Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Dog Park 2: Marty Strikes Back

I've realized that with a middle name like Solo, this blog has had a severe lack of Star Wars references.  I'll have to change that.

As I mentioned, Marty has now gone to two dog parks.  The first was a fenced in affair with dogs he was unfamiliar with.  He made some attempts at making friends, but mostly just ran around aimlessly, chasing balls, and sometimes chasing the group.

The second dog park was completely different.  Meg extended an invite for a ride with her and Daisy for a park that was not fenced in.  I'll admit, I was really nervous about Marty being off leash in a strange place with no fence.  Meg and I both assumed that Marty would trot around a bit, but mostly stay near us.  Man, were we in for a surprise.

Marty LOVED the freedom.  The instant he was off leash, he started sniffing around.  Having Daisy, a dog who he is familiar with and will initiate play time, was awesome.  Within minutes they were both sprinting around chasing a ball.  There was a stream nearby and we made our way over there.  Again, Meg and I assumed Marty would wade around a bit, but not really go nuts.

NOPE.  Marty charged in.  He was swimming around, chasing the ball we were throwing and even jumping off rocks into the water.

All in all this was a fantastic experience.  Marty and Daisy were sprinting around, playing with one another, with the couple of other dogs that were there, and generally just having a great time.  We went on a short hike, maybe 10 min, where the dogs just kind of ran around in circles.  Marty was pretty good about coming when I called, but after a few minutes I stopped worrying about his running off, since if he ever went too far, he'd come sprinting back.

Marty and Daisy were still full of energy when we got home, despite running around at full speed for about an hour.  However, Marty was dead tired all day the next day.

I think a few friends and I are going to go have a picnic near the park this weekend and give him even more time to run around.  I'll probably shoot Elmo's parents an email and see if they want to come.

K bye!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Dog Park...Part 1?

Yes, there's a part 1 in that title.  Marty has now gone to two, that right count 'em, two separate dog parks.

I was a little nervous about taking Marty to a dog park.  He's a really sweet and friendly guy, but can sometimes get a little rough and a little protective with other dogs.  Chris volunteered to give a ride to Madison Park, which was recommended to me by a few people on Marty and I's walking route.  The ride was pretty uneventful...aside from me taking us to the wrong park first.

Luckily, Marty was fine:
Hey, where we going?  This car's nice and quiet.
We got to the park around 11:30 AM and it was actually pretty nice.  It wasn't too hot or cold out and the park itself wasn't terribly crowded.  Marty was a bit nervous once we got in, he didn't really know what to do.  Marty really needs there to be a leader when it comes to play time with other dogs.  He knows he can just be cute to get people to play with him, but with dogs he's just at a loss.

We were at the park until about 1:00 or so, with Marty running around for maybe half the time and the rest of the time just wandering around the park or hovering near Chris and I.

So, this fence is fun.
Right before we left a collie with a ton of energy came in.  Her owner started tossing around tennis balls in rapid fire.  Marty got excited and started running after as well.  Unfortunately he had little hope of actually catching the collie or beating her to a ball.  Most of the time Marty just ended up like this:

Soooo....where did everyone go?
We left the park and Marty was pretty tuckered out.  It was a lot of fun and everyone at the park was super nice.  We're definitely going to have to make our way back there at some point!

As an aside, this past Sunday was Marty and I's 2 month anniversary.  Here's a quick video of his tricks!

Wait...I found it:

Sorry for the crappy quality.  There's not great lighting in my room.

K bye!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Walkin' on Sunshine

So I'm thinking that I need to teach Marty to act like Seymour and have him whistle Walkin on Sunshine when he's in a mood like he was today.

First off, Marty liked his crate before, now he LOVES IT.  He loves being able to stretch out and lay out.  He was super hyper last night and I think it's because he was actually able to sleep comfortably.  Thanks mom and dad!

Today, he was great!  He loved his lunchtime walk!!

"Hey buddy, it's nice out."

"Bark!  Bark bark!...wait, that's a yawn."
K Bye!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Meeting Grandma and Grandpa

Spoiler alert, no new pictures.  It was a pretty overwhelming weekend, as you'll soon read, so I didn't get a chance to take too many pictures.

This past Sunday my mom and dad drove through DC on their way to South Carolina for what is now their 3rd vacation of the summer.  I guess they're enjoying having my sister and I be done with school.  They stopped by wanting to meet Marty, and more importantly, be good grandparents and spoil him.

My parents "like" dogs in theory (my dad constantly teases my mom that he's just going to get a puppy one day) but also realize that they're messy and require a huge time commitment.  That being said, they LOVED Marty.

Surprisingly, Marty was not scared of my parents at all.  He was running around, wanting to be petted and rolling around looking for tummy rubs.  My dad found out the hard way why we sometimes call Marty a bruiser.  I told my dad wanted to play with Marty but couldn't get him to come to him.  I told him that if he sat on the floor that Marty would run right over.  

In typical Marty fashion, he sprinted over, head down, and ensured that I wouldn't be having any late life siblings.

Sibling denying incidents aside, I was a bit surprised how quickly Marty took to my parents.  When they parked, I met them outside without Marty, and gave them hugs while he perched on the couch watching me. I'm assuming this helped out a lot.

We then decided to take Marty to PetSmart with us for his first ever trip to PetSmart.  I was a little worried, but apparently I was being crazy since Marty LOVED IT.  He was running around, sniffing all of the toys, sniffing all of the food, kinda playing with all of the other dogs, and scaring a little kid who kept saying that Marty was "going to get him."  

The kid was nervous that Marty could reach him on his dad's shoulders.

We had a great time at PetSmart and picked Marty up a sweet cushion for his crate and a big chicken flavored nyla bone.  I hope he doesn't get used to this treatment.  

Trouble arose on the trip back to the house.  About 2 minutes after we got into the car, I noticed that the bottom of Marty's paw was covered in blood.  My mom found some tissues and I cleaned out around the paw and saw that he had a 1/4" cut on the pad on his back paw.  It was a large cut, nor was it super deep ("Do we have to take him to the hospital?  Is the vet nearby??" -Mom) it just bled a lot.  

We cleaned out the cut and once it stopped bleeding, crated him for a bit while we went to lunch.  My parents left shortly after lunch, but not before giving him his giant nyla bone.


Marty ate almost the entire bone in one sitting.  I was not expecting this at all.  He usually gnaws on the bones for weeks so I was not expecting him to utterly devour it.

This basically led to me staying up the entire night, ushering Marty outside as he would throw up pieces of the bone every 45-60 min.  

The funny part was that Marty could almost control his gag reflex.  I would hear him start to gag and would instantly rush him outside.  He would hold it until we got outside, then give a big swallow and look at me like it was time to play... at 3:00 AM.  Not playtime.

I think he threw up 4 times throughout the night and we went outside a total of 9-10 times.  It was a really fun night.

Also, Daisy is back.  They seem to be getting along, mostly just kind of ignoring one another at the moment.  I'll try to get a cute picture of them.  

I just remembered, my mom got a couple of pictures from PetSmart, so I'll edit this later with pics.

K bye

Friday, August 17, 2012

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

It's easy to forget that Marty is a puppy.

Marty is a big guy, 36 lbs, and due to his cautious nature, was pretty well behaved in the house.  

It was pretty easy to be comfortable of a timid puppy who didn't really run around the house, was too scared to pee or poop inside (he had to use the corners in the backyard), and really just wanted to lay on my lap since no one else really gave him attention.  

Now that he's more comfortable (a big part of this is James moving in), he has no problem running around the house, wanting to play, and just generally being a happy dog.  Now these are all big pluses.  Of course I want my puppy, especially a shy guy like Marty, to be a bit more adventurous and happy-go-lucky, but this has come at a price.

Because of timidity, I think I fell into a training rut with him, since I wasn't too worried about him going to the bathroom in the house or chewing anything up.  As he's gotten more comfortable, he's gotten a bit more destructive (gnawing on shoes, sheets, etc) and has have 3 accidents in the past week.  

I sometimes liken his little puppy brain to a computer.  Whenever he learns something new, he forgets something else.  For example, over the past 2-3 days he's realized that he can poop anywhere on walks.  He doesn't have to find a specific spot that he loves in the park or the church near my house, he can just go on the grass on the sidewalk.  This realization was great.  It makes walks a lot easier, since more areas smell like him making him feel more comfortable, and also helps me, since he now goes to the bathroom with more regularity (he was regular before, but we always had to go to specific "poop spots" which were the only places he would go, whereas now, he'll go 2-3 times on a walk, rather than all at once in a poop spot, and then having to go 2 minutes after we got home).

But as I mentioned earlier, since having this revelation, he's forgotten that he can't go in the house.  A perfect example was this morning.  We woke up a little before 6 (my alarm is set for 6:03).  We snuggled in bed a little bit, i.e. he licked my face and then rested his head on my chest, until my alarm actually went off.  Got out of bed and gave him breakfast.  As he was eating I grabbed my coffee mug and was walking back into the dining room to pour myself a cup.  Mid-pour I see Marty is done eating, and he's looking up at me, when all of a sudden he squats down (not a leg lifter yet) and starts to pee.  He got maybe a half second out before I yelled "HEY!"  This exclamation was followed by him immediately stopping, his ears pasting themselves to his head, and him running in a circle and looking at me.  

As I ushered him outside he was giving me a look as if to say, "Oh no, I peed inside.  I totally forgot I can't pee inside.  Can you forgive me?  I just had to pee and yesterday I realized I could go anywhere so I thought I could go inside but I forgot the original no inside rule.  I'm so sorry, maybe if I jump on you and try to give you kisses you'll forgive me.  Sorry sorry sorry sorry.  I love you...Hey look a bug."

Luckily, not much pee came out and I was able to soak it all up and out of the carpet and then spray some cleaner on and clean it up.  Not a big deal, but it was an odd differentiation from our normal morning routine.  Normally, I'd have let him outside about 2 seconds after I had added cream to my coffee.  But still, accidents happen, it's just weird that they keep happening on the carpet.

Another great thing is that Marty wants to play more often.  This is awesome.  It's so much fun to play with a puppy.  The downside is that Marty doesn't understand how to play with people and that he needs to be gentle.  The other night we were playing and I was rubbing his tummy.  Marty jumped up and crawled on top of me (we were playing and he had to win).  He stood on top of me and started licking my face (normal thing), when out of nowhere he opened his mouth and bit down relatively hard on the side of my face, between my cheek and my eye.  It wasn't hard enough to break skin, but it sure as hell was enough to hurt.  I  yelled "OW!" (whenever he gnaws hard, we don't tell him "No" we yell "Ow" to try to teach him to be gentle.  Other puppies make high pitched noises when they gnaw on each other too hard or play too rough, so this is supposed to teach him the roughness thresh hold.).  Unfortunately, this wasn't a training "Ow," this was a , "That really hurt, what the hell" sound.  

Marty instantly knew that something was wrong and started yelping and crying while running back to his bed.  I got up and walked over to the bathroom to make sure he didn't break the skin.  At this point I had to step back and think.  I didn't think scolding him would accomplish anything.  He knew he had done something wrong, that much was clear, but he probably didn't realize what he had done.  There was no way to recreate the situation, so I figured the best thing to do would be to sit in the chair by my desk and let him pout a bit.  When I sat down, he leaped onto my bed and gave me his puppy look (eyes wide, ears pushed back, head inching forward for a scratch).  It broke my heart, but I ignored him for 5 minutes, until he became interested in something else.  After this I got up and sat with him.  He started licking my hand (still knowing I was upset).  When he started gnawing on my hand, I instantly went "Ow," and then said "Hey."  He stopped gnawing for a few minutes. 

I'm researching the best ways to teach a puppy to be gentler when they play.  This is a really important lesson for him to learn since he will be a really big dog.  

Like I said, two steps forward, one step back, well two steps back in this case.  

Still, he's a good puppy and he's basically a 6 year old.  He's going to make mistakes and he's going to have accidents, it's just my responsibility to do my best to make sure he doesn't do them again.

Sorry for the long post, it's just been a bit of an up and down week.

Marty is also really excited to meet his grandma and grandpa this weekend!

Also, here's a cute pic that Aunt Steph took for us:

K, bye!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vet Results Revisited

A few people have been asking how Marty's doing since his vet visit.

I'm happy to say he's doing really well!  The antibiotics seem to be working and the lick granuloma is clearing up nicely!

Last week

This morning
As you can probably tell, the redness has gone away and the lump isn't swollen anymore.  The scabbing is most gone and no more pus comes out when you squeeze it.  It's impossible to tell from the pic, but fur is starting to grow back in the area.  I'm still keeping the cone on during the day, and will probably continue to do so through the end of the week.  The vet suggested 5-7 days, but I figure 2 more couldn't hurt.  I think the last little scab will be completely gone by then.  He also never licks it with the cone off.

As far as his ear infection, we've been using the medicine and cleaning his ear every day.  I've even started cleaning out the other ear every few days.  I'm going to have to invest in some long q-tips or something, because it's actually kind of tough to clean out his ears.  For those who don't know, dog's ear canals are actually L shaped, so you have to really dig in there with cotton wrapped around your finger.
Still, Marty let's me clean out his ears and put in the medicine (he doesn't like it though and mostly just "shuts off" when I do it).  He scratches at his ears a lot less, if at all anymore.

All in all, I think he's doing great!

K bye!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weekends with Elmo

This weekend was a whirlwind.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we dog sat for Elmo this weekend.

Hi Elmo!
Elmo is a little corgi/pom mix that is a bundle of energy at almost all times.  Contrast this to the normally laid back and relaxed Marty.  Marty and Elmo get along pretty well, with Elmo teaching Marty how to be a dog.

Elmo arrived on Thursday night and instantly realized that it was play time.  Marty was really excited and was more than happy to start wrestling and running around.  Within minutes both pups were getting along as if they had never spent time apart.

Dog sitting was really easy on Friday.  Took them both for walks in the morning, took them out at night, let them play.

Saturday, now this was a dog of a different color.  Both dogs are early risers, not a huge problem, while Marty is usually somewhat slow to rise, Elmo was ready to go almost instantly.  This lit a spark in Marty as well, and he was instantly ready to go.

After some breakfast, it was time for a walk.  We had found Elmo's leash (thanks for hiding that Ryan!) and I attempted to walk both pups at once.  This was a bad idea.

Elmo was adventurous and wanted to sniff and spell everything.  Marty, hung out by my side/behind me, and was not surging ahead.  In the end, I had to hold both leashes tight and just force them to walk next to one another.  I think this actually worked out pretty well since Marty saw Elmo just dashing off and trying to smell everything.  Eventually he started sniffing around too.

Once we got back, it was play time.  At 9 AM.  All day.  Basically, all Marty and Elmo wanted to do was chase each other and wrestle.  Wrestling did lead to an interesting realization from Marty though.  At some point he was consistently winning these wrestling matches.  It finally dawned on him, I'm bigger than Elmo.  Once this realization happened, Elmo rarely won.  This pissed Elmo off quite a bit and he started being a bit more aggressive.  This in turn led to Marty being more aggressive.  After lots of "gentle!" calls and separating them and putting them outside, they finally calmed down and wrestled like normal.

Marty is still wearing his cone of shame.  I put it on him for a bit in the morning because I had to run some errands and couldn't watch him the entire time.  Elmo was actually really good with the cone on Marty.  It was as if he realized that Marty had to finish his initiation.

"Don't worry man, the cone isn't that bad."

Saturday ended up just being a long day.  Though both pups would get tired, they weren't tired enough to not play with one another.  They finally crashed around 9 or 10.  I've never seen Marty crash so hard.  It was pretty funny.

Sunday was completely different.  I don't think either dog expected to wake up with the other there.  This was how most of Sunday was spent:

Who's a sleepy puppy??

It was pretty adorable.

They slept most of the day Sunday.  Well Marty slept most of the day.  Elmo would get random bursts of energy.  I'd bring both outside to play, but Marty would just lie down.  I would end up chasing Elmo for 10 minutes until he would also collapse.  The whole time, Marty would sit on the stoop watching, wanting to join in, but just be too tired.

Elmo left Sunday night.  Thank you Ryan for scaring both pups and causing a bark fest, followed by Marty confusingly peeing (not on the new carpets!) on the floor.  Ryan and Gloria, Elmo was really well behaved the whole weekend (except for the barking.  Man, we would tell him not to bark, and I swear, he would look me right in the eyes and bark again almost every time).  He's welcome back anytime.

Marty spent most of the day Monday sleeping as well (I had the day off).  We went for a short run, which he really didn't understand, and did some walking on busy streets.  He was pretty good on the busy streets!

For some reasons he decided that sleeping on top of my was a lot more comfortable than the couch:
So comfy...for him.
Here are some pics from our day on Monday, featuring Marty hanging out in his favorite spot:
I love the steps.
I can see upstairs.

Or I can see downstairs.

Marty loves hanging out on the stairs when I'm downstairs.  I think it's because he can go either up or down pretty quickly, depending on what he hears.

Finally, one last picture.  Here's the look he gives me whenever I leave for work.  I think he can tell when I'm leaving since I take a while to get ready:

"Hey buddy, where we going?  Oh, I'm not coming?  Ok..."
Well that's all for now.

K bye!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Adventures in Walking the Third: Actually Going Outside

Sometime over the past 10 days Marty realized that going outside is fun!  Still very scary, but the fear is outweighed by the possibility of fun.

I didn't mention this last week, since I thought it would have been a one off experience, but last Wednesday, Marty pooped and peed (non-dog owners may not realize this, but talking about poop and pee is almost commonplace between dog owners.  Never thought I'd be talking to a random cute girl about dog poop, but it's happened...twice) someplace that wasn't my backyard.

I accomplished this by taking Marty on a long walk, about 2 hours long.  We ended up at a park about a block from my house.  Marty always felt "comfortable" in this park, not comfortable enough to pee or anything, but comfortable enough that sometimes his tail wagged a bit.  This visit wasn't a fun visit though.  This visit was war.

Throughout the long walk, Marty had been making eye contact with me, as if to say "I gotta go pee, and we're nowhere near home...what should I do?"  When he realized that we weren't going to go home his eyes then said, "It's on."

When we finally did a giant loop around VA Square and Clarendon, we ended up Gumball Park.  Our eyes met again, his eyes begging to go home for sweet release, my eyes drenched in sweat and burning with a fire to see my dog poop in a park.

I decided to chase Marty around a bit and try to make him forget about being scared...EUREKA!!  It worked.  Marty started peeing after about a minute.  Tons of praise and treats followed.  Then, he produced his encore.  Equally praised and full or treats.

Since then, he has no problem going outside of backyard, but he was still scared of going outside.  Last weekend, something changed.  From Monday and through our walk this morning, Marty has been almost running out the door.  He gets scared numerous times throughout the walk, but still, he has no problem leaving the house, and generally enjoys walks a lot more.

I'm so proud of the little guy!  Here's a little video of us hanging out in the park.  Check out the giant difference between his manner in this video:

And this picture:

I'm proud of him and so excited for when he's even more comfortable.

On a side note, Marty's been hilarious with his cone, but has also been letting me clean his ears and apply his ointment.  His paw is already looking better and he barely fidgets when I clean his ear and apply the ointment!

Expect lots of pictures from the weekend with Elmo!

K byeeeeeee

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Visiting the Vet

This is proving to be another week of firsts!  Last night Marty paid his first visit to the vet!  Nothing was wrong with the little guy, but I wanted to just get a general check up and ask a few questions.  It actually turned into a pretty eventful evening, so get ready.

Time to go to the vet.  Marty thought we were just going outside for a walk, but he quickly realized that this was not the case when we walked over to James' car.  Marty isn't a huge fan of cars to begin with, but he enjoyed riding in Ryan F.'s car so I thought he might enjoy James' too.

Marty does not like James' car.

James' car was a little louder than Ryan's so it scared Marty quite a bit.  Not to the point of peeing, which is a good thing.  Marty decided the safest place was between my feet, curled in a ball, trying to find the source of the loud noise...the engine.

After an otherwise uneventful car ride (about 4 minutes) we got to Ballston Animal Hospital.  Man, I can't even begin to sing the praises of this place.  Everyone, from the receptionists to the interns, the assistants/nurses, and the vets themselves, were all extremely friendly and lavished Marty with belly rubs, treats, and praise.  They did their absolute best to make sure that Marty felt at home, but Marty was still pretty scared of this new place, with tons of people and the smells of hundreds of other animals.

So...what are we waiting for?
We sat in the waiting room for a few minutes before being brought into the exam room.  See, I had no idea I'd be in there too.  It's like having a baby.  The vet's nurses went over some basic stuff with me, i.e. any behavioral issues to be worried about, is he a growler, does he mind being picked up?  

After going over the basics and seeing how he was cowering in fear behind me, the nurses realized that he was absolutely harmless and crouched down and started giving him treats and telling him how cute he was.  If there's one thing Marty likes, it's being told how handsome he is.  His tail started wagging and he took a couple of treats and plopped himself down right between them.  Then we had to get him on the scale.  

Let's just say, he didn't want to go on.  Cue the first bout of frightened pee.

With a little lifting and prodding we finally got Marty on the scale.  Marty weighs over 36 lbs!!!!  He's going to be a big boy!

I pointed out a little scab on his paw that won't go away and the fact that he scratches one ear a lot.  They said they'd mention it to the vet and she would take a look at him.

I'm not scared...I promise...Maybe...
Dr. Hall came in and was extremely sweet right from the start.  She asked if this was my first dog, and when I responded yes, she went through a ton of the basics and then asked everything we'd been working on.  She was pretty happy with his progress from utterly not potty trained, to pretty house trained, as well as his tricks.  Marty was pretty nervous around her, but eventually he relented and let her check him out without flinching all the time.  

Cue the second bout of fear pee.

See how much he loved it?

Dr. Hall said Marty seemed very healthy for his age.  She said he was a good weight and seemed to be getting plenty of exercise.  She did say he could probably stand to gain a pound or 2, but also that he's growing so fast that he might just seem skinny today.  

She checked his paw and his ear and saw that he had been licking his paw, which had brought about a slight infection, and after looking in his ear, saw that he had a minor ear infection.  I was surprised that when she squeezed the scrape on his paw, that a little pus actually came out.  She said it was fairly common for dogs to scrape themselves and continuously lick the wound.  I thought this would clean it out, but, as I was informed, it actually brings about lick granuloma. Basically, he scraped himself, them overly licked the scrape until it hurt even more and became slightly infected.

She commented on his ears saying that dogs with floppy ears generally tend to get a few infections a year, but that it's usually not a problem.  Dr. Hall also said that if I cleaned them out every couple of weeks that it should reduce the chances of infection.

After being shown how to clean his ear and administer ear drops, Dr. Hall left to check out one or two more things and said her nurses would be coming in to fit Marty for a cone.

"Hey, where are you going?  I was just starting to not be scared of you..."
I think the cone of shame is a rite of passage for all puppies.  At some point, every pup needs to wear the cone, and once this happens, their welcome into the puppy fraternity.  Marty, however, is that perfect combination of gangly limbs, large body, and small head, which makes it impossible to find a cone that fits.

After some searching, they found on.  It's size is hilarious and boy does he not get it.

I promise I won't make anymore fear pee.
Cue fear pee number 3.

After a few minutes Dr. Hall came back and gave me all of Marty's meds.  She said that the cone should be put on for the next 5-7 days to ensure that the scrape has healed and the ear infection should subside within a week too.

Everyone in the room also got a good laugh when I praised Marty for only peeing in the office three times.  They apparently realized how big of an accomplishment this was.

The rest of the visit was pretty uneventful.  Marty didn't look too happy when I was paying the bill.  I guess he thought he had to pay for it.  He cheered up when he realized that I had this one.

It cost HOW much?!
And with that Marty's first vet visit was over!  He was a really good boy and I was glad to get him checked out.

And of course, obligatory pics of Marty with his Elizabethan collar:

Marty does not like the collar.  He tries to forget he has it on, but just ends up stumbling around, almost as if he drunk.  The funniest moment is when he runs up to say hi.  He charges full speed and wants to jump on you, but right before he would normally stop, the cone bumps into me.  He then just puts all of his weight forward and leans in on the cone, not really sure why he's not moving.  It's pretty adorable.  

He also has no idea how to get in or out of his crate anymore.  He just bumps into the top and bottom with his cone.  Again, pretty hilarious.

K bye!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Playtime with Elmo Part 1: Wait...I'm a Dog?!

Marty had an astounding realization this weekend...he's a dog.

This came as quite a shock to Marty as I think he thought of himself as a little person who was just ordered around a bunch.  His entire reality was shaken when he met the old and wise sage Elmo and Elmo calmly and coolly instructed Marty on how to play like a dog and how to get what you want by being cute.

Elmo is a little Corgi/Pomeranian mix and is colored very much like Marty.  Yes, they looked like cows.

Elmo really wanted to see what the flash was.
Elmo is about a year and half old and is smaller than the 7 month old Marty.  Elmo's parents are Ryan and Gloria, and they brought Elmo by to play with Marty while James was moving in.  However, they had no idea that Elmo would be teaching Marty to play almost as much as he would be playing.  Seeing the confused look on Marty's face whenever Elmo tried to play was absolutely priceless.  Within minutes Elmo realized that he had to teach this giant puppy just what playtime meant.

Now, Marty is an absolute sweetheart with people.  He loves to cuddle and is extremely affectionate.  However, with other dogs, he can be possessive and prone to jealousy.  Luckily, Marty also takes correction very well and is very intelligent, when he wants to be.  When Elmo first got to the house, Marty was just confused.  He sat around watching him, not really sure how to behave.  When Elmo started playing with some of Marty's toys, Marty got possessive and started growling, going as far as trying to steal the toy from Elmo's mouth.  Over the next 5-10 minutes Marty had to be continuously corrected, and was forced to realize (which he eventually did) that the toys weren't actually his, they were mine and I could give them to whomever I want.  To do this, I had Marty and Elmo sit near me, and would give a toy to Marty.  He would start to chew on it, and just as he would lie down to really go to town on it, I would take the toy and give it to Elmo.  If Marty growled he got a pinch on the neck and a firm "HEY" ("NO" is reserved for extreme circumstances) and sometimes a spray from the water bottle.  If he didn't growl/make a dash for Elmo, he got a treat.  It didn't take long for him to realize that treats are a lot more fun than corrections.

Now that all was good in Toy Land, we decided to move the Dynamic Duo outside so they could rough house a bit.  Once again, Marty had no idea what to do.  Elmo, being part Corgi, has plenty of energy to spare, and wasted no time nipping at Marty trying to egg on a chase.  After a couple of minutes, and some prodding from myself, Gloria and James, Marty was off chasing Elmo around the yard at breakneck speed.  This went on for a few minutes, until Marty actually caught Elmo.  Now was the tricky part, teaching Marty that nipping and wrestling was fine, but you had to be "gentle."  Not really the big guy's strong suit.  A few yelps from Elmo and a few "Gentle!" calls from me and Marty pretty much had it.  I think his mental breakdown of the event went something like this:

I chase you, I catch you, we wrestle, I'm gentle, we both get treats.
You chase me, you catch me, we wrestle, I'm gentle, we both get treats.

Elmo went above and beyond teaching Marty to play though.  He also taught Marty how to use his cuteness towards his advantage.  I should say that Elmo is EXTREMELY well trained.  He knows tons of tricks and listens to everything that Gloria and Ryan say (believe me, I was taking notes).  That being said, Elmo is a bit of an instigator.  The word "No" doesn't actually mean "no" it means do it anyway, but look as cute as possible when you do it.

Perfect example, we were building stuff in James' room and we had put a box in front of the door so Marty and Elmo couldn't get inside and eat things that they shouldn't eat.  Marty and Elmo had been playing all day at this point and were dead tired.  They'd stand every once and a while, but collapse almost immediately after.  However, as soon as Elmo realized there was a place that he wasn't allowed to go, it became his mission to get there.  The plotting commenced shortly after.

Look at them, plotting and scheming.
In a very 'Of Mice and Men' manner, Elmo (being George) started devising a plan to take advantage of Marty's (Lennie's) size to break down the barrier.  Knowing that Marty would follow him anywhere, Elmo would place his paw against the barrier.  Wondering what was so interesting, Marty would then do the same, putting all of his weight behind his paw, since he has no concept of his own size.  The first time they tried this, Elmo instantly sat down and put on his cutest face, whereas Marty retreated, feeling bad that he'd done something wrong.  After a few more attempts Marty wouldn't retreat, but would just sit and look as cute as possible, just like Elmo.  It was adorable... and devious.

Throughout the rest of the day Marty would follow Elmo around and by the end of the day were two adorable peas in a pod.  All in all the play date was a big success and I think we're going to be having Elmo as a house guest this weekend while Gloria and Ryan are out of town, so expect more cute pictures.

K bye!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Random Links of Cuteness

So this might be a regular thing if I can find some links.  Awesome pup pictures:


Stuff on Scout's Head

Hmm, maybe I should start training Marty to balance stuff on his head?

More Adventures in Walking!

This morning's walk- not so great.

It was a weird walk, I'll admit I played a part in the weirdness.  For one, I brought coffee with me, so both of my hands weren't free to hold the leash/give treats.  Secondly, the walk started off so well.  Marty actually walked outside and down my walkway on his own, no nudging required.

About a block away we ran into a puppy we saw a couple of days ago named Lou.  Lou is a tiny little thing, maybe 5 lbs (I'll try and grab a pic next time I see him).  His owner (whose name I'll have to get) is very nice and thinks Marty is adorable.  When we originally met, Lou was extremely hyper, but very friendly.  He was jumping on Marty, but Marty was in a pretty good mood so didn't mind too much.  I gave Marty a treat for not growling/getting mad, and then offered one to Lou, but only if he was able to sit.  After a few minutes, Lou sat down, Marty and Lou exchanged licks and we were all on our way.

Back to this morning.  We stopped and said hi, with Lou actually sitting down instantly, remembering that I was the "treat guy."  His owner and I had a good laugh at that, and almost immediately Marty became terrified of something.  I have no idea what spooked him.  I had my hands full, but wanted to give Lou a treat.  His owner offered to hold on to Marty while I got them out of my pocket, which is when Lou got up and started jumping on Marty again.  Marty did not react well this time.

Marty started growling (he actually sounds a little scary when he growls) and I instantly corrected him.  Lou, being the little ball of fur and energy that he is, just kept bouncing around.  Lou ended up sitting as soon as the treat came out, and all was well.  We said goodbye and that was that.

I have to say, it's always nice to run into a smart dog owner.  Lou's owner realized that Marty was growling because he was scared.  She didn't freak out and pull Lou away, she didn't get mad or annoyed, she simply called Lou over to her and we both ignored Marty after he was corrected so that he learns not to do it again.  Owners that freak out over a growl only feed into Marty's fear.  He senses they are now scared so he gets more frightened and more defensive.

Anyway, the subsequent walk was not good.  He kept stopping and trying to run back to the house.  Then we ran into a bus.

Marty is TERRIFIED of buses.  Just utterly terrified.  So when I saw a big yellow school bus parked a block in front of us, I knew we were in for trouble.  Now, when there's a big yellow school bus around, there's usually children around.  And of course, Marty being a puppy and adorable, they want to pet him.

This is a great time for me to talk about scared puppies and children.  In the past 3 days I've encountered two completely different reactions to Marty being scared outside.  The first, was a mother who told her kids to stay away from Marty because a scared dog is a dangerous dog.  This is partly true, but not the best way to handle things.  It's good to point out to kids the sign of a scared dog, ears perked, dog crouched, tail between its legs, but having them get scared of a scared dog is not a good idea.  This is what a mother did 2 days ago.  Her child left thinking Marty was scary.

This morning was different.  The mom asked me if he was mean.  I responded that he was scared, but had never exhibited aggression towards a person before.  Her little girl asked (very sweetly) if she could pet my scared puppy because "When I scared I feel better when I get a hug, so maybe me petting him will help."  How could I say no to that?

I know I'm not supposed to coddle him when he gets scared, but I knelt down and had him sit.  She reached out and started lightly petting him, not near his face, and for a second Marty stood and went to walk away, but after holding him for a second he sat back down.

After a minute or two I said that Marty felt much better, but wanted to keep on walking because it was such a nice day.  I thanked the little girl for making him not scared.  I got a thank you and a smile from her mom and the little girl left with a huge smile and yelled a big good bye to Marty.

Yes, it was just as adorable as it sounds.

The rest of the walk Marty was pretty timid and frightened.  But as I mentioned before, he's training me as much as I'm training him.  A month ago, I'd be in a pretty bad mood after a walk like this.  It's draining, time consuming and feels like nothing got accomplished.  Today, we got home and I praised and gave him a big tummy rub.  I know our next walk will go better, and me getting annoyed wouldn't be helpful.  I went to work with a big smile on my face knowing that some little girl is going to have a great day because she made my puppy feel safe and confident that our next walk will be great.

K bye!

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Marty just looked super cute at lunch today.


Big yawns!
Look at the happy puppy.

Playtime! Wait, what?

Marty has absolutely no idea how to play with other dogs.  This shocked me.

Marty is extremely playful with people.  He loves chasing people, loves getting chased.  He loves to run after a ball and can sometimes bring it back.  With another dog, he gets very confused.  He stands there and looks very confused.  I also found out that due to his skittish nature, he gets very defensive and can lash out.  This will not stand.

For his entire life, Marty has only been around his litter.  The litter was abandoned and they spent part of their lives in rural TN.  Two months ago his litter was moved to rural MD.  Throughout his life he's had very little interaction with other dogs, and now it shows.  

When Marty first came home with me, we had Daisy living with us.  Daisy was a very hyper, 3 year old black lab who is decently trained and not a very cuddly pup.  Daisy's version of playing is getting a ball, taunting another dog with it, then running around them in circles until they give up.  Rinse and repeat until the other dog gets mad.

Daisy was also very defensive of her toys.  She had a habit of taking her toys from other dogs mouths.  This was not good with a puppy around.

Marty seems to have picked up the latter habit.  Marty gets very defensive of both me and his toys to the point where he growls, and then will snap at other dogs.

I noticed he had this potential fairly early on when I gave him a Nylabone.  He loves that bone!  When I first gave it to him, I wanted to make sure that he wouldn't get defensive, like another dog I lived with, Cosmo.  Cosmo would snap at and try to bite anyone who got between him and his toys or his food.  Marty would not inherit this.  I reached for the bone and Marty growled at me.  Shocked, I corrected him and snatched the bone away.  Marty, being the submissive type, rolled over and was confused.  I then spent the next 20 minutes giving him the bone and taking it away.  Each time he growled less and less until he completely stopped.  He realized that the bone was MINE and I was giving it to him.

Fast forward to this past Monday.  On walks, Marty has met other dogs and has gotten along with them.  He's pretty cautious, but a few times the tail has wagged and he's run around a bit.  My neighbors, Dave and Holly, have a 7 month old black lab pup named Ellie.  Dave and I agreed that we should socialize Marty and Ellie to get them used to playing with other dogs.

Things started alright.  Ellie and Marty sniffed each other and were generally ok.  Ellie wanted to just charge in and play, Marty was more cautious.  They then started chasing each other.  Things are looking great.  Then, there was a loud noise and Marty darted under the table in our backyard.  Ellie tried to keep playing, Marty started snapping at her and barking.  

Then we started playing with a ball.  Marty was VERY defensive with his toys.  Whenever Ellie went for one, he would lunge at her.  I would catch him each time and correct him, and towards the end of their time together he started letting her sniff around and pick up the ball.

All in all, good session.  Looking forward to more in the future.

K bye!

Adventures in Walking

See, I promised there would be lots of updates

Walking Marty, for the first few weeks, was hell.  I hate to admit it, but there were times that I absolutely dreaded walking him.  Take a look at my original post, that seems like a happy puppy right?  His was Marty on my front lawn, 8 days after I adopted him:

Terrified, cautious and miserable.

I tried every trick under the sun to get him outside.  I tried creating a line of treats; I tried having tiers of treats and luring him out with them; I tried a longer leash; I tried everything and nothing was working.  Then we had a breakthrough.

I realized that when my roommate would take Daisy out, Marty would get really excited.  I used this excitement and would follow them outside.  Marty would be scared, but also wanted to follow Daisy.  Success!  We were able to leave the front lawn.  Once he hit the sidewalk, fear over came him and he would shut down.

For anyone who doesn't have a dog and has never had one, trying to walk a dog who doesn't want to walk is the worst experience ever.  You get frustrated with the dog, wondering why he doesn't want to walk, and you start to get frustrated with yourself, thinking that you're doing something wrong because it seems that he doesn't trust you.  Trying to pull your dog makes you feel like a horrible person and feel as if your hurting him.  This was my life for over 2 weeks.

However, Marty and I were doing better every day.  We started reaching the end of my block, then the end of the next block.  Things were going great.  The key was to simply just keep going.  Open the front door, briskly walk out, then keep going.  Marty would, and still does, look back towards my house, get scared of random scents and sounds, and generally try to either stop or sprint back towards my house.  No matter how he acted (as long as it was negative) I would just keep the leash taut and keep walking.

Having your pup try to sprint in fear while you continue to walk ahead is heart breaking, trust me.  The look he gives you after you get him going, is equally heart breaking.  It's as if he's asking why you're torturing him. Why are you leading him someplace scary?

Marty's doing so much better now.  Leaving the house is still a bit tough,  but a small tug on the he start going.  He sometimes pauses on the stairs by my front door, but once we're out he'll do pretty well.  When there's no loud noises (he's good around most cars and minor noises now) walking is great.  He'll look around, but not be too worried, and his tail will even wag a bit.  As soon as he hears a noise though, he crouches down and is worried for the majority of the walk.

We also are working on the return trip.  Once we turn back towards my house Marty used to make a B line there.  Now he generally stays next to me, but sometimes does try to surge forward.

If I had started this blog earlier I'd probably have written my frustrations almost on a daily basis, but look back, I was being trained just as much as he was.  Every day I got frustrated with his walking patterns, were days that we had horrible walks.  The days that I was optimistic and generally positive, we had great walks.  When I started ignoring his fears, instead of comforting him, things improved greatly.

When we walk now, I bring treats with me.  When he's walking well I am praising him and every few blocks give him treats.  He's beginning to like walks more and more but still doesn't love them.  I don't have to bring him to the front door anymore either, he comes up with his tail wagging.

K bye!

Meet Marty

Holy first post Batman!

Internet meet Marty, Marty, meet the internet.

 Marty is the puppy I adopted on July 1. Marty is my first puppy ever and I am super excited to have him. Training him has been a tough experience, but very rewarding. I'm going to be updating this blog on a semi-regular basis just to chronicle the adventure of raising Marty as well as some of the frustrations and problems I'm having with the pup. I'm also hoping to keep some friends and family up to date on Marty as well as having an easy place for them to find pics.

 My friends and I think that Marty has some hound in him, based on his floppy ears and his sniffing and burrowing tendencies, and we also think that he definitely has either pit bull or american bull dog in him.

On that note, let me tell the internet about Marty.

 When I first met Marty, the woman with the rescue group said that he was very shy and would take a bit to warm up to me. I crouched down and started petting him, and 10 seconds later he leaped into my arms and started licking my face with his tail whipping back and forth. That was it, Marty was coming home with me. It took a few days for his personality to really start shining, but once it did, I knew I had a special guy on my hands.

 Marty is a big goofball who loves people. He loves to jump on people he likes, sit on laps (he's getting to be a big lap dog), and give big sloppy puppy kisses to just remind you that he loves you so much. He's very smart, but also very stubborn. It's been a little over a month, but Marty now knows his name, he knows to come when I call, he sits and lies down, and can stay for a really long time. Marty is a big sweetheart and inside, he is the perfect puppy.

 Outside, Marty completely changes. He doesn't run around, full of energy with a big smile on his face. He crouches low to the ground and has his ears perked listening for any loud noises. He is very cautious and is scared of almost everything. Walking him was a huge chore (I'll highlight this in another post). He would constantly try to sit and sprint back towards my house. If a car drove by or a cyclist rode by, he would cringe and try to run in the opposite direction. Walking Marty would leave both of us very tired and very frustrated.

 Marty also doesn't play well with other dogs. When Daisy (3 yr old black lab) was living with us, he would try to play with her, and she would play very rough and in most instances scare him and/or hurt him.  He would generally try to avoid her after a week, just because she would try to show her dominance over him, she would bite his neck and pin him to the group when he would walk by.  Recently, my neighbor and I have been having our two pups play together, trying to get them both to play better together (more on this later). 

Well, I think I've given a nice overview of Marty and look forward to updating this blog pretty heavily over the next few days with where Marty is since his adoption, and then slowing down a bit. K bye!