?

Patience...deep breath...patience...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Leaving My Baby

Brian and I are going on a short vacation to Vermont, to a stunning little bed & breakfast and the glorious colors of autumn. Fall foliage stays in New England sell out fast so we booked this trip almost a year ago. In other words...pre-puppy. This B&B is a romantic, no kids, no pets getaway so Hadley must stay behind. I looked into several options including boarding, puppy-sitters and volunteering friends. In the end, and for a variety of reasons, I've chosen to board her at her vet's. Hadley's vet is especially fond of her, always carrying on about how beautiful she is, so I know she'll spend time with her. And who better then her own doctor to take care of her if anything were to go wrong? Still, I will worry if she's happy, lonely or just confused as to why mommy left her. I worry that the other dogs will bark and scare her or, even worse for me, teach her to bark :) I worry that she won't have her usual potty box routine and that it will derail her training. On the other hand, I've been looking forward to this trip for so long that I don't want to worry about anything. In the end, I'm sure that Hadley will forget the whole experience long before I will :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Conniption

Today Brian had to run a quick errand in Queens so he took Hadley with him while I stayed behind. He was able to drive out there but would need to take the subway back so he took her soft carrier with him. It would be her first time in the carrier, apart from practice runs in the living room, so I was pleased for the opportunity.

He called me while they were on the subway coming home and when I asked how their trip was going he informed me that "we don't like the subway." He said Hadley was calm until the train started to move and then she had a conniption in her carrier. He didn't think it was the motion because she's used to the movement of a car but rather the shrieking loud noise of the old train. He was forced to unzip the carrier a little so she could stick her head out and that seemed to do the trick. She rode the rest of the way with her head sticking out of the bag and her chin resting on Brian's arm while he hoped no one would complain.

Brian doesn't mind the subway...or much of anything else for that matter...so she didn't get her cue from him. I was relieved though, that it happened with him and not me. I definitely do not like the subway and I would have blamed myself for creating her nervousness. It reminded me of the latest installment of The Puppy Diaries series that The New York Times has been running and which discussed the differences between socializing a puppy in the city versus the country. I had been proud that my city pup had been exposed to all manner of loud, fast-moving stimulation and was unfazed. But, it's true that she had not been on the subway. Of course, since I avoid it at all costs, that's probably just fine :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another Installment of the Puppy Nutritionist

Well, I'm certainly keeping the pet food industry well financed.  Let's see...at last count I've purchased...hmm...a hell of a lot of money's worth of dog food!  The vast majority of which Hadley wouldn't eat...of course.  I wish I could donate it to the ASPCA but I'm sure they wouldn't take open bags.  Seems a shame not to feed the needy rescue dogs the good food that my spoiled purebred princess won't eat.

So, it's been a week since I put my nutritionist hat on for my fussy puppy and I've learned a lot.  I now know what to look for on the ingredients label - both what should be there and what shouldn't.  I'm amazed at the garbage that most well known brands turn out to be.  And all those unfamiliar names I used to pass by at the local pet supply store now jump out as being the good foods I'd read about.  I made a chart (of course I made a chart!) of what brands are worth trying, what I've already purchased and finally, what Hadley's verdict was.

I've been trying to give her new foods several times (just like with a child) and I've done head-to-head taste comparisons.  Its' really curious to do a comparison with three different brands, all with almost identical healthy ingredients and all of which smell the same to me.  But they certainly don't smell or taste the same to her!  A spoonful of each on separate plates resulted in two plates being sniffed, licked and then ignored while the third was quickly eaten.

I've learned that a diet of 25% canned/wet food and 75% dry kibble is best (Hadley would probably prefer those percentages were reversed) so I need a food that's available in both forms and with both being appealing.   That seems to not always be the case.

Petco doesn't carry most of the brands I'm researching but, fortunately, a local pet supply store opened just a couple of weeks before we brought Hadley home and they lean towards the holistic and organic on their well-stocked shelves.  There are a couple of brands that were on my list to try that this store doesn't carry.  I checked a couple of other places in the area but they also didn't carry them and were generally more poorly stocked than the store nearest my apartment.  I could order these foods online but I think I will stick with those products that I can quickly and readily purchase and the list is certainly long enough.

I'm still not fully settled on Hadley's new food yet but there are two serious contenders and I'll report back.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And Again...

I was getting ready for work this morning while Hadley alternated between playing with her bunny toy and napping in her favorite spot on the bedroom carpet between the bed and my dressing table. I went to use the bathroom and came out to find a puddle of pee on the floor next to the door! I yelled at her and I don't think she even understood why she was getting yelled at.

This past Sunday, Brian and I took advantage of a beautiful late summer day and relaxed in Central Park. We ran into a nice man with two CKC Spaniels so we all sat on a bench together and traded stories. His youngest Cavalier is a one year old girl and he said she's only now beginning to become trustworthy not to pee on the floor. OK, so my Hadley is not the dunce of the doggie world. But it's still frustrating as hell to be cleaning pee off the floor after all these weeks.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Tooth Fairy Visits

Hadley's lost two puppy teeth or at least that's how many I've found on the floor.  I've been finding blood stains on some of her toys so I suspect the tooth fairy has swooped in more times than I realized.  It's hard to tell by looking in her mouth because she's squirmy and I'm not sure what I'm looking at.  The two big puppy fangs on the top and the two on the bottom seem to still be there but other spaces look empty.  I can also tell by the way she eats her kibble, kind of tilting her head and moving the bits around, that she's trying to find some teeth :)

I know she's been in some discomfort and I worry whenever she seems under the weather.  But mostly I'm happy this time has come.  In all honesty, she's not been a very destructive puppy and has chewed more on her toys and bones than on furniture or wires.  Still, the arrival of her adult teeth should lessen or end the puppy nipping and I'm ready for her to grow up...mostly :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Trying My Patience

My pretty potty monster peed on the floor this morning.  She didn't forget her training or have a random accident.  No...she did it deliberately...but as a result of a bad decision.

She's now old enough to be capable of holding her pee for a long time but having a potty box at home gives her the comfort of peeing more often.  That's good for her and one of the reasons I chose this method but it has a drawback.  I try to change the paper in her box often but within reason.  She peed in the early morning hours so by the time I was getting ready for work, there was a dry pee stain on one part of the paper.  I hadn't changed it yet because it was still reasonably clean and I was hoping (in vain) for a post-breakfast morning poop.

Hadley went to her box, put her front paw on it, studied the cleanliness situation in there and decided that it wasn't clean enough to enter (yes, this is a DOG).  So, with her paw holding the box, she squatted and peed on the floor next to it.  I was right there, grabbed her, put her in the box and yelled at her pretty severely.

While I was cleaning up she stood quietly off to the side and was upset.  I know that because her tail wasn't wagging.  She's usually the happiest dog that ever lived and wagging is her tail's default position :)  But here's where I really saw how she's grown and matured.  Maybe I'm crazy but I could sense that she knew exactly why I was angry and that she'd made a bad decision.  A few minutes later, when I sat down at my desk, she came over and put her paw on my lap.  I picked her up and she nuzzled into my arms...her way of saying 'I'm sorry.'  I accepted her apology :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Puppy Nutritionist

When it comes to people food, I'm somewhat of an amateur nutritionist.  I've done a lot of research over the years and taught myself about healthy food and how the human body works.  Granted, there's probably no real need for the chocolate I so dearly love but otherwise I feed myself and my boyfriend healthy meals loaded with lean proteins, complex carbs and fiber.  I consider it my specialty to cook in a way that makes these foods as tasty and appealing as possible.  So why then, have I not applied these talents and interests to my puppy?  I don't know what took me so long but Hadley being such a difficult eater nudged me into putting my nutritionist hat on.

From day one I had been feeding her Hill's Science Diet dry food.  It has a reputation as being a high quality food and it's what the vet sells and recommends at her office.  I was surprised to find it wasn't good quality after all but, then again, I don't know why I'm surprised.  In a nation where people are subjected to an advertising onslaught for junk foods masquerading as healthy, why should the dogs be immune?

Since I switched from free-feeding to regimented meals, I've had nothing but grief.  Hadley has become a terrible eater and I've sought out and gotten lots of conflicting advice.  "No, don't give her wet food because it's bad for her"..."it's OK to give her some wet food"..."combine the wet food with dry food"..."don't combine it because they don't like it"..."be tough because a dog won't starve themselves"..."you're being too soft"..."you're being too harsh."  Aarrgghh! 

Enough.

And so, I'm embarking on the same research odyssey I'd been on years ago when figuring out what I'm supposed to eat.  Here's what I do know already:

-  Much of what I'd been told or believed is wrong.
-  I wouldn't force Hadley to eat food she hates just to keep from starving to death.
-  Among the healthy dog foods, there will be one that will be both nutritious and palatable so that my doggie will be both happy and healthy.

I will be back with my results.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another Week...Another Potty Update

It's been just over a week since I bought that can of Pedigree wet dog food and I thought peace had been restored to my house.  The first day I had it, I gave Hadley a little taste and when I saw that she liked it, I mixed two tablespoons of it in with a scoop of her dry kibble.  She pounced on it, wolfed it down, licked the bowl, licked her chops, licked my hand...and pooped in her box.  That was last Wednesday.  I was so happy.  It was so short-lived.

Ever since then, she's back to being persnickety.  Sometimes she'll eat it, sometimes she won't.  Sometimes I can tempt her by holding a spoonful of it under her nose.  Sometimes she just runs away from it.  I have a weird dog.  Other dogs pounce on their food while she couldn't care less about it.  She's not sick, by the way.  Her appetite for people food is just fine, although she's not getting any from me because I want her to eat her dog food. Yes, I know...she'll eat when she's hungry enough but it's making it very difficult to time her bowl movements and complete her potty training.

She was good about pooping in her box on Wednesday and Thursday but pooped on the floor on Friday when I wasn't looking.  Aarrgghh!  Over the long weekend away, we mostly took her outside on the grass after she ate so most of her poops ended up there.  Back at home she was fine on Wednesday but screwed up again on Thursday. So frustrating!  It all sounds so simple in the training books.  You feed 'em and start the poop watch.  About 15 minutes, give or take, they'll either head to the right place or try to go on the floor but you're there to correct and move them to the right location.  Yes...it's all so simple...unless they won't eat their meals!

On the bright side, she hasn't made a pee mistake in over two weeks, not even in a strange environment when we were away.  At least that's something.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What a Nice Way to End the Summer

Our extended weekend on Long Island for Labor Day was blessed with beautiful weather and Brian and I both got to relax.

Hadley turned out to be an intrepid traveler. Unfortunately, the doggie seat belt we'd bought gave her too much room to roam around and, occasionally, if we made too quick a turn, she'd end up on the floor. But she remained unfazed.  She looked out the window for a while, explored whatever the back seat offered and then settled down on Brian's sweater for a nap. No nervousness, no car sickness.  Next time I'll put a knot in the seat belt to make it shorter so she can't slip off the seat :)

At the house, we had her sleeping in the kitchen because it was a room we could block off and that didn't have hardwood floors.  We put her potty box in there but were kind of thinking she'd screw up and have accidents.  But she actually surprised us and used her box.  I think she prefers to sleep in her pen at my apartment in a quiet, familiar corner of my home office.  Out in the country the crickets were out in full force and a couple of evil ones ended up in the kitchen and dining room.  Who could imagine such a small insect can make such a racket and I don't know if my poor little girl got much sleep.

But her days were certainly happier than usual...having both of us with her all the time for six days straight must have seemed like a lifetime and she looked quite perturbed when I left for work this morning.  But nothing could equal her joy at being able to run free on the grass.  Off-leash dog runs in the city are nothing compared to nearly 2 acres of nature in which to romp around and she was in heaven.  She never tried to leave the property, always keeping one or both of us in her sight so I never needed the outdoor tie-out I'd bought.  Whenever she tuckered herself out and needed a break, she hopped up on the porch where we were sitting and napped while we sipped our drinks and enjoyed the breeze.  Can there be a nicer way to end the summer? :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Seasonal Thoughts

I always find myself looking forward to the next season.  Well, three of them, anyway.  All of winter is one long daydream of spring, walks in the park and beautiful blooming flowers.  Hadley was born in the spring.  How lovely to have a puppy in spring.

Then I long for summer with the first appearance of sweet cherries in the market, hot weather, cold drinks and weekends by the water.  How lovely to have a puppy in summer.  This week brought the first taste of cooler autumn weather.  There is still the delightful Labor Day weekend ahead and a final chance to enjoy the sun and the water and the long days.

I don't want to let go of summer, but an autumn-themed Pottery Barn catalog has already arrived in the mail.  I tossed it on my desk and it lay, unopened, for a few days.  I finally broke down and perused it this morning and the inevitable happened.  Pictures of pumpkins and fall leaves and baskets filled with apples have turned my mind to fall.  I didn't want to go there yet, but it happened nonetheless.  I LOVE fall.  I love everything about it.  Hadley got overheated easily this summer but she's never experienced fall.  She will love fall.  We will take long walks together in the crisp weather.  We will watch the leaves change colors.  We will buy apples and pumpkins in the farmer's market and she will keep me company in the kitchen while I bake a pie.  How lovely it will be to have a puppy in the fall.

Family and friends will gather for the holidays and she will enjoy the company.  But then, the new year will come and it will just be winter.  I don't like winter.  I don't like being cold or being cooped up in the house or trudging through snow-covered city streets.  Hadley's coat will be thicker by then so I don't know how cold she will be.  But our walks will be short and both of us will dream of spring.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm Still Amazed

The weather was so gorgeous last night that I took Hadley for an extra long walk by the river.  We left right after I got home from work and that is prime time for dog walking...everybody was out with their doggies.

I'm still in awe of how much friendlier people are when you're walking a dog, especially a cute little one like Hadley.  We ran into four other CKC Spaniels and those greets are almost mandatory.  But lots of other people stopped to chat, those that had other types of dogs and those that had none at all.  Young, old, male, female, people dressed in jogging clothes, business clothes, medical scrubs.

I spent most of my life without a dog and had no idea how she would enlarge my world.  Granted, the people I spoke to didn't give me their phone numbers and aren't coming over for dinner.  No need...I have friends, family and a boyfriend.  But the social feeling when I'm outside is not one I've ever experienced before.  Hadley and I returned home two hours later and it might as well have been two days.  Any annoyances I may have encountered during my work day were long forgotten.  The vague beginning of a tension headache when I left work was now a distant memory.  Any anxiety about preparing for work the next day wasn't there.

My life at home certainly changed dramatically when a puppy came to live there.  But my experience outside my home changes just as much whenever my hand is holding a pink leash.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Persnickety Puppy

I didn't realize how good I had it, food-wise, until I switched from free-feeding to regimented meals.  From day one, Hadley was fed Hill's Science Diet Small Bites Puppy Kibble.  I would scoop the correct daily amount into her bowl and put it in her pen.  She ate little bits, here and there, and somehow most of it would be gone within a 24 hour period.  She clearly didn't gobble or overeat so I didn't care how much she ate or when.  For healthy snacks she got little pieces of apples, carrots, string beans and bell peppers.  Occasionally there would be a piece of chicken if it was on my dinner menu.  She was energetic and healthy and growing like a weed.  No issues.  No headaches.  But I now have both!

The first day that I switched to regimented feeding, she ate her dinner.  But the next morning she didn't want breakfast.  Fine, she'll eat at dinner.  Nope, she didn't want it then, either.  She wasn't sick because she begged for whatever food I was eating and lunged for the little treat she got for peeing in her potty box.  OK.  I don't want to be mean.  I didn't get a puppy to not love and spoil it.  I do prefer her to eat a high quality, dry food because it's better for her but I can try to make it more appetizing.  So, I tried pouring a little canned beef stock over it.  Nope.  I had some homemade gravy left over from a pot roast I cooked so I poured that over it.  Nope.

I had a little bit of Cesar's wet grilled chicken food left over from when she got her heartworm medicine so I mixed a tablespoon of that in with the kibble.  Now she ate.  OK....  Science Diet makes a wet puppy food which I figured would be higher quality so I bought a can of that and mixed it with the kibble.  Nope.  She didn't even like it on it's own.  A dog-experienced friend told me that her vet suggested Pedigree was not too bad so I've bought a can of that along with another tin of the Cesar's (just in case).  If I can get her to accept her kibble with a couple of tablespoons of wet food blended in, I will live with that.

In the meantime, no regimented meals means no regimented poop.  We had been making progress but this has derailed it.  Brian says to let her be.  She won't starve to death and will eat whatever is there when she's miserable enough.  I agree about not nurturing a fussy eater but neither do I see the need for her to be miserable if there's a compromise to be had.  I do have newfound respect for the parents of children who are picky eaters and I'm trying to take my example from them.  You wouldn't give in to a child's demand for nothing but cake at every meal.  But you do compromise.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Shall We Meet?

A number of people told me about the CKC Spaniel group on Meetup. com so I joined and today we took Hadley to her first meet-up. One of my co-workers, Adrian, also came with her CKC tri-color, Winnie. I had really been looking forward to it and, it was fine, but maybe not quite what I'd pictured.

It was a warm day and between the walk over there and the play area being in direct sun I was feeling a little peaked. Hadley was, as well, having refused her food that morning. About a dozen beautiful spaniels were there but most left after half an hour. There were a couple of nice people and we all gathered for a great group shot but mostly people sat on benches by themselves while the dogs played in the sand. I usually get more camaraderie from other CKCS owners when I meet them on the street while walking with Hadley than I found here.

Hadley was shy, or tired from lack of food, or in pain from teething or possibly all three and didn't play much. She was also the youngest and that certainly played a role. She spent time with Winnie but that may be because Adrian, Brian and I were together most of the time. But mostly she either sat right next to Brian or she stretched out across my purse.

What was interesting was her behavior off-leash. This was the first time she was outdoors without being tethered and we'd wondered if she would take the opportunity to run free. The dog run is enclosed so we were concerned about her getting away but we'd always asked each if we thought she was emotionally attached to us yet. I guess the fact that she rarely left our side answers that question.

Even when we're out on walks, she's timid around other dogs so I think she needs this kind of socialization. I'd prefer she play with other CKC Spaniels because I know there won't be any fights so I will probably take her to another meet-up in a month or so when she's a bit bigger and the weather is cooler.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Stage Mother

One of my co-workers steered me towards a web site called The Daily Puppy which features pictures and profiles of cute pups of all breeds.  They have a pseudo contest where you may submit a minimum of 9 pictures of your puppy in hopes of having them featured prominently on the site.  When you join the site, other members can also see your pup's profile and can request friendship and comment on the photos.  I realize, of course, that all of this is ridiculous and doesn't do a damn thing for Hadley.  Call it an ego stroke for Hadley's mommy.

The 'friend request' thing is weird from people I don't know but I did enjoy reading the comments.  It appears to be the considered opinion of the seven people who commented that my Hadley is the prettiest little CKC Spaniel that ever was and I should submit her photos for the contest right away.  These same seven people seem to be the ones who comment on the photos of all new pups and I doubt they've ever seen one they didn't think was cute.  But, of course, I completely agree with their assessment of Hadley :)

When Brian and I took her for a walk this past Sunday, we ran into a woman walking another little female CKC who was about a month younger than Hadley.  We stopped to chat and she said she'd gotten the puppy from a pet store.  I frown on that although Brian doesn't share my displeasure.  I also immediately noted that her spaniel had some weird brown markings on her face and was nowhere near as pretty as my Hadley.

Brian is starting to think I'm a twit.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

That's a Lot of Puppy!

The subject of Hadley's size has been a constant topic of discussion since the day we brought her home.  She weighed 4 lbs., 11 oz. when we picked her up from the breeder and, for some reason, Brian and I both assumed she'd be smaller.  She looked like an adorably chubby, well-fed puppy and the vet said she was perfect.  A month later, at the vet, her weight was 7 lbs., 4 oz.  And on her final vaccination visit, a month after that, she weighed in at 10 lbs. even.  Again, the vet said she was the correct size and she certainly didn't look overweight.  She is, however, very long and holding her is like holding a human child.

She's been growing so fast that we actually see it, week to week, and the size of her paws is a mild concern.  They're quite large and it stands to reason that she'll grow into them.  Breed standard for CKC Spaniels is 12-18 lbs. and Brian and I were both kind of hoping for something on the smaller end.  But, we've also run into a couple of dogs in the neighborhood that are well over 25 lbs.  The last thing that comes to mind when you see them is "toy spaniel!"

The AKC classifies CKC Spaniels in the Toy Group although they're certainly considered the group's largest members...lap dogs who spill out over your lap :)  But it's their cuddly personalities that reinforce the toy image and classification.

Of course, I'll love Hadley no matter how big she grows.  I want her to be at a healthy weight to avoid excess pressure on her heart and hips - two areas of concern for this breed.  But otherwise, she's my little girl no matter what.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Potty Police

I have no life.  And when Brian and I are together, we have no lives.  Hadley has regressed to only pooping on the living room floor and usually at times we're not around to see it.  I know that I can't correct any behavior after the fact...I must catch her in the act.  So we watch and we wait...and we wait...and we wait.  We know that every poop that we didn't witness is a missed opportunity to correct and so...we wait...and we wait.  We spent all of this past weekend afraid to take our eyes off of her and yet, one kiss and a cuddle that diverted our attention for a few minutes was all it took!  Clearly this method is not working.

My next step is to change her feeding regiment.  Up until now, she's been free-fed.  I researched this topic...I researched every topic before getting a dog.  Free-feeding is healthier for a dog because it allows them to eat small amounts, more frequently throughout the day.  This cuts down on bloat, gas and other stomach discomfort.  It also has two draw-backs.  Some dogs will overeat, of course, and others need the pack leader/behavior control of waiting for their food.  Neither is an issue with a sweet-tempered little doggie who'd rather play than eat.  Since I've had her...she'll play for a while, run into her pen for a drink of water and maybe a few nibbles of the puppy kibble always in her bowl, run back out to play, etc.  Half the time she doesn't even finish the daily ration she's given which explains why she occasionally looks like a pipe cleaner with ears :)  In other words - no issues.

But free-feeding doesn't allow me to time her bowel movements.  Dogs usually need to poop about 15 minutes after a meal and that knowledge helps with housebreaking.  Since my biggest problem is that I can't catch her in the act because she's unpredictable, I will have to resort to a feeding schedule.  I really hope to be able to go back to free-feeding once she's trained...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Could Cry

Hadley's been peeing in her potty box for nearly three weeks without any mistakes or accidents.  I almost trusted her...as much as you could say you trust a 4 1/2 month old puppy.  But yesterday morning, she peed on the floor.  Nothing unusual happened, I let her out of her pen in the morning and she was playing with her toy in the bedroom.  She ran off into the kitchen, like she usually does, (to see if anyone had accidentally dropped a steak on the floor), came out of the kitchen and peed right there.  This wasn't a few small drips, either.  I was so shocked I could barely respond...I just couldn't believe what I was seeing!

I scolded her and put her in her pen for an hour.  When I let her out again I told her to 'go potty' and she obeyed right away.

I mean, forget the poop situation because that's pretty dire but...the pee!  I was sure we had that worked out.  I'm so disappointed.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Magnet

I remember someone, who knew I was getting a dog, telling me that I would be making a lot of new friends.  Now that she's here, I can say that's definitely true.  There's no shortage of dogs in my neighborhood but there still seems to be a camaraderie among dog owners and people feel free to stop and chat when I'm with her.  I'm a friendly person so I like that but it's fascinating to watch how a dog, especially a puppy, brings out the full range of human behavior.

Some people ask if they can pet her and let her sniff their hand first.  Hadley is super friendly and LOVES people so this is not necessary but I do recommend it as a general rule with dogs you don't know.  Other people just grab her, pet her, pick her up, kiss her...  There's a part of me that doesn't like other people slobbering all over my puppy but I know she loves the attention and I wouldn't begrudge her.

I've also noticed that when Brian is alone with her (or I'm standing at a distance), women are more likely to approach.  When I'm out with her, men feel more free to speak to me.  The most social of all is when we're out together and see another couple with a CKC Spaniel.  We all lock on each other and come right over to make the introductions - both human and canine.

As I said, I enjoy all this social interaction and I know Hadley does.  We do get stopped many times because she's a puppy and people can't resist.  I've learned to keep an eye out, though...  One time Brian waited outside a deli with Hadley while I ran in to buy her a bottle of water.  As I was paying the clerk, I looked out and saw some young would-be-model chatting with my boyfriend and hugging my puppy.  I got out there pretty fast! :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shortcut Puppy

Lately I've been finding pee in the potty box, where it belongs, but little pee drippings right near it and I wondered what was happening.  But now I've solved the mystery.  Hadley devised herself a shortcut where she only puts one leg into the box and this was resulting in the drips I saw.  I understand, of course, that she's very busy and has many important squeaky toys to play with and urgent bones to chew and I admire her creativity in finding a way to cut valuable seconds off the process :)

Her pen is in my home office so I sat at my computer and waited her out.  As soon as she ran in to pee, I scooped her other leg into the box.  A few more repetitions and this little problem should be solved.

Friday, August 21, 2009

50% Puppy

At 4 1/2 months old and 5 weeks into potty box training, here's where we stand:

Pee in the potty box - 100% of the time
Poop in the potty box - close to 0%

So...half my job is done.  The pee part was easier because she does it often so I'm there to correct her.  But she has a tendency to poop in the middle of the night or during the day when I'm at work so weekends are my only time to catch her in the act.  Frustrating.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Great Tail Chase

Hadley is very tuned in to movement.  I know that spaniels were bred as small hunting dogs so her desire to chase and pounce on anything that moves must be in her genes.  She's still too young but I'm told that when she's older, no bird or squirrel will be safe around her.  Except for her occasional game of "chase the feet" it's not an issue for me...although, of course, the birds and squirrels might feel differently :)

But, one of the things in her environment that moves a lot is her tail.  CKC Spaniels trot along with their tails up, high and proud and hers is also always wagging.  The movement constantly catches her eye and she needs to chase it.

When she was younger, I don't think she realized the tail was hers...one time she bit down on it a bit too hard, yelped in pain and ran to me :)  These days I think she does know it's hers and she doesn't bite it, she just likes to hold the feathered tip of it in her mouth...like a pacifier.  But she always needs to contort herself into uncomfortable-looking positions to do it.  Silly puppy :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

To Breed or Not to Breed...

I always assumed I would spay my dog.  I wasn't interested in more puppies.  I didn't want her to stain around the house.  And I certainly didn't want every unfixed mutt in the city to go after her when she's in heat.  She'll be spayed at six months old, wear that silly cone for a few days and it will no longer be an issue.  Brian has other ideas.

He's been poo-pooing my concerns.  He says, what's the big deal?  Hadley is a beautiful, pure-bred dog.  Let's find her an appropriate stud and let her have some beautiful, pure-bred puppies.  We'll sell them for good money.  We have AKC papers.  Why not?

But, I'm the one who does the reading and the research and there's plenty of reasons why not.  I sent him web links to articles and videos.  He didn't want to take the time and said we'll do whatever I say.  But...I'm still hearing about this.  I told him that I won't discuss the breeding option with him until he's read what I've read and we can make a mutually informed decision.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Second Potty Box

The second potty box arrived.  It's identical to the one in her pen but I wondered if she would understand that it has the same purpose.  I didn't have to wonder for long!  I unpacked the box, put it on the floor on the other side of the room from her pen and put a sheet of newspaper in it.  Hadley jumped right in and peed.  I didn't even have to tell her to do it.  OK.  I guess that answers that question.  When we go out to Brian's house we'll put one potty box upstairs and one downstairs...and keep our fingers crossed :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Well, I Guess That Answers That Question

One of my colleagues has a CKC spaniel that is a couple of months older than Hadley and he is still timid of stairs.  So I assumed Brian and I would have to spend some time teaching Hadley to climb when we're at his house over Labor Day weekend.  But today we visited a store that was one flight up and were about to encourage Hadley to climb.  Or, at least, we would have encouraged her if she was still sitting there next to us.  She ran up the stairs :)  OK...but down is probably harder than up so let's see if she'll do that.  Um, where is she?  Oh, she's already run down the stairs back to us.

Never mind :) 

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Getting Ready for Labor Day Weekend!

After a whole summer in the city with my puppy, I can't wait for the Labor Day weekend.  I'll have off work from Friday to Tuesday for a relaxing getaway to Brian's house on the east end of Long Island.   But this will be the first time I'm going anywhere with Hadley so I'm trying to prepare.  The house has two floors so we will have to teach her to climb stairs.  I ordered a second potty box so that one can be upstairs and one downstairs for easy access.  (We'll see how compliant she'll be in a new environment.)  I've also ordered a long outdoor tie-out so that she can roam around the grass a little and still be safely tethered to the porch.  And, I've bought a doggie seat belt harness. 

It's a long drive and Brian wanted to crate her for the trip, but I disagree.  My Hadley is not meek and I think she'll do better if she can see what's going on.  Plus, we're always in and out of the car whenever we're out east and I want her to learn to enjoy it.  I promised him I'd seat her on a thick towel in case of a potty accident.

I've made a packing list of all the doggie supplies I'll need to bring and researched pet-friendly places on Long Island.  Unfortunately, there aren't many.  I would so love to take her to the beach but it's not allowed in season.  Oh well, she'll still get to experience the grass and fresh air and smell of water.  I love it out there and I hope she will, too.  It's ironic...she was born on a farm upstate but never really left the puppy room until we came to get her.  So, for all intents and purposes, she's a big city dog.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Particularly Bad Day

Hadley's been so good for the past week.  She's been using her potty box with few, if any, mistakes.  She doesn't need to be dragged when we go for a walk, she's learned the daily routine of the house, doesn't bark at night, waits patiently by the entrance to her pen for me to let her out, still doesn't like me leaving for work, of course, but doesn't bark or cry when I go.  She knows I'll be coming back.  It was a happy week and I was loving my beautiful puppy.

But yesterday was so bad.  I came home and saw that she had pooped and peed on the floor in her pen instead of using her box.  During the evening when she was running around playing, she peed in her pen outside her box and pooped on the living floor.  During the night she peed in her box correctly but pooped on the floor and this morning, she peed on the floor.  I don't get it.  It's like she's completely forgotten everything she's learned.  She was also extra high energy, jumping on everything, very mouthy and nippy.  She and I have been practicing learning to STAY but she was so frenetic that she couldn't concentrate at all.  I was almost in tears this morning from the frustration.

The weather's been miserable but today is nice so, when I get home, I'm going to try to take her on an extra long walk and see if I can drain some of that energy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Beautiful Hadley

She was adorably cute when she was tiny but then went through an awkward phase.  Still cute but not quite one thing or the other.  I wasn't worried.  I'd always thought this breed was prettiest when fully grown.  But now, at 17 weeks, Hadley is beginning to come into her looks...and I think she's just beautiful.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It Worked. Easy.

I picked up some wet dog food...Little Cesar's Grilled Chicken flavor.  Hadley loves grilled chicken.  I actually think my Hadley can smell grilled chicken while the bird is still alive! :)  I cut up the heartworm chew into little pieces and mixed it in with the food.  She ate every bit and practically licked the pattern off the dish.  Yummy in her tummy...and now properly medicated.  Easy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hmm...

As part of her last round of vaccinations, the vet put Hadley on monthly heartworm preventative medicine.  I bought it right from the doctor's office which is probably not the cheapest place but it was easier.  They're chewables...OK...I wonder...

The doctor always gives her a treat to ease the annoyance of the poking and prodding, etc. but Hadley never eats it.  I noticed that the vet uses pill pockets as the "house" treat and I understand they're supposed to be really yummy.  But...what other dogs think is really yummy doesn't seem to appeal to my girl and I wondered if Hadley would take the heartworm chew.

She wasn't feeling that well after her vaccinations so I waited a couple of days to let her recover and then gave it to her.  Nope.  She sniffed, licked and turned away.  I tried again...nope...I cut it into smaller pieces...nope...I put it in her food bowl...nope.

Tomorrow I will pick up some wet dog food (always well received) in her favorite, most beloved chicken flavor.  I'll cut the heartworm chew into small little pieces and blend it in.  It worked with the de-worming medicine so we'll see how discerning she is.  Of course, now I'm worried about how she'll take her pain medication after she's spayed...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hadley is a Lady



We brought Hadley to the vet for her final round of vaccinations and a little girl that was there commented that she looked like Lady from Lady and the Tramp.

I'd only vaguely remembered the movie so I looked it up when we got home. According to the movie's producers, Lady was drawn to resemble a Cocker Spaniel. Hadley is a Cavalier Spaniel but I definitely see the resemblance.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Stubborn Puppy

"I'm not going to go potty just because you tell me to go potty even though it's been many hours and I clearly do need to go potty and as soon as you let me out of my play pen I will definitely go potty on the carpet but just because you want me to I will not go potty and I will lie here in my bed sulking and refusing to go potty until I explode.  So there!'

Friday, August 7, 2009

It Was My Own Fault

It's been almost a month since I introduced the larger potty box and we're now getting close to the stage we were on newspaper alone.  If I had bought the larger box right away we'd probably be done by now so it was my fault.  I thought it would be easy to transition from paper to box but it set me back to zero.  Oh well, I'll know for the next puppy.  HA!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Breeder vs. Shelter

Is it realistic to think that pet stores could go out of business.  I doubt it because I don't think there are enough breeders to accommodate the demand.

We didn't pay to have Hadley specially bred.  At the time I first found the breeder, she was already alive.  Someone has to take care of her.  If everyone agreed to boycott all breeders then what would happen to all the puppies?  It's a circular argument and I'm not sure what the right answer is.  I believe adopting a shelter dog is a wonderful thing if it's right for you.  It wasn't right for me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Puppy Diaries

I've been following a weekly series in The New York Times called The Puppy Diaries.  It was actually one of the trainers I spoke to who e-mailed me the link...probably because the writer speaks favorably about professional puppy training.  But, in any event, the articles are about her experiences in adopting a purebred Golden Retriever and my focus is so puppy-centric these days that I'm interested in all that kind of stuff.

Out of curiosity, I scrolled down to read the reader comments...and smoke started coming out of my ears!  Hundreds and hundreds of comments, not about her emotions or heart-felt description of experiences but about the fact that she "bought" a dog.  I've never seen so much animosity about something that's none of anyone's business.  I'll have more to say about this once I collect myself but it just makes me furious.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/garden/pupblog.html?scp=1&sq=the%20puppy%20diaries&st=cse