Sunday, February 17, 2013

Skyler's Scoop: The Real Poop on Puppy Power

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

Welcome to the c-r-a-t-e. I admit it. Both my new pup Skyler and I have included the word crate in our vocabulary and I am in heaven! And this is exactly how I--the down-to-earth anti-crate animal lover became a dog crate lover convert...

The Dog Box

After umpteen telephone calls to my trustworthy pet sitter and no call backs--I was frustrated. How in the world was I able to go swim, hit the store, whip up a meal with a 14 pound (he gained one in one week) puppy running crazy throughout the house? Read: I had no life and sported puffy no sleep puppy eyes. What to do?
On Saturday afternoon, like a zombie Stepford wife on a mission to keep her household in perfect order I visited my local pet store. "One dog crate, please!" Alas, I brought home a crate fit for a 25-35 pooch. It laid in the car behind Skyler (on his best behavior on drives) and senior Simon, the Brittany who loves to go as well.
Once home, I opened the big crate, turned on Animal Planet, left Simon to babysit (he's 60 in human years and gets how to behave) with the little tyke--and I went to the grocery store (my first visit in more than two weeks)! 

Hello Life! I Feel Human Again

When I came back home--Skyler was still alive!  And to me this means swimming at the resort pool, going to the dentist, gyn, post office--and most importantly, I am not chained to a 11 week old puppy because I took charge.
Last night, still a bit exhausted from the new "baby" addition to my family, I thought, "I wonder if energetic Skyler (a true Sag fire sign) would sleep in the crate?" True, he's been good snoozing through the night on the right of me in the bed; Zen, the Siamese cat to the left and Simon under the comforters by my feet but...a hiss and growl here and there has given me semi-broken sleep. So, I tried the crate. A couple of preliminary whimpers and done! Amazing! Note to self: Write a thank you note to the two-legger who invented the dog box. I feel like I went to a plush hotel and slept like a pup. And Skyler still loved me in the morning! 
After a cup of java this AM, I heard my pup barking crazy at his new box. I looked inside and Zen (the cat who thinks he's a dog) was comfy in Skyler's new digs. So the motto of this tail? Crates have their place in a human and pup's life to make it sane; if used here and there it can be a godsend to a nurturing human dog mom! 
Oops. Where oh where is my puppy? The Aussie escaped through the baby gate and is on the loose. Dog gone. I found him. Skyler was having the time of his life in the dining room--a place that is my library and oasis (complete with a fish aquarium) for grown up people that know where the bathroom is and don't chase the kitty for the thrill of it.  But note, I vow to use the incredible dog box sparingly.  Repeat as necessary. I have my life back!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Skyler's Scoop: The Real Poop on Puppy Power

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
Help! Who Do I Call? Puppybusters!

Tomorrow is sweet Valentine's Day Lovefest and I have my sweet loving and loyal two canine valentines--senior Simon and youngster Skyler. I admit that there are roller coaster twists and turns of raising a puppy. Do I have regrets for adopting a new Aussie? Well, at my age it is a mega challenge. I think I've aged 10 years in 10 days with my 10 week old Australian Shepherd (and he literally shredded the article on how to care for him so I'm on my own)...

Brainstorming for a 
Puppy Monster Barricade
Yesterday, for instance, I looked at my once tidy and comfy bedroom/workroom--an oasis--and it resembled a devastated region after a great quake.  Piles of pillows, large framed pictures, books, and baby gates were used to be a fortress to keep "monster puppy" away from my cords to the TV, cable box, computer, waterbed--all the comforts and links to the 21st century. But the mess was an eye sore and wasn't really working for my dog that seems to have a higher IQ than me and will go through all obstacles to chew on anything I need or want.
So, in desperation I called a mountain handyman. Alas, two big men and two big white trucks arrived at my cabin. I was rescued. It was amusing. I smelled like puppy pee while holding my new pooch in an attempt to open the front door. My 13.2 pound ball of tri-color fluff was looking all cute and innocent with his hazel eyes while we watched these big men as they stood in my room where I work and chill. They talked like two heady surgeons while troubleshooting how to keep Skyler out of my cords to the world. Wood barricades--at least three--was mentioned as was putting boards on baby gates. (Last week Skyler put his head through one of the holes and it got stuck. I had images of me dialing 9-1-1 but ended up gently pushing his furry head back out  in the nick of time.) 
Then, the senior handyman got a dog-proof brainstorm. He attached the outlet strip to the back of the bed headboard. It was brilliant! No more doggy shredding cords! I was no longer distraught and getting images of puppy getting shocked by the electricity or my words, "NO! Skyler!"  I won the battle this time around. But that's not all...
It's still a human challenge with Puppy Potty Training 101. Yes, Skyler is a fast learner and gets it right and outside 75% of the time. I don't do crate training, nor does he. But watching puppy 24/7 is a bit of a chore. Two days ago, I called my trusty pet sitter and left a message: "Please come for an hour so I can go swim." I haven't heard back as of yet. So, the treadmill out in the living room is looking better every day. (Unfortunately, pups can't do it until one year old because their body is still in its growing stage... but I'm not a puppy and it may just do the trick to get a bit of sanity.)
Of course, Skyler needs to exercise, too. But for the next six weeks dog walks are limited due to the puppy shots regime and it is icy out there. (The word is, the local dog trainer fell while walking four dogs; one escaped.) These home bound blocks are only temporary and then it's time to go do it--and getting a move on will make our tails wag.
And the photo of me and Skyler? Well, it's the no make-up, no hair color, no sleep puppy look.  True, this phase shall pass and one day my Aussie and I will make a handsome couple. Note to self: Make hair appointment. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Skyler's Scoop: The Real Poop on Puppy Power

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
So, adjusting to a new puppy doesn't have to be a Stephen King sci-fi "Cujo" type film. Skyler may not be a Marley 11 after all. Zen, my beloved Siamese mix kitty gets it. And late last night he proved it to me, his mistress who was yowling and crying to friends that her new puppy addition has destroyed her relationship with the cat. "My kitty has mega cat-attitude. He's on strike. He's making a statement and won't sleep with me like a strong-willed man with issues," I whined.

Good Night Sweet Zen
The deal is, I cannot get shut-eye without Zen. This zen-like cat who thinks he's a dog always sleeps with me--every night. He purrs to me softly and snuggles up to my chest underneath the covers all night long. At 1:00 AM, I telepathically communicated with him all alone in his cozy cat napper in the living room: "Zen, I can't sleep. Please come to bed. I'm so tired. Simon is underneath the comforters at my feet. Skyler is quiet to the right of me. Your place, on the left of the bed is empty and open." But I got a dead calm. No response as I laid between two snoozing canines, young and older.
Suddenly, I felt a familiar pounce on the waterbed and four gentle cat paws of a 10 pound feline saunter up to me. I lifted up the flannel sheet and Zen curled up with me once again. Sweet Zen! We were in human-cat bonding heaven once again. I whispered, "Good night." And like the character in the film "City of Angels" who needed her angel to hold her until she fell asleep--I got my angel cat back and shut my eyes. Thanks to Skyler's good energy and my puss who sensed it it was a good night all night long.
So, we are on Day 3 and normalcy in the household is happening. Can a young alpha cat, beta pup, and alpha dog all get along? You betcha! Thank you Skyler for backing off and allowing me to get much needed z-z-z's with my sweet loving pussycat. While you may be hitting 15 pounds this week, the little puppy in you still shows. I predict Sky, a Sagittarius and Zen, an Aries--two Fire Signs--are going to be good friends. Who says cats and dogs don't get along? 
P.S. Skyler, if you don't start herding Zen I forecast a peaceful household and you will be part of the pack.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Skyler's Scoop: The Real Poop on Puppy Power

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

At 7:00 AM, Groundhog Day, my sibling, Simon the senior Brittany, and I got on the road bound Sacramento to pick up Skyler, my new Australia Shepherd 9 week old puppy. As a night owl, this feat was challenging- foreshadow to changing my serene senior life as I once knew it. Snacking on cookies and chips to keep awake and deal with the twists and turns in the mountains was a prelude to my pre-Skyler healthy lifestyle.
Before picking up puppy, cell phone chat let me hear my new crated child! He was loud--squeals and whines. Once the Red Bluff, CA horse lady with a litter of Aussies let the pooch out of the dog box, all was quiet. And so the fun began...

When our eyes (his are hazel) met for the first time--it was puppy love. The long ride home back to the Sierra was better than expected. The docked tails of both boy dogs were wagging fast. All was calm. My 200 mile drive to sedate the dogs plan worked like a charm. Everyone was dog tired. Then, the 3:00 PM vet check also was lucky. My rocky raccoon eyes from lack of sleep widened when Skyler (13 pounds of fluff) received an "A" for the hands-on physical exam. Exhale.
Once home, my new dog duo and cat were relatively calm. In fact, by 1:00 AM we all were cuddled up and sleeping in the waterbed. No problems. But hold the phone. My vet told me that the pup I saw on February 2 was not the real deal I'd see in about 18 hours later. Fast forward to the doc's prediction. (Three hours of sleep, night one.) Meet the real energetic puppy Skyler!

The New Puppy Rules

* Lose crate. Whoever the pro-dog crate writers are, I believe it's fiction they wrote when saying it works. Read: It does not unless you have ear plugs and laid-back neighbors.
* Forget cats and puppy best friends from the get-go. Spoiled felines and new puppies aren't instant pals, especially if you have a me-first Aries Siamese-mix kitty and Sag herding dog. Zen is not zen-like for now. Last time I saw him he was packing up his kitty food and toys...He may be seeking a new "No Puppies Allowed" home.
* Use dog lead smarts. Skyler didn't know the word "lead"... He does now and loves it. I love it.
* Hide all tech cords. Last night in a puppy minute, Skyler shredded my cell phone cord. Radio Shack no longer carries it. Upside: I got my new cell phone back from brother--it works. Good dog! 
* Stay on top of poo. Ah, we got this feat handled. After every feeding, playtime, naps it's outdoors to do puppy business. Note to self: Skyler is living up to his name "scholar." He's got potty training down to a "T"...

Now, if Zen can just get the message that the pup is a permanent fixture in the house, we can live in peace. "Zen? Here kitty, kitty."