The importance of the right 'bribe'.
Although the pups were responding well to commands and beginning to follow and come back when called they weren't in the least bit bothered about the little pieces of kibble I offered them and to be honest big fusses and cuddles were just not doing it - they get those pretty much all day, not quite on demand but almost so that's not a suitable reward / bribe for good behaviour. All of which meant slower progress than I would have liked. Dido and Hester were on Alpha sporting puppy food when they arrived and we kept them on it, it seemed fine. We also got vouchers for free Eukanauba puppy, my lot have always been Eukanunba girls so of course I filled in the coupons and sent off for two lots of free food. Two big boxes arrived on Monday with measuring cups, storage bins (for 3kg) and bags of food. That evening they tasted euk for the first time and boy did they like it! Fifteen minutes of come hereing with a piece of kibble for each successful recall and what a turn around. By Wednesday I was tripping over them and now they follow me everywhere and will even break off from the middle of rough and tumble to come for their tiny piece of euk. One 15kg sack promptly ordered, Alpha is £20 (no VAT) for 15kg, Euk is £55 (£43 by ordering online) - you get what you pay for and we've started changing them from alpha to euk.
Personalities coming through.
During our individual play time and training sessions I can seem them even more clearly than when they're together. Dido is definitely the more independent and curious as well as the larger puppy - latest nickname: Chunky Monkey. Hester is softer and more affectionate and thus she's Happy Hester. For Hester I'm the main thing in her life, which is wonderful, Dido has fixed on Hebe, which is fine as I'm the main Bean in Hebe's life, Dido will take her cue from Hebe and I'm really pleased that they're bonding with the rest of the pack rather than fixating on each other. Hester likes to cuddle and needs something or someone to lean on to go to sleep. Dido is quite happy to flop out in the middle of the floor and is the first to come and find out what you're doing and to offer her assistance. Hester likes big hugs and smothering cuddles, Dido prefers to sit on your lap and be ruffled and has learnt that stooping down probably means she’s about to carried somewhere and if she’s not up for a hug will scamper away, whilst Hester sits on your feet and asks to be picked up / cuddled.
They're both bundles of mischief, well they're puppies I wouldn't expect anything different.
Training progresses well, Hester is walking along really well on her lead and I thought she was going to be trouble cavorting about like a pony; however, she likes to carry a piece of the lead (as did Bracken and Juno) and as long as she's got her lead in her mouth she trots along like a good'un. Dido is more interested in the rest of the world and as long as she's not distracted will trot along happily but as soon as something catches her eye (or nose) she just has to go and investigate so we were spending a lot of time standing still, Dido with a muleish expression on her face, mine one of resigned patience until she settles and off we go again. However, with lots of short sessions she's getting better and is beginning to show some inclination to lead carry too. Hester is now on circles and the first figures of eight at varying speeds, Dido can circle and will change pace but on the fast walk pace tends to start gallumphing so "ah-ah" and we slow down again. We're using two different training grounds and practising going in and out of different doors and gates (they're not quite sure about which way they open yet and are often between door and wall) both on and off leads.
We've not been out in the car as much as I would have liked, it's too hot; however this morning it was cool and we’ve been as far as the Fox and Rabbit and back with pups in the back and Hebe on the back seat. A little squeaking but I think that was because they were tired more than anything else but they soon settled down so our trip to Pickering on Tuesday will be fine.
During play they both chase and retrieve but Hester seems to be the one (so far) who's more interested in fetching things back for me to play with or to throw again, I think Dido's independence means that she's quite happy to play on her own and doesn't need me so we're having to be a bit more determined and using more slightly more structured play with her which is showing results, she's carrying things back in my general direction - I mug her on the way past!
Going to work.
Puppies visited the office to meet everyone and get a sniff during their first week here, however this last week they have been coming to work every afternoon. Mornings they spend helping the Mother Bean with household chores and mostly sleeping in the kitchen. They were introduced to the CJS readership last Friday on the office blog.
Time for bed
It’s been so hot I’ve been leaving them in the kitchen / pantry / dog house during the day, I usually find them under the duckboard on the cool concrete. Although after supper they’ve taken to putting themselves to bed. They’re learning ‘in your bed’ and Hester will hop in (not always but mostly), Dido looks at me and usually has to be lifted in, the door goes down and they sit waiting for their kibble. Every morning they go back to bed with Maia so Hebe and I can go for a walk and collect the paper.
Au pair Hebe
Hebe has accepted that they’re here to stay and is now stepping in stop their play fights / rough and tumble when she feels they’re getting out of paw and it’s usually just as I’m thinking it’s time to call Time Out (they’re learning that too). Sometimes after bed I hear Hebe having a grumble at them, just a gentle rumble or a quick sharp bark and then nothing from any of them until morning. She is feeling a little left out though and I’m trying to find time (I could do with a time-turner) to spend with her on her own, it’s mostly while we’re busy doing other things such as clearing bits of the garden, our morning walk and at least once in the evening a 10 minute hug and snuggle session.
The troublesome twosome strike fear into the fabric of the building.
They're doing a very good job of investigating every nook, cranny and crack - of which we do have rather a lot. The cracked floor tiles in the kitchen have been nosed, licked and thoroughly checked out. However, it's the verandah that's bearing the brunt of their archaeology. First it was the slightly rotten part of one of the upright posts which was chewed and then its foundations were removed piece by piece, it's now a stalactite. But on Friday morning they excelled themselves. There's a crack where the original floor has shifted a bit over time, somehow one of them managed to remove a small pebble from the crack destabilizing the lot and an area the size of a dinner plate collapsed inward like a sink hole, three largish pieces broke away, one of which was removed - no doubt for chewing later, and then noses, teeth and feet have excavated quite a large proportion of the substrate. There's now a large rock covering the hole until I can get some aggregate and cement to patch it up.
Brave little dogs.
We had a thunderstorm yesterday and they didn’t ruffle a hair at the thunder claps or the bright lightning flashes.We’ve had jets practising over head and a heavy helicopter following the railway line and again they’re not bothered in the slightest. The only thing that gets them running to me (and it’s nice to know they come to me for succour) is a barking dog and even then only certain dogs or tones.
Dido definitely knows her name, today Hester was already elsewhere so when I went to collect Dido I called Hester’s name first, no response but when I called out “Dido” she came running from the dog house before I even got to the “come here”. I’ve not had an opportunity to run the same test on Hester yet.
Considering they’ve only been here two weeks it’s amazing how much they’ve learnt, how well they’ve settled. And how they’re growing,they must be at least half as big again as when they arrived.
Photos will follow next week sometime when I upload them, however, there are not as many because I’m busy doing rather than observing and photographing.