Thursday, January 31, 2013

Steady progress...

Yet another heavy thunderstorm last night.  Lexi remained unpertubed. Thankfully, she is not over-sensitive to loud noises, but is rather blessed with a natural curiosity.  

I spent some time with her the yesterday introducing her to the broom.  Many dogs are scared of booms, so it's important to give them a good first experience.  I let her sniff it first, then allowed her to watch as I gently dropped it a few centimentres onto the tiled floor. (noise)  Constant rewarding did the trick and soon, I was dropping the broom from 20cms with her watching comfortably from a distance. 

"Good Lexi, well done, Lexi!" 

 She remained happy and confident, so I left it at that. It's better not to push things too quickly. So far, so good.

Her introduction to the vacuum cleaner, tumble dryer and hair dryer have all been positive.  My only concern is her fixation with leaves; all shapes, sizes, states, types.  
Lexi simply LOVES leaves! 

She turns her attention fully to a leaf whenever one is in her path.  Flowers too...nips them off like a real little lawn-mower.  I'm not sure how I'm going to tackle this one (yet).  There  are plenty of leaves around, sticks, flowers and different grasses too.  There's also my veggie garden.  (I've removed the onions - very dangerous for dogs!).  But  I'm just nervous that she'll unearth something unsavoury somewhere and then get sick.  Then again, she's a Golden Retriever, and one has to allow them to explore.  It's a difficult dividing line - when to stop them and when to let them be.

But all her activity is supervised at this stage.  (I'm really tired at the end of the day - bending down constantly to reward this little mite for behaviour that I want) She is small enough to bypass all my temporary barriers at the moment, so I have to be aware (at all times) of where she is.  This has rendered me rather home-bound too.  Hopefully once she's settled and safe, I'll be able to venture out more.  Yesterday was a quick dash to the shops, while she was sleeping, to try and replenish my empty pantry.  Although I know she's safe, I still worry... she's still a very little puppy and so vulnerable.


Weigh-in yesterday: 
5kgs.  (Hopefully she'll remain a small stature little Golden..I'd really like that!)
Eats like a Golden puppy should be eating - wolfing down her food without restraint and sporting a round little tummy.
She responds nicely to the early commands of  'come','sit' and 'down'.  She's learnt to look at me and sit before she gets her food.  It's amazing how quickly puppies learn.  We did some lead training today (simply walking around the garden with the lead attached - wherever Lexi wants to go - and rewarding when she is close to me). All in all - excellent grades for my young pup.  Formal puppy socialisation begins on the 2nd March.

In a bid to speed up Lexi's toilet training, we brought in a few blocks of instant lawn and laid them out on the bricks of the atrium off our bedroom.  It's not aesthetically pleasing by any means, but does allow for a quick response during the night when she needs to 'Potty'.  These blocks will be lifted in a few months time when toilet training is entrenched.
I think the idea is quite novel and it's paying off... we've had very few accidents in the house.

Relationships with Toby and Tammy:  
Also excellent!  Tammy has moved into closer proximity now, but is still not actively playing with the puppy.  She has let out one or two loud barks when Lexi comes too close for comfort. Ironically, if I acknowledge Tammy when she does this makes for a happier 'Aunt Tam'. There is no aggression, just canine vocal discipline.  If I know our Tam, give her another 2 weeks...and she'll be playing with the pup. All is good.

Lexi loves cuddling up whenever she can with her big brother Toby.  Last night it was next to my bed with the small pup almost on top of him.  

He loves it! He is revelling in all the 'puppy exuberance' and also in the 'innocence' of this new little baby.  

It's funny to watch him interact with her.  He'll always take away her toys, but then immediately lie down and offer them back to her...

... as if to say, "I'm in charge, but I'm open for a game, anytime!"

This little pup is a gentle soul who is not entirely happy with being sealed up in her crate while her siblings have free roam in the bedroom  So, I've moved her crate closer to my bed now, kept it open and am hiding kibbles amongst the blankets so that she can settle in there naturally.  I found her sleeping in there, unprompted, this morning...progress!

As for me, I feel like a new mommy.  There are so many demands on my quadraceps...I'm aching, lol!

But I wouldn't change this for anything!
Sending lotsaluv

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Patience, Perseverance and Consistency...

As the sun dips towards the horizon, I pick up my grooming basket.  It's time to migrate outside, to the grassy, cool lawn and the shade of the "White stinkwood" tree.  There we'll settle down and enjoy some time together. 

I brush each dog in turn:- 
starting with 12-year-old Tammy, then Toby (my 2-year-old teenager) and then
 my new little sunbeam - Lexi. 
Three dogs, three very different generations and three very different needs!

As if is on cue, all three dogs follow me out of the house, onto the patio and onto the grass. Tammy and Toby have fully accepted Lexi into their ranks.  In Toby's case, his attraction was instant, but Tammy, in her usual matriarchal way, preferred to ignore the newcomer for the first few days and stayed well clear of the action - always at least 5m from the two younger dogs.

Slowly, over the past 24 hours she's moved closer and I was delighted when I came across her and Lexi lying quietly together too.  I am really pleased about this.  You see, Tammy is elderly now and battles with arthritis. (except when she is playing with Toby in the lawn) Sometimes it's even difficult for her to get up off the ground, so I can understand her reluctance to instantly embrace little Lexi.

However, in the cool of the afternoon and in the mood of bonding, Tammy thaws.  In the following video, you will see Toby being the main instigator of the play.  Lexi plays constantly, but needs to be encouraged into communal play.  You will notice how Toby tries to bring Lexi and Tammy into closer proximity.  Also, If you watch very carefully, you will see how Tammy subtly controls matters from a distance.  
(Notice her 'shake' at "1 minute,12 seconds" -  a clear directive for Toby to lower the level of play.... )

 In my years of observing my own Golden Retrievers, it's amazing how quickly I pick up on the nuances. This particular growing bond is one of the most beautiful I've seen. 

Certainly, if you know your dogs well, training for the home environment becomes a lot easier.  I have treats (for all three of them) with me constantly - rewarding each specific behaviour I want. For example, when Toby sits quietly, when Tammy moves closer, when Lexi lays down in her crate, or comes running when I call, it's time to lavish them with praise. The more rewards I give, the more my dogs want to do what pleases me.

  Thankfully, the training that Tammy and Toby have received over the years has allowed me a foundation for manipulating (at the moment) some of the bonds between the three, and teaching the older two how I want them to behave around the new pup.  

Meal times get tricky, because I have to honour the hierachy - Tammy first, Toby second and only then little Lexi.  With each presentation of the individual food bowls, each dog has to do something for me.  In the adult dogs' case, they have to sit first and sometimes offer a paw or do another command for their food.  You can just imagine the impatience of the 8-week-old little newcomer as she watches all this... she jumps and barks her confusion.  The temptation to move towards the older dogs' food bowls is very high indeed. 

During the first few feeds she continued to bark in frustration.  She still barks, but we've had a major breakthrough...Lexi now 'sits', ever so sweetly, before I put her bowl on the floor.  It's been a case of waiting patiently for her to calm down, sit and look at me first.  She's cottoned on fast.  Admittedly, it was hard for both her and me in the beginning (I felt sorry for her and was tempted to give in) but I resisted my own temptation and performed the sequence to plan. 
 Feeding times are now a breeze... 

I have three contented dogs although it's wise to remain vigilant.

 I am sure there'll be hiccups at some stage in the future, but for the moment, the bond between my intrepid trio is forming and solidifying.  I can't be happier!

I hope you enjoyed the video.
Sending lotsaluv,

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A match made in heaven?

 Hello there to all my blogging friends...(and lurkers too :)  )

A new kind of energy has swept through our home. It's a welcome and happy energy! 
Toby's life is whole again, my family are smiling at the antics of the sweet hooligan and the new little "sunbeam".  Aunt Tam, although a little confused, seems to welcome her reprieve from the demands of the energetic TOBY.   
An added blessing is that he's met his match in our new little "Sunbeam"  LEXI. 

How would I describe this little Golden Sunbeam?

Well, she's very pretty, a soft personality with a lot to give, cute and cuddly, gentle when she needs to be, playful, energetic, a sweet nature, confident, adventurous, inquisitive, quick to learn (and wants to learn!),  intelligent, naughty at times  (delightfully naughty) and quick to overcome any initial nervousness of new situations.  We have landed ourselves a treasure.

 The developing bond between Toby and the puppy is something to marvel at.  He's never far from her side, nor mine.  He will gently discipline her when needed, but will also resort to sharing his Kong with her. 
Can you imagine a 39kg dog gently mouthing a 5kg pup, and passing his prized Kong to this new little feisty cuddle-bun.  Half the time they are both on their backs playing.  
This match is made in heaven...and was meant to be.

Early this morning, they had a romp on the 'collective' dog's mattress on the floor of our bedroom.  Tammy watched thoughtfully from a reasonable distance.  I sat down with her, rubbed her chest -  gently reassuring her of my love and care, and her unquestionable status.
Dogs are amazing to watch.  We can learn so much from their behaviour.  
I find myself lost in wonder while I watch them.

So there you have it:
All's well in the 'Maxdog' household.

I pray that all is well in yours too.
Sending lotsaluv,

Monday, January 28, 2013

The test of youthfulness

If you ever want to check how young you actually are, then babysit a puppy! 

Puppies will test you to your physical, emotional and mental limit. (in a good way, that is!)
It's hard work! And I'd forgotten just how hard. But the 'sunbeam', known as 'LEXI' has arrived in our household.

There's the endless task of picking up poo's, cleaning up puddles, watching my step, realising how un-childproof my house is, etc, etc.  As a committed puppy owner, I go the extra mile - watching my voice tone, my responses, body language, nuances...where to praise, where to ignore, ensuring that every experience she has at this impressionable time of her life is a good one.

This means that I am relatively housebound - at least for the first month. Safety is also one of my biggest priorities because puppies get into EVERYTHING! They are explorers of note. Their sleep cycles clash with ours and we use their 'sleep' times to catch up on our own daily household chores.  By the time our chores are finished, the puppy is awake and the whole process starts from the beginning. It's a contrast between exhaustion and exhilaration.

Having two senior dogs in the house adds a further dynamic...I have to recognise the hierachy that exists and honour the matriarch.  I have to put the cuteness factor of Lexi aside and remember that this little fluffball will become older, bigger, wiser...very soon!  Whatever I do now affects her behaviour in the many years to follow...and I want to entrench gentleness in my pack.  

Remember, my puppy is growing at an alarming rate. I have to introduce her to new sounds, equipment, people, dogs, strange situations - brooms, washing machines, hair dryers...for a puppy, everything is an adventure!  Puppy socialisation classes will be the essential 'first step' to her training - and they have been booked to start early in March.  I have to be on my toes and feet at all times.  Lexi is always around my ankles...and I need to be vigilant. Yes, this is testing my youth big-time.  The good news, however, is that I am likely to get very fit, very soon....and I am happy about it.

When I look at this dear little Golden bundle, LEXI, with all her emerging potential at the tender age of 8 weeks, I remember my promise to all my dogs;

"My dog, I will teach you to be the dog you were meant to be."

She is the cutest, energetic, affable bundle we've had in a long time.  Toby has adopted her (Like 'Jake' who imprinted on 'Renesmee' in the Twilight saga).  He's found his partner in crime and he is bowled over big-time!  Aunt Tam, as predictable as ever, is taking all this commotion in her stride.  She has the wisdom of the mature citizen.

 "Yes, I've been here.  Ignore this whirlwind.  When she settles, I'll play with her on my own terms"

But in the early morning, when the sparkle of dawn is still a dream, I lie with all my dogs, on the soft mattress on the floor of our bedroom, absorbing the moments of gentle bonding and happy mouthing.  I become their jungle-gym, their guide...and the love is palpable. They are happy and so am I.

In the end, it is all worth it!  What I put in, will be returned to me seven-fold. What a joy this is - to have a glimpse into the culture of a different species, and what a privilege to be part of this whole process.  Here are some pictures...

And finally...
A short video of the beautiful interactions of a new puppy in the 'Maxdog' household:


With lots of love from a household filled with 'puppy-breath',

Friday, January 25, 2013

The day has arrived!...

The day has finally arrived!......
 A crescendo of excitement is swamping my senses at this point in time.
In just under four hours, I will be welcoming little "LEXI" into our lives.
By the time most of my readers see this post, Lexi will be with us.
(I will post more pictures once things have settled down).


At 10.30am this morning, "Lexi" was taken, in her little crate, to Cape Town International Airport. 
Soon she will board her flight home to Johannesburg. 
A phone call from Marycke Ackhurst at
 ...revealed that my little bundle is totally chilled and has fallen asleep in her crate.  She is accompanied by her special blanket, toys and a few other things.  She is well and happy. 

Yesterday, Lexi also received the 'all clear' from her vet in Cape Town...
(What a well behaved little doggie!)

So now we watch the clock..and the minutes passing by...very slowly... basket is packed:
" What's in the basket?" you might ask.

Well, let's see...

* A pair of scissors - to open the cable ties on the crate when she arrives
*Lexi's brand new 'pink' collar and lead
* My camera
* Water and a water bowl for Lexi to refresh herself
*Some newspaper, roller towel and 'doggie-poo-bags' - just in case...
* Pheromone spray
* Towel - just in case..
* Lexi's new 'Growling Piggy toy'
...and ME!

This morning, I've been playing a bit with TOBY and TAMMY.
They know that something is up, but they have no idea how big this event is...
 "That's my toy, Maxmom!"

I know that when my new little bundle arrives my time will be limited, so yesterday I finally got to loading up the video of my 'sweet hooligan' TOBY and his swimming pool antics...

... but, for the moment, my mind is focussed on the imminent arrival of our new puppy...

At 14h10 Lexi's plane will arrive at Lanseria airport, just outside Johannesburg.  My dear friend, Lorraine, and I will be driving out to the airport well in time for a cup of tea and the opportunity to watch her plane land. 10 minutes later, she'll be ferried off the plane and brought directly to me. During this time, she will be cared for and handled by the friendly 'Desiree' at BidAir. 

This is one of the most exciting days of my life. ...!

Everything is prepared and we can't wait to welcome our little Golden bundle home! 
Travel safely, little Lexi! And ((Hugs)) to Marycke (the star in all of this!) ♥

Above: "LEXI"
(Quillquest: "Princess Aurora")

I hope that I am going to be a good 'Lexi-mommy'.
Sending lotsaluv