Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Guinness Update

Guinness was 16 weeks old on this past Saturday (Feb. 14th). He has been growing like a weed (28 lbs.) and his personality is slowly changing from a puppy to an adolescent. He is constantly showing us how intelligent he is by learning new requested tasks (my termi-nology for tricks) and figuring things out for himself like opening his crate door when it isn't locked and digging through his toy box for that certain favorite toy and then, when he can't find it, thinking about it for a minute and remembering where he put it. Really amazing. He so wants to please and seems put out when he doesn't.

His vet visits, from the start, have gone extremely well. Because we travel so much, he has been to three vets since we adopted him into our family on December 11th. All three vet offices have fallen in love with him (as everyone who meets him does). He has been extremely calm, even with some of the most indigent procedures. Not once, in all of his shots, has he ever whimpered. This has impressed everyone. His fourth vet will be visited next week for his pre-operative exam. This operation will be the one where he loses his ...well know ....OUCH!!!! This will put him in a slow and easy mode for about a week.

As mentioned before, he loves his toys as well as his playtime. We truly hope this is one thing he will never outgrow. His favorite exercise is, what we call, "fetch". I believe he relates to it as retrieving the downed game and bringing it to his hunting partner. He is part retriever, remember? As many times as we can, we will bring him to a small field in back of our home and throw a ball. He runs as fast as he can to retrieve it and runs lickety-split back to us with it. He then drops it in front of us and waits for another throw. This will go on for about 30-45 minutes until one of us get too tired. So far, he gets tired first, but we are very tired also. Another favorite is his bedtime playtime. This is where I get on the floor and play with him like another dog. No toys. Just him and me. I growl and pinch and grab and roll with him, just like a play partner would do. I do this to replicate doggie-on-doggie playtime. He has learned not to bite and to play easy. I did this by "yelping" if he bites and then stopping play for a few seconds. If he gets too rambunctious, I will grab him by the scruff of his neck (gently of course) and shake him a bit and growl in a very low tone. His instincts kick in and he tones down. Never, never have we punished him or hit at him. Dogs do not do that to one another and neither should we. During this playtime, I have had to teach him how to bark and growl. We even howl together. Maybe one night he and I will go out and howl at the moon. Our patience and raising techniques seem to be paying off. Guinness is a loving and gentle dog to everyone, especially us.

Now....he still is a puppy....remember? He still has some biting problems.... well...not really biting, just mouthing and nipping. He has, however, stopped the biting quite a bit. This is very obvious. He still has a mistake every now and then. He has learned to ring the "Potty Bell" when he needs to go out, but when he gets too excited, he forgets and "dribbles" before he can get to the bell. No problem. From day one, he has been better than we expected with his house breaking. He is still afraid of the dark, somewhat. We are trying to reassure him of this phobia. Lastly his biggest problem is separation anxiety. This is our fault. We did not leave him alone enough early on. We are working on that.

Our favorite trait is his sleeping habit. Every night around 9 PM, like clockwork, he will get up from where ever he is and go to the bedroom door. If the door is closed, which it usually is, he will return to wherever we are, lie down and go to sleep. After a few minutes one of us will ask him, " Want to go night-night?" He then gets up and follows us to the bedroom where his soft crate is, gets in, plops down with a slight groan and goes right to sleep. The next morning around 6 AM, again like clockwork, he will start to wake up. It takes him a while to wake up and he really doesn't start to get active until after 9 AM. Not a morning dog. Neither are we. Fits right in.

All-in-all, Guinness is doing great and has brought a new light into our lives. We understand he is a dog and treat him that way. We do our best to give him the direction a dog needs. In return, he gives us the unconditional love that he is most capable of. A perfect match. Some trials and tribulations, but absolutely no regrets. Ever.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Busy Weekend

This was a weekend of many events. Most notably, it was Valentine's Day on Saturday. Besides it being Valentine's Day, it was also Joyce's birthday. It was an open house weekend for us. It was the weekend that heralded the opening of the NASCAR season with the Daytona 500 on Sunday. And our youngest daughter, Veronica visited us.

The weekend started out not-so-good with Joyce very ill with some sort of a stomach bug on Saturday. Happy birthday, Honey!! We canceled the open house for that day. Veronica came in during the afternoon and we steamed some shrimp for dinner. She brought her dog, Gizmo, and he and Guinness visited. Gizmo is not a puppy and was not in the mood to do puppy things like Guinness wanted to do. Guinness learned real quick to give Gizmo his space. He did real well.

On Sunday we set up for the open house and Veronica headed back home. No visitors on the open house, the Daytona 500 was cut short by rain (Matt Kenseth won it), and we were exhausted...all three of us.

Friday, February 13, 2009

North to...not Alaska...Massachusetts

Our first away time since we returned from Georgia this past Sunday through Wednesday. We decided, on a whim, to run up to Massachusetts to visit our daughter and her family. We left Sunday morning and visited my Army buddy, Jeff, in New York. Jeff and I go way back to this month in 1968 when he arrived in the
Philippines and became my roommate for almost two years. We have been great friends ever since.

Monday morning we continued our trek to Massachusetts and arrived at Heather's home mid-morning. What a warm welcome. The biggest event was her dog, Bear, a two year old Golden Retriever, and Guinness. They were both extremely excited about each other and hit it off tremendously. The only down-side to the trip was Guinness had developed car sickness and we had to stop several times both Sunday and Monday to clean up. Hope he grows out of that.

Heather arranged a casual dinner that evening and both of our grandchildren were there as well as our great granddaughter. To make things more homey, our newly found niece and her children attended, also. What a grand time. We are so blessed.

Guinness and Bear were awesome with their socializing. It took a day, but by the time we left Wednesday, they were playing and acting like they were life long puppy mates. Guinness whined when we left. He missed Bear.

Even though the trip was short, we had a great time and were saddened when we departed.