Monday, 12 August 2013

Whisper it, but it's still going well

Gosh, three weeks already, sometimes it feels as if they've been here forever, and my how they've grown. They can now walk up the steps onto the yard and when they arrived they couldn't even bounce up and down them.

They're both confident little bodies not bothered by thunder, low flying aircraft, big wagons on the back road, steam trains hooting, wind, weather, car alarms however on Monday evening something terrified the life out of Hester.  They puddled, came in and ate their tea whilst I prepared some potatoes, once they'd come to the boil I realised the timer was in the sitting room and by the time I returned Hester was all of a quiver looking like a beaten puppy.  I hadn't heard anything and although she initially seemed fine Dido was a bit jumpy too. No amount of cuddles or distractions perked her up and my happy, waggy Hester was a shaky, frighted pup so I let them put themselves to bed in the cage, Dido draped herself over a still big eyed Hester; Hebe kept going out to check on them and coming back looking worried.  They did cheer up later on in the evening and ate their supper as usual; by morning they seemed back to normal.  I've kept an eye on them and they are definitely worried by certain barking dogs especially terrier type barks fortunately Hebe and Maia barking at the door has no effect on them neither does that bark that is supposed to tell them to stop behaving like lunatics.  They've greeted all their visitors with a smile and a wag, except on Wednesday Yvonne called in and Hester immediately backed off, ears down, a few treats and lots of cuddles and she was prepared to make contact but not like Dido to demand attention.  I can see that Hester is going to need more socialisation than Dido and to meet many more people in lots of different places.

Tuesday was their trip to Pickering for their second jabs and they were brilliant, travelling all the way in the back of the car with Hebe and Maia on the back seat. They were weighed again and they've both put on around 2kg, no wonder they're large puppy-lumps!
They are small monsters of destruction, having dug out one side of the verandah and caused a small sink hole to appear they've now started on the other side and my sitting room floor is a morass of cardboard confetti, but better cardboard than furniture.   They're also label hounds - no not dedicated followers of fashion (although Hester very might be given half a chance!, oh and human) they have an avowed intent to remove labels from everything.  It started with the label on a toy, then another toy, next a dog bag, then off empty plastic bottles, and from more toys, then the dog towels and now it's simply anything with a label.

Their training progresses steadily.  Hester still trots along beside me on her lead with a piece in her mouth, she is slightly more easily distracted now that she's gained some more confidence but comes back to heel quite readily.  Dido is another matter, the fixed collar and lead is providing no negative feedback and it's far more interesting to sniff the flowers or eat the grass than it is to walk along beside me.  So we've progressed to a slip lead and the change is remarkable, just that slight tightening is enough to stop her in in tracks and with verbal encouragement back to my heel before we set off again.  Although we'll all be ready for pastures new come Tuesday when we're finally allowed outside, there are only so many times you can walk around the garden before everyone is bored and want to lie down (yes, that includes me too!).  Recall is still good, they'll come in from the yard through the dog house and into the kitchen handbrake turning every corner and all from out of sight.  They're doing so well that we now have two levels of treats, kibble for standard returns but little puppy training treats or tiny pieces of schmako for recall from really tempting things like breaking off mid-play, leaving a really interesting sniff etc.  Our play in the back garden has been curtailed by the activities of a sparrowhawk which has left three piles of feathers, one blackbird, one blue tit (I think) and something else small (maybe a house martin) and heaps of feathers are one distraction too many so as soon as the gate is opened they head straight for the feathers, dive in and refuse to leave; I'm not going to let them fail or struggle to get them to return so for now we'll simply avoid the feathers until they've gone / lost their smell but they are quite useful for ensuring focus is on me for lead work, we can walk through the blue tit and almost past the blackbird without any sideways tugs.

Dido has turned into a bit of a Grunting Gertie, there's the I'm tired but don't want to go to sleep squeaky-grunt, the let me out I need to go down the yard deep grunt and the wingey grunt meaning i want to play but everyone is ignoring me.  Hester doesn't grunt (and doesn't seem able to ask to go out, she waits for Dido) but does squeak when she's tired and barks at Dido to get her to play and they both growl at each other, and at Hebe, when they're playing big teeth.

Small problem with the photos - my computer is not recognising the card reader but all is not lost because the laptop is, so another slight delay.

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