Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In which the Nursery becomes interesting

About a month ago we got our crib.  We put it up - the dogs sniffed it and walked away.

A couple weeks ago we got the bedding and a closet solution.  We installed the closet, put the bedding on the crib, wound up the mobile -  the dogs sniffed it and walked away.

We bought some clothes and books.  The dogs sniffed them and walked away.

We started walks with the stroller.  The dogs ignore it and walk as politely as ever.

This past weekend I had a small-ish shower, so I came home with a trunk full of baby gear - bathtub, high chair, car seat base, diapers, Nuks, bottles, rattles, booties, hats, stuffed animals, blankets....

All of a sudden!  The nursery is this fascinating place that must be investigated every time they go upstairs.  Diapers!  Small toys that make noises!  Even bowls are getting a testing tooth put on them.

They've already tried appropriating some of the toys and rattles as their own.  A firm "Ah ah" is generally enough of a deterrent and they're dropping the item on cue if the urge to nibble is too great (well, Lucky is... Indy still needs a little encouragement).

The door to the nursery is shut unless I'm up there to supervise.  We go in at least once a day to let them sniff and explore.  They get lots of cookies for sniffing but not nibbling.  I also put together a basket of diapers to keep on the main floor so they get used to baby smells down there, too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Indy solicited a game of tug!! From LUCKY!

This is a huge development in the curly dog household!

Indy is very... individualized when playing with toys.  She will chase after a thrown toy but she won't bring it back to you - she'll go to another spot to chew/squeak it.  When I'm playing a game of tug with Lucky or if Lucky is fetching a toy, she'll bust in, grab the toy and tug it away from him and then run away - and it's not to solicit a game of chase.

Lucky tries to solicit games of tug from her, the same way he teaches little puppies, but she doesn't understand what he's doing.  So he's very confused and stressed when she yanks the toy away from him and goes off by herself.  And also I think he remembers her resource guarding from when we first brought her home, so he doesn't pursue her to try and force the issue.

They play wrassle and chase together but if you add a toy into the mix it's not playing for Indy - it's competition.  And she's determined to win.  It's never sat well with me that Indy refused to engage in normal canine social play.  It is a rather large red flag.  Ironically, Patricia McConnell recently wrote a very similar post on this topic between her two dogs, Will and Hope, with much the same set of worries.  Because Lucky is such a rock-solid dog in terms of temperament, unlike Will, I've never worried it would become a source of serious conflict but it IS a source of stress for Lucky, which I think has manifested itself in a few episodes over the past year (one this past July and one in April).  That's a problem.

Well, last night Indy was squeaking on her new dead fox toy and Lucky was clearly in the mood to play with her.  She was receptive to the idea of a good round of wrassling but also really wanted to play with her fox toy.  After a few false starts where she would squeak the toy and then go dive at Lucky to jaw with him, then run back to squeak the toy, she carried the fox over and dangled it in front of him.  Lucky was hesitant at first but after a few test attempts at grabbing the other end, he grabbed the fox and they began to play tug.

I was so excited I cheered and started clapping.  Which made Indy stop and look at me.  Lucky gave his head a little toss, making the fox shake, and she grabbed at it again and they tugged a bit more.  I toned down and started quietly saying "Goooooood girl!" while she kept playing.  It didn't last long because they switched to chase zoomies (sans toy) but it was there - she solicited the interaction and treated it as a game, not some attempt at pulling rank.

It's taken a year to get to this point.  I don't think we're thru the woods by any stretch, but this is very encouraging.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Baby prep in an unanticipated quarter

A lot of people scoff at the idea of prepping a dog for a baby.  If the dog is well-trained it shouldn't be a problem, right?

Not really.

When you think about what a fundamental shift a new infant is for just the parents, who definitely have forewarning that this little tyrant is about to completely reorganize the running of the household, it should be no surprise that perhaps the dogs might need some time to get used to the idea as well.  Prepping a dog for a baby isn't just about making sure the dog doesn't eat Junior, it's about making sure the dog is comfortable and able to adjust to all these changes with the least amount of stress possible.  Also, every dog reacts differently to stress when they're overwhelmed by change.

Case in point - we purchased a new car.  We knew that once Junior made his arrival we wouldn't be able to transport two dogs and an infant in either of our small cars.  So we've been researching and shopping around for months now.  We settled on a 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe as an excellent car for our needs.  The idea is the dogs would ride in the far back, leaving the back seat for car seat and baby gear.

Both dogs have ridden in SUVs before with no problems but I know a new car means new smells and that's a party for a dog.  So for the first trip I let the dogs take their time, sniff the exterior of the car, check out the interior, get comfy, etc.  Once it seemed like they were relaxed in the back, I closed the tailgate and hopped in the front.

I got maybe a mile or two away before I had to pull over.  Lucky - my rock solid, never met a car he didn't like, dog - was having a full-blown freak out, crying and scrabbling at the floor.  He was a hot mess.  I was the only person in the car, so I loaded them into the back seat and he was fine.

Next ride out The Spouse was driving.  I put the dogs in the back and then I sat in the back seat with a pouch full of super-delicious treats.  Lucky was taking cookies while the car was still, no problem. The Spouse started driving and Lucky tucked tail and refused to eat even dehydrated chicken breast.  But this time I could see the problem - the back, even though it's carpeted, is too slick for him to get a grip on.  He's the sort of dog that lies down and goes to sleep in the car and, without purchase, he was sliding all over the place.  And it was stressful enough that he was completely shut down, refusing food.  For any dog that's a bad sign.  For an Addison's dog that's a recipe for disaster.

And this was a problem I hadn't anticipated.  Certainly not from Lucky, who has never so much as whimpered in the car before.  Not even the day we drove him home from the breeder's!  Fortunately we have 4 months to address the problem and fix it and, in the interim, I have the option of driving with them in the back seat if I need to get them somewhere.  It would be an absolute nightmare to try and address this if I had an infant to juggle, was sleep deprived, and no options.

This is what I'm talking about when I say "Yes, you absolutely should prep your dog for the baby."  They may have a problem, they may not.  But it's better to figure that out beforehand.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Curly Duo are getting a little brother

Of the two-legged variety.  I'm 20 weeks pregnant.  So, in early December, we'll be bringing home a new sibling for Lucky and Indy.

A lot of people ask if the dogs know...  To a certain extent, any answer I give is an anthropomorphism of them - I honestly have no clue what they're thinking.  But, if I were to guess by their behavior, yes, they do know.  Lucky has known probably since the beginning.  He's been much more courteous and affectionate, snuggling against me at night, even spooning (he makes the best maternity pillow on the planet).  Indy clued in much later, but in recent weeks has stopped making flying leaps onto my belly first thing in the morning - instead she jumps up by my legs and then very carefully walks up the bed and lays down right beside me.

The next couple months I'll probably be talking a lot about preparing them for the impending arrival.  Lucky we've socialized around children of all ages since he was a baby and he is, quite honestly, awesome with them.  Indy seems to be ok with kids, though startles easily at strange noises and wasn't too keen on my 3-year-old niece and nephew "chasing" her to try and pet her.  So we have a bit more work with her, which we'll apply to Lucky as well (extra training never hurt anyone).

First step will be getting the nursery set up, with the crib and the bouncy seat and anything that moves or makes noise.  There are cds you can buy of baby sounds - which may or may not do anything, depending on your dog, books by the dozen on the topic and a myriad of advice ranging from excellent to appalling.  I've been giving advice and pointers on this topic to friends for several years now, so I'll review a few of my favorites, along with a few "Don't buy this. ever." warnings.

Of obvious concern to us is how Lucky will react to this new added stress in his life, especially with the general added stress of the holidays in the mix.  So, in addition to being sleep-deprived parents to a newborn, we'll have to keep a close eye on him as well to make sure that things are all well with his equilibrium and medication.

Things are going to get interesting in the Curly Dog household.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Update on the Duo

Summer is always a busy time in the Curly Dog household.  We're out in the yard a lot, playing and generally being cute

But, obviously, we go swimming a lot. Indy is just learning how to be comfortable in the water and Lucky loves showing off.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Just when everything was calm

It's been nearly 2 years since Lucky was diagnosed with Addison's.  Since that initial week, he's been completely stable.  Rock solid, healthy as a horse, driving me batty with his demanding, brash nature.

Last night I got home and went upstairs to let Indy and him out (Indy is crated and we keep Lucky confined to the bedroom so she doesn't get lonely).  They were their usual exuberant selves, barking and dancing, happy to see me.  We traipsed downstairs and I let them out.  Indy started doing her usual 50mph circuit around the yard and Lucky ran back behind the raised beds to.... poop.  Unusual.  Usually he goes for a pee a few feet off the deck.

He came running back to the house.  And squated again.  And again.  At this point I could see his stools were pretty much liquid.  Hrm.

So I call them in the house for dinner.  Lucky is looking at me like "Ehhhh."  I scooped the food in his bowl and he walked away.  To drink more water.  I coaxed him back to his bowl and got him to eat, but it was not with his usual bowl-polishing enthusiasm.

I needed to take Indy to the vet, so I herded the dogs back upstairs to get her collar, thinking I'd give Lucky some sulfacrete and see if that helped.  I considered giving him a 2nd dose of pred, but decided to talk to the vet first.

That's when I noticed the small trail of vomit on the carpet.  I looked into the bathroom and saw the bath mat had been scooched back (bless him) and there was bile-y vomit all over the floor.

Shit.  Shit shit shit.

I wiped up the vomit, got Indy into her collar and left for her appointment.  Fortunately we were scheduled with Lucky's normal vet, so I could mention this to her.  She was as concerned as I, though agreed that I should give him the sulfacrete, dissolved in water, and a 2nd pred.  She also gave me some diarrhea medication.

We got home and I dosed Lucky with the dissolved sulfacrete (he's not a fan of the syringe method) and, a half hour later, gave him a pred and the diarrhea meds.  He then curled up with me and I could hear his stomach gurgling away.

This morning he was pretty much back to normal, though his stools were still a bit loose.  He got his usual morning pred and I gave him another anti-diarrhea pill.  Hopefully he'll continue to improve.