French Kiss

I wake very early feeling like I’m in a straight jacket.  I realize Pat is pulling on the blankets on one side and Tisen has them pinned down on the other.  I wiggle my way to the top and crawl out, trying not to wake either of my boys.  I am sweating under two comforters in weather that feels like a summer night.

As I get comfortable and nod off, Tisen makes his way to the top of the bed, laying his head on my pillow.  I am soon awakened by a dog licking my arm.  There is just something disturbing about the notion that my dog has decided I need to be groomed in my sleep.

I roll over, tucking my arm under the cover and attempt to fall back asleep.  Tisen continually changes position, pushing me further and further over.  I decide tonight is the perfect night for him to learn to sleep in his crate.

I get an early start on work while Pat takes Tisen for his morning walk.  When Pat returns, he tells me he tested our new leash–a Wacky Walker.  When Tisen pulls, the leash stretches like a big bungee.  This is surprisingly nice.  There’s no jerk on your arm or shoulder and the leash springs back, teaching the dog that when he pulls, he gets pulled back.

The only problem is that I picked a leash that is only rated for up to 50 pounds.  What can I say?  The color went better with Tisen’s collar.  But, Tisen now weighs 60 pounds. When he encountered an aggressive dog at the park, he lunged at the dog and Pat was sure it would have broken if he wouldn’t have grabbed the non-stretchy end.  So much for fashion.

We move on to crate training in preparation for tonight.  Pat comes up with a great idea.  We call Pat’s phone from my phone and then leave his phone sitting on Tisen’s crate.  We put the phone on speaker and voila!  We have a dog monitor.  We’re gone 10 minutes and Tisen whines only once.  We repeat at dinner, but we’re gone nearly 40 minutes.  Once, I startle a few other diners sitting at the bar when I pick up the phone and shout the “Neh eh eh!” in it, but Tisen gets quiet and settles back down.

After dinner, I take a little time to play with some shots of the “French Kiss” chair (that’s what the designer named it).  Tisen walks through my shot several times, carrying a different toy each time he goes by.  He’s teasing me.

I have a lot of fun manipulating the French Kiss chair shots in Photomatix.

When at last I sit down to write, Tisen curls up next to me and dozes off.  10 minutes later, he wakes up, jumps off the couch and runs across the room.  This is not unusual.  I’m convinced he has awakened from a dream confused.  I hope he sleeps well in his crate tonight.

The End of Foster Care

We’ve decided.  Tisen stays.

We took him hang gliding on Saturday.  Tisen ran over and start licking my face in the middle of a hang check and then follow my glider all the way down the big hill and back up again.  When I told the instructor he was a foster dog, she said, “That’s your dog.  He has claimed you.”  She’s right.  He is my dog.

It’s funny how this happens.  I wonder how a dog decides you are theirs?  And you cannot resist.  You find yourself committed until death do you part.  Except you’re committed to a well-behaved 3 year old with fur who will never be able to use the toilet.

Upon deciding that Tisen must stay, we immediately went to PetsMart to celebrate.  Since we are working on crate training, we, of course, needed a cozy matt to put in the crate, special chews to keep him busy while we’re gone, and a new squeaky toy since I’ve discovered he’ll do about anything for a squeaky toy.  He picks a bear for his squeaky toy, but then is so enamored with a ridiculous long, red dog that I cannot resist getting it for him, too.  It’s a good thing I don’t have children.

When we get home, he picks up the red dog and carries it in from the car, trotting along with his head held high like he’s won some sort of award.  The joy I experience watching him is well worth the extra $8.  When he gets to the living room, he plops his new toy in the middle of the floor and then pulls his stuffed squirrel out of the crate, laying them out on the floor side-by-side.  It’s hard to know what goes through a dog’s mind sometimes, but I have to wonder if he really just wanted squirrel to have a friend.

I pick up the dog and give it a squeeze.  Tisen starts poking at the dog with his nose trying to make it squeak.  Pat joins in and starts squeezing, too.  I grab my iPhone and try to get a shot (not having time to change lenses on my camera).  Tisen gets irritated with the flash, picks up red dog, and hides out in his crate.  I take this as a sign that crate training is going well.

Tisen’s obsession with squeaky toys reminds me of a story my mom used to tell about me.  When I was about 2, I was given a doll who would cry if you squeezed her.  Except, I wasn’t strong enough to get her to cry.  But, I figured out my own method.  I horrified a nice lady at the bank one day when she complimented me on my cute baby and I responded by throwing it on the floor and stomping on it.  My mother smiled weakly and said, “It’s the only way she can get it to cry.”  It’s really a good thing I don’t have children.

Who is Training Whom?

Well, it’s 10:30 and I’ve just tucked the foster dogs into their crates for the night and I’m completely exhausted.  Today’s lessons:

  1. Some dogs have to pee every 2 hours
  2. It’s easier to clean a hard-surface floor than an area rug
  3. It’s even easier to set a timer and get the dogs outside before they need to go
  4. No matter how much we walk, the humans will always be more tired than the dogs
  5. Some dogs play rough.

Two accidents today.  One on the rug and one after the rug was put away.  The big progress was that I recognized the signs that Lucy had to go out before she actually had her second accident.  The problem was that I was in the middle of a conference call and couldn’t take her out right then.  She doesn’t yet have the concept of “holding it.”

I went to a workshop on macro photography this evening.  I felt a little guilty leaving my husband home alone with the dogs for 2 1/2 hours.  We put them in their crates before he drove me to the workshop.  It was the first time they were in their crates during the day.  When he returned home, Rex was barking like mad.  I suspect we are the most popular tenants in our building right now.  Fortunately, it only took 10 minutes to run me across the river and get back.

Last night, Rex was barking furiously in his crate when we went to bed.  I got out my iPad and googled for suggestions on what to do.  I found a checklist for successful crate training:

  • Don’t use crate as punishment.  Check.
  • Feed in crate.  Check.
  • Have special treat they only get while in crate.  Check.
  • Make sure they’ve gotten plenty of exercise during the day.  Check.
  • Make sure they’ve gotten enough attention during the day.  Check.
  • Don’t feed them less than 90 minutes before they go in the crate.  Check.
  • Make sure they go out and go potty before going into the crate.  Check.
  • Cover the crate to help block out distractions.  Check.

Then, I see the suggestion of shaking a can of pennies.  I had already prepared a can of pennies in the hope of interrupting Lucy when she pees in the house.  (Unfortunately, another idea not suited for conference calls.)  But, it was 11PM and the dog was going nuts and I figured it was get him quiet or face the wrath of neighbors.  I grabbed the can of pennies, opened the bedroom door, and stood out of sight.  When Rex started barking again, I gave the can a big shake.  He stopped.  We repeated 4 times and then he laid down and remained quiet the rest of the night.  Whew.

Tonight, we are trying putting the dogs in their crates before we go to bed.  They are sleeping peacefully with us in the room.  They look exhausted.  Maybe all that walking paid off after all?